It started last Wednesday as sore throat. Nothing to it that a good ol’ gurgle can’t fix, Ah Kong muttered to himself.
Last Friday, he was bitten by coughs and cold. Nothing to it that drinking plenty of water can’t fix, Ah again muttered to himself.
For people in the age bracket 4-60 years old, catching the coughs and the cold could be summed up this way: First, there is the constant sneezing and wiping of the nose.
Now comes the wheezing, then the cough, one after another, that culminates in a series of coughs. Then your ears will ring from the series of coughs. Elders, more particularly, are victims of these discomforts.
Last Saturday, he had a suspicion that this wretched and pesky thing called pain, was marshalling its troops to attack Ah in all parts of his body. His suspicion was right.
Last Sunday, he was forced to limp to bed early as 6:00 PM, suddenly weakened by dancing pains that appeared nowhere and happily began stabbing and shooting at him gleefully – here, there, everywhere and nowhere – that wracked his body and had Ah seemingly fighting for his poor life.
Tossing and turning that Sunday night in bed from his predicament, Ah flitted to disturbed slumber, then dreamed.
Ah dreamed trangkaso sent him a perfumed love letter. It read: “Dearest Ah, I’m romantically coming to bed with you tonight and other nights and have my way. I will ensure that you will ache, shake and sweat until you groan and moan from pain.”
“I will make pinpricks of pain jolting though your joints, into your muscles, down from your feet, upwards your body and along your arms while your head throbs. I will make you beg for me to stop. Oh, my dearest, I will but it will be done later. When I am finished and done with you, you surely be weak for days to come. Lovingly yours, signed, The flu.”
Ah knew then he was stricken by the coughs and cold, and making matters worse, including the common flu, seasonal influenza or in our lingo, simply called “trangkaso.”
When trangkaso is on its height upon you and breaking you down, you feel like a book without a preface, a house without a door, a person without a nose or food devoid of salt.
WAIS, talaga, this trangkaso, deciding to smack Ah a weekend, not weekdays so Ah can’t use the oft-given excuse of employees, “Sir/Ma’am, I can’t report Monday because I’m down with the flu,” because by Monday then, suspicious work superiors expect you’re up and about and hopping like a rabbit.
Ah decided to visit his doctor. Sure enough, his doctor confirmed his suspicion. Ah insisted his doctor give a second opinion. Ah’s doc said,” Ah, not only are you hardheaded. You’re also unreasonable. That’s my second opinion. Now go home and get a rest, dammit!”
Ah knew, having worked with the Department of Health – Cordillera Administrative Region (DOH-CAR) for past two decades as its Public Information Officer (PIO), that flu season in the Philippines almost starts immediately with advent of the rainy season.
Seasonal influenza had been tracked by DOH-CAR to start as early as June, peaking between July and August and continuing in November. Seasonal influenza can be detected by health authorities year round.
DOH-CAR describes trangkaso as abrupt onset of sore throat, fever, headache, malaise (agsasadut), non-productive cough, and body pains. Body pains can be felt severe by children and elders. Trangkaso can hit one of every 100 persons.
Almost all – particularly children – who are battered by trangakso lose the appetite to eat.
We love Baguio City so much for its beauty and cool weather. But in loving our city, we have to brace ourselves for the ailments that breed from cold weather.
What got Ah totally sore was that for more than fifteen years running, he was never down with trangkaso, having defeated it every time it came around the corner hunting for him.
Ah suspected trangkaso traitorously leaped upon him and put him down maliciously when Ah let his guard down just for a little moment.
Sometimes one scratches the head and ponder why October distinguishes itself as the month driving rain, cold winds, and icy drafts biting at exposed hands and faces. And all too suddenly, one contracts coughs, cold and the flu.
Ms. Tatanya Odilles, one of resource speakers from Manila, got in touch with Ah by phone that Sunday, chattered like a magpie and scolded Ah why he failed to appear Saturday for the developmental communications seminar in La Union where Ah happened to be one of the resource.
Ah told the purty Tatanya this miscreant trangkaso, had, for the first time in more than fifteen years, finally won round one by stopping him dead in his tracks this 2017.
One will discover to his/her woe, that being sidelined temporarily by an ailment, one’s daily rhythm is unceremoniously and without apology, stopped, the intimate tango of mind and body in tatters.
When one gets sick, one is made palpably aware of the physical, somehow short-circuited and one’s fruitful thinking distracted.
Ah told Tatanya he will exact revenge against trangkaso by never allowing this to happen again.
Tatanya, a Manila resident, single and who once intimated she’d rather marry a man from the Cordillera, commiserated with Ah and said, “the heart can really get cold if you’re afflicted with flu.”
Tatanya related on the phone whenever she got the cold and flu, she’d curl up around a book and read away her flu.
Now, Tatanya revealed on the phone that she dreams of the day when she’s sick, a Cordilleran suitor would visit her and say, “You cold?”
And Tatanya said she would answer this way: “I’ve never been so cold. But you can put your arms around me anyway, even with my flu. If that suitor does, and doesn’t mind being infected. Then I know that suitor will stand by me’ even when the chips are down.”
Somehow, Tatanya’s outlook was indeed heartening, that getting sick of trangkaso for some, maybe beneficial after all.