The Man on Wheelchair

Do you believe in KULAM?
Ang kulam ay impluwensya ng voodoo (o kulto na matatagpuan sa mga taong Itim sa Haiti na kinapapalooban ng kulam at mahika at mga rituwal ng pakikipag-ugnayan sa mga patay at mga anito). Ang mga mangkukulam (nagsasagawa ng kulam) ay kadalasang gumagamit ng basahang manika upang dulutan ng pinsala o sakit ang biktima.
Upang magkabisa ang kulam, kinkailangan ng mga bagay mula sa biktima tulad ng hibla ng buhok, dura o patak ng dugo. Gamit ang manika at ang buhok ng biktima, tutsukin niya ang manika sa iba’t-ibang parte ng katawan nito gamit ang karayom.
Being in the medical field, we always want to find out why certain things happen in the human body. We try to study the pathophysiology of a certain disease until we come up with an acceptable explanation. We never settle to some beliefs our ancestors instilled in our culture, like kulam [or binubwisit as they call it] for the matter.
An ER nurse I was, I met a few folks who still believe in these things. They believe in voodoos and the likes. The relatives of the man on the above picture are the living proofs I met.
Presented to the ER with obvious difficulty breathing, we immediately administered oxygen to this man via nasal cannulae. The doctor examined him and ordered us to give him nebulization with 15 minutes intervals. Upon re-assessment, the doctor decided to transfer him to a tertiary hospital. [I worked in a district hospital, and district hospitals in the Philippines lack necessary equipment if something life & death situation pops up.]
Getting the patient’s medical history, we came to know that he was previously hospitalized for the same condition. In fact, it was only a day before he was brought to our hospital.
Before I prepare the things needed such as IV line and meds, I asked for their consent if they wanted us to carry out what the doctor ordered. I was a bit surprised when the relative, which I later found out was his daughter, said that they would still wait for her sister to get in the hospital before they decide. {The man can hardly breathe for God’s sake! A minute wasted could take his life!}
Thirty minutes, an hour, two hours passed…her sister was still nowhere to be found. They were talking over the phone and she relayed to us what she said, “Ganyan si ama kasi may nambubwisit sakanya. Sabi nung albularyo bawal daw ipagalaw sa doktor. Kung hindi, lalo pang pahihirapan si ama.” “Tignan nyo, nanlilisik yung mga mata nya!
I believed the man still has decisional capacity, so I approached and asked him, “Sir, gusto nyo po bang magpagamot? Bibigyan po namin kayo ng paunang lunas bago kayo ilipat sa mas malaking hospital.” He said YES between his struggles to breathe, without blinking. I looked at her daughter and waited for her reply. She called her sister again, and later said NO.
Who really gets to decide in situations like this?! Isn’t it the patient himself??? But as medical professionals, we also take into consideration the family’s decision. It’s hard, yeah.
But, how could they deny the poor man a proper medical intervention? How could they take the sight of their father who raised them, provided for them and loved them, struggle like that just to breathe? How could they just let him fight, while they do nothing? What were they doing in the hospital if they wouldn’t allow us to help in the first place?
Nurses love to care, we save lives. However, sometimes, no matter how much we wanted to help, we cannot save everybody. Not when it’s the person, or the relatives, refuse the treatment.
Despite all our efforts to convince them to accept interventions, they still refused. All because they believe in those voodoos, they denied health care to their father. Next thing I know, they brought him home. May God be with him. :c

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Just an ordinary girl who catches frogs and calls them prince. :) Works as a nurse for the Department of Health. A blogger when time permits. Follow her at:
  • I know from the start that this article would receive comments as to who’s consent should matter. I know it is the PATIENT’s. I quote, “Who really gets to decide in situations like this?! Isn’t it the patient himself???” However, as I’ve said, we don’t have the supplies needed to carry out doctor’s orders. The family HAS TO BUY them. Since they refused treatment, no matter how much we wanted to give this man treatment, we don’t have the means. We cannot get supplies out of our pockets, can we?

    I know the theories, but it doesn’t always happen in real life.

    Anyhow, thank you for taking time to read.

  • I agree, only the patient’s consent should matter, but only if he is sane enough to take it.