going back to st.lukes

i keep on tossing and turning as i wait for 6am to strike. i can hardly sleep knowing that tomorrow later, my fate in the next months would be delivered by dr.canlas. yes, i have an appointment (again) with the country’s respected ortho surgeon and sports doctor. it’s gonna be my 2nd visit to him after my surgeries in viet nam last month.

as some of you may know, i had a nasty accident in ho chi minh.was there for a couple of days only when just on my second night after a relaxed and chilled night with my fellow expat friends in HCM, on our way home whilst riding on a motobike with D, we got mugged by another local motorist. the backrider of the other motobike grabbed my shoulder bag. but i was quick to pull it back and i dont remember anymore how many times i have to pull it back to my defense. it’s my instinct that fought for it but i lost my senses to know the right reflexes that moment. i lost balance and fell-off the bike with my right knee & left elbow hitting the pavement first before getting dragged a couple of meters more as they sped-off.

i saw how D fell off the bike too as he lost balance when i fell (i was a backride) and how he limped his way towards me. i even managed to ask ‘daf! daf are you ok?’ (whilst i was still slumped on the street) until i saw a local bystander took-off his shirt and tied it on my knee. it was only then i noticed the streaming blood from my knee and removed the tied shirt to see what have i got – deep cut open knee with my knee cap popping before me! :-( i almost fainted at the sight of my knee. my right leg was numb. it took me awhile before i was able to muster calling out for daf for help. he was picking up his bike and wasn’t aware too what happened. everything was so intensed – i was scared, i was mad, i was hopeless. then next thing i knew, a lot of viet namese were there and speaking to me in the local language of which i was quick to reply, ‘english only pls‘. then the same local guy carried me and put me inside a cab to bring me to the nearest emergency hospital. i was lucky he can understand a little english and told him he has to ask D to go with us of which he interpreted to the cabbie. D drove his bike to the hospital whilst our cab slowly followed.

i muttered thank you to the chap who helped me unconditionally. i even tried to pay him off for what he did but he refused to accept the little money of which i’m sure he really needs, then (in the middle of it all) i got embarrassed of my gesture.

i was immediately placed to the emergency bed, when we arrived the hospital. the nurse dressed all the bruises all over my body but she waited for the emergency doctor to come and check the deep cut on my knee & elbow. when the doctor came in, they spoke in french on a rather unfamiliar accent of which i only picked-up, i had to be x-rayed and i had to be checked by an ortho specialist. so i butted-in and asked the doctor, ‘how grave it is? can i still walk? can i still run?’ and he just said, ‘we’ll see after the result of the x-ray’.

i’ve never felt so scared in my life.

and no matter how i tried to calm down, i can feel how hard and how fast my heart throbs. in my head i started praying. i was certain no one can make me feel better but my Immanuel. it was a long and silent prayer. i reached for the nurse’ hand and she said, ‘dont worry, it will be ok’. then i saw daf standing by the door. he reassured me it’s gonna be ok.

as she gently removes the pebbles and sandstones inside the open cut, things began to sink-in. i was sent to imaging room to get my knee x-ray. after a couple of minutes, the doctor appeared again with the film, and advised me to stay for a confinement and wait for 8am for the ortho surgeon (as he isn’t a resident doctor) for a surgery. they said they just cleaned the open cut to prevent infection but i had to be operated immediately. i spoke to D, and we decided to just go home (apartment is 2 mins away) and just be back in the morning. i thought i can rest better and think better if i’m not lying on an emergency bed.

i hardly slept and 6ish, saw tash checking me out in my room, and i told her that i felt better than last night. then tash, daf & i talked about the appointment with the surgeon. and we all decided if i cant fly immediately back to MNL (as i prefer having a surgery here) and that my knee requires immediate attention, we might as well see a doctor whom we know personally. tash called her ortho friend who once attended daf’s injury and requested for an appointment. daf on the other hand, cancelled our appointment at 8 and informed them we’ll see another doctor instead.

1030ish, we’re already inside the second hospital and narrating to dr.claudio what happened, what were the emergency treatments given, where’s the x-ray result, the medical certificate, etc. i was thankful despite daf’s state (badly bruised and limping), he took care of everything and went back to FV hospital to get all what dr.claudio asked.

dr. claudio opened the bandage on my knee and i detected revolt in his face when he looked at my very deep cut. he said it’s more serious than he thought and was disgusted why the former hospital (a premiere international hospital in VN at that) left it for hours without totally removing the numerous small stones inside. i was then advised not to take anything, both food & water, until i got operated. soΒ  i was given a room where i’d be confined for days. i was in utter disbelief that instance as 1) i was never confined in a hospital 2) wasn’t still advised how serious the damage is 3) how long will i be confined 4) who’d be with me in the hospital, when daf & tash fly to oz in the next 3 days 5) will my insurance cover everything including the surgery

but i just brushed it all off, as i wanted to have a normal PR/HB so my operation can soon start. i was determined to be a cooperative patient and not to bother myself with other cares. i was first given intravenous infusion of natural saline at the back of my left palm. then i was injected an anti-tetanus serum. then several other injections like antibiotics and pain killers thru the base of my NS bag. it was my first time for all of it so i asked the nurses what the injections are for, what’s the frequency of infusion etc. and they were all nice to answer me every question i asked them. two of my three nurses by the way are filipinos, which appeased me btw. :-)

after all the works, i called home and told dad where i was. didn’t tell him the details cuz i’m afraid they’d all panic too. i just said i need to see a doctor because i had a small accident the night before then i assured him nothing biggie and will call back again later.

then i called J, my ever reliable buddy, to help me with my insurance. had him checked my policy so the hospital can coordinate straight to my insurance provider. he sorted all of it and busied himself checking me time to time my status.

late in the afternoon, david came, my first ever visitor. what i thought a single visit became a daily visit from this amigo. and i was surprised how many friends followed after. a visitor after a visitor until late night on my first day in the hospital. boy i was deeply touched with the amount of support i was getting. it somehow filled in the gap of my family’s physical absence. in the four walls of my hospital room, away from the country i call home, right in the middle of once i thought a stranger city, i felt real sense of belongingness and genuine care of what used to be my mere hang-out buddies. i discovered friendship in the least expected place. minh, tam, huyen, david (& erica), bill, my, liam, amy, tash & daf they all took turns in visiting me.

surgery was rescheduled on my 2nd night. they have to drain the wound from deeply seated small stones inside. they inserted a small tube (inside my knee) bout 2 inches long with a bag on the other end where water flows continuously. i saw how they did it on my knee with 5 shots of local anesthesia. dom, my filipino guy nurse, said i should not look at it, but i said i have to see it so i can somehow calculate how much i need to endure (in reality though, there was no pain, i only felt sensation as my knee was numb from the shots). it was really gross and sickening! i was relieved to think that i didn’t pursue my childhood dream of being a doctor. my stomach was churning incessantly.

i was then allowed to have my first meal. boy! i was really hungry! 2 days, naaah! nothing. my nurse gave me the menu so i can choose which i’d like to have. i had a sumptuous lunch i almost forgot i was in a hospital.

on my 3rd day, still waiting for my 2nd surgery, i started getting bored. my suite room has its own telly, and the hospital has a round-the-clock free wifi, meals are superb, nurse attendants are extremely nice, my surgeon who from time to time checks out on me and cracks a joke or two in every visit, friends back in MNL call or SMS and the constant visits of my VN friends – was grateful for, but i still miss home.

4th day, doc said he still cant do the 2nd surgery, as stones are still present. so i requested him if he can do it 1st thing tomorrow morning so i can take the 4PM flight back to MNL. he was hesitant at first because he disapproves of me flying only hours after the 2nd surgery. he recommended me to stay a few more days so i can recover first, but i charmed my way and got his approval with few conditions of course: will go to airport in an ambulance and will change my ticket on a business class (so i can rest my leg properly) – which i both agreed.

friday morning, had my last surgery and got stitched-up. was advised to see an ortho back here and get an MRI to ensure no other tissues were damaged. was actually already feeling better until he blew it off. ‘vangie you already know no strenuous activity for the meantime, ok? and i dont recommend running in the next 12 months’.

i was doooooh!!! i knew my project: HKG is already impossible. it was difficult to accept it, just thinking how i trained like an absolute maniac in the last quarter & how much mind preparation i was doing for the seemingly endless long distance run im about to embark. it took me three long nights to come into terms to myself i can no longer run my first full marathon on feb. but to hear i cant run for a year is just crazy!!!

not that im a hardcore runner, but i need myΒ  legs to be back in shape in no time at all. i cant just stop what i love doing – running, diving, biking, swimming, traveling and all other activities that would require my legs to be working.

but i wasn’t deterred by his statement. i know i just need to be back home and see a sports doctor and get his 2nd opinion. i have no problem in rehabilitating for a while but 3 months to me is long enough.

so last 22nd dec, i saw dr.canlas (months after my patella injury). he got concerned of my swollen knee and changed my oral antibiotics. he also let me changed the type of gauze im using to protect my knee. and he advised me to just leave it open if i’m not going outside the house. he wanted it exposed so the wound will dry quicker. he though let me continue using my knee braces & crutches. he asked me to be back today and see how my knee progressed. he said he will then decide if i need to be opened up again or rehabilitation can start.

weeks after i saw doc canlas in st.lukes, i feel my knee is a lot better. i no longer use the crutches and i seldom use the knee brace. i only felt pain twice when it was really cold at night but other than that, it felt like a regular wound.

i have whispered a prayer earlier and i’m positive for my check-up later.

so if you are still reading this, pls dont forget me in your prayers :-)


i failed to greet all of my friends a merry christmas and a blessed new year! i will soon get in touch with each one of you again, after i fully recovered. pls be known though that i miss all of you! besos!!!


17 Responses to “going back to st.lukes”

  1. 1 The Wicked 5 January, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    You’ll be in my prayers banggigay! Hope your doctor’s appointment will bring good news :)

    Happy New Year :)

  2. 2 The Wicked 5 January, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    btw, i moved to wordpress :)


    thanks and happy blogging!

  3. 3 Jet Pampolina 5 January, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Hey Vangie,

    Just read your blog, glad you are fine….will pray for your quick recovery…my office has moved here at The Fort and I really wanted to jog with you sometime… =)

    (the guy you met at the DFA for a passport renewal).

  4. 4 thebullrunner 6 January, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Banggi! What did dr canlas say?! Miss you na!

  5. 5 banggigay 7 January, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    wicked tricia! im glad despite the sporadic updates on my site, still found you here! i miss doing housevisits too! i promise to catch up! and hey! i am jealous to the http://alizarinred.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/post-secret-time-2/ :-) btw, thanks!

    jet, elo!!! been ages eh? great! will run together in few months. i just need to do it properly. rehabilitation is about to start :-)

    mare, happiness!!! doc canlas is the man! miss ya also! mag-date naman tau!

  6. 6 Mon 10 January, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Hi Bangigay. I hope you reconver fast and join us in our runs. We miss you. You will always be in my prayers.

    take care

  7. 7 Bubu 14 January, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Vangie hardcore ka!!! Not letting go… although I would have done the same thing.

    Hope you’re well on the road towards a full recovery!

  8. 8 Running Diva 14 January, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Banggi, I never realized how nasty your accident was. Thank God you’re alive! And I can’t blame you for that ‘automatic reflex’. Knowing you… but pray you’ll be good in due time and back to any sports you like. You’re lucky to get home with your family. Take it easy and hope to see you soon.

  9. 9 marga 15 January, 2009 at 4:52 am

    mare parang tagal na natin di nag uusap! getting better na i hope

  10. 10 hitme64 16 January, 2009 at 8:15 am

    welcome to the club, vangie…

    i spent five months on rehab after critical injuries suffered on my left shin about twenty years ago…imagine the hospital conditions and rehab facilities then…i had to endure daily cleaning, rehab, re-bandaging, rehab,skin grafting, rehab, etc. etc. etc.

    good will always come out of experiences like this…and don’t worry, you’ll be able to run again…

    six months after my last rehab, i did a 10k (but, of course, i was twenty years younger then)and finished in PR time…

    you’ll likely do the same…patience, patience…

    be strong…you’ll need it!

  11. 11 lonerunner 16 January, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    get well banggi!!!!

    nagulat ako when i heard abt it frm Mon.


  12. 12 banggigay 16 January, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    chief mon, thanks! i’d definitely join you guys when i got better. for now i can only walk properly but i still cant do even a slow jogging. but i am patiently waiting :-)

    bu, lam mo yun instincts mo not to give it. besides even if i let it go, i also have a backpack with me then, thus my shoulder bag cant just be pulled easily.

    roselle, thanks po. im happy enough na yun lang nangyari.

    margaloo, true. pro basta babawi ako! pramis.

    hitme, i’m in a way thankful na din eto lang nangyari. i must admit though i still have trauma with motobikes.

    smith, salamat po. all peeps who saw me whilst im still on crutches were just as shocked. pro now, i’m doing better na. so lapit na uli…kitakits! :-)

  13. 13 Timen 20 January, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Sounds terrible! Seems like crime is on the rise in this fair city. I’ll be more careful to have my girlfriend put her bag inside the bike to avoid similar such events. We’ve been pretty lucky; just got pick-pocketed once.

    So, I hope you recover very soon. Don’t be afraid to come back to Saigon!

    – T.

  14. 14 banggigay 20 January, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    thanks Timen!

    aye kinda terrible. but this happens tho in any part of the world, all we have to do is just be extra careful. there are people who chose to mug than to work righteously. but dont worry, this will not stop me from visiting the quirky city again. i cannot hate the city when a local helped me unconditionally during the accident. besides, i have made beautiful friendships whilst i was there :-)

  15. 15 joms 26 January, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    holy kanduli! i hope you’ll recover quickly banggi. hayaan mo resbak natin yung kawatan sa ho chi minh!

  16. 16 Marc 21 March, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Holy Schmoly… Me thinking HCMC is maybe a more dangerous place than I thought, me and a buddy had someone following us in District 5 from Bin Thai Market, I saw he’s holding a big knife behind his back so we decided to better walk along the big street that had many lights until we found a cab… But your story is just horrible, maybe I just have to accept the fact that something like this will maybe also happen to me over the next years that I will be in Saigon. *knock on wood*
    I hope you will get well soon!
    P.S: Really interesting blog you have here, even if not all experiences are positive, they are still experiences that you can keep forever in your mind. You are young and live an highly interesting life as it seems :)

    – Marc

  1. 1 livin’ the dream!!! « coffee mug Trackback on 21 March, 2011 at 7:31 pm

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