On bed rest

I'm on bed rest. For the past three days, I've nursed fever, itchy throat, and joint pains. These are typical flu-like symptoms, so this morning, I went to the University Health Service to have a check-up.

It turned out pretty well; the doctor didn't find enough symptoms to suspect swine flu. He prescribed paracetamol for my fever and Vitamin C to boost my immune system. (This is interesting because just last year, I wrote an article for the college paper that an overwhelming number of studies indicate that Vitamin C does nothing to help someone's recovery).

On top of that, the doctor advised me to rest for the day. This is what partly irritated me--not that I'm sick, but that I'll be missing class. The prospect of lying in bed, waiting for the next five hours to take my pill, and doing absolutely nothing, when I could have voiced my heart out in the class discussions, was too painful.

But as I lie cozily in bed, waiting for the medicine to take its toll, I'm reminded that everything happens for a reason. I also realize I have many things to be thankful for. My parents have been texting me to ask for updates as to how I'm doing. My classmates have asked me if I could make it to the exam tomorrow.

If it's so easy for me to thank the Lord for good health, why can't I do the same during times of infirmity? After all, He intends the best for me. I know something good will come out of this.

Summer reading list

I've had plenty of time during the break, much of which I've spent catching up on my reading. These are the books I've finished recently:

1. Going Public With Your Faith by William Carr Peel and Walt Larimore. Locally published by OMF Literature, the book stresses the importance of being witnesses of Christ in the workplace. The authors argue that effective evangelism can be accomplished by daily living for Christ at work. It exposes the pervading scenario of Christians living dual, often irreconcilable lives (1) at work and (2) in church.

The main idea is that, as working people, our ministry is our work. The book progresses by showing the general steps of effective evangelism. I'm glad to say, however, that the authors didn't miss out, but in fact stressed, that genuine conversion is solely God's work. The gospel presented is also Biblical and is not watered down.

While most, if not all, of the examples in the book are for American readers, the principles are the same. This book has personally been a great encouragement to me, and I highly recommend it. (Thanks for the book, Maridel!)

2. Night by Elie Wiesel. It's a tragic personal account of a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp. As a young Jewish boy, Elie Wiesel was forced to work in the camp with his father. During those darkest moments of history, he witnessed the death of his family and the loss of his innocence. Many times in the book, he struggled with the existence of God. If God did exist, why did He allow this much suffering?

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He wrote:

"This day I had ceased to plead. I was no longer capable of lamentation. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone—terribly alone in a world without God and without man. Without love or mercy. I had ceased to be anything but ashes . . . ."
This is among the saddest books I've read thus far. Don't read this when you're depressed.

3. Fatelessness by Imre Kertész. It's also about a young boy, this time a Hungarian Jew, who was also detained in several German concentration camps: in Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Zeitz. The account is masterfully written by this Nobel laureate—a bit detached and more detailed than Night, but nevertheless just as powerful. It ends with perplexing questions brought about by a man's struggle to explain why some things happen in this world:

"Why did they not wish to acknowledge that if there is such a thing as fate, then freedom is not possible? If, on the other hand—I swept on, more and more astonished with myself, steadily warming to the past—if there is such a thing as freedom, then there is no fate—and I paused, but only long enough to catch my breath—that is to say, then we ourselves are fate . . . ."


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4. Saturday by Ian McEwan. This is the first of McEwan's novels that I've read, and I couldn't put it down. It's a fictional account of the life of a neurosurgeon (of all professions!) on one fateful Saturday. I'm amazed at the author's ingenious skill at telling many stories, beginning with the smallest of details, then telling a different story altogether, without being detached from the original one. He does this with unparalleled fluidity.

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The book is also well-researched, full of medical jargon that will excite soon-to-be doctors, a major reason why I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's very . . . inspiring.

5. Black by Ted Dekker. This is the first book in the trilogy (Black, Red, and White). A man lives in two different realities. When he sleeps in our world, he dreams of being in another world—a paradise established in the future. But he isn't just dreaming: his dream is actually another reality. When he sleeps in that reality, he is transported into the present reality; so, in effect, he never really gets to sleep. The twist is when he learns of a virus that's about to be released on earth that would wipe out the entire human race. He realizes that the two realities do have a connection, and so he does everything to stop that virus from being released.

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It's exciting to read because there are many Christian undertones: the story of creation, the sovereignty of God, and the believer's delight in his/her Maker. The novel's main character also grew up in Manila, so expect to read of allusions to Philippine culture and living. The book is fast-paced and incredibly funny. Ted Dekker is a creative story-teller.

6. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel by Susanna Clarke. Adjudged as Time Magazine's Book of the Year in 2004, the book is a story of two magicians (from whose names the title was derived) who resurrected magic in England. The book is thick but nevertheless full of interesting characters, my favorite of which is John Uskglass, the Raven King. Don't forget to read the footnotes because they're funny. Clarke has woven quite a story here, with interconnected characters and ingenious magical applications.

Seeking medical attention in a local health center

I went to a local health center in Quezon City for a school assignment. The instructions were: dress simply, pretend you're a patient, and seek medical help.

The queue was rather long, the place already crowded even before the clinic opened. But, having come from UP, where people line up for days to pay for tuition, I was not to be discouraged. After asking further directions, I was instructed to go to another clinic, and upon arriving, I got a number. I should be called in a few moments, said the nurse.

I talked with people beside me. A lady was bitten by a dog on her finger. This was the second time she was getting anti-rabies injections. A teen, accompanied by his worried mother, was also bitten by a dog. Knowing something about rabies, after having been harassed by wretched dogs myself (thrice, I tell you!), I asked them if these supposedly rabid canines showed weird behavior. They were intently listening, and I sensed in them a need for some assurance that things will be well in the end.

It then occurred to me that somehow, I was in the wrong line again. The people around me were getting anti-rabies shots, and what was my supposed complaint?

A small, inconspicuous wart in my index finger.

On hindsight, I should've dressed like this and sought psychiatric help.

Rock star

Prelude to medicine

Nothing prepares you for med school—or so my friends say. Regardless of what undergrad course you took, you won’t have it easy. It’s clearly a new chapter in life, coupled with dramatic changes so that life is never the same again.

I’ve finally moved in to my new apartment, about three blocks from the College of Medicine. Not exactly a stone’s throw away, but enough to save me jeepney fare. I’m rooming with Monch, a friend and blockmate from MBB, and he’s about three years younger—about the same age as Sean—but a thousand times bigger. Imagine that: Timon and Pumbaa. I’m still waiting for Kuya Don to hand in his study table; otherwise, we’re pretty much settled.

I did write about handing Slowpoke, my trusted desktop, to my kid brother. Which means, of course, that I won’t have internet in the new place. There’s wisdom in that, I guess. During my undergrad, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in front of the internet, not for academic purposes but, mostly, for leisurely pursuits. That time could’ve been spent on reading the Bible, studying, or finishing a good book.

That means that the blog entries will be sparse. I won’t be able to immediately respond to the emails. And that’s rather unfortunate, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to take.

Yesterday was the orientation. In the morning, we were briefed on the curriculum, rules, and policies. After what seemed like an overwhelming session—with all the scared, excited reactions of some parents who attended—we were treated to a sumptuous lunch of curry and barbecue.

We were toured along the UP Manila campus, about a fraction of the Diliman’s size with a decimated amount of vegetation. But it was fun. I also got the chance to meet my groupmates, hailing from different UP campuses. They were mostly biology majors, with some polite kids from the Intarmed program.

So far, I’ve had a rich experience. But, as Kuya Dennis told me, “Enjoy it while it lasts.” O, may the Lord see me through. Clearly I can't do this without Him.