My Life To Do List:

by Laguna Lupie

I am a thirty four year old Filipina businesswoman. I live in the province of Laguna, Philippines, with my husband and two sons. This is the first post for my first ever blog and it seemed appropriate to start the with this list. To do #3 on my list is to become a writer and start that by setting up a blog.  So I am right now actually ticking off a very important part of The List. 

I was recently diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (damn name, it must be psychological or something but I can’t seem to memorize the full name or term for lupus, I keep checking the spelling on google). Anyway, I have lupus.

According to “Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) is an autoimmune disease that, depending on the severity, can harm the skin, kidneys, heart, nervous system, blood cells, and more. Lupus symptoms vary widely and can include fatigue, joint pain, swelling, fever, and rashes”. It’s an illness where one’s immune system goes haywire and turns against itself — it is basically your body attacking itself. Ninety percent of lupus sufferers are women so it’s considered a woman’s disease but the men who do get lupus tend to have a more severe form of this illness. The cause of lupus is yet unknown and there is still no cure. Suffice it to say that it’s a dreaded disease. Not as awful as cancer but its almost there. Very unpredictable and quite the silent killer I was told. I feel fine today but could be gone next week. But that’s not saying much, because really, in theory, we could all be dead next week no? But anyway, I digress, because of lupus I stand a greater chance of dying sooner than most of my facebook friends.

It has been months since the diagnosis so I am calmer now. But still, it’s hard to wrap myself around the notion that I am a thirty four year old woman, with two boys, one of them still a baby, and I now have a chronic, incurable disease.

Death and diseases, it’s always about somebody else, until it’s about you.

My turn came earlier than most. I remember when we first found out about it. Didn’t really believe the doctor, I had to go home and google it. (haha, I believed more in google than the doctor no?) I had my laptop on the bed when it all suddenly hit me — I am sick and could be dying.

I cried of course. Not as hard as I did when my father died but maybe that’s how it is, you cry harder when it’s somebody else dying or dead. When it’s about you, the tears are more quiet. Because its more heartfelt and silence comes from fear.

But as I said, I am calmer now. Don’t cry as much now. I am starting to believe that I may yet live a long time. But I have been there– that sudden realization that “I may be dying” and the horror of that moment. All of us must face that terror and it may not be your turn yet but let me reassure you, when the time comes it will feel as bad as you think it will feel– but it will pass and you will feel fine afterwards. Such is the nature of life, you almost always accept what is given to you (or you go into denial but that’s another post altogether). I feel fine now. There was that horrifying moment. And then the calm. I am slowly accepting what most of us choose to ignore, that death is just as normal as birth.

A dreaded disease doesn’t really feel like what it shows in the movies. I don’t have a bucket list ala Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson because those lists are almost always way too expensive. I have kids to raise and that is my primary concern now, more than going to the pyramids of Giza or skydiving or some such grand pre-death fun and laughter moments. Those who do the live-your-life-to-the-full-before-death movie moments are either singles or senior citizens. Not mid-thirties mommies like myself. My goal now is to make everything as seamless as possible for my kids, that their life will go on as normally as possible even though I am gone. But take note, I plan to live a long life. I make fun of my parent’s senior citizen cards, but now realize I would give anything to be able to get one of those cards someday. And so that is my goal, to get a senior citizen card someday. I will fight this damn lupus until the end. And I am sure, there are many others who will go sooner than me (evil laughter).

So this is my Life To Do list. Don’t remember when I wrote it but I must have wrote it for myself soon after I found out about the lupus. Was reading it again tonight and realized how simple life and one’s plans can be if you just list them down. I am sharing it if only because I hope it helps those of you who, like me, have much “to do”:

My Life To Do list:

 1. Save and invest big time, asap.

2. Write my will.

3. Become a writer. Set up a blog.

4. Read again. Draw up a reading list and follow through on this list.

5. Update and start your life documentation:

• Print photos for photo albums

• Do regular family videos for the boys

• Write journals for each of your sons

• Have major pictures framed and displayed

6. Set aside money for the expenses of the illness. Sell land if needed for this expense. Trim down on expenses so we can   accommodate the additional costs of the illness.

7. Continue working. Continue with the business and your plans.

8. Do volunteer work – hospice care, volunteer teacher work.

9. Start eating healthy and do exercises – start on yoga. Acupuncture? Dr. Tan of Binondo (traditional Chinese medicine) and the hideous black tea concoctions?

10. Have regular quality time activities – build family traditions. Eat dinner together all the time. Have Sunday family mode –parks, trips, stay at home cooking or dvd festivals. Build on these so your son’s have good memories of their time with you.

11. Just be happy. Stop fighting with people, it’s not worth it.

12. Do regular vacations, do regular retreats. Be ready for the inevitable.