MANILA – Ria Atayde has undergone a surgery on her spine at a time when COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News on Wednesday, Atayde shared what she went through after she was diagnosed with a herniated disc on her spine in April last year.
“I really did my best to do everything I can para I would avoid surgery. Pero from the start pa lang, sinabihan na ako that surgery would be my option… For a while it was working tapos I hit a point na hindi na ako makatayo, hindi na ako makaupo ng maayos,” she said.
Her condition worsened such that she could no longer find a position that did not hurt. She saw at least eight doctors before making her decision to get surgery.
“Out of the eight, two of them said don’t do surgery, not yet, kaya pa. But six of them said, ‘You need it or else there’s a tendency na pwede ka maging paralyzed or you will reach a point na you can’t control your bladder, internal organs.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, really?’ I did pa rin therapy kaso nga this February, sobrang lala,” she said.
Prior to surgery, Atayde said she had a hard time standing up straight.
“My whole family was telling me na I was walking like a lola already. Parang hindi ko napapansin na ganun na ako maglakad. Ang alam ko lang, 'yun 'yung posture na hindi masakit for me.”
After weighing all her options, the Kapamilya actress ultimately decided to get surgery on April 3.
“Kasi I am starting ‘Viral’ soon… I really want to able to continue to act and I know that for a fact, if I kept my injury there, isa pang iintindihin 'yun when you’re acting. It’s not easy to act when you’re not feeling well,” she said, referring to the upcoming drama series of ABS-CBN.
Atayde had the surgery at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig.
"'Yung protocol nila, before you enter, you have to swab pati 'yung companion mo, PCR. That’s two days before you enter,” she recalled.
“And then ‘di ba usually when you do surgery, may mga clearance which you do as an outpatient. Ngayon, they requested na you do it as an in-patient para isahan na. Pagpasok mo, they do the tests and then the next day will be the surgery.”
Atayde checked herself in at the hospital on April 7 and had the procedure the following day.
“It was a very emotional process for me. I really didn’t want to have it done if I had a choice. But it really reached a point na parang it was compromising the quality of my life,” she said.
Sharing how she prepared herself mentally and emotionally, she said: “I went on YouTube, I went on Google and looked up lumbar microdiscectomy or 'yung mga post- and pre-surgery, what should you do, what should you expect. So parang going into it, I was really mentally prepared.”
Atayde said her doctors were also very reassuring throughout the whole process.
“They were telling me all the things I should expect. Prior to surgery, sabi nila na after [the day of surgery], pwede na makatayo. True enough, I was able to. I was able to stand better than I did prior to surgery,” she said.
As hard as it was for Atayde, the actress said she does not regret her decision.
“I can stand na… pero right now, meron pa rin akong surgical pain, 'yung soreness from the surgery. Sabi ng doctor ko, for the next two to six weeks, I would have pain sa legs, medyo numbing, tingling sensation pero he told me na normal daw 'yun. It’s part of the healing process. That’s where I’m at right now. Masakit pa rin. I am able to stand on my own pero better if I have assistance. I am able to walk up and down the stairs but better if I have assistance. Lying down, doon ako medyo nahihirapan kasi medyo masakit pa. I really just have to change my lifestyle as well.”
Looking back, Atayde said it was her family and friends who got her through this ordeal.
“Grabe my friends. Kasi since last year, when I got injured, nung medyo naging okay na to see people, they would invite me tapos I can’t kasi may back hurts. 'Yun na 'yung naging excuse ko. It was really not just an excuse. It was painful. Apart from medyo takot ako to see people pa rin, 'yung pain pa rin talaga 'yun. Everybody was just super supportive. My family, my friends, my co-workers even,” she said.
“Kasi I hit a point na medyo muntik na rin ako mag-backout sa 'Viral' because of my back kasi sobrang lala ng pain. Just to make sure I continue acting properly and can still do what I am passionate about, ito yung choice that I had to do rin.”
Atayde is also thankful for actress Angel Locsin, who’s had a similar situation, saying the actress has been so helpful throughout this whole process.
“She gave me all her contacts. She gave me all the numbers even of her doctors in Singapore. Saying nga I couldn’t see them because I’m not entitled to fly to Singapore,” she said.
Now that she's getting better, Atayde said everything that happened in the past year only made her feel really grateful.
“I really realized that less is more. Sobrang naging mas close ako to my core. It kinda weeded out 'yung mga people na nandiyan lang. It put things into perspective talaga. If anything, it really brought my family closer,” she said.
“A lot of things have changed for my family. It’s been a pretty heavy year. Nagka-COVID my parents, the shutdown happened and after that, sometime December, my tita and six of our household staff also tested positive for COVID. It’s been a crazy journey. Then my dad had back surgery and I had back surgery. It’s been a lot for my family. But you know, it puts things into perspective. We’ve been so blessed. We went through all of that and we survived. I am just so grateful. It’s overwhelming,” she said.