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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> Turning 21 (Long Post)
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05/15/2006 03:50:50 PM · #1
It's May 15th 2006.

Today I celebrate my "second" birthday. I turn 21 today.

Some of you might have read a post I did a few months back soon after the Afterlife Challenge. I was 15 at the time - full of life and promise. Then in the summer of 1985, I attended a fiesta celebration at my grandfather's house. As with all Filipino parties, food and beverages were plentiful. One particular desert included coconut as a topping which I ate. Little did I know that the coconut meat was left in room temperature for a couple of hours. The warm and humid summer temperatures spoiled the dish.

A few days later, I came down with a very high fever with temperatures topping the thermometers. I grew pale and weak within hours. My grandmother decided to use acupuncture to relieve some of my high fever which it did but it only worked for a few hours. As a growing boy, I seldom got sick so this occurence made my mom worried and concerned. For peace of mind, my mom rushed me to the hospital where she worked as a Head Nurse. The doctors (good friends of hers) advised her that they would like to keep me overnight for some thorough checks so she obliged. I tested perfectly and they said that I had a mild case of gastro-enteritis or the common stomach flu. I was about the check out of the hospital in the early afternoon when my condition got worse. My life would never be the same after that point.

In a matter of hours, my condition went for the down turn. My fever grew and I started having convulsions. My fever was so high that the doctors asked my mom if they can pack me in ice. AN "ice pack" for those of you who don't know, is a process where they literally pack you with cold water and ice in an attempt to lower one's fever. It didn't work. As I laid in a bath of ice and cold water, I went into code blue. Code Blue or Code is a medical term the doctors and nurses use to represent a real or suspected imminent loss of life where the patient has stopped breathing and the heart has stopped beating. My heart stopped for an agonizing 4 and a half minutes - an eternity for any mother.

I don't recall anything prior to the code but I do recall, vaguely, what transpired during the crisis. I saw, from above the room, my mom at my side, my grandfather standing in one corner and my aunt on the phone. Nurses and doctors were around me with all sorts of medical equipment beeping and lighting up. I recall seeing the flatline on the EKG machine. I was confused as to why I was seeing all of this happen when in fact I saw myself on the bed with a priest by my side. I recall my mom holding my hand with glassy eyes. I was her only son but for her to be inside the room, she had to look at me as a patient. I can only imagine the fear and anxiety she was feeling at that time.

The next thing I remember is waking up the next morning in the Intensive Care Unit. The first person I saw was my mom. She was asleep by my side - peaceful and serene. I called out for her and she woke up and immediately called out for the doctors. Soon before I knew it, I had maybe 3 or 4 doctors and nurses by my side.


"What is your name son?"
"Rikki". I replied.
"Do you know where you are?"
"Yeah I'm in the hospital right?"
"Can you count to 10?"
"Of course I can". I replied.
"Do you remember what happened yesterday?"
"Not really. But I'm really tired and thirsty".
"Where's my dad?"
"He's here now Rikki", my mom replied


My dad was on a business trip in the southern islands of the Philippines. He was in a middle of a very important meeting and had to rush back to Manila to be at the hospital. In a matter of hours, the doctors transferred me to my room. My mom told me that last night, I had received my final sacrament. I am Roman Catholic and the final sacrament that we receive is the annointing of the sick - a sacrament only given to those who have passed away. I was shocked but happy to realize that my family was there with me throughout the whole ordeal.

So today, I turn 21 my friends. Happy and content and full of life. Life is too precious and we shouldn't take it lightly. I am blessed to know so many dear friends and family. Take this time to say "I Love You" to your precious ones. Things can change in a blink of an eye.

Yesterday was Mother's Day. I hope you shared this special day with your loved ones. My mom will always be my best friend and one of my closest confidants. She will never leave my side no matter how older I become. To her, I am still that young boy she raised. Her first child and only son.

"It's my birthday tomorrow Mom", I said yesterday with a wink in my eye. She understood what I meant and hugged me in return.

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Cheers,

Rikki

This was the thread I was referring to.

05/15/2006 03:55:26 PM · #2
pfff.. wow.

if I just knew how to express myself in English right now.. got the tears in my eyes..

edit:

I was speechless... happy 2nd birthday Rikki!
and a big hug for you :)

Message edited by author 2006-05-15 16:10:29.
05/15/2006 03:56:14 PM · #3
Very Touching!
Happy Second Birthday Rikki!

Glad you are still with us. Thanks for sharing!
05/15/2006 03:58:34 PM · #4
you are quite the story teller. you convey such emotion. "happy birthday!"
05/15/2006 03:59:30 PM · #5
I'm such a cry-baby *sniff*.
Happy second birthday, Rikki.
(((((((((( Hug )))))))))
05/15/2006 04:00:50 PM · #6
This story touches my soul. It kind of reminds me how I felt this weekend when I spent Mother's Day at my grandmother's house. My parents both passed away so I really wanted to be with my grandmother on Mother's Day.

I loved these sentences of your story:

"Life is too precious and we shouldn't take it lightly. I am blessed to know so many dear friends and family. Take this time to say "I Love You" to your precious ones. Things can change in a blink of an eye."

It's so true and exactly how I feel about life. I'm also glad to hear you're still with us. Thanks for sharing.
05/15/2006 04:06:20 PM · #7
Peace and long life my friend - happiest of happy birthdays.

(((manly-hug)))
05/15/2006 04:10:20 PM · #8
You're very talented! You convey strong messages with your pictures as well as with your words! Thanks for sharing and for reminding us to celebrate life!
05/15/2006 04:13:56 PM · #9
Just out of curiosity, why does your profile say you are 35?
05/15/2006 04:15:27 PM · #10
if you read the story you'll understand :)
05/15/2006 04:16:36 PM · #11
Rikki, Happy Birthday!!! (trying to see keyboard through my glossy eyes)

I enjoyed hearing that you 'celebrate' a second birthday. My sister also has a second birthday the date of her second open heart surgery.

Guess we are not original....

You wrote your story so touchingly....Thank you for sharing!

Message edited by author 2006-05-15 16:17:18.
05/15/2006 04:19:11 PM · #12
Heck of a story, Rikki. That's an episode we have in common; my earliest memories are of being left to die in the hospital, with meningitis. Of course, I was much younger. But I've always thought, my whole life long, that I'm on my second life, and it has definitely colored the way I lived it, even as a child.

Thanks for sharing.

Robt.
05/15/2006 04:22:11 PM · #13
21! You can hit the bars and drink now!! :-) Seriously - great story - glad you made it back, else I wouldn't have a new friend!
05/15/2006 04:24:19 PM · #14
Happy 2nd 21st birthday, Rikki and thank you for sharing your touching story. You have a great family and it's refreshing that you treasure them so much. Congratulations!
05/15/2006 04:39:53 PM · #15
Wow, Rikki! Happy birthday. I'm so glad you're here to have it!
05/15/2006 04:47:40 PM · #16
Wow! Very touching story! Happy "Birthday"! Love the picture of your family.
05/15/2006 05:14:39 PM · #17
I thought about saying "Happy Life Day!" instead, to celebrate your life, but then I rememmbered that horrible Star Wars Holiday Special from 1977 and the memory of Carrie Fisher singing that Life Day song started haunting me...so I'll just say "Happy Birthday" anyway and be done with it. ;)
05/15/2006 05:14:49 PM · #18
Happy Birthday Couchmate! Very moving story *hug*
05/15/2006 05:19:19 PM · #19
Happy birthday big guy! We're all happy you are here and now we know why during the pressure of challenges it seems you have ice in your veins...
05/15/2006 05:27:24 PM · #20
Uhm.... WOW! Very touching story. That explains a lot (for me at least) I will have to say that I've noticed in every picture of you Rikki, you seem to be full of life with an extra "twinkle" in your eye. You also seem to be a very warm and genuine person. I'm now sure that this is a direct result of the things you have been through. If we could all learn to view life in the same way, this world would certainly be a much better place. Happy birthday and thank you for sharing your story!!!
05/15/2006 05:36:24 PM · #21
Good on ya Rikki!
05/15/2006 05:39:32 PM · #22
"Take this time to say "I Love You" to your precious ones. Things can change in a blink of an eye."

Thanks for reminding us and sharing this story, it's touching! I think most of us tend to forget how precious our life is and that we should appreciate every day. I even forget that.. quite often.. even if I'm on my "second life" too. So thanks for the reminder and happy "second" birthday :)
Btw It's amazing that you can remember what you "saw" when this happened. Oh, and I also want to say that your family is lovely! You are a lucky man :)

(edit for spelling :P )

Message edited by author 2006-05-15 17:42:34.
05/15/2006 06:45:19 PM · #23
A rikki bump
05/15/2006 07:54:07 PM · #24
Thank you for sharing that, and for reminding us what we usually take for granted. Powerful and touching, and we're glad you're still with us. :)
05/15/2006 08:00:44 PM · #25
Happy Birthday ((((Rikki)))) and MANY more!!
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