Saturday, May 28, 2011

Colonoscopy Finally!

Last year, we spoke about getting a colonoscopy.  For various a myriad of reasons it took until now before we have finally scheduled a colonscopy.  Part of the reason was we were scouting for a good doctor - one who is proficient in his profession and yet had a heart.  My husband was very disappointed with a certain gastroenterologist we consulted with at Healthway, who gave him the wrong medicine for his diverticulitis problem.  We did find a good doctor at St. Luke's, as could be expected, but he pointed us towards the "Cancer Screening Package" that was way over our budget - P45,000 inclusive of senior citizen discount.  Since he can never be a "Senior Citizen", you can imagine that the total cost would be more than P45,000.

So we looked around some more, and went to the nearby Lung Center of the Philippines.  It was almost by accident that we found Dr. Leticia Guzman who was there only at 9-10 a.m. on Saturday.  During November last year, my hubby still had a bulging lump on his left side.  I was still concerned as always and the doctor figured out what was partially the problem (apart from diverticulitis).  Apparently, my husband had alot of gas collecting in his colon which was causing his left side to swell and bulge.  Dr. Guzman asked for a full stomach ultrasound   where she herself oversaw the actual ultrasound.  So apart from the diverticulitis medicine that she prescribed that was the exact one that the doctor from St. Luke's prescribed she gave us the idea of getting gas pills.  Asawa got a bunch of gas pills while he was in the U.S. and that has greatly reduced the swelling of his side.

So now that the swelling and discomfort has subsided, it is now time for the colonoscopy.  Seeing as how nice Dr. Guzman seemed (she is motherly and seemed concerned about his welfare) she was, to my husband's thinking, the best choice for the procedure.

We aren't well-off and we have a limited amount of money every month. I haven't set-up my husband with medical insurance yet but I am working on it.  But certainly, in the meantime, he is definitely due for a colonoscopy.  So I asked,a bit apologetically, how much the procedure would cost -- she said, possibly P20,000 but not more than that.  I felt a sigh of relief when I heard that.  It may not be inclusive of the room accommodation yet, and I am still a little too shy to ask if that is inclusive of professional fee, but we will see, hopefully it still isn't as big as in St. Luke's.

The hospital where he will be admitted in is at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, also a Center of Excellence.  I am praying everything works out. :) I'll keep everyone posted. :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Continuation of the Pinay's Hospital Experience

A very heartbreaking but truly instructive part of my surgery happened during the admission part of it.  As I had said in an earlier post, my husband was outside in the pews of the admission room, while I spoke with the person who manned the admission section. As I said earlier I came fully prepared, I had read my contract front and back, spoke to the customer service before admission and pointed out what I knew I was entitled to under the contract -- which is P160,000 coverage under my health plan.  Any customer service who has the misfortune of talking to me will know, if I ask a question and you give me an answer that I can not find in the contract  my short and simple question is -- have you read the contract?  Because I have!

At any rate, the Admission Section suggested I stay at the Ward because a semi-private room was unavailable.  I pointed out that under the contract I can ask for a room upgrade if a semi-private room was unavailable.  So I got what I knew I was entitled to.

Anyway, while signing the papers essentially stating that I am willing to be moved to a semi-private room when one becomes available, I overheard a conversation that the admission person was having with another woman.  It appears that Mrs. (I forgot the real name, but let's make up a fictional name) Robinson was having her husband moved from a semi-private room to a ward.  Obviously, Robinson is not a Filipino name, unless he (the husband) was born in the Philippines but was left behind by a foreigner.  But at any rate, it appears that Mr. Robinson, the husband, is an American retiree, receiving only his Social Security pension.  The woman in the Admitting Section asked the wife if she was working and if she had Philhealth coverage such that the husband is covered (at least partially).  The answer was a NO.  Not only does she and her husband not have Philhealth coverage  but she also has no work.

Honestly, I felt sorry for the husband more than I did for the wife.  Sorry for him that the meager pension he is living on has to be shared between himself and his wife (who was clearly of working age).  Maybe people will call me "mayabang" for saying this, and maybe I am -- I offer no excuse, I honestly have never been without work (except for the 7 months I spent preparing for the bar).  But I just felt pinays have to be empowered women even when they are married to foreigners and most especially if you are a pinay who is married to a much older foreigner man.  Having a mother myself who is old and has no means to support herself, I can understand that having a much older person to live with carries a huge amount of responsibility.  You have to realize that the money they have is meant to answer for their needs when they get older, they are not meant to sustain a family.

Even assuming that it can pay partially to sustain yourself (as a wife) and him, you have to realize that money will not last forever or overcome inflation unless there is some other source of income, either a business or another source of income (like a wife working).  If you factor in that it has been two years since there has been a cost-of-living adjustment in the Social Security pension and the dollar exchange has not been going up but infact going progressively down, there has to be another source of income apart from social security pension, and the woman has to play an active part in determining where to find that money.

If you think about the fact that under Philippine law, the spouse is duty-bound to provide support for the husband/wife over any family relation (e.g. you can't run to his kids because under Philippine law it is YOUR [wife] responsibility), then maybe you (the filipina wife) can play a more active role in finding ways and means to help your husband live a comfortable life in the Philippines.

(P.S. Sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings by this post, I just felt it needed to be said.)

Driving Me Crazy

For those in the know, we have decided to get a car.  It was with much trepidation, and a bit of number crunching before I finally came to the conclusion that we can afford it.  What with the savings we have realized from the Veteran's Affair contributions to our medicines, I sat down, computed all the numbers, saw how much we were already spending on taxi cabs (for myself to and from work and for him to and from the mall), computed my salary increase for this year, the amount we have also freed up from our monthly expenses for paying debt--- and yes, we can afford the monthly (even on a worst-case scenario).  I know paying a monthly is more expensive than paying cash, but it was what we can afford in order to address what I felt to be a necessity now.

I have had enough of contending with cab-drivers who seem to think we (my husband and I) were tourist and don't know how much it cost going to and from places.  I have had enough of the long lines in malls for cabs, when I am already exhausted from work and grocery-shopping on weekdays (I particularly found it horrible going just to and from the mall and our place during the holidays - talk about so near, yet so far away) .  I have had enough of harassing my husband to get up early so that we can make it on time to the Bureau of Immigration or Veteran's Affair. The pinnacle of it all was when my husband suffered from gout last Christmas and we literally hobbled from Veteran's Affair to the Bureau of Immigration. At one time after lunch we had to take a cab for just the short distance from nearby Jollibee to the Bureau of Immigration.  Of course, the recent increase in cab fare flag down rates all the more encouraged me it was time.  After all, my Office was just a 10-minute drive to home, it would still be less costly over all than a daily commute by cab.

At present, my husband drives me to work.  First, let us make it clear, I have all the intention in the world to learn how to drive. Although I must admit that with the way my husband drives (he was a surprisingly GREAT first time driver in Manila), it is a bit discouraging to even attempt to try. He has been able to weave in and out of Manila traffic without as much as a dent on the car, that it scares me to even try it once with him as my "instructor/backseat driver".  Admittedly, I am a backseat driver when he drives, and he says that half of the time I lead him astray! LOL!  But really, I am still better than nothing because at least I know the general directions, it's just that I never paid any attention at all before with the no-left turns, no-u turns and one ways, and that is what leads us astray.

I know I need to learn to drive for the following reasons: 1) its cheaper because he doesn't have to drive back home and drive again to the Office to pick me up in the afternoon; I can just drive to work, park, and go home with less gas consumption; and 2) if he is unable to drive for medical reasons, then I can drive. A week after we had the car, he suffered again from gout.  I had to take a cab to and from work again for at least a week before he can drive again.  There also may come a time that he is incapacitated for some reason and I have to rush him to the hospital.  Also I want to be able to drive my mother to her check-ups without having to drag my husband out of the house for that.  All these reasons are compelling enough to force me to drive.

So I started my first "driving lecture" last week.  It was on highway driving and at least I got to understand what some of the lines on the road mean and what to do in case the car screeches to a halt for some reason. Pretty soon I will schedule my actual driving lesson, I am certainly looking forward to it.

While I only have a student's permit, my husband already had his foreign driver's license converted.  Take note that a foreigner can only use his foreign driver's license 90 days upon arrival.  We were already on our 45th day I think when we had his foreign driver's license converted.  It is certainly much easier than getting a non-professional driver's license since for conversion you are not required to take a test.  However, you can only get the conversion at the main office of the Land Transportation Office at East Avenue (and I read on the internet District Offices and NOT satellite offices like the ones in the  mall, those are just for renewal).  The requirements are, as follows:
1) Medical Certificate (get that at the accredited clinics near the LTO)
2) Drug Test (also at the accredited clinics near the LTO)
3) photocopy of passport showing bio info and latest arrival date
4) photocopy of ACR card; and last but not the least
4) photocopy of foreign driver's license.

The medical/drug test cost P400 over all.  The filing fee with LTO cost P618 (approximately P700), I think.  It took an hour or less to have the medical/drug test.  It also took an hour or less to process.  But I must admit, the processing time for us was short also because my cousin was in the Licensing Section. :p  But I would like to believe that if it was just a regular Joe, it still wouldn't take more than 2 hours at least.