Photo by L.G. BABIERA

In a long white hallway, filled with doors decked in small lanterns, flickering lights and hollies, and people too sick to get out of bed, one can still find that sparkle of warmth with colleagues or even strangers– this is the Christmas season in the UST Hospital Clinical Division.

Inside the busy medical building, the untold heroics of people whose job is to save lives on a daily basis never cease, even during the Yuletide season.

Just ask female surgery ward nurse Shayne Ajero. Contrary to the popular holiday song, it seems that she won’t be coming home this Christmas.

“We must do our job because it is necessary for the patients who need our help as well,” she says.

Still, in the spirit of the season, decorations are the only things that convey the holiday spirit because for the medical staff, Christmas is just another day to treat patients and save lives.

And in the twenty-something nurse’s case, she tries her best to take care of the ailing by listing and providing their treatments amid the gloom.

No feast, no bash. Just plain, old fast-food and hard work. Ajero stresses that they can’t even store their food in the refrigerator since the appliance is reserved only for patients.

Furthermore, the nurses have to bear the uneasy environment inside the poorly air-conditioned rooms, especially since they have to deal with irritated patients who are stuck in their hospital beds on the merriest time of the year.

“We don’t have any special programs to celebrate Christmas in the hospital. We do have a small party among our colleagues but it’s not on Christmas Day itself. We don’t even prepare for it,” Ajero tells the Varsitarian.

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So was she one of the nurses affected by the dreary ambience despite the festive world outside?

“It is a saddening truth that there are patients who will be staying here until the New Year,” Ajero says. “This is already my fourth time spending Christmas here and, probably, there are still more years to come.”

The nurse regrets missing out on her Christmas family reunions. After all, her relatives rarely find the time to get together. She does, however, simply appreciate the presence of friends and co-nurses at work.

“At least I won’t be alone and lonely. I still have my colleagues as well as patients with me, and that’s enough,” she says.

Ajero wishes that there would be less or no patients during Christmas. As for those whom she would tend for, they should ready themselves for her intensive handing of remedy to the unwell.

Christmas cure

In the malnutrition ward, caretaker Lady Lou Mamaed takes care of Victoria Tavitian, an infant suffering from pneumonia. The child’s mother is in Greece and has given up her kid to be adopted by Mamaed, her sister in law.

“It’s been a harsh time for us.  This is the first time for our baby to be in the hospital and I’m practically worried just by looking at her (the baby),” Mamaed says.

But she adds that she never loses hope.

She says that if ever they are going to celebrate Christmas in the hospital, it will be with the other patients who has become her friends.

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“I don’t truly know them. I just met them a couple of weeks ago but if it’s rejoicing Christmas, I think I’m going to enjoy it with them,” she said

With just some food, drinks, quips and maybe a laugh or too, Mamaed would liven up the mood in their outwardly lonely Christmas. She believes that people can find delight even amid the loneliness because Christmas is the time people share with one another–even if it’s just by talking and getting to know each other.

“I just wish that we, especially this child, could go with our relatives to the provinces this Christmas,” she says.  

Jolly tidings

While some patients are anxious of their conditions, some still have the spark of happiness despite the terrible times.

Quezon-based Renato Cuenco, who was admitted for hypertension, pulmonary infection and hernia, is going to spend his Christmas in bed at the male surgery ward.

Surprisingly, this is not his first time to spend the holiday in the infirmary.

According to him, he was hospitalized in 1968 due to internal bleeding, and spent the holidays in the ward. He stayed there even during the New Year of 1969.

“The only thing I regret from this is the way I can’t escape easily from my bad habits. It has given me enough pain already,” he says.

“This is what I got from drinking, smoking, more drinking and then overworking.”

But the 58-year-old retains an optimistic attitude because of his family. In fact, he plans to talk to his children in the hospital this coming Christmas.

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“I don’t need anything to celebrate Christmas. I just need my family to look after me and maybe have a serious conversation with them for a while,” he says.

With these smiles and hope that fill the air of the UST Hospital, it’s no wonder that even people who are sick or those taking care of them can still personify the Christmas spirit in the University. Heinz Jassen D. Brobo

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