This was the last morning of the year 2008. It was a nice warm day, and the jet pilots were scribbling in the sky with their contrails. It must be their own way of sending off the last day of the year.
It was Saturday, the 13th. I arrived, with my husband, at my cousin's place half an hour early. In fact, we were there an hour and a half early. The carolers I was told were to be there at 3:00 PM; they, however, called to let the hosts know that they will be there at 4:00 PM. To pass the time away, I helped my cousin's wife set up the buffet. She works full time as a nurse, and did not have the time to prepare all the food. To make it easy for her she ordered most of them, and they were all in styro containers. I put them in platters, bowls and trays. We shoved some in the oven to keep them warm while we waited for the group to arrive.
A little past 4:00 PM they came in droves. Some were lost on the way to her house and they were really late. We had dinner before the group began their caroling concert. As usual we had lumpia, pansit, steamed shrimps (which the hostess cooked), roast beef (cooked by her niece), puto, fruit salad, cake (2 kinds), ham, and more. It was a feast. When every one had their fill, the performers lined up in the living room and sang their songs. They had a short skit before their last song. It was a good performance by all of the members - young and old alike.
There was one song that almost brought me to tears. I tried so hard to hold back my tears. "Silent Night" tugged at my heart; it brought me back home, back to the old country where Christmas was always felt wherever we were. I remember the celebration of this Holiday back there...back in the Philippines. Preparations were made way ahead of time, some do it months ahead. Those, of course, are the people who are well prepared, well organized. Unlike me, I am a procrastinator, and I always do my Christmas shopping at the 11th hour. So I brave the crowd at the department stores; the traffic jams; the pickpockets; the din and cacophony of the big city. Better be prepared even at the last minute, otherwise, the nieces, nephews, and godchildren will be disappointed.
The day comes, right after the masses, they come in droves. The godchildren dressed in their Sunday's best to pay a visit to their godmothers and godfathers expecting a present from each of them. At that point the streets would be filled with these children, coming and going. It would be like a fiesta.
Then at the end of the day, all the wrapped presents have all been handed out and that's when I flop on a chair and say, "Whew, thank God it's all over."
Not really. It would not be over until after having Christmas dinner with all the members of my family: my mom, my brother, his brood of six children and his lovely wife. That's Christmas back home, and I missed that and I missed all of them...my family.
Since Thanksgiving day, we've been having turkey left over almost daily. We have had too much of it, so last Wednesday I thought I'd make sinigang of the salmon I have in the freezer. For a side dish I grilled a couple of chicken thighs.
After lunch, I got dressed and drove to the urgency care, about 8 or 9 miles from my house. I registered at the window and waited. About 5 minutes later, I was called in by a nurse. The nurse got my blood pressure, my pulse and my temperature. I was still alright...still breathing; alive with good vital signs. I was sent to the registration once more to pay and wait. About an hour I was called in by another nurse. She took my weight...eeekkkk....I gained 4 pounds. Then she led me to the examination room. This nurse asked me the same questions I have been asked at this same place, over and over again:
Do you smoke?
Do you drink alcohol?
What medications do you take?
Do you take any (illegal) drugs?
My replies were as follows:
Noooo! (If I did, would I say yes! Nuts.)
She entered all these in my database. They are all there and they have been there since I became a member of this HMO. Next time I go, they'll ask me the same questions.
She told me to wait for the doctor and she left the room. A little while later a young lady garbed in white with a stethoscope slung around her neck came in. With a smile she greeted me, then asked me to sit on the bed. She then asked me the same questions the nurse asked me. I told her nicely that the nurse asked me those questions ALREADY! (Galit na ako. LOL) She said, it was to make sure that any medication prescribed to me won't counteract with what I was taking. Okay, that makes sense. But then why not just check my database. Why keep asking meeeee? It must be easier for her to ask than log on in the computer.
She then asked me what I was there for. I told her everything, every little detail of the episode. She said she has to ask the doctor who specializes in that condition. She left the room and came back with an older woman, the doctor. Hmmm...so the younger one was not a doctor after all. Must be a nurse practitioner (RNP).
The doctor got a tongue depressor and I opened my mouth and said, aaahhh. With a light, she peeked in my throat, and said, "It's there alright."
She saw the salmon fish bone that got stuck in my throat. I tried to swallow some food to drag it down to no avail. I could feel it. It was hurting me when I turn my head down. During that time, I was reminded of Dennis Villegas and his traumatic experience with salmon fish bone lodged in his throat. Poor guy.
"En garde, Mari!"
"Fish bones are the most cooperative of all," the doctor said. At this point, I expected her to get an instrument and extricate the darn thing. She did not.
"We will give you something to drink to ease the pain. The acid in your throat will break down the bone. No solid foods for a while," she said.
They both left the room. The younger one, a Filipina, came back with a styro cup and handed it to me to drink. It was a concoction of mylanta, lycopane and belladona; it was thick and green in color. It tasted minty, and it clung to my throat. It felt good.
Then she let me go. Happily I waved good-bye to the doctor and to the RNP.
"Are you not embarrassed to say you got fish bone in your throat?" my husband asked me. "Why should I be? It happens to other people. Take for instance that actress Elizabeth Taylor. She had chicken bone in her throat. And Dennis." :-D