The island of Palawan is a beautiful part of the Philippines. Gorgeous beaches and reefs surround the mainland, with more tiny islands dotted around. Unfortunately, plans for jumping aboard a boat were somewhat scuppered almost immediately upon arrival.
I’d had a bit of a sore throat for a couple of days, but put it down to the start of a cold – a common reaction to hopping between air con and hot exteriors. Other symptoms didn’t emerge however, and after a sleepless first night in Palawan, and a throat that felt as though I was swallowing razors, I admitted defeat and realised I needed antibiotics. Not being the kind of country where I could pop to a pharmacy to pick up some tablets (not that I’d ever do that of course…), a trip to the hospital was necessary. Obviously this was a last resort – I didn’t fancy the potential wait and the cost, but painkillers weren’t working and I could see my week in Palawan (and all ideas of island hopping) slowly disappearing before my eyes.
So, off to the hospital it was. We were led through to a doctors/A & E area, and as a guard gestured to some free seats, F grabbed my arm. ‘I think there’s someone having an operation there – I can see organs in that bowl’. I looked to my left, and sure enough, on a bed next to us, only partially surrounded by a curtain, were doctors gathered around a patient and a bloody bowl on the side. We tried to look away, and a few seconds later heard the weak cry of a newborn baby. Not organs then, just a placenta, and from the complete lack of any noise from the mother, we guessed a C-section had taken place. Right next to us.
Once the doctors had finished, they came over to see me, singing pop songs, and quickly told me I had tonsillitis. Waiting for the prescription to be written up, people started arriving to see the new baby, chatting happily with the doctors, who were lovely, cracking jokes, singing and very relaxed. We eventually got the prescription and some lovely drugs, and were sent off.
Two days in bed and some very strong painkillers later, I was ready to see what Palawan was made of. The hospital experience was nowhere near as bad as I’d feared – we didn’t queue at all, the people were friendly and helpful (just like all Filipinos), and apart from my serious concern that I was going to give the newborn baby an infection, simple and straightforward.
An F got to see a placenta. So an exciting day for all...