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Treadmill test in COVID-19 and other stories

Not only are our economic, cultural, social, spiritual, political etc. lives affected by the new coronavirus.


            Our physical well-being, particularly our health, specifically the respiratory system, is the target attack of the novel coronavirus and if hit the interrelated makeup also suffer.


Lungs and other organs connected to them aren’t only the anatomical parts to maintain a healthy body. There are other systems in the human structure that need to be taken care of to achieve equilibrium and fitness.

This is the context of what we’ve experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire health of a person is set against the many circumstances in the ecology of human experiences.


December of last year, I had a cough so I consulted a pulmonologist because my favorite doctor wasn’t around. According to the Caritas Shield office (I was on a health card arrangement), Dr. Alfredo Yap of the San Pedro Doctors Hospital was in Europe so I had to look for another physician. I was referred to a pulmonary doctor so I enrolled at the West Lake Medical Center also in San Pedro City in Laguna Province.



I was prescribed medication and a lung X-ray. I immediately went to the radiology department for chest X-ray schedule. I also bought medicines for my cough.


After less than a week, my cough was gone but because people were busy for the holidays—the doctor’s schedule was also irregular—I was advised to come back the following year for the reading of my X-ray results.


Being busy myself as well, I was able to see my pulmonologist mid-January. He read my film. “Oh! You have enlarged heart,” he said.


Although all my chest radiology tests in the past were indicative of an enlarged heart or cardiomegaly, I decided I should follow his advisory of a 2-D Echo test, and not only an ECG since I wasn’t growing young anymore.


A 2-D Echo test was scheduled and eventually done.


It was during the last days of January.


When I claimed the results of the 2-D Echo test, I showed it to the doctor. “Ay! Meron ka ngang cardiomegaly. Kailangang magpa-angiography ka (Oh! You really have a cardiomegaly. You should undergo angiography),” suggested the male doctor whose name I couldn’t recall anymore but his surname sounded familiar. Or was it angiogram?


“I’ll give you the list of three cardiologists here in West Lake,” he said.


He gave me three names of doctors in hierarchical order of seeming efficacy. The first name was a female doctor and the last two were male physicians. He gave me back my 2-D Echo papers.


Then I asked around at Caritas how much would it cost for an angiography or would my HMO qualify for the treatment. The Caritas staff said “No.”


It was already I think on the second week of February.


I went again to West Lake and looked for the recommended lady doctor. “Sa March 4 pa po available si Doc (Doc will still be available on March 4),” informed the hospital receptionist at the ground floor.


“Gusto po ba ninyo na magpa-appointment sa kanya? Ililista ko po kayo para pag nandito na siya, makakapagpa-check-up na po kayo (Would you like to have an appointment with her? I would list down your name so that if she’s already around you can be checked up),” suggested the secretary.


I listed my name for the appointed date.


I couldn’t wait for March 4. I wanted my body treated at once.


So I went to the Philippine Heart Center for Asia and randomly chose a doctor to consult with.


I ended up with a certain Dr. Aristides Panlilio because there were a long line of patients waiting outside his clinic. I thought he must be a good doctor because there were a lot of people trusting him. I was at the PHCA at two in the afternoon.


According to Dr. Panlilio’s secretary, I could still be allowed a consultation at 9 pm. I conceded.


To kill time, I moved around Quezon City Memorial Circle and other places near the hospital until it was almost nine. I went up the hospital only to find out there were still out-patients in queue.


Finally, it was my turn.



I presented Dr. Panlilio my 2-D Echo results and told him I was advised by the pulmonologist to undergo angiography or angiogram.


He ran through the 2-D Echo slip. “You know, the reading of the cardiologist is different from the results of the test,” Dr. Panlilio declared.


“Let us see. I will prescribe you a treadmill test and compared it with the results of your 2-D Echo. You don’t have to undergo angiography yet,” he advised.


He assigned me a treadmill test and prescribed a blood chem. He also gave me Benadryl because I complained of interrupted sleeps at night.


When I called the Cardiography Department for a scheduled treadmill, it said that the procedure is fully booked until March 11. She asked if I would want it on March 12. I couldn’t do anything except to give in.


Yes, the treadmill test was shouldered by Caritas but I had to talk to the next-in-line recommended cardiologist at West Lake because Dr. Panilio wasn’t an accredited physician by Caritas.


I was honest enough to the West Lake doctor—who happened to know Dr. Panlilio as a colleague at the Chinese General Hospital—that I already found new doctor.


On the eve of March 11, I billeted at Sogo Hotel in Cubao so that I wouldn’t be late on my blood test early in the morning the following day. Anyway, the treadmill was scheduled in the afternoon.


There were already reports of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines at the time but not yet proclaimed as a pandemic.


At the OPD of PHCA, I applied for the Caritas procedure. From the windows, I saw and heard an apparent higher up that “we are locked down” as if she was frenzied.


At the blood extraction room, meanwhile, the med tech who was assigned to me quipped: “Why aren’t you in face mask. We have a COVID case here.” She gave me a surgical face mask—the blue and while combine with a thin metal strip. I wore it once. But before I went to the OPD I stayed long before a bulletin board to read some announcements. I noticed that the guards were strict in trafficking the people.


In the afternoon, I did my treadmill. It was like an exhaustive calisthenics I did the previous day at home. According to the doctor in tow: “Nalagpasan naman po ninyo ‘yong limit. Kaya lang babasahin pa rin po ito ni Dr. PanIilio (You were able to pass the limit but Dr. Panlilio will still interpret this),” smiled the lady doctor.


I was supposed to claim the results the following day, March 13, but there was no medical clinics anymore as Metro Manila and other places were preparing for community quarantine already as the COVID-19 was declared pandemic.


Until now the results of my treadmill hasn’t been read and advised by Dr. Panlilio whom I don’t know what happened. There was no advisory on me as I suffered anxieties and worries about its results.


I just let it be.




Photo Credits: World Heart Federation, Madison County Emergency Management and Guangzhou MeCan Medical Limited

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