Saturday, June 28, 2008


As you all know, I am in the midst of reviewing for The Exams, and it is once again a scary time in my life. A scary time for anybody who has ever gotten wet, treaded and eventually forged through the sometimes calm, often turbulent, icy waters of medicine.

A couple of my classmates have taken time out from their busy schedules, to go on a medical mission to one of our friends' place in Sibonga, Cebu. And if you ask, why I didn't go, well, 1) I wasn't asked, 2) I didn't know until the last minute, and 3) I didn't want to put it on my friend to have to ask me to go. Maybe they had full slots, and I'd be dead weight. 4) Lastly, I think they were worried enough about the boards to let me study. (Rationalizing) Haha, don't worry, no problems here guys.

Anyway, I knew most of the guys going, since they were my brothers in med school, but there were other people.

After the mission, they were going to the church in Simala to pray and ask for the blessing of passing the boards. I haven't gone there but I keep hearing people say that they have to go to Simala before the boards. Others have gone, others are planning.

I overheard someone say that couldn't they just dispense with the medical mission and just go directly to Simala, so as to not spend the whole day and have some time for studying?

I was taken aback.

Here is a chance to be able to give back to others, the chance to show Him who grants us our licenses, that we deserve them by being instruments of His healing, and throw it away just to have some extra time to review? Isn't it a bit ironic that you choose to go to a church and ask help from the Divine and not help in return? Or maybe you went and helped grudgingly?

I am not the perfect Christian. Nor am I a perfect person. But I do know that my heart is in the right place, and I want this not just for me but for my family, for my friends, and for my would-be patients. Healing would not be possible without Him. I believe He said, "what you do for the least of my brethren, you do for Me," worded of course in a more profound-sounding Bible text.

I can't speak for that person, but I do hope she went, helped, for even a second, wholeheartedly, and helped in the healing of someone who has so much less than her.

I pray everyday that I, my friends, my classmates, my not-so-cordial friends as well, that we pass. 100%. But let's not forget why we get to do what we do. Let's not trade the Mission for just a few more minutes of what we probably won't remember come boards time, because it is impossible to ever be ready, right? Or so they say.

I do pray that God sees us worthy to be His physicians.

and I truly hope that we are.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Doc Hollywood and the Physicians Of The Silver Screen

Doc Ness advised me to take a break in studying and so I'm but dutiful in listening to those infinitely wiser than I. Haha. Thank you doc, it is a welcome break. Though the August Medical Boards are drawing ever so near.

But you know what they say about all work...

So TBR 14 is about the Doctors of Hollywood.

Well, I really was not geared toward medicine in my high school and college years despite the fact I took up Physical Therapy as a premed course. And even though, I was in health care, I took more interest in shows that intrigued me like The Practice, those that made me laugh, like Friends, and of course, ESPN Sportscenter.

But I do watch TV a LOT, to merit an opinion in these matters. Haha, don't we all?

ER is the grandfather of all Doctor shows, I think. It spawned all those that followed like Chicago Hope (which I liked as an alternative to the IMO, too serious ER)among others. The thing that irked me about ER was that it got too heavy sometimes that I found myself dozing in the middle of an episode. Sure. Ming Na Wen could entice one to be more attentive, but it wasn't for me. Awards aplenty, it slowly marched into the backgrounds, and still enjoys quite a good rerun from daytime networks.

Chicago Hope, I liked because it was more layman-friendly to me. I was not in the medicine field then so I appreciated the idiot-guide to medicine.

As the years went by and I went into medicine, I gradually took an understanding to what it takes to be in the medical world.

I came across House MD.

And I loved it.

The humor. The character. The cases. The medicine. The diagnostics. The challenges.

Followed it from Season One to this date.

Here is a doctor that is in turmoil emotionally, but a brilliant diagnostician. And though he is depicted as a sick SOB (pardon my French), and with really crass bedside manner, he shows his heart is in curing his patients. He cares and not cares at the same time.

Forgive me for uhm, seeming like a House Geek but hey you asked for it. Hahaha

One episode that comes to mind is MATERNITY, season one. House gets caught up working pediatrics when almost all the babies born in the hospital get sick. Epidemic comes to mind. The preliminary diagnoses include bacterial causes and load the babies with antibiotics. But, no success. The ethical breach here was House decides to treat the two sickest babies differently, taking one off the two antibiotics they have them on and taking the other off the other one. He decides which gets taken off of which anti-biotic by flipping a coin. Love that stuff. Final DX: Viral infection.

My favorite episode by far would be DNR from season one. A musician is seemingly diagnosed with ALS. Everybody gives up including the patient, but House does not. The patient signs a DNR but House resuscitates him (you gotta love that). In the end, House was right. It was an arteriovenous malformation, intradural compressing his spine. A new lease on life for the musician. Another life saved for House and gets a trumpet in return.

I've gotten to know so many things from House. Hahaha, not the learning source my med school mentors would have recommended but I learned nonetheless. The intricacies of Occam's Razor, Cysticercosis, Hemochromatosis, Sleeping Sickness, AV Malformations, Tumors, Wegener's, the oft-mentioned "Vasculitis," Porphyrias and more. The 4th season isn't done yet, but I've seen a few episodes. House is looking for new minions after Chase, Foreman, and Cameron resigned. The way he turns it into American Idol / Apprentice is priceless.

I've come to like a few other series, Grey's Anatomy to see the surgeons at work. I don't really care much for McDreamy and McSteamy, but Katherine Heigl is probably more pleasing to this observer's eyes. Oh and you have to know who is Meredith going to be with to join in the EMO conversations.

An underrated medical show I secretly like as well is SCRUBS. Medicine has its share of funny funny moments and I love this show for showing them.

The way doctors have been shown on TV is a gut check for all of us. As evidenced by the awards, attention and fans these shows get, us included, people know a bit of how our world works. A double-edged sword if I ever saw one. As much as we are amused, we should be every bit as careful with patients. Doctors are not the "gods" they once were and these shows have contributed to a lot of the publicity doctors get.

I say, let's take all we can from these shows...relaxation, laughs, fantasies (for all the McDreamy fans)... and not lose sight of what's happening off the tube.

Hayy, back to studying.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Red, White and Piston Blue

If there was anything I loved about the United States, it would be professional sports.

Yeah, yeah, echo all those stereotypes now, but yeah so what, I love sports. I'm a guy. Haha. I grew up on them. I've played almost everything from basketball, volleyball, tennis, softball, baseball, hockey, in-line skating, you name it (played soccer for a while until I broke my clavicle, I think), I've dabbled in it once or twice.

I write this one because I always get flak for cheering, uhm, loyally for my favorite basketball team, the Detroit Pistons.

I don't know but I'll always bleed the team colors. I really didn't care much for the time they wore teal green but cheered for them nonetheless.

From the first time I picked up a basketball at age 8, they were my team. The Bad Boys. Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Vinnie Johnson, James Edwards, John Salley, Mark Aguirre, Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn, coached by Chuck Daly, among others. They won two championships in 1988-1989 defeating the Lakers and 1989-1990 by defeating Portland, before they were finally knocked off by some guy named Michael.

After, I cheered through the doldrum years with Allan Houston, Grant Hill, Lindsey Hunter and the not so household names of Terry Mills, Ron Mercer, Bison Dele, Eric Montross, Christian Laettner. Good enough to make the playoffs but never a winner.

I really don't know why I follow them so much. I've tried endless times before to shift to cheering for a new team, but I still end up cheering for them anyway. BIRGing mama gaya? Haha. But I do and I will still.

Which is why when Joe Dumars rebuilt the franchise into the powerhouse that it is today, I felt, vindicated. When they toppled over the Lakers star-studded team in 2004, I was the only one cheering in Lola Inda's Eatery. Everybody was shocked when A TEAM beat THE team. A Five-Game Sweep, they say (For those not NBA-inclined a sweep is winning 4 games straight). They dominated every game except the overtime period in Game 2. Tayshaun Prince, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace became household names. Then they got FAT.

I mean content, too content. Which have led them to lose in the last 3 Eastern Conference Finals after making the last 6. They've lost that hunger. They may have been the better team in all those times but they were beat by hungrier, bolder teams.

Changes have been promised. Well, I'm excited and scared at the same time. Who knows what next season will hold for Pistons fans everywhere. You have to love this image of the Pistons on the rest of the NBA landscape. Retooling yet still a great team. People will soon know the names of Rodney Stuckey, Amir Johnson, Arron Afflalo, Jason Maxiell.

And on why I wear #4 on jerseys I usually sport?

Joe Dumars was a guy I emulated. He wore that number. The NBA Sportsmanship Trophy is named after him. When the Bulls finally found it in themselves to beat Detroit, all the Pistons walked off the court, except Dumars. He found his way to #23 and shook his hand and said his congratulations to them. And #23 has always said Dumars was the only defender he had a tough time playing against.

My girlfriend, who doesn't mind the Piston fanaticism, haha, asks why people cheer on sports teams? She said that you can't really cheer players because they come and go, get traded, sign somewhere else. You can't really cheer for management. You can't cheer for the city. So, in essence, all you're really cheering for are the uniforms.

Well, for me those uniforms, are red, white and blue.

Monday, June 9, 2008

More To Life

In a break while in the midst of books, cardiac outputs, respiratory function and Starling Laws (I'm reviewing Physiology right now), my mind drifts off to where I would be had I not chosen to take up Medicine.

My guess would be, I'd be in the United States, with two cars, a house and a steady job as a physical therapist.

Don't get me wrong, I love the work a PT does and I won't take away anything from having gone the US route. It is, after all, the well-beaten path to success as a PT. I hear of other former classmates and schoolmates having all the luxury, the prestige and the pride in answering the question, "Asa naman siya ron?" (Where is he/she now?) with some gusto like "New York", "LA", or "London." Even the less popular places get cred like "Missouri" or "Wisconsin" or "Nepal."

That is the mentality. Check that, that is the reality.

It not only is the glamour thing to do, it is now also the practical thing to do. Or should that be the other way around. I could discover the cure for cancer and fade into the background to a balikbayan nurse talking about an enema he/she gave a popular actor. Maybe an exaggeration, but is it really far from the truth? I don't know.

At a crossroads then, I realized, after months of self-inquiry and prayer, that I did not see myself there. I love being here. I want to be part of the solution here (if there is any). I wanted to make something of myself which I felt that being a physical therapist would not give me. The chance to make a difference. The chance to have an impact on other people here. Naivete talking again? Maybe, but 28 years of life on this earth would probably entitle me to refer to this as hope, however bleak it may seem.

Sure the cars sound nice (Jaguar X Series, BMW's, Benzs). A full-decked house with a pool and a den worthy of MTV Cribs would be a plus. The "prestige" of working abroad would be the icing on the cake.

Temporary high?

For me, I realize, the answer is yes.

Sure, I'll probably get a car someday, plan to travel to places nice and beautiful, get a house, have a familyl, and right now think of passing the boards and building a good career in medicine that challenges me and keeps me happy but in totality, I'd love to be just content.

Stacie Orrico said it best:

There's gotta be more to life
than chasing down every temporary high
to satisfy me.
Cuz the more that I'm
trippin' out thinking there must be more to life.
Well it's life, but I'm sure.
There's gotta be more...
than wanting more.