Tomorrow morning, December 1, I will begin the day by being sedated and having some instrument rammed down my throat (gently I hope) so they can poke at my guts and see what is causing this persistent pain that I have been feeling for some days now. I was actually rushed to the Tagaytay General Hospital Sunday night because the darn pain just wouldnt go away despite doses of h2bloc, buscopan, pain killers, maalox, kremil s, etc. In fact I suspect the pain was caused by some chemical revolution happening inside my stomach - the medicines must have argued and debated about who should do the work and couldnt arrive at a mutually agreed upon decision. Thus the pain.

Anyway, the Tagaytay General Hospital, surprisingly, was clean and efficient. Along the way, I was actually dreading the thought of having to share the emergency room with people screaming in pain or kids flailing around with missing - ehem - how shall i say this delicately - parts. And of course, I was quite ready psychologically to battle it out with uncaring medical personnel. I have heard many horrendous stories about nurses in public hospitals who think of patients as statistics and not as people with feelings. But to my great relief, the hospital was quite organized, the nurses and doctors were solicitous, the attendants were not clumsy, etc. If it were not for the simple fact that I was in pain, the experience would have been generally pleasant.

I wish I can say the same of the way patients are treated at the doctors' clinics at the Makati Medical Center. Let me make this clear, I am referring to treatment and consultation at the doctors' offices - not at the MMC emergency room or when confined in the hospital. I have been at the emergency room of MMC many times (easiest and most convenient way to get a check up!) and the attention one gets there is still the best - although of course they charge you scandalous rates for everything - for a tiny cotton bud they charge 20 pesos (I kid you not!). I have also been confined there - and I would say it is not an altogether terribly unpleasant experience. One has to be really twisted to enjoy confinement in a hospital.

But try seeing a specialist - any one - along the corridors of MMC's medical- powers- that- be and see if your patience is not tested to its limits.

First, I still have to catch a doctor that is there on the hours he or she is supposed to be there. They post their consultation hours on the door - but I guess they are mere suggestions or guidelines because like I said, I still have to catch a single doctor in MMC who sticks to the hours. Take my gastro specialist (the guy who will have the privilege of seeing what my insides look like) - his consultation hours is from 10am to 12noon everyday. And it is on first-come first-served basis, meaning that unless your family name is Macapagal-Arroyo or Zobel de Ayala, he sees you in the order in which you arrive in his clinic. I was there at 9:45 hoping that I will be one of the first patients to be examined and that I could hie off to my lunch appointment with lots of time to spare. No cigar. It turns out there are more proactive people than me - they showed up a lot earlier, because I was number 8 on the list. And by 10am, the list reach about 25 patients already. (Yes, you may do the math as well - how much that guy makes in a day!)

Guess what time the good doctor arrived? 11:20am. Whew.

How can doctors make sound diagnoses if they are pressured by the fact that 300 other patients are impatiently waiting in line?

Anyway. I hope everything goes well tomorrow. Pray for me please.


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