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They say that death and taxes are the only certain things on this earth. But while that may be true, they are not the great equalizers: men die differently (some happily, some too early, some pathetically) and we pay different amounts of money (some too much, some too little, some none at all). Yesterday I discovered what makes all of us equals. It's somewhere between money and mortality: sickness.

The hospital is neutral ground. No king or pauper or no will to power here as all are patients--in the strong sense of the word that beyond the virtue of patience there is only helplessness.

And those around patients are survivors--in the weak sense of the word that we support the weakened mortality of those we love and try to carry it or buttress its weight whether they live or die. Derrida said that we are all survivors of those who have passed on. And like any survivor, guilt will forever mark our lives, again making us equals--as equal as the mother, the friend, the acquaintance, the priest, the valet all marching in the same funeral, wondering what difference it would have made if there was only more time.

***

My father said he gets charged higher than the rest when he goes for checkups. I said that's impossible. It's a nondescript clinic in a national hospital. It doesn't make very good sense not to charge a flat rate for standard consultations. He said he is charged higher because the doctor thinks he can afford it anyway.

Yesterday we were at the same hospital. Not for the regular consultation though. We brushed through the crowded foyer very early in the morning. People like getting trips to the hospital over and done with quickly--and that means doing it very early. Not that there's a lot of work to be done the rest of the day. My father slept the rest of the day away.

My mother and I waited by the corridor. We sat in those rigid plastic seats bolted to the floor. Other patients started trickling in to have their colonoscopy as well. They were accompanied by family, like us. They sat in the rose vinyl sofas, watching cartoons in a small television. They were in shorts; and their slippered feet guarded plastic bags perhaps of food in Tupperware and bottled water for the ensuing lunch. But their bags came in handy: it turned out that nurses call us relatives to hand over the pants or shorts of the patients as they undergo preparation. I sat there for an hour holding my father's black dress pants that I did not want to fill in.

Patients who came in later came out earlier than my father. Our doctor is very meticulous, the nurse by the counter explained. He checks every centimeter and makes sure that the probe goes all the way to God knows where.

I also saw patients coming out half-dazed. They sedate you a bit so that you wouldn't mind the pain. I thought that was funny. Why not sedate you totally--or not at all? When my father went out, he wasn't dizzy. He looked relieved and still in pain at the same time. He had asked not to be sedated so he saw the whole thing through. He thought it would cost more.

True enough the doctor's fee was a thousand or two higher than what the other patients who were sedated paid. Yes, maybe it's the doctor. But I wouldn't mind at all because those before him were found out to have polips and needed immediate surgery while my father was clean. We had congee right after while I imagined if they still ate the food in the plastic bag.




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Comments

  1. it's my first time to read an entry about your parents (=

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes. Nietzsche said that he loved his family so much that he seldom wrote about them.

    Glad you're still around, yvaughn. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. "It's a small world after all..." Will always be around even if I leave the country. Hehe (; Unless of course I die tomorrow, which is not very likely to happen any time soon :P

    ReplyDelete

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