Good day! I am Mark Jorel C. Reola. I am now 22 years old and I am currently residing in Malolos, Bulacan. We are in need of funds in order to continue my physical therapy sessions. Let me tell you my story:
I was only able to notice the first symptom during my fourth year in high school. This was during the practices for the holy mass and the graduation ceremony afterwards, which was a few weeks before the real deal. I was frequently leaving the area to head to the comfort room to urinate. The moment I realized what was happening, I instantly became afraid that this was going to be a big problem for the program that consists of an opening ceremony within the campus, a short march to the Cathedral, a holy mass, and the graduation itself without any breaks in between.
A day or two before the graduation, I was able to notice that I was drinking a lot more fluids than before. This was the time that I thought that the frequent urination was caused by my frequent drinking of fluids – and not the other way around. So when the graduation day arrived, I prepared myself by not drinking anything a quarter of an hour before the ceremonies began. It was a very memorable graduation to say the least. I was so happy afterwards that I was finally able to drink after the program was over and especially because I was able to “hold it in” and not manage to embarrass myself.
Right after this, I remembered mentioning the problem to my parents and they said that I was probably just very nervous, or that it was just cold for it was already late in the evening.
When I woke up the next morning, I instantly noticed that the symptoms of frequent urination and drinking of fluids were still there. I also happened to get into a program on the television discussing how to know if you have Diabetes and its consequences. This made me afraid enough that I persuaded my parents that exact same day, that I should have my blood sugar checked. They said that I needed to see a doctor first, and that they will bring me to one if I really wanted to.
We went to a doctor that was very familiar to me, for she was the internist of almost all of my relatives on my mother’s side. When it was our turn to see the doctor, I told her that I suspect that I have diabetes, for I was urinating very frequently and I get thirsty very quickly. After asking me a few questions, she gave us a laboratory request for the checking of my blood sugar. When we handed the result to her, she said that my blood sugar was already very near to a dangerous level, and that I should begin eating healthier and staying away from sweet treats and flavored drinks. (I eventually got Diabetes)
After the fear of having some serious illness went away, life went on as usual until the various colleges and universities have opened their doors for enrollment. The first time I went to Clark was through a UV Express ride from Malolos to Dau that went through the expressway without any stopovers. Of course, the commute was very difficult; so much that we had to find a different way right after enrolling. While doing so, my parents also found me an apartment where I would be staying while I still had classes for the week where I shared a room with two other freshmen students. Having the apartment was very convenient for I only need to commute twice because of it. The first time is at the start of the week and second when I go home after I finished all my classes.
At the beginning of every week, I go through a very difficult and stressful commute, for I had to urinate four times before I arrive at the university to attend my first class of the day. The first time is when I arrive at UV Express station where I ride a van that takes me to SM Pampanga. Second is before I ride the jeep that will take me to the Astor Park near SM Clark. I use the comfort room before riding another jeep that will take me inside Clark. And finally, once I arrived at the university, right before the classes begin.
For the commute when I had no more classes left for the week, I usually go to the comfort room only three times. Once before riding the jeep at the back of SM Clark. Another one when I reach SM Pampanga, and when I arrive at the house.
Going through the frequent urinating problem was very difficult. So when I had the chance, I would make my father give me a ride to school at the beginning of the week and pick me up at the apartment once all of my classes for the week are over. This went on for two ordinary and one summer semesters.
Near the end of the summer semester, when we were having our finals for Math 14, I had a very difficult time reading the questionnaire prepared by the professor. The questions were written in a single piece of paper the size of a standard high school notebook. I was very lucky for I did not have to voice out my concern for the professor had the entire class read out loud the exam before we were allowed to start.
After the semester was over, I had to meet a friend at SM Pampanga to return a few books that I borrowed. When I was heading to the meeting place, I happen to bump into lots of people. This event was very weird for me at that time, for the people that I bumped into were not in my vision.
After I told my mother about the problem I had when I was at SM Pampanga, she then brought me to one of her friends who was an optometrist. When the evaluation was all over, the optometrist said that I still had perfect vision. We could not believe the result we ended up with. This is when she decided that when she finds time, she will take me to Manila and have my eyes evaluated there.
We went to ophthalmologist George Co at the Chinese General hospital after a few weeks where they did the same evaluation to my eyes as the optometrist did, but this time, I performed very poorly and was only able to read the three largest letters in a chart that they made me read. After Doctor Co made some observations, he then concluded that he could not see anything wrong with my eyes and asked me to go through an OCT and Perimetry for us to know what was wrong.
Once we had the results, we immediately brought it to him and he said that the findings were that I had very underdeveloped nerves around my eyes which was the cause of the problems with my vision. He then prescribed some vitamins for my nerves, gave me some anti-Glaucoma drops, and asked me to wear some prescription glasses with grades of -250 and -255. We were then asked to return to him after a month.
Before the month ended, I woke up in the middle of the night when I started feeling a throbbing pain at the back of my head, this was the first time that this happened. The pain lasted for a few minutes where it gradually subsided. Aside from this, I started to also notice that the glasses were not doing me any good and that my vision has started to get smaller and smaller, as if I was inside a tunnel looking at the exit that gets farther as time goes by.
After telling my parents about what is happening to my vision and the pain I felt that one night, they decided to bring me back to the ophthalmologist a little earlier than what was agreed upon. They performed the same evaluation as before, but this time I cannot distinguish even a single letter on the chart. When it was our turn to see doctor Co, he asked why we were back so early and evaluated to see what was wrong. He then requested that I go through an MRI scan, so that we could find out the reason my vision was deteriorating.
While the MRI scan was ongoing, the radiologists were alarmed that they were not seeing anything wrong with my eyes, but there was something in my brain that was not supposed to be there.
They asked my parents if they can add payment for the procedures they are going to make to identify what the machine detected during the scanning of my eyes.
After a considerable amount of time, we got the call that the results of the two MRI scans were ready for pickup. When we got our hands on the results, we immediately brought it to the ophthalmologist. The doctor was very surprised with the results of the scan. He then suggested that we should look for a neurologist, and have him or her check the results for us. He said that it was not within his field anymore.
We tried going to a hospital called Alta which was very close to where we lived. We then asked around if there was a neurologist that was affiliated and has a clinic at the said hospital that could interpret for us the results of the MRI scan. Fortunately, one of my mother’s sister used to go to a neurologist which she then recommended to us. The doctor she was referring to is someone called doctor Lao, who works at the hospital we were currently at. We then acquired his schedule, went back home, and waited for the day that the neurologist would be there.
After seeing the results, doctor Lao did not waste any time and told us what was wrong. He told us that according to the scan, a tumor has developed on my pituitary nerve, which was the one responsible for my frequent urination. The frequent urination causes my thirst. The same tumor was responsible for the gradual deterioration of my vision.
The neurologist recommended that I go through surgery immediately. He said the larger the tumor becomes, the lesser the chance of my vision going back to normal. He then referred us to a neurosurgeon who was affiliated with the MCU hospital named Dr. Soveron. My parents immediately contacted the neurosurgeon and scheduled ourselves to meet with him at MCU as soon as possible.
When we finally met Dr. Soveron, he immediately went to the point. He was already been informed by our neurologist and was already aware of my situation. He told me that I had a condition called pituitary adenoma and that I had to go through an endoscopic pituitary or transsphenoidal surgery. It is performed through the nose to remove tumors on the pituitary gland and skull base. In this minimally invasive surgery, the surgeon works through the nostrils with a tiny endoscope camera and light to remove the tumor with long instruments.
The neurosurgeon told me to get myself ready, for by the time all the preparations have been completed, he will call us and perform the surgery.
Unfortunately, the moment the doctor called, I was going through another disease called pneumonia. This suspended the operation to a later date for it had me confined in a hospital for more than a week. When I was still being treated of my pneumonia, my parents started searching for possible donors of blood which I am going to use when I go through the operation. With the help of some of our relatives, we were able to find some volunteers that gave us the 3 bags of blood that was required.
A few days after getting discharged, the neurosurgeon called my parents that he wanted to perform an evaluation to see if anything changed with my condition. Once we arrived at the hospital, Dr. Sevron was not there. We then received a call saying that he was on his way, and that we should start looking for a private room, so that we could stay for the night and prevent any more medical problems.
I was so shocked at that time, for the original purpose of our visit was only for a checkup.
However, the Veteran’s hospital had a lot of patients, so there were no private rooms readily available. We were sent to the emergency room, as it was the only place with vacant beds. We waited there until we were given a proper private room, which took quite some time.
Once we have settled down in the private room, my father told us that he would be going home to get the things we would be needing in our stay in the hospital, and that he would not be back until the next day. When he left the room, it was only me and my mother who were left. When she fell asleep, I started thinking about the surgery, and what are the chances of it failing. I started to feel afraid again, that I wanted to back out from the operation that will happen sometime the next day. I started to ask myself “why does it have to be me? What did I do to deserve this? Will I be able to get my vision back?”
Then I sensed that my mother was already awake. She saw how miserable I was and began comforting me. She kept telling me that we will get through this and that they will always be there for me. That I have gotten this far and that God will continue to keep me safe. That I have to trust the doctors, nurses, and especially in myself.
The next day, after father arrived, there was a group of nurses that went inside our room and began evaluating my current condition. As this happens, mother gave me one last piece of advice. She said that I should raise my right hand as much as I can, when I am feeling something wrong or if there was something that I needed, so that I could get the attention of the doctors and nurses.
After the nurses have taken my vital signs, they made me wear some kind of oxygen-looking-mask that was connected to some kind of medical equipment that made me lose consciousness very quickly.
As I was unconscious at this point, the story continues in the perspective of my parents.
While my parents were waiting for me outside the operating room, there was another person who went through surgery. The nurses were complaining that their noses were at the point of almost bleeding, for the patient before me was English-speaking. Then my parents heard someone yelling “ Ay eto pa isa!”. It was the nurse who was pushing me out of the OR. When I was exiting the operating room, my hands were both raised, and I repeatedly shouted “I cannot breathe!”.
According to the nurses, they were expecting me to temporarily breathe through my mouth, for the surgeons took some of my fat from my stomach and inserted it through my nostrils to prevent further bleeding.
I briefly regained consciousness during my eight hour stay at the recovery room. The very first thing that I noticed was that my father was looking after me. But only after a few seconds, I felt a very intense pain, making me lose control of myself. The nurse who was assigned to me gave me a shot of painkillers strong enough to relieve me of the pain in seconds. This also made me fall once more into a very deep sleep.
After a few hours when this happened, the nurses began moving me from the recovery room to the ICU, where they will be able to monitor me a lot better. I finally left the ICU after almost an entire week, and I spent the rest of my time recovering at a private room with my parents. During this time, my parents noticed that I was talking a lot during my sleep, but they did not mind it too much for they knew that I was only dreaming.
The most memorable dream that I had was about me and my family being at McDonalds. I was trying to convince my parents to fall in line already, so that we could order and eventually be served immediately. It was very confusing that they did not want to order food when we were inside a fast food restaurant. When I finally decided to go to the counter myself, the lady at the counter kept asking me if I wanted to try their new egg and hotdog breakfast meal, which was not what I wanted at that time. When I went back to the table where my parents were, a group of women entered the restaurant. I thought that my parents already ordered food from the phone and it has finally arrived. In reality, the four were actually nurses who were there to check my vital signs.
The room that we were given at the time of my recovery had a major problem, for when it rained, the floor becomes very wet with water. I remember that in one of my other dreams, I was asking my father to assist me because I had to use the comfort room. When he opened the door, the room was filled with pails full of water. Apparently the floor of the room was wet in reality, to the point that when you step inside wearing only slippers, the water will surely make your feet wet.
After an entire week since the doctors allowed me to transfer from the ICU to a private room, we were finally ready for discharge. Coincidentally, I regained my consciousness at the exact moment my parents began packing up our things. We did not visit any hospitals for quite some time until our neurosurgeon asked us to come to his clinic as soon as possible.
We went to his clinic exactly two weeks after we got discharged from the hospital. When it was our turn to see the doctor, I immediately had the feeling that we were about to hear some bad news. Once my parents have entered the room, mother immediately asked the doctor “was the tumor entirely removed?” The doctor responded to the question my mother asked, but it was not the answer mother wanted to hear.
Doctor Sevron said that the operation was not a complete success, that they were not able to remove the entire tumor, and that I had to go through open surgery.
When we have left the clinic, father told me that I should not worry too much, for we are going to ask for a second opinion. When we started asking some of the doctors that I had in the past if they knew a neurosurgeon who have already encountered my current situation. we managed to get a recommendation from the pediatrician who used to check up on me regularly at the time I was at the Veteran’s hospital. The neurosurgeon that she suggested was from the cardinal hospital, someone called Doctor Aguilar.
When we finally came to the agreement that we will be seeking the opinion of the neurosurgeon from the Cardinal hospital, we called the pediatrician once more to verify Doctor Aguilar’s contact information, the other hospitals that he is affiliated with, and the schedule of his clinic.
When we finally met Doctor Aguilar, we asked about his opinion if the open surgery that doctor Sevron wanted to perform was necessary and if there were other options for us to choose from. He told us that it was very wise of us to first seek out another’s opinion before agreeing to what doctor Sevron wanted to do. He said that an open surgery would be able to deal with the tumor that was left, but it was not the only option that we have.
Doctor Aguilar recommended that instead of going under the knife for the second time, I should consider the option of going through both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The function of chemotherapy is to remove the part of the tumor that was left after the first surgery, while the radiotherapy will prevent any more tumors from growing and spreading inside my body.
The Doctor also said that we have to have a neurologist performing regular examinations as I go through both treatments to make sure that they are working well so as not to put my life in danger. He even recommended someone called doctor Robles, who was apparently very experienced in dealing with such cases.
He also suggested that we should visit the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) and look for a hema oncologist called Doctor Gepte who was mostly responsible for the chemotherapy in the said hospital. He also said that instead of having our radiotherapy at the National Kidney Transplant Institute, we should go to Saint Luke’s and search for the radio oncologist named Doctor Kenneth Sy.
When we went to Doctor Robles, he said that we should go to him as frequent as we can so that he can monitor my health while I go through the two treatments.
Next, we visited the PCMC to look for the hema oncologist called Doctor Gepte. When we finally found her, she said that I would be requiring three sessions of chemotherapy for the remaining parts of the tumor to be completely removed. Although I was only required to go through three sessions of the treatment, it took me almost an entire year to complete them. This was because chemotherapy causes lots of pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, leukopenia, a decrease in the patient’s platelet and so on. We spent most of the time at the hospital recovering after going through a session of chemotherapy.
We also went to the Saint Luke’s hospital and searched for the radio oncologist called Doctor Sy. When we finally met him, he said that I would have to go through 28 sessions of radiotherapy, with the first 14 sessions focusing on the skull and the spine and the remaining 14 sessions concentrating on the part of the brain where the tumor was found. He explained to me that there would be no pain during the treatment and that I need only to stay still until the process was complete.
On a side note, the reason why I require the help of another person or a cane when standing up or walking is because the muscles of my legs became very weak for I spent most of my time on a hospital bed with no exercise whatsoever. Also, the reason why I always have body pains is because one of my maintenance medicines, specifically the steroids, makes the bones of a person very brittle and can easily become very painful.
Sadly, after all the treatments that I have gone through and all the medicines that I took, I did not regain my vision.
I have been undergoing physical therapy in order to stand, and walk properly by myself. However, due to the numerous treatments that I have gone through, our funds have been mostly depleted. The money that I will be able to raise will be able to help me continue my physical therapy sessions. I hope you will be able to help me.