Tuesday, March 13, 2007

To limp or to fly? ... from YOUNGBLOOD of INQUIRER.net

YOUNG BLOOD
To limp or to fly?
By Tina Papera
Inquirer
Last updated 00:31am (Mla time) 03/13/2007

“How do you manage to take a bath?”

I don’t know how many times that question has been asked the past several days and I wish I have counted them. Then I would have known which is more important to other people, how to a take bath or how to fit into my usual tight pants, given my “situation.”

Ever since the accident, my life has taken a different turn. No, the accident was not life-threatening at all, or at least that was what those who saw it have told me. Things just suddenly felt heavier, and a little more difficult. Sometimes there are incidents, or unwanted events that make you rethink your entire existence. This was one of them.

No day could be more vivid in my memory than that day. I woke up feeling as if the whole world was at my feet. The New Year had given me signs that I was starting on the right foot. I was given the opportunity that I have been hoping for some time. I had my whole week planned out; a few adjustments here and there on my list of to-dos and I’d just be breezing through the days. I was starting that Wednesday morning just like any other rare positive day.

I was alone and on my way to work. Just a few blocks away from our house, I got off the tricycle and started walking briskly toward where I would catch a jeepney. I was halfway across, when the thing hit me.

My life stopped very briefly -- some 10 seconds or so. When I became conscious, I felt like a 50-pound brick had fallen on my left leg. I could not move it. Either my nerves had turned numb or the pain was just too much that I could not tell what I was feeling. I was already crying when it occurred to me that I had been hit by a speeding motorcycle.

My knee was bleeding. A patch of denim was ripped from one knee. Everyone around was probably stunned because it took them a few minutes to move to help a girl who was lying face down on the service road in ParaƱaque City, with one leg immobilized.

One tricycle driver called another to help pull me off the road and bring me to the nearest hospital, just a few meters away from where we were.

I was almost hysterical. The last thing I wanted was to be moved, which was sheer torture. The trip to the hospital was the longest five minutes of my life.

As I was being brought to the hospital, I heard that the rider who had hit me was helping carry me there. I wished I could lay my hands on something to throw at him. But my arms kept rubbing my leg, and my mind just wandered.

As I type this, I am trying my best not to think about how itchy it feels inside my plaster cast. My foot is sending signals to my brain that only a small amount of blood is flowing underneath it.

The doctor told me it would take only a month before my leg can breathe and I can walk, dance and run again. But for now, a month is like forever.

I reported to work one day, but my boss advised me to take a leave, get some rest and recover. I told her that being unable to work, and having more moments to ponder the pain of being temporarily crippled would kill me.

I am getting used to the jeers of colleagues who think the way I walk is funny. The more immature ones even imitate me, and walk like an amputee. And yes, almost everyone has asked me how I manage to bathe myself.

An even more impertinent question thrown at me was: How could you have sex with a cast? My simple answer to the stupid question: If there’s a will, there’s a way.

I was never asked how all this has affected me. Or maybe even changed me. Nevertheless, I would say I have been humbled by it.

Up to now, my family is still searching for the rider who hit me because he disappeared after I was transferred to San Juan De Dios Hospital. But I have resigned myself to the fact that we would not find him. I know God sees everything and that He saw what happened. If the guy would not be able to pay for the hospital bills, so be it. Every night I thank the Lord that I am still alive. I got my second chance to make a difference.

Isn’t the fact that I will get to use my leg again just grand? During the first few days when I was in pain, physically and emotionally, I complained and sulked over my misfortune.

But now, I know He allow things to happen for a reason. I don’t have my own car or driver to bring or fetch me to and from work. I have to endure the agonizing journey, feeling every bump below my foot, getting flashes of what happened, dreading the sight of motorcycles and hearing again the crashing sound. But I try to be strong. I tell myself that while I may be stable on just one foot now, God is holding me up on the other.

A few days ago, the management honored me with an award. It was the first award given for the year. It was called “Wowing Passion Award.” We are a service company and one of the virtues we value most is passion.

Before the award was handed out to me, our HR manager said it was being given to someone who had become an inspiration to others in our workplace. He said my example showed that no one has a valid reason to feel exhausted or incapable of doing things.

I think God never gives us trials that we cannot overcome. When we are crippled, it is up to us whether to limp or to fly.

Tina Papera, 27, is a store marketing manager for Shakey’s.



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