WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL. Slow lane. By Gail Ilagan

Down on my back, racked by chills every six hours, roasting in fever soon after. Heck, maybe this was exactly what I needed, I thought, as I cycled through more punishing vicissitudes on my already tired and abused body. I guess I can’t be the walking wounded all the time. At some point, I had to pay my dues.

So, okay – there was a lesson to be learned here: Slow down. I’d been hearing that from most everyone who cared about me. I got it from Manong Pat Diaz, no less. Mayad lang sa mayad, he said.

Finally, the lesson registered.

It was kind of scary. When I wasn’t freezing or burning up, I’d ward off the terror of temporary incapacitation by going on a reading frenzy. Home at last from Tawi-Tawi on the third day, hubby worriedly threatened to tie me up in bed if he had to. By that time, I was resigned to the fact that I wasn’t going anywhere just then. Hubby was more than happy to keep me supplied with books. It took a while to register that devouring three books a day wasn’t exactly the way to negotiate life in the slow lane.

Yeah, it takes a while, but I’m learning. I’m learning.

I’m out of bed again. And I do realize I am lucky. I have in the last months walked in and out of the hospital where I got quality care in spite of me. I didn’t even have to shell out anything. My insurances guaranteed my care. Truth be told, I really have no right belly-aching about the inconvenience. Some people aren’t as fortunate.

Today, for example, I was going through papers to file, letters to write, and other mundane concerns that go with running an editorial office when my student Dadong popped his worried face in the door. It was 4:00 in the afternoon and I could tell he had a problem.

Turned out that they had brought his 16-month-old nephew down from Paquibato highlands to the Davao Medical Center last night, but the baby was too far gone. He died at 4:00 this morning. Since then, Dadong had been trying to negotiate for the baby’s release from the morgue. The baby had no birth certificate and the mother had no ID. The hospital offices would close in an hour and the weekend ahead was beginning to loom like it were an insurmountable stone wall.

Oh, the tragedy of no ID, no exit. It’s like the Lumads are undocumented aliens in their own land.

Good thing DMC OIC Jojo Cembrano was quite facilitative when appraised of the problem. Government physicians are often portrayed as not caring enough, but most civil servants I know who are in public health are like Dr. Cembrano who willingly render service over and beyond the call of duty. It’s not their fault that there’s just too much work for them to do.

As I write, Dadong and his sister-in-law are traveling the mountain road. It’s very dark now, and they still have a 2-hour trek up ahead where the road ends. I can’t even begin to fathom what that’s like, coming home in the dead of the night, your lifeless baby in your arms.

Slow lane? You bet it’s the only way the world allows some people travel.

I’m alive. I shouldn’t even think of complaining. (Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to gail@mindanews.com. "Send at the risk of a reply," she says).