Saturday, August 18, 2018

On Mon Tulfo's diatribe at the PGH Emergency Room

The news of Mon Tulfo berating a tired Emergency Medicine resident made my blood boil. Nurses were talking about it when I made rounds yesterday, which was how I had learned about the incident. The journalist Tulfo brought a child who sustained minor injuries to the Philippine General Hospital's Emergency Department; the child was assessed at the Triage and was deemed a non-emergent case. The child was therefore not immediately attended to. Mon Tulfo lashed out invectives, and official accounts report that he even showed the physician the middle finger--all these, while the event was recorded illegally through a camera phone. Many issues surface here--patient privacy, physician-shaming, and so on--and if there's one good lesson to come out of this, it is that you never attack people mindlessly just because you're a media personality.

The issue of rendering service equitably comes to the fore. PGH medical personnel are called to serve the ill and dying, and we do so gladly, passionately, with all our hearts and minds and, when tough times come (and they do come often), even our pockets, even if we're discouraged, nay, forbidden to. How can we muster the strength to not spare our money to pay for mechanical ventilation just so our patients can avail of this life-saving intervention? How many times have we acted, not merely as physicians, but as social workers: looking for sources of funds so our patients get better and stronger? To deliver the best medical care to the steady influx of patients, we need to prioritize who needs help the most the soonest. This was the process that the child injured by Mon Tulfo's car went through: an evidence-based, pragmatic, and effective system called the triage. This was the process that Mon Tulfo, in a horrifying display of hysteria triggered by an inordinate supply of self-importance, wanted to bypass. 

So this is why the Mon Tulfo incident strikes a chord among my colleagues: it is a mockery of our daily struggles against sickness worsened, and even caused, by poverty. We do not have a shortage of compassion in the hospital, even if our hospital beds overflow with occupants. Mon Tulfo's outburst was a short-sighted, anger-laden, ignorant, uncouth diatribe. It is people like him who make our work harder than it already is.

But we carry on.

Friday, August 17, 2018

God's sovereignty and suffering

Cameron Cole on the sovereignty of God and the death of his child.

For me, one of the most comforting things in surviving and recovering from the death of my child was knowing that God was completely and fully in control in his death. Before he created the world, my God had marked the number of days that my son would live.

That means that his life was complete. That means that his death was not random; it was not accidental. That means that it has meaning and purpose.

And it also means that God is in control of my redemption and my healing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Monday, August 13, 2018

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Saturday, August 11, 2018

New day, new coffee

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I love how the coffee maker mimics the sound of quiet thunder whenever I make a fresh brew at 5 am. I never have much use for alarm clocks, but this ritual of coffee making is part of my slow, graded, and gradual ascent to total wakefulness. Praise be to God for a new day.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Old friends

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Tears come to me in moments that surprise me: seeing a father walking his kid to school, hearing a blind man sing an old kundiman, and, this afternoon after work, reading Justice Antonin Scalia's eulogy for his friend, Martin Feinstein, then first executive director of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Justice Scalia said:

"It is with the greatest curse of advancing years that our world contracts, as friends who cannot be replaced, with insights into life that are not elsewhere available to us, leave us behind."

His speeches, compiled in the book, Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well-lived, reveal the brilliant mind of a kind person who loved his country, family, faith, and friends. I finished this collection today, after a grueling day at the clinics, with so many patients hoping for another day to dawn. Perhaps this is why I don't mind these packed train rides: I get lost in my thoughts and prayers and books, and in those precious minutes of wrestling with my thoughts and conversing with God and making sense of words in my Kindle, I find rest.

Something dawned on me, too, as I read of Justice Scalia's account of William Howard Taft, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln—excellent leaders who propelled the United States into what she is now (but, as Justice Scalia pointed out, they were not just leaders but above all good men). It is that we lack leaders to whom we can look up to, leaders who inspire and not just command. I don't think we fall short of these kinds of men and women in this country; perhaps they're not just part of this government.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Readings on reading

Michael Dirda on small presses:

All of which said, I want to make a pitch for some works you aren’t likely to find in your local bookstore, no matter how extensive its holdings: small-press titles. In recent years, as trade houses increasingly gravitate to wholly commercial “product,” specialty publishers and independent presses have risen up to make available wonderful books, real books, of all kinds. Let me stress that I’m not talking about those generic print-on-demand titles, most of which are bare-bones ugly and little better than photocopies bound in bland paper wraps. Nor am I talking about self-published work, so much in the news these days. No, I’m thinking of legitimate small publishers with a mission to bring neglected authors back into print and to produce the kind of books that dreams are made of.

His column, Browsings, in the American Scholar is a delight
to read. Reading about reading is makes me want to read more. I just got myself of a copy of the book which is a compilation of his blog pieces.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

My colleagues at the Cancer Institute



This was snapped after an evening lecture, just minutes before our karaoke stint. It amazes me that doctors who work with cancer patients are among the funniest. I count it a great blessing to work with these kind people. They share my fascination for newly approved drugs by the FDA for this or that neoplasm, and they take lunch time orders for cold Serenitea to take the stress and heat off crowded clinic days.

From left: (1) Rich King (his real name; read my post on weird names of my classmates in med school), who sang heartfelt renditions of Michael Bublé and U2. (2) Bobby de Guzman (his real name, too), whose Basang-Basa sa Ulan was a riot—a mashup of L. A. Lopez and Adele. (3) Roger Velasco, who channeled Ariel Rivera. (4) Fred Ting, who knew S2pid Love by heart, and whose repertoire was mostly Filipino rock, which is great to listen to. (5) Ozzie So, who channeled Rihanna. (4) Pau Vergara, the singer that he is, moved us with his Hanggang by Wency Cornejo. (5) Crizzy Uy, guest speaker (a private joke), who also liked old songs, like those of Leonel Richie. This is amazing because she's the youngest in the group. (6) Norm Cabaya, who gave a soulful interpretation of Tootsie Guevara's Kaba! Our song choices dated us. Don't you agree with me that after the 90s, the quality of songs have mostly gone downhill?
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