I almost cannot believe what a Philippine doctor pulled out of my husband’s throat. I’m going to tell this story with many pictures.
Three points on background:
- Tedly gulped down a fruit shake through a straw more than two weeks ago and nearly choked on plastic blender bits in his drink.
- Ever since then, he has felt like something was stuck in his throat, but he waited to see if it would “go away” since we are in a rural area, during a global pandemic.
- At the advice of his sister, a medical professional in America, Tedly agreed to see a Philippine doctor.
Tedly consulted about his situation with our friend and landlady Yolly, owner of the Hangout Beach Resort in Malay, Aklan, Philippines. It’s where we are riding out these crazy pandemic days.
Yolly contacted the hospital right up the road in this semi-rural area to see if they had a laryngoscope to look down Tedly’s throat. They did. But it wasn’t an emergency room scenario, so we arranged to see the doctor in the morning.
Malay Municipal Hospital visit
We have walked by the hospital a million times in nearly four months, and I’ve often wondered what it would be like to need medical service there.
In the picture below, Tedly walks to the entrance area. Note the guard wearing double protection – face mask and shield. Everyone followed protocol and was professional. (Hi Bonnie!)
We washed our hands at the sink pictured far right, and stepped in a foot bath with bleach.
Next we waited in the ‘waiting room’. It was outside. I think it’s smart in light of the ongoing pandemic. Good idea to keep the general population away from people inside.
Of course, Tedly kept his usual light and goofy attitude about the whole thing, as pictured below. (I don’t know what the box with gloves is all about.)
A staff member took Tedly’s temperature with a thermometer stuck into his armpit. She also took his blood pressure and pulse, and asked that he fill out the hospital registration.
The registration is pictured below.
It may blow your mind if you’re an American.
That’s an index card asking his name, age, address, sex, (marital) status, and birthday. No clipboard of a million documents. No insurance hassle. We pay out of pocket when we need to.
Ready to be seen
Next, he was called into the restricted area (pictured below.) I was not allowed to enter, but I could see him from the entryway.
It’s basically a triage tent. Tedly called it a MASH setup. I think it’s another smart move – to keep the general population from vulnerable people inside the hospital.
We only waited a few minutes before the Philippine doctor entered with a laryngoscope and an assistant to hold a flashlight and look down Tedly’s throat.
So — what did she find?
She really had a good look, too. I saw Tedly gag several times.
The doctor recommended he go to the nearest ear, nose, and throat specialist, located at a clinic on Boracay Island a short ferry ride away. With help from the kind and thorough hospital doctor and Yolly, the specialist agreed to see us that same day so off we went by ferry.
The hospital visit cost us a few dollars. Shocked again? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Trip to Boracay Island
Sometimes I run into people I know — like our friend Junifer on the ferry to Boracay. That’s a nice feeling to see someone you know. It happens more often these days since we are on a travel pause and have lived in one place nearly four months.
Mom Diane came with us to Boracay. She was worried about her son, of course. We three shared an electric trike with Junifer. The trike stopped at the doctor’s office in a clinic compound to drop us off while Junifer continued on to his office (thanks Junifer!).
We didn’t wait one minute before the doctor herself took us into her clean, modern examination room.
After some questions and answers, she used a longer laryngoscope with a camera at the point. The camera sent video to her phone, held by her assistant, which helped guide her down Tedly’s throat.
“There is nothing there,” she declared. She watched the video a few times to be sure. She showed us the video, and offered to send it to me via Facebook Messenger.
But Tedly was incredulous. He was convinced there was something stuck in his throat. He kept pointing to the base of his neck. The Philippine doctor said she could only go so far down his throat without putting him under general anesthesia.
That would require an overnight hospital stay in Kalibo with a surgical procedure. There was talk of possibly cutting out what might be lodged deep down, beyond her office scope. She took a wild guess that it would cost of approximately $1,200.
I could swallow that. Anything was better than worrying about Tedly’s throat and some piece of sharp blender plastic that might be lodged down his pie hole. Or break free and cut up his innards. In a rural area. During a pandemic.
Up to this point, no one had looked down Tedly’s throat the old-fashioned way – with a wooden depressor. Scopes and cameras went down as deep as they could go.
And so, after listening to Tedly continue to describe the physical feeling he constantly had in his throat, the doc had another look.
She looked at at the back of his mouth at the start of his throat – not down his throat. She used a simple wooden depressor and head light, and also some type of round-edged ‘hook’.
Lo and behold!
She began pulling out some gunk. (The below picture may gross out some people.)
Tedly had tonsil stones.
What the hell is that? Bacteria, mucus, food, hardened and calcified over time. It was likely aggravated by the blender plastic he nearly swallowed sucked into his mouth with a straw.
As soon as the doc started scraping this junk out of his tonsils, Tedly said his throat felt better.
She scraped out several stones, and then said she could do no more without making him bleed. She prescribed daily gargles with salt water and mouth wash over several days to loosen the remaining stones.
Mystery solved. Hospitalization avoided.
Another shock for Americans: this Philippine doctor — a specialist — charged $30.
Time to celebrate!
A relieved Mom Diane took a walk around Boracay while Tedly and I went for food because he hadn’t eaten yet.
We enjoyed 2-for-1 burritos at Three Amigos in D*Mall on Boracay. (Social distancing, hand sanitizers, and log book for contract tracing were all necessary.)
And then we kept celebrating with a swim at White Beach! (Registration to swim was required.)
And we will keep celebrating tomorrow and every day after that.
Because Life is Now.
Thanks for reading, “What a Philippine doctor pulled out of my husband’s throat.”
You might also like:
- How to find a surgeon overseas
- 5 easy steps to buy prescription drugs in a foreign country
- What it cost, and what it was like, for an American woman to have a double mastectomy in Croatia
- Great, honest dentist in Mazatlan, Mexico, recommended by expats
- What progressive eyeglasses cost in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for an expat
- The cost of progressive eyeglasses in Barcelona, Spain