Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In sickness and in health

The old couple, probably in their late 60's, enter the clinic with a slow, hunched gait. Both have gray hair, wrinkled skin, and false teeth. The wife is the cheerful one. Meanwhile the husband is impatient and irritable, occasionally verbalizing his emotions so loudly the entire world hears it.

She flashes a big smile for us as she puts a heavy plastic bag on the table. The bag contains all her husband's medicines, prescriptions, and laboratory results. They're here for follow-up.

"Umupo ka lang muna diyan. Ako na ang bahala dito [Just sit there first. I'll take care of this]," she says to him, wiping the sweat on his face with a clean towel. She does it like a loving, doting wife. She has been doing this for years now.  They make an interesting pair.

"That's the kind of wife you should be looking for," I tell my classmates beside me.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Extended holiday—how I'm doing so far

It's 12:30 am, and I'm listening to Big Daddy Weave's Everytime I Breathe album. I like how the songs were written. The melodies are soothing.

Yesterday I accompanied my brother to a nearby mall for dinner. It was raining hard; I would've preferred to stay home, but it was going to be a long break anyway, so I made an exception.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

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Condensing a book about how to not waste your life

It's not every month that the President declares a weekend two days longer than usual. Suddenly my schedule, for whatever it's worth, feels empty, and I gradually fill it up with activities I hardly do these days: like meeting old friends or watching a good movie in cinema or sleeping for most of the afternoon. I will probably meet a couple of friends for a night, then spend the entire holiday at home with the company of a good book.

When I woke up at 4 am this morning, it was raining cats and dogs. The similarity with typhoon Ondoy was striking. I thought it was going to flood in my brother's apartment. But I liked the cold, the soothing rhythm of rain water hitting the roof, that I did not have a hard time going back to sleep.

I spent the entire morning condensing a book for FaithWalk magazine, a Christian digest. Thankfully I finished it—that is, sent the manuscript to the editors—before lunchtime. I was assigned to work on John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life, a personal favorite in the Piper collection (freely downloadable here). It's a book that defines a wasted life and points to the reader the ultimate way to avoid that: live for God, make much of Him in your life.

John Piper writes, "The opposite of wasting your life is to live by a single, soul-satisfying passion for the supremacy of God in all things."

Friday, August 26, 2011



Internal Medicine feels a lot like an extension of Second Year—that's what we all feel after our first week here. Unlike Surgery where we had plenty of patient encounters, our rotations are mostly small group discussions. We discuss a paper case, generate differentials, and zero in on a primary working impression without the benefit of diagnostic tools. We're being trained to practice hypothetico-deductive reasoning, narrowing our differentials by details we glean from the patient's narrative. After we finish with our history and physical exam, we're expected to be 80 to 90 percent certain of our diagnosis. The laboratory and other ancillary tests should only serve to confirm this diagnosis.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

No longer reproducing

I don't know what came to me, but one day I decided to watch Children of Men, a 2006 science-fiction film directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

The year is 2027. The biggest news on TV is that the world's youngest man from Colombia is dead. Word spreads fast; the scenes that follow are nothing short of apocalyptic. The human race is slowly dying. Women have not been giving birth for 18 years now. People don't know why: is it because of radiation or pollution or mutation? The world has long since changed, and even science is powerless.

Friday, August 19, 2011

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To Chinatown!

Immediately after our morning Breast Clinic rounds (and our very last one in Surgery), we headed to Binondo, Manila, home of Manila's Filipino-Chinese community, and for students like us who live on weekly allowance from parents, a haven of good food at reasonably affordable prices.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011



Taft Avenue, Manila

"Bry," I tell my roommate, "I overslept last night."

"How come?" he asks. He knows I'm an early riser; I usually get up minutes before the alarm.

"I slept for six hours." He laughs.

But really, my point is that six hours of sleep isn't oversleeping—until exams loom in the foreground. But, boy, it was the best sleep I've had this week. Praise God for the time to rest!

*  *  *

Visit Sleepers, a photographic collection in the Boston Globe.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Musings on a Monday morning


On Facebook I talked to an old dormmate from way back in my college freshman year. He was a deep, critical thinker, a voracious and intelligent reader. I haven't seen him since he had gone AWOL due to financial reasons, compounded by family problems, the nature of which I'm not too familiar with. I'm glad he's doing well, sporting a decent job, and enjoying what looks like a blossoming romantic relationship with a charming lady. These profile pictures tell you a lot about a person, perhaps a whole lot more than what they intend to reveal.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011


First (minor) operation


The first time I entered the Operating Room was the first time I was asked to do a minor surgery.

We were too eager, my groupmates and I. We wanted to have a memorable first experience so badly that when the petite resident, already busy with her share of patients, asked us, "Do you want to excise a lipoma?" we immediately said yes. We had only seen lipomas in textbooks.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

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