Sunday, March 30, 2008

Who Wants To Be A Superhero?

Taking after the reality TV show of the same name, I decided to have some fun with my friends. Part-tribute, part-farewell, (part-rebuke, haha) for the people I've had to work with this past year (and who have put up with me) -- my co-PGI's.

We all chose to come to Silliman Medical Center for each our own reasons. I chose to come home, some came to discover new places, some for change, some for new experiences, some for the money (hehe, c'mon we all knew there was a stipend here), and in the process of all that, we got a little learning in the process and grew up as doctors.

But, I found out those that came had (cue music) had their own special abilities, powers if you will, and from there on, I became part of a this small band of people who are trying everyday to help in saving the world.

League of Extraordinary Gentlepeople:

1. Ligaya Solera "PSYCHE" - Easily one of the more powerful superheroes in the hospital. Her amazing intelligence (IQ off the charts) matched her amazing medical acumen. She has the powers to meld with her laptop and create amazing Powerpoint presentations and connect to anywhere in the world via the Internet. She keeps a blog of her adventures in life and is a literary genius as well.

2. Arlyn Villanueva "TICKLES" - Has the power to bring you into spells of laughter until you nearly pass out from anoxia due to laughing so much. She also has the ability to bring up new topics of conversation out of thin air and is a master of distraction. She was previously seen by a shrink, but he gave up.

3. Sherwin Tiamzon "SLIM SHADY" - A master of the poker face, disguise and is a master spy. He has the power to hypnotize you with his baritone voice and is the linguist among the group often referring patients with skill and authority.

4. Daphne Crisostomo "HYPERTWINKLE" - Always at hyperspeed, she painstakingly and meticulously completes ward calls at the same time. Coming from another planet, she overcame a huge gap and learned the language of the people to be more effective in her tasks.

5. Benjamin Villaplaza "GYRATOR" - He shoots bullets from his hips as he moves up and down the dance floor. He is always the first one up to dance at programs (and usually the only one) and is among the bravest of the PGI superheroes. His nickname as the Consultant is well deserved as he often is captain of his ship at the ER.

6. Ver Arco "GUITAR MAN"- Wields his guitar as his weapon of choice along with the heart on his sleeve. Creates sonic waves with chords and uses a silent code in referring to his superiors as farm animals. Takes some time to understand the guy but get his work done.

7. Brigitte Tabaranza "PRESSURE COOKER" - Cooks her way through trouble. Has a penchant for getting sick and unnecessarily apologizing. Gets on some nerves, but has uncanny business sense and a market for her food.

8. Melanie Garces "MISS CONGENIALITY" - She is master of connections. A press relations specialist, she dazzles high-profile society members with her knowledge of the community's foremost members and wows people with her family connections.

9. Anne Gaballo "FIREWOMAN" - Has the ability to take her folders and folders of paperwork and discharge summaries and charge them into fireballs which she hurls at her opponents.

10. Ria Sumampong "PRIMA DONNA" - She is as her name sounds, often wearing her cheerleader costume, she has the ability to hurl loads of laundry at her enemies and maintaining that attitude that got her her nickname.

11. Jouie Bacot "WANDERER" - Rogue, as she came in as a late addition to the superheroes, an expert on martial arts, she is often out on the streets, fearless as she takes on the forces of evil.

12. Rohaymah Mamongcara "REYNA" - The daughter of a Sultan in Mindanao, she has all the money in the world but her extraordinary ability to harness the power of the Havaianas slippers is valuable in the fight of the superheroes.

13. Jeannette Arellano "HAIRDRESSER" - Often mocked for her long curly hair (which is lovely by the way), jokers have long suffered the consequences as she lashes out with her hair and forms them into a formidable whip.

14. Kent Cardenas "KILABOT BOY" - His abilities with girls are as legendary as his poses. He is another valuable spy as he infiltrates the enemy base with his special pick-up lines. He also has an untapped power of speed as he is often always first to the accounting office.

15. Theophilus Villarmea "SILENCER" - His stoic moods are his trademark. Despite his serious nature, he is quick to his bass guitar and beats out waves of shock that move the earth to do his bidding. He rides his bike usually with GUITARMAN and together they band together to bring their enemies to justice.

16. Antonette Huyo-a "SIREN" (due to insistent public demand) - Cool under pressure, she heals the injured with a steady hand. Born in a family of doctors, she discovered early she has the ability to heal any injury just her touch and is just as known for her voice's soothing abilities. (They're cool powers hon ;)

17. Rubie Salmorin "SUPERMODEL" - She has the ability to eat so much food and not gain an ounce of weight. She sashays down the hospital hallways in designer dresses but don't let her fool you, as her victims, more often than not male, fall for her charms and gets them to do her bidding.

18. Laurjena Nagulada "BALL GIRL" - She spikes volleyballs and fires them as balls of fire. A star athelete, teams have conspired with schedule makers to stop her from joining the hospital leagues. But still, in her spare time and when not playing competitive sports, she acts as the treasurer of the group. It's a day job.

19. Ian Margaja "GHOST" - When he doesn't want to be found, he won't be. Has the ability to disappear into thin air. He bends the time-space continuum and can move from any place and time to another.

20. Jo Anne Abadia "HAIRSPRAY" - Armed with her trusty can of hairspray, she blinds adversaries by spraying into their eyes, and reflects searing sunlight off her head. Enemies would do well to stay in the shade.

These are the people I work with, and that have come to be my friends -- some more than others -- but friends nonetheless.

To all you guys, overall, it's been great.

Thnks 4 th mmrs.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bad Heart

I go on duty again tomorrow but the events from the last duty still lingers and despite the very very busy day, I went home the next morning with one of the biggest smiles of my life.

I will go out and admit it. Obstetrics and gynecology is not my cup of tea. It is not that I don't find wonder and joy in sharing in the event of bringing someone into this world nor is it not because of the prevailing perception in this country that OB-Gyne is not the usual department to find a male doctor. In fact, in medical school, the highest grades I got were in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

So why do I prefer not to be in OB?

A lot of things:

a. I can't take the suspense of the next IE, and the next, and the next.... (It could be 3 cm, then stepwise all the way to 10 cm, or it could be 3 cm and 10 cm the next minute)

b. Playing substitute husband, (since most labor rooms don't allow the spouses in during labor), and you get to be physically assaulted by the parturient for the next couple of hours. (kidding, it's actually part of the job, and it's not that bad, sometimes)

c. The stress of trying to get through to a writhing, screaming, breath-holding, gravid woman to teach them the right way to "push" (so I try to get through to them early in labor, when they're sane)

d. The crazy stuff that happens when someone says "Breech", "CS", "Prolapse", "Preterm", "Poor Variability" and "Decelerations"!

e. I get palpitations and feel my adrenaline go into overdrive with toxic and stressful deliveries (I remember once a woman got up on the delivery table and squatted down, refused any other help until she got a C-section, now that was stressful), as well as keeping with the need to deliver the baby safely in a clean, sterile environment (this includes transfers, birth in wheelchairs and hospital beds, cars, you name it), whew......

Which brings me to the subject of this blog, and of course, we have to give in to my loyal readership of two (my supportive girlfriend who is obligated to read this blog *wink* and a good friend who loves her adventure called life and loves her beach time).

As I was walking back to the labor room, a page over the PA system had requested a male aide to an Ob-Gyne's clinic, and said to myself, "Oh crap, another patient." I was already attending to another parturient who was carryover from last night's duty.
True enough, she came.

She was a 19 year old who seemingly had everything going wrong for her -- pregnant by her younger, 17-year old boyfriend who wasn't even there, congestive heart failure class IV made worse by her pregnancy, a platelet level of 70,000, HBsAg reactive and to top it off, a baby having fetal heart rate decelerations to 80 bpm.

I groaned. Of all the days my partner had to take a leave of absence. But there was nothing I could do. I now had two patients, the other had a low threshold of pain, and the other a heart in congestive heart failure. We had to find blood to boot.

I monitored her progress and talked with her. She was this bright young kid who was supposed to be in 3rd year college, and judging from her blood donors, had lots of friends and was getting the full support from her family. She had a ready smile and listened intently as I coached her into how she was supposed to deliver later. She was to have an epidural so pain wouldn't be an issue. Her cardiologist stopped by as well as a hematologist.

As the afternoon wore on, the first parturient became fully dilated and she was mounted on the delivery table, and had to leave her listening to her OB in the labor room. We had delivered a baby girl when they exclaimed we were mounting her as well. I said to myself, "Oh Crap, and double crap." We were still fixing the episiotomy when they carried her into the other delivery room. When we were done, I immediately ran and scrubbed in.

And then there were the decelerations all the way down to 60 beats per minute, with slow pick-up back to normal. The pediatricians already had their resuscitation table ready, O2 was running, the cardiologist and hematologist were in attendance.

Then finally the baby came. Slowly, ever so slowly she came out into the world, and cried almost immediately as she came out. She was small for her age but oh never did a cry sound so good. A smile came on the new mother's face. Everybody in that room smiled and time held for a couple of seconds as we cut the cord and handed her to the pediatricians.

Minimal bleeding, a 4 lb baby, a heart still in failure and thankful grandparents were what I met after. It was my pleasure to be part of that, no matter how toxic it was. To look in my patient's eyes and see thank you, well, call it naive, but I think that's what we, doctors, all ever need.

As of this writing, the patient is still in our ward, recovering and her baby doing OK in the nursery. I pass by during our daily rounds and they all smile back.

Though it's been 3 days removed from that day, the events still linger, and every time the smile still returns to my face.