Dengue: Breaking the Fever but the Fight is Not Over

This September, I’m celebrating my 20th year of surviving Dengue Stage 4. Life has been good to me. I am forever grateful. I hope I have made good the second life lent to me.

 The 4 Stages of Dengue

Stage 1: Acute fever and upper respiratory symptoms

 · Stage 2: Fever subsides

· Stage 3: Circulatory failure, neurological problems, and hemorrhaging

· Stage 4: Shock and death (10% of all cases reach this stage)


Watch out for Stage 2. It doesn’t na magaling na ang patient.


Thanks to the bedside doctors who made sure I had a pulse 24/7 and the nurses who watched over my platelets. Thank you to Dr. Rustica Moran who made the decision to save my life when my platelets and pulse failed. I was a charity case.


The government hospitals cannot give that kind of attention to the 63,000 reported cases in 2010. I was lucky, 20 years ago. The 465 who died last year weren’t so lucky.


Many Waters

Many waters cannot quench love; neither can the floods drown it. – Song of Solomon 8:7

While Typhoon Onyong (Ketsana) raged outside, Andy and I got facials.

Outside the office spa, there was brown knee-deep water in the streets. I stupidly decided to head home, worried about my mom and lolo. I got to the halfway point when I realized that the floods were getting deeper, developing a strong current. I took shelter with some neighbors (Joseph, Junior and Ella, which will now be formerly known as Complete Strangers) until I found J.R., (which will now be formerly known as Random Muscle Guy) to help me brave the currents back to the office.

I got a change of clothes from the store below, just before they closed the mall. We spent the first night in the office with minimal power and water. The toilets turned ripe in a short matter of time since there were about a hundred of us stranded in the office. Thankfully, there was plenty of food. And the company of my friends made it bearable. I slept on a piece of flipchart paper on the carpet of the Training Suite.

The mall turned out all refugees except for the employees. I felt bad for the people outside. They were stranded on the mall’s patio. How cruel! The waters rose quickly to around waist-deep. The roads became impassable. I heard from the news that other malls served as evacuation centers. This one didn’t have much heart.

It took in, however, an anxious lola to be, a bewildered husband and a seventeen-year-old girl on the verge of tears…and of giving birth. Her name is LJ and she will name her baby girl Lois. They sought for help form the doctors of the Medical City Clinic here. There was no power, no water, and no emergency medicine.

We also had another patient: a lolo who suffered from angina. His grandson James took him to Medical City Clinic, only to be stranded inside.

LJ came Saturday night with her mother, Judith and her husband Keith. Her bag of waters began to leak at Sunday 6AM. They called for my help as a medical professional. I assured them that we will try all our best to get her to the hospital, but if help won’t come, I’m ready to assist with the delivery.

Our team of trainers (Carl, Ethan, Nabs, Andy) called all possible government agencies. We tried to hail trucks passing by. All to no avail. There was no way we could get to a hospital by land. We also found a friend in an exuberant Red Cross volunteer, Aileen.

Meanwhile, I tried to calm the patient down. I assessed the baby’s heart rate, the mother’s BP and her temperature. All seemed to be going well. Except that her contractions were getting stronger and more frequent. I was so scared for her. But I also wanted to be strong for her. I didn’t want to induce the delivery by performing an internal examination. So I just monitored her contractions constantly.

At around 3PM, her contractions came every three minutes. I got cold sweat.  “Dear Lord, give me strength if You are to ask me to deliver her baby here.” I prayed. “If this be not her destiny, help us get her safe to a hospital.”

I let her lie on her side, to help her relax and to help the baby get more fresh oxygen and nutrients.  She calmed down and the contractions became less frequent and a bit weaker. All the while, I monitored the baby’s heartbeat. She seemed doing okay in there as well. For the first time, my objective was to delay the delivery, not to hasten it.

At 4PM, I asked Chris, the company nurse to keep monitoring LJ and her baby. I got struck with the idea of using the power of the media. The people in government could not refuse the media because they provide coverage, especially during election season. I called DZMM, a local AM radio, and they patched me with the right government agencies. They sent us rubber boats right away. Thank you Amy Perez and Alvin Elchico. Thank you to the Women of the Cainta Police Force.

We left the site at 6PM. I wanted to ride with LJ and her husband, Keith, but the load got too heavy for the boat. I got off and wanted to run after them. My heart was willing but my legs were not. Aileen and Andy took her to a nearby hospital.

Baby Lois was born 10PM September 27, 2009.

Thank you, everyone for the love you showed a woman in need. You are true heroes in my eyes.


Love isn’t how you feel. It’s what you do.

Madeleine L’Engle in ‘’A Wind in the Door’’

Board Exams Aftermath

I’m feeling ambigious towards the exams. I think that I have a 70-30 %chance of passing. But somehow, I feel that I wouldn’t feel so bad, or even feel surprised, if I don’t pass. I’m soo not into sour-graping. Most of the time if things go wrong, I blame myself (just ask my friends). But take a look at some of the questions given:

Sample Question:

Q. Determine the maternal mortality rate in the barangay. If 3 women dies of hemorrhage and 2 died of sepsis. If the total number of births is

A. 11.3

B. 12.5

C. 15.4

D. 10.2

So what’s the question? Where are the rest of the given figures?  And yes, the grammar really was that bad.

Another Sample Question:

Q. Which of the following during catheterization did you NOT considered?

A. bloddy

B. meatus

c. vaginal orifice.

d. clitoris

Okay, I understood the question this time, despite the atrocious grammar and spelling.  What kind of meatus (meaning any kind of opening) is this referring to? The vaginal meatus? The urinary meatus? But what the heck is a BLODDY?  The same question was given a few items later. It turned out that BLODDY means BLADDER.

Sample Question # 3

Q. A woman three days post-partum consults you due to her vaginal discharge.

a. Refer her to the physician.

b. ask her to go home.

c. take her to the hospital.

d. take vital signs

What kind of discharge? Was it foul-smelling? What color was it? How heavy was it? As most moms would know, discharge in the form of lochia is normal during the post partum period.  You can’t really determine your course of action if the situation is this vague.

I tried to ask the proctor about weird questions like these. Her only answer was “But they (PRC) didn’t send us any corrections. so i guess the test is fine. just analyze it.”

I don’t claim to be the best student-midwife but I am just sad that I have to dumb myself down just to understand the questions. It took some time to get used to the typos, but I’m ok with that. A couple of grammar slips is also fine with me. But I honestly couldn’t understand a full third of the questions because of these mistakes.

It makes me queasy to think that these questions were created by the Board of Midwifery. I am all for the upliftment of the profession. I think it is insulting to midwives’ intelligence that the body that creates the standards for them did not put much effort into the exams.

The government says that our medical professionals are world-class. How can we claim that if the Licensure Exams isn’t even in proper English? It would have been okay to take the exams in Filipino if questions in English are hard to formulate. I really wouldn’t mind.  

And to whom should I raise this concern to? Who will listen to a mere student-midwife like me?

They say that the results will be released this week. I don’t know if I feel excited.

Midwifery Board Exams in the Philippines begins Tomorrow

Tomorrow I will take the Midwifery Board Exams.

Jumping the medical bandwagon is another uso here in the Philippines so we can get better pay abroad. Most students would opt to be nurses because it is one of the most lucrative jobs out there. According to the news, there are 100,000 unemployed nurses here in the country. 89,000 more will take the Nursing Board Exams this November.

That sounded like a lot of competition so I opted for Midwifery. It’s a shorter and easier course. I never had the guts or brains enough to be a nurse. Nurses face a lot of death and disease; midwives face a lot of …well, life.

On some days I do regret not joining my friends who shifted to nursing. I felt left out again. But on most days, I feel like i could do the most good as a midwife. There’s nothing better than giving primary care to the community.

Oh wait, there is something better: Holding that newborn and handing it to the new mom.

I am praying for that license.

thank you