As much as adventure traveling is enjoyable, it often involves some serious hiccups. Spending the night in a Filipino hospital definitely counts as one of them!
Our dear friend Roy joined us on our backpacking journey around the Philippines hoping for some relaxing time by the beach. Little did he know that his tropical vacation was going to take an unexpected turn.
After a long day of island hopping near Porte Barton in Palawan, Roy came back suffering from an unbearable headache and an escalating fever. At first we thought it was simply heat stroke, which usually occurs from spending long hours in the sun.
Yet the fever persisted and kept burning higher. The scary and alarming part was a small cut on the bottom of Roy’s leg; it started as a tiny red patch that quickly grew and darkened, suggesting a serious infection.
Something was definitely wrong! The situation was aggravating and we didn’t know what to do.
In Porte Barton there are no hospitals, only a medical clinic that closes on Sundays. And it was Sunday when Roy was unable to bare the pain any longer. He was shivering with fever chills and unable to walk on his leg anymore. His situation had to be fixed immediately. We simply couldn’t wait any longer.
The main hospital in Puerto Princessa, the main city in Palawan, was hours away. Our only hope was to drop in the Palawan Baptist Hospital in Roxas.
Fortunately, Emilie, the owner of the guest house where we were staying had a relative, Jay, who took the generous and brave initiative to drive Roy on his motorbike while we followed behind on ours. The 1-hour road trip took forever. But a full-moon lit the sky that evening and the scenery was hauntingly beautiful which made our ride ironically enjoyable. Not for Roy though. The poor guy was hanging to his jean jacket trying to fight off the fever’s cold chills and painful body aches that intensified with each bump, each breeze, and each second.
As soon as we arrived to the hospital, we rushed him into the ER room where he was hooked to an IV with antibiotics.
The blood test showed that he had Typhoid fever. Shit!
At that point we really started worrying: We were in a rural hospital that looked nothing like any hospital we’d ever seen. Our friend was diagnosed with a lethal kind of fever and his leg infection was getting worse. All sorts of downhill scenarios came flashing through our minds. The situation got so stressful that Bea collapsed in hyperventilation: Her hands clenched like crab claws and her lips turned purple. A paper bag was the solution.
Everybody else was surprisingly calm. Apparently Dengue and Typhoid are common cases during the wet season (June to August) in the Philippines and the provided treatments are normally fast and effective. The doctor promised us that Roy would be up and well after 3 days.
Relieved by this news we slept worry free that night.
But this wasn’t the end!
While recovering from typhoid fever Roy endured sleepless nights of pain and constant anxiety attacks.
Although we weren’t subject to any physical pain, we were mentally drained and frustrated. Passing hours felt like years in the wait for Roy to regain his health and strength.
We have to admit that we misjudged the hospital by its looks, which didn’t outwardly convey its hygienic standards nor the excellent medical care that Roy received. Medical checks and painkiller shots were running as regular as the subway and better yet, on time. Bed sheets were changed on a daily basis. Despite his tight schedule, the doctor always took the time to comfort us by answering all our realistic and unrealistic questions, not to mention the special care provided by Mommy Karla, the head nurse that made us all feel pampered and cared for – this woman truly deserves her nickname.
All drama aside, Roy recovered unbelievably fast and as the doctor confirmed on the first day we arrived, he was able to continue his vacation. With no travel insurance in hand, Roy had to settle his medical bill paying over 400USD in cash which luckily was a relatively low amount compared to the one he would have payed in Puerto Princessa. This reminded us of the importance of purchasing a travel insurance before embarking on a journey, as anything can happen on the way. Roy learnt that the hard way.
Back on the road
Back on the road, we compensated the harsh time at the hospital by touring around beautiful El Nido, riding from one beach to the next, enjoying the sun, laughing about the past, and relieved that everything turned out to be okay. We love you Roy <3