Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gifts and Times on Santa's Porch

Sometimes, the best gifts are those not placed under the living room Christmas tree.

When we were kids, Santa would leave gifts on our back porch -- something for my brother, sister and me -- be it a much-awaited GI Joe, a Matchbox car set, a Barbie, the newest Hardy Boys mystery. It was always something we always looked forward to come Christmas morning, as we threw up our bedcovers and ran to the back porch, finding our new gifts, unwrapping them and playing with them until lunch time.

As years went by, the gifts weren't left on the porch anymore but Santa must have been in a wee hurry as he left them with our parents and they gave it to us in the morning. Still, we'd be playing in that back porch/storage area (as it was converted to store most of the junk in our house) for a while. My brother and I would be setting up GI Joe camps all over while sometimes my sister would play with her coffee/dining set and dolls.

The house got renovated and the back porch made way to a bathroom for my parents bedroom, we grew busy with school and eventually moving to different career paths. The gifts of Christmas still come but in a more traditional way under the Christmas tree in the new downstairs living room. Santa must be mailing in presents now as he would be too old to be riding his sleigh and Rudolph's hooves might need retreading.

But still, I remember that crowded back porch and spending time with my brother and sister. The laughs and the fights, I realize now, were the true gifts and not the toys we played with or the books we got to read. It was the time spent with each other that we received and that is what matters most.

Santa, indeed, knows best.

My grown-up Christmas list has not been written yet but as a postscript, it will be sure to include:

1. Tonett and me surviving our first years of residency
2. Success and contentment to all of our friends and siblings
3. Good health to all our families
4. Guidance in the work we do
(I reserve the uhm right to add more once the need arises)

Truly these won't fit on any porch, but I'll take it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Headache? Bang your head against the wall...

I am dead tired.

I went through my first day of pre-residency -- pretty much just shadowing my senior residents at the ER and in the wards, getting the hang of doing rounds again, getting a feel for new consultants i don't recognize, and of course the sleepless nights.

And I'm really tired.

And maybe I could stay up long enough to cry and make this another post for Doc Ness' MUSH TBR edition.

I've been awake for almost 40 hrs now with only an hour or two of staggered naps.

I know this is still pre-residency so I sit there at the ER counter doing what I can to help, and shudder as I get a glimpse of what I will be doing for the next three years. And it's BUSY as HECK!!!!!

No interns to help you. Histories. Progress Notes. ER duties. Admissions. Ward IV insertions and other procedures. Updating consultants. Getting scolded by consultants. Learning. Studying. No sleep. Paperwork. Seniors. Rounds. Presentations. Research. Finding time for a bath or a decent meal.

Why do we medical creatures have to go through all the trouble?

If we want a headache to get better, we take away the pain, not add to it, right?

Well, maybe it is to make it all worth it.

As I type this, my eyelids are all droopy, a bit bloodshot, and tomorrow, I'll get up, hopefully on time, and do it all over again.

The workload is scary. The stress immeasurable. The demands near unbearable. But many have come before me and made it through, and so will I forge on with this life called residency training.

Though I've never really come to it in my life and never plan to, at least blogging will have made me a better resignation-letter writer. Hahahaha!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

At The Beginning

All the roads that I've taken have come to a beginning, not an end, but yet another beginning. Another road that I'll soon be embarking on will be the way of the Internal Medicine Residency avenue. I don't know what it holds or whether I'll stay the course but I've never wavered and well, here we go again.

I've never really had a plan and admittedly, I've been winging it since high school, taking the courses I knew would pose reasonable challenges for me and keep me interested. The road took me through college, PT internship and boards, medical school and the medical boards -- with no regrets. I remember Michael J. Fox's movie, The Secret Of My Success, and I realized I've never had a secret, let alone a blueprint for whatever success I, we aspire for.

It's not that I'm questioning whether I love IM enough to make it a living, and I love the profession, but the uncertainty of what the future holds for everyone throws everything up in the air. But seeing most of my consultants (especially one monument of a gastroenterologist at SUMC) gladly peering over charts, taking joy in ordering TBDBIB, teaching interns like me on parenteral nutrition, and seeing the full trust in a patient's eyes when you explain a diagnosis, it all seems so worth it.

It has never been about the money for me. Yes, the naive idealism comes into play again, but truthfully, it never has been.

A couple of people think I should be in surgery because that's where the money's at, and I just politely smiled. Some have tried to convince me that money in the States is where it's at as well.

I can't say I've never dreamt of having a big house with a lawn and a pool, 5 cars, jetsetting all over the world, and living in a country where labor is more rewarded and a government that actually works. I have, but maybe I'll just take a vacation every now and then. It's about leaving something for the world to remember me by. Gaya calls it an impact in others lives for her. I don't know if it would be too much to ask for me to discover the cure for cancer or the common cold, would it? Haha, I'll just take making people remember me for the work I did as a human being, whether it be with a stethoscope draped around my neck or not.

I'm starting in exactly a day from now, and I'll be on duty on the first day. It's scary and exciting at the same time.

Here goes nothing.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Boys Don't Cry

No way.

It's unnatural.

It's a girly thing to do.

It's not like we have lacrimal glands like all the women do. Nope, we are the emotional pillars of society. Men just don't cry.

If ever one of you people see any grown men crying, smack them right up on the side of their head and tell them they should come to their senses, and smack them right up on the other side for crying where people can see. It's one thing to be crying, but to be crying in front of people? Oh the shame...

Sad shouldn't even be an emotion for men. Come on you testosterone-laden drones! You are the rock, and should never falter. No tears.

It is not worth the tears to even think of crying for the anguish on Nicholas Cage's face when you come to the realization Meg Ryan dies just he, as an angel, gives up his existence and eternity to be with her and spends one blissful night. No. Not even worth the tears.

There really isn't any reason why your eyes should be welling up with tears when you watch Richard Dreyfuss' Mr. Holland's disappointment when he, as a music teacher, has a deaf son or when the moment comes that he takes up the baton, climbs up the stage, and realizes that after so many fruitless years of trying to make the perfect symphony, he sees that his opus was his students who loved him and played his concierto.

No. Resist crying.

It's not a man thing to do.

Don't allow your emotions to rule you. Even if you get to know a patient and his family, and realize at the time where signing the death certificate your words of empathy means a lot. Nope, no crying. Not even if you shared a joke, laughter and smiles during the good times when you visited his room. Not even if you're seeing a mother say her last goodbye to her child flatlining, and there's nothing else you can do.

No tears for the cute and cuddly kid on the respirator, or the 7-year old in dengue shock. None for the kind old lady who offered you her breakfast as she lay in bed for a week waiting for family to visit.

You have to be strong.

Sure, you're heart will get broken once or twice in this lifetime. You'll find out some people just don't get you or pick on you for no reason really. There will be times when you feel like you just don't belong and there really isn't a good enough reason to smile.

No crying.

You shouldn't even feel that wave of sympathy for Noah Calhoun as you see his love overflowing on the pages of your well-read and tattered copy of Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook. You shouldn't feel part of his love mixed with anguish as he tries to win back his wife every single day at their nursing home, bringing her flowers, and reading poetry every day wooing her. Jeez, what a sap.

I don't care if you are cooking with a hundred onions. Suck it in! Be a man! Men just don't cry!

In times where you feel that the downs of life, sadness, grief, and despair. Don't break down and let your tears flow. No. Don't.






(read again, this time, with a healthy dose of sarcasm)

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Years Gone By

When we were told back in the first year of med school at Cebu Institute of Medicine, to choose a batch name, we did not really know how big an issue it was.

We chose to name ourselves, Batch 1 Set A, for the endless exams we had to face at the beginning and eventually, all throughout, medical school.

Back in the 2nd year, I attempted to get a picture of everybody so I could make a video montage of all of us at the end of the journey that is, medical school. I could not get a good shot of everybody, so to those who don't get face time, I just didn't get a good candid mugshot of you, and by no means are you less remembered.

We're setting off on our own now. Each taking our own road, but I know those roads meet somewhere up ahead, and it will be great seeing how we turn out.

For all the good times and the bad, the happy moments and the sad, the times where we thought we'd never make it at all, I'm glad we always had each other to turn to.

The silver jubilee everybody keeps talking about is too long a time, jeez, but don't be strangers, keep in touch.

See ya'll soon.


The great non-people pics are found at picture stock exchange. Thank you.

Other pics of the batch courtesy of the great Ligaya Solera (copyrighted na ra ba siya, sosyal)and our yahoogroups at Princess Giva.
A big thank you to Doc Ness for teaching a blog newbie the secrets of video embedding.

Soundtrack: "Oh How The Years Go By" by Amy Grant; I told Shailyn this would be a better song for the Oathtaking but there wasn't really much time to get to learn it so I'm using it here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Huff and a Puff

There has been a renewed effort in the battle against the dangers of smoking these past few days as medical societies all over the world, I think, have launched yet another Anti-Smoking Campaign against the addiction.

I've never smoked, nor have I ever felt the appeal to do so. And I guess, that's the key to stopping this habit -- Don't start at all.

The Philippine government enacted the Tobacco Law a couple of years back with several noteworthy stipulations for the average nonsmoking folk like me.

For one thing, it punishes smoking in public areas. But it has not stopped brazen smoking in the jeepneys of Cebu, in my opinion. Everybody, you are in line when you tell someone on a jeep to stop smoking. But rarely have I heard anybody do that. Nobody ever died from daggered staredowns, but so many die from lung cancer attributed to passive cigarette smoking. It's time for vigilance to step up, people.

The Law also bans cigarette brand advertisements. Not that it has completely prevented the "guerilla advertising" of cigarette companies by coloring a particular sari-sari store of its brand colors, but it certainly has tempered the invitations into the habit.

The next step getting flak is the placing of pictures on cigarette boxes. Pictures of diseased lungs, babies affected by the cigarette smoking, and even the effects on sexual function. I watched a smokers' rights attorney vehemently arguing the insensitivity of the move and asks "How would you feel if they put pictures of diseased livers on the bottles of beer you drink?"

I'd say I'd be downright fine with it.

There are so many factors going into the vice of cigarette smoking. Ultimately, it boils down to choice. One can choose not to do it. A smoker can choose to stop or go on (but please pray tell me, what are you going to do with the 4,000 or more chemicals you inhale into your body?).

It's all elementary now. You know it's bad for your health. It's addictive. It takes away a portion of hard-earned money. It affects your sexual potency, people! Wake up!

Seriously, do you really want to wait until you get a disease before you decide it's bad for you?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Of Weight, Weddings and W(R)ent

Uggghhh. My right knee is killing me.

Has age finally caught up with me? Am I supposed to be experiencing this at the tender age of 28? Hahaha. My ankles hurt too and often freeze up when I'm in the cold and when I suddenly bear weight.

That's the key word. Weight. I simply have to much of it. I think. Haha, doctors simply make the worst patients. Well, it's definitely not gout because I had my uric acid levels taken days before the pains started a few months ago, and they were all normal.

I can't be having osteoarthritis at 28 can I? Hmm, what about RA or juvenile RA? I hate having to diagnose myself. Hahaha.

So I'm chalking it up to being overweight. Way overweight.

Gone are the days when I was reed-thin. Ask all the people who saw me in high school and they'll tell you I used to be lanky dorky thin.

Gone are the sports I used to indulge in. I eat too much for my 28-year old metabolism to adjust to. Ugghh. I have to get back in shape. The best exercise these days for me is running to a code.

I vow to be in better and healthier shape. My exercise regimen always starts on the same day...tomorrow.


I saw the movie Rent again today and I still am of the opinion that it is one of the better modern musicals made. Beautiful songs like Seasons of Love, No Day But Today, and I'll Cover You, all meld beautifully in the fabric of the message of the story --that our lives are simply lived better with people around us who share and care and love.

As the musical's flagship song put it, it's all about "measuring life in love."


To all those who saw the movie "The Notebook" and did not bother to read the actual novel by Nicholas Sparks, are not only missing beautiful parts of the story between Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson. For one thing, they didn't actually die at the end like how the movie implied they did.

It's one of the more beautiful stories I've ever read (nope, not gay, haha) and I'm not ashamed to say that. But the book is way better than the movie, that I have to proclaim.

Anyway, my cousin is getting married in a few days and after scouring the house and organizing some of my books, I found the sort-of sequel to The Notebook, entitled, The Wedding. It's just as sweet a story but different theme. You should read it -- second and third chances and whatnot, roses, weddings -- love story galore.

I have no part in my cousin's wedding, but a bunch of relatives and my brother is coming home, so it's always great to be in the company of people you care about.

I'll stop ranting now and tend to my aching aching knee.