Yes Virginia, it’s not Virus

I just want to set the record straight. Mariel’s illness was not caused by any virus or something like it . It’s not something she caught in our recent trip abroad or acquired thru something she did or did not do. It’s not SARS, Bird Flu, not even TB. Mariel was healthier than just about most of us until something probably triggered the chain of events in her system.

I’ve been told that Connective Tissue Disease is simply her OWN antibodies deciding to stage a mutiny. The very same antibodies which are present in ALL of us, suddenly deciding to attack the very same person it was meant to protect. In this case, the love of my life, Mariel.

It’s a cruel disease because it gave no real warning. Unfortunately, its also something Medical Science has not really found a true “cure” for at the moment. At best, Medicine can just try to mitigate or slow down its harmful symptoms. I beg doctors who may be reading this to please jump in and enlighten us all on this dark, treacherous disease.

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Why Mariel loved flowers and why we love Mariel

Mariel with flowers in MalaysiaMariel loved flowers. She would try to have fresh blooms at our home whenever possible. She also loved to work with orchids at her mini pocket garden. Vandas, dendrobium, cymbidium and other exotic names gave her some bliss. For she had a way with plants and greenery. It was her caring and gentle nature that showed when she patiently arranges every twist and turn of some wayward stems. She would even just breath new life into a bunch that looked sad and somewhat dejected.

Of course, she cared for me and her daughter Sam very much more. Her caring and gentle nature came to surface as usual as she made us feel alright when we’re sometimes down. She however rarely called attention to herself. I was so clueless that she was starting to suffer from that strange “connective tissue” illness that took her from us. In the midst of this, she even arranged a short vacation to Singapore for the three of us and made us happier than ever.

I also later found out that she had orange “salsa” roses placed on her office desk almost everyday. Like her, orange roses represent energy and enthusiasm. Now I make sure to have these kind whenever I visit her resting place at Heritage Park. Flowers they say are a symbol of “welcoming”. They also perk you up and positively change your mood every time. I guess that also best describes my Mariel. She will cheer you up when you most needed it. That’s why we miss her so much. So we look to the flowers and remember that Mariel was the very best part of our lives.

(By the way, if you wanted to know, I only remember giving her some tulips once in our years together. She of course never complained, she was too busy taking care of me.)

Is there a doctor in the house?

I lost my Mariel to Interstitial Lung Disease caused by Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease. Barely six weeks after we checked with a dermatologist to complain about some ordinary rashes and fever. ( We were even discharged earlier at another hospital for what they thought was merely a viral infection, after ruling out Dengue ).

C3 ANA test, Lupus panel, Malaria check, TB check, Typhoid check, X-rays, Punch biopsy, Hi-res CT scan all proved negative initially. Until one day, someone mentioned interstitial blah blah. Medrol, Plaquinil, Azythromycin, Pulse therapy, Rituximab, Deep Vein 2-D echo, ICU,Ventilator later didn’t seem to help. I know the doctors did the best they could, but is there really something more I could have done for Mariel? I was with Mariel 24/7 in the last 10 days at the hospital. I suffered too with every dip of the Oximeter, that painful alarm, the Spirometer torture machine and Mariel’s every brave attempt to fight off the disease. She kept strong faith in God through it all until He took her on Sept. 20, 2007. The only reason perhaps I could not bring myself to “hate” God for what happened to her was the fact that she suffered more than my whining self and never wavered. Thus, Mariel is my angel for saving my soul.

Undifferentiated Connective Tissue disease is a cruel, strange, kilometric, treacherous, despicable, double- barreled snob of a disease. I will fight it now for Mariel through my own dying breath.