YOLO, part 1

5 Mar

After the Bastard Cat incident that had me running to San Lazaro, I began telling my friends that getting bitten by a stray cat was a YOLO moment for me. You see, this had been my nth attempt to adopt a feral cat; and I suppose that this may be the last time I’m doing so. Don’t get me wrong, though! I still love kittehs and I still support the advocacy of saving ’em from the streets. It’s just that, I guess I should take a break from it all. Hehe.

I will have to be honest that after my San Lazaro experience, I did not want to go back and get my next Verorab shots there. For one, I considered how long will it take me to queue for my follow-up shots yet again on a weekday. I still can’t afford a sick leave since I haven’t been regularised, and the least I could ask my bosses is a half-day medical leave. Which brings me to the second factor: The accessibility of the hospital. Since the animalbitecenter.ph website is down, I had a hard time whittling down the public hospitals to call and ask if they have anti-rabies vaccines.

Lady luck must’ve been on my side when I called PGH and confirmed that they administer anti-rabies shots to bite victims. Only catch is, they only do it every weekdays.


Day 3 of my cycle, I went through my usual morning routine to prepare myself for work. Only that I need not alight my usual MRT station. Got off Taft Avenue and took the Yellow Line to Pedro Gil, where PGH is. It was a rather easy commute since I used to take that route back in college, hence the familiarity of the place.

But boy, I got lost inside the hospital!

My first time at PGH

My first time at PGH

It took me thirty minutes to look for the Anti-Rabies Unit of PGH. No thanks to a handful of security guards I bumped into who gave me different directions! When I arrived ARU, I was all sweaty, tired and panting from all the walking I did. I never knew that hospital is mighty huge!

PGH's Anti-Rabies Unit

PGH’s Anti-Rabies Unit

So ARU is just a tiny room at the second floor of the hospital, very near the Emergency Room. Actually, you may even pass by its corridors and see patients on your way to get your shots. That Wednesday afternoon, it was just me and a kid bitten by their pet dog; and his parents. I was attended to by nurse Michelle immediately who courteously asked me to sign some forms outside the room while I wait for the kid to finish his round of shots. Five minutes later, I was called by the attending MD and was asked several questions about how I got bitten by Bastard Cat, how I cleaned the wound, and food allergies I might have. I was also weighed to double check if I was given the correct dosage of ERIG at San Lazaro. The conversation only took us a good five minutes also, and then I was ushered to move to Nurse Michelle’s desk, where I waited for her to prepare the assessment forms that I will present at the cashier.

And then again, I got lost finding my way to the cashier. But first, I had to go get myself a blue patient card inside the ER.

(to be continued…)


3 Responses to “YOLO, part 1”

  1. German Douglas Mordiento 3 August 14 at 12:31 pm #

    If you were bitten within a 20 km radius from Manila, between Monday and Friday, and between 6-9-ish in the morning, you are lucky for the cheapest, patient-friendly, and stress-free treatment available in town is open for business at the PGH (Anti-Rabish Unit or ARU, OFB: 8:00am-11:00am, Mon-Fri).

    If you were bitten on a Saturday, or worse, Sunday, and much worse at night, your cheapest option is the San Lazaro Hospital but then you would have to fall into these categories: you are a child, possibly a toddler, you are 60 years old or more, you were bitten in the face or neck upwards which is a short travel distance for rabies to attack its objective – the brain, or you were bitten seriously by a stray animal. If you don’t fall in the above critical categories you have no recourse but to either:

    a. go to a public emergency hospital and fight your way in and lose your patience and dignity even if you show your 10 yearly income tax returns, ending up not treated at all;

    b. go to a private emergency clinic/hospital which charges more than a thousand pesos difference; or

    c. take the risk of postponing your visit at PGH the following morning (assuming on the premise that public hospitals turn your case down because it is non life-threatening).

    I was bitten on a Sunday afternoon by our pet dog.

    First thing doctors ask you what first aid treatment did you administer to your wound (not only tell it but it’s highly recommended to do it): wash it with running water for 10 minutes, allow it to bleed freely while cleaning it with soap (even laundry soap will do), disenfect it with alcohol and providone-iodine a.k.a. betadyne.

    Don’ts: squeeze the blood out as it may damage the veins or rub minced garlic on the wound.

    Cost + Piece of Mind are the prime considerations. So, if your conscience is too much to bear than the wound, go ahead and hurry to the nearest clinic or hospital, shelved out Php 7,000+ for the immediate treatment for the first set of Regimen, then visit PGH the next working day for the second set of a 4-Visit Regimen at Php 2,000 total.

    The first set of Regimen is the immediate shot for my immune system to generate antibodies. The doctor gave me option ERIG (Equine or Horse vaccine) which is the cheapest. I was rushed to a private clinic and recollecting this whole incident, I recalled PGH said that it’s the least quality vaccine but inversely more expensive in private clinics (Php 7,000 or depending on your weight doz/kg., lucky you if you are a petite victim) compared to theirs which is (Human vaccine) at a steal of Php 3,000. If I were to take the same (Human) vaccine in private clinics, it will be Php 4,000 per vial (I need to consume 4 vials). The private doctor tried the Equine one on me for allergic reactions. Their policy “once open, you pay it”. Fortunately, I was not allergic so no need for the more expensive Option B (Human vaccine), I settled to the cheaper Equine vaccine. He injected it around my wounds and on my deltoid region.

    I do not have to explain other vaccines since it has got nothing to do with me. I was vaccinated previously with anti-tetanus (But it’s Php 30+ only at PGH).

    Since I was illiterate at the time of the accident and relying on myths, I agreed to have Regimen 2 (Verorab) taken on the same day (to be taken on Day 0, Day 3, Day 7, Day 14, and if the subject animal suddenly died and found positive for rabies, additional Day 28. When my curiosity got me to PGH, the doctor said that since I opted for their Option Y for Regimen 2, their only available Option Y is intra-dermal needle penetration (and less biting than the clinic’s Option X intra-muscular which is more deep and painful) a win-win advantage, she will have me start all over again (Their Day 0). It makes money sense since for 3 visits more at the private clinic at Php 1,200, it will be a minimum of Php 3,600 compared to Php 2,000 quoted by PGH. Although I already started Day 0 for Option X, Regimen 2 at a private clinic and had shelved out Php 1,200, the wastage is more than compensated by the fact that I saved a total of Php 1,600, bottom line. If only I was bitten on an auspicious time and day, going to PGH for all these treatment will cost me only Php 5,000 compared to total treatment if I continued it in the private clinic/hospital at Php 11,800. This whole mix set of package (private and PGH) cost me Php 10,200. Not bad. It pays to shop around even if you are in state of shock. The gist of story – research, research, research – before you depart with your money.

    Next is how to find ARU (Anti Rabies Unit) in PGH. PGH is a public hospital and thus, they expect that super majority of their patients are not so aware in approaching and savvy reading maps. Only those who may have traveled abroad and had stepped in an airport, or are fond of trekking and hiking – preoccupations that are done by well-off people deserve to be presented with a map in a building when facing direction dilemmas. So no maps around, you are at the mercy of non-uniform signs – some big, some barely readable 10 meters away posted inconspicuously, and janitors and staff passing by.

    Now, here is the easiest and the least stressful of all the labyrintine routes. On its location at the 2nd floor, the best is to enter the Main Entrance in front of Taft Avenue. Once passed through checking by the guards, go right. You will pass along the right, a long window of cashier and beyond is a dead end, go left. Go straight to this corridor and you will pass by an array of murals, CTScan Dep’t on the right and a courtyard on the left. You will hit a dead end and a sign on the left that says “Radioisotope…”, go left. It’s a short corridor, and there’s another turn, go right. On the left is big elevator lobby open but most of its entire length is surrounded by walls. Don’t go there, instead go straight ahead where another dead end meets you and a sign says “Business or Billing but it starts with a B…” Turn left and a long corridor awaits you. On the right is an air-conditioned floor-to-wall glass-enclosed “Pay Patient…” payment counter, and after passing a cross corridor, on the right is a courtyard and beyond is the “Emergency Dept.” where you will glance at bed-ridden patients. There’s also a sign beyond that beacons “Emergency…” posted straight ahead on a beam but before you can get to that, and after a series of metal locker cabinets on the right, is a hidden staircase on the right. Go ahead, go up the stairs and as soon as you reach the top, look right there’s a small sign that says “ARU” on an arrow sign. There’s one room on the right dealing with hospital infection department or something and ahead is a set of double door that is permanently open. There are empty classroom-type chairs on the left of this wide corridor and the first room on the right is an indented room, its the one.

    Not to mention that the staff are friendly and very courteous, and open to long conversation. In this day and age of the social media and gotcha trigger-happy hidden camera-phones, there is little chance of encountering rude and moody government staff, if ever, just curt.

    I arrived there at 8:00am and left 10:30am on my first day, I was the first in line of about 3 patients. The next visits, I was off before 9:00am.

    Bite incident is a big-ticket expense. Philhealth won’t share the cost, what if you were just walking down the street and met a wild azkal. Suing the government is never heard, never been done here in the Philippines. On hindsight, I was also one of those who would scrimp if ever presented by this episode, unmindful about horror bite stories until I experienced one. I would even immerse it in a kerosene to kill the virus. But Especially this particular story bites. The granny of my colleague was bitten and he just shrugged it off until after seven years, the dormant rabies virus suddenly woke up and brought his demise.

    Thank you ThisIsNotKassy for your original advise and anecdotes.

    • notkassy 3 August 14 at 12:42 pm #

      Whoa! Thanks, German, for sharing your thoughts! Everyone, please don’t take any animal bit for granted. Most of your questions have answers on this post and my other related blog posts, and of course, German’s comment in this thread. Lastly, STOP READING, STOP YOURSELF FROM COMMENTING AND RUN TO THE NEAREST ANIMAL BITE CENTER!!! Rabies is 100% fatal!

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