Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Patient Diego (Last Part)

Previously on Souljacker

Allow me to recount the events of the hospital confinement. For in remembering, we will know vigilance. The couple and their baby stayed in a semi-private ward for five days. Not leaving his bedside, taking turns watching the sick child, the parents drowning in sorrow and dread as the battery of laboratory tests failed to identify the cause of the baby's illness; the hardships of having a loved one in a hospital is a learning and humbling experience.


Shift ends at 2 in the afternoon. After work is done, I accompanied my mom and the kid's older brother to the hospital. They went to visit. 

I had to shell out 8 thousand for the down payment. Doctors were still unable to figure what illness struck the little tyke.


I went straight to the hospital after leaving the office. Task was to deliver extra clothes and blankets for the couple. It took me a G-Liner bus from my place in Santa Mesa to reach the corner of Taft Avenue and Ayala Boulevard. From there, it's a stroll all the way to T.M. Kalaw and into Manila Doctors.

Avoiding the noise and air pollution of Taft, I made a detour at Luneta. 

Little red spots began to appear on the patient's back and tummy. Doctors suspect Measles.


Restday. The matriarch had to go to work and Baby Lenin cannot be left alone with the kasambahay. I had to stay home and help with the babysitting.

When my mom returned in the evening, I went to the hospital to deliver water and meals. Baby Diego was sound asleep when I arrived. 

Red spots had already spread on his ears, face, chest and legs. Fever has disappeared.


Last day of my break. Returned to the hospital for a visit. Baby Diego's health has improved. However, he still had a hard time eating because of a viral infection of the throat. It pains to swallow. Since it was almost dusk, I went to the famed bay to catch the sunset. 

When I returned to the hospital, I was told that the baby can go home the next day.


I was on my way to the office when my mom sent an SMS.

"Uuwi na si Diego," the message read. "Patulong naman sa kanila."

I got off the FX and returned home at once.

The instructions from my mother was simple and clear. I will take the car and the driver with me to the bank and withdraw money. It will be used to pay for the hospital bill. I will then help the couple move out of the semi-private ward.

After returning home, only then can I go to work.

What is supposed to be an hour-long business with the cashier took an entire afternoon to finish. The hospital's collection department demanded that we pay the outstanding balance from previous boarding and medical services. The balance dated back from the time Baby Diego was born, and which, my sister continues to pay at that time.

We tried to negotiate with the hospital - even at one point, invoking the name of the Favorite Aunt - to let us continue with the old arrangement. Manila Doctors refused. The head of the collections department even said that our relative had already abused some hospital privileges to accommodate us.

"Until you haven't paid the balance in full," the lady administrator said. "Parking stickers won't be issued to your aunt."

"Nakakahiya naman diba?"

A cold spray of shame - of knowing who really suffered from our convenience - forced me to access the secret family stash. Hidden from my sister, (out of fear that its presence will give her a notion of a sheltered life) the money - or what's left of it - can only be used in dire situations.

After consultations with my mom, a sizable sum was withdrawn from my bank account. I made it appear that a friend works across the street and he decided to lend his money so we can bring my nephew home.

In the days of confinement, I became a foster parent to my older nephew, Lenin. His toy cars became my playthings. His little plastic food bowl I held below his face (he needs to learn to eat vegetables) and at one time, after coming from the hospital to visit his brother, I held him in my arms until he fell asleep.

I did these while also packing the bags with provisions and deliver them to the weary couple. There were days I would bring toys to Baby Diego. Seeing him smile and giggle was enough assurance that everything will turn okay.

And he did.

Final diagnosis was measles and a viral infection of the throat. Baby Diego stayed in the hospital at the cost of an Apple Ipad 2. I would foot half the bill, lose a day at work and suffer those little panic spells knowing another hospital confinement will wipe away my savings.

With the taste of mortality comes a deeper gratitude for the things we value. Like family togetherness, the beauty of self sacrifice, and the understanding that life belongs to the universe. Diego has fully recovered and went on to celebrate his first birthday two weeks later. The terrible needle scars and faint dark spots, already gone on the surface of his skin. 

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