This photo shows the tube attached to his bladder. | Photo from John Erick Fuentes

He moves around with a tube attached to his bladder, determined to make it through the painful ordeal amidst grinding poverty.

Joshua Garcia, a 31-year old farmer from Barangay Maytegued, Taytay, was an unfortunate victim of a freak accident — around seven years ago, he fell while working at the port of Liminangcong filling up docked vessels with fuel, seriously wounding his scrotum with a piece of metal key.

This photo shows the tube attached to his pancreas. | Photo from John Erick Fuentes

“Nahulog ako sa pier ng Liminangcong. Yung ari ko natusok ng susi ng bahay ng barracks namin. Straight isang linggo ang ihi ko dugo. Araw at gabi ang ihi ko dugo, naka-pampers ako lagi,” he said.

He said the key was dangling on his belt. When he fell on a bamboo chair, it pierced his scrotum, causing intense pain and bleeding.

The company that he was working for had him brought to the health center where he was prescribed medicine for a week of treatment. He stopped urinating blood but noticed that since the accident, urine discharge became irregular and painful.

The last time he consulted a doctor about his condition was in 2017, he remembered.

“Nagsara na ang sugat kaya ang catheter ay ayaw na pumasok sa pantog. Ang ginawa ng doktor ko d’yan sa Puerto ay binutas na lang ‘yong puson [ko] kasi sabi ng doktor ko, dalawang gabi na lang, puputok na ‘yong pantog ko,” he said.

Living with a catheter

As he couldn’t afford to travel back and forth to Puerto Princesa City for treatment, he would change his catheter every two weeks by himself or sometimes with the help of her live-in partner.

“Ako na lang ang nagpapalit, malayo rin ang Puerto (Princesa), balikan din at mahal ang pamasahe. Noong una ay nahirapan din ako pero nitong huli na ay nasanay na ang sarili ko, nilalakasan ko na lang ang loob ko, hindi rin puwede na palitan dito sa bayan ng Taytay, ayaw din nila palitan ‘yong catheter,” he said.

His condition has prevented him from any kind of work that required heavy physical exertion.

“Sa paggalaw ko, hindi na ako makabuhat ng mabibigat, hindi na ako makalakad tulad ng dati. Kapag nagtatrabaho ako, sobrang ingat ko talaga, iniingatan ko na hindi masabit, baka masabit ng mga kahoy-kahoy o ng kung anong dinadala ko. Mahirap, masakit, hindi na kagaya ng dati ang galaw ko,” he said.

Even after seven years, the wound is still painful whenever he would change his catheter, he said. He would struggle for the next three days every time he would change his tube, which he had to do twice a month.

“Kapag pinapalitan ko ito, hindi maiwasan na tatlong araw hindi ako makagalaw nang maayos. Hirap na hirap ako tumayo. Minsan dumudugo ito kapag pinalitan ko kapag pilit ko nilakad o magbuhat. Nandoon na rin ‘yong takot kapag pinapalitan pero matagal na rin ito sa katawan ko, nasanay na rin siguro ako. Lakas na rin ng loob pero sa huli, nandoon pa rin ‘yong kirot at sakit,” he said. 

“Kapag kumukuha ako ng kahoy, minsan nasasagi ito o kapag nagtatrabaho ako sa contruction, sumasabit. Kapag nabasa ‘yong tip ng pawis, natutulak ng ihi ‘yong catheter ko palabas, kusang nabubunot. Yong tape kapag nabasa ng pawis, wala na rin ‘yong dikit sa balat, lumuluwag ‘yong catheter kaya natutulak ng ihi. Kapag lumabas ‘yong catheter ko, binabalik ko na lang papasok sa sugat,” Joshua added.

To provide for his medical and personal needs, he has resorted to upland farming, selling cashew, and carpentry. He earns an average of P250 a day, barely enough for him and his partner to survive each single day.

Instead of paying P50 fare, he walks a kilometer from their island barangay to the barrio for work or when he needs to buy anything.

“Nag-a-arawan din ako. Kung anu-ano para lang magkaroon ako ng kita, panggastos sa amin. Ilang linggo na nga ako hindi nakakapasuhol sa tinatrabahuan ko kasi nagkakaingin din ako, wala rin ako pansuhol ako, ako lang nagtatrabaho mag-isa,” he said.

With his condition, Joshua is determined to endure the difficulty as he has no one to depend on for his needs. His partner sometimes sells cooked food in the barrio, but could not do it regularly as she is also short on cash for capitalization.

“Mababa rin ang presyo ng kasoy kaya hindi rin sasapat ‘yon sa (pangangailangan) ng tao. Maigi-igi na lang sa amin na wala kaming anak pero sa pang-araw-araw namin, kahit sa pang-ulam lang, araw-araw, kung wala talaga pambili ng ulam, sardinas, noodles. Minsan nag-uulam na lang ako ng biscuits, kailangan tiisin,” he said.

Raising money for the operation

Joshua said that his operation could have been done years ago if only he had the money.

“Maooperahan na sana ako kaso kulang pera namin, hinihingian kami ng P10,000 na pang-down. Sa pambili na nga lang ng ulam, pamasahe pabalik-balik. Si nanay nga naglakad na lang papuntang kapitolyo at pabalik sa provincial (Ospital ng Palawan) dahil wala nang pampamasahe,” he said.

He said he needs to raise at least P100,000 for his operation alone, excluding the cost of medicine.

“May hulugan din kami na ilaw. Kapag may pera, naba-budget-budget din pambili ng pangangailangan dito sa kusina, gamit sa katawan. Iyong sugat ko ngayon ay magaling na rin sa ibabaw, sa loob lang ‘yong delikado, may nakaumang na catheter sa sugat. Sa ibabaw, ayos lang, hindi rin naman lumalaki ‘yong sugat,” he said.

Every two weeks, he spends over P200 to change his catheter and buy the needed medical supplies.

“Bawat dalawang linggo palit ako pero minsan wala talagang pambili. Binibili ko lahat itong catheter, urine bag at itong gamot. Minsan wala rin ako pera kaya minsan ‘yong catheter ko ay nililinis ko na lang, binabalik ko lang uli. Ito nga ngayon, mag-iisang buwan na hindi ko na napapalitan,” he said.

Some of his friends, witnesses to his daily struggles, have been trying to help him solicit funds for his treatment.

“Naaawa kami dahil sa hirap ng buhay nila, ‘yong bahay nila ay hindi na mapalagyan ng pawid. Ang nilalagay nila ay ‘yong balat ng kape, sinusuksok nila sa bubong nila para hindi magtulo,” her friend May Ann told Palawan News.

Recently, Fr. Roderick Caabay from Taytay but based in Culion also posted Joshua’s condition on social media to help raise the money for his operation.

Dreams

Joshua said there are many things he wanted to do if he will be given the chance to undergo an operation and get rid of his catheter. He still dreams of finishing his on-the-job training on Food and Beverage Services so he could find a better job.

“Marami akong plano, marami akong gusto matapos, maabot. Marami akong pangarap. Mag-OJT nga sana ako kaso nahiya ako, napasahan ko ang pagwi-waiter sa TESDA kasi ‘yong ang medyo magaan-gaan. May catheter na ako, noong 2017 lang ako nag-aral ng TESDA, tinitiis ko, nahihiya ako pero nandon na ako, naka-enroll na ako. Nilalakasan ko lang loob ko sa tulong na rin ng mga kaklase at teacher ko,” he said.

“Gusto ko sana na makita ng marami na gusto makatulong, malaking tulong ‘yon sa akin, pasasalamatan ko iyon sa ganitong hirap na dinaranas ko,” he said.

Those who would like to extend their financial support to Joshua may send any amount of help through his friend Erick’s GCash Account (John Erick Fuentes) —  09954497022.

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is one of the junior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.