coronaviruschronicles, health, loss of a child, motherhood, personal, rant

I started 2020 Fat and Pregnant

Some people don’t like it when you tell them unpleasant things. Well, I started the year fat and pregnant – but happy. I was supposed to have a baby in September. The pregnancy did not continue developing and I had “spotting” while teaching at school, but the sac was still growing. When I was admitted to the hospital to expel the palm-sized sac, I refused all pain medications. Just because I did not cry, people thought that I was not in pain. I was, but I was suffering inside so much that I thought it was just right that I felt it physically, too. I went back to work while I was still having severe cramps and bleeding. That was better than staying at home.

Soon after, we went on lock-down. It was challenging to be locked in with your thoughts. So, I found some clients to write for. I now have 4 steady clients and I am going nuts but it is better than being left to my thoughts. I also exercise a lot. I lost 8.5 lbs in 5 weeks, shedding a few more of the proof that I was pregnant earlier this year. No, it is not easy to just rise from the trauma and say, “Oh, let me get pregnant again.” Would I have any emotional support? I remembered I stopped talking about my loss because people felt uncomfortable. Nobody wanted to talk me through it, except a few friends in the Philippines via Facebook messenger.

personal, rant


I am stressed out, but sometimes I feel like it is just futile to express it – complain about it. There is nobody else to talk to because everyone else seems to have a more weighty concern. To say the least, at the moment, the people of Marawi are certainly taking the brunt of all the Philippine troubles.
Yes, sometimes social media posts can relieve some burdens. Someone out there is ‘reading’, albeit maybe not meaning to. The good thing is that Joreb’s catechism class has been cancelled today. Bad news: I have a module due tonight and I am only halfway through it. Also: UWI grad school term has started again. Convent Prep exams are waiting to be written, or at least rewritten.
I am not a fool, though. What’s personal is personal. My complaints are about simple things – barely scratching the surface. I don’t think this is a good thing, though.
personal, rant

I Rarely Get Mad and It Just Happened to be in Public…

It’s a crazy Friday. I had a few mishaps earlier: I walked back to school, looking for something that turned out to be at home and I walked to the public library just to find out it is closed for the day because of an event.


Then, the situation became worse when we went to shop. One guy was very disrespectful. He bumped my mother and was saying, “Look this Chine…” Then, he continued muttering. “All that shopping, chung chung chung”. So, when he came to me saying, “uh.uh.uh”, heavily implying I could not speak English and he must therefore grunt like a mute person while he pointed the product at me, I had to answer back. I got the gist of the gesture, though. It was a power play. He wanted to come before me because I am a foreigner who could not speak English. There were other counters, especially for someone who only had a couple of items. I had stepped aside for many other people before. However, my parents felt that I should not have behaved like that in public. There was no cursing involved. My “loud” voice probably would not even be considered loud by some. I was insulted, but I did not insult back.

What do you think Dominican friends? All I said was “If you had asked nicely, I would allow you to come before me, but you were rude.” Those who know me well or have at least had a talk with me a few times are aware that I am not the sort to pick a fight or make a scene. What’s worse: security at this supermarket laughed along with the rest of the crowd. Nobody came to say, “Oh I am sorry about that. The guy has some mental issues – (he certainly did not look like he had mental issues – maybe a drug problem or just had the awesome luck to be naturally rude). Well, that’s what the security said. Still, they should have at least whispered to us, “Oh he does not mean anything by that. He’s kooky” or they could have diffused the situation with a tap on the shoulder of just about anyone who was involved (me who was getting pale with anger, my husband who defended me but somehow added to the fuel, and the guy who just had to be there at that very moment and be his usual charming self).

Anyway, suffice it to say that I feel disappointment everywhere: from my calm dad, my mom who says she never makes a scene in public but who has a much hotter temper, and myself because I had to second guess myself.  I probably still would be more disappointed with myself if I had responded with, “uh, uh, uh”.

loss of a child, personal, preemie, rant

Aunts Cry Over Loss of a Child, Too

We do not just cry, but we weep.

Last Sunday morning, I woke up feeling disoriented. There was something different in the air. I remembered sleeping, worried, to the sound of the phone ringing and ringing and dad shuffling about the house. There was something wrong. In the wee hours of the morning, faint rings could also be heard by my half-asleep ears.

I do not know why, but I did not rush to the bathroom as I usually do. I went to the kitchen to see dad, standing by the dining table, back bent. He called my name and said that he wanted to tell me something. I knew what he meant before he said the words.

“Jordana is gone.” Then, he sobbed. I cried, too, but I also hugged my kind dad who never cried and never complained. My calm hero was crying, and I did not know if I should cry and cry or just be strong for him. I was caught in the middle of those two urges.

After more than two months of restless sleep after Jordana Belle came into the world too early on May 1st 2016, she left the world too early, too, on July 10th 2016. She made me celebrate my birthday first, on the 8th of July.

The family still went to church. We looked normal enough. The problem with this loss is that we could not even openly express it, the body of the child in question being thousands of miles away. Mom, who is visiting the Philippines since the first week of June,  can cry all day. My brother and my sister-in-law cried for their lost angel, of course. Their hearts are breaking the worst. Dad, on the other hand, did not want to tell anyone else. We carried our grief here in Dominica secretly.

I have to admit I am harboring resentments, too. I have close friends who have never given any words of comfort when Jordana was alive. So, I only informed those in my Facebook secret group. They were the ones who gave support every step of the way: blood donations, sharing of fundraising link, giving of funds, prayers and words of comfort. Some would definitely post hollow condolences. I do not want to see them. Where were they the last two months?

I kept on stopping myself from posting foul things. It does not seem fitting. I am the aunt of an angel, a beautiful perfect soul. I love her and would remember her all of my life.



fundraiser, health, loss of a child, personal, rant


Social media has taught me a lot lately.  I realized that when you asked for help on social media, it is equivalent to being stabbed in public. Your friends and family who are not there in the streets to see you get stabbed are excused. They did not know. How could they help? But how about the others who were able to read your post?

My fundraiser had several reactions on Facebook:

  • some immediately donated money from their pockets (they are like the ones who have cars and can drive you to the emergency room in no time)
  • some did not have extra money but made sure their concern is felt through PMs and other contributions (prayers, blood, messages of support, re-sharing of link) – they are like the ones who do not have vehicles themselves but are there to press on the wound while calling 911
  • some merely watched as I see group posts racking up “seen”, but I did not get a message from them (they are those who watch on the sidewalks, afraid that blood will be splattered on them)

It sounds slightly bitter, but I have to be brutally honest. Social media had shone a light on who my real friends are. Weirdly enough, a lot of those who offered their help (in words, cash, prayers, blood, etc.), were strangers. They had the right to turn their backs on me. The stabbing did not concern them. They do not know me, and yet they were able to say kind words. Some even took out money from their wallets. For all they know, this could all be a scam – this fundraiser for my 26 weeker niece. I could not blame them. In the streets, people worry about helping a stranger because it could be a ruse for a stickup. But friends, people who know you, they should be there. Right?

As a college student, I was extravagantly generous I would say. My dad is a doctor, after all, and he was also generous. He charges very little compared to other specialists. He worked free of charge several times when I was still little. He is a good example.

I once paid 3000 pesos to get a friend’s hair fixed. I lent 5000 pesos to a friend in need. I lent 1500 pesos to a student of mine. I never heard from him again. I never minded paying for my friends’ lunches whenever we went out because my tummy was too sensitive that I could no eat at carenderias. I guess I was hoping that karma would unleash something good for me. In the end, there are simply people who are good no matter what their circumstances are. The richest among my FB friends never contacted me. Friends who are struggling teachers, writers and artists are the ones who offered comfort in my time of need.

Because of my beautiful angel-niece, I learned a lot about friendship and appearances.


personal, rant, teaching

Teaching When There’s A lot on Your Mind…

So, I am not really a bundle of joy lately but at least I have children at school who make me smile. Of course, admittedly, there are also those who test me so much that I sometimes end up wondering if I could have handled things better. Teaching college/university is much easier. I taught using a projector using software (Maya, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator or whatever – yes I miss teaching them) that catch students’ attention on its own. I taught in an air-conditioned lab and janitors cleaned up after me. I miss laboratory room T407 where I used to practically live. Teaching primary school is very challenging in it being the fundamentals, the basics, and the stepping stone. I hope I can master it, because right now I don’t think I have yet. One has to be careful. I am almost 35 and I can still remember a teacher who said something to me in not so nice a way when I was 9.
I never dreamed of becoming a teacher in the first place(i had other dreams: journalist, nun, doctor, animator) but I ended up teaching university for three years and now teaching primary school for almost one school year. It must be destiny, and I hope I could make it worth the while not just for me but for those I am teaching.
health, personal, rant, tarlov cysts

Tarlov Cysts Updates

It has been two years – almost – since I was diagnosed with Tarlov cysts. I could still distinctly remember sitting on a bench and blankly staring at the white walls of the hospital where I had the MRI. Doctors assured me that the condition was not malignant, that I was not going to die. These declarations were somewhat comforting but could not change the fact that my world had turned upside down. There was also the worrying fact that most doctors do not really know what to do with the rare disease.

A few days after, I quit my gym membership. I stopped carrying my preschooler around, and he begun to wonder. Of course, he was getting bigger but the change was so abrupt he thought that something was wrong with our bond as mother and son. He acted out for awhile, but now he finds the few times that I carried him as special. Those few times could effectively calm him down from a tantrum.

I could no longer run, or walk as fast as I wanted. I had to find new ways to maintain my weight, and I need to do just that if I want less pressure on my back. With my PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) adding to the brew, I thought I was fighting a losing battle. However, I was able to find a rhythm, the commutes and walking, the pacing around in the classroom as I teach, and the short breaks for lunch had managed to solve the weight problem. I lost more than ten pounds without any gym membership. But that was just one small part of the whole problem.

For a while, I thought things were fine. After seriously pondering surgery, my neurosurgeon had finally given me an okay signal. She was so happy that things were going well with me, that I was not suffering from symptoms, that she ended up returning all of my MRI records to me. She said that the pain that I was experiencing was more likely produced by my herniated disc, and not by my Tarlov cysts. Yes, I also have that problem. I don’t even know if the disc could be somehow fixed without affecting my cysts. I also have bilateral scoliosis. Things were pretty darn awesome. Let’s get the party going.

Last week, however, things went south fast, in more ways than one. I had a sharp pain that reduced me to tears. It started off with strong pressure on my lower back. I actually thought that I was about to have an unwanted bowel movement at work, but it was not the case. The pressure continued to build until I recognized it for what it was – PAIN, in capital letters, yes. The pain was worse than the one I experience when at labor.  I was rushed to the school’s clinic (I work as a college instructor) on a stretcher. It was embarrassing, but necessary.

Today, my pelvis feels like it could break anytime. I walk as slowly as I could. I am afraid to do things. I am afraid that I would end up a cripple. I should get an MRI again. The cysts could have grown larger. The herniated disc may be in worse condition. I do not know what to think.

On the other hand, I want to be free with my movement again. I want to have another child. I want to hike, climb, run. I also want to be understood, because people like me with invisible diseases are often misunderstood.



personal, rant

Got the idea from

A-Age: 31 (almost 32)

B-Bed size: Queen-size

C-Chore you hate: I am not domesticated. 😀

D-Dogs’ names: I don’t have a dog right now, but the last puppy I had was named Brutus.

E-Every morning: I have a routine that I must follow or else everything goes to hell. 😀

F-Favorite color: purple, brown, black

G-Gold or silver: gold

H-Height: 5’1  1/2″

I-Instrument you play: none but I wanted to play the piano as a child
J-Job title: multimedia instructor

K-Kisses or hugs: both 🙂

L-Home: 2 1/2 bedroom condo unit

M-Mood:  cheerful though tired

N-Nicknames: Jabel, Belle, Erica

Operations:  restitching of episiotomy after giving birth (wound opened up after a week), impacted tooth extraction (received general anesthesia)

P-Pet peeves: slow mall walkers, close-minded people

Q-Quote from a movie: “‘Οur lіvеѕ аrе nоt оur оwn. Frоm wоmb tо tоmb, wе аrе bоund tо оthеrѕ, pаѕt аnd рrеѕеnt. Αnd by еасh сrіmе, аnd еvеry kіndnеѕѕ, we bіrth оur futurе.’ – Cloud Atlas

R-Right or left handed: Right

S-Siblings: one younger brother (3 years gap)

T-Time you wake up: 5:15 am

U-Underwear: brief-style panties

V-Vegetable you dislike: okra

W – Watch: Marc Jacobs with black leather strap (I can’t think of anything else for “W”)

X-X-rays you’ve had: teeth, chest, ovaries

Y-Yummy food you make: HAHAHAHAHA… I don’t cook, but perhaps lettuce dressing or grilled sandwich will do? 😀

Z-Zoo favorite: none, really

health, personal, rant

Taking the Strain Off My Bad Back

If you have read a few of my more recent posts then you would know by now that I have degenerative scoliosis, two protruding discs and two Tarlov cysts along the S1 and S2 regions. My painful condition is alleviated by Lyrica, which is a strong nerve pain reliever. The medicine, however, leaves me zonked out some mornings or afternoons because somehow it is not able to make me drowsy during the evenings when I actually take it.

So, yes, I have a bad back and bones that are older than my 31 years. The neurosurgeon advises against heavy loads. I wonder how I can make it through my life without having to carry heavy loads.


I have a 5 pound laptop (8 Gig RAM, core i5, NVIDIA GeForce). I can’t make Photoshop and Autodesk Maya work in a netbook, obviously.

My bags are mostly made of genuine leather. My mom loves buying me bags. I get bags from her whenever she visits the Philippines.

I have a 45 pound three year old. Love him so much!

I am a multimedia teacher. This means that I don’t just bring my laptop but also textbooks and piles of test papers.

I love my gadgets: my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and Kindle keyboard. I bring them along MOST of the times. Now, I am trying NOT to bring them too often and perhaps not together.

I love BOOKS. Good thing there is Kindle or else I would bring loads of books if I cannot decide… but then again I am an MFA in Creative Writing student. So, I still bring some books that are not available via Kindle.

However, I really do need to change my lifestyle.

So, here are some must-haves – at least in my case:

A large bag made of cloth material with a zipper. The last time I used one without a zipper, my wallet, credit cards, ATM cards got stolen. That last time was just last week, btw, and I am still waiting for some of the other replacement cards.

Comfortable, all-around shoes. Locally made pairs from Rusty Lopez (at only 2000 pesos for each pair) are heavenly. The leather is light and soft. I need more pairs of these. I have a tattered grey one and a brown one.

A slim book or ultrabook that can handle Maya. Oh ok, I have to save money for this one.

A pillow for sitting down for hours. Thankfully, my husband got me one for our sixth wedding anniversary. Now, I am wondering if I should buy another to bring for work.

At the moment, the above are all I could think of. I will come back to this blog to update when I think of more.

(image courtesy of


personal, rant

A Relationship with Pain

In fifth grade, in the school lab where classmates were afraid to prick their fingers for an exercise that I now understand to be questionable, I pricked mine. Like young vampires hungry for a single drop, boys and girls flocked to get a donation. I was pleased in a strange way – strange because I was never the sort to really care if people wanted me to be part of their clique. If someone wanted to be my friend, then fine. In college, I had my share of several true friends. We were a mix of guys and girls, rich and poor, cheerful and jaded,  but we all had one thing in common: a love for the arts and computers. We were animation students.


In high school though, when things were a little bit lonely, a prick of a finger can turn into art. Droplets of blood became a miniature painting of a rose. They asked if I was alright. I was fine, really. I discovered that physical pain is better – easier to endure, at least – than emotional pain.

As a mother giving birth, pain was glorious and necessary. It gave life to a wailing infant, alive and hungry for more about living. A shot of Vicodin was still a bonus, though.

As a mother, however, pain has become equal to fear. There is the fear of leaving somebody behind, someone precious and beautiful. Youth can make you embrace risks but experience teaches caution. Caution is boring but wise.

Life is a relationship with pain. We all have to go through not just surgeries and physical wounds but also heartbreaks and disappointments. We just have to understand when to endure pain and when to overcome it.