February 22, 24 and March 1 are very unforgettable date for me. One year ago on that same dates, an unexpected event happened while I was on a holiday. I was spelunking with a friend in Sagada, even recommended the most difficult trail which is the Cave Connection. The latter is a demanding trail that connects Lumiang and Sumaging Caves. We started early and upon entry we even said prayers, even sought the permission of who ever is guarding the cave (it’s what locals usually do) before descending and entering the narrow vertical holes which they call the opening😀
Today’s anecdote is not about my caving adventure but instead about life’s lesson on being an adventurous and outdoors person, being an optimist and lastly being surrounded by people who cares.
Going back to the story, a Swedish guy joined our group, so there were 3 of us and 1 guide. Everything went well (this was my 3rd trip in this trail) until we reached the Dancing Hall in Sumaging cave, this hall signals that you’ve reached three-quarters of the trail. On our way down..our guide was assisting my two friends while I stood on a flat elevated stone formation. Was standing and slowly adjusting my stance when I lost my balance and fell downhill. In less than 60-seconds the three guys heard a thud and there I was face on the dirt, my two arms and hands on a airplane brace position protecting the neck and the face while my left leg on a more or less 135 degrees angle side position.
They didn’t hear me shout nor cried. It happened in split seconds and there I was sprawled on the slippery, wet, dirt on the ground. They came to my side and I complained that I cannot stand, sit or move without assistance. That time I knew I have a fractured bone! My guide who’s very young yet composed (though I can see on his face that he is worried, but did his best to keep calm) asked me the basic questions in rescue. Told him I wasn’t ok but I am still awake. He then asked for permission to leave us so he can call for rescue.
While waiting for rescue, I asked my friend to help me check my knees as I can feel something soft and warm, my pants were torn and saw my knees with 1-inch wide holes, the skin totally torn and the flesh exposed mixed with blood. Did I flinch? No! Did I cry by that time? No! Was I worried? Yes I was… my worry was about how fast I will recover so I can continue on my holiday.. ha! ha!
Rescue came, it took them 20-minutes to reach us (it should have been faster if not for the person who gave incorrect information to the rescue team regarding the fall location). Anyway, the rescue team was composed of around 40 trained rescuers, the core rescue composed of 10 people, they were the ones who evaluated my condition, bandaged, placed and braced me on the rescue/stretcher bed. They were also the primaries who carried me on the stretcher whereas the remaining 30 were the ones who lined-up, held on the ropes, provided lighting and assisted the team to prevent slippage and another accident while they navigate the cave going to the exit. We were actually at the bottom of the cave and exit is located at the top.. so it was a difficult rescue mission not to mention that I am heavy as compared to women of my height and frame.
So after 40-minutes we reached the only hospital in Sagada. My torn flesh was stitched (later found out it wasn’t cleaned properly before getting stitched). X-ray was conducted and was told I didn’t break any bone but I couldn’t walk and move i complained. I was assured it was muscle spasm only, but was given intravenous painkiller. The day next day my condition didn’t improve, so I decided to go back in Manila. My guide’s aunt Ate Mel didn’t agree that i commute in my condition so she arranged for an ambulance to transfer me at Makati Medical Center that day. It was a gruelling 15-hr ambulance drive, I was lucky to have Ate Mel to care for me during the entire trip.
Arrived at 10am on the 24th of February, I was attended at the Emergency Room at 2PM, underwent a very specific X-Ray for my hip and femur, after the results were released the ER Doc was alarmed advised to undergo CT Scan and after 30minutes they were all worried and had to discuss my case! At 3PM the orthopaedic doctor told me I had to undergo closer reduction operation at 6PM. The anaesthesiologist explained how they will put me to sleep. I entered the OR alone at 6PM, the procedure took 7-hrs and I woke up at exactly 1am as my doctor told me. Was transferred to the recovery room and saw my left leg with a metal rod and a 15lbs weight was attached to it. My leg was raised hinged on a bar on my bed.
So, what really happened was I fractured my hip, my femur dislocated it was dislodged from my hip going towards the back which according to my doctors is a very rare case of dislocation. I was a bit worried because I was misdiagnosed in Sagada hospital, and I a day and half without any treatment and there’s a possibility that my leg nerve was deprived of oxygen after the dislocation. If it happens it has a long term effect, it may cause early onset of arthritis.
I was told that, my hip and femur will undergo another CT Scan after 5days.. so the result was the femur and hip still has space and they didn’t fit together, again my doctors advised me to under another operation which is Open reduction. They will cut through my hip and then attach a Titanium metal to hold the hip and femur together. It was another 7-hr operation, again I will have to undergo general anaesthesia. On March 1 the operation was performed! It was successful, I woke up again exactly after 7 hours. I after 5days I started therapy at Makati Medical’s Rehab Center and practiced using crutches. That time I cannot put weight on my left hip and leg everything should be on the right side of my body. I cannot sit in an angle of 90degress nothing more or less than that for 1month.
I stayed at Makati Medical Center for 3-weeks until I am confident that I can go home. Since I live in Cavite, I requested to have my therapy and rehab session transferred at to be conducted at The Asian Hospital’s Rehab Department. After 1 month on April 1, my hip and femur were intact and the space was gone. It looked normal, I can already walk with weight on my hip but still has restrictions on movements. On May 1, I can already walk with full weight on my leg and only using a cane to support and steady myself. I started to report at work as well 2x a week, I can already drive a car but I need to elevate my butt to maintain the required movement restrictions.
According to my doctor, family and friends my recovery was very fast and amazing. For a major and unusual fracture like mine, they weren’t expecting that I will be able to walk after a month. I attribute my fast recovery to the following:
1. Excellent Doctors, my orthopaedic surgeons are specialised on that specific part of the body. They were the major key why I am now physically able.
2. Confined in an advanced and big hospital was important factor, they have the latest technology and facility to address my condition.
3. I must give credit and thanks to my nurses and nursing aid who took good care and encouraged me to get well.
4. My family that supported and took good care of me from the moment I was confined until I completed my rehab. They were by my side every step of the way. They give me strength and courage to recover.
5. My friends, colleagues and acquaintances who never stopped praying for me and visited me in the hospital. They made sure that I will not be stressed or worried with work or other concerns that awaits me when I get well.
6. I must say, ambiance is very important when recovering. Our house is small but located in an area that has a lot of open space, facing the morning sun and with so many plants (we have a mini garden) surrounding the house. Plants have a good effect on recovery from an illness as studies have shown. Green plants made feel better.
7. My yellow Labrador, Callen kept me company while I was in bed. He’s positive demeanour encouraged me to get well the soonest
8. Proper diet is very important. My doctor advised that I should lose weight so as not to stress my hip and leg.
9. Will Power and Optimism are my two strongest traits that made me recover fast. I am a very positive person and has a very strong will to get better. It helped me.
10. Lastly Faith, have faith and pray. Prayers made by my family and friends made me stronger. My own faith kept me alive and healthy.
There so many other factors but these are my top reasons for recovering. During my confinement and rehab I took several photos to remind me of my journey… and I am sharing them to you..I hope my story will be an inspiration.