Angels & Warm Lights

December 15 & 16: Folly , Maddening

As I write this post I still have a gauze stained with a little bit of Betadine ointment wrapped around my previously infected finger. Without the wrap that shelters it, you will find a what seemed to be a very delicate child – starved and oppressed.  Like a precious kid trying to survive in sub-Saharan Africa. All my other fingers are well-nourished. So it feels a little bit out of place. And there’s a pang of inevitable self-pity going on with my middle finger, that I am trying to nurse. Get well big guy.

I am currently playing  Christmas melodies here in my office desk after having been on sick leave for days. Once and a while I take a sip of water from a vintage pink mug that has the word coffee scribbled around it. I can’t handle caffeine right now. I’ve been palpitating with too much medicine.

I want to ask you this question. Have you ever looked at someone and recognized God speaking through that person? Second question. Have you ever looked at someone and thought it was God speaking through that person? Don’t we sometimes missed and fall short with recognition?

So my first minor finger surgery was not that successful. It was done by a general practitioner. The puss went back & I obviously doubted his abilities.  So I searched for a real surgeon. The one who knows exactly what to do.

When I came to that well-known Medical Center, everyone seemed to hail that doctor. Doctor G. I was guaranteed that he was really good. Perhaps he is. At some point. In most cases. Cases which sadly I can’t testify.

When I sat there at his medical office, I was filled with hope that everything will be okay. I trusted the words of all the medical staff. In fact, outside the medical center was a state-of-the art running board that scrolls down his name and his expertise. Respected Surgeon. Graduated in France.

He has a nurse that assisted me all through out. When they opened the gauze and they found the swelling, they told me it has to be cut open again to get all the puss out. One thing you should know about me is that I am still working on my anxiety. I get easily nervous even with minor surgeries. Second thing you should know about this scenario is that I don’t have medical insurance. My company is a bit in a spiraling financial crisis.

So perhaps when I saw the grimace on the doctor’s face, that face I am sure I would easily identify as hostile – if only I was not so focus on my fears, a part of me knew that this is not the right place to be. But you know, we don’t often follow our instincts. Our gut feel. Those tiny bright voices that echoes clarity. Sometimes we go with the flow. Sometimes we get too distracted with our inner monsters, we fail to run from the ones in the surface.

The surgeon and the nurse told me (not asked but told me menacingly that I should step out of the medical room if I am just going to waste their time.) It was taking me a while to decide if I want to do the surgery right there and then. So I stepped out. When I came back with much courage, after a few minutes, they were being more straightforward on how silly I am. They were rude from the very beginning. I felt like being ganged up to do the surgery. I had a choice but it felt like I didn’t. I want it done right away. I want pain to go away. I want the infection removed. I thought if I prolong it, I might lose my finger. In short, I just want it to be okay- right away. So I was convinced to do it that night.

Anesthesia was given in a slow imperative pain. It felt like a small bulldozer. I know anesthesia should be painful but the syringe shouldn’t feel like it’s sucking the hell out of you. After a while, I felt my finger numbing. But even so, I could feel the stress on my finger as if it was being drained and forced and well – tormented. A few minutes of what was called a surgery, my middle finger was totally strained. It lost all the strength it could manage. My hands shook after that. Both of them.

No prescription was given. Like an actual written prescription of antibiotics and pain reliever. It was like a mutual understanding between me, the nurse and the doctor that I had to take the same medicine provided by my previous doctor.  Then I had to go back the next day. When I went out and found Quinn waiting for me at the lobby, she handed me a water. It simply spilled on my shirt as I try to compose myself for a sip.

I went back for dressing, twice. First with Sam, for emotional support (I know I’m acting like a baby here. But I already had a very bad feeling towards my doctor). I used to feel guilty for acting like a child but now I know I have all the right to feel things. I am now unapologetic for feeling. This is me. I shouldn’t be sorry for anything that I am or for anything that I feel or for anything that I know I deserve. I am a good person and I am not asking for anything more than the same kindness & comfort. After all, it’s not like it’s free. I am paying to be taken care of.

I want to see for myself if I am just hallucinating. Am I over reacting on what seemed to be a hostile environment? No. Sam has a very strong personality but even he – saw those red bright lights from the doctor and the nurse’s eyes. Flaming deep red bursting with wickedness. If you are not vigilant enough, not aggressive enough to catch it and call it for its slight misbehavior, you will either miss it or dismiss it. It has the ability to transform into different faces – lovely smiles, tender touch and wonderful words, so as to lure you and make you believe. Deception. The next thing you know you are doubting yourself and giving the enemy favors. It’s an illusion and we should all be aware of it…

It’s not easy but we should try.  Try to distinguish God’s face amidst all the chaos.

On my second appointment, I finally gave in. I saw and hear it loud and clear. This is not the kind of medical treatment I deserve. I am not a customer. I am a patient. Why come back here when I have a choice not to? I ended up questioning my own reasoning. Maybe this is how it’s supposed to be. Maybe this is how everyone was treated and they never made a fuss about it. Maybe I am just a very weird, petrified patient who is unable to tolerate a very futile pain. Maybe… and this is the worst of all maybes, maybe I should endure this because tomorrow will be different. Besides, I don’t have a choice now. Do I?  I am here. He is my surgeon. She is my nurse. I don’t have medical insurance.

The nurse pressed my finger in multitude times in my own scared excruciating  universe. A cycle of whimpering. No pain relievers. When I asked her to stop, she didn’t. She kept pressing my wounded swelling infected finger like a mad woman. She threatened me that if I make disturbing noises, she will leave me (I guess leave my wound open). But it was too painful.  I understand my circumstances. That was okay. If that is how it should be done to save my finger. But there was always this voice that tells me that I shouldn’t be suffering like that. This is not where I am supposed to be. This isn’t right.

Half-face nice, half-face rude. There shouldn’t be two faces in the world of kindness. Benevolence has only one face. Calm, gentle and forgiving. As soon as the traumatic fifteen minute was over, I asked her if the doctor will take a look at my finger just to check if it was getting better. But the doctor was busy over the phone. He checked up on me and did not say a single word. Is it because I have already paid surgery?

None of them was telling me what to do next. If I have to clean it by myself, then at least tell me with what? Water? Soap? Which ointment? Betadine Solution? Should I continue taking the antibiotics?

By the look of it, after sending me home and telling me to do my own dressing from there on- I think anyone can attest that my finger was a complete mess. It was closely resembling to a rotten fruit waiting for maggots to come out of it. It was bad. It was terrible. Deep red from two cuts, swelling all over and some puss coming out. The black swell that surrounds it signifies that no blood is circulating in that portion anymore.

I was in deep level of doom.

I met an old man in the pharmacy. Sam and I were ready to do the dressing by ourselves. I was told to rinse it with water but I highly doubt it. I have done it already on my first surgery and more infection came.

This old man, with calm face and quick wit told us to use Saline solution.

He gave me so much hope. That old man. But even after these, with all of Sam’s courage to press the puss out while I hold the terror in my throat, puss still kept coming. I decided it’s over. I will go home – in Manila where as far as I know, the best doctors are. I will let a faithful doctor fix me. Everyone who sees the photo of my finger, kept telling me it was looking really bad and I shouldn’t prolong going for another consultation.

I emailed the management and told them of the rights I have as an employee. Either they send me home or I will go to a hospital (a big one – which I know would cost a lot of money) and have my medical expenses reimbursed.

Truth is, I am loser. I’m a complete wuss. I always back down. Always scared and shy and embarrassed to ask and voice out my emotions. I am always scared to put my foot forward and fight for what I deserve, for what I want, for what I need. Had I fought for this in the beginning, I would’ve not end up in two medical centers with two minor surgeries gone bad. I would’ve gone to a decent, if not – first class hospital. I would’ve not been physically and emotionally tormented.

I prayed hard as I waited at the waiting area of the hospital. Please give me a good doctor. This is going to be my 3rd attempt for better medical care.

I was terrified that the swelling was so bad and can grow more and infest my entire finger. When the door of the medical office opened, a warm bright light welcomed me. She was smiling with the right amount of sunbeams.

“What happened?” she asked.

I did not intend to do so but I spilled tears on her desk. Tissue was plucked with my unexpected outburst. I was just frustrated with the idea that – sorry for saying this – but there are hardly any great doctors around here. And I don’t say this based on experience. It has become a reality in this place of gold and money. I didn’t tell her this of course. I just told her that series of disappointing and depressing events that had happened.

Perhaps I was still swimming in my own emotional ocean that I did not actually heard her clear the first time. She will do the surgery for free.

When she removed the gauze from my finger she was shocked. She said she will do her best and since I have been through a lot, she will not charge me for procedure.

My finger is still weak as of this moment but it has been healing fast. Infection was gone.

My immediate supervisor- Mozi, who has been very supportive from the beginning also told me that the company is willing to send me home with free ticket if I want to or if I choose to have another surgery here (which I did already), they will reimbursed all my medical expenses. Glory to God.

I have also been chewing garlic lately and drinking hot water with lemon as advised by my colleagues. And yesterday I went to the park with a couple of good people. Sam of course despite our personal differences and constant argument that never changed, has always been there for me all through out. My dear wonderful caring Sam.

I want to see the face of God through people, everyday. Most specially in times of despair. It is always calm and pure and patiently waiting. It does not rush you. It does not boast for it is never arrogant. It is respectful of your emotions. It never thinks highly of himself. It puts your comfort and safety in priority.

It is filled with hope and humility.

It is bright but not blinding.

It uplifts your spirit with good words.

It holds your hand.

It’s like walking in the park under the warm sun on a cold December afternoon with plenty of time to spare. It pays closely attention to you and respects your utmost decisions.

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