A Curse Upon Our House!

Around ManilaForeign Service Life
November 3, 2009

Makati Medical CenterFriends, it’s been a long few weeks.  I swear, our house is plagued by disease and injury.  As you know, I picked up the nasty whooping cough in Hong Kong two weeks ago.  It’s finally working it’s way out of my system (100 cough drops and 3 bottles of cough syrup later).

Then Norma got a flu bug last week and we sent her home for two days.  Just when I thought we were rounding the corner on health, Nick comes down with the chills last night.  It was way freaky – I’ve never seen anyone shaking that bad.  So he’s piling on sweatshirts and blankets and telling me that’s something’s wrong.  So now he’s home with a 101 degree temp.  Please note: He has none of the same symptoms that I did, so I’m not taking responsibility for infecting him!

Oh, but wait!  The fun’s not over yet.  This morning, as Norma reaches up into a high cupboard in the back room to get Nick a can of chicken noodle soup, a precarious stack of heavy luggage falls from above and hits her in the head.  I feel like I should be in contention for the Worst Employer Ever Award – I’m sure we got her sick last week and then she gets a concussion trying to take care of Nick!

After seeing the massive read bump on her forehead and inquiring about her condition (she felt very dizzy), we decided to make an impromptu trip to the hospital.  Since Nick was sick, I had the honors.  And what an experience it was!  Rudy drives us there and pulls up to the Emergency Room entrance.  We go into a bizarre 6 foot by 6 foot room with a sign identifying it as the triage room.  Mind you, there were about 8 patients and 2 nurses stuffed into this little bitty space and they were scrambling around taking temps and blood pressures.  Once you got “triaged” you were sent to another area to wait.

Happily, since we had a head injury on our hands, we got bumped ahead of the less urgent issues.  Off we go to another absurdly crowded space.  There are some beds around the edges, chairs in the middle of the room and people standing everywhere.  The patients would just stay in their “waiting room” chair and a nurse would come to them and draw blood or take a blood pressure right in the middle of this chaos.  It was like nothing I’ve ever seen…

That being said, the quality of the care was exceptional, equal or better than the best care I’ve ever had in the States (if you can get over the lack of privacy).  We were taken in right away and Norma went through exams, bloodwork and xrays for the next hour and a half.  In the States, I imagine the typical process would have been to shine the light in the eyes and do a quick exam – done in 10-15 minutes.  Not in Manila!  She had a 30 minute exam by a nurse, a 10 minute exam by a doctor, she got an IV put in and was given fluids and then we ended with a head xray.  Very thorough if I do say so myself.

And the grand total (with no insurance)…. $60!  For those of you who are curious, the biggest expenses were:

Doctor’s fee: $8
Emergency room fee: $12
Xray: $20

Wild, huh?  Seriously, this is the place to get sick.  Filipinos are born nurturers and pretty much every other College student is in school to be a Nurse or Doctor.  Honestly, it quelled a lot of my fears around getting injured because I saw first-hand how exceptional the care was.

So back to Norma.  She was a trooper.  Second time EVER at the doctor/hospital!  She was given an all clear – no skull fractures.  We got her some pain pills and had Rudy driver her home.  So there you have it, my first hospital visit.  This girl is EXHAUSTED from all the care-taking that went on today.  Please pray that everyone starts healing ASAP!



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  1. John says:

    Hi Sara, I came across your blog while searching for reference materials. I work in the hospital you mentioned. Thank you for the kind words, we are certainly trying to improve and continue excellent patient care services.
    I also back tracked on your blog posts and find your blog very fascinating, your insights to our culture and your life in Manila is fun to read, I’ve always wondered how foreigners view us, much more expatriates like you who are stationed to live here. Hope you enjoy more of Manila in the coming months, i’d certainly say hi if I bump into you in S&R. One question, how come you brought Diet Coke here, is the taste different? We have Coke Zero, Coke Light and Diet Coke plus the regular one, and Cherry Coke at one time. What’s the difference? bye, and will continue to read on your adventures in this city we call home – Manila!

  2. minnesotagal says:

    Hi John- Thanks for introducing yourself! I am a frequent visitor of Makati Med… :) Not sure if that is a good or a bad thing! As for the Diet Coke. It does, in fact, taste different. Much like wine, different cokes have different finishes. Coke Light has a sweeter finish and Diet Coke’s is more acidic. Doesn’t sound good, but I’ve learned to prefer it over time. I can DEFINITELY tell the difference between the two. I’ve learned to like Coke Light now, so I’m sure for my second post I wouldn’t feel the need to bring it. The thought of having my favorite beverage was comforting somehow on our first posting….. looking forward to getting to know you more! Sarah

  3. John says:

    Hi Sara, it’s funny we’re talking about Diet Coke, well I get your point, when I visited my sister in Boston a couple of years back I noticed that the Sprite I ordered tasted weird, well, that goes without saying that we have acquired taste for soft drinks haha.
    Really? You’re a frequent visitor at MakatiMed, hope you don’t get sick too often though, it’s nice to know that you haven’t crossed to the Dark Side, kidding, I’m referring to our direct competitor just across the Fort haha. Though I think your husband Nick has hahaha
    Back to Coke, I think S&R does sell coke that comes directly from the US, we bought mini cokes before that were definitely not produced in Manila. So do check them out :)

  4. minnesotagal says:

    I haven’t been there in at least 2 months, so I consider that a success… so there really is a competition between the two! We were guessing…

  5. John says:

    Yes there is- it’s like the RedSox vs the Yankees; the Lakers and the Celtics, that intense! ;)

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