Wednesday: Wake up in a twisted mess of sheets and sweat.
What time is it?
Shiver, drift drift drift in and out.
The coolness of the bathroom tiles pressed against my fevered brow.
I’ve got something serious this time…
Shove what I later discover to be a curious array of items into my backpack (must bring the pretty things as I may never return was my ‘logic’ at the time) with a disturbing lack of toiletries and underwear. To a startled tricycle driver; “Special Trip. Hospital.”
The emergency ward at the Provincial Hospital was like any other Catarman experience – giggles, stares as I blew my nose, questions about my life (not the reason I am at the hospital). In fact my doctor whom I met 5 hours after I was admitted seemed more interested in my Waray and Tagalog vocabulary than my symptoms (he seemed superfluous to the whole operation as I already had a drip in my arm and drugs in my system).
To say the hospital was basic is a gross understatement. I had to wait for my kasama (company) before I was admitted. You will not be admitted unless you have kasama because they are the ones who buy your drugs, water, food and provide you with care. My colleagues were amazing, bringing bed sheets and pillows, getting supplies and patting me down with an iced cloth when my fever spiked.
I joke that this is what Jewish people do with their dead, I am meet with multiple pairs of eyes and told that that’s not funny. Jesus, do I look that bad?
Rowe jokes that I am experiencing the real Philippines like a local, which is true until I am flown to Manila the next day and go to a top medical facility in Makati.
The first thing that strikes me about Makati Medical is that it smells like a hospital should, a sterile cocktail of antiseptics and rubbing alcohol. And it is clean, no mystery splattered brown stains on the walls or filthy toilets here.
I also have a very comforting chat will my insurance company nurses based back in Australia.
Thursday: Convalescing in a modern clean hotel in Ortigas (also covered by insurance) it also strikes me how as an AYAD you are ‘one of the people’, but not. Your cultural submersion can only go so far and your safety can not be compromised.
I not only have been caught by the safety net of the program and the swift actions of my In Country Manager’s team, I’ve had a fascinating glimpse into Filipino culture. The collectivism and the care of ‘family’, the obsession with appearance even when I could barely stand up, “Do you want to change your dirty t-shirt? (for the 23rd time…). I’m in a 3rd world hospital with a drip in my arm and no one knows what’s wrong with me, my t-shirt is the least of my concerns right now.
And what did I have? Theories range from a bad spirit to severe gastroenteritis, neither seem to encapsulate all the symptoms I had but I’m much better now.