Manila Slice

felix's picture

So here I am, technically in Asia, but feeling like I am in downtown Chicago. Or suburbann Chicago, that would be a better description.

My sister lives in a former US Air Force Base, converted to residential housing decades ago. The residents are mostly European, many of them bankers like my sister, the image of an octopus head in Manila with tentacles reaching around to Vietnam, out across the South Pacific, and caressing China with a 'come hither' look from above the beaked mouth,well that's an image I am trying to smother.

But this suburb is money, and money drives this suburb. I hear no traffic, which in itself is enough to tell me I am not in Asia. But the unbroken wall that encloses these two suburbs, opened only where uniformed men (who salute me as I enter) with shotguns and pistols check ID. The guns are prevalent on all security men here (and I say men, I have not seen a single female security guard yet), indeed Philippines has a name as a place to buy unlicensed weapons, as long as you have an exit strategy, preferably south, through Mindanao.

So the streets here are wide, US style, the only movement the hundreds of locals who come in early to clean their white masters' bedrooms, cook the food and do their washing. My nephew has a fulltime 'ya ya', a nanny. His two elder siblings had the same at his age. I pointed at a skateboard yesterday and six year old J did not know what it is. I fear for what will happen if he lives here when he is sixteen, but hopefully by then he will have returned to his native Fiji.
But if he shares the same genes as I do, he can expect years of fermenting confusion at the sterility that surrounds him, cocooned in this sterile suburb. Safe, as his mother wants, but also secluded.
I want to enjoy this stay, but keep noticing differences between this holiday and my last. In Nepal, if I wanted to sleep in till eight am, I could put a sign on the door that would be respected. Here, I am woken at seven by the ya ya coming into the room to pick up clothes and wash the youngest boy. I share a bedroom with the two elder children.
Gear is four days a memory now, and metro suffices to keep me out of sweats and terror. But the heat is fuelling this weird lesion on my leg and it's off to the doc today, to see if Asian doctors know more than Australian ones, when it comes to tropical infections. I toy with the idea of asking for a morph script...preferably something soluble.

Comments

sayarsan's picture

Rather than Morph you might be better to try for dilaudid since they have always been a small tab, in my experience anyway and worth trying if you haven't before. Oxycodone is good for long duration but treatment for your leg should be the main priority. That's the problem with a short stay, it's almost impossible to find a really accommodating doctor and so little time for him/her to to do much.

felix's picture

Got an Asian doc, very much the 'let me do the talking your the patient' who would only tell me the lesion 'was very common over here', and pointed to my biopsy result when i asked her what it was. "It's eczema' she said, charged me $10 for shining a UV lamp on me for four minutes, $30 for some of her proprietary creams (mixed up by her assistant in the room) and then wrote a script for some other antibiotics (Augmentin - amoxocillin and clavulanate) plus some Hydroxyzine, an antihystamine....
It was her casual and matter-of-fact diagnosis, after all the umming and aaahing in Australia that causes me to question her skills - perhaps she's right, and her unguents and western meds will banish this bug to Hades, but I am so tuned to the clinical scientific method of diagnoses/tests etc, that I am at a loss when presented with an easy solution.

sayarsan's picture

Maybe the only place to find a good doctor is at the beginning of an expensive account. Any doctor who rates above the mediocrity of those we nearly always find in public clinics would soon have a waiting list a mile long since word of mouth would soon spread their reputation far and wide and by definition they wouldn't be be seeing terribly many patients. Good treatment takes time except when the problem and its appropriate treatment are obvious. Unless it's an emergency case and you are taken by ambulance a hospital is not the best place to go. Perhaps Manilla, as a U.S. colony follows the same model of health care as the U.S. which is a pretty lousy recommendation. UV light is a common sterilizing agent and may be of some use and who knows, the proprietary unguent may work miracles. The whole business is reminiscent of the kind of horrors encountered by visitors to India. Did you get within reach of a sadhu? At the risk of sounding bigoted, literature is replete with accounts of British colonials during the Raj who fell victim to some terrible curse and Phillipinos with their recent history may be similarly disposed.

felix's picture

24 hours on and I am adjusting my interpretation of Doc Saroson's actions. Maybe her creams will work.Maybe it is a common thing over here. I'm trying all the things she recommends, and started on a new course of anti-biotics. While I was at the chemist getting the AB script filled, I tried my sister's (entirely innocent) recommendation and asked for some valium. No go. Perhaps I need a 'Mercury Drug' on the outer reaches of Manila where the prosperity hasn't seeped to yet (ha ha) and the luiminescent white smocks are more aa dully grey..perhaps there the same market forces that push good doctors into the reach of only the rich, will serve to supply me with 10mg Vals and maybe Oxycontin....worth a try. I probably should keep away from the 'Mercury Drugs' chain and try one of the tiny home-owner 'Generic Pharmacy', nothing like desperation for the next meal to induce a non-standard sale. Add me to the list of Westerners dipping their wicks into Asia and pulling out far more than they put in.