Saturday, May 23, 2015

What I Learned being Hospitalised in Cebu, Philippines: Grammar and Egos

I have been sick while on holidays but the worse so far that I have ever experienced was last November 2014 when I went to Japan and the Philippines for my yearly Asian holiday.

I didn’t get to see much of Tokyo (go here: Sick and Lost in Translation in Tokyo, Japan: At the Doctor's Clinic and Pharmacy). I missed out on Yokohama. I missed out on Manila as well, as I was supposed to stay here for a few days. Lastly, I spent a week in a hospital in Cebu.

The diagnosis: Pneumonia.


The lobby of the hospital I stayed for a week in November 2014. All ready for the Christmas holidays.

This sickness is a such a bitch because your whole immune system is literally down. I barely had the energy to move around and I just want to sleep all day. I was also wheezing and coughing the daylights out of me which worried my GP. She said there is something very wrong with the tune of my cough, and moreover, no phlegm was coming out. I also didn’t respond to antibiotics and medications for the first few days, so she gave me an extra dosage of a different, much stronger, drug. Luckily, I finally responded.

Pneumonia is one of the low radar yet lethal sickness out there. You don’t feel threatened at first, but if left untreated, can lead you to expire.

So I was admitted at the South General Hospital in Naga, Cebu (the parent hospital is the Cebu Doctor's University Hospital) which is not too far from where my family lives. The best hospitals in Cebu are in the centre of the city but I didn’t want to go there as it requires an hour or more travel time. Given the traffic situation in Cebu, which has only deteriorated in the last years, I didn’t want to subject my parents to the logistical chaos of travelling to and fro. This hospital in the south is relatively new and is equipped anyway to treat pneumonia.

A week lying in bed in a hospital can be pretty daunting, but I guess this is not really the case when you are that sick. I was sleeping most of the time anyway and only awakened by nurses doing their round-the-clock tasks. They checked my temperature and blood pressure. They asked how many glasses of fluids I drank. Did I pee? Did I poo? They even asked about TMI details about my pee and poo haha. They helped me as well with the every 4 hours nebulizer therapy. The times I am awake I spent re-orientating myself with Philippine television from a super tiny telly that I could barely see. There was no internet, helaas. But I had my iPhone with me and managed to quickly level up in Candy Crush. Moreover, I was looking at this poster the whole time.


‘Do not throw your garbage at the window.’

I cannot help but recreate the sentence into action in my head—Me throwing my garbage at the window next to my hospital bed.

I am sure grammar Nazis, which by the way thrive in the Philippines by the legions, mostly among the middle and upper class clusters, will itch like crazy upon seeing this. I am not much of a grammar nazi myself though as I do know that I make mistakes all the time. I am guilty even of not proofreading my blog posts. Sorry! I can be sometimes a hopeless case, so please do bear with me.

But it is a different affair when you are confronted with a poster, with a wrong grammar that has taken the whole meaning into a different context, staring at you, 24 x 7. The effect, which I realised then, was not something that I could just easily get away with.

I started entertaining actual thoughts about it. For some reason, I kept recreating in my head, again and again, day in and day out, the activity of me throwing my garbage ‘at’ the window. Like I am trying to hurt it. I am staring at this poster who told me not to throw garbage at the window and my inner self says—Ditch that, I am going to hurl more garbage ‘at’ this window, and I have to do it now! That is what the voices in my head told me. Yep, this window will truly be thrashed and pummeled down by all the garbage I have! =)

Ugh. This went on sadly round-the-clock. Do not laugh. I know this sounds pathetic but this is what idleness and sickness can do to you, let alone strapped on a hospital bed with an IV attached to your body for a week.

So I have wanted to tell one of the nurses, but then it got me thinking about the whole logistical operation of changing the said poster. I am sure the said poster has been mass produced hanging in every room of the hospital. So I just tried solving it in my head. What would be the best sentence to replace it then?

Do not throw your garbage through the window — Nah.
Do not throw your garbage via the window — Meh.
Do not throw your garbage out the window — Yes! Hallelujah!


Let us play a little game of spotting the TV in this picture.

After a week of being hospitalised, I was finally discharged.

Luckily, I have both health and travel insurances. For the hospital and medical costs, my health insurance covered everything. Their partner in the Philippines paid the rest of my hospital bill in Cebu. The bill that I have personally paid—this is because in the Philippines, you cannot be admitted into a hospital if you do not pay a deposit, as well as the costs incurred in Japan, were all reimbursed by my health insurance in the Netherlands.

The hospital, staff and doctors treated me really well in South General Hospital. Only on the last day that we had some hiccup with my health insurance’s agency in Manila and the cashier at the hospital because of trivial technicalities.

I have thought about complaining, after all I have the upper hand of the case, but a day after the fiasco I simmered down and came back to my senses. When I look back now, I knew I made the right decision. It takes understanding how things are done in the Philippines and the willingness to put things in proper perspective. Complaining will only result to getting the poor lady from the insurance into a pickle in her job and me wasting my time and energy on a matter that I know, only my ego would greatly benefit. I hate my ego anyway so I thrashed the idea. My mom agreed with me.

I came out of the hospital... grammar enriched and with less of an ego.

Travel Period: November 2014
Destination: Naga, Cebu (Visayas), The Philippines

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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