“A Christmas Ride with My Kawasaki Girl”

(Advanced 04 – The Dramatic Talk / The Entertaining Speaker Manual, Dec 12, 2006, Philips)

Hello!  Is there anyone here who ever had a chance to ride an ambulance?  Not a parked, stationary ambulance, but a live ambulance with the lights blinking and the sirens blaring(If someone answers, ask if as a patient or passenger)  Well, to those who have not had the chance to ride one, let me ask you this.  Do you find it infuriating when an ambulance zigzags through traffic and pushes its way like a bully, only for you to find that there is no patient and no passenger inside?  It’s just the ambulance driver driving like a bully?  Long ago, I had that feeling.  But that was until I personally had the chance to ride an ambulance myself.  Good evening everyone.

Eight years ago at around this time of the year, my third daughter, Sandra, suddenly became ill.  She has had high fever for 3 days and my wife and I just could not understand what was causing it.  We’ve given her medicine but still she was crying most of the time.  She was only two years old and could not speak well yet.  My wife and I could only guess that she was in terrible pain.  So we brought her to her pediatrician in a hospital in Muntinlupa.  Sandra had some rashes on her tummy and swelling in the lymph nodes.  But other than those outward signs and the high fever, there wasn’t anything else.  A blood check-up was done on her and Dengue was ruled out.  The pediatrician was baffled by my daughter’s illness and so she consulted with other doctors and looked up her medical journals and books all through the night.

On the following morning, Christmas Day, the pediatrician gave us some disturbing news.  She could not conclude what the illness was and there was nothing more that she could do.  We were at the hospital lobby at that time and I remember the nurses were finalizing the Christmas decorations.  Amidst the Christmas carols that were playing, my wife broke into tears.  It wasn’t because we didn’t have money but because of our fear of the unknown.

Will Sandra get better?  Will she live a normal life?  I had to hold back my own tears because one of us had to make rationale decisions – and that would have to be me.  The pediatrician advised us to take little Sandra to Makati Medical Center to get more tests as soon as possible.  She said the tests were needed to confirm what she suspected – a relatively rare disease called the Kawasaki Disease.  Have you heard of it?  This disease was first described by a Japanese doctor named Dr. Kawasaki in the 60’s and that it mostly attacks children under the age of 5She said that to be correctly diagnosed, 6 out of the 10 known symptoms had to be present.

We didn’t have much time.  I ran around to ask for an ambulance.  The only available ambulance was just coming back to Muntinlupa all the way from Fabella Medical Clinic in ManilaAfter an hour of waiting, the ambulance arrived.  It was empty and the driver used the siren to get back as soon as possible.  And so my wife and I and a hospital nurse transported Sandra to Makati Medical Center inside the ambulance.  The ambulance driver drove like crazy.  With the siren on, we zigzagged through traffic.  We were very fast.  From Muntinlupa, we reached Makati Medical Center in 20 minutes – and this was the time when there was no Skyway.  Upon arriving at Makati Med, the nurse who was with us endorsed Sandra’s records to the emergency staff.  She returned to the ambulance and the ambulance quickly drove off.  My guess is that it received another radio call to pickup another patient.

At Makati Med, it was confirmed.  Sandra had the Kawasaki Disease.  Three needles were put on Sandra to administer intravenous fluids.  One of the fluids was contained in a vial around this size and was worth 8,000 pesos at that time.  Why so expensive?  The fluid contained a human protein called Immuno-Gamma Globulin.  The purpose of this fluid is to boost the immunity of a person in an instant.  Sandra needed 10 vials because at that time because she has become too weak.  That’s 80,000 pesos in all just for the vials.  At the hospital, the other symptoms of the Kawasaki disease manifested.  Her lips and tongue became very red.It is called the “Strawberry Tongue Syndrome”.  Her eyes wouldn’t open much because of dehydration of the body fluids.  An echo cardiogram showed her heart became swollen.  I have here a picture (show picture1) of Sandra with the strawberry lips.  No, she isn’t sleepy.  Her eyes have become dry and it was painful for her to keep them open.

Thankfully, after a month in the hospital, all the symptoms gradually disappeared.  Her heart shrunk back to its normal size and we took Sandra home.  Sandra fully recovered at home and 8 years later, here she is now (show picture2) in a recent picture.  Sandra lives a happy healthy normal life and continues to be a model pupil in her class.  (long pause) Nowadays, when I see an ambulance that looks empty but barrels its way through traffic, I am more understanding and immediately give way.  Because somewhere out there, someone may be in distress and is anxiously waiting for this empty ambulance just like we did 8 years ago on a Christmas day. 

Advanced Merry Christmas to you all and have a pleasant evening!