The kindness of friends and strangers

>> Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ramon Dacawi 

BAGUIO CITY -- If not for the kindness of friends and strangers, I should be running on empty by now. The effects of diabetes have caught up with me, rendering me a slave to the dialysis machine the past two years for kidney failure.
My pro bono doctor,  nephrologist Josefina Luspian. advised a four-times-a-week dialysis treatment, if only to slow down the debilitating effects of having too much sugar in the blood. 
They include heart ailment, erratic blood pressure, failing eyesight and anemia.
Costs of dialysis, which has to be for a life-time (unless one undergoes kidney transplant, which is far more costly),  are staggering. Dialysis averages P2,500 per session, excluding the figures for maintenance medicine, injection to generate red blood corpuscles and occasional blood transfusion and hospital check-in.
The prohibitive costs led housewife Jane Garcia to go home for good  to  Mankayan, Benguet when she could no longer sustain the costs of twice-a-week blood-cleansing session at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. She gave up and was buried in Bauko, Mt. Province, her hometown.
The 34-year old housewife left behind daughters Cathy Sy, who is suffering from epilepsy, and six-year old Princess Arcia, who is battling leukemia.
To top it all, her husband, miner Romeo, was also diagnosed for kidney failure. He learned this when he was hospitalized after he buried his wife.
The family’s plight is enough reason for me to stop hurling unanswered questions to the ceiling over my own predicament. Unlike Romeo, I have buddies, cockfighting aficionados who recently staged a cock derby, raising funds so I won’t have to be scrounging for the next payment for the four-hour blood-cleansing session.
Non-gamblers, non-bettors may frown, but I am deeply indebted to the cockfight aficionados led by barangay captain Edward Aclopen of Gibraltar Barangay who staged the derby to keep alive my chances of sustaining a medical procedure that has to be repeated again and again for a life-time.
I owe it to Tuba cockpit owner, former city councilor Antonio Tabora Jr. and the rest of the United Baguio-Benguet Breeders Association (U3BA) for mounting and supporting the fund drive.
Truth to tell, it is at the cockpit where you find honesty at its best. Aficionados are also used to throwing part of their bet money into the ring, for the relatives of a patient or somebody who just passed away, to pick up for the medicine or the funeral costs.
Purists or former bettors who now consider cockfighting no less than a vice may frown but the fact remains that it is in the cockpit where one finds instant support than perhaps anywhere else, except in charitable institutions.
I’m lucky, too, for having known other people who would now and then greet me on the sidewalk and then grip into my wrist some amount to help sustain my dialysis. These occasions leave me voiceless, trying to hold back tears.
“You don’t have to write about it,” one cock-fight enthusiast, a lawyer, told me last week. “But I have to,” I said. “Then you don’t have to identify all of us,” he advised.
Anonymity was what a Korean wanted when he or she advised a messenger last week to deliver her/his support of P5,000 to dialysis patient  Martina Pacatiw Macario..
Macario, a 57-year old mother of two, woke me up while I was attached to the machine last Monday. She was enthusiastic, telling how this stranger sent his/her support through emissary.
Among the many dialysis patients, Miriam stands out like miner Romeo Garcia, if only because of what she has been through and still has to undergo.
Originally from Tadayan, Pudong, Kapangan, Benguet, Macario spent 20 years of her life in prison for trying to make a quick buck peddling marijuana to government agents.
While serving her prison term, she tried to send money to her children who were in the custody of her parents in Kapangan. She thought misfortune was over after she was released from prison in June, 2010.
In May, 2013, however, she was diagnosed for end-stage renal failure and was advised to undergo thrice-a-week dialysis (Monday-Wednesday-Saturday) in order to survive.
To cut on costs, she sleeps on Monday evenings on a pew inside the chapel of the Baguio General Hospital and waits for her next dialysis on Wednesdays instead of commuting to Tayug Pangasinan.
Those who can help her may ring up her cellphone – 0999-469-9940.
Other Samaritans may reach out to Marie Joy Ligudon, at 14 the youngest dialysis patient at the BGHMC. The kid, for years now  under the care of her adoptive parent, Gina Epe, has just been out of the hospital for complications.
Samaritans may ring Epe’s cellphone number – 09198169234. As did former world karate champion Julian Chees, now head of the Julian Chees-Shoshin Kinderhilfe Foundation in Germany who recently sent 400 euros for the girl’s treatment.

Oss, Master Julian.


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