Love and Marriage

My husband, the caregiver

I have always been used to my mom taking care of me after surgery, well for most of my surgeries, that is. After three of my surgeries while I was in medical school, she had to stay with me for 2 weeks or so to take care of me postoperatively. I was in LA for last year’s surgery, so it was my Auntie Becky and family who took care of me. This time, there’s only me and Sam, and friends, to whom I’ll always be grateful. To those who have brought us meals and flowers, and offered encouraging words and prayers, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Dealing with post-surgery recuperation is never fun. There’s the pain, of course, then the post-anesthesia effects (which includes the horrible consequence of extremely difficult bowel movement), inability to use that specific part that just underwent surgery, the inability to move around and do things, sleepless nights owing to difficulty finding the least painful position, nausea, vomiting, not being able to bathe normally on your own, oh the list is endless. For that, Sam had to skip work for two days after my surgery to stay home with me.

At first, I was worried that Sam wouldn’t be able to fully take on the caregiving role. But this past week just proved me wrong.

During the day of my surgery, he decided not to skip work because he wanted to distract himself from worrying too much about the surgery. But when I wasn’t out of the operating room on time because the procedure took longer than the doctors expected due to the extent of damage in my shoulder, he told me he couldn’t help but worry. When the nurse finally called after 3 hours to inform him that I was already in the PACU and instructed him to buy my meds, he went out and came back with 2 grocery bags full of food and drink. He wasn’t sure what to feed me once I woke up, so he bought all of my comfort food- macaroni and cheese, Reese’s peanut butter cups, orange juice, and chocolate jello. The first 2 nights, I had to sleep in a rocking chair, and then on the couch. It was too painful and uncomfortable to sleep flat on the bed. He slept on the floor, beside me. Of course, sleep is an overstatement. Eventually, he told me he had not been sleeping because he would get up every hour or so to make sure I didn’t turn on my left side, or take the bandage off in my sleep. He cooked for me, fed me, did the dishes and the laundry, gave me sponge baths, helped me get into my clothes- he practically did everything for me. On my third post-op day, he went back to work. Although I had to wait for him to get home before I could do anything major, I didn’t have much difficulty because he had already cooked and left me some food before leaving.

Sam did everything for me this week, and never complained. Last night he told me his body had been aching, probably brought about by sleeping on the floor of the living room. And that was the only complaint I heard from him all week. I did tell him he could go to sleep on the bed and that I would be fine on the couch. But when I woke up this morning, he was asleep, thank goodness, but still on the floor.

When I think of how much patience and hard work it takes for him to work and provide for me and then to come home, take care of a debilitated me and do the chores the way I do them, in that excruciatingly ceremonious way, I think of how exhausting it must be for him. And yet here he is, taking care of me, hanging on to that last ounce of patience he has. Shame on me for worrying and doubting his capacity to take care of me. He may not be as thorough as a nurse or as smooth and gentle as my mom, but I know he’s doing the best he can, in his own rough and tough way. And that’s enough for me to say that he’s the best caregiver right now I could ever have. Thank you, my love.

One hour prior to surgery

Being the helper God designed me to be

2 weeks ago Sam and I had an argument about whose turn it was to cook. Both of us actually cook and we both have our own specialties, but because he has more love for it than me, he has done most of the cooking since we got married, and so my role has been the cleaning up afterward (and not just in the kitchen). The situation happened 2 weeks ago- I was cramming for an exam and he was tired because he came from work so nobody went to the kitchen to prepare dinner. We were silently waiting for each other to make a move, until I asked him (expecting him to cook something), “So, what are we having for dinner?” And he replied, “I’m really tired, can you do the cooking? After all, you are the woman.”

That got me. All of a sudden, all the lectures on gender equality and feminism from my college days flooded my mind. Of course I didn’t mention it to him, until we drove somewhere after dinner and we were silent in the car the whole time. I broke the silence by telling him about his lack of gender sensitivity by assigning a role (cooking) to me just because I am the woman when in fact both of us cook and he has actually done most of the cooking ever since. As usual, he responded by citing Bible verses about my role as a helper. I didn’t contest the biblical fact that I am supposed to be a helper. I just didn’t want him to assign the cooking role just because I am the woman. Wait, is cooking specified in the Bible? Well , good thing it wasn’t really a heated up argument and we did arrive at a compromise in the end: If he needed me to do the cooking or anything else for that matter, he could just ask for my help, not tell me to do it “because after all, I am the woman.” It turned out to be just a technicality; he just needed to omit that line. Or was it really just a technicality?

In the Philippines, we literally had a helper, more like a maid, who did most of the household chores when I was too busy attending to my patients’ needs in the hospital. She wasn’t really that efficient when it came to cleaning, so I would often pick up after her when I had the time. Also, because I love (and I do mean that, my friends could attest to it) doing the laundry, handwashing that is, I would usually do the laundry before she even gets to collect it from our laundry basket. Some people just don’t do things the way you do no matter how much you teach them.  That would be my obsessive-compulsive mind speaking. In all fairness, she really did her job by doing the chores that would otherwise be difficult for us to add to our already busy week. In other words, during the first 3 years of our marriage, we didn’t really get to the point of arguing over whose turn it was to cook dinner because we had help then- in the form of another person who wasn’t me. I guess I got so used to being busy in my roles then as a doctor and many other things like managing the wedding shop and being a makeup artist, that I’ve forgotten my role as a wife and a homemaker. However, God is dealing with me right now on that specific aspect and let me tell you that the journey has not been easy.

Sam and I both worked in a Baptist mission hospital back home. We lived in the hospital compound and were being called on during the most unholy hours to attend to patients’ needs. He worked in the lab and of course I was a doctor on call who did 24-hour (and more) shifts. To serve in this hospital was our calling when we were still single and younger (we’re still young ). In fact, the hospital was where we met. After we got married, we continued to work in the same hospital for 2 more years until we felt God urging us to move out. We were uncertain of our would-be circumstance once we quit our jobs, but after almost a year of waiting Sam got petitioned by the hospital in Juneau, and so we moved here.

Bottomline is that right now, Sam’s got a job. I don’t. For me, to be unemployed and not be able to practice my profession- well, to be honest- have been quite a struggle. How long am I supposed to wait until I can be a doctor again so that I could help those who are sick? I have run out of options and the waiting has become unbearable. I have been cleaning, organizing stuff, doing the laundry, paying bills, cleaning again, and doing all the other things that Sam doesn’t get to do, and I still feel that it’s not enough. My life’s mission is in a healing profession. Housekeeping is not fulfilling enough. What I have been doing for the past 5 months (I know, I know, it’s not that long a time) is just not enough. I have been ranting (mostly in my mind) about unemployment, complaining to God and asking Him about direction. Well, not until Sam got sick 4 days ago and I had to do most everything, even getting up at night to give him his medications and massages to staying up all night to watch him and make sure he was breathing normally (he has asthma), to going out in the freezing cold to start the car and the heater so he wouldn’t feel too cold once he gets in and drives to work. Then, it slowly started to sink in. Maybe this was going to be the role I would have to accept and take right now. Maybe this is what God wants me to do- to be a wife to my husband; to be the helper He designed me to be, RIGHT NOW. Although Sam is encouraging me to still pursue further medical training and then perhaps establish private practice, I need to stop stressing over the hows and the whys of that right now. I need to stop grumbling about how much longer I would have to wait until I get that accomplished. I finally realized that I needed to lay aside my own goals and give priority to this higher calling right now. It IS hard. Who said it was easy? I am still struggling, but I know God will give me strength and show me how.

I finally gathered my guts and attended the women’s bible study at church yesterday. And guess what the topic was? “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” (Genesis 2:18)




“For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.” 1 Corinthians 11:8-9


Beijing on our first year

I can’t say that Sam and I both love to travel. He’s more of the stay-at-home type. I’m more of the adventurous type who could afford to get lost in the middle of nowhere. Since we got married, well, now he doesn’t really have a choice but get lost with me (chuckle). On our first year as a married couple, in December 2010, my parents treated us with a trip to Beijing (it might have been a strategy for us to give them a grandchild, but nope, it didn’t work). Three months before that trip, I fell down the hospital stairs after my morning rounds and well, broke my ankle. I was in a cast for 3 months. They finally took the cast out a week before the Beijing trip. Great timing for a fall, one might say.


*just look at that expression on his face

Anyway, this trip was exciting for me because it was Sam’s first time outside the country and I couldn’t wait to see that usual child-like, excited expression that becomes plastered on his face everytime he’s into something new Well, true enough, he was so much excited that he took off his jacket at the arrival area in the airport, just to experience how cold it really was. And it really was! It wasn’t cold actually, it was freezing at -5’C. He couldn’t stop talking about how frozen his toes were when we stepped out into the cold night.

Anyway, so here are the things that made that trip memorable:

1. We had a FREE 5-day tour of Beijing and its sights. Yup, you read that right, it was free, more like unexpectedly free. It was an unexpected gift from my dad’s boss. And it included our own private english-speaking tourguide (named Nina), transportation and lauriat food!

2. It made me hate cold all the more. It made my aching ankle hurt more. As usual, Sam loved it! I remember we had to wear 3 layers of socks just to keep our feet warm.

3. Naturally, since my ankle was still healing, it was very painful out in the cold, much more when we had to walk miles just to get around the palaces! So, Sam had to carry me on his back a lot of times while we walked through gardens, museums, palaces, practically everywhere. Sometimes breaking  your ankle has its perks. 😀 Oh, and did I mention we had priority boarding status on the plane and that I was on a wheelchair the whole time at both the Philippine and Chinese Airports?

4. I learned that we couldn’t eat chinese food for more than 7 days in a row. After the 3rd day of eating chinese lauriat food, we just couldn’t take it anymore, so our tourguide brought us somewhere to eat pizza buffet. Even the smell of Chinese food was intolerable already.

5. When eating, always do a taste test. Eat a little piece before eating a whole spoonful. This is especially helpful when the server places a plate of jiggly chocolate jello on the table, and you think it was desert, and when you eat a whole spoonful, it turned out to be steamed pork fat. So much for chocolate jello.

6. You know that chinese translation/ speaking app? Well, it helped us a lot, well, maybe just a little. We learned that one word could mean a lot of things, depending on how you pronounce it. Like when we asked for cold water, for example, we got an empty glass. And when we repeated it, the waitress gave us a table napkin.

7.  By the way, restrooms aren’t restrooms, they’re called WCs- as in Water Closets. And some of them have cubicles that don’t have doors. So imagine squatting on the floor to pee and facing the sinks and the mirror, with people coming in and out of the restroom.

8. You know those automatic hand dryers in restrooms? You would appreciate them more in extremely cold weather. We were always on the look out for WCs- not because we felt like peeing, but because we wanted to warm our freezing hands under the hand dryer.

Ten days in Beijing was quite an experience. The place has so much history that even the trees tell you stories. Thanks to our tourguide, she had me really interested in listening to her stories and the history that China bears. We may not have a chance to go back to China, but I will always remember that adventure. How could I not when Sam carried me on is back most of the time?


*did we lose some pounds just climbing up the Great Wall?

* See that look on his face? That spells E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D from carrying his wife on his back.
* See that look on his face? That spells E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D from carrying his wife on his back