Last night’s high school reunion was the happiest I had been in over a month. And quite frankly, this entry feels appropriate. I’ll talk about how my reunion went tomorrow. But right now…

I am happy to be alive after I nearly died on this day 13 years ago.

I talk about it every year. 10-14 carries a lot of significance in my life. Some of you already know this but most of you don’t.

10-14? October 14. October 14, 2004, to be exact. This is why my mind is so messed up about car accidents.

It started out as a fight with my then-girlfriend over the phone. So she told me that I should go over her apartment in Pasadena so we could hash things out. I took my dad’s car since my own ride was being used by Pops himself.

On the way to Pasadena, I was thinking about how to quickly end my fight with the girlfriend. After I passed the 60 junction on the 710 freeway, I slowed down as I saw cars slow down in front of me.

Then suddenly, I heard a loud smashing sound directly behind me. In an instant, I was freaked out that I was hit. My car was suddenly headed towards the guardrail fast. It was the longest four seconds of my life. I thought I was gonna die.

But miraculously, the car turned. In the end, the car was facing the opposite way. It did a complete 180. Some passerbys stopped by to help me out. I was lucky to not be too hurt. I called my brother, Roger, about what happened. Meanwhile, the police arrested the guy that hit me. He was a 19-year-old that didn’t have a license. And he actually TRIED to blame me for what happened. One of the cops that came then replied, “What are you doing driving without a license? And you’re blaming the guy you hit, you dumbass?”

The car accident in 2004 put me in a downward spiral. My gf and I made up but then she broke up with me near the end of my recovery. I was doing physical therapy for six months. I didn’t drive on the freeway for two months. To this day (even before the accident from last month), I have neck pain on and off (though manageable).

But this event, coupled with the “minor” car accident on September 5th, screwed up my brain when it comes to being on the road. Which is why I considered my drive to the high school reunion last night a big victory.

And to add how terrifying this day is for me? My brother and my nephew got in a car accident two years ago on this day. Yup. October 14, 2015. I told my brother that we probably shouldn’t be on the road on October 14.


If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. – Matthew 10:14

Another significance about 10-14? I moved to Portland in October of 2014. I only lived there for nearly a year but it was one of the best periods of my life. It was a life reset that I needed badly (I seriously wanted to leave Southern California for about a year at that point in time) and I felt so welcomed in that city. In a perfect situation, I wouldn’t hesitate to move back there.

So yeah. I felt like I got a second chance in life after that huge car accident. And I experienced a rebirth of sorts when I moved to Portland.

All in all, I’m so thankful to still be here. Please never take life for granted.

I can’t say enough on how much I love you people.

R2

Tomorrow is a huge test for me.

I decided that I’m going to drive tomorrow to Long Beach for my high school reunion. There were a few options. But ultimately, I decided to drive because:

1) At some point, I have to drive regularly, right?

2) I don’t exactly trust most people to drive me. Especially an Uber or a Lyft.

3) Plus I can leave the venue whenever I want.

Chances are I might leave early. My energy is still pretty low. I ran into old high school friend, Trent, and I told him that I was already so winded walking around. (It was good to see you, buddy.)

So yeah. I’ll try not to have all these things on my mind while I’m driving. I can’t overthink. I have to believe that I can do this.

As of right now, it really is all about taking it easy. I go on with my therapy while I wait for the day I go into the cardiologist’s office. That would be on the 20th. My concern at the moment is the low energy. But all the medical staff involved told me that my body is weak right now so I shouldn’t push anything.

The tension on my body hasn’t been as prominent. It hasn’t been on an extreme level in probably a week now and that’s actually some good news. What I don’t need right now is stress of any kind. I know I’m sounding very fragile right now but it’s really unbelievable what stress can do to a body.

So yeah. A couple of steps forward. It’s all about making it to the next hour. And hopefully, I can actually start building a future again.

This is where I am. And this is how it will be for the time being.

I appreciate you guys.

R2

Sometimes, I feel some people don’t understand what I’m going through. My life in the last five weeks? Not particularly great.

So I had mentioned a couple of days ago that I get fatigued easily. I had been told to limit my cardio for the next couple of weeks or so. My body (and mind, too; I’ll get to that later) had been weakened so much over the last month that the best for me, once again, is to take it easy. I’m probably only doing elliptical for a 10-minute session; enough to get me a sweat. Or a walk around the block is good enough. Again, I have to catch my breath after enough activity. It’s not fun having to gasp for air.

Yesterday was a great example. Nala (you remember that dog) inexplicably escaped and went all the way out to the end of the block. My first instinct was to run after her. Of course, I realized immediately that I couldn’t run. I stopped for a second and started hyperventilating. I held on to my chest, hoping something disastrous wasn’t gonna happen. Nala ended up being caught by my sister-in-law and she returned safely to the house. But this is the mode I’m in right now.

I’ll say right now that my current support system is fantastic. Some friends from the anime community, the NBA (and Twitter) community, high school friends, and family have all been great.

However, some friends that I deemed pretty good to me (and in turn, had mentioned that I was in their inner circle) have NOT been great. Again, I knew that I was going to find out in this ordeal who my real friends or/and the good people were in my life. I had mentioned in my Facebook status that I wasn’t mad; I was just very disappointed. The “friends” are just a part of that.

Because, once again, let’s run through what had happened in the last five weeks.

*Car accident on September 5th. A minor one compared to my major one in 2004 (that anniversary is coming up). I immediately started having flashbacks and I had multiple panic attacks immediately after the accident.

*Bad back. I’ve been going to physical therapy since right after the accident happened. I feel like I live in that clinic.

*Anxiety attacks. Flashbacks of the major car accident. Scared of the road. Scared to travel. And sometimes, even anxious on the most regular tasks to me. I found out anxiety ran in my family.

*That probably led to high blood pressure (my weight certainly didn’t help). I was at risk for a heart attack. I went to the ER and was prescribed blood pressure medicine.

*But I DID suffer a heart attack. It’s in my EKG test but I didn’t feel it. I have yet to go to the cardiologist but I was assured I’m not in any immediate danger.

*Fatigue. I have low energy.

So I’m just limited physically. I can’t take stress that much. I am frightened to be on the road. I can’t eat what I want. My mind is messed up. I am not in an enviable position right now. It’s a fight to get back to my normal every hour.

I can’t help but feel a little bitter that I would listen to people’s problems only for them to NOT reciprocate. I don’t really want anything from friends other than to just be there. Doesn’t take five seconds to acknowledge what had happened to me. “LIKE” a status. Send a text/tweet/FB message. How hard is that?

But I know what to do. I know who I’m putting closer to my inner circle and I know who I’m taking out.

Those are my frustrations.

But with every situation, there’s a silver lining.

First off, I’m alive. I am very very grateful that I am.

Also, I’ve mentioned this before but I’ve learned to manage my time better. I meditate every day. I exercise every day. I check my blood pressure every day. There’s my physical therapy. I also have a therapist, who has been great. I even try to drive every day for some practice runs. I know that, eventually, I have to drive regularly again. And maybe at some point, I’ll regain my strength. I’ve been advised not to do my usual weights. And I HAVE been writing some basketball articles with the NBA regular season coming up. I just ask for people not to pressure me into doing things. Please be considerate of what I’ve been through as of late.

I will end it with this; to quote the great Stan Bush from the original Transformers movie soundtrack:

You can win if you dare.

R2

I don’t go to the cardiologist for another 11 days but I do have a copy of my heart test readings.

As you see in the picture above, the notes said inferior myocardial infarction. From what I can deduce, that meant I suffered a minor heart attack. It also said age undetermined, which likely meant that the test didn’t reveal when it had happened.

And I think it really did happen very recently.

I had been trying to get back into good physical shape with some cardio and some yoga. I also made it my goal to lose some pounds since being overweight is definitely not helping me. For the most part, I felt fine after a 30-minute elliptical session.

I did not feel fine the last few days.

I went for a walk to the park on Saturday. To the park and back was a total of three miles. It’s a good exercise, right?

I found myself catching my breath for pretty much the rest of the day. I had never felt so fatigued in my life. I actually wanted to do the elliptical but I thought better of it and didn’t push it.

Yesterday, I decided to do some crunches. I figured that I’d do some crunches and do the elliptical.

I felt exhausted after the crunches. Like REALLY exhausted. It felt like I ran ten miles (I actually don’t know how that feels like; I dislike running very much). I was once again trying to catch my breath for the rest of the night. It didn’t feel great.

People have told me to take it easy. I certainly will. I will not push anything until I see the cardiologist.

Earlier today, I decided that I was going to try driving on the freeway. It would be my first time doing this since the accident. By the way, my accident was on the surface streets. Still, there was some worry about how I would do this.

Adrenaline kicked in when I got on the ramp.

It actually felt good changing lanes and speeding up. But once I was cruising on a straight line, that’s when my heart started to beat fast. It’s like if there’s some lull on the freeway for me, I get anxious. I needed some action.

So yeah, changing lanes and speeding up was fine for me. I worry and sweat when it’s a straight line. The more I think about it, the more it made sense. After all, I got in an accident driving a straight line.

It’s not perfect. I feel tense right now but, at the same time, I feel accomplished that I was able to drive on the freeway all right.

But once again, that took a lot out of me. Right now, I’m tired. You can’t exactly ask me to walk a block. It’s frustrating to be this limited but at the same time, I can’t push it.

So yeah, this is what happens after a heart attack.

Love you guys.

R2

I went to the clinic for my usual physical therapy earlier today. I also expected to go to the cardiologist since I thought they had set up something for me.

When I got there, I told the nurse who was taking care of me about it. She was as baffled as I was about the heart attack. But the readings said that it happened.

Apparently, they didn’t get me an appointment. She had to call a local cardiologist about my situation. From there, I had to set up the appointment myself. I see them in two weeks.

I wasn’t comfortable with the two weeks but the receptionist said she has me on the urgent list. The nurse assured me that I’m not in immediate danger. My blood pressure is under control. My body is responding better to the physical therapy. And I’m not hyperventilating as much. I still feel tense on my back, sure. And I’m still not THAT comfortable on the road. But all signs point to me getting better. There sure have been some twists and turns along the way, though.

I’m still annoyed that we arrived at this point.

I went home and decided to go on with my day. To me, it’s turned from one day at a time to one step at a time. In a way, it’s good because I’m starting to make the most of my time. Maybe I needed this wake-up call.

My family has actually been really great about this. Normally, my parents (the typical Filipino parents) would shame me about this. They’d tell me that it’s my fault that I got to this point instead of being encouraging. This time around, they’re listening to me more about my concerns. I think they realized the gravity of the situation.

I didn’t even realize that anxiety ran in my family. I knew that my mom was the nervous type but my brother told me a few years ago about how he also suffers from panic attacks. My sister also has bouts as well. I didn’t have these anxiety issues until this year. Host an anime cosplay contest in front of hundreds? Sure. Interview NBA players and media? No problem. But being on the road these days? It’s the worst for me. It’s like I just got my driver’s permit.

The HeadSpace app has really done wonders for me. Not that I am quick to lose my temper but I feel that I’ve become even more calculated when it comes to reacting to something that would probably enrage me. My brother also uses the app as well and he told me how great that was for him as well. I’ve done 23 straight days and it’s become a normal activity in my day.

Anyway, right now, I’m not in danger. I feel fine right now. I just did a 30-minute elliptical session.

Just gonna take it one step at a time. I might have taken a few steps backwards in the last week or so but I think we have some forward progress here.

I love you all.

R2