self sacrifice

a filipino overseas foreign worker was found dead inside the lavatory of a ‘gulf air’ plane the other day. that plane is the same one i take every time i go home for days off. i read he took his own life while the plane was preparing to land in manila, using a ‘clothing article’ to asphyxiate himself by hanging.

it is not easy being away from one’s family. here in the middle east, there are instances that one will be assigned for work remotely, with limited ways of communication. i have been working here in saudi arabia for five years and have seen co-workers who were in the brink of ‘losing’ it, specially when there are problems back home with their families.

i remember way back, my ma never tells my father who is also in saudi arabia any ‘bad news’ as much as possible. she even warns me and my siblings not to write or call about to him anything that might make him worry or make him sad because she said being away from us is already hard for him and it will just leave him feeling helpless. i followed my father’s footsteps of working here in the mideast, it was then that i appreciated my father more, for i clearly saw the sacrifice he did for our family.

i am thinking of the man on that plane. is it self-sacrifice or his last resort to escape? his exact reason no one will really know for he has brought it with him to his grave.


i really did not want to talk about it, but my therapist friend advised me to do so for it can help me a lot.  i told him then and he was right, in some way it helped me ease through that feeling i was having.  after a week of that tragic accident in my workplace i thought i’ll put in my blog what had happened.

i was awaken by loud pounding on my door, as i opened it i knew something was terribly wrong.  oscar, our derrickman was screaming “patay si mathew!” (“mathew is dead!”).  my heart was racing as i hurriedly put on my pants and my work boots and proceeded in my clinic which is in front of my room.  my hands knew what to take with me then i ran towards the rig.  i was midway going up in the stairs when i saw the driller and some of the crew with the stretcher going downstairs, with mathew on it. 

it was like a silent movie, in slow motion.  i looked at jeff, the driller, our eyes locked for a moment and i clearly understood what his eyes meant – mathew was gone, i felt tears welled up in my eyes as they carried him down.  i remember the practice stretcher drills that i regularly conduct with the crew at the rig floor, but this time it was for real.

we rushed him to the rig clinic, on the way i saw blood on his face and an open wound below his chin.  head and neck trauma.  he was unresponsive, no breathing.  i checked for pulse, nothing.  i started cardiopulmonary resuscitation with the aid of an automatic external defibrillator.  i did rescue breaths and  chest compressions – i rechecked for a pulse.  nothing.  i did this several times.

as we were on our way to the hospital, inside the ambulance i prayed to god, still hoping . . but i knew mathew was gone.  he was pronounced dead at the hospital.  the doctor told me he has been dead a few hours already and very likely died on the spot.

i felt so weak.  on the way back to the rig,  questions were running in my mind . . were there other ways that i could have done to save his life?  should i have done better? i did what i can, what i am capable of, was that enough?  then came in the question – do i really want to do this job?  can i still continue doing this?

i had a few days of sleepless nights, of waking up in the exact hour when i was awaken when the accident happened, of graphic images that haunted me.  lately, i have started to move on, returning on my usual self.

personally, i see  that the drilling rig is not exactly the right place to practice my chosen profession and to fully hone my skills as a paramedic, but i know there will come a time that i will really have the given opportunity.  i can wait.  for now the rig needs me so i will stay, temporarily.

in memory of mathew benchi abraham, 1974 – 2010.