Friday, October 28, 2011


Maybe it's a good thing that our block's rotation schedule mimics the normal rhythm: we're on our Psychiatry rotation during the semestral break. Doesn't feel like we're deprived of anything. Psychiatry has been uneventful so far, no backbreaking work, no demanding paperwork, no nothing when you think about it, and the enjoyment mostly comes from actual patient encounters.

I'm glad to finally learn what Psychiatry is all about; it's listening to patient's stories and making sense of them. Clarity of mind, the consultants say, is what we all should have. How can we make sense of others when we can't make sense of ourselves? Listening can get stressful, and as I inquire about my patient's feelings and wait for her to finish her train of thought, dotted with psychotic remarks that are mostly amusing, I find myself admiring psychiatrists more and more. They do this for a living, risking their sanity to help those who have lost theirs.

I must confess that I don't see myself here—a premature statement I might regret later, but that's what I feel. More than anything, Psychiatry is a calling, and I don't hear any voices, not yet.

Contrary to popular thinking, thanks to the ever accurate depiction of this discipline in popular media, psychiatric patients don't all look like Anthony Hopkins, don't sound like Hannibal Lecter, don't intend to kill every living person they see. The first encounter of a psychiatric patient can get quite scary, of course, but there's always the first time. Somehow, as in most things, you just get used to it, but you'll be surprised, as some residents claim, that many patients will still surprise you.

A patient walks around the corridor, saying "I love you" to every person she sees.

A patient breaks into a loud song: "Salamaaaaaat, PGH!"

A patient claims to be Sto. Nino or Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary.

A patient, when asked what he'd do if there was a fire in the cinema, answered, "Magluluto ako ng popcorn."

A patient breaks into a fit, saying, "Hindi ako kulot, hindi ako salot, kinky lang." (Humor untranslatabe—sorry, foreign readers.)

It's not just the patients who are amusing; it's also us.  We've had a couple of boo-boos ourselves. I'm not mentioning names, but a classmate reported in his mental status exam findings that his "patient maintained good eye contact with her eyes closed." Best observation ever.

The same classmate also noted that "the patient appeared neat but also unkempt."

Meanwhile let me share some photos.

Joseph Brazal revisits his patient's chart in Ward 7.

Bon Buno is jotting down his observations. Psychiatry is notorious for long, detailed histories, a far cry from Surgery where HPIs (History of Present Illness) can be as written in less than two lines.

Margie Bocaya is our liaison officer in this rotation. Doing a great job so far. 

It's an hour past lunch, and the ward feels soporific. Patients are usually sleepy around this time. I like seeing my patient in the morning before the 8 am ward meeting where cases are discussed and evaluated. 

We successfully convinced Dr. Vista to treat us for snacks after his lecture on Emergency Psychiatry. We weren't exactly impressive, just charming.

Lizzy Ching and "Wet Look" Lennie Chua are on duty today. I might drop by to see the singing patient they told me about, admitted last night because of manic episodes. I was told that the patient breaks into song, making the mental status examination sound like a musical.

From right: Ching, Lennie, Krushna, Migz, Bon, Joseph, Casti, and Checkered. I write often about my block I might just do a personality sketch of each of them. One of these days, if that day ever comes.

Our iKids, an endearing name we call our Intarmeds (geeky kids who were able to get into the seven-year straight medicine program of UP), confessed to having psychiatric problems of their own, mostly Obsessive Compulsive Disorders when they were younger. They're all so grown up now.

The point of this photo is to show that Carlie Bozon, our blockhead, isn't paying attention, busy chatting in the background.

Dr. Vista shared his life story, how he came to be a psychiatrist, how his practice is, what tips he can give us, and we thanked him for the donuts, for the chocolate drink, for his feeding program, for his time. We all went home after this, and we spotted Glaiza de Guzman and some of our friends from our previous block, now rotating in Surgery.

That's pretty much it. If only medschool were like Third Year every time. First year was boring, Second was hard, Third Year overflows with awesomeness. 

More photos here.

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