What a month June was. My second month to be single in the Philippines. Things were looking pretty good for the first two weeks. I was still missing Jessie but she remained steadfast on her positions that had caused me to leave in the first place. Finally, I told her to let me know if anything changed and I began to move on in earnest. This is my Philippines expat journal for June and July 2014. I think it is one of the best ways to tell you what living in the Philippines is really like. It isn’t always fun.

I had a three promising Filipina that I had spent some quality time with, I was having trouble managing everyone in my little black book otherwise known as my phone. Of course, not everything in my black book worked out. Lots of the prospects were playing games with me. That’s only to be expected. Even one of the girls I met managed to use me. She was just trying to get home. She did, oh well. That’s the way it works sometimes. She said to me in her sweet little voice on the way out the door “Please don’t be mad” to which I said “Of course I’m mad, you just using me to get home”. At that point her hardened look was all over her face and I never heard another word from her.

I was very Ill during July 2014

She left me with a friend though, a virus. No, not that kind of virus. She had that virus that I had had the prior month. Or, itDoctor Duyongco
seemed like the same virus from her symptoms. I thought I would be safe since I had already had it. But no, not me. Many people have had it and are sick for two to four days but not me. For me, it headed straight to my chest and has been with me for more than two weeks. For me, it started in June and then carried over into July.

I put myself on my normal course of antibiotics but I didn’t get better. In fact, I got worse. What I was coughing up in my sleep was pretty disgusting. I realized I had to go to the doctor but I couldn’t stay up during the day and wasn’t awake much at night either. I finally decided I was going on the first Saturday in July or I was going to the emergency room that night if I couldn’t get to the doctor. I got there but it was not easy.

I had Pneumonia during July of 2014 while in the Philippines

When I got to the doctor he wanted to talk about my diabetes and I told him I have bigger problem, that “I have pneumonia”. He just looked at me like “Where did you get your medical degree” and kept on asking boring questions about my blood sugar. Finally, he got around to listening to my chest and said, “You’re right, you do have pneumonia in your right lung”.

He gave me some antibiotics that actually did some good. The warning label on them was scary, an injection of HIV looked safer ha ha. He told me to get three more after I bought the first batch. He forgot to give me a prescription for it though. I was fearful the pharmacy wouldn’t give it to me without one but they did. Expensive at around 300 peso a tablet if I recall correctly but this time I didn’t mind.

I Feel Good!

What has surprised me since then was that all of my joint pain is gone too. Joint pain is common with lupus. I have had it for years. It is an illness where you immune system attacks your own body so it would make sense that if you’re immune system is more active due to an infection it would cause lupus to flare up.  Lupus also make you more susceptible to infection and increases the risk of complications once you get one.  I suppose that is because my immune system is busy attacking me as a foreign organism.

Sweet Filipino ChildI think I’ve been walking around with pneumonia for quite some time. Not always active but a chest infection monthly was pretty much routine for me for the last year. The first time I had a bad chest infection about almost two years ago but I didn’t get really sick until May. I honestly believe I was knocking on heaven’s door then. This time looked worse on what I was coughing up so finally it looked like pneumonia.

How do I get in this shape without seeing a doctor? It is because so many times the doctors don’t find anything wrong with me. Once, I had a doctor write that my lungs were clear and I had a bad chest infection at the time. My wife went with me too that visit and she couldn’t understand that either. When you have a chronic and life threatening illness, you see a lot of doctors and get pretty tired of it. At one point, I was seeing ten different doctors a month in the USA.

I have been sick but undiagnosed with lupus, most, if not all of my life. Many things that were going on with me that I thought were normal were not normal. So now, I don’t know what is normal. If you go to the doctor and complain about normal things they dub you a hypochondriac. That is what a hypochondriac truly is. I don’t know what is normal so I tell the docs everything now.  Then I see the look on their face that tells me what they are thinking. So I don’t go unless I’m running a fever or both sides of my face or paralyzed. I will go if I need a prescription too.

The doctors were convinced at one point that I was faking.  When I went to the hospital with both sides of my faceJessie in Cebu paralyzed in a manner similar to Bell’s palsy then one of them actually said, “Well, you can’t fake that”. That’s very rare to happen bilateral. That’s when I got the ten doctors. The result of all those doctors? Well, something’s wrong but we are not sure what.  They did diagnose vasculitis and put me on 90 milligrams of Prednisone. If this was your history, how often would you run to the doctor?

Jessie to the Rescue

Jessie has been with me most of this month. She’s been a really big help, especially when I was still sick. I realized before I got a diagnoses that I really needed some help and she was the only one willing to do so. I did pay her though. I really enjoyed her being here. At first she was loving and caring but eventually she became board and didn’t want to be here. I need her help with a few things still but soon she will be on her way. I am not surprised but a bit sad.

July 2014, a Month of Financial Horrors

I knew I had a major expense coming up. I thought I needed to pay $750 to fix a problem that I can’t yet disclose. As it turns out the expense will be close to 70,000 pesos or about $1600 USD. Honestly, I thought it was time just to end the struggle. I went as far as finding out what a gun would cost me.  Only P2000 or about $50. This problem is not long term, I could see the point where this issue would come to an end so that wasn’t a real option.  Probably just a way for me to gain some control over the issue.

Pretty FilipinaI got a $1000 of it paid but as for the rest, I had to seek help and I got it. I got some small donations on the web and some people bought my eBook in order to help out. Then one expat loaned me 8000P and another came in and charged my next 30 days stay at my hotel to his credit card which is about $500. So now I have some breathing room. He did that on the 29th so I’ve have had much to worry about this month. Since I got my rent paid, I used the P8000 for medications.

It was just a month of financial disasters, one right after the other. With the expense of Jessie being with me and what I paid her, the extra $100 on medical fees and the additional amount I paid to fix my problem above, I was unable to buy most of my medication. I’ve gone without my heart medication, most of my blood pressure and most of diabetes medication. Sugar has been high of course, makes me sleepy, my skin feels like its burning and I seem to get more rashes when my sugar is high but one doctor told me that doesn’t make sense to him.  Rashes could be caused by lupus too. However, like I said, with my joint pain gone I consider myself to feel great. I did get some chest pains once at SM Mall but hard to know if it is my ribs or my heart. I prefer to believe my ribs. That would be joint pain though. People with lupus sometimes get that from heavy breathing. I do have to say that it felt too deep to be my ribs. That usually feels like a very light pressure.

Then on the 29th, I also learned that since I didn’t pay my last month’s bill at the hotel in advance, I lost a large portion of Ayala Mall July 2014my discount. I know she could have charged me the discounted rate so it hacked me off. I can’t escape blame, that $150 extra dollars is my fault. None of my pleadings helped, she wouldn’t back off it.

Also on the 29th, HostGator charged my bank account early. I had asked them to extend my bill which they will do but someone told me it wasn’t due until August 2nd so I didn’t need to get it extended. But then they charged it which caused my account to become overdrawn. That means two more items I did have the money in the account for also went NSF. The last time I had something go NSF it cost me $40 each so I assume it will this time. I wrote to the bank and asked if they could wave those last two items for $1.99 and $9.99 that will cost me $80 in NSF fees due to HostGator telling me my bill was due on the 2nd and then charging me on the 29th.  There goes another $150 that I don’t have and will likely leave me without food or medications during August.  So like I said, this month has been one full of stress. I just cannot seem to catch a break lately.

With a roof over my head and feeling great, I am mostly happy. I can’t yet relax though because of these money problems that I know are coming next month. Chances are good that I will leave this hotel over that $150 fee. I’ve been here four months now and though they were within their rights they should have done something to keep me here.  I don’t know if I will leave, I found a hotel that charges P15,000 a month for a room but I have to pay electricity and water. That’s still P11,000 or about $220 a month cheaper and there is no way my light bill will be that high for a hotel room. I have to go over to that hotel though and find out if they still have this offer and if their Internet actually works in the room. If not, I’ll stay put. There is a six month contract at that price.  So I may end up staying put.

Our Place Eatery in Cebu CityAnd then there was just one more minor problem. I woke up one day and my phone was dead. See what I mean, I just cannot get a break. Especially during July of 2014. It got wet during Typhoon Yolanda and has been dying ever since.

I bought another after about a week. I went to check the specs on a counterfeit Samsung One Note. It was only P3000 where it is usually P4000 so rather than risk the price going back up, I got it. There were some ladies wondering why I stopped talking to them and I do not want to lose contact with them just because I have a dead phone. In the Philippines, a phone is essential.

I’m still in the place where I have the most opportunity. Even though things sometimes get harder for me while living in the Philippines I am still better off here. Here’s hoping for a less stressful month for August.  If you have any thoughts or questions, please share them in the comments and if you find this article useful and I think you should, then please share it on your social networks. I think my expat journal gives one a great insight into what it is like to live in the Philippines. That is the main reason I do this. When I get really down, sometimes it is the only thing I can think or write about. It is a good stress relief for me as well.

By Rusty Ferguson

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