The future unveils itself at each passing second. The present becomes the past and every second before the future becomes our present. Whatever decisions we do in the present affects the outcome of the coming future. Situations, circumstances, and unexpected events throw themselves to us at any given point in time. We choose a path, we see the results, and we learn from it. That’s life.
Every breath I took, I struggled.
While the bus was taking that left turn to the Mabinay route, I was breathing slowly and heavily, exhausting myself with the extreme pain on my lower respiratory tract, like a cat scratching and scarring my lungs to bits. My thorax whistled on every rise and fall of my chest. My hands are cold, clammy, and trembling with fear.
My bag was like a gigantic land of waste because I could not find my medications. I dug deeper, feeling every corner of it for tablet bumps and smooth surfaces.
Alas! Salbutamol and Paracetamol – they were my best friends that moment.
Looking and marveling at the abundance of trees swaying along the highway, I saw my reflection on the bus’ window, tired, powerless, and pale as white. My layers of clothing could not warm me from the cold blow of the vehicle’s air conditioning. My toes are numb and my body could not handle the system overload of pain, lack of oxygen, tremors, numbness, and hypothermia.
I closed my eyes and whispered a solemn prayer. I collected myself, my thoughts, and my strength to move onward.
It was the third bus stop at Kabankalan City, a few more hours away from the city of Bacolod, that I hurriedly bought a roll of tissue paper, two bottles of water, and added another layer of t-shirt over my current clothing, long sleeved cotton shirt and a thick jacket. I have to stay warm. I have to.
Four torturous hours of devising a way to keep me focused on getting comfortable, forcing myself to produce heat, and to stay in touch with my mind – to fight the pain, to fight the cold, to go on, and to get through the life-threatening asthma that I have lived with for 23 years of my existence.
I fell into a deep sleep.
* * *
Three consecutive days of tireless traveling; swimming with the large sea turtles in Dumaguete’s Apo Island, watching the dolphins of Bais City dance to the current, and playing peek-a-boo with the massive whale sharks of Oslob, Cebu, I never really expected that my body would over react.
One thing that I have learned over that last quarter of 2013 is one of the most important things I believe every traveler should always remember and that is to make your health a priority at all cost.
Prior to embarking on a journey back to Bacolod, I was already sick after gulping heaps of saltwater while snorkeling through the tough waves of Apo Island. It was a gloomy day with great chances of rain, thus, the unexpected extra breeze. There were even several instances that the current pushed me downwards causing me to swallow copious amounts of sea water and even ingesting some of it while swimming back to the surface to recover.
The next day, I was coughing productively. But that did not stop me from venturing the glorious beauty of the Manjuyod Sandbar and meeting those friendly dolphins in Bais. The day after that, with only a few hours of sleep, we caught the early morning trip to Cebu to swim with the whale sharks and to adore the majestic Tumalog Falls. That afternoon, we were on our way back to Dumaguete.
Upon arrival in Bacong, I was so weak, I could barely move. My temperature skyrocketed and I was having chills the whole entire time that night. Medication after medication, a sip of red wine, and a soothing whole body massage, thank God, I was relieved.
Pushing my body’s limit? I know. I was severely abusing myself.
“Ma’am, Tangub Ma’am.” the bus conductor hesitantly told me.
It took a short while for me to open my eyes. I was still half asleep when he woke me. People were staring at me as I slowly got on my feet. I was shaking as I tried to lift my backpack – my arms were too tired. The man I was seated next to assisted me and carried my bag for me. It was very sweet of him to offer.
I got off the bus safely and miraculously alive. The next thing I knew, I was at my relatives’ home, flat on the bed, semi-conscious of the world around, nursing myself to be able to withstand another journey back to Iloilo City the next day.
The human body has limits. It was designed that way for people to have a sense of balance, a homeostatic state, a period of normalcy. Before you decide on the things that you are about to do, know your limitations. Pay attention to your body. Pay attention to your health. At the end of the day, you will realize that you could not perform anything, you could not travel, you could not enjoy what you are doing if your body is slowly shutting down, refusing to cooperate.
Life keeps on throwing those situations and random challenges and it is our job to dodge, to swerve, to fight, to keep trying. What’s more important is how we create a path, how we interpret the results, and how we apply what we have learned from these obstacles. That’s just life.