Life in the Philippines….

I’m taking an antibiotic to kill amoebas, which presumably are living in my gut and have been sharply curtailing any outside activity for the last two weeks.

Not sure how I got the amoebas- most people I know here got an amoeba from eating kinilaw (‘aw’ sounds like ow as in how did you do that?), a fish dish where the fish is raw, but pickled/cooked in a vinegar mix.  It’s really good and I do eat it, but I haven’t had any for quite a while, so that’s not it.  I am wondering if it isn’t my green smoothie habit.  I’ve been regularly making smothies with fresh pineapple, mango, and the green leaves of pechay (ay sounds like eye, accent on second syllable), which is either bok choi or its kissing cousin.  There was one day nearly 3 weeks ago when I got busy and distracted and realized I hadn’t really rinsed off the greens before putting them in the blender, but I ignored that small voice in my head suggesting that was not a wise decision and finished my smoothie anyway.

Or maybe it was something else.  But anyway.

After five days or so of this, we called a doctor friend we know and asked if we could come see him. He said yes.  No appointments, as I mentioned before, you just come in and it’s first come first serve.  We took a cab over.  We were his only clients while we were there.

He asked about my symptoms, checked my pulse, asked if I’d had a fever (I had two days of a very low grade fever, and then my thermometer broke and I don’t know, but I don’t think so).

No scales, no blood pressure, no written forms.  He wrote us a prescription for an antiobiotic and a fecal test. There was a nearby pharmacy that had the antibiotics – 3 dollars.  No ID.  Then we walked to a nearby restaurant where I had watermelon juice and fresh tomato soup and Husband and Cherub had more food.  Then we took a cab home.  Husband took another cab back to the hospital to pick up the kit for the fecal test.

Nobody remembered to tell us that the lab would want that sample back within one hour of getting said sample.  Used to the States’ way of doing things, I put the tube in a ziplock bag in a paperbag in my fridge until we could get it back to the hospital.  The doctor said that might be okay.  Next day, husband took another cab to the hospital to deliver it.  Results were negative, but I did not get better.

Over the next week and a few days, I subsisted on crackers, toast, an occasional boiled egg, and pumpkin soup. I tried bananas twice and they made everything worse.  Two different Korean co-workers at the school gave me containers of kimchi because they heard I was having stomach problems, and my Friday katabang (helper) wanted to discuss my digestive and bowel habits and consistency in more detail than I would discuss with my own mother, and about 20 people from church came over and had a party in the living room and cooked up a lot of food that I hear was delicious while I lay on the cool tile floor of my bedroom with a fan blowing on me and wished I was comatose, because while I normally enjoy the smell of freshly grilled fish, that day it just made me wretched.  A few came back a few days later when I was still sick but slightly better, and also asked for details, and I just could not break down those cultural barriers and explain those details.  I did, however, text my firstborn with more of the grizzly details because when you’re this sick sharing grizzly details with your nearest and dearest is one of the few consolations.

Today my  yesterday my husband texted our doctor friend and today he also talked to doctor husband of one of the teachers at school and they both said at this point I should probably be treated for an amoeba in spite of test results.  The doctor friend told my husband to come on over, so he took a cab and dropped in, the doctor wrote out two prescriptions. I did not have to be there.  Then my husband took a cab to three pharmacies before he found one that had both prescriptions.  I did not have to be there, and my ID was not required (Husband might have needed his, I’m not sure).  Now, I would not be surprised to learn this is because he is American and a missionary.  I doubt they do this all the time for everybody.

He took a cab home to drop them off and then cabbed it back to work.  The cab totals were more expensive than the pills, but most people here would either take a jeepney or tricycab or drive themselves.

So far all the prescription pills I have seen here do not come in bottles- they come in blister packs. The doctor prescribes 21 pills and the blister pack is in units of 10? They tear off one pill from the next blister pack.

I also have gatorade, which I mostly only see in blue here, and that’s the one I don’t much care for. I prefer orange because it reminds me of the orange Bayer children’s aspirin from my childhood, but I guess not everybody shares my nostalgia.



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