When one has a family, the father is the Captain of the ship. He steers the ships’ wheel and were to set sail. He is also the priest, provider, and protector. But what if the ship sank like the Titanic?
I’m Alexis Casayuran, married to Lannie. I have two wonderful kids, Adrian and Abby. I’m a member of CFC-FFL (Couples for Christ – Foundation for Family and Life).
I’m a licensed Physical Therapist. And like most PTs, I planned to work abroad and settle there. I got accepted to work in a hospital in Texas, USA. I submitted all the needed requirements and I only needed to pass the State Board exam to complete my qualifications. But in 2007, during the course of my review, I got sick. I acquired Dermatomyositis, an autoimmune disease under the Lupus family. It affected mainly my skin and muscles.
My body felt extremely heavy and weak that rising from the floor or bed became very difficult. My kidneys were also severely affected to the point that I even urinated blood. I was hospitalized and underwent multiple treatments.
My world was shattered because it’s an incurable disease.
At the start of my condition, I lost almost 100 lbs and the worst is, my shoulders and legs were affected. This means that I could not work or practice my profession. My body was weak and I even needed assistance just to move.
Apart from body weakness, I’m also photosensitive. I should not be exposed to the sun or else I will reap the consequences. I was once exposed and my face from neck up turned purple like Barney. It was difficult because I could not go out and enjoy the usual daylight activities. I could only leave the house if I use an umbrella or whenever the sun has already set.
And though the physical pain, discomfort, and inconvenience did not dishearten me the social aspect troubled me most. People would look at me from head to foot and even treat me as if I have an infectious disease.
If you have skin and muscles as hard as wood, face with different discolorations and you walk like a zombie, would one come near you?
In Feb 2009, my body got stronger and looked better. I was cleared by my doctor to take the test (State Board) in Hawaii. Midway during the online test, my arms started to turn heavy that I couldn’t even move the mouse. The timed-test continued to tick like a clock. I was there stuck and could not move my arms. I knew I would fail. I received a call at the hotel confirming my fate.
When I arrived at NAIA, the heaviness and weakness of my body got worse.
Aside from the physical aspect, the mental part is the most difficult to grasp. I kept thinking of my family and how I could financially support them knowing the sudden progression of my condition.
“How can my family survive?” “What about my plans?” All these questions filled my head, pouring like hot water to my cold body. In our society, a man without a job is useless!
But it didn’t stop there, my journey continued. In 2010, I had a hemorrhagic stroke four months after Abby (my youngest daughter) was born. In 2014, I underwent a Lap Chole and ERCP because of gallbladder problems. In 2015, I had multiple lacerations inside my stomach from an unknown reason causing me to lose blood. I underwent blood transfusions but still it wasn’t enough. My blood values were dangerously low that my doctor was close to declaring that I have leukemia, yet I survived that episode.
But after I was discharged, I felt so weak that I couldn’t even sit. I had difficulty talking and swallowing. There were times that I could not even taste my food which eventually caused my weight loss.
With everything that I went through and the changes that my life had to take, depression crept in. It is the silent killer that is very hard to fight. I didn’t know where to go, what to do, how to overcome my struggles, and how to face my life. I faced all these issues then and I still face them now. But I am happy because God provided people to make me realize the better things of life. If not for the support of my family, friends and CFC-FFL, I wouldn’t be alive today.
The events of my life made me think that “God is a bully that He doesn’t love me”. Why do I have to go through all these difficulties? That’s a big question up to now I don’t know what the answer is. I have a healthy lifestyle before I got sick. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, and I never flirt with girls. Yet, this happened.
What is my purpose? What is my mission? Why did I survive and why am I still alive?
As far as my roles as a father, I can only be the priest. I can’t physically protect them but I can only advise them. I work as a Non-Life Insurance agent but since I can’t go out of the house to meet new clients I only have my friends as clients. As the family grows so are the expenses, so we need additional source to augment. I tried again to work online so I sought advice from a former high school friend of mine, who is also a PWD. He introduced Virtualahan. He said that the training company could help me because it specifically caters to PWDs. He said that Virtualahan trains PWDs to equip them with the right skills to work online.
“Really?” I was skeptic at first because it’s hard to believe that such a community exists.
When I was accepted at Virtualahan, I was shy and scared at first because I had that fear of rejection and misunderstanding. But as the weeks passed, I felt the warmth and the welcoming spirit of the people in the community. I started to look forward to our online classes.
My brain is being filled with new ideas and skills that are important for our future jobs. Yes, I admit that I’m slow in terms of computer-related knowledge and skills but because of the encouragement of my classmates I have ease studying. I felt no pressure but love and understanding.
Our class, Team 29, for me is an amazing mix of wonderful people. We have energized youths, strong parents, devoted mothers, silent workers, ninjas and what I jokingly term “ThunderCats” (Welcome to the club group which I’m also a part of!).
When they call me “Kuya Alex”, it brings a smile and joy to my heart. Coach Chris was right when he said in one of our Well Being sessions that “your name reveals who you are”. Well, my name Alexis means “Helper”. I may not help them physically but I always pray for Team 29, Coaches, and everyone. Even though, we are wounded physically, we are overcoming our fears because of the support we give to each other and the community.
The wind may blow me off course but God has the wheel. It means that I’m heading in the right direction.
My vision may have changed but my mission is still the same.