Sisters

She looked pained, the patient lying on a stretcher parked inside cubicle three. She had broken teeth, bloodshot eyes, and fuzzy hair—a woman who hadn't slept through the night because she was bleeding. She seemed ten years older than the age she would later confess to: 35 years. Only a little more than a quarter of a century, when you think about it, and still so young.


"Hello, Ma'am," I said, "I have a couple of questions to ask you. Can you give me your full name?"

I couldn't quite get her mumbling—either her provincial accent was too strong or she was too weak to properly enunciate. "Can you spell that for me, please?"

The best mother in the world

During idle moments at the Labor and Delivery Rooms of the OB Admitting Section, I try to imagine what it must have been like on that April night in 1987, when my mother gave birth to me, her smallest little boy.


Nanay tells me there wasn't too much drama during labor and delivery, which explains her amazement at the "unrealistic" portrayal of childbirth in the movies. She practically just expelled me into this world without fanfare. What she truly meant, perhaps, was not that childbearing is painless, but that it's nothing compared to the difficulties of actually raising children.

To the first baby I have delivered

Dear Andriel,

I asked your mother what your name was going to be. "Andriel," she said, her voice hushed, almost like a sigh. I told her I hadn't heard that name before, but that it sounded good on you. Whether your name is a combination of hers and your father's, I don't really know, because I decided not to probe further that night. Your mother was too tired. But she was good, a rarity these days: her contractions were strong. She was able to push you out efficiently, sans the melodrama. She smiled when I congratulated her for a job well done.

I'm writing you now because you're the first baby I've ever delivered. I didn't do it alone, of course; I had a far more experienced OB resident beside me. You may never understand this, but for a person praying for a career in medicine, that event is a milestone, a bookmark in the colorful history of my training. The Philippine General Hospital calls you and your mother charity patients, but I think you were the ones who were being more charitable by allowing me to learn so much from my experience with you.

Week 7, 2012: OB, Valentine's, and a walking pawnshop

Week 7, 2012: At Ob-Gyne OPD-Philippine General Hospital

We're halfway through our OB-Gyn rotation, but it already feels like forever. Our day begins at 7 am, the summary rounds, where clinical cases are endorsed to the next rotating service. The Chief Resident often calls us to enumerate, among others, the criteria for vaginal delivery after cesarean section, signs of placental separation, and the different types of abortion.

Hair color

photo
I haven't done a proper blog entry on Valentine's Day1. Let me share a brief episode in the life of my favorite couple in the world. It's one of those times when my parents misunderstand each other, usually about insignificant things, and their reactions are quite amusing.

I called home and asked my father what he did today2.

"I went to KCC (the local grocery store) to buy hair dye for your mother, as she had requested, but when I got to the clinic, the secretary informed me she was already in the parlor, having her hair dyed."

In rapid-fire succession

I'm at the OB Admitting Section (OBAS) where I'm posted for the entire day. Patients come in waves, occupying all the benches in the hallway. Meanwhile, clerks, interns, and residents do a hundred things, all at the same time—taking patient histories, doing internal exams, extracting blood for analysis. I'm lost in the frenzy.

Fridays are usually like this. Charts overflow with names of pregnant women branded as high-risk, many of them referred from the out-patient clinics. They have either hypertension, diabetes, ascending infections, or are in danger of pre-term labor—situations that can potentially harm the mothers or the babies inside. Patients who bleed due to abortions—self-inflicted or otherwise—are also a mainstay.

"You're free?" a resident asks me.

How to prepare for interview for admission to the UP College of Medicine

I got an email from a reader asking me for tips for the UP College of Medicine interview. I don't know how else to respond, except to say the standard disclaimer that I was only interviewed once. That singular episode pretty much sums up the wealth of my experience.1

The idea behind these interviews is for the admissions panel to evaluate the applicants' interest in taking up Medicine, not only as a degree but as a profession. By observation, only half of those who qualify for interview eventually make it to the College. So, yes, it gets really competitive. An inherent flaw of the process is that the interviews are largely subjective. Different people will have different impressions. But the panel members somehow follow a standard questionnaire. There's room for flexibility because they can ask follow-ups to clarify vague responses. They actually jot down the applicants' words for further assessment.2

So what do the panel members want to see in you, the applicant?

The Story of the Phone that Was Lost and Now Found, Part Two

My cheap Nokia, the one that went fell off my pocket during a commute, the gadget I thought I would never see again until someone picked it up in the FX, did the very thing it does best: go AWOL temporarily.

I knew I left my phone near the MSU Cafeteria in campus, but I still got worried. I didn't want to lose all the important contact details. I wanted to spare myself the hassle of having to ask for everyone else's numbers, posting all about my demise in Facebook or Twitter.