Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Starter Kit for the New Asthmatic

“Welcome to the club,” says fellow P, turned fellow A.

And somehow, I was waiting for someone to say that to me within the 24-hour span that a doctor, a pulmonologist at that, declared that I, just like many Filipinos, have asthma.

“It’s not an achievement,” my brother said with obvious disdain when he saw the picture that I took of what I call the “starter kit for the new asthmatic.” He followed up his hostility towards my newly discovered ailment with lines my mom would have uttered if she were within proximity, “paano kasi 6 hours or less lang ang tulog tapos wala man lang multivitamins.”

And that’s quoting my younger brother loosely. His actual words were more forceful that those.

But he is right. Developing asthma at the age of 27 isn’t anything to be proud about. Contrary to how I may seem to be enjoying this, I don’t. As sad as it may sound, I went to this battle alone.

Friday night, my cough had already been suspicious. There’s the aching of my chest and a somewhat “cat” as my sister with asthma often say. Not exactly a purr or a meow, but the sound a cat makes after it screams in pain, maybe if someone steps on its tail or something.

I said pass to a night out with some officemates and to a proofreading job the next day. I knew something was wrong with me. However, it didn’t stop me from procrastinating seeing a doctor. I instead chose to sleep. I thought that if I take a good rest it’ll be gone when I’m up again. But no! The cat is persistent.

“It’s my cough,” I finally told the doctors who asked me what was wrong with me. “I mean, I’ve had coughs before but I’ve never had that thing vibrating inside my chest when I breathe. I’m a bit alarmed because I somehow think I have asthma whereas I’ve never had asthma before.”

[Note: I’m presenting my dialogues the way I pictured them to have come out of my mouth. But looking back, I had an especially different way of giving a backgrounder to the pulmonologist. I think I delivered it this way, “inuubo po ako pero ang kakaiba doon, para akong hinihika….” He almost laughed when he heard “kakaiba.” Was it the way I said it? I wouldn’t really know.]

“And why do you think you have asthma?” Both doctors asked at two separate times.

“Because I can hear ‘the cat.’”

A few thorough checks later, it’s official. I have asthma. I had to hear it coming out of the doctor’s mouth. I mean, I would hate to assume or to conclude for myself even if he just prescribed me a couple of asthma paraphernalia. “So ibig pong sabihin may asthma ako?” I said in disbelief.

He said, “yes,” and attributed it to the wheezing sound he heard using his stethoscope. He supported his diagnosis by reminding me that, as I have disclosed, my mom has asthma and so do my sister and two other brothers. “It’s in your genes,” he emphasized and ended with, “I’ll see you in a week.” He then handed me his prescription.

"That sucks," I ended up saying to myself.


Magkano na ‘yan?” I asked the pharmacist before giving in to the drugs.

He showed me the computation. It read, “1765.75.”

Lalo yata akong magkakasakit!” I know it’s not original and, chances are, the pharmacist has heard it a hundred times before, but I just had to say it. After all, I meant every wee bit of it.

Darn it! I had to buy the two pricey inhalers. This unforeseen expense will most definitely leave a dent to my ailing finances. It also follows that due to the unplanned swipe using my plastic money, I could kiss my new shoes-to-be goodbye.


But before I got to the point of buying my meds and those I relayed prior that, I had to pass through the doctor at the HMI clinic, the doctor who cleared me from pneumonia and referred me to the pulmonologist.

“Do you smoke?” she asked.

“No,” I answered. “But if I have to hang around a hospital as frequently as I do now, I just might,” my mind added.

You see, I’m not OK with being sick. While waiting in line at the pulmonologist’s clinic where I did some social coughing with the other patients (which nearly freaked me out—the framed “Tuberculosis can be cured” pin-up on top of the receptionist’s desk did not help), I was texting my sister about my medical misadventures. And while typing, I felt tears well up my eyes.

I turn into a baby whenever I’m sick. Regardless if it’s an ordinary fever, I cry. Call it hypochondria. Then again, you can consider me praning by nature. And what little or lot I know about certain medical stuff makes me even more praning than I already am.


So aside from tissue paper and alcohol, notebook and pens, the staple residents of my bag from which I get comfort, plus a tiny bottle of my contact lens’ lubricant, I have to bring the inhaler which is not something you’d say is barely there.

I’m just happy I’m done with the eardrops. Otherwise, my nostrils will be the only holes in my head that don’t have drops or spray of sort. How lola-like have I become?!


I heard about a statistic before regarding the effect of air pollution in our country to our people. The exact figures and facts of the said statistic are blurry to me now but here’s the gist: by a few more years, the number of asthmatic Filipinos will increase because of our awfully filthy air.

After yesterday’s session with two doctors, we can say that the statistic had a sure increment. Me.

Hence the starter kit for the new asthmatic.


1 comment:

cey enriquez said...

Uy tye!
Ngayon ko lang nabasa yung younblood article mo. Wow. Well, I just had to say when you were referring to the 'brave bunch' I thought you meant your family. Hanep din ang bravery ng mga Delgado. Thanks for sharing your article. In its heart-wrenching way, it was inspiring. Salamat uli.