(Forgive me for this very long post. I do not expect you to have patience to read everything, but if you do, then I thank you.)
November 26. I was still in the office when Kara sent me a text message that she has high-grade fever. I wasn’t planning on going home at once since I was trying to finish my writing assignments for the souvenir program of our The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Awards Ceremony on December 11. I was tasked to write on former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani and Dr. Arturo Cunanan’s accomplishments. But the minute I got Kara’s text message, I knew there was something really wrong. I called my sister so she could take Kara’s temperature and what I got alarmed me: 40.2. That was not normal at all.
So I decided to leave at once and meet them at my brother-in-law’s clinic. After one and a half hours, I was finally with my Kara and I saw how weak and sick she was. At the time, she just had her CBC and platelet count, and everything seemed normal. Platelet was 226, but at the back of my mind, I knew that we would be battling something really big. Call it intuition or something, but I had a really bad feeling it was not the usual fever one has.
At the clinic, she was given a shot of Aeknil to lower her body temperature. But I already decided to bring her to Asian Hospital because I didn’t want her at home when her fever was too high. On the way though, there was heavy traffic from Balibago Complex going to SLEX so we decided to take the Mamplasan exit. But again, while on our way to Mamplasan, Kara’s temperature suddenly dropped. It became 37 so we decided to turn back and head home. However, a few minutes after that, her temperature started going up again, so that in two hours, it was again back to 40.3. This time, I called my mom and my sister Anne so we could bring Kara to the hospital. (Bong and I agreed he would stay with the kids).
At Asian Hospital, Kara was immediately attended to, and when the emergency doctor found out that she hadn’t had her fever for more than 24 hours, he told us Kara could not be confined. I didn’t agree to that. I told him, we live far from the hospital and I didn’t want my daughter to experience another emergency before they finally believed she needed to be hospitalized. So maybe seeing my determination, he relented and ordered another round of laboratory exams. This time, at around 12 midnight, Kara’s platelets were down to 149, 1 point lower than the normal value. This time, he decided Kara should indeed be admitted to the hospital. Since Kara is still technically a kid, he recommended a pediatrician who lives nearby: Dra. Abigail Pia Suntay.
Dr. Suntay proved to be a wise choice. First time I saw her, I was immediately smitten. hehe. Yeah, she’s one very beautiful doctor, soft-spoken, very accommodating, and patient with my numerous questions. Anybody who knows me would agree when I say I am makulit. I ask questions and I am not ashamed to do so because it’s my daughter’s life at stake.
So on the following day, when Dr. Suntay first visited Kara, her platelet count, from 149, went down to 115. Subsequent tests yielded the same result. Platelet count going down from 115 to 89, to 78, to 56, then to 50; WBC going down to as low as 1.2. At this time, Dr. Suntay called another specialist, Dr. Michelle Rodriguez (who I think is more beautiful than the actress–hmmm…isn’t that a good sign? Beautiful doctors being assigned to take care of my daughter!)
Sunday came and I got the news that Kara’s platelet count has gone down to 50. It was also when I was informed that we would have to source platelets for type O+. I went out of Kara’s room to call family and friends for possible donors. I was able to get 8 PNRC donor cards from my office, and a few people who were willing to be screened for donation. Out of those who volunteered, only Bong was able to donate blood. Some didn’t qualify for various reasons. Nevertheless, I was still very thankful to them because they went out of their way to help us. While all these were happening, I was close to having a nervous breakdown. I was crying, I was praying, I was pleading to God to take care of my daughter. Kara, albeit already 12 years old, is still, after all, my baby. I was forced to calm down when relatives started coming in to visit. When everybody was settled inside Kara’s room, I went out and collapsed in Bong’s arms. I cried so hard.
On the night of November 29, when Kara’s platelet count went down to 50, Dr. Rodriguez ordered plasma transfusion. Aside from the low platelet and WBC count, her other blood parameters were not normal (PTT, PT, clotting time, etc.–I am quite familiar with these as I had to undergo the same tests while I was pregnant with the two piglets) Dr. Rodriguez said the plasma transfusion would hopefully help get things back to normal, though there was still no sure sign that her platelets would go up. So Kara had two bags of plasma that night, and in between, a shot of Furosemide in her IV. It’s a diuretic, used to ensure that there won’t be fluid accumulation in my baby’s body. The second phase of plasma transfusion was to happen 6 hours after.
The next day, November 30, at around 4am, the third bag of plasma was transfused. However, the nurse on duty thought there was something funny in the fourth bag so it was delayed and it wasn’t until 7 am when that last bag was transfused. In between however, Kara experienced difficulty in breathing. We thought she was having an attack of asthma, but later realized that the nurse failed to infuse Furosemide in her IV, which might have been the reason she had a hard time breathing. Subsequent xray confirmed that there was a bit of fluid in her lungs. (Good thing I can’t remember anymore the name of the nurse who forgot to do this, otherwise, I’d have wrung her neck. At the time, I was more concerned about Kara breathing more easily so even if I try my darnest to remember, I just can’t. Good for you, nurse!) Anyway, after the Furosemide was injected, Kara had to go to the bathroom to urinate, and later, was able to breathe more properly. So we all heaved a big sigh of relief.
The next round of tests was done that afternoon. We were hopeful Kara’s blood parameters were getting better but we were informed her platelets went down to 30. However, Dr. Rodriguez said she tried to count manually and said that hers was 60 instead. She said the machine sometimes makes errors and so we tried to end the day on a happier note. After all, Kara’s next blood extraction was not scheduled until the next day.
The next day, December 1, at 6am, another blood test was done, and this time, Kara’s platelets went down further: 23. Dr. Rodriguez delivered the bad news and apologized for she said the machine might have been right after all. She counted manually again, and this time, she said, she didn’t see anymore the platelets she saw the day before. At this point, we were ready with about 7 bags of platelets at the hospital’s blood bank. Dr. Rodriguez immediately ordered platelet transfusion. I, on the other hand, kept texting family and friends, asking for prayers for Kara. That day, I was truly scared we wouldn’t be able to bring Kara home alive. At times, I would just again go out of the room to cry. I was scared. I remember receiving an email from a friend a few weeks back, about a young woman, 24 years of age, who died of dengue. She was allegedly misdiagnosed while in St. Luke’s Hospital. They said what she had was just a bad case of UTI even when her platelets were already spiralling downwards. She later went on coma, and finally succumbed to dengue when her platelet count reached 28. During those moments, I just kept praying and telling myself that no, that wouldn’t happen to my girl. She has very capable doctors who kept on visiting her and checking on her even late at night. Her doctor, Dra. Abi Suntay also always made sure I was always updated. She also always patiently explained to me things I couldn’t understand, and even invited questions just so I could be pacified. She was always reassuring me and telling me they would do everything to make Kara better.
At 9am that day, Kara had her 4 bags of platelet transfusion. At this time, her fever had already subsided and skin rashes, albeit very small, started to appear. That was a good sign, I was told since that would mean the virus was slowly making its way out of my daughter’s body. But just to be sure, our company’s HRD still asked for blood donors in case we needed to have more platelet transfusions. Out of the 6 who volunteered, one was able to pass the stringent screening process and donate blood.
At 7pm that night, another blood test was done, and lo and behold! her platelet count went up. This time, it was 36. At the time, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t need another round of transfusion.
The next day, December 2, another round of tests was done, and this time, we were to hear more good news. Her platelet count steadily went up, this time, to 44. Dr. Suntay was beaming when she visited us in Kara’s room. She told us the good news, and even said we could go home the next day if Kara’s platelet count reaches at least 80. The normal platelet count is at least 150, but 80 would be a good time to send us home since that would mean the trend is for Kara’s platelet count to go up. Everybody was in high spirits, and it was the first time I really really smiled. Add to that the fact that Fr. Felmar visited us that morning. I sent text messages to everybody to thank them for praying for our Kara.That night, I decided to go home for the first time since I had to check on the two piglets who were already looking for their Mama.
Early the following morning, while preparing to go back to the hospital, I heard the happiest news: Kara’s platelet had gone up to 90. Imagine that! We were just batting for 80, but we were given 90! How could God be so good to us, huh? But He really is and so with a very happy heart, I immediately went to Asian Hospital. Needless to say, we were given the go signal to go home and after a short while settling the bill (Hmmmm…cost us P120K) we were on our way home.
But the story doesn’t end there.
This morning, Kara had another blood test at my brother-in-law’s clinic and the great thing is, her platelet count has gone up to 296. Wow. I was so overwhelmed, and I felt truly blessed. God is just so good! And He loves Kara so much, doesn’t he?
So here I am back in the office, recounting what had been a few of my darkest days. It was a very long, scary, and at times, painful journey for all of us. There were a lot of uncertainties, but what was certain, was the love we felt from our family and friends (some of them even live quite far from us). It really touched me to know that even those I have yet to meet (dear blogging friends) took the time to pray for us. I also feel blessed to have had exceptional doctors taking care of Kara. (If you want a really nice pediatrician for your kids, I recommend Dr. Abi Suntay who holds clinic at Asian Hospital and Tokyo Healthlink in Alabang) We also had two favorite nurses and even the maintenance personnel (Beverly and Ronald) were really nice. I am planning to write a letter of commendation for all the wonderful people who took good care of us, and especially Kara, but I just had to write this first, lest I forget.
I do not know if I should be thankful this happened. For sure, it was not a happy thing. But this incident made us realize that only God could tide us over any difficult phase in our lives. Sometimes I still ask what I did to deserve His mercy, but He is, after all, All-Knowing, powerful and loving. Who am I to question that?
And oh, Kara also had very good reasons to get well soon. When we came home yesterday, a brand new touch phone was waiting for her from my mom. And my papa (her grandpa) already promised a new digital camera. So yeah, she should really be well by now.
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