My scary ordeal

Join Expat Island

Hello friends, you haven’t heard from me for a while, several weeks now. Some of you who are friends on Facebook know what’s been going on, but probably most readers here don’t know. I have been very, very sick. I’m not completely better yet, but I’m on the mend, and feeling a lot better. It all started on Sunday, February 16th.  Let me tell you more.

Sunday morning

I woke up this morning and my right thumb was a little bit painful, I’m not sure why, but I didn’t really feel it was too big of a deal. I went on about business as usual.

Monday morning

Spider - was he the culprit?

Spider – was he the culprit?

This morning when I woke up, my thumb was a little more painful than it was yesterday. Still not terrible, but more painful. On Monday mornings, I often have coffee with a couple of friends, one of whom is a doctor from Israel. I told him about my thumb, and ask him to take a look. I told him that I thought I might have a spider bite, but could not really see a bite on the skin, that’s just how it felt. He confirmed that it was probably some kind of insect bite, but didn’t think it too serious, but told me to keep a close eye on it for a few days.

Tuesday morning

When I woke up this morning, I was seriously ill. I wasn’t sure if it was connected to the bite, or whatever it was, but I was really sick. Within a couple hours after waking up, my sickness was just getting worse and worse, honestly, I did not know if I was going to live through the day or not.

Being the stubborn person that I am when it comes to medical, I wouldn’t go to the hospital, but I decided to just rest in bed for the day and see how I felt. As expected, that didn’t really help much.

US Citizenship for child

Subsequent mornings

I was really feeling terrible, and  over the next few days a few symptoms occurred that made it appear that I probably had a stroke. I knew it was now time to see a doctor, no matter what.

I started making arrangements to go down to General Santos City where my doctor is, the one who took care of me when I had a stroke in 2001. However, I found out that she was not available at the time, and it would be a week before I could see her again , so I knew I had to make other arrangements. Through a recommendation from a friend I found a doctor here in Davao that I thought might be good for this particular incident.

Visit with the doctor

I've been sick

I’ve been sick

I went in to the doctor, explained my medical history, and told him of my current event and my worries about possibly having had a stroke. He really put my mind at ease, when he immediately told me that I had not had a stroke. He told me that I had a very serious infection just under my skin, it started in one of my hands, my right hand, and spread to my other arm and hand as well. He told me that the condition was very, very serious, and that it had most likely started from a bug bite, which is what I had thought originally.

Over the past couple weeks of working with my new doctor to help me feel better, I’ve visited him many times, went in for a lot of different laboratory tests and just about anything you could think of medically. The good news is, I’m on the mend. The bad news, the doctor said it might be another week even two weeks before I’m fully better. I can’t type but I do have a little more use of my arms and hands now than I did before.

Overall, I’m feeling much better, but still very weak.

The lesson

In the 14 years that I’ve lived in the Philippines, I’ve had three major illnesses.

In 2001 I had a stroke. In 2009 I had dengue fever.  Now I’m going through this bug bite infection.

Did you notice something? Two out of three of those illnesses were caused by bug bites.

Things that seem inconsequential, like a bug bite, can become very serious if you live in the tropics, like the Philippines. If you get bit by a bug, or get some kind of cut or scrape, you need to treat it. If you don’t treat it, you might die. If you don’t die, you can still get very, very sick. I feel lucky that I’ve made it through this.

I’m going to be writing more about this ordeal on my personal website in coming weeks, as I’m feeling better. I want to share a little more about my illness, and the things I’ve learned and things that I’ve also remembered over my life here that are related to this type of incident.

For now though, suffice it to say that I’m feeling better, not a hundred percent, but I’m on my way there. Thanks for all the thoughts, prayers, and well wishes that you shared with me on Facebook and other venues over the last few weeks.

Post Author: MindanaoBob (941 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

Author Info


  1. says

    Hey Bob! WOW! You’ve been through the ringer! I hope and pray you feel better soon! I’ll catch up with you about what we discussed earlier. God Bless!!!!!

  2. says

    That’s awesome! Bob, I want to be descreet here outside of Messaging, but I’ve got some info I’ll send you. I’ll be taking on your services, but have to figure something out on this end! :)

  3. says

    I know why I am reacting “special” facing creepy crawlies, since my trips to Down Under I know almost everything can kill you. Even my dog a GSD was killed last year by a blood parasite transmitted by ticks. The same species was killing US Army dogs in the Vietnam war.

  4. says

    Bob, I PM’d you with another message in addition to that info I sent. Let’s see if we can hammer something out. :) Gotta run! Been selling my stuff and preparing for my move. Lots of work ahead of me!

  5. says

    Glad you are feeling better Bob..bugs…. I sent Feyma Bayoy Martin prayers and best wishes for you.
    When I was in Camiguin in 2013, I saw a tiny centipede on my clothes that were hung to dry. I just flicked it outside and that was that. That night my entire body turned red and I bloated. My skin looked like the outside of an orange – but red. My entire body was itchy. Went to the doctor and gave me over the counter benadryl.
    And I also fell 3 steps on my one storey house.. I cracked a rib.
    To make story short, I got very scared while in the Philippines.
    I travelled home to the US with long pants, long sleeve shirt covering the redness all over my body. I prayed that I wouldnt itch during the entire flight.
    I arrived at LAX. My son dropped me off at Kaiser Emergency. They had me on a drip of Benadryl and finally relief…
    I love the Philippines but I do worry about medical help..especially in Camiguin.
    I cancelled my July trip.
    I am going again next month…

  6. Lenny says

    Got a buddy o mine here who got bitten … next thing you know he has a dime size hole in his skin…Gave him some silver and honey and he improved great deal after 2-3 days but nevertheless it was scary…

  7. says

    good your recovering. i was strangely ill once too but i’m not sure why. i was only in country for 3 weeks. went to the little hospital in Samal and the doc just put me on some allergy type pills and medicated eye drops.

  8. John Weeks says

    Adding to the pile.. Good to see you’re on the road to recovery. I had wondered about your absence and am happy to see that you came out ok. We have little ones and we constantly worry about the bug bites and infections. Take Care!

  9. corey says

    Nice to hear you are doing better. I won’t lecture you Young Man LOL, but NOTHING should ever be taken for granted in the Philippines with illness. With the high level of expertise here, and the very low cost of getting medical help, you should have been at Davao Doc on Monday and Tuesday at the latest. Ok 20/20 LOL Anyway glad you are better. Hey, out of curiosity, did you lose a large amount of weight during this time. When I had my heart Attack in 2005 here I lost an amazing 50lbs. in six days going from 200 to 160. Just curious.

  10. Bob New York says

    Hi Bob,
    I am glad the problem has been identified and you are on the mend. I always bring a pump bottle of ” Off ” brand ” deep woods ” insect repellent that contains 25% Deet , when I come to visit. I think for someone that lives there though a daily dousing with this stuff would not be the best thing either over a period of time.

    It is good to hear about the favorable medical treatment you got there in Davao. After my hospital experience in 2012 in Iligan City, I am convinced that there are some very good medical and hospital services available in The Philippines at a very modest cost. At least now you have found one of those places local to you.

    Best wishes for the remainder of your recovery.

  11. Dirk says


    Glad you are on the road to recovery. I was very sick and hospitalized in Roxas City as a result of bacteria entering a wound on my foot. I was down and out for almost a month. What I learned was cipro(antibiotics) is now with me on every trip for just in case….

  12. Richard R says

    Hi Bob. You have had a very scary experience. I am glad that you are recovering after getting good medical treatment. Thank you for sharing your experience with your readers. It is important to know that these things can happen, and to get treatment as soon as possible. Hope you make a full recovery.

  13. joein MI says

    Hey Bob!
    You didnt tell us how the spider is doing!!!!

    Just kidding. Glad you’re on the mend. Love reading articles here on LIP.


  14. Jay says

    Hi Bob,

    I am glad you are feeling better! I am the same way about doctors and not wanting to go. I think it is a guy thing; something to do with testesterone. My wife has been bugging me for years to get a check up and I finally went and it turns out my cholesterol is way high. My dad had his first heart attack when he was 51 and I am 48 now..Anyway get well soon!

    God bless!


  15. Murray says

    Bob, a good post. You have to be so careful with insect bites in the Philippines. I ignored one and ended up with cellulitus up my right leg. A week in hospital on IV antibiotics. Now I carry antibiotic ointment every where I go.

  16. Danimal says

    Bob, I’ve been reading your posts for a long time, and I think this might be the first time I’ve posted. You wrote, and I quote:

    Within a couple hours after waking up, my sickness was just getting worse and worse, honestly, I did not know if I was going to live through the day or not.

    Being the stubborn person that I am when it comes to medical, I wouldn’t go to the hospital (snip)

    So you weren’t sure if you were going to live through the day or not, but you weren’t willing to go to a hospital? I’m not a medical professional, but I’m pretty sure that’s a symptom of being a dumbass. You’ve got a wife and 4 great kids relying on you. Plus I like reading what you write. So please consider Cromwell’s Rule: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken”. Or, to paraphrase, “don’t be a dumbass, dude!”

  17. marjorie says

    Pleased to hear you are on the mend and hope you are soon back in full health.

    Regarding cockroaches, I have never seen any one move so quick as my daughter-in-law when she sees one, Its dead within seconds. She hates them.

  18. says

    Like everyone else we are glad you feel better, I looked up cellulitis and you seem to be very fortunate. If you could write about what to carry in a first aid in in tropics it may help others.

    God speed and good health
    Fe and Jerry

  19. John Heitz says

    Good to hear you are recovering. I wonder how many people get bite and sick like you, especially kids. So many times one hears of people getting something and the doctors do not know what it is. They maybe insect bites of some kind. Insect do carry and transmit many diseases. I bet your experience and this article will save some peoples lives in the future.

  20. Gerry says

    Sorry to hear that you have been unwell. Really do hope that you soon get back to being fighting fit.

    Will be making my first trip to the Philippines & Davao in September. Started to get my jabs and inoculations, reading about your miss fortunes has stopped me from moaning about having all these jabs.
    Hope to meet you in September if you are up for it.

  21. john cates says

    Hi bob, sorry to hear of your recent illness, and do hope you get well soon our prayers are with you. when I go to the Philippines I only take mosquito spray. I have been back about around 8 times with the wife and kids, I am 65 and never have bothered with any injections I know there are so many awful bugs around, but I try to be as careful and aware as much as possible and thank god I have never had a problem. but it is at night when they all come out the wood work and you are most vunreable. I expect that is what happened to you bob. any how take good care of your self mate.
    regards, john (west of Ireland)

  22. Don says

    In Jan, a very good friend of ours died from blood poisoning he got while playing rugby. He scratched his foot and became infected. Turns out they irrigate the field with Pasig river water, which is basically raw sewage. Went on antibiotics and cleared up. About six months later, he had severe back pains and the doctors misdiagnosed and gave him pain killers. However, the pain was from his internal organs shutting down. They checked him into the hospital, but it was too late and he died 6 hours later. He left two great young daughters and a wife. He was an avid sportsman and pillar of the Aussie community in Manila. Will be sorely missed.

    If you have any cuts, bits, scrapes, gotta treat it as soon as possible.

    Get well soon.

  23. Scott D says

    Glad to hear you are feeling better Bob. So it was a spider that bit you? If you do find it give it an extra wack for me, I hate spiders…..

  24. says

    After our chat the other day, a friend also told me that centipedes here are also dangerous….not sure if all are and I was quite amazed to be told that they can kill you if they crawl over you..not sure if its an old wives tale. ..have you heard of this?…..
    Ps glad you’re on the mend and look forward to.more information living here..

    Paul B

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *