Philippine Island Times Adventures of an American expat in the Philippines

December 10, 2008

Scut Monkey*

Filed under: General — Donald @ 7:43 am


The ice picks in my face had to go. I had waited two weeks for my cold to pass, which it seemed to be doing until a couple of days ago when it got worse again with a vengeance. Time to consider seeing a doctor. One of my guiding axioms is that people are basically incompetent; you’d better know enough to check their work. That goes for docs like anyone else and doubly for docs in places like the Philippines. Everything I read made it seem very likely that I had a bacterial sinus infection and that a penicillin-class antibiotic and a non-drying decongestant were the appropriate first line treatments, so I decided to bypass the doc entirely and self-medicate. With self service you get what you pay for.

The antibiotic was no problem. In the Philippines any primate with a few pesos and a simple lexicon can walk out of a pharmacy with amoxicillin. Pseudoephedrine is a different story. The three pharmacies I tried told me 1) we normally carry it but it is currently out of stock 2) it has been phased out and is no longer available 3) it requires a prescription. This affirms a corollary to the axiom of incompetence: If one person doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, ask someone else. Eventually I gave up and got a different, less effective alternative. The meth (shabu) labs seem to have cornered the market on the good stuff. I also picked up some acetaminophen by asking for paracetamol, as I had learned to do on an earlier expedition. Not only the brands but the generic names of medicines are often different here, which can be trying. On a related note: If you’re ever in a Philippine pharmacy, resist the inclination to approach the youngest and cutest girl behind the counter. Her older and dowdier colleague is much more likely to understand what you want, medication-wise.

The final step in my treatment plan is getting out of the city and back to some fresh air. Next bus pulls out in two hours.

*Newbie med student.


  1. Breathe deeply of the mountain air. Do you have an address where we can send care packages? If you need anything we are happy to serve!

    Comment by scott — December 11, 2008 @ 1:57 am

  2. As are we back east.

    Comment by Chuck Tassoni — December 14, 2008 @ 12:27 pm

  3. A few days back in Siquijor has done wonders for my mood. It really is unbelievably nice here; sunny, breezy, moderate humidity, about 82 degrees today. I’m still deaf in one ear but the amoxi has my bugs on the ropes. Speaking of which, did anyone catch Paquiao-De La Hoya? I watched a pirated copy with some friends a couple of days ago; Pacman fought one of the most perfect fights I’ve ever seen. Most people here assumed I was rooting for De La Hoya, since being from Michigan means that I am Mexican. Thank God I wasn’t or I’d have to leave the country.

    Thanks for offering care packages. I’ll send around my address so that when I really need them you’ll have it. Takes about three months to get one here, so you’ll have to divine my needs.

    Comment by Donald — December 14, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

  4. You have come a long way since you started blnogigg. I started along the same path although I have to digress along the way since I have to maintain the integrity of my blogs against the wishes of some ad companies for me to make gambling paid posts. I would be compromising the integrity of my blogs if I did that. I was blacklisted by them. Well, that’s life. Thanks for the post. God bless you always.

    Comment by Liaquat — December 17, 2015 @ 3:10 am

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