MANILA - Now fully recovered, former actor Lance Raymundo recalled on Wednesday the horrific gym accident last March 20 that crushed open a part of his skull, leaving his brain exposed.
Speaking with ABS-CBN News' Ginger Conejero, Raymundo clarified that he had just finished a set of chest fly when his trainer attempted to hand him a barbell, which weighed a total of 95 pounds. However, the full weight fell on his face.
"I didn't feel anything, but I heard something," Raymundo said. "When it fell, I just heard like a cracking sound -- 'yung may nahulog na paso. That's what your head sounds like pala pag nabasag."
Raymundo said he was not immediately aware of the extent of his injuries, but realized the gravity of the situation when a crowd formed around him and his trainer, who was crying.
"I just realized how bad it was kasi nabulag 'yung isang mata ko, I couldn't see," he said. "But with my one eye, I could see that my blood wasn't flowing down; it was like a fountain. I was like, 'Okay, this is bad.' I realized I couldn't stand either because I lost my sense of balance."
Luckily, Raymundo recalled, one of the gym-goers who saw the incident was a nurse, who volunteered to apply first aid to prevent further blood loss. The nurse, along with a few others, asked for his car keys and rushed him to Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan.
Raymundo managed to make a phone call on the way to the hospital to inform his parents about the accident. While he tried to sound as calm as possible to prevent them from panicking, Raymundo said his father, whom he described as stoic, broke down in tears upon seeing him at the emergency room.
"That impact broke not just my nose but the rest of my face," he said. "'Yung socket ng mata ko, the left eye, got completely shattered. My left eye popped out and got blind. And 'yung cheek bone ko -- kasi hindi [horizontal] 'yung hulog [ng barbell], e, it was kind of slanted -- was completely shattered as well."
"My middle skull got opened, so 'yung brain ko got exposed," he added.
The exposure of his brain, according to Raymundo, left him vulnerable to meningitis or epileptic seizures for the first two days.
(Left) Lance Raymundo on the day of the gym accident last March 20 and (right) just before undergoing his first surgery last March 25. Handout
Initially, his doctors recommended to have the first operation done three weeks after his admission, citing risks due to the open injuries. However, after a "miraculous" healing of parts of Raymundo's face, the doctors agreed to schedule the surgery on March 25.
The operation, according to Raymundo, was intended as "life-saving surgery" rather than aesthetic. It pieced back his broken nose, the socket of his left eye, and his right cheek bone.
He explained that in order to restore the movement of his left eyeball, which he described as drooped and facing down, doctors had to put in a smooth nylon foil mesh that could mimic the muscle responsible for making the eye move.
"Hindi ito para lang ibalik 'yung itsura ko," Raymundo said of the first surgery. "They weren't very concerned sa magiging itsura ko after the first surgery. All they wanted was to fix the deformed parts inside my face that would cost my health."
For a month following the operation, Raymundo said he did not have a cartilage in his nose. Last April 29, this was fixed, along with other "finishing touches," to fully restore his face.
On Wednesday, he had his last follow-up CT scan.
"I'm back 100%," he said, "except that I'm not yet allowed to work out for the next four months. But at least I can go back to work, I can go back to acting and singing. And I'm finally done with my 'house arrest.'"
Asked if he has already forgiven his trainer, Raymundo said he never bore ill feelings toward him. He said he understood that what happened was an accident. In fact, upon finding out that the trainer was fired by the gym's management, Raymundo called and requested that he be put back to work.
As for going back to the gym, Raymundo said he has no trauma whatsoever and would even use the same bench where a 95-pound barbell fell on his face. "It was an accident, it happens, but this time I'll be more careful," he said.