NANAY, THE MEDICAL TOURIST


Nanay just had her gall bladder removed because of a 1.2cm gall stone the size of a kiamoy (red champoy) seed. She was confined at the new Medical City for 5 days last week, because apart from the pain we also had to manage her hypertension levels. I stayed with her all week as she was confined, bringing my knitting and my Asus EEE with me to the hospital so I could both work and knit off the interminable waiting that’s par for the course at hospitals. Turns out Nanay took it like a trouper.

The procedure is called laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which has been done successfully in the country for the last 7 years. The surgeon who operated on Nanay is one of the top professionals with this expertise, so we weren’t too worried. Our other option was standard surgical removal, however we were informed that big incisions take a while longer to heal. The “lap-chole” involves making 4 holes in the abdominal area, and the surgery is performed with a tiny camera monitoring the actions of tiny robotic surgical implements. Yes, the sort of thing you see on Discovery Channel! (And yes, we have a dvd from the doctor, but nobody’s yet in the mood to watch it.) They told us that the entire gall bladder was removed, and that small titanium clamps were left inside to hold the rest of her in place. Nanay joked that after the removal of her appendix, her uterus and the gall bladder, her abdomen ought to get smaller. Several of her friends called us to commiserate and admit they also had their gall bladders removed.

Which leads us to the low-salt, low-fat diet. Before the operation she was served regular hospital food, which — surprise, surprise! — actually tasted good and fresh. (I know, I ate half her food. I think they have real chefs for this, because it’s FAR from carinderia food although quite simple.) The day before the operation she had the low-salt, low-fat food, which was rejuvenated by the fantastic new product Pan Salt, which has 43% less sodium than regular salt. This ought to be available at your neighborhood supermarket, in a blue box with orange letters. (Please take note that it is a TABLE SEASONING and NOT a cooking salt, because you might be adding a bigger quantity to whatever you’re cooking just so it tastes the way you remember.)

Her Medical City room was expensive and new, and had a panoramic view. If we had a choice we’d have chosen a less expensive room, but there was no other room available at all, and both her internal medicine specialist and cardiologist practice here. There was a sofa where I slept, and cable tv, daily newspapers and free wifi. The best thing about it was the bathroom, which was huge and had well-thought-of emergency access options (push-button assistance calls, arm rail and non-slip surface for the shower). It was cleaned twice a day by cheerful and efficient staff, who DO NOT use anything with the trauma-inducing smell of pine cleanser. (The cleanser smelled of flowers and citrus, like at a hotel. Which is definitely the point.)

I can see they’re really promoting Medical Tourism. I was astounded by the kind, competent, efficient, well-spoken and very attractive nurses. Even the male nurse assigned to Nanay looked like he could star in a local version of “Grey’s Anatomy”. I kid you not. Tatay was impressed. He didn’t mind the cost of the room if it meant it was a sort of forced spa vacation for Nanay (who multitasks so much she gets guilty if she’s idle). Her birthday’s coming up at the end of the month, and he wanted her to be in a good frame of mind. He appointed me as her, uh, spa attendant-cum-jail warden. It was actually pleasant for the entire family to visit her daily. Joy and Tristan brought Lilo to see her Lola Nanay every night after dinner. Lilo actually said, “Nanay, come home na.” How cute is that! What a way to cheer her grandma up. Then Lilo would gaze down at the cityscape of lights and marvel how high up she was in the air, munching on whatever she liked from the fruit basket.

There was cable tv at the hospital, but one couldn’t just sit and watch all day. I had to be productive. Unfortunately, the free wifi signal in the room was pathetic. So I used my Nokia 6120 and the Globe PhP5/15mins connection, and was able to work and send out an ad for a November convention. There’s 3G signal in the area, I got the ff. speed last Oct. 9:

I also brought some knitting, which kept me calm and relaxed all throughout the hospital stay. I started casting on stitches for Lilo’s hoodie cardigan that Saturday morning, and as the days went on, I went from this:

to this:

and by the time we checked out, I had finished the second sleeve and only had the hood to do. Talk about single-minded knitting! This project actually had a few fans among the nurses , who’d been coming in every 3 or 4 hours to check my mom’s — and the project’s — vital signs, hahaha!

Nanay was also in the mood for a little art, in keeping with her “spa” mood. Click on the image for a clearer view:

She has more sketches of me watching tv and taking a nap on the sofa, as well as the view from her hospital window… I love this particular one. It really looks like me.

So yes, Nanay is home and doing fine. I just make sure she doesn’t tire herself unnecessarily. We brought home her souvenir in a little bottle, and joke about having it set in resin and made into a pendant.

Thanks to everyone who sent prayers and get-well messages, and to Ta Ann who sent a fruit basket 🙂

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