Two fifteen in the morning and I'm settling in for some moments of peace in the triage area. The initial evening surge of patients starting 7 PM has let up and the breeze is slowly making itself felt, finally. I can finally disinfect my stethoscope, BP app, and pen. In fifteen minutes' time, my triage duties are ending and the Rehab intern is hopefully coming to relieve the post. Before I finish the first swig of the now lukewarm soda I bought hours prior, a taxi drives up followed by a tricycle, both crammed with anxious looking relatives.
Here we go again.
"Doc, doc, tulungan niyo po kami, tulungan niyo po kami!"
I ask them to lay down the patient in the benches immediately beside me and ask the relatives to find a stretcher ASAP. They refuse to remove themselves from the patient whom I have yet to see, and commence the "TV Patrol" scene in front of me. No one seems to be listening as my voice rises, "Humanap na po kayo ng stretcher, ako po ang bahala sa pasyente ninyo."
"Kuya, kuya, gumising ka na!" The relatives keep wailing into their Good Morning towels, crowding around the patient that I still can't get to him.
"ATE, PLEASE, KUMUHA KAYO NG STRETCHER!"
One of them proceeds to disentagle himself from the clump of relatives clinging like barnacles on the patient. A crowd gathers to watch as I frantically wrench away relatives to get the initial vital signs of the patient. The relatives wail louder, stomp their feet, push each other, and try to rip each other's clothes in their frenzy. TV Patrol levels, in the words of Eugene Domingo. The crowd of bantays and kibitzers grows and moves closer, anticipating their entertainment for the night. I yell at the guard for crowd control.
After almost five minutes of wrestling with the relatives, I get the first glimpse of the patient.
HOLY BILLY BOB BATMAN, WHAT THE HELL. WHAT THE FREAKING HELL IS THIS?
The patient is obviously dead, very very dead, at least more than 24 hours dead.
Do I even call a code for this one? He obviously is starting to decompose.
I try to feel for a heartbeat and obviously there is none.
"Kailan pa po nangyari ito?"
"Doc, kahapon kasi, di namin siya magising para mag-hapunan, ginigising namin di naman sumasagot."
"Wala po siyang ibang sakit? Di po siya nahulog o na-aksidente? Wala pong mga gamot o bote na nakakalat sa paligid niya? Wala pong sinabing nararamdaman sa inyo bago nangyari ito? Ano pong ginawa ninyo kahapon? Dinala niyo po sa ospital?"
"Wala naman nangyari bago ito, malusog naman siya!"
"Masakit lang minsan ang ulo!"
"Dati, nakulam na yan!"
"Di naman nadulas, di sementado ang bahay namin!"
"Walang iniinom yan, liban sa gin gabi-gabi!!"
"Doc, dinala namin sa clinic, sabi po patay na kaya inuwi namin, kasi parang natutulog lang naman!"
"Bakit niyo po siya naisipan dalhin dito?"
"Eh doc, nung inuwi namin siya, matigas at malamig na siya. Naghahanap na kami ng funeraria. Tapos kaninang umaga lumambot po yung katawan niya tapos medyo uminit nang kaunti. Akala po namin, nabuhay ulit. Doc, kaya niyo ba siya buhayin?"
One relative starts massaging the dead man's muscles, probably in an attempt to get his circulation going. I try not to wince at the sight of the dead boy being manhandled, and stop the relative.
Lord, I don't have the heart to tell them that You're the only one who raised the dead.
"Ma'am, patay na po talaga si Sir. Di na namin siya kayang buhayin, mahigit 24 hours na rin po kasi siyang namatay. Sa katotohanan po, nagsisimula na nga pong ma-agnas yung katawan niya. Sandali lang po at tatawagin ko po yung kasamahan ko para maipaliwanag sa inyo."
I call the resident and look at my watch, it's almost two thirty. My reliever is coming in soon. It's a crazy end to my triage duties.