Philippines Medical Scoreboard Thus Far 2-0

Yesterday was an eventful day for several reasons. 

First, after our regular meeting with MeGa, the person we report to, surprised us with a birthday cake that was sent by her best friend Cherry, who told us months ago while we were celebrating MeGa’s birthday that she would buy Marcia a cake on her birthday.

Both of us had completely forgotten about this promise of getting a birthday cake, but not Cherry. We were deep into our daily work, when just before lunch, Mega came into the room with a strawberry cheesecake from a very high-end bakery. This was probably the best strawberry cheesecake I’ve had. Being surprised with this cake was one of the bigger surprises in our lives. 

The biggest surprise was when our five kids, with our daughter Kimberly being the ringleader, surprised us for our 70th birthday with a surprise party at a restaurant in Folsom, CA when a couple of dozen of our close friends and family were hiding in a banquet room surprising us when we walked into the room – both of us were opened mouth surprised. That was four years ago. This surprise was not as elaborate but still a big surprise.  Later that evening we took Cherry and MeGa out to dinner at a nice restaurant.

For the last few days, Marcia had been complaining about a plugged-up left ear. As we got ready to go out to dinner, the issue had moved from her left ear to her right ear with the additional complication of pain that was progressively getting worse. By the time we left the office about 8:00 pm after returning from dinner, the pain had increased substantially in intensity. 

About thirty minutes after we got home, the pain level was getting worse by the minute. I decided to call one of our senior missionary friends, Taft Meyer, who lives in the same apartment building, and asked him if he would assist me in giving Marcia a blessing. 

Within five minutes of calling him, Marcia was now in severe pain….and was moaning, groaning, and rocking back and forth in bed. I told Marcia that we were going to the emergency room at St. Luke’s. She began to freak out because an emergency room visit in the Philippines was an unknown to her. I reminded her that this is the same hospital where she had seen her Electrophysiology Cardiologist a few weeks ago and that this doctor told her if she ever had to go to the emergency room to be sure to give the ER doctors her name. 

I immediately call Taft back and told him that he needed to come immediately because we were leaving for the emergency room after giving Marcia a blessing. As I was finishing the call with Taft, I heard Marcia screaming – I mean a top of her lungs blood curdling scream that I’d never heard in all the years we’ve been married. 

I ran to her room and she was crying uncontrollably and still screaming. I sat down on her bed and told her that Taft and Dr. Sherm Johnson, a pediatrician, who serves as the medical advisor for our mission and lives one floor above us, would be here in a few minutes. She managed to stop screaming and crying. Surprisingly for seemingly no reason, the pain started to subside. 

Just then, there was a knock at the door. I let Taft and Dr. Johnson in, as we walked into Marcia’s bedroom, she’d stopped crying and was sitting up in bed. Early in the evening, I had put warm olive oil in her ear thinking that the wax in her ear needed to be softened and that the wax was perhaps putting pressure on her ear drum and was causing the pain.

I handed Marcia a tissue to wipe some of the olive oil from her ear since she was sitting up in the bed prior to  her blessing. Low and behold as she wiped some of the oil off her check and her inner ear, the tissue was spotted with blood that was oozing out her ear. She continued to dab the blood up for the next few minutes. 

Dr. Johnson said she had all the symptoms of a severe ear infection and the pressure had become so great in the inner ear that it burst the ear drum and when this happened, the pain subsided. He put in a call to the Mission-On-Call Filipino doctor who didn’t answer the call so Dr. Johnson texted him. 

We gave Marcia  a blessing and chatted for a few minutes since the pain had subsided. Dr. Johnson said that it probably wasn’t necessary to go to the emergency room because they couldn’t do much at this point other than  prescribe an antibiotic. We thanked these two johnny-on-the-spot Elders in the Priesthood and they left. 

Within a few minutes the doctor called and spent ten minutes talking to Marica and eventually said that he concurred with Dr. Johnson’s diagnosis and prescribed antibiotics. 

This entire intense pain episode started at 8:40 pm. It was now 9:30 pm. I had googled the pharmacy that we use which is a five-or-ten-minute walk from our apartment and learned that it was opened until 10 pm. The doctor had called at 9:30 pm and by 9:40 pm I was walking down the street taking to the doctor on my cell phone and texting him the info he’d requested such as name, age, birthdate, and our address. 

By 9:45 pm, he had emailed me the prescription, and by 9:50 pm I walked into the pharmacy that closed at 10:00 pm (there are very few pharmacies in the US that are open to 10 pm, at least where we live) and by 9:57 pm, I had the prescription in hand and was walking out the door to return home. 

Marcia had played down and after about an hour later she came into my room and asked me to come and see something. I did….this is what she showed me.

Prior going to bed, Marcia inserted a small amount of cotton in her ear and I put bandaid over her ear to secure the cotton in case there was additional bleeding during the night.

My Thought: We’ve had two experiences now with medical care in the Philippines and both have been positive. I know that all situations don’t always end this way but for us, we are 2-0. 

One additional thing we are learning about the Philippines.

From what we’ve seen so far, birthdays seem to be a big thing here.  I wouldn’t have guessed this, like I wouldn’t have guessed that Mother’s, Father’s Day, and the Fourth of July (by some) are celebrated here. This makes the Philippines seem a lot like the good ol’ USA.