Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pigging out

QUITE RECENTLY we've taken to exploring other places for dinner, our way of escaping the round-the-clock strain of being in the hospital. Nothing can parallel the impact of food in bringing us together. Some blocks like movies or parties or traveling—but throw us any food, and we're happy.

We're making the best of what little time we have, relishing each night when we don't have to stay awake for 24 hours. After all, hard as it may be to believe, the era of the short, relatively light rotations—that is, Ortho, Rehab, Ophtha, and ORL—is ending soon.

We encounter each other in the daily grind of hospital life, and we probably know a whole lot more about each other than we should—for instance, our bowel movements for the day, which remains a favorite topic of morning conversation.  But eating out in a relaxed restaurant does wonders. People talk openly, share their frustrations and, better yet, humiliations. They talk of past and present relationships, present and future plans, and they talk of themselves in ways I wouldn't have imagined they would be capable of. To see each other in jeans, colorful shirts, or skirts outside the context of PGH offers a welcome change of scenery. Ah, to finally not see those white uniforms.
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Friday, October 26, 2012


Happy birthday, TatayI REMEMBER when you took me to the barber and promised you'd be back after 30 minutes. You had to do the groceries. The barber razed through my hair, reducing its length to less than a centimeter, and I couldn't do anything about it. I had never felt so helpless. When you came back for me, I was mad. I hated my haircut. It was too short. I cried as we walked, but you laughed at me, which made me angrier. Eighteen years later, I still sport the same hairstyle.

I remember how you still call me Bon, a special nickname you gave me, which warms my heart every time I hear it.

I remember how hurt you were when I—then a melodramatic and verbose seven-year old—told you, "You have no right to do that to me!" because you ate the chocolate bar I was saving up in the fridge. I stormed out of the house, but minutes later, you came out and told me to get ready for lunch, as if nothing had happened.

I remember your excitement to take us, my brothers and me, to swimming lessons at the SMRAA every afternoon during the summer. From the stands, you stood proudly when we finished one lap at the Olympic-sized pool. You treated us to a hot, delicious arroz caldo at the nearest carinderia afterwards.
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Memories of IM past

THREE WEEKS ago I wrote this piece. Here are some of the things I'll remember the most in Internal Medicine (not in any particular order):

1. The Guazon Hall endorsements. Every day, except Sundays, we'd troop to Guazon Hall for the morning endorsements.


The two-hour session would start with a quick rundown of mortalities and mortalities of the previous 24-hours, followed by moments of silence as the senior residents, seated at the topmost row, picked one case to be discussed for the day. The ensuing tension was similar to the choosing of Katniss Everdeen's sister to represent District 12 in the Hunger Games, where one either lived or died.

The architecture itself was daunting: five or six rows of seats in ascending fashion, the lectern in the middle, and whoever was speaking was looked down on, quite literally, by the audience.
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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Week 42, 2012: Lunch at Seafood Market

PUMUNTA KAMI SA SEAFOOD MARKET para mananghalian. Hindi ko na maalala ang eksaktong pangalan ng restawran, pero isa 'yun sa hilera ng mga kainan na makikita mo kapag dadaan ka sa Macapagal Avenue papuntang Mall of Asia. Paboritong dayuhin ang lugar na ito ng mga magulang ko tuwing napapadpad sila ng Maynila, lalo na ng aking nanay na binabalik-balikan ang alimango na mabibili at makakain sa murang halaga.

Kasama ang aking mga blockmates, namalengke kami sa katabing bilihan.

Week  42, 2012: Team Clerk lunch out at one of those sea side restos along Macapagal Ave
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 41, 2012: My week, what else?

WHILE WE WERE IN REHAB, breakfast was usually at Midtown Diner, one of our block's most favorite dining places along Padre Faura Street. The waitresses know us by name. Scratch the fact that the American breakfast meal—toasted bread, butter, bacon, and two eggs—is a bit pricey. The brewed coffee tastes and smells good, the couch feels comfortable, and there's that feeling of being in the 50's. We're loyal customers.

week 41, 2012: breakfast
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A new academic word processor called LyX

BECAUSE I HAD CASE REPORTS to finish before the weekend, I learned a new program called LyX. It's halfway through LaTeX, which is more intricate, and Microsoft Word, which is so user-friendly computer ignoramuses can work with it. I took on the challenge of writing my reports with this program. I finished both papers early this morning; the thrill of tackling a new program was an encouragement to keep me on.

Unlike the usual word processors, LyX is a document processor that makes use of the WYSIWYM (what you see is what you mean) approach, which means it involves tweaking the structure rather than appearance of the text. This was how the screen looked like when I was writing the paper:

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Binge-reading: Josh Bazell's Beat the Reaper, and David Sedaris' Naked

SO FAR, SO GOOD. Was able to finish two non-medical books in a row while I'm in Rehab. There's not much to do—and even if there is, I'm not yet in the mood.

I call this phenomenon binge-reading, which happens after prolonged abstinence from tackling—I like that word—non-medical literature. Doesn't help my eyes at all.

MY FRIEND Leeca Caro recommended Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell. Two main reasons why I liked the book: (1) the author took BA English in college before going to med school in Columbia (pretty much like my story), and (2) the novel is about a doctor who was once affiliated with the mafia. I also highly value people's book suggestions. They fact that they take the extra mile to tell me something's worth reading means it has to be worthwhile.

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Week 40, 2012: Coming home

Pole Clouds at 6 am
Plane Load

I FLEW TO MINDANAO for the weekend to visit my aunt's wake. I stayed in Polomolok for a little more than 24 hours. I took the first flight to Manila on Sunday morning. I didn't even get to see my house.
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tita Ging

MY COUSIN MATT texted me early this morning that his mother — my aunt, my father's younger sister — had passed away. Tita Ging was very dear to me.
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Monday, October 1, 2012

Week 39, 2012: Sundays in PGH