Sunday, July 26, 2015

My optometrist



While convalescing from a bad case of flu (upper respiratory tract infection, probably viral, if I should document that in my chart), I headed to my optometrist to get an eye exam and a new pair of glasses. It has been a while since my last visit—three years ago, when I was still a medical student. Now with long, black-brown hair but still brimming with a hippie vibe, she remembered me fondly, telling me, while checking her index cards, that she started seeing me in 2005. I was around 17 then, majoring in molecular biology, when I could still see my feet clearly sans the spectacles. These days, you could strip yourself naked right before me, and I wouldn’t recognize a thing.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

July so far

I'VE BEEN stationed at the Charity Wards since July. I'm sharing and annotating some photos taken randomly during my stay there.

Interns from Services 3 (where I've been assigned since, believe it or not, clerkship) and 6. They look fresh in this photo despite monitoring our patients nonstop.

July 2015 Charity Ward rotation

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Aga Muhlach

We rarely get patients with Down’s syndrome. This month I’ve been taking care of a patient with such condition; he is already 35 years old. His mother, in her early seventies, still looks after him. She cleans after him, changes his diaper, doesn’t mind that his feces has soiled the sheets, and makes sure he doesn’t fall off the bed. He has gotten better since his admission, and we plan to send him home in a day or two, God-willing.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Pile

The nurse at the Out-Patient Clinic alerted me that I had a long list of patients to see. My pile was extraordinarily tall. Some charts were as thick as my books, brimming with paper made fragile and yellow by time. I was running late. I should have started seeing patients at 1 PM—it was already 10 minutes past two. I was also attending to one of my admitted patients whose course was getting complicated by the day. I couldn’t be at two places all at once, so there I was: sweaty and hungry and ready to save lives, one patient at a time.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

This is what our world has become

THE LEGALIZATION of same-sex marriage in all of the United States is the biggest news these days. It didn't come as a surprise that it happened at all—that the Supreme Court would issue a decision so final about an issue so divisive—but when I saw the news, my heart was filled with sadness. So this is what our world has become.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

James Salter, 90


Photo by Jill Krementz, published in the NYT.

JAMES SALTER has died. He was 90. Considered a writer's writer and the "greatest writer you've never read," he has written novels, short stories, and essays that have brought me delight and inspiration. Not a lot of people, even avid readers, know about him. His books are a rarity in bookstores. I only find them in thrift or second-hand shops.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Happy 25th birthday, Sean!

WE CELEBRATED Sean's birthday yesterday at our favorite ramen place.

Happy birthday, Sean!

Domesticated


Luther and Mau. Photo by Mike Tan, not the UP Diliman chancellor. 

TWO MONTHS ago I hurriedly finished my rounds to catch a quick bus ride to Tagaytay. My dear friends, Luther Caranguian and Maureen Estacio, were getting married in a few hours, and I couldn't afford to be late. I was part of the entourage as one of the groom's men, which explained why I was in a white polo barong, carrying a well-made wedding invitation with the couple's caricature in the cover. If you had sat beside me on the bus, you would have noticed that I intermittently looked at the address, complete with the exact latitude and longitude (Luther's suggestion, I'm sure), lest I get lost. I knew it was going to be held at Sonya's Garden, a beautiful events place that serves flowers for salad. The dressing, I would later discover, would be heavenly.The wedding was to start after lunch. It was almost 11:30 AM. My friends, especially the ones who brought their cars, were already there.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pregnant

Roddy Doyle's The Snapper

THE SNAPPER, Roddy Doyle's second novel in the Barrytown trilogy, is about a middle-class family in Dublin trying to cope with an unexpected pregnancy of the 23-year old daughter, Sharon. Living up to his title as the virtuoso of casual, conversational dialogue; Doyle spins a masterful tale about the noisy Rabbitte family. They almost sound like the typical Filipino family—so bonded together that someone's business becomes everyone else's.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Meditations on a fine, cloudy morning

I WAKE up to a cloudy morning—a little cold but not hot, like most mornings the past months. It rained last night. The soil has been dry, the air extremely humid, and the people irritable—we needed the rain. The room is dark and quiet, save for the clickety-clack I make on my keyboard. I haven't drawn my curtains yet. In a few minutes I will head to the bathroom, don my stethoscope, and make rounds. I have a few ECGs to read, too, so I mustn't forget that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bedside friends

ON MY BEDSIDE (and study) table are books that keep me company at night. When I have reached my daily quota for human interaction for the day, I retire to my bedroom and read my books, one of the few moments when I'm quiet.

Sagip is featured in this month's Health and Lifestyle magazine

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MY ARTICLE on Sagip Buhay Medical Foundation is featured in the June May issue of Health and Lifestyle magazine. Many thanks to Abi Roxas for giving me the chance to write for Sagip, a go-to place for us, internists, when we're faced with patients who have absolutely nothing inside their pockets. Grab a copy, and learn how you can help our patients at the Philippine General Hospital.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Get the green one

Green

THIS PESTO-FLAVORED ramen is proof that weird food combinations work, like tomato ketchup + soy sauce, or banana + peanut butter. Never mind that it looks like vomitus; it's a work of gastronomical art. I will keep coming back.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Investment

Excited by the new Harrison's edition, the way only books can excite me.

HERE'S the first personal investment for I had for my career: the new edition of Harrison's, the ultimate textbook in Internal Medicine, the source of most of our monthly exam questions, the reason why I am now Php 5,700 poorer.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Ode to our clerks and interns

I REMEMBER the morning when I did rounds earlier than usual. I am a morning person, and I like the peace and quiet of the wards at 6 am, still devoid of the usual crowd of fellows and residents looking for the same charts. I saw one of my clerks pushing our patient's stretcher. I learned that he came in at 5 am to make sure the patient didn't miss the cranial CT scan schedule. I was so moved by his dedication, realizing I wasn't like that at all when I was a medical student.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

At night, when everyone is asleep

24-hour shift at the Pay Wards

WHILE CATCHING my breath after two flights of stairs, I looked out the window from the 7th Floor and saw the Central Block Atrium from a distance. I have come to terms with the fact that my life will never be the same as everyone else's. Whereas the rest of humanity sleeps and dreams around this time, I wander along the dimly lit corridors of the Philippine General Hospital, shooing away the angel of death by making sure the patients are all chest pain-free, able to breathe optimally, their hearts still beating, ready to face the new day. The life of a doctor is almost poetic.

Uno

I HAD THE privilege of finally dining at Uno, a small, quiet restaurant in Tomas Morato. It looked like one of the hang out places I saw in Amsterdam: intimate, dimly lit and inviting, devoid of noisy crowds fresh from the office or school.

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Just him

JUST HEARD the news. My brother, Sean, qualified for the Oral Surgery externship program of the UP - PGH Dentistry Department. Praise be to God! He took a qualifying exam, both theoretical and practical, and underwent an interview. Sean! An interview! My brother refuses to speak a word of English when we're together, probably to distinguish himself from his articulate and pretentious—sometimes, overly so—brothers, so it's both a relief for me to know he made it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Waiting on God

“Make me know Thy ways, O Lord;
Teach my Thy paths.
Lead me in Thy truth and teach me,
For Thou art the God of my salvation;
For Thee I wait all the day.”—Psalm 25:4-5

King David's plea shows how desperately needful he was of knowing more about God and seeking His will. It is as if without God's direction, he, already the most powerful man in Israel, couldn't do much else. David was expectant, looking forward to hearing God's words and decrees, knowing fully well that it is “Thy truth.”

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Daily


Quiet spot at the Philippine General Hospital.

The month of May has passed me by. While I charted my patients at the ward; my brother Ralph turned 30, my parents came over to visit, a friend got married, and the world moved on. I suppose I have finally adjusted to the Life in Training, a tough road that began with the acceptance that I cannot do it alone. Apart from God's strength, I am nothing.