Monday, 3 February 2014

Of Hospitals, Hometowns and A Happy New Year!

Seollal, or the lunar new year in Korea, just went by. So, I guess, most of the long holidays are over. At least for the calendar, or lunar year that was!

My happy holidays started during my Christmas vacation in the warmer temperatures of the Philippines. I remember I left Seoul when the winter day was about 5'C. The next day, at home in the Negros island, I was wearing shorts!

When I landed home, I thought it would be doing the same things with my family during Christmas: shopping, preparing for the noche buena, going to church and just resting at home. But I didn't know an internal organ (and my doctors) had other plans for me.

      (Bacolod's chicken inasal of chicken breast and liver with 
             garlic rice and soy sauce dip with calamansi)
                    (Christmas shoppers at SM Bacolod)

I actually had to spend a week at the hospital as I needed to undergo surgery to remove an internal organ that wasn't cooperating with the rest of my system. Luckily, this happened just a few days after I planed in. I wonder what would have happened had this occurred while I was still in Korea? 

I didn't mind spending Christmas Day and having my noche buena of selected dishes at the 5th floor of Dr. Pablo O. Torre Hospital in Bacolod City. At least, I was with my family and the view from my hospital room was scenic enough to lighten up my spirits. And speaking of spirits, I asked one of the nurses if she had seen ghosts in the hospital. I have always liked listening to ghost stories, and hospitals are usually the most common of settings. She said that there was always a room where, once she entered, she would feel 'heavy' impression of the place. I was intrigued!

                   (Waiting at the emergency room for 
                           my assigned hospital room)
      (My hospital noche buena meal courtesy of Tita Helen)

Not to be outdone, on my last night in the hospital, when I was freed of the dextrose pack, I walked around at midnight armed with my smartphone camera clicking away as I strolled in the dimly lit hallways of the fifth floor. In my hospital pajamas which had Rx written all over it, I looked more like a walking prescription, than a spirit questor. Ha-ha-ha!

My camera didn't catch any ghost, only noisy nurses. Ha-ha-ha! These nurses had been chatting away even at midnight when all their patients were supposed to be asleep. I remember one time I had to buzz the Station 14 nurses because at 4:30 in the morning as I could hear them loudly talking about what happened during some party. No wonder there weren't any ghost; they were scared away by these noisy nurses. Although I didn't see any, I had weird dreams since I checked into the hospital. I must had sensed the energy of the patients who stayed in my room before. And when I was being wheelchaired out of the hospital, the elevator we took wouldn't go down. We had to switch elevator. Weird. I should have taken photographs of the elevators, instead of the empty hallways. Ha-ha-ha!

                (Silence was rare at Riverside's Station 14)

      (My hospital meal. Not looking exactly like a happy meal)

(Blue skies, the Iloilo Strait and Iloilo from my hospital room)

So, thanks to my sister who took care of me and to the Riverside hospital doctors, Dr. Moreno, Dr. Magno, Dr. Arriola and Dr. Arellano, I am now back to my old self, seemingly healthy and normal, minus an internal organ. Ha-ha-ha! And to the Station 14 nurses, of course, who made sure I took my medicines on the hour, and to the scrubs of the 2nd floor operating room with whom I chatted while they ferried me from my room to the OR. Before that sleeping medicine got me, I remember they told me there were three ORs on the floor and they even had a CD player on hand to play music during an operation. Thank goodness, they didn't play K-pop! Ha-ha-ha! 

I also remember, while I was lying there on the operating table ready to be opened up, I told my anesthesiologist, Dr. Arellano that one of her friends, Dr. Tan, was a neighbor in Victorias. My operation started at about 7:30-ish in the morning, and when I woke up at the recovery room, I looked for a clock and saw that it was 11:40-ish. I was still numbed, but I whispered a question to a nurse, who told me that my surgery ended at 8:35AM. It took me three hours to recover, and within 30 minutes, I was back in Facebook! (Thanks to my niece Priscila for lending me her pocket wifi; I was online while immobile).

And thanks to Tita Helen for her thoughtfulness of sending me and my sister some noche buena of fruits and dishes at the hospital. At least, we were able to have some ensaimadas, fruit salad, spaghetti, apples, queso de bola, oranges, pears and grapes on Christmas Day. 

              (A hospital selfie: "Mirror, mirror on the wall, 
                        who's the sickest of them all?")

After I was discharged, I went back to vacation mode once more, forcing myself to move around like an OFW on vacation, and not like wounded patient still with stitches and bandages. Ha-ha-ha! I went around the Bacolod Central Market and the Negros Showroom looking for a native-looking laptop pouch, and successfully found a couple! (I will write about my 'banig' laptop pouch soon.)

(Felicia's chocolate cakes! I had my chocolate quota filled!)

   (The red Christmas tree in the middle of the Victorias plaza)
(Fresh fruit punch at home!)
(Christmas cupcakes!)

My friends told me I'd be losing weight now that I had to taper down my diet. But with all the eating I had at home, I actually gained weight. And with all the goodies I brought with me to Seoul, I think I gained more! And thanks to all thoughtful friends and titas, I had hopias, Mary Grace fruitcake and chocolate truffle cake, Royce chocolates, peanuts and candied tamarind from San Carlos, two tupperwares of brazo de mercedes and fruit for the gods! And those are just the goodies given by friends. I haven't enumerated those which I got myself. Ha-ha-ha!
                                   (Arroz valenciana!)

                         (This picture needs no introduction, 
                         only a very good lechon sauce.)

And while I missed Christmas Day at home, there was always the New Year's Day a week after. And while I was thankful of Tita Helen's noche buena at the hospital, I am even more thankful I had a table full of media noche at home during the new year's eve. From a limited hospital diet to a full range of fatty food my doctor would probably have disapproved. Ha-ha-ha!

                        (My Mom matching the color of the 
                     Christmas tree outside our parish church)

            (Hot tablea tsokolate with ensaimadas for breakfast)

          (New year's fireworks at the Victorias plaza)

Thanks to my boss for approving my extended medical leave. I was able to recuperate at home without worrying about things at work. 

My mom was happy I was at home longer than usual. Although I am not sure whether I had to lose an internal organ just so I would  have a longer vacation. Ha-ha-ha! But things happen, I guess. My friends though I was still lucky this happened to me while I was home, and not in Seoul, where I think I'd be helpless. Somebody up there must have been looking over me.

                (One slice at a time: Felicia's chocolate cake!)

                                     (Manapla puto)
       (Camote-cue and banana-cue at the Victorias market)

I am now back in Seoul, trying to stay warm in this freezing winter. Seollal just passed and everyone is back to the daily routine. And while everyone in Korea drove and travelled to their hometowns during the long holiday weekend, my Pinoy friends and I drove down to Pyeongchang Country's Alpensia Ski Resort for some winter fun. That resort will host a few events during the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. (I will write about this next week.) 

To everyone, happy new year of the horse! No matter what our animal sign is, may we all be luckier this year!
            (Grateful for 2013 and praying for a luckier 2014!)

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