Thursday, July 28, 2011

4th Cycle, 3rd Day.. Going home.

This is the view of the river when I woke up this moring.  The third day, 07/27/11.

The Sta Cruz River at its muddy state
As you can see, the river is already muddy.  This is an indication that there is much rain at the mountains.  This was what we worry about when it rains and the river has this color.  But luckily, later in the morning, they announced that the tropical storm Juaning lost its strength when it had its landfall.


My IV was removed in the early morning hours of today.  I complained and insisted that it be taken off because the 'tusok' is already hurting me.  Luckily, the nurses had the go-signal so it was removed even if there is still one-third remaining in the dextrose.

We went home a little later than usual.  There was a slight issue about our bill that I'd rather not talk about.

4th Cycle, 2nd Day: Maybe it was because of B+

I woke up at 5:30 am and all I wanted was to get out and look at the river.  My room this time is just beside the balcony that looks over at the river and this was what I saw that morning.  But I still have to get out of the room to get this view.

The view at the balcony behind the hospital
It was cloudy and it looked like it rained all night.  The river is still calm though.  You can see the reflections of the houses on the river bank and this means that not much going on at the mountains, at least not yet.  And I was hoping that there aren't going to be any at all, because if there will be, the worse thing that could happen is a flash flood and this river will be very much affected.


Nothing much eventful during the second day.  But what I remember and remember hard up until this writing is what my oncologist told me before she started my chemotherapy.  She told me that I should start doing some walking.  She said that a lot of the hospital staff (and she, too) noticed that I don't look like I am undergoing chemotherapy at all.  They think I gained weight which was rather unusual for someone in my shoes.

Third floor nurses' station
This is the nurses' station at the third floor.  Basically, this is how big the third floor looks like.  At the back of where I took this photo is a small chapel and on the left and right wings are two more rooms on each side.  One on each side of them are suites.

As usual, when the shot of steroids was administered, that fang of itch between the thighs are there and my doctor and I now laugh at this matter.  Then, she told me that she was about to administer dipenhydramine and that I would be feeling sleepy anytime now.  And I was.

I think my eyebrows are slowly falling off
But before I fell asleep, I was able to tell her about the pain I felt on my right inguinal area that started about three days ago.  There was even a slight inflammation of veins that ran along my right thigh until the mid-section. But I told her that it seems to have subsided when I started to take the Vitamin B+ complex again.  Well, I told her that I stopped taking that prescription for about a couple of days and maybe that's why I had this pain.

And thinking further after she's gone, I thought that maybe this is also the reason why the nurses had a hard time looking for a good vein for my IV.  It might have caused my veins to shrink and not have enough vitamins to regenerate and be healthy again.

I was awake before the second bottle was even hooked.  This is strange because the past few cycles, I awoke when the second bottle was almost done.  I guess I was up earlier this time because I felt hungry.  See, I had an early lunch this day and that may have been the reason why I felt hungry early, too, hehehehe...

Admitting Day: Getting the IV in was harder this time.

At the ER, upon admission, we found out that I had a slight fever, it was only 37.5C and they were asking me if I already took Paracetamol and I said I didn't.  I didn't even know I had a fever.

Then, when it was time to put in the IV, they couldn't find a good vein to get it in.  This is rather unusual for me.  All the nurses that I have been with ever since 2009 told me that even if I'm fat, it's not very hard to look for one.  And now, this.  Well, the nurses, as well as my oncologist (later told me), that one of the effects of chemotherapy is that your veins somehow shrink because of the medicines.

It took them a while to look for a possible good one, and it took them two attempts to finally get the needle in.  The first one bulged.  And so, I am off to my room.

My BFF Reysie, who has been taking me to the hospital since I started, was there.  And as usual, we have another photo-ops.  (Oh, she missed the third cycle because she was somewhere out of town).

It was rather late when we finally settled in to the room.  The room smelled of Albatross and I had the utility took it off because I didn't want the smell.  I ate dinner rather late since I wanted to have the smell completely off the room before I eat.

The strange thing is I was feeling very, very sleepy even before "Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin" and was actually in deep sleep halfway.  It's not that I am religiously following this teleserye.  I was just trying to establish a sense of time (and I hope I am not being defensive since I know that Remedios already died and Lora is about to move into the Del Tierro mansion). Well, truthfully, when at home, I am usually in the bedroom right after "One Hundred Days to Heaven," which I am religiously following.  Sometimes, if I've had enough afternoon rest, I could still stay until "Minsan Lang."  There.


Come midnight, when they were about to give my the steroids, I complained of the pain on the IV, and we discovered a bulge.  This meant that they had to remove this and look for another vein.  After about several minutes of looking and two more bulges, they finally found another vein.  A few minutes later, I had to ask for a spleen to keep my wrist from moving too much.  I was afraid to cause another bulge and will not be able to find another vein just in time for my chemotherapy.

And I slept well until 5:30 a.m.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Room 301. Cycle 4

Room. Cycle 4 by Che Baldemor

Just got home from my chemotherapy cycle 4. As usual, I am a little tired and sleepy. But I guess not that much since I was still able to upload the photos.

More photos later since I was in the mood to take more photos from the hospital this time.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting Ready for Cycle 4

I called the lab earlier today to find out the result.

And they're all good.

So, this means that I'd be off early evening to get admitted to the hospital.

And once again, I'm off the internet hook for two days.  I wanted to ask the hospital if they are connected but my outdated laptop won't even log in to our connection here at home.  It says the signature has expired yaddah, yaddah, yaddah....  I may need to have it reformatted, but that's not one of my priorities right now, and that won't be for quite a while.


I hope to write more about more things other than my chemotherapy when I get back.  But I think I'd skip with PGT Season 3 since I wasn't able to start it from the beginning.  I think this time I'll miss posting videos of those talents that I believe have potential.  I was able to see the whole show last night and I only saw one that has potential.  That group that was pole-dancing and was flying up in the air.  But I don't think I'd be able to stand watching more since they're doing it this way:  one talent, one hundred commercials.  And that is something that will really eat my patience, especially when I have just gone through a cycle.

Sister Faynayt

Sister Faynayt by Che Baldemor
Sister Faynayt, a photo by Che Baldemor on Flickr.

Thank you for the patience and the hard work in taking care of me!

You’ll always be my little sister!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Photo of the Week: July 22-29, 2011

While Dinky's Sleeping by Che Baldemor
While Dinky's Sleeping, a photo by Che Baldemor on Flickr.
I always feel a certain calm watching cats while they sleep. It makes me feel relaxed and somewhat fulfilled that we have taken care of her. She's been with us for five years. I think our lives would never be the same without cats around.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Lady in Rm. 307

I asked the nurse if I got the name right.  And she said yes, it's Karen in Rm. 307.  I was in Rm. 313.  I said I wanted to visit her, but the nurse said they were not accepting visitors at the moment.  I asked her a favor:  can you please tell her my name?

It was early 2010 and she was at our common friend's house.  They called and that's when  I learned that we were on the same boat.  She had a tumor on her breast removed back in 2006 and was told that if it doesn't come back in five years, she'd be good to go.  So, at that time we were both in remission.

We discussed chemotherapy and shared the same view.  We both didn't want to undergo such treatment.  But nevertheless, I advised her to visit an oncologist for her to know where she stands.  Apart from her views and stories, I heard anger and hatred echoing on her voice.

That was the first time we talked.

After this encounter, I only had to rely on our common friend to know how things were on her side.  I learned that she took the path of alternative medicine and was doing good.  I, then, told her if she could give her my number and send me a message because I wanted to refer her to a hospice, just in case there would be a need.

Then, came April.  I was just diagnosed that my cancer is back when I got a message from her.  She told me that she has another cyst and this time, she was told to go to an oncologist and undergo chemotherapy.  This time, we do not share the same views anymore.  I was getting ready for my first chemotherapy, and she told me that she still won't do it.  Again, I told her to visit an oncologist to know where she stands.  We were exchanging messages almost the whole afternoon.

The next day, I got a message from her.  She told me that she visited an oncologist and that she was advised to undergo both chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  I replied, "That's good to know.  Do we have the same oncologist?"  But I didn't get a reply.

Days later (it was a Saturday, I remember), our common friend called and told me that Karen was rushed to the hospital.  Incidentally, the same hospital where I was due to be confined the coming week.

The nurse came the next day telling me that I could go visit her.  So, when the cleaning people came to my room, I went.  Karen was sitting but she had oxygen.  I introduced myself, told her that I was her text mate.  She asked why I was there with the mask and IV and told her that I'm getting my first chemotherapy and she said, that's good.  She said she, too, started oral chemotherapy and we have the same oncologist.  I didn't stay long.  I saw how difficult it was for her to speak.

It was good to finally meet her, no matter how good or bad the circumstances were.

A week after my chemotherapy, I visited my oncologist for a follow-up.  After we talked about those experiences I had within the week, she told me that I would be good to go for the second cycle.  Before I said thank you, I asked about Karen.

She left last night.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We have yet to go to the PCSO

From the moment that I found out that I have cancer, I started to think about how and where I could ask for assistance to sustain my needs for my chemotherapy sessions.  And I am more than lucky to have had friends and relatives who have extended their support in any way they can or I wouldn't have gone this far in the course of my treatment.

Apart from this avenue, I was told that we could ask for financial assistance from certain branches of government and institutions: the one that always stood out is the PCSO - Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.  I wouldn't forget what the hospice nurse told me during her first ever visit, "Asikasuhin po ninyo 'yung sa PCSO, masasandalan po ninyo 'yon."

So, I googled for the PCSO and looked for what could they possibly extend in my case.  This is the link, and these are the requirements:

  • Letter of request to Chairman/General Manager
  • Medical Abstract
  • Bill/quotation/costing from hospital pharmacy/supplies
  • Laboratory requests/Medical prescriptions
  • Endorsement/Acceptance Letter from Hospital Social Services/Credit Collections Officer

Somewhere along the way, I remembered an aunt whose husband also had cancer and that she was able to claim some assistance from the institution.  These was her important pointers:

  • Prepare all the documents and photocopy all of them, not once, but several times over.
  • If you know someone who's holding a position in the government, try to get an endorsement letter/letter of introduction from him/her. "Hindi naman sa namomolitka, pero we need all the help we can get."
  • Be there at the office as early as 5:00 am, and be there with someone else.  You should come in pairs, so that you won't have to lose your line when you have to go pee.  
  • Being there early doesn't mean that you will finish early, and you won't finish it in one day.  You may have to go back twice or thrice.

She was lucky she was granted the assistance she needed.  She was given a voucher to claim some worth of oral chemotherapy drugs at a certain branch of a drug store that was affiliated with the institution.

I have yet to process mine.

See, we live in a province that is about five hours away from Manila.  That meant that whoever will process the papers in my behalf will have to leave our place about an hour or two after midnight just to make it there by 5:00 am.  And it isn't a guarantee that we are going to be the first in line.  We heard that a lot of those who go there spend the night there just to make it first in line the following day.

Then, I only have my dad and my sister.  That meant that they are the only pair that could go there to fix the papers.  And they couldn't and wouldn't leave me alone.  Not for a day.

But that doesn't mean that we are striking out this option.  The fact is, the papers are ready.  They could go anytime.  And since our resources for the last few remaining cycles are depleting, we are really studying our grounds.  


I was once asked by someone if I already tried going there at their office.  And when I said not yet, she said: "I don't know, but when we had to go there, makikita mo na mas marami pang mas nangangailangan, higit na nangangailangan kaysa sa 'yo."

That is one of the things that the PCSO can do.  It could change the lives of those people falling in line at five in the morning just to get some help.  

It's not about the bishops and their Pajero's and SUV's.  Let them have their SUV's or let them give it back.  But I think abolishing this institution just because of this happening will affect the lives of those who look up to them for a flicker of hope.  

Let the bishops take care of their penance whether it is from the law or from the church.  But please, don't take the PCSO away from the very people they said they were using these Pajero's and SUV's - to give assistance to the poor and those in need.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa by Che Baldemor

Tabula Rasa, a photo by Che Baldemor on Flickr.
I got back to reading and trying to get back to writing during the past few days. I've read quite a number of pages from this book that I started, and listed some topics that I have been wanting to write about since.

But this afternoon, my old-diary-turned-moleskin was staring in front of me for twenty-eight years and nothing came out of my mind to write about.

My blank slate of mind. I hope I can get back to writing more soon. I really wanted to. I miss writing as much as I miss reading.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I could have been a mascot.

150 Filipina part-timers arrested in Dubai .

This news made me look back.  Back when I was in Dubai, and wanting to have another job.

I could have been a mascot.  Because I wanted to.  I wanted to try. All for the thrill of it, and of course, the money the comes with only three hours of dressing like - whoever.

I almost took the job - that was just for one night.  But my room mate told me no.  She's been there for five years and didn't want me to put myself into something that I might regret.  So, I listened.  I did not.

Doing a part-time job is prohibited in Dubai.

Is this unfair?  I think not.

This is how I simply understand how it works.  For someone to have a residence visa, one needs a sponsor and usually, the sponsor is your employer.  Your employer deposits money to the Immigration so that you will have the residence visa.  Your sponsor can only get their money back after your visa has been cancelled.  I think the lowest bond is about AED 3,000.00.

That simply explains why employees are not allowed to take part-time jobs.

And as for the case of tourists on visit visas, they are not even allowed to take any kind of job.

Photo of the Week: July 14-21, 2011

Creme by Che Baldemor

Creme, a photo by Che Baldemor on Flickr.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My LSS for the past two days.

Palm of My Hand - Pale Fountains

I wasn't in the mood for any googling (or anything for that matter... I was feeling weak) or searching for my LSS the past few days. But this has been on my mind since Saturday. I don't know for what reason. It just plays in my mind and together with it, some birds fly across the sky. Pretty neat and serene for a vision. But I still couldn't get the song. Although it's been in my playlist (if there were any back then) in college.

I was looking for a clearer copy, preferably the official video to avoid infringements or anything.  But I couldn't find any.

The dreaded fifth day after the cycle.

Since I started chemotherapy, we have been observing the things that would happen after each session.  Just so we know, and just so we know what to more or less expect on the next coming sessions.

One of the things that we observed was the body malaise that I experience during the fifth day after the cycle.  Since we go on a Monday, etc., etc., the fifth day has always fallen on a Sunday.  And this Sunday was not entirely different from those others.

But one thing that I noticed was that the body malaise did not set in until early in the evening.  Previously, it started while I was taking a bath in the morning.  It was so significant for me since I could hardly finish drying off when I start feeling so weak.  The rest of the day was spent in bed, waking up, sleeping, waking up, sleeping.

Last Sunday, I found myself not on this mode.  Although I must say that there are a few body pains here and there.  Well, these body pains are those that I've gotten quite used to and do not call for pain relievers.  I know they hurt but they do not hurt bad enough for me to seek some comfort.  After a while, they will subside and find comfort to some other parts.  Talk about their leisure of finding fortress wherever they want to.  The fact is, they're still within my territory, right?  But anyhow, I think they manage to get tired to leave me after some time.


Today is a week after the third cycle and that means that I am going to see my oncologist today for my follow-up. I guess she'd be surprised to know that both my feet are not swelling - although the pins and needles have recurred on them plus both my hands.  I wonder what she'll say when she hears that.  Oh, and I think I need to tell her, too, that I'm having some sort of back pain that is some sort of a muscle pain.  I think it is muscle pain since it sort of subsides whenever I put a blanket over when I am sleeping.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Them Were There

There were friends who expressed intent to visit long before.  But, I always declined.  Sometimes, it was because of the nature of the cycle.  Like I am not allowed to take in visitors within two weeks after each cycle.  And at times, I admit that it was my own prerogative that I do not take them in.  Blame it to my moods, or the pains that sometimes strike at any time of the day.

On this note, I'd like to thank my friends who understand every time I say, "No," when they wanted to visit.  I know there were already a lot of intentions that I've said no to and I am really thankful that you all understand.  I've been wanting company ever since I can remember, but the thing is when the mood or the pain sets in, it's very hard to tell whether we'll be enjoying each others' company.

So, the best time - I guess if not the ideal time - to visit me is when I get admitted the day after each cycle.  This way, the two weeks' ban is already up and I am in an upright mood to have visitors at the hospital.

Here are some friends who were the eve of my third cycle and they were asking me for a visit ever since I can remember.

Thank you, guys, for understanding.

**Photos courtesy of Rizza.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The more playful Maria

Maria Aragon - Price Tag (Cover) Jesse J

There is a version she sang in a tv show here. But I like this more playful version which shows the child in her, which I've always loved with this kid.

Photo of the Week: July 7 - 14, 2011

Basket Full of Love by Che Baldemor

Basket Full of Love, a photo by Che Baldemor on Flickr.

I was just exploring things around the house and the color of this basket made me want to take a photo of it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cycle 3, Rm 310

Cycle 3, Rm 310 by Che Baldemor

I'm finally home after my third cycle.

It's a good thing that all's well that ends well, as they say. There weren't any hassles. As usual, I fell groggy as soon as my oncologist inject dypenhidramine on my IV and I was asleep in no time at all.

Strange that this time it seemed a little shorter. We don't know if we're just getting used to to or it was really shorter this time.

There were friends who visited Monday night as soon as they learned that we got a room. One of them brought a camera and I'm just waiting for the upload and the tag which will surely be on Facebook.

I just feel a little sleepy and I guess this will be gone after a few hours of sleep.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Via Air Mail

Via Air Mail by Che Baldemor

Something I created years ago, back when I was still working at a call center.

I'll be away for about two days

My third cycle is schedule tomorrow.

So, this means that I won't be online for two days.  I'll be admitted later today and the cycle will be tomorrow and I'll be home by Wednesday after lunch.  This would push through if my blood works will be normal, which we will find out later today.  But I know that there's a great chance that it would be good.

Well, yesterday was the last day for my antibiotics.  I think it cured the infection.  I don't know if my doctors will request for another round of test to check it, but since I am not having fever anymore and I don't 'chill to the bones,' I think the infection's gone.

I just hope that I feel good enough to get back on the computer as soon as I get home, just like the second cycle.  I am more optimistic that it should be as good as the second or even better.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Poverty stole your golden shoes, it didn't steal your laughter"

Hands - Jewel

Preparing for the third cycle

So, this is the weekend before my third cycle.


I realized my third cycle has been moved twice and it meant two weeks of no chemo.  I should have been happy if it were something like a vacation but half of it wasn't.  The second postponement was due to an infection and this infection was causing on and off fever either during the day and night.  Good thing that I wasn't chilling to the bones anymore once I had my antibiotic.  Oh, and they had to change my antibiotic thrice because the second triggered some palpitations.

I'll be having my pre-chemo blood works today.  I just hope that they'd all turn normal so that we won't have to move it the third time.  If the result would be good, I'll be off to the hospital Monday evening (as usual) and chemo would be Tuesday and I'll be home by Wednesday afternoon, just like the previous ones.

If you noticed, I have been a little nostalgic lately.  Well, we all do get into this mode time and again.  Some of them are things that are related to those times when I was still in Dubai.  It's probably because it's the closest thing that I can remember these days... talk about short-term memory... hehehehe.  I have been exploring YouTube lately for the songs that bring back those times.  Then, I realize why don't I try SoundCloud.  I used to attach music to my post using Imeem but it was eventually sacked and bought by MySpace, and the feature that I use to attach songs to my post was disabled.  And this SoundCloud has that feature.  I also heard that this site is getting stronger.  I just hope that they could sustain it though.  Otherwise, these songs will again disappear on my post.

Let's have this for a start.  This is originally done by Colbie Calliat, but this below was performed by Boyce Avenue.  This is another song that was close to my heart when I was in Dubai.  Well, I realized that there were just a few songs that was close to me in Dubai, aside from those playlist of mostly old 1980's songs that I brought with me when I left home.

Realize by Boyce Avenue

Friday, July 1, 2011

Photo of the Week: June 28 - July 5, 2011

The day's done by Che Baldemor

This was taken December of last year. I was so well, then. This was where my sister teaches aerobics, at the third floor of a building here in our town.
I don't know, but dusks really make me feel melancholic at times. It makes me feel like something's ending and that I won't be able to get it back.

Just sway your head if you can't dance

Never You Done That - General Public

So, the title itself poses a question. What the hell does it mean? Well, even the lyrics still sound strange to me.

Hmm, let's just not mind it. I never did when I was young. I find this music 'danceable' and back in the '80s, I was looking for a 12" copy just so I could keep it, because our turntable already broke and was beyond repair. You see, back then, having and holding a 12"version could already be heaven in your hands. But when I finally found it, I backed out thinking how could I even listen to it.

Later on, I got a copy of a 12"version on cassette, which Rosing later ate for dinner. So, down it went to the hidden files of my mind.

Now, here it is. THE 12"version that I so love! It's a good thing there's YouTube now. I could find a lot of songs that I think only I and the one who uploaded it really liked. Let's just pray that the YouTube police won't take the copy out because of what they call infringements.

Anyway, I used to dance to this when I'm alone. Oooppss, did I just goof there? And now that my feet still has pins and needles, I just sway my head tap my fingers.

Ah, memories. I thank God for them during these times that I am looking forward to making more of when I finally get well.
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