When I was five

TODAY I FOUND this question in my email: When you were five, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did it happen?

My childhood memories aren't as poignant as, say, my brother's, who still probably remembers our grandmother's old house in Banga. But this I recall: that I was in preschool in 1992, seated beside classmates with runny noses (which I despised looking at), starting to learn my alphabet, and enjoying the drills on my DISTAR reading materials.

I remember a conversation I once had with my classmate John Michael Daraug during recess. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. "A hold-upper," he said.

Intrigued, I asked him why.

Week 38, 2012: Wall stories

THREE MEDICAL STUDENTS visited our call room one afternoon at Ward 1 to shoot a video. They were doing an ad for a project that aimed to raise money for the renovation of both the clerks' and interns' call room in Internal Medicine—clearly an initiative that could potentially change the course of human history.

They asked me if I could say a few lines; I politely declined, of course. At that moment I realized something: that despite the intolerable heat and humidity, the assailing uremic smell of the bathroom with the broken doorknob, the clutter of empty mineral water bottles, and the non-functioning airconditioning system, I will miss the homey feel of our call room, a place Carlos Cuano appropriately called "our safe haven" (or something to that effect).

If only the walls could talk, they'd you tell how how we vented our frustration that some patients could barely afford a syringe or a red top vial, or how laughed at our cluelessness during the Guazon morning endorsements, or how we panicked because a new patient—potentially Guazon-able at that—had been decked to us 30 minutes before the cut-off.

week 38, 2012: huddle

Week 37, 2012: Endorsements

WHILE THE REST of my classmates were buried in piles upon piles of things-to-do for their patients at the wards, we in Service Three decided to have lunch elsewhere—that is, in the nearby mall. We only had three or four existing patients, most of them about to be discharged. What joy!

Our seniors treated us to pizza and pasta, which we devoured mercilessly, while some of us did 10-minute reports on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, infective endocarditis, among other interesting  medical conditions. We had a quiz afterwards. I'm still amazed at the devotion our residents have shown in teaching, grilling, and advising us, something other clinical departments in PGH may want to emulate.

Here were Dr. Marc Gregory Yu, who's about the same age as I am and whose accent has a striking Ilonggo feel to it, and Dr. Gelza Zabat, our service senior, who also took molecular biology as an undergrad course.

week 37, 2012

Notes

MY PATIENT at the Medical ICU (MICU) liked writing notes. He was intubated when he came in, so I never really got to hear him speak. He relied mostly on hand gestures, but even those had their limitations. His wife had a brilliant idea: maybe he could write things down instead. Every time I dropped by his bed, I saw a notebook and a black marker pen beside him. I would ask him a question. Slowly he would jot the answer down.

Rfkill unblock wifi

I HAD TROUBLE connecting with the wifi when I got back home. I remember that while I was in PGH, I had turned off my laptop's wireless connection to save up on battery. When I tried to press the same button again to retrieve some files from the Net, the notification area on the upper right portion of my screen read, "wireless is disabled by hardware switch." If this were a hardware problem, I thought, then I must have my laptop fixed somehow. I simply didn't have the time.

Internalizing

I FOUND MYSELF updating my patients' online database at 7:30 PM on a pre-duty day, when I should've been home, reading a good book. My feet hurt from hours of making sure all blood pressures were stable in Ward 1. My face was soaked in sebaceous secretions, and I just wanted to get something to eat. The call room's air conditioning unit wasn't working, and the humidity was adding to the stress of having a growing checklist of things-to-do in my mind.

It's not a wonder why people start thinking of quitting med school on their Internal Medicine (IM) rotation: there are just so many things to do. My friends who are already done with IM already miss it, but I remember that while they were in my present state, trapped in Wards 1 and 3, they couldn't wait to get out. One never really figures out how precious something is until it's lost. I'm only on my third day, and it already feels like I've been here for weeks.

Philip Roth's Indignation is so depressing

Philip Roth, Indignation, at National Bookstore, for Php 99!

PHILIP ROTH'S INDIGNATION, a book I picked up on National Bookstore's month-long sale, is about the 19-year old Marcus Messner who decides to study elsewhere to get away from his father, a kosher butcher.

He grows up helping in his father's shop, eviscerating chickens or chopping cow hides, all the while maintaining his straight A record in school. His parents are proud when he becomes the first person in the family to land in college. He wants to be a lawyer, if not a high-ranking army official to be deployed in the Korean War.

Meanwhile Marcus' father becomes increasingly paranoid of his son getting killed or harmed. His father's prohibitions and warnings, many he (Marcus) considers irrational, force him to pursue his studies at Winesburg College in Ohio, hours away from his New Jersey home.