Room 440. Its was a small room, small enough that you can explore its bareness in a second. It has one patient's bed with a not-so-soft pillow, a brown watcher's bed near the closed window, two plastic white chair, and a small table. You can see whiteness all over. All walls are barren white made whiter by two fluorescent lamps; one at the center and the other at the patient's head. I entered this room, Tuesday, April 21.
It was Saturday, April 18, at around 5:45pm when I arrived in Bacolod from Manila for a badminton tourney. I was chilling hot. I did not have an extra piece of cloth within my reach to drive away the cold. And I was terribly coughing in a 5-second interval. Imagine that for a 1-hour flight. My thoughts ran wild. I was imagining if they have a sound-proof room in the plane where I could transfer. And I am wiling to pay. That was how terrible I felt with the disturbance I gave, especially to my seat-mates. So I just prayed hard that my seat-mates wont mind. Good thing, I was seated at the last row, seat number 33. But the not-so-good scenario is that I was seated at the center. I was looking at each of them. The one at my left was wearing a headset. A relief. On my right, the window side, she was deeply asleep, or perhaps just pretending, so I won't be humiliated.
I rented a cab all for myself, coughing continued, but at least this time, the sound was only between the driver and I. I arrived home - weak, tired, and sick. I took one tablet of biogesic and immediately hit the sack. I felt better the next day. In fact, I reported for work Monday, April 20.
While at work, at around 6pm, I noticed, I was getting hotter. Please take it literally. I took another biogesic and cleaned up my area. I need to be home to rest. I just bought large fries and spaghetti in the nearest Mc Donald's in case my stomach will demand for food. I only finished the large fries and half of my pineapple juice for dinner and slept. In the middle of the night, I told myself, I need to admit myself.
The next day, April 21, I filled my bag with clothes, toiletries, and chargers. I carried myself alone in the hospital. I told the information at Riverside Medical Center that I want to admit myself. I haven't finished my statement yet, she already pointed her hand to the admitting section. I obeyed and took my priority number - 33. I filled out some forms and signed them. And I was instructed to proceed to the emergency. I was terrified. What? How worse am I? Why the emergency room? But they know better so I followed. I was made to lie down in a moving bed and changed my shirt to a hospital gown. The nurse took my BP and pulse rate. And the doctor went to my side and interviewed me. He threw so many questions of which the answers I can hardly recall. I can even feel his impatience growing bigger. A lady nurse took blood samples and a man in his forties gave me an ECG. When the doctor left, a male nurse went to me and he was shaking a container. I asked, "What is that for?" And he replied, "You need to wear oxygen mask." I exclaimed, "Huh?" "I am breathing fine." "Please ask the doctor again!" And he did not come back.
Another test was scheduled - xray. I was lying in bed when the assistant told me we are going to the xray laboratory at the second floor. I told him, "I can walk upstairs." And he said it cannot be. Once admitted, walking is taboo. So I passed through hallways, rode in elevators in my metal bed, where strangers look at me with pity in their eyes.
The worst part of being admitted was the time when you are injected with the needle for my dextrose and antibiotic. But I learned, it was only painful in the beginning. I can feel the liquid literally running through my veins. It felt uneasy but you will learn to embrace it. And live through it. Because at this point in your life, you don't make choices. The doctor does. And you are in complete obedience.
I was first transferred to a suite room in the 5th floor because at that time a Regular Private is not yet available. And wow, it was like a hotel accommodation. The room has big sofa with a center table. The curtains are thick and expansive. The space is big that it can accommodate a coffee party. And the best part of it all is that it is a room with a view. The left window ushered in a scenic mountain view and a beautiful sunset. The window in front of me revealed nature's greenery - big, tall trees and the Silverio Mansion.
I was enjoying my suite room, when a phone call disturbed it. "Sir, please be ready to transfer to Room 440." I said, "Now?" And he replied, "As soon as you are ready, Sir." I said, "Okay." My voice dropped like an echo vanishing in mid air. Oh life. You have a way of waking us up to reality.
I can hardly sleep during my first night in the hospital. I was worried I might ran over my left arm with a needle inside my vein. In fact, I dreamed of it, that I visualized it so vivid and real. I saw blood bursting from my left hand and the tubes already detached. How I was so terrified was beyond words to translate. But then again, our body easily adjusts. The next day, I was sleeping already like a log. I opened doors. Sometimes, I eat by myself. I wash my own spoon and fork. I live by it. I am titanium. Four days in the hospital. Four days of extreme solitude. Four days of learning to be strong. It was at room 440, that life revealed some of its lessons. Lessons taught so well.