I will lend this space to someone special, Denise Yap, our guest contributor.
7:45 pm. T’was a ghostly moonless night in 2002 as the couple traversed the cold lonely road to Iloilo City. Passing by Cuartero, the man smelled blood when he saw beside the road a young woman as she tried to crawl out of the L300 van’s broken window. The man’s companion tried to speed up her maroon Silverado fearing it was an ambush but was convinced to stop and pull over. “They shoot doctors last. Don’t they?” He murmured as he quickly grabbed his stethoscope. Both rushed to the scene and saw about eight young women all sprawled on the dirt floor beside the crumpled van— all “shocked- eyed”— staring blankly upward. Four teenaged boys, all equally stunned onlookers, stood stiff and frozen… nothing to do… nothing to say—- only a foot away.
“Don’t move!” He shouted in a soft but commanding voice to lessen their fear (that’s his talent). “More movements could harm you more!” “I’m a doctor. Don’t move… don’t move!” For the first time in her life, the woman saw somebody doing a lot of things at the same time: he talked as he roamed his eyes, as he rapidly checked each victim, as he instructed her to stay focused and calm in order for her to comfort and touch each wounded, as he instructed one bystander to cordon and watch for the victim’s valuable items. He inspired quick actions. His movements were precise as if each finger had its role.
First, he looked for a makeshift metal scrap to use as splint for a broken leg. The lower leg with the foot was separated from the upper one (with only the skin as attachment; the lower dismembered half lay side by side, three inches away, with the upper leg). When told that the victims were doctors based on their IDs and medical bags (they just ended their Pediatric conference in Roxas City), he just politely asked the victim: “Doctora, I’ll put your fractured leg back ha? It will hurt a little.” And he did: in a precise “McGyver” fashion. “Priority One!” As he stared at her.
Next he ran to the front seats. The van’s front was smashed; and he checked at the half-conscious driver whose bulging tummy was in contact with the steering wheel.
As the driver trapped inside, the doctor shouted for a jack to open the crumpled metallic door. But with adrenaline running, and the help of other onlookers, they carefully “pulled out” the driver. “Priority two!”
He was forced to run back upon hearing the scream of one victim. Hysteria ensued when the girl, a “med-rep”, recognized his face: “Doc! Help us Doc!” she screamed on top of her voice. The woman calmed her down: “Shhh! don’t move too much, your wound (a gaping one on her knee looking like open lips) might bleed more.” He took his hanky out then whispered something to the girl. She nodded and stopped screaming. What he whispered was: “Put this hanky on your wound my dear, press it, then count slowly up to 300 and the wound will stop bleeding. I assure you; you will not die.”
Time to attend to other patients: mostly with abrasions and bumps on their heads and arms. One Pediatrician had an “S-shaped” arm because of fracture. He had to borrow the woman-companion’s hankie to wrap the disfigured arm, securing it with victim’s body to prevent movement. He hopped from one patient to the other, continually monitoring all of them, offering comforting words, all with angel’s touch (he seemed liked one at that moment).
As luck would have it, an ambulance from Iloilo (going home to Kalibo) passed by after that crucial fifteen minutes. As if on cue, most patients surpassed that hypnotic trance, and were very cooperative as they were boarded into the ambulance. Another ambulance came and all were ready. He thanked one doctor colleague (Dr. A.B.) who volunteered going back to Roxas City to accompany the victims.
He explained to the hotel’s (Amigo) front desk why he was late. All he ate was his favorite Margharita Pizza (Freddy’s; next to Hey Jude Boracay in taste) and had to take analgesic that night. Back in Roxas City, plenty of physicians were waiting at Capiz Emmanuel Hospital, all heroes (first time almost all doctors and medical representatives converged in one place) ready to give advanced procedures to their colleagues.
The next day, while registering for the American College of Chest Physicians Convention at the hotel, he just smiled as he listened to those exotic tales of what happened the night before. In his mind, I’m sure he thought: “If only they knew!”
Well, that’s what he is: my good friend, my comedian, and my confidante. It still sends me gooseflesh whenever I recall our experience that eventful night. He still continues touching patients’ lives. For me, he’s my hero. Not because he lent me his column space; but because…, despite the uncertainties during college days… he married me!”
My love, Happy birthday!
Epilogue: Attaching an MD sticker on a doctor’s car glass carries with it both moral and legal (yes he can be sued if he ignores an accident) responsibility.
(Dr. Cesar Yap is a member of The Kapisanan ng Mga Brodkasters sa Pilipinas. You can catch Dr. Yap every Sunday morning at Bombo Good Morning Philippines 900 MHz, and Fridays at “Health Line” Wesfardell Budyong Kapihan TV Show with Rexam Laguda simulcast with DYJJ. Saturdays at Pulso sang Banwa with Glenn Beup channel 5 Alto Cable 8 am. Comments are welcome at email@example.com. Dr. Yap’s book “Joyful Life…& Sex? GO TO HEALTH!” is now available at all National Book Stores outlets nationwide. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org)