The Countdown To The End of Med School: A Prelude

TOMORROW I'll start a daily countdown to The End of Med School—30 days left, can you believe it? I wrote in a previous entry that I don't feel extra excited for May 1 the way some of the classmates do. But the feelings will come in due time, I guess. I have too many things in my hands—my OB rotation and stresses that come with it. For now, though, I live each day one day at a time, living every moment in the light of God's grace. He has, after all, sustained me since day one of Medicine. I don't think I will live my life differently this final month.

Barrel Fever by David Sedaris: short book, explosive laughing spells about Santa, sympathy, and smoking

I DON'T remember everything about Barrel Fever by David Sedaris. I read it in a span of weeks, occasionally turning to it when I needed a good laugh. The book is short, and it was suited for my purpose.

The essay that stands out in memory: SantaLand Diaries, where the author talks about his experiences working as an elf—green tights and all—in a store's amusement park. It may well be a critique on the commercialization of the Christmas celebration, where parents force their children to sit on Santa's lap and ask him for gifts . Ah, the tortures these kids have to face. I was never really a Santa believer, and I always knew he never existed. The idea of reindeers and snow and gifts thrown down on the chimney: these were concepts that I found contemptible, even as a child. They would never survive in this heat, I thought.

Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach: stories that wound us


I STARED blankly into space after I finished Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach. McEwan always does that to me: he paralyzes me with wonder. As usual I was in a restaurant, whiling away time, as if I—an overworked medical intern—had extra time to while away. (My excuse: that I'm in the hospital most of the time, and that I need to see the outside world, too). I've had the book for months now but only started on it a few days ago. Short, sweet, and tragic—just the way I like love stories to be.

Two virgins discover each other on honeymoon night. This was in 1962, in a hotel on the Dorset coast in England. Edward Mayhew is a bookish fellow who dreams of writing about history. Florence Ponting is a violin player who comes from a wealthy family. Although they come from vastly different backgrounds they love each other very much, so much so that on their first night of what would be many matrimonial nights together, they want to make wonderful memories.

Round and round the bend

AFTER MY 24-hour shift at the Labor and Delivery Room I got a text from an old high school friend inviting me for brunch somewhere in Makati. I had to stay in the hospital to do rounds, and I had to attend a teaching session at lunchtime. I apologized profusely. The last time I was invited (for dinner, with the same set of friends, in Makati), I also begged off, thanks to my hospital commitments.

Send off

I WOKE up, not with a jolt, but with a kind of serenity that one feels after a truly restful sleep. I realized I was all alone; my roommates were probably home for the weekend. The lights in my apartment were all unlit, it was eerily quiet (just the way I liked it), and Taft Avenue, which I could see from my study, did not harbor heavy traffic. Where I would have dinner was my first concern, until it occurred to me to check my phone. Many missed calls and a text message asking me where I was. And then I hurried. I was 30 minutes late for a despedida I had promised to attend.

The Countdown

TRUTH BE told, I don't feel extra excited for May 1 at all: the End of Internship, the End of Medschool. And it bothers me. Years ago I had imagined these final moments to be extra special: my stomach fluttering with the idea that this, too—this insanity we call medical training—shall end, if only for a few months.

I passed by the PGH corridor this morning and saw the countdown board—42 days to go. With a month to go in OB-Gyn and another two weeks in Ortho, plus a couple of days—give or take—for make-up duties (thanks to various instances when I either came in late or did not come to the hospital at all, for valid reasons or otherwise), the End still feels so far away.

Kate Atkinson's Case Histories: rooting for a character

I LIKE mystery novels, especially the ones that are hard to figure out. Except that (and I say this with all humility) I usually figure out who the killers are at the story's beginning; the trick is to look for the unlikely characters. That I've been right after all gives me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the book. It only takes a short Agatha Christie novel to bring me back to earth, though—I can never really figure her out, and I haven't been correct in my predictions.

Gently

AT THE OB-GYN Out-Patient Clinic, I diagnosed a 30-something unmarried woman with a sexually transmitted disease (STD). I prescribed an antibiotic regimen and gave her a list of laboratory tests, which included a quick screening test for HIV. Nothing special with her case; it was rather straightforward and only required a standard work up. She was taking it all in—the very idea that she had STD—until the final blow came: that her partner had to be treated as well.

Jon Bloom's Not By Sight: powerful stories for the weary Christian

I'VE ALREADY told you this: that Not By Sight by Jon Bloom will become one of my best reads this year. It's just what I need to read, and part of me wishes I hadn't finished it yet. What will I look forward to reading now?

Jon Bloom, who had blogged some of these stories at the Desiring God website prior to publishing them, retells familiar stories in the Bible and tackles story and character angles not expounded explicitly by Scripture. Of course one can argue that Bloom's approach is tantamount to fictionalizing otherwise recorded factual events. The danger is that he can go too far and make entirely different stories. But Bloom steers clear of this danger, anchoring his stories to actual passages in Scripture, not deviating from the heart of the message. The things he wrote—what Joseph must have felt inside that prison cell, the visit of Paul's old friend when the apostle was in prison, and the rest of the stories—may have actually happened. The reader must give leeway to Bloom for the liberty he has taken to recreate these stories, but they're too beautifully crafted that the Christian soul cannot help but feast on them.

We go a long way

VANESSA and I—we go a long way. We were seatmates and partners in crime back in high school—first row, near the trellis. We would later be partners in our science research project, which was hogwash in the greater scheme of things. I hope it's buried somewhere so no one else would find it. I was a frequent visitor to her home in Tambis Street, where we would work on school stuff, the actual work comprising 5% of our stay there. The rest was spent chatting or eating her sister's homemade brazo de mercedes.

Comfort in conversations

WITH BARELY 50 days to go before Internship ends, the question we keep asking these days is, "What next?"

Five years of med school does seem like a short time. There were periods, though, when it felt like forever. With all the exams, 24-hour shifts, round-the-clock monitoring of intubated patients, incessant pushing of heavy, metallic stretchers; we counted the days, like newly-incarcerated prisoners, hoping for the moment when we'd get out of our cells. We were too bogged down that we hardly had any time to ruminate on what our paths will be. Should we go straight to residency training? Pursue careers in Public Health or Policy? Get married and have children? And now we have to find answers to those questions.

Your face

JON BLOOM'S Not By Sight will probably end up as one of my favorite reads this year. Here we relive timeless Biblical stories with fresher eyes.

I kept wiping my tears away as I read parts of the book in a restaurant early this morning, while I was eating breakfast. Good thing I didn't know anyone else there, or it would've been embarrassing.