Health, above all else…

“Bawal magkasakit” is a Filipino phrase that’s pretty interesting and full of impact and sense. Roughly translated, it means “you’re not allowed to get sick”. It means so much, because there are so much bad things that one has to deal with getting sick – the actual feeling of being sick, the possible complications, side effects, and related symptoms; the hassle of not being able to work at one’s best, or not being able to work at all for some time; the costs required to get well, such as doctors’ fees, hospital fees, laboratory test fees, and the cost of medicine; the hassle of needing to go to the hospital, or not being able to go to or attend one’s typical activities. It’s hard.

I learned this the hard way about 4 years ago. I am known to be asthmatic but mostly only very mildly symptomatic before. In 2010, due to the ongoing construction on the museum I was working for, my asthma was triggered very badly. I dealt with it the usual way I knew, through oral medicine, inhalers, and nebulizer. However, although I was not feeling very well, I went on a day trip for work to Hongkong by my own. I drove myself to the airport, boarded a flight to HK, did my official business in HK, went back to the airport, flew back to Manila, then drove myself back home. That’s about 24 hours worth of travel time and active work, all the while I was terribly coughing already. When I got back home, I used my nebulizer, but my coughing could not be relieved anymore. The next day, I asked to be driven to the emergency room, and I was immediately attended to and admitted for treatment. I spent four days in the hospital, on IV, steroids, and regular nebulization. It was that bad. That was the first and only time I’ve been hospitalized thus far. Unfortunately, that was the moment I realized how much risk I’ve placed myself by not paying enough attention to my body.

Fast forward to current day. Unfortunately, I’ve been battling something similar in scale lately. I’m not quite sure what initially triggered it, but I know it started with a very mild sore throat, the kind that I know will eventually progress to a cough and/or cold. I paid attention to it immediately, gave myself enough rest, consulted with a doctor, and followed his prescriptions. However, my symptoms persisted for weeks, so I decided to see a doctor again. The second consult revealed that my persistent and increasing symptoms were due to a bacterial infection that was a little bit antibiotics-selective, I had to go through another round of antibiotics. The doctor actually almost ordered me for admission because of how bad my symptoms were, but did give me the option of just staying at home to completely rest while on medication for an entire week for my body to recover. Of course, I complied, although quite hesitantly because of all the pending tasks at the office. But this time around, I just had to prioritize my health first.

It’s been a week since I finished my second round of antibiotics. I do feel better, but not yet back to tip-top shape. Some symptoms still have not gone away after the many weeks that I’ve been battling this. It’s starting to get frustrating. I may need to get the advise of my doctor again.

I learned four years ago never to take my health for granted. When one’s health is at risk, it’s best to prioritize it above all others. I’m not taking any chances anymore.

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