Aga Muhlach

We rarely get patients with Down’s syndrome. This month I’ve been taking care of a patient with such condition; he is already 35 years old. His mother, in her early seventies, still looks after him. She cleans after him, changes his diaper, doesn’t mind that his feces has soiled the sheets, and makes sure he doesn’t fall off the bed. He has gotten better since his admission, and we plan to send him home in a day or two, God-willing.

When I do rounds, he grabs my stethoscope, then my neck, then my hands. I don’t really mind that he is stronger than me, but the watchers come to my rescue, restraining him, making sure that my physical exam is uninterrupted and that I hear his bowel sounds well. He hardly speaks, but this morning, as I told his mother the good news—I’ll be shifting his antibiotics to oral preparations—he called me “Doc Aga.”

“Ano raw?” I asked the mother, who understands him more than everyone else.

“Doc Aga raw po. ‘Yan ang tawag niya sa ‘yo.”

To be mistaken for Aga Muhlach flattered me immensely, but my colleague Racquel brought my high hopes down when I shared the news to her: “Remember those patients have cognitive dysfunction.”

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