One more year before I turn 30

IF NOT FOR NURSE LEO who greeted me a happy birthday when I dropped by the ER to see yet another referral, I would have forgotten that the clock had already gone past midnight and it was already April 22, the day I was born 29 years ago. I was on duty as the SCUPOD—one of the many complicated posts we assume on our 24-hour shifts—which meant I was at the beck and call of the specialties in the entire hospital when they needed someone to make sense of their own patients’ medical problems. I must have broken the news to a colleague, who then, by word of mouth—and word travels at the speed of light in these parts—spread the news to friends who were also on duty. Naturally I wanted my birthday to be a private affair, but my friends shouted greetings from far away, enough to be heard by the people in the hallways, so much so that an entire service block of clerks and interns wished me well in a chorus that morning.

I’ve never been big on birthdays, preferring the silence of my room to the rowdy familial crowd with the proverbial birthday cake. My parents, after I had turned two, just ordered roasted chicken for dinner which we ate at home, and never gave me gifts or special privileges—I still had to wash the dishes, if it was my turn. This has led to our indifference to the concept of birthday dinners and such rituals. We also did something else other than relish the spotlight. I spent my 28th birthday resuscitating a patient at the floors—while I celebrated life, her family mourned her death.

Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve made it a point to write a sobering, unusually lengthy account of the things I’ve been grateful for and the lessons I’ve learned thus far in my limited time on earth. There’s nothing quite the practice of putting one’s thoughts down in pen and paper—keyboard and screen, in the modern sense—to put one’s thoughts in place.

I realize that I’m just a year away from becoming 30. My ten-year old self couldn’t have imagined the 29-year old me—still loud, short, proud, inconveniently myopic, and dramatically unchanged, save for the little hair growth above my upper lip. I still sound like a girl and get mistaken for a woman when I answer the phone. My paunch has gotten bigger as well, a reminder that I’m becoming like my father even in body habitus.

Yet I have changed in many respects. I'd say that the change was supernatural, a fruit of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ personally—a story of conversion I would't get tired of talking about, my own Road to Damascus story, though less dramatic. I've become less mindful of the faults of others and have steadily acknowledged that I, too, am a work in progress. So much needs to be changed about me—not least of which is my pride, whose manifestations can be as myriad as my daily struggles and experiences.

While I am overwhelmed with all the blessings I’ve received from the Lord—my work, my degrees, my good health, my family and friends—I still feel, how shall I say this, un-accomplished. This healthy discontent is inside me, telling me that I still haven’t completely done what I have set out to do—what it is, I don’t exactly know. I know, though, that God has called me to be a physician, which puts me in a unique position to serve and minister to the sick and their families. I hope I become good in what I do. My medical training has brought me to many realizations, most of them learned on bended knees of helplessness. But God's grace has been enough to keep me on. I'm glad to report that I am where I should be, and can't imagine myself doing anything else.

There's still so much to be done and so much needs to be changed about me. But God has promised that He will sanctify those Whom He has redeemed, transforming His children to be more like Christ. I trust in that promise, as well as in many other assurances God has given His flock. I fail miserably at times, but God always picks me up; such is the story of my life.

I spent much of my birthday at the hospital. I saw patients at the Endocrinology Clinic. Tired after a full day, I decided to return to my brother's apartment in Quezon City, where my entire family, save for Sean, was staying. My parents, already sleepy by 8 PM, asked me if I still wanted to eat out. Maybe next time, I said. And I wouldn't have spent my 29th year on earth any other way.

Thank you very much for your greetings. They have warmed my heart.

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