My Baby Bench

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A tv commercial by KFC Christmas bucket meal transported me back to an incident a dozen years ago.

Against our wish for it was beyond our control, we welcomed the New Year separately as a family. My two sons spent it with my sister at our house while my husband and I, together with our youngest, spent it in a hospital room. We watched fireworks on a fifth floor window while eating a delivered KFC bucket meal.

My youngest son figured in a vehicular accident right in front of our residential compound two days after Christmas 2000. Witnesses confirmed my assertion that despite the young age of my son, he knows the traffic rules. It was really the driver who was at fault. He was trained on traffic rules because he was already attending Nursery school two towns away.

Fault-finding, that’s for the police and the courts. And since I didn’t file any case against the driver, it was and is moot.

Why didn’t I? A question often asked of me. It was a simple process, they say. File one while having negotiations with the other party and if things go alright, I could easily rescind the case I filed, they say.

I forged a pact with God. On the moment I heard the shouts that my son was hit by a vehicle, my heart and mind was saying, “Please bring me back my son alive and the same as before and I will not ever ask for anything from the offending party nor file any case. I leave it all up to You. Just give me back my son whole.”

I was cleaning a canal beside our house when it happened. I was barefoot and muddy when I reached the street. I didn’t find him there. Someone approached me and drove me to the District hospital. I found my son on a bed in the ER. No one was tending him. He was still all bloodied, face and body. Unconscious and his shorts was wet with urine. My mother-in-law and various relatives clustered around the bed were all crying and saying his name.

I went in search of a doctor and lo and behold, I heard the doctor on duty saying to a nurse or a midwife, in our language,  that the kid has no hope of surviving. That there is definitely internal hemorrhage. I went up to them, barefoot and muddy, and said, in straight English using a soft tone, “How can you determine such a thing without performing even a cursory physical examination of my son? No one has been near him. You don’t even have the essential machines here in this hospital of yours. I am transferring my son to a hospital I trust. I know there are documents to sign so better prepare it in five minutes or less for time is of the essence. If you cannot prepare it, I will not sit around and wait for it. Bring them to me. Am not hard to find, I am known here.” I left both with their mouths hanging open.

I actually did not wait for the five minutes because an orderly came on my heels and said it was okay now to transfer my son.

Reaching my son’s bedside, I issued requests (things to do) to everyone I can see clustered around. I asked one to go home and talk to my sister, with a list of things to say. One I requested to look for my husband, he was then “breaking-in” the newly overhauled passenger jeep he drives. Another I requested to look for my older brother-in-law so that we can have a vehicle to transport my son in. Another I told to look for other vehicles available. My mother-in-law, I helped up, calmed her and told her to stay beside my son and hold his hand.

It turned out that the very vehicle which hit my son was the one used to bring him to that hospital and it was still outside waiting. I only learned of it after a few days. So it was the very same vehicle with the very same driver who brought us to our usual hospital.

Upon reaching AUFMC, care was immediately given to my son while I was rattling off the names of our doctors to a nurse and over the din the ER staff created in issuing tests to do right away. While I was giving our doctors’ names, one ER staff was already on the phone calling my son’s pediatrician. This episode really opened my eyes to the glaring differences between public and private hospitals. It really means life and death.

The offending party paid for the hospital bill, or rather their insurance company. We were in negotiations too. But we never arrived at anything. It was just a gesture of goodwill on my part to attend the talks because they do not know I have the mantra, “Give me back my son whole, God, and I leave it all up to you.”

He was assessed with ADD in third grade. He had, and still has a, difficulty with a string of commands. He tends to mix it all up. He really has a short attention span. I was hoping I could bring him to Dr. Ed Dizon, the only SPED diagnostician in the country at the time, for an assessment. When I was a student of his in UP Diliman, he advised me to allow my son to grow up some more and he would help point to me the assessment tools and tests I will need for him. But alas, I didn’t finish the course and I didn’t see him again because am sure I cannot afford his rates and his waiting list is miles-long.

My Baby Bench is now 15 years old. A few years ago, he politely asked me to stop calling him that. My fault really because there are times I call him such even within hearing of his friends. What can I do, he really is my baby in so many ways. If my cardiologist got his way, my Baby Bench wouldn’t have been born. My child-bearing ability would have stopped after the birth of my second son.

ARLAN JEGVINNE. Pronounced “ja-vi-ni” but always mistakenly pronounced as “ja-vin” by his new classmates. The name was suggested by my sister.

VHINCE. His nickname also suggested by my sister.

BINTSAY. A parody of his nickname usually used by my sister and her husband.

BABY BENCH. My baby nickname for my dear youngest son.

I am so grateful to God for giving me back my Baby Bench whole as can be. The past twelve years were surely not devoid of headaches and heartaches but the most important thing is, he is with me, with us and he will be for a long time to come.

I love you Baby Bench!

(when i post this on facebook, i won’t tag you. promise! hahaha!)

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