The Week I Found Out A Family Secret

 I thought this would be a great time to write about what's been going on this week because everyone is busy right now and Bogurt is sleeping on my shoulder right now so I can't move.

The first day I was here I was jetlagged and tired. I woke up that morning to go to the store and get milk for my breakfast. Milk here is super cheap at like three bucks for a carton, but I've gone through at least ten boxes so far. I fell asleep around 10 am and woke up maybe at 6 pm when my cousin woke me up. At first, I didn't recognize him because I was disoriented, but he kissed my forehead. I instantly knew who it was because he's the only cousin who does that. 

Friday I wanted to go to the doctors. Not just any regular doctor but an OBGYN which made my family a little uncomfortable and they acted the same way my mother did when I told her I wanted to go to the doctors. My older cousin is a nurse who was in Dubai until last month because she needs more experience for the hospital. She understood why I wanted to go and said we would go later that day around 11 am before everything was packed. 

The Philippines is very conservative. The entire country is run by the Catholic church which makes things a little hard for people like me who are not so used to the strict rules. The rule for going to the OBGYN is only if you're pregnant. Clearly, I am not pregnant and wanted to go because I wanted to figure out why I fainted the first day of my cycle which had never happened before. I'm also in Mindanao which has a massive Muslim community which in this case, also runs half of this big hospital in Davao City. 

It's a pretty lovely hospital for me but to maybe Americans who are used to very clean, not crowded waiting areas and not having a cop check your bags for bombs or guns it may be not so lovely. I don't mind that kind security though. 

We didn't have to make an appointment with the doctor. We just had to find her office and ask the lady at the desk to check me in. Since I cannot speak Bisaya which is the dialect of Davao, I spoke in very broken English, and my oldest cousin helped me with writing down my symptoms. We gave the desk my folder, and she wrote my name at the top and asked my cousin why my last name was different because I forgot that here, I used my mother's last name instead of my father's last name for not being spotted out as an American and scammed easily.

The OBGYN lady was very fluent in English because here at the colleges, they only teach classes in English. She asked me the fundamental questions, but one question almost made me want to throw up. She asked if I was still a virgin. I expected she would ask that since she is that kind of doctor but I had my three cousins in that room with me. I didn't know what to tell her. I couldn't lie because this was for my health, but my reputation with my family was on the line. 

I whispered her the truth but lied and said it only happened once and I was going back to church. She smiled and wrote down what I told her. I didn't feel any better knowing I would have to see another OBGYN to get more accurate results without my family in the room. 

She ordered me a PAP smear and an ultrasound which gave my family the answer to the question. None of them said anything to me about it. They held my hand during the PAP smear which was uncomfortable, but the ultrasound hurt even worse. I won't explain the ultrasound, but I'll say it wasn't the same kind they use on pregnant women. 

Both of these trips cost me less than 50 USD which is sad because this is way too expensive for locals here. That's cheap for healthcare in America, but a local hospital visit is 80 pesos or less than 10 USD which most people can afford. 

The next day I came back to get the results with three different cousins. I waited for a bit in the waiting room and got called in by the doctor. She explained to me the results and showed me a prescription for three different pills. I didn't understand why the need for all these medicines until I read the result sheet on my own. I got the news I feared the most. 

I was never going to be able to have children on my own. 

That's what hurt the most. I didn't care for anything else and stopped listening to her tell me everything would be fine and that these pills would help me with other things. I didn't want to hear it. For the pain, I thought she would give me birth control, but birth control is almost unheard of here. I don't even know how to ask about birth control without being slapped. I wanted to get out of this hospital and go home. 

I didn't go home; I bought one of the pills after I exchanged my USD. I was supposed to take it for ten nights, and supposedly this was going to help me from getting any infection. I thought it was stupid for any medicine because, in the end, I'd still be infertile. I thanked her for her help and headed off with my family to the grocery store at the mall to buy what I needed. I didn't tell them the results and that I would be fine after a week. 

I fell asleep when I got home to wake up by my cousin who attends a rigorous priest school. I wasn't sure I was going to see him while I was here but he wanted to visit me on his day off. He was only here at my house for 2 hours, but that was enough time for us to catch up on what we missed.

That night I saw the pills I bought from the doctor were EcoVag vitamins that I could've purchased online myself. I couldn't take these pills orally. If you know what EcoVag is, then you know how you have to make them. I live in a house full of teenage boys so asking them to help me was a no. I took the pill on my own. 

My cousin didn't sleep that night. He barged into the bathroom after I told him to go back downstairs saying I was crying because I was frustrated. He saw me with no pants on and one leg on the side of the bath to balance myself while I tried to pull out a half-dissolved pill which I knew wasn't coming out. Blood had started to form from the skin I tugging on. My cousin helped me go downstairs and gave me pain reliever. He stayed with me until I could sit down without pain. I fell asleep at our kitchen table and woke up in my bedroom. 

The next night I stayed awake until 1 AM waiting for one of my family members to come home from his friend's house. While I sat at the kitchen table, I heard noise going on outside. The sound started getting louder and louder until a significant figure was right outside the kitchen window. It was a man that was dragging his feet. 

I stayed silent and entirely still so he wouldn't see me. The man wasn't looking for anyone or anything. He took a few steps forward and started grunting. I listened to that drunk man throw up until he had enough energy to get up and make his way out onto the streets again. I didn't know how he got in or out because all the houses here have gates that lock at night. I don't question the actions of drunk men.  

I stayed home every day after Sunday and only went to the local store called HB1 at night to get food or other items. I wasn't feeling well and had started coughing up blood which I didn't want anyone to know. My two younger cousins had shown up on Friday, and they saw the blood in my garbage can. They understood that I'm sick but didn't recognize me coughing up blood. They still didn't tell anyone though. 

I didn't understand why they kept sleeping over until Tuesday. I didn't get it. I kept asking them where their mom was who is also my Tita. They always said,

"Ambot, Ate Abby." which in English is just "I don't know."

These two are the youngest out of the kids here still in Davao. They needed to be going to school, but they weren't. I begged them to try and find out where their mom was, but they didn't understand. I started buying them food and making sure they ate enough, and I got whatever they didn't eat. I was skipping meals because I needed them not to go hungry which I wouldn't let happen either way.

I called my mom crying one night saying I'm running out of money to feed these two kids while trying to pay bills for the house and paying for my way to eat. She got angry and kept saying her sister was crazy and that she knew this would happen.

My mom told me that our family had not disowned my aunt because she is the elder sister. She had 8 children and no job but was trusted to keep the money we send for my Lola. A year after, we got a notice saying our house bill hasn't been paid and we had a big fine. My aunt had stolen over 10,000 USD from us and had none of it anymore. We asked her over and over again where the money went and why she took it, but all she did was cry and say sorry. 

Now, she leaves her kids for days and doesn't tell anyone where she goes. None of us can get an answer out of her, and she thinks it's okay. I cannot ask her because it's disrespectful and not my place but I did tell her I will not feed her kids anymore. It's our family secret that I'm now putting out to the entire world because I do not care who knows anymore.

I'm done talking about the sad stuff so let's talk about my Bogurt! 

 My cousin found Bogurt on the street, brought him home to me and I said he's mine now. That's the entire adoption process. I feed him every day and he sleeps in my room during the day but gets put into my cousins store at night where he can roam around and entertain himself. He's very sweet and loves to talk. I thought he was biting me for awhile until I looked up that cats tongues feel like sandpaper. I think I'm going to buy him an actual litterbox when I go into town again so he can be litterbox trained. 

That's all I got to say for this week! Telling my friends about what has happened here has made them want me to come back home. It's not as bad as it sounds and I haven't actually talked about how I survive here every day. That's a whole another post on its own. 

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