I am Aaron Garate, a 24 year-young member of the working class of the Philippines, and I have recently been diagnosed with severe spinal cord compression. There are also some impressions of bone weakness and small bodies, but the nature of these items are to be confirmed (via biopsy) after my spine surgery.
I am writing this to humbly ask for your help in obtaining the financial assistance we need to meet the invariably high medical costs of the necessary medical treatments for my very delicate situation.
MRI slates of my Thoracic Spine
For a long story short, please see below. Read further for my story in-length.
(as of 20190502): After consulting in detail with the performing neurosurgeon, we were able to determine the plan for attack. Laminectomy to relieve the spinal compression, and the addition of spinal "braces" to provide ample support for my spine. This would be great, as then I'd become something akin to Iron Man, even if by just a few screws and bits of metal. Kidding aside, the doctor is currently preparing the needed components, and will let us know by next week of the operation and other details.
The back pain started in January, when I simply suddenly just woke up with a strained back. If I knew then that it wasn’t just a simple back pain, so much less pain would have been avoided. At the time, I brushed it off as just something because of tiredness or the pains of growing old. I still had the capability to carry heavy things, and I thought to myself, yes, I could still continue on doing that. So I pushed myself, until I realized that it simply won’t just disappear if you ignored it. Late January, I began making appointments with our company clinic to identify my problem.
In the middle of February, I was diagnosed initially with lumbar strain, and the treatment provided was to take medicines and to rest. This was because the symptoms I was feeling were all related to back pain. From then until mid-March, the muscle pain would be alleviated but would return once the medication ran out. During this time, I went to work as normal as could be, considering the underlying muscular strain. I thought to myself back then, I really should get some exercise and get stronger since I’ve been sitting around all day at the office getting back pains.
By mid-March, as the symptoms still persisted, I returned to the clinic and was recommended to take x-rays of my lumbar spine (lower back) and to consult further with an orthopedic. Based on the x-rays and consultation, I was recommended to undergo physical therapy to address my muscular strain. At this point in time, the major symptom I was still experiencing was the lumbar strain, so we really had no idea that there was something else wrong until it happened.
After the time of my second physical therapy session (April 2), I began feeling difficulty in moving my legs. This was a surprise as it seemed that the PT made things worse. Unfortunately, as I thought it would get a little worse before it got better, one week had passed and three more sessions with therapy had gone by. By then, it was difficult to walk and my movement stumbled. But as a bonus, my lumbar strain was actually relieved (silver linings). We scheduled appointments with an Orthopedic Surgeon at Makati Medical at the soonest possible time, and was ordered to do the MRIs which were all done within the Holy Week. Fortunately for me, I encountered no major accidents, as it was evident for my consulting doctors that the spinal compression was quite severe.
By this time, the diagnosis (as mentioned above) was quite a shock. We had already some indications as we were able to see the reports of the MRI over the week, but it was something else to hear from the Neurologist and to see the actual images of my back. It was really evident that my spine was not as solid (there were dots/cracks), and that the spinal nerve was pinched in the middle. To add to this, the medical estimate for the treatment (decompression surgery and treatment for the bone weakness) was up to 500k.
Currently, we have met with a knowledgeable and experienced Neurosurgeon (almost 30 years of neurologic practice) who has briefed us on my medical situation and assessed the next steps on my treatment. He was able to thoroughly explain what is going on and what needs to be done as soon as possible. He has reached out to his fellows and assures to find the best doctors for the very delicate procedure they are about to perform.
Because of this we were able to discuss and consult with in detail with another Neurosurgeon who laid out more concrete plans as to the treatment of my medical condition. Based on our discussion, it would be better to ensure spinal stability after the laminectomy by adding orthopedic "braces" on my back. This would ensure that I would be able to recover properly, as there are some underlying issues that would still need to be addressed once confirmed. The doctor is currently preparing for the admission and operation.
Per our latest information, the procedure would be performed at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center. More details will be forthcoming once we have obtained the relevant information from the doctor.
Through this time, I have kept my faith high and it has been rewarded in full with the overflowing support I received from all I have encountered during this “experience”. I am now reaching out to you, a greater, wider audience for your assistance, as with all our available means, it may not be enough to cover all medical expenses/ complications and recovery thereafter. Spinal decompression is only the first step, we still need to know the underlying cause why this happened and what is causing my bones to get “eaten” up. Once the laminectomy is done, our next step would be the biopsy of the specimen that will be removed and with prayers, the mass will be benign.
I am hoping for the best and for a successful recovery from my condition.
Your assistance in any kind, especially in prayer, is very greatly appreciated.
P.S.: If you would rather donate offline via bank instead of Paypal, you can send your donations via BPI:
- c/o Maria Cecilia Garate
- BPI Savings Account: 1949-0680-79
For Aaron’s high school classmates and friends from the Good Shepherd Cathedral, you can also send your donations via Sharmaine Marie Abarquez's BDO account, please message me to get Shasha’s account number or please deposit to:
- George Andrew G Garate:
- BDO savings: 000661485714
For Aaron's work colleagues, you may send your donations to the account below. Please also feel free to coordinate with Maidy Michelle Cubil or Jan Lou Barron (for UCPB account holders) for your donations.
- Metrobank account (c/o Aaron Marc Garate): 174-3-174-22443-0
We will update this page from time to time for any offline donations. Thank you.