I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

With my buddies
Dino's birthday. From top, left clockwise (Ivee, Jason, Dino and myself)

For those who wonder how I’m able to continue living my life despite having Pompe Disease, well I get by with a little help from my friends.

Apart from my family, I’ve been tremendously blessed to have good friends. I really don’t know how I would have survived all these years without my friends.

Now, I have a lot of really great friends but I want to write about a particular friend. Why? Coz he celebrated his birthday last May 9. Also he was my best friend all throughout high school.

I met Dino when we were in first year high school. We both attended Ateneo High School. We became friends during our first year. We both hung out with our other friends. However after that first year I had to move schools.

I got poor grades during my freshman year. It was the year that I really started noticing weakness in my legs. I guess I had trouble adjusting to that and the rigors of a tough Ateneo program. I had to transfer to another school.

Little did I know that Dino would soon follow. We became classmates again in our junior year. He transferred to the school I went to, which was the Kostka School just in front of Ateneo.

Kostka was a small school. It was housed in a small four-story building. The buildings had no elevators. As you moved on to the next year the classroom also moved to the next floor. By the time Dino moved to Kostka our classroom was already on the third floor.

On my third year of high school I was having trouble climbing the stairs. I had to really hold on to the handrails and take my time going up. This posed a problem when we had to move to the chemistry or computer labs that were on another floor. We only had 5 minutes in between classes. Most days it was enough time but there were some days, which I wasn’t feeling particularly strong, and 5 minutes would not be enough.

It was in high school that I really found out how great a friend Dino is. Dino would walk with me during the times we needed to transfer classrooms. More than that though, the days that I wasn’t particularly feeling strong he’d offer to carry me on his back just so that we wouldn’t be late. I remember those days when he’d have to carry me on his back and go up or down several flights of stairs. It wasn’t easy. He didn’t complain though. In fact he even insisted. He’d say he didn’t want us to be late. We had good laughs about it too.

During lunch breaks I’d also stay in our classroom. I’d seldom go down to the cafeteria because it was four flights down and four flights back up again. Trust me the food there was not worth that effort. So I’d pack some lunch from home and eat it in the classroom. Dino would offer to stay along with another one of our friends Jason. They’d eat with me during lunch. It might not seem like a big sacrifice but it was. They’d miss out on some of the fun things that happen in a high school cafeteria. They didn’t mind though. I made it worth their while too. Packing extra food from home to share.

Things like those make me think that while I’m having a tough time dealing with Pompe Disease that I’m still lucky. I’m lucky because through my ordeal with this disease I found great friends like the one I found in Dino.

After all these years we’ve remained friends. Even if there would be times when I won’t see or talk to him for months, when we do see each other again it’s as if no time has passed. We’d still get along tremendously well. It was like we were still in high school. Only, we look older. Apart from that it was like no time passed by.

While I write this mainly to say thanks to Dino for being such a good friend, I also write this for my other great friends who have in one way or another touched my life and made it infinitely better than it could have been. I’m thankful to God for blessing me with such good friends. When I look back at my life I realize how truly blessed I am to encounter such great people.

Dino, buddy belated happy birthday. I’m grateful to have you as a friend. To all my other great friends, thank you for being there as well. I am lucky to have you all in my lives.

Oh I’m including Joe Cocker’s rendition of the Beatle’s famous song “With A Little Help From My Friends”, one of my favorite versions.

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