It started with a stomachache.
The pain was like when you have LBM and hyper-acidity combined. But it wasn’t any closer. I knew it was different. It was something that my mad stomach couldn’t tolerate and any over-the-counter drug couldn’t relieve. It’s something that Mang Inasal PM1 couldn’t ease and my Marlboro Lights – Kopiko L.A. Coffee dyad couldn’t calm. Mostly, it’s something that my work and in-between-work chit-chats couldn’t distract.
I had to file under time and leave the office after the afternoon break.
C met me in the emergency wing of St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City. I was quickly attended by a nurse. My blood pressure was high, adding the sudden appearance of my tics. It was a purely distressing afternoon. But I wasn’t thinking big. Really. I was thinking that it’s just an unserious stress ulcer (if there is such thing), or hunger had just passed me. Not big. Not as big as Anna Larrucea’s pectoral bumpers (that are ooh la la thrice of my wife’s). Not as big as cancer or appendicitis or a chicken bone clogged in my intestines.
Two IV painkillers; an abdominal CT scan; a blood test; and a urine sample later, I was diagnosed with Acute Appendicitis and advised to have my swollen appendix removed through Open Appendectomy.
Fear of surgery: created by the word appendicitis.
Fear of feeling intense pain: created by the words cut, open, and removal.
I couldn’t believe it. Even until the next day when I was garbed in a hospital gown and gay head dress, lying on a gurney and being taken to the 4th floor of the edifice, seeing the fulgent lights of the hall and operating room, it was like a dream. Like a limpid and vivid Star Cinema movie cinematography, it was so surreal.
While waiting for the roster of the operating team, Cath, the nurse was briefing me about everything that would and could happen. She said that generally, if I am an alcoholic dick, I might wake up in the middle of the surgical procedure and surmount the effect of the sedatives that have been introduced to me.
Fear of waking up in the middle of the operation: assured by the word alcoholic.
When the moment of truth arrived, I couldn’t clearly remember anything. There was like three doctors and four assistants around me in a bright room of cool machines and stainless surgical equipments. I was asked to lie sideways so they could inject the anesthesia in my spine. After that, they just said, “See you later.” and covered my face. Then it was all black.
Fear of feeling intense pain: shut by the word anesthesia.
The entire operation lasted more than an hour and I guess it went out smoothly. There were no complications whatsoever. I actually woke up in the middle of the procedure and saw nothing but surgeons and assistants’ heads. I smiled and muttered about erection until they sedated me again.
Fear of surgery: shut by the word successful.
Fear of having other organ malfunctions: shut by the word futile.
I found myself in the recovery room. Numbed from tummy downwards. The male nurse said I was snoring but it was okay. I groped for my legs and dick under the sheets but I couldn’t feel anything. A beautiful female nurse said the sensation would return after a couple of hours.
About 3 P.M., after the torpor waned, I was in my new private room at the 11th floor and talking to C when I suddenly found out that I have a motherfuckin’, dick-penetrating, lubricant-smeared catheter.
Fear of losing my erection: created by the words tube, insert, and inches.
You can do anything to me. I mean, medically. Anything. But don’t you ever put a who-knows-how-long slim hose in my thing. For me, that is inhuman. That is more private than private. That is vandalism. That is trespassing. That is an invasion of the deepest part of my manhood where I keep my magic seeds. My future children. My Irab-on globules.
So I quickly demanded for the removal of that piece of shit.
My bosses / friends dropped by that evening. We were bantering about my pipe and my temporary restraining order to munch on burgers. Too bad I couldn’t laugh hard because of my four-layered suture but I really appreciate their visit.
Later that night, as requested, my nurse named Tine, finally removed the tube in my tube because I was insanely vexed about the idea and I couldn’t (wouldn’t) wait `til next morning. When she pulled the catheter out, it was seriously painful. The pain was something like when you pee after holding it for an hour because you chose to fuck first. Only nine times the twinge.
Fear of losing my erection: prolonged by the words yellow, liquid, and deep.
After thirty minutes or so, my peter was back to normal and I could frankly say that it was suddenly comfortable. The phallus had calmed down and I finally got a chubby after accidentally seeing some smooth RN valleys.
It seemed like the catheter cleansed my shaft. It felt way better than before. But please don’t get me wrong. I am not being a pervert. I’m just being elaborate.
Fear of losing my erection: shut by the words hard and harder.
Z and the rest of the family visited me on Saturday. They all ate and feasted on Jolibee products in front of me, without taking considerations on how the patient who’s on a liquid-diet would feel. Man, I was really craving for an Amazing Aloha that time.
Sunday was a normal day at the infirmary. I had already taken a bath that morning and shaved my three-month old mustache because my daughter asked me to pare it down. We two explored the other parts of the building. It meant that I could already walk without much hassle. I’d seen the chapel and the cafeteria with pricey but quite acceptable food. All the needles in my body were already removed in the afternoon and I had changed to casual attire.
I checked on the running bill and it was seriously high.
Fear of the scary monster called statement of account: shut by the word Maxicare.
I was already discharged the next day before lunch. C was out fixing my PhilHealth account and Z didn’t go to school for a light responsibility of accompanying me in my room. It was a waiting game. I’ve asked for the final invoice and it was a whopper that’s not as appetizing as Burger King’s.
The dilemma was, the insurance company wouldn’t shoulder ALL the expenses, telling me that I already had exceeded the limit of the coverage and a third of it was already used. I can only have an appendicitis once, right? There was some sort of misunderstanding. Everything was perfectly budgeted that I could even stay in the hospital for two more days without fishing cash out of my wallet. I was disappointed. I was actually angry. In conclusion, we had to pay the rest of the bill.
Fear of the scary monster called statement of account: summoned back by the words Maxicare, exceeded, and scam.
We really didn’t have any extra money so I sought help.
Fear of the scary monster called statement of account: shut by the word Desiree.
Fear of not having a Plan C: shut by the word aunts.
Fear of the incapability to pay back: shut by the word reimbursement.
The bill was finally settled in the evening after all the chagrin. C, Z, and I thanked the nurses, the “bell boy”, the security guards, Paul, and Desiree.
It was a rainy taxi ride to Manila, where I would be staying for days.
Fear of the wound re-opening: created by the words humps and inertia.
I will be going back on the 25th for a follow-up check-up. I hope everything will come to place.
Sometimes we ask for reasons why shit happens. Sometimes we want to blame people and things for our miseries but we end up asking why we should blame them in the first place.
If it was lung cancer, I could blame myself for smoking incessantly. If it was HIV, I could blame myself for unprotectedly fucking dirty bitches. BUT I couldn’t blame myself for having appendicitis whose cause is vague and inconclusive. That’s life and its hitches.
There are things as futile as appendices that can suddenly swell up and cause us a lot. But we are just people. We think, we decide, and we face the just-desserts of our decisions. We save money, we get sick, we get cut, and we make hospitals a hundred and ten thousand richer.
But we are just people. We fight and we move on. So one organ less, I’ll move on.
(… and probably grow another mustache.)