Someone once told me that girls subconsciously marry their fathers. We grow up patterning our choices after the male we knew.
I lost my father when I was a baby. So I patterned my choice after my surrogate father, who was always well-dressed and a very kind man. The kindness was the trait that was hardest to find but finally I have found it in my husband, Loy Ventura, who fulfills what I have been searching for all my life.
Lately Loy has been complaining constantly of a stabbing, cold pain in his torso. I consulted our physician, Dr. Romulo Ramos, who finally said I should take him to the hospital, the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay hospital (UERM). Dr. Ramos said he had a good team of doctors there.
We went first on a Thursday, my deadline day, so I couldn’t write my column last Sunday. We came home late but soon he started complaining of severe pain again.
Finally, last Monday we were back in the hospital again, back in the COVID Emergency Room. That’s the procedure. First the COVID Emergency Room, then if you have no COVID, you go to a Holding Room, until finally to your room on the fourth floor. Our trouble seriously began in the Holding Room.
My husband wanted to go home but we couldn’t. Also I wanted him examined from head to foot and not released until we had a plan of action to make him completely well.
It was the Minor Operating Room. It was very cold. My husband wanted to go home but we couldn’t because by this time I had a results-pending swab test, an acceptance from Admissions for him. Also I wanted him examined from head to foot and not released until we had a plan of action to make him completely well.
Loy was fidgeting because of the cold. He wanted the lights turned off. The nurses said the very bright lights had to be left on because it was the Minor Operating Room.
At 3 p.m., a nurse came to tell me to go to Admissions for a room. “Is it ready now?” I asked. “No, ma’am,” he said. “It will have to be cleaned.” “How long?” I asked. In the end, he agreed around three hours. 3 p.m. + 3 hours = 6 p.m. + allowance of usual things going wrong. I estimated we would be in the room by 7 p.m.
We were not. I went to Admissions again and again. Finally, at around seven, I stayed at Admissions at least an hour while the man there — let’s call him “Jeff” — attended to a charity patient. He gave me all the details of the hospital rules, while I sat in a chair crocheting furiously to distract myself.
When they finished I demanded, “Is it time for me now?” He kept referring to my husband’s last swab test, which he passed, last June 11. “No, he had a swab test this morning, it’s not June 11,” I said. He ignored that, just completely focused on what he wanted to say. Finally, he called the fourth floor nurse who said that she was alone and so busy. Maybe the room had not been cleaned and it was past 8 p.m.
I returned to the over-lit Minor Operating Room and found a young caregiver there. I had asked a daughter to call a number I received from the COVID Emergency Room to ask for a caregiver who had to go to Admissions to email his swab clearance. A while later, Jeff came and called the caregiver because he had not received the swab clearance and wanted it done again.
At 8:30 p.m. we were still waiting. I went back to Jeff who said he had given the nurses the papers. I went to the nurses. They said they would wait for the pickup. At 8:45 p.m. I wanted to shout Tagalog curses at the entire hospital for not having sympathy or empathy for an 83-year-old man tossing and turning uncomfortably in a brightly over-lit room for five hours. I was exhausted.
I decided to go home because I knew I couldn’t sleep there, as I had no swab clearance. That was against the rules. And in this hospital, the rules are king.
I was home at 9 p.m. and texted John, the caregiver. “Are you in the room?” “Not yet,” he said. “Text me when you get there,” I replied. At 10:21 he texted. Finally, they were in the room. From 3 p.m. to 10:21 p.m. Seven full hours of heartlessness and a total lack of kindness for my husband.
Past 11 p.m., Dr. Ramos called. We talked until midnight. He was trying to stop me from writing this column. But I write from personal experience so I did not relent. BUT the next day I got my swab results, thanks to Dr. Ramos. It was negative.
After calling him again to let me through the guards who refused to let me in, I could visit my husband and unexpectedly received warmest apologies from Grace from Admissions, Yolanda from Nursing Services and Gerrilyn. They said it was a good idea to write about it to wake up the hospital crew to my accusations that they were short on heart and kindness and too strict about their rules.
I met the psychiatrist, Dr. Buenaventura, who visited because I swore to God and Loy that he would be looked at from head to foot. At night I got a call from Dr. Anna Sanchez, a neurologist, who interviewed me for another neurologist, Dr. Zialcita.
So now we are seeing positive action from doctors but negative action from the lower ranks — the security guards, the quagmires, all the delay hounds. This hospital must straighten out their admissions process. The lower-rank men can be heartless. But the doctors, especially Dr. Romy Ramos, are wonderful.
I know they will work together to care for my husband, my father-image, and make him well for Father’s Day this year and forever.