Wednesday, August 17, 2005


The life of a hospital volunteer psychologist can be one big adventure. After a frustrating day at teaching yesterday, today turned out to be quite inspiring as I met several new angels in the hospital. They are all struggling to get through some tough challenges in life but are striving to move on. I was sent to visit the ICU of PCMC along with other people from the hospice. There I met three babies, each struggling to live.

One baby had malformation of the small intestine--he almost lost it all. And now he's skin and bones-- almost on the brink of death. But when I looked at his eyes, I saw hope instead of sadness. It was as if the baby was telling me that he was fighting on and that if he could do it, we all could fight too. Everytime his dad would carress his tiny head, he would blink as if relishing each touch as if it were diamonds from heaven.

I also met a toddler who had the Guillain- Barre Syndrome. He couldn't move his arms. He was pleading with the doctors to raise his arms (in a visayan dialect no one could understand). The nurses were too busy to attend to him and as much as I wanted to touch him, I couldn't for fear of contaminating him with any germs I might have brought with me. When the nurse finally went to him, he quieted down and he started to sleepI realized that he just wanted to see that his arms were still there even if he couldn't feel them. It was a small of act of kindness on the nurse's part but to the suffering child, it meant the world.

In the ICU I also saw parents crying while watching their beloved children who were attached to endless tubes and machines. My heart went out to them. And I struggled to keep my own tears from falling because I knew I had to be strong for them. Part of me wished I could take away their pains but all I could really do was say a little prayer for their little angels and hope that they would be okay.It pains me to see parents suffer that way but moreso for the kids. It reminds me of my own struggles with my health and how my family also suffered with me. So I know what they are going through and I know that its rough.

Amidst the bleakness of the ICU, one angel emerged. After our ICU visit, we went to see an 18 year old boy just recently diagnosed with ALL and diabetes (a complication brought about by his chemo). Roland, was recently released from the ICU to the charity wards. When I saw him, he did not look like he was a young man-- he looked as if he was a 12 year old kid. And I saw pain in his eyes. He had high fever and was suffering from back and foot pains. Yet despite that he kindly offered me his chair so I could sit down. Imagine he was already in so much pain yet he was willing to give up his comfortable sit so I could sit on it. I wanted to cry. To remain that kind amidst such pain is the epitome of human kindness.

We spoke with him for a while and though he struggled to keep up with us, he never failed to smile. His dad also spoke to us, telling us about how Roland just started school when he got sick. On friday, Roland will be 19. I do not know what the Lord's plans are for him but I wish he could give Roland some break from his pains.

I left the hospital soon after. I needed a break from all the suffering. Whenever I'm at PCMC, I am reminded of how precious life is and how lucky I am to be alive. At least despite my ITP, I am able to live a normal life. How I wish those kids could too. It's understandable when old people get sick-- it's supposed to be the circle of life. But kids, they've barely lived yet, some of them are even on the brink of dying already.

Sometimes I find myself asking God why those kids had to suffer. I know I will never find the answer but I trust that in his kindness he would also aleviate their pains.

So why do I continue with my volunteer work? Although I do it because it's a requirement (for my PhD), I also made a promise 12 years ago to myself that if I am given the chance to get well, I'd try to make a difference. This is my way of fulfilling that promise. And it's also my way of paying tribute to those kind people who helped me along the way. To feel that someone cares enough to ask you how you are and stay with you for a while is the best gift a sick child could have. And I was blessed with that before. Now it's time to give the blessing back.
I don't know how you do it-- make me smile for the simplest reasons. Just when things turn quite sad, you find a way to make me laugh and feel as if heaven just sent me the greatest gift. I just want to tell you-- thank you.

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