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Living Life with a Disability (Part 1 of 3)

As if going through every day isn’t challenge enough, imagine facing life day in and day out managing a disability to boot.  I cannot help but wonder how efficient and humane the US and its government treat Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to some degree in comparison with the Philippines. Although it is far-fetched as of now to have automatic disability pensions locally, certain privileges which are geared toward the rehabilitation and assistance of PWDs’ should be at least put in place to safeguard their interests.

Persons with Disabilities (PWDs’) are people too! They are not just some excess baggage whose existence depends solely on other people’s charity. These people strive, in their own way, to do what they can to be productive citizens of society despite the odds they face. Like any other person, they have individual talents to show which demand respect. They don’t need charity and pity; what they need is guidance and assistance so that they may rise up to the challenges.

Why, you may ask, do I feel strongly for PWDs’? That --- is simply because --- I too am one of them. Although I was not born with a disability like the rest, I did not escape discrimination from both society and the government which aims to protect people like us. Let me share with you my story so that you may see for yourself. Remember, all of the information that I relate to you now are hard facts that happened in real life.

Before going through the knife 21st December 2015, I could say I had a fairly “normal” life several months and years back; had a decent job at a call center, a good boss, new friends and endless opportunities for new trainings. I still continue joining outreach programs as my schedule allows, and really enjoyed them. This is an offshoot of the work that I used to do during my tenure at the Philippine Senate, wherein I spearheaded livelihood, outreach and Food Kitchen feeding programs in various schools and cities. I feel blessed just to be able to reach out to people, put smile on their faces, and make a positive change in their lives.

However, tragedy suddenly struck. As days passed, my back and nape hurt bad. The company nurse and doctor had it as an increase in blood pressure and back spasms which are typical of work in a call center industry. But I had my doubts on their evaluations because I have been in the industry for years, and this is entirely different. The pain increased to tolerable levels, but my arms and extremities somehow felt numb.

When the pain and numbness reached an excruciating point, I was rushed to a medical facility for laboratory and x-rays. Specialists were called to determine the cause of such ailment, and the harrowing truth surfaced --- I was diagnosed with Cervical Kyphosis with Disc Herniation, C5-C6. To give you an idea how bad that is? Having an operation to correct scoliosis is just like treating a minor wound as compared to this.

The medical procedure is Laminectomy, Lateral Mass Screw Instrumentation C3-C7. An emergency surgery must be done as soon as possible because of the need to take out two (2) protruding bones along the spine on the nape area, and then fix titanium spinal implants (easily 200k at its lowest price). The bones must be taken out because it is restricting several nerves to function properly; causing numbness, restriction on blood circulation, lack of sensation in the arms, as well as severe pain and trauma on the lower back. Without immediate operation would mean permanent nerve damage, which consequently would immobilize the arms and legs, thus will place me in a wheelchair as a living vegetable --- for life.

I was admitted at the Philippine General Hospital 19th December 2015, operated on 21st December 2015, and discharged 30th December 2015. Total costs of the operation, hospitalization, and fees alone ballooned to half-a-million. Subsequent therapies, rehabilitation, and home medications will possibly reach somewhere around another hundred thousand or two. Anyone who is lesser-willed and in the same financial condition as I did would have just probably gave up and waited for the inevitable to come; given the same situation staring you bluntly at the face.

*To Be Continued on Part 2 of 3.

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