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March 2015. Nagpa-medical ako for my Pre-employment. Bago ang medical clinic na iyon at wala akong gaanong naririnig na reklamo galing sa kapwa seaman na nauna dun.

Nung time na nagpa-medical ako, okay naman ang lahat maliban sa isang finding na sobrang kinabahan talaga ako. There was something in my heart daw na kelangan ipatingin sa cardiologist. Sinong seaman ba naman ang hindi kabahan nyan.

Goodness! I was really nervous. Since it’s pertaining to my heart, it must be serious! Cholesterol? Irregular heartbeat? O baka lovelife.

Kidding aside. Binasa ko ang nakasulat sa papel na binigay sa akin ng doktor. It says left ventricular hypertrophy. Wait, trophy? Mukhang seryoso nga. I felt so down during that time. Parang di ako makapaniwala. How can I have such problem when on board, madalas akong pawisan sa trabaho (I consider that as my exercise). Palaging may gulay ang kinakain ko at iwas ako sa taba, malangis na pagkain at karne. Then during my vacation, at least 4 times a week ako nag-jojogging while iwas sa alak and less meat. Hindi rin ako naninigarilyo. As a seaman, I am always prepared for my medical exams.

Sabi ng doktor, wala daw silang licensed cardiologist so he may have to refer me to his cardio friend na nasa ospital malapit sa UN (no names please). He scheduled mo to go there after a week.

That week was one of my saddest days as a seafarer. Gi-noogle (ung Google.com?) ko ung left ventricular hypertrophy at inalam ang mga sanhi at lunas nito. Nagtanung-tanong pa ako sa mga online heart specialist tungkol dito but I never told anyone even my seamen colleagues, friends and family. Baka mag-panic sila. Though I did not ask any second opinion to other Ph doctors, marami akong natutunan through online research and forums.

So the day came when I have to face my verdict with the cardiologist. I brought my ECG and some stuffs the medical clinic gave me and handed it over to the cardioman. Backed by my own research and understanding of the findings, I was confident that maybe, just maybe, false alarm ang result ng medical ko.

To my surprise, sinabi lang ni doc na “iwas-iwas sa karne at dalasan ang pag-eehersisyo”. Then he gave me a letter granting me fit to work (FTW- aka for the win). Of course, I also have to pay a few thousand Pesos for the consultation. Voala! Tapos ang problema ng medical ko.

This is where the dots began to connect. “ConsPeraCy Theory” na naman tayo mga parekoy!

Nung nasa loob pa ako with the cardio man, I reasoned out that my diet and exercise were in good practice. Di ako gaano nagka-karne on board and when at home, focus ako sa veggies four weeks before medical. Bihira lang din ako umiinom. I even had a formula on How to Pass Pre-employent Medical Examination (PEME) for Seafarers Without Any Hits which reaped me fantastic good results for many many years. You should check that too.

I told him that I’m 25 years young and physically active sa exercise especially jogging which is good for the heart. Combine that with veggies on your meal and you’d get a “hyper ventricular blah blah”? Does that made any sense?

Actually, I may have agreed with the findings but not totally with the cause. I was jogging full blast on steep roads and pushing myself so hard that I’d be drench in sweat. I may have acquired the “Runner’s Heart” which is normal if you are pushing to your limits every physical exercise. Binanggit ko to kay doc pero tumingin lang sya at tinuloy ang blah blah nya. Am I saying na mas magaling pa ako kay doc? Tuloy muna ang basa.

Pangalawa, hinintay kong matapos ang ibang seaman na kasamahan ko who went to the same clinic a week ago. I think there were 6 or 7 of us from different companies. Meron pang isa na mas bata sakin (23 years old). The cardioman gave us the same causes and advice. Kung pwede, irecord nalang nya sana ang mga sinabi nya para hindi na sya magsayang ng laway. Of course, they too paid a few thousand Pesos for that and poof, FTW!

Lastly, nung nasa barko na ako, tinanong ko ang mga Poging sumampa after us regarding their medical results and it was not surprising on what they told me. Most of them have the same findings, referred to the same clinic, talked with the same doctor and paid the same amount!

Pineysbook (ung Facebook?) ko ang ibang tropa na nagpa-medical dun and most of them were surprised when they found out we had the same experience.

With those results popping up, I was thinking na baka may sira ang ECG nila. Kung hindi man sira, baka misconfigured or mali ang settings. Or baka “ConsPeraCy” ‘to. Its hard not to think of those thoughts especially when you are a young seaman and your previous medical results from more strict medical centers were passed with flying colors. Not to mention yung pre-employment medical examination ko to other clinics AFTER that incident had seen negative findings in my heart.

I’m sure there are others out there who had worse experience than me from other medical centers. I remember a friend who spent a five-digit amount for his tooth- that is PhpXX,XXX.XX!

I opened this topic because we seamen know it happens. From the simple ear or dental cleaning to the grave operations, some seafarers are affected by it. Hindi naman lahat ng medical clinics ng mga seaman ang gumagawa ng ganito but there are a few that are doing those practices which tarnish the reputation of the whole industry.

And sometimes, there are seamen who would pay the medical staffs to “expedite” the process of the results and pass it with flying colors. It’s one of the saddest reality in our country.

This kind of medical practice seemed normal nowadays at tayong mga seaman ang apektado at nahihirapan. Tayo rin ang solusyon. Subalit, wala naman tayong ginagawa tungkol dito maliban sa pagrereklamo sa kapwa seaman natin. Paano natin mapipigilan ang talamak na pratices na ito in our industry? Pera-pera nalang ba ang labanan?

May the winds be on our favor.

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