I haaate this time of year, mainly because because it’s the season when colds, cough, diarrhea, flu, pneumonia and so on and so forth affect everyone. More so when sickness descends on my kids and I am transformed into one nervous wreck of a mother.
I thought the worst was over when all my three kiddos woke up with sore eyes three weeks ago. Timely intervention ( read: overpriced medicines from the ophthalmologist) made them feel better after a few days and prevented me from going to the office in dark shades a la Jackie Onassis. But it was panic time once again when Paolo was clutching his tummy and grimacing in pain yesterday morning. “It huuurts!”
Poor,poor baby. And so we stop by my company clinic to get an initial diagnosis. It could be a variety of reasons, the doctors said: colic, intestinal parasitism, fecal disturbance, or the beginning stage of appendicitis. Gasp! The thought of my six-year old son being opened up on the operating table was unsavory indeed. If I feared going under the knife, what more him? We went to the hospital for further evaluation. They got samples of his urine and blood and were told to wait for one hour until the results arrived.
“It appears that your son is suffering from some peptic acid disorder,” the friendly pediatrician said. “He should not skip his meals. He should not drink softdrinks or any carbonated juices. Gatorade and mineral water will do for now.” Sigh! Thank God, no worms. Guilt pangs overcame me again because I could not be with my son for every waking moment of his life. We don’t drink cola at home but he did tell me that he could not eat during recess a few days ago because somebody stole his money. And that his back hurt because Justine wrestled him. The teacher did say Paolo was hyper and left his things around but I would wring the neck of any bully who would hurt my son. Really, I would.
Thankfully, Paolo felt better after chewing the Maalox and then it was time to treat him to hotdog and his favorite video games.
God is good! In moments like this, I count my blessings and think how terrible it must be for parents of children with asthma or leukemia. We could do with less money in life but sickness is absolutely the pits. It’s something we could not ask the heavens for, even as a punishment. The doctors and nurses who attended on my son were caring as usual and I could not help but once again admire the members of the medical profession. The countries pirating our grossly-underpaid health care workers are indeed lucky. And I am thankful to belong to a company where I don’t pay a single cent for every hospital confinement or visit. This is because health care is so costly these days.
While Paolo was lying asleep in the emergency room, Harrassed Mom went out to buy medicines and somehow found herself in the middle of Quiapo, Manila.
The bourgeois who patronize Greenbelt wouldn’t be caught dead in Quiapo but it happens to be one of my favorite shopping places in the city. I ride the jeepney and brave the prospect of getting my bag snatched anytime to savor its numerous sights and sounds. These days, legions visit Quiapo not only to pay their devotion to the Black Nazarene but more so, to hero-worship the Moslem merchants who brazenly peddle pirated tapes and videos on the streets. Yes indeed, these are the bootleg copies you wouldn’t be caught dead in the Kennedy Airport but which would completely feel right at home in your Taiwan-made DVD player.
I like the fact that Quiapo exudes character that is uniquely Manila’s. Where else can you find a place where a much-revered Catholic Church peacefully co-exists with quack fortune-tellers and quack abortionists selling dubious concoctions which are pamparegla? I like Quiapo because it is so cheap to buy from the market and stalls there in terms of vegetables, dried goods, PX goods and grocery items which were probably snitched from other stores. This is also where I buy my Excelente Ham, Ma Ling (the red label) and choco chips for my cookies. For as little as ten pesos, you can have a filling meal of pansit palabok, lumpiang sariwa or lumpiang prito from the vendors of Bulakan. The laing, sinaing na tulingan and ginataang hipon from Laguna and Batangas are equally as tasty.
And so yesterday, as I wait for the rain to slow down in front of Plaza Miranda, I was mesmerized by the lure of Racquel who offered to massage me for P50 (that’s less than one dollar at the current exchange rate). I sit in the monobloc chair and Racquel was the epitome of graciousness as she worked up my tired joints, head, arms etc. In the end, I give her the P50 and a tip. There’s no way you could deprive somebody who wanted to earn a decent living and pursued it with passion.