Monday, April 03, 2006

What I Learned from Multivitamins

“I will be much nicer to Mercury Drug pharmacists starting today!”

Such was my realization yesterday, when I was assigned at the pharmacy of Lingkod QC’s first Medical-Surgical Mission at the He Cares Village in Montalban.

The literal shedding of blood, sweat and tears by the Works of Mercy- Med Mission Team led by Imee Sioco and Doc Jun “DJ” Sobremisana was blessed abundantly by the Lord. We had overflowing food for the volunteers and medicines for the patients. Doctors and nurses volunteered to help us; so did brothers and sisters from Lingkod Alabang, Makati and Greenhills (our heroic genuine pharmacist Ethel, who helped us decipher the doctors’ handwriting and the often-unwritten dosage in each prescription).

I worked at the makeshift pharmacy and was given all the boxes of meds with generic names starting with “L” and “M”. “Loperamide”, “lagundi”, these were not as fast-moving as the “M” goods like “mefenamic acid” and “multivitamins”. The latter two kept me on my toes and I really felt like a harassed Mercury Drug employee, as all the kids whom the doctors saw were prescribed multivitamins, so I was paired with almost every prescription of “carbocisteine”, “ambroxol”, etc. I was made to realize that for the children “not enough vitamins = not enough life”, as a famous advertising jingle went.

I know that my work yesterday was benign compared to the actual operations at the Surgery room and the heavy influx of people at the Consultation room. All of the volunteers would have probably reached for “ibuprofen-paracetamol” tablets due to their body aches and pains at the end of the day, but instead we turned to the Lord in prayer, to thank Him for everything.

It was inspiring to serve while Gay and Mirac composed a theme song of each quasi-pharmacist: for Juanda (fr. Sound of Music's I am Sixteen"), "Carbocisteine, going on 17..."; for Tess (Healing), "Cause Your love is Amoxicillin", for new lawyer El , (the "Name Game"), "Let's do Salbutamol!", and for me (to the tune of "Bawal na Gamot"), "Merienda ko'y di makain, dahil sa multivitamins". It was a joy to serve with my smiling, though tired, teammates composed of Loli (team head), Ethel (expat from Greenhills, med mission specialist), Jack and Julius from other branches, and Sphene, our chemistry expert who translated for us the symbols on the prescriptions. I heard that over at the other rooms, those assisting the medical professionals also entertained themselves while singing. There was a general spirit of joy despite the challenges of doing everything for the first time.

A brother told me that the tiredness we felt was comparable to that we experienced during the 2004 Unity Games and the 2005 Easter Celebration, which our branch hosted for Lingkod in the region, however, the depth of fulfillment after a medical-surgical mission was more memorable, as our energies were used up to help others who needed them most.

As I was dispensing the multivitamins, I wondered how long a 60ml bottle would last, at one teaspoon a day for the children. The answer hung in the air, as I was helpless to do something about it at that exact moment. I just prayed for each person whom we met yesterday, as I’m sure was done by the other volunteers, for their health to be protected throughout the year, and for us to be given more opportunities to serve them, in ways that would be most beneficial in the long run.

Another personal learning for me was this: the next time that I would stand in front of a Mercury Drug counter, I would be more considerate of the mental, physical and emotional toll on their pharmacists, and would patiently wait my turn to be served my medicines. We all do our best to make this planet a better place to live in. We do need to be in other people’s shoes sometimes in order to see the world from their perspective, and thus relate to them in the most loving manner.

“Anong meron ang taong happy?” goes another ad for a popular multivitamin. “More energy, mas happy”, goes its reply. I wish to add something, that people who use their energy for good works are happier, even if physical energy gets used up temporarily, for that could easily be replenished after due care.

Let us continue to pray for the families at the He Cares village. May they continue to live under Jesus’ care, everyday, and to be blessed by His energy, and to experience happiness through it.

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