Thursday, October 17, 2013

2 Weeks in Hell

A close relative had a serious medical condition last weekend so I had to fly to California to help. It was excruciating, seeing him in bed, hardly breathing and unable to be his robust and happy self, his family still optimistic amidst the dreariness of intensive care. We had to soldier on, trying to work on the insurance and other paper work which he did not have since losing his job a few months ago, wrongly calculating that there would be no medical emergency until he gets a new job. It was painful to see all his plans wasted when one experience a sudden ailment, unplanned, throwing all preparation to the wind, leaving the future in danger including his family.  It was difficult to see the doctors struggling for the right remedy, calling first for his transfer to another hospital for an organ transplant, another doctor giving a second opinion, choosing a risky procedure that is still playing out today after his major surgery but, in fact, was our only option with no medical insurance.

We had to talk to many people in the hospital: financial counselor, case manager, social worker, doctors, nurses and a priest to discuss the various options; not to say one played a big part but under the mistaken notion that one can change things when all is in God’s hands. But it all boils down to money and insurance and residency, which my relative did not have, struggling just to survive with his family, living under a dreadful cloud of fear for many years until his body gave out, without him realizing the danger until it was too late. Coming home in the evening after a tiring day, his house empty of his presence as he lay sedated in his hospital bed, his body split open, I cried in the darkness wondering how his family can emerge intact, the same smiling young faces full of love. In contrast, hate and anger play out in television, the rage of a few against the affordable health care act and resulting government shut down. One cannot help but feel disorganized, unable to act but resolved to move forward, to file unemployment benefits and disability insurance despite the government shutdown and questions on legitimacy. Surely this is a better world despite the turmoil.

I decided to extend my stay for another week, to try to help in the complex paper work so his wife can handle the essentials of caring for her husband and their children, calling people to get their help, filing applications in the internet or filling up paper forms. Relatives back in the Philippines calling for updates, his daughter posting news on Facebook, calling my wife who was angry for staying away from her as she was sick too and handling medical issues of her own, deciding to work remotely so one does not lose his job and save vacation leave for any future emergency, working nearly 10 hours a day under pressure and worry, meeting demands at work and at home plus extra effort like resolving a car breakdown. All things come undone, with problems at work, at home and with my relative’s condition, his body needing electric shock in 2 episodes, I tried sleeping in the room, praying in the darkness to God that all will be well, trying to calculate all the possible outcomes in my fevered mind. I have become new with this struggle, to realize one’s mortality, the preciousness of life, to treasure one’s relationships, to focus only on the essentials and to cherish the wonder of everyday living.

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