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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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12.16.13         philippines disaster relief effort  

Felt Like My Ticket Was About to be Punched Out


I left Tacloban yesterday afternoon at 1:20pm. Andoi and I said goodbye at the church and decided to go to the airport early to get on the standby list before other passengers for a 4:45 flight. When we got there at 12:50 we were told there was a 1:10 flight leaving for Cebu and then Cebu to Manila, I just ended to transfer planes. Andoi and I said our hurried goodbyes and I went into the waiting to board area. He poked his head to watch me board, even all the way up to the plane where we waved one last time. It was like something out of a movie, because I really love him like a brother. Just like Mathieu, just like my friends in Japan, we are somehow bonded through the struggles we went through.

Aban had been in meetings all day and arrived right after I got on the plane. I wasn't able to say goodbye to him in person, which was disappointing. I have an equal amount of respect and admiration for him. He has worked so incredibly hard for Tacloban. They both watched until my plane took off.

I felt a sense of relief as soon as I got on the very clean, air conditioned plane. Upon landing in Cebu, I learned the flight to Manila was actually a standby flight and most flights were full until 11pm, at which point we would have to find hotels. I decided to just go to one for the day and rest.

I was excited to sleep in a bed, get some decent food. I tried a small salad, fruit smoothy and some ice cream, thinking it was pretty tame and I should be home free.

Around 6pm I started feeling sick again, and I figured I just needed rest. How in the world could I be sick again? I had just received enough meds by IV to kill just about anything 100 times over, any parasites, worms, amoebas, etc. Keep in mind I wasn't eating any local meat over the last month, mostly bread, rice, ramen and hard boiled eggs. I was starting to worry about maybe having a funky virus of some kind.

Decided to crash early, around 9pm and sleep it off, having taken some upset stomach (diaherrea) medicine. The potent stuff Aban gave me, twice as much as needed. I had also read about the natural bacteria in our stomach can be killed off with lots of antibiotics and it could also be part of the problem.

I ordered room service and ate a cup of yogurt with live cultures to help recolonize the good bacteria if this was the case. My tongue instantly turned white. I thought to myself "this is getting weirder and weirder." Finally crashed ignoring my upset stomach, deciding to see his I felt the next day before figuring out if I was ok to travel.

2am comes around and I'm awoken by a violent, spasmic stomach pain- felt like it was on fire, extremely painful. I could only get temporary relief by curling up into a ball. Seriously thought I was going to die, this wasn't being dehydrated (which can actually kill you), it was something much more painful. So I quickly packed my things and had the hotel check me out and take me to the emergency room in Cebu, around 2:20am. Whenever I'm alone on these trips and go through something difficult, I never actually feel alone, because I just like to think Mark Forester is with me.

I get there, I'm sweating, in pain & later the ER doctor said "very pale". I told her about my last 2 episodes, my treatments, IV's, symptoms, etc. They immediately gave me 2 shots, one for anti-acid and another for stomach pain, throw me and my luggage into a room and asked for a sample of the goods to try to figure out what was going on.

Long story short, the anti-acid shot knocked out whatever I had, and by 8am, I was feeling good. The doctor concluded that the last illness / IV treatment was really hard on my digestive tract, and it was responding by producing crazy amounts of acid when eating certain foods. Seems simple, but explains it. She prescribed me 2 meds, which I've been taking and I'm feeling much better than I have in weeks. Still a little off, but my strength and appetite are coming back again.

Cost of the ER visit? $25
meds? Also $25

She said she was confident I could fly to Manila, so I could rest a day before my flight home, so I grabbed a taxi and went straight to the airport.

I can eat breads, eggs, certain meats and non-citrus fruits. Anything acidic is a no-no. Between the meds and eating wisely, I think I'm in the clear.

When I got to Manila, I checked into a hotel that was recommended by a good friend, very close to the airport, it's like right there. $100/night. Thought it would be worth it to rest up all the way until the time of my flight. Checked in, and while the place was a palace compared to my conditions in Tacloban, I felt stress being there. It was pretty much run down.

So I got on hotwire and found a fab 6 star hotel for $75. A full 25% less than the other hotel (I'd learn later it has zero stars). Jumped into a taxi and am here now. Looking forward to a great nights sleep.

I'm many ways I feel like when these trips end, I'm somewhat reborn. I have a new body (25lbs lighter), new perspectives on life, sacrifice, gratitude, relevance, and appreciation. The little things have faded. I feel more excited to become the best I can be, to find new ways to serve in bigger & better ways, learn from my mistakes and get ready for the next one. I'm thankful I didn't die in that ER room this morning, the way it felt and what I'd already been through it felt like a possibility, and that too makes me more grateful and I want to so end my time more wisely.

I should be heading home tomorrow.
This is what Mactan's Doctor Hospital Emergency Room looks like at 230 in the morning. Fun Fun!
I sure will miss Andoi, one of the kindest, most humble and willing to serve men I have ever met.

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