Saturday, February 3

The Lucky One

I was browsing through my pictures folder and I saw a recent picture of me and my youngest brother, Lucky. My, he's so grown up and even way taller than me. He's seventeen now, I'm eleven years older than him. He's my original baby. I'm proud to say that mos tof my pre-teen to college years was spent taking care of him. Our mom was working so hard that time and we can't even afford a yaya. When I was in school, Ate Juliet (a cousin whom my mother was sending to college) was the one in-charge. After school I'm off to simultaneously finishing assignments and making sure he has had his dinner, cleaned up, and ready to bed by the time our mom arrives home late at night from work. He's a big part of my life. I think I'm this good in taking care of my son because I've already practiced years before with him.

Lucky was christened Louis Rafael but from the day he was born our family fondly called him Lucky. He was supposed to have a twin brother who was supposed to be named Levi. On the seventh month of my mom's pregnancy, the doctor warned her that the babies should be taken out through caesarian section. Her pregnancy at that time was already high-risk because she was already 39. Months before Lucky was conceived, my mom was into medications for the treatment of her Bell's Palsy. When my mom's tummy was cut and Lucky taken out, they discovered that Levi did not develop into a full-grown fetus and was dead. Months before Lucky was conceived, my mom was into medications for the treatment of her Bell's Palsy which could be the reason why Levi did not develop well. The doctor also found out that my mom's appendix was already infected and ready to rupture. That's when Lucky got his nickname.

But that's not the end of it. At eight years old, was already a survivor of a freak accident. I was already in 2nd year college, then. He was in Grade 3. We were already living in our house in Pasig but my siblings were still studying in Adamson Univeristy and me in UP Manila. We usually left the house at 4am, ride a jeepney to Quiapo then cross the Ayala Bridge and walk all the way to Adamson. We did that everyday. My aunt has a store near the school and the small room atop the store was converted into Lucky and Lloyd's room during the school days so they will not suffer the long travel everyday. Lloyd was still in high school, then. Before going home from school, I pass by my aunt's place to cook their dinner, check their assignments, and prepare their uniforms for the following day.

I still remember that day, while taking the long walk from UP Manila to San Marcelino St., I was already sensing something was wrong. A few steps away from my aunt's store, I saw blood on the pavement. When my aunt saw me, she cried out "Naku, nahulog si Lucky, dinala na sa ospital!". My aunt was hysterical. The xerox machine operators beside her store narrated that Lucky fell from the 3rd floor of the old building beside my aunt's store. They said Lucky was playing hide and seek with some kids on the third floor of the building and he was blindfolded. The third floor of that building was abandoned and it had no walls facing the street below. I immediately went to my mom who was already teaching her class at Adamson and went straight to Medical Center Manila.

When we got to the emergency room, Lucky was already conscious but was not in pain. He was in a state of paralysis from the neck down. The doctors already had an xray of him and told us that 3 discs of his spinal cord (C1, C2, and C3) were either cracked or crushed. We stayed for 24 hours in the emergency room before we were sent up to a room because we had to wait for him to stabilize. The doctors told us that it would take some time for him to be able to move. It was still good news for me. Lucky was lucky because he was still young and his bones are still growing.

For a whole month, we lived inside that hospital. My mom and I took turns in taking care of him. Everyday, we had to clean his wounds. He had big wounds on his head because of the fall. We also had to massage his arms and legs, turn him on his side to avoid bed sores, brush his teeth, and give him sponge baths. We had to feed him milk through a tube inserted through his nose. He still wasn't moving. Two weeks after the accident, I jumped for joy because Lucky moved his big toe. The days that followed gave us more promise because Lucky was already moving all his fingers and toes.

We moved to Medical City for another two weeks for his therapy sessions. With therapy, little by little, Lucky learned how to chew, how to strengthen his grip, and how to sit still without slouching. When his bones became a little stronger, he needed to go on therapy once a week and there was no need to stay in the hospital anymore. That meant more work for me because that meant no more nurse to help me take care of him. I remember giving him baths every other day on our garage because he still can't stand up and he had to sit on a monobloc chair while me, Kuya Erwin, and our maid gave him a bath. I think it was four months after the accident that Lucky was able to stand up and walk slowly. He was so stiff and moved like a robot. After a year, Lucky's neck brace was removed because his bones finally healed. Before he went back to school, we needed to teach him how to hold a pencil and write again.

Now, he's seventeen and graduating from high school this March. I am so thankful to God that he is still here with us, all grown-up. I still remember praying for his life at the hospital chapel on the day of his accident. Lucky is not the only one who's lucky. Our whole family is too.
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