Turning lemons into… whatever

Some curve ball can throw you off easily from your goals but on the one hand, gives you the chance to reflect and contemplate on things (not to mention some free time to catch up on your reading or favorite series). I’m supposed to have a trip this month planned out early on, but unfortunately, this had to be scrapped as things have gotten a turn for the worse a few months back when I was admitted to the hospital. I’m dealing with the setback the best way I can. And since I won’t be writing anything remotely close to travel anytime soon, I might as well look back at the experience and share how I got enlightened by it. Some realizations and things learnt along the way. It’s a long list. Here it goes.

  • If you have lingering cough, about a week-old or so already, have yourself checked right away. This could be symptom of a more serious, lethal nature.
  • Make every effort to strengthen your immune system, especially if you work the graveyard shift. Take vitamins.
  • Try not to stress yourself out too much. Have fun. Don’t be too uptight. Remember, stress kills. I remember the story of “Lolong”, one of the largest crocodiles ever discovered, who died because of stress (see related article here).
  • MMC, where I was admitted, is just freakin’ modern and cutting-edge. Save for some issues with the food, this is easily one of the best medical care one can get.
  • Nothing really much to expect if required diet is bland, or at least none of the sugary, high-sodium stuff. I commend the fact that they tried to incorporate as much balance in the food they serve, with tiny bits of health information written on the placemat to boot. The food isn’t all bad but there were hits and misses. There are times food is left untouched. I just wish there is some kind of innovation being worked out somewhere in the world, that makes food palatable even without seasoning, coaxing the brain to believe that it is, haha!


  • MediCard doesn’t cover doctor’s fees. Good thing Philhealth does (at least in this case). Might be a case-to-case basis, though, subject to certain conditions like up to how much they can cover, or depending on the type of procedure done, etc. Not really sure.


  • Medicard doesn’t cover medical supplies or miscellaneous expenses, so it’s best to always have extra cash/credit with you, or to always make room for it in your budget, for such emergencies. Trust me, I’ve learned it the hard way. Mine was about P5,000 upon discharge. May not sound much to some but for someone working on a tight budget, this could really be a pain in the you-know-what. Good thing there are still angels in this world 🙂 And this coming from someone who is not even religious.
  • If your doctor requires you to go on leave for an extended period like I did, chances are you’d be using up all of your leave credits, both SL and VL. Any absences you incur beyond this is already considered LWOP (without pay). Now don’t fret. Next thing you can do is apply for a sickness claim from social security or SSS. You can download the form from their website. Just look for Sickness Notification Form, under Forms.
  • I appreciate how people in our human resources/admin are considerate enough to defer application of the remaining no-pay days into two different cut-off periods instead of one. It’s a relief knowing you do not have to lose your shirt.
  • Print extra copies of those forms because you’ll never know when they could come in handy. In my experience, the ineptitude of the doctor’s assistant has led to several amendments of those forms. Having extra copies can save you time and energy.
  • Take note of the timeline of all the important events such as your confinement and discharge dates, the succeeding outpatient visits, and the days the doctor rendered you not yet fit to work. In my experience, the staff at the doctor’s office can sometimes have a way of confusing things, having all these dates messed up, and worse – putting the blame squarely on the patient for it. And this despite them supposedly having everything on record.
  • The doctor, aside from having a not so legible handwriting (which they have gained notoriety for), can also outright commit typographical errors. In this case, on the medical certificate. This of course has ripple effect. Eventually this has cost time amending the forms whose information were based from the certificate itself.
  • Not only typo errors but major errors at that, can be committed by even the smartest people like physicians. The first doctor I went to misread my X-ray results. She gave me a clean bill of health when she shouldn’t. This sets me back two more weeks from recovery. Imagine going about your daily life without proper medication, oblivious of the danger that lies within?
  • The doctor’s assistant, on the other hand, although carrying a sweet demeanor, is obviously fairly new to the job and has given incorrect information by saying no need for patient to get medical abstract from the Medical Records, as they (the doctor’s office) are the ones who will take care of it. A week later, she apologized and said it is actually the patient who should request it directly from Medical Records. I thought to myself: ‘Oh boy, here we go’. I had a strange feeling this is going down this nasty route. I mean, I don’t mind getting it from the Medical Records myself, I just wish she had told me earlier so that I could start the ball rolling. Now it would take additional weeks more to process.
  • Now just when you hoped there wouldn’t be any more bottlenecks in the process, they start popping up. They just wouldn’t go away, would they? The staff at the Medical Records said that the release of the documents took a while longer, because they’ve been waiting for the doctor in-charge (during my confinement) to sign the form. They couldn’t get hold of the doctor much earlier because the doctor is busy. Ay, yay, yay… What can a man do? The waiting game just went on and on, and every time, the frustration builds up. Life really has a way of pushing your buttons, huh?
  • Every time a procedure, a test, or a consult needs to be done, you first need to get an order form from Medicard. See their MMC office hours below.


  • Should there be a need for you to submit certain specimen such as sputum, it’s best to have it done on the testing site so that the specimen remains fresh. If, for some reason, that that would not be possible, you can do the procedure at home, on an empty stomach before breakfast, and have it transported via a sealed container with ice. Test results are released 3 business days from the last test date. For these types of tests, it’s usually 2 days of consecutive specimen extraction. You can get specimen containers from the test site beforehand. I’m sharing this so that you don’t have to go back and forth picking up bits and pieces of information every time, instead of getting it in one go.
  • Take note as well that the doctor’s assistant (whom paperwork such as claims are delegated) might have a different perspective on matters which might leave everyone confused. For example, the SSS form indicates “Confinement Date” as one of the information that need to be filled-in. I think we can all agree that confinement date is the date you were admitted to the hospital, right? No need to elaborate on that. Understandably, one would be curious to know why the assistant would have the doctor put in the date of the visit at their office after being discharged (ergo, as outpatient), instead of the actual “Confinement Date” (in-patient)? To this she replied (non-verbatim): “Sir, ano ba talaga yung gusto nyong ipagawa sa amin? Kasi hindi naman namin covered yung confinement nyo eh. Ang sa amin lang is yung pang outpatient”, or something to that effect.
  • See, this is absurd on so many levels. First, she asks me what it is exactly I was asking for her to do. I mean, really? In my mind I was like: ‘In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been in and out of your office several times for weeks now because every time, there is something wrong with the information you put on those forms, and it’s not like the doctor is always available to amend it. And now you’re asking me this? Seriously? After all I’ve been through? How about you do your job well and fill-out this form accurately so that I don’t have to waste my time, huh? Or is it too difficult for you to do?’ See, the last thing I need is for social security to tell me that the dates are wrong and that I had to go back to their office repeatedly for this simple mistake. Good for her I was restraining myself. Other days, she may not be lucky. I think I just felt my claws come out.
  • Second, she’s telling me they do not process requests covering those days I was in confinement and can only process those that fall under outpatient procedures. I get that. But that’s not really answering the question now, is it? Why does the form say “Confinement Date” instead of otherwise? Either it’s the wrong form, or there is something they’re not telling me. She says that it is understood in this case, that the “confinement date” refers to outpatient “dates” (or whatever), since the request is being done via their office who does outpatient procedures. Some kind of logic, huh? I’m not really buying it 100%. I feel like she’s just trying to wing it. Anyways, we’ll see. Maybe she’s right. She better be. Also, how could they assume a first-timer would know this right off the bat? I couldn’t have known for sure unless someone explains it to me. This actually led me to another question of who now do I ask should the claim cover the actual confinement dates, but because of the cumbersome experience I had, decided to just drop it. I’m raising my white flag here.
  • Truly, this underscores the importance of proper verbiage. If you come to think of it, they probably receive these types of requests almost every week, if not daily. So frequent, in fact, one would think they should have perfected the process by now. Apparently not. And apparently, they have not figured out a way to explain this to their patients clearly. Had she learned how to effectively send her point across, it would’ve spelt a world of difference.
  • As of this writing, the request is still on process. All things considered, I say it’s best to have the form submitted early, preferably having them filled-out by the doctor during actual visit/s or consults (meaning with confirmed appointment), and make sure all the dates they put in are correct so that any amendment/s could be done right away while the doctor is present. Any other day it’s done might have one end up waiting longer than should be, because they would say “you don’t have an appointment”, “the doctor is not available”, blah-blah-blah. Better save yourself the hassle.

Update (as of 13 October 2017)

Finally received the check from social security. Bad news though, is that the second part of the claim was declined due to late submission. My understanding is that the two claims shouldn’t have been submitted more than 5 days apart. What a shame, given what I had to go through to make sure this doesn’t happen, as attested to by the rather exhaustive detailing of my ordeal above. This more than anything proves that in life, major roadblocks (oftentimes beyond our control) can hamper progress, even with the best efforts and intentions. Granted, there’s probably a thing or two I could have done more to improve the chances, but, I think overall, the inefficiency and the cumbersome way things were handled by the other characters in this narrative, and the amount of time wasted waiting for something that is supposedly simple and uncomplicated, contributed largely to this disappointing result. This is causing some unnecessary frustration.

Now, I don’t really consider myself fatalistic, like believing that things happen for a reason as if by some divine providence. I believe things happen as a matter of consequence. In fact, sometimes things just happen for no reason at all. It just is. Other times however, I feel that regardless of the efforts we put forth in life, they end up being like defeated purposes. This is true especially if you are up against things and situations that are bigger than you, or that are beyond you, like maybe bureaucracy, politics, or even just another person’s incompetence, as the above experience shows. I know. It’s funny how something some people might consider petty, almost insignificant, as another person’s incompetence, can give one a hard time wrapping his head around. I myself would often just shrug this thing off, chalking it up to inexperience or some person’s propensity to crack under pressure. I can be forgiving like that especially if I feel that the person is innately good inside. It really depends on the situation and the attitude of the person I’m dealing with. You throw in some smug in the mix and that’s a different story. Now, in the case of bureaucracy, it’s been described as “the art of making the possible impossible”. Couldn’t agree more.


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