This is unfair! I was lost in my countdown for the Christmas holiday. To me there's nothing more important than to get myself actively involved in the Christmas traditions in our parish in preparation for Christmas. I used to wait in eagerness for the first dawn of the start of the 9-day religious preparations in church for Christmas, which is on December 16.
But. . . where did I go wrong?
December 15- The provincial government launched the first ever "Simbang Gabi" or evening mass, in front of the Capitol Building. It is primarily intended for the parishioners who couldn't attend the pre-dawn masses or "Misa de Gallo" at the Epiphany of our Lord Parish church. Since it was a first time experience, I attended the mass at 5:30 pm after our choir practice. My daughter Pot joined me later after office. The Christmas crafts displayed were awesome- the big Belen with the replica of the Holy Family, the giant Christmas tree, with very large Christmas decorations, the blinking Christmas lights all around, the giant lanterns, and the Christmas music rendered by the choir- they were all wonderful. The start of the festive Christmas celebration was a resounding success. It was well-attended.
By Christmas traditions in church, I mean the conduct of a 9-day novena in honor of the "Inkianak" (Birth of Jesus) which starts in December 16, followed by the Eucharistic celebration called "Misa de Gallo" or pre-dawn mass. This is sponsored by the Youth Ministry, because this day is The International Youth Day celebration. It is usually well-attended by the youth due to its pomposity.
December 16- Day 1- My count down starts. Woke up at around 2:30, braved the biting cold with Pot, attended the first day pre-dawn rosary and novena, participated in the "Misa de Gallo" or Eucharistic celebration, bought lots of the traditional food- hot puto(Filipino muffin), balut, bibingka (rice cake)- peddled in front of the church after mass, went home, ate breakfast, then continued sleep.
December 17- Day 2- Woke up with Pot at 3:00 am, arrived in church in time for the 3:15 rosary and novena. After mass, we searched for food stuff again for breakfast, and slept at home.
December 18- Day 3- Woke up late at almost 4:00 am, missed the rosary and novena, but arrived in time for the "Misa de Gallo", bought food, went home, ate breakfast, and slept.
December 19- Day 4- Up at 3:10, groggy from sleep, but caught up with the rosary and novena. After mass, the usual food search, breakfast, and bed.
December 20- Day 5- I was excited. Up at 2:00 am. Today was to be my special participation. In church, I joined the prayer group, led the praying of the rosary, at 3:15 am, read the novena prayer for the day, and joined my Jesus Mary Prayer Apostolate choir group. at 4:00 am for the Eucharistic celebration. The Christmas music, was more than any Christmas gift I could offer for the birth of Baby Jesus. I was euphoric, and very proud of myself for this long-awaited come-back. I had been inactive in the choir for so long because I was infected with shingles, a painful ailment that required me to rest for months.
At 5:30 after the mass, we ate our breakfast at the convent- free for parishioners who render their service in the "Misa de Gallo". Since this was Sunday, we waited for the regular Sunday mass at 6:30, in which our religious group is the regular choir. That meant I had to sacrifice my insulin injection at home at 6:00 am. Never mind, it was only for this day. I had sacrificed a lot for the weekly practice, I just couldn't leave the group now.
But. . . it was really unfair!
In the middle of the communion song, "O, Holy Night" (mine is the alto part), I felt a sudden prickly sensation in my left hand. I flexed my fingers, still singing. But the sensation was intimidating, crawling up my upper left hand. I stopped singing, massaged my left with my right hand. My immediate neighbor, Chat, noticed me, I whispered to her what happened and told her I had to rest. So she led me to my seat. I didn't want to stir attention because we were in the middle of the song so I let her rejoin the group. As she did, I clutched my left chest massaged it, bent forward once, twice, at least to induce blood circulation, just in case I fainted. Chat might not have left her eyes on me because, she was at my side again. Sister Mod saw us and joined us. She got her fan, yes, I needed air, but the the electric fan was way up our heads.
It was not one of those bouts of hypoglycemia I used to encounter, I wasn't sweating. I focused myself to stay conscious, "Don't panic, don't panic", I just kept that in mind until the mass ended. I was quite relieved, but I missed the last 2 final songs.
The other choir members were worried, to ease their anxieties, I told them I must have been tired, I needed only rest. That same day at 5:30 in the afternoon, was to be our choir schedule at the "Simbang Gabi" at the Capitol grounds. I promised I would join them and begged them to help me take my ride home. Earlier, after the first mass, "Misa de Gallo", I sent Pot home so she could take a little sleep before going to work. As soon as we reached the church door, I felt the sensation again, I begged those holding me on both sides to stop for a little while, but I hanged my head to my right on the shoulder of Chat.
When my consciousness returned, I was in a hospital bed with oxygen tube in my nostrils. My daughter arrived, alarmed, worried. I just smiled and said my thanks to all who brought me to the hospital. I cried. I was admitted in the hospital.
December 21- Day 6- I had a good night sleep at the hospital. My seemingly constricted breathing improved, I was snoring in my sleep for the last few weeks, according to Pot. I missed my "Misa de Gallo". I missed our second day of choir participation. My Christmas tradition activities and countdown were broken, for the first time in so many years. There I was, subjected to clinical procedures, BP and Sugar Level counts, blood test, for what? The hospital's ECG machine was being repaired. Before the results of my blood test were finished, I declared my checking out. The doctor approved but not until I conceded that I would have my ECG in another hospital and the results brought to him.
So Pot and I went to the nearest hospital where their ECG machine was working. The test result- non-specific, my heart is healthy, not very bad and not very good, too, borderline. I was advised to have another test- 2D Echo. I begged Pot for home, I felt I was well until I heard that test suggestion. I only needed a good rest. Everything would be fine. I could catch up with my Christmas tradition. We went home.
December 22- Day 8- Missed the rosary, novena, mass, and the 3rd choir schedule. When I woke up, my head was light, felt a little weak. Pot got my BP- 120/60. Today was our Barangay Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) corporate mass and offering at the Capitol "Simbang Gabi" at 5:30. I missed that, too. I just sent the visiting members my offering envelop. I was bored. I checked my sites for my blog, Senior Debutante and HubPages.
December 23- Day 9- Pot and I planned to catch up for the last "Misa de Gallo". We missed that, too. I was up early, but I didn't stir her from sleep. She was too busy and tired at office these past days.
Our supposed Christmas holiday vacation to Manila was canceled. Kit was to come home today, December 24. For sure, we 3 will be attending the night mass at 8:00 pm. We will have the usual gathering with our neighbors and relatives. They couldn't wait for the New Year as was first planned. The Christmas Holiday can be held anywhere. The Christmas tradition lives on and on. Thank God, I'm still alive today to say, MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and all! HAPPY NEW YEAR, too.