Posted by Paolo Gemino on March 25, 2013
How do we conquer challenges in life?
Paolo GeminoOne of the most unforgettable and challenging situations I have faced in my life happened late last year.
One morning in November 2011, I woke up with a strange feeling in my legs, particularly the left, which I found hard to move. Despite this difficulty, and mindful of the upcoming second periodical exams, I, with my mom’s assistance, mustered enough strength to go to school (Jose Abad Santos Memorial School, or Jasms). However, as the days went by, the pain in my legs became more and more unbearable. My parents then decided to seek medical attention.
I was subjected to various lab tests and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The doctors’ diagnosis was that I had Pott’s disease, an infection that usually attacks the spine. I was told that two bones of my spine were affected, and that I needed to undergo immediate surgery to remove those bones. The doctors also had to provide a metal support for my spine, and perform bone grafting—a surgical procedure that replaces missing bones in order to repair bone fractures. This was necessary so that I could move my legs and be able to walk again.
This situation was very difficult not just for me but also for my parents and the rest of our family. We prayed hard to God for deliverance and financial support, since the doctor advised us to prepare an enormous amount of money for my medical needs.
Truly, God is good, for He answered our prayers. Before the scheduled day of my surgery, financial help came pouring from my parents’ friends, relatives, and church mates. No words can describe how grateful we are to all of them. Also, by God’s grace and mercy, He protected me from worse things that could have easily happened to me, considering that the extent of the infection had severely weakened the support of my head. A slight slip could have rendered me totally paralyzed.
In my hospital room two days after my surgery on Nov. 28, 2011, I showed my mom that I could slightly move my legs. I shall never forget the look of joy on her face at that moment.
We praised and thanked the Lord for the start of my recovery. The doctor said that I should undergo therapy for months to regain my strength.
That was exactly what I had to go through. Now, after the successful surgery and months and months of therapy sessions, I am able to stand again unassisted.
Really, challenges in our lives are God’s errands. When we experience them, we should take them positively and do our best to overcome them. Through this experience I had to deal with, I learned to believe that our Creator is a loving and merciful God who wants to see His people happy and at their best.
It was also during this period that many people showed genuine concern for me. I must thank my classmates and friends, and my then class adviser, Teacher Lorie Catuiran, and the other teachers for the compassion, kindness and moral support that they gave me during my time of great difficulty.
They also prayed for me constantly, especially when I was at the hospital.
Of course, there is my supportive and caring family. I am especially thankful to my loving Kuya Jozua, who taught and motivated me to literally and figuratively get back on my feet. He encouraged me to be strong every step of the way toward my recovery.
Then most of all, I have my mother and father. I always thank God for giving me parents who love me unconditionally. My having graduated from elementary school was surely not my achievement alone but theirs, too. They were always there to give me the courage I needed to overcome this ordeal. My dad, I am proud to say, is such a responsible man, a wonderful provider for our family. I cannot ask for anything more from him. I love you, Dad. And belated Happy Father’s Day!
As for my mother, well, she had to make great personal sacrifices so that she could take care of me. Imagine, my dear mother resigned from work so that she could always be with me at Jasms every day, the whole day, since I went back to school last January after my surgery until the end of the school year. Because I was walking with crutches and had to wear an uncomfortable neck and back brace, she stayed by my side and assisted me as I slowly walked from my classroom to other rooms, the canteen, or wherever I had to go. That is what you call a mother’s love. Mommy, I don’t know if I can ever repay you for the major sacrifices you made. But I will always strive to be a good and loving son to you because you deserve only goodness and love. I love you, Mom. God bless you.
I started this piece with the question, “How do we conquer challenges in life?” Based on this experience I have shared, my answer to that is: I conquered it, not on my own, but with the help of my family, classmates, teachers, friends, relatives, and God, who all supported me and gave me strength. I am really blessed to have them all in my life.
Paolo Lorenzo Gemino, 13, is a high school freshman at Jasms Quezon City. He also talked about his ailment in a speech during the May 16 graduation of his K to 12 summer batch.
This article appeared in the Young Blood section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer in August 2012. Paolo is the youngest son of Boboy and Lorna Gemino, Cebu Institute of Technology Navigators who are now based in Manila.