Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Medicines Are Funny Funny Things...

I am a really funny doctor.

Most of the time, while I'm giving prescriptions to my patients, I find myself asking if the medications I'm actually giving really do work. I wouldn't go as far as saying I doubt every medication I dole out, but I find myself skeptical most of the time.

Take for instance, cough medications. I've given my share of cough medications over the years I've had in medicine from internship to residency, and none of them seems to really stop the cough. Mucolytics, expectorants, antitussives, antihistamines ugghh, they seem to just not do the job. So, if asked what medication I'd want to give to patients having cough, on instinct, I'd say water. After all it still is the best mucolytic, in my opinion.

Well, it's different if you know the problem, say TB or Pneumonia, for which we can treat the cause of the problem. Antibiotics are great drugs. But again, there are stuff to consider like resistance, the bacteria you're up against on whether they're wearing Amoxicillin shields or Cephalosporin-proof vests. So you end up with just a grand old time figuring out what to give until the sensitivity testing comes out, that is if there are discs to use or microbes that grow on the cultures. Which is why most doctors start out with really broad spectrum antibiotics nowadays and work it down once the testing comes out.

Neuroprotective agents for strokes? Hmmm, skeptical, though theoretically sound.
Appetite stimulants? Nothing more appetizing than a well-cooked and seasoned meal.
Vitamins? A good diet is still the way to go, in my opinion. Vitamins will not save your liver if you keep on drinking alcohol or your lung if you keep on smoking. Most people think all they need are vitamins, asking for them left and right, and I make a face, but when all that's said and done, what they need is a healthy lifestyle, a healthy diet, a good dose of exercise and proper hygiene.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trashing medications nor am I trashing my own profession. I love my job (though it's been often described as having a degree in knowing nothing) as we often get to save lives provided we get the right medications to the patient.

And there are drugs I believe in, after all, I'm still in Internal Medicine, say adenosine. I marvel and I hold my breath at the same time while watching that long, long, really long pause on the scope and gradual return to sinus after a supraventricular tachycardia. There are others like beta-blockers, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and a host of emergency drugs.

There still is good old Paracetamol, which when combined with a properly done tepid sponge bath brings down any fever in a matter of minutes. The nebulizations are pretty dramatic as well. Cardiac-wise, warfarin and aspirin have been pillars of the medical arsenal for a very very long time.

Medicines are really funny things. Some work. Some don't. Some you just can't see.

I guess that's why doctors are around to figure stuff out.

If we ever do. Hehe.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kaleidoscope World

When Francis M passed away last week, I didn't think I'd be that affected, given that I never knew the guy, I didn't avidly follow his music nor did I patronize his clothing line.

But when news of his death broke out on the news, I could not help but feel the loss being shared by the members of the entertainment industry. It was more than just another showbiz personality passing away -- definitely, more than just that.

Well to me, Francis M played a big role in MY generation. Sure, we all did the dance to "Man from Manila" and "Mga Kababayan" way back in grade school. Some of my classmates even went as far as to imitate his clothing choices. At that time, he made rap cool. He was Philippine rap, hence his showbiz-imposed coronation as the king of Philippine rap.

What I most remembered about him during the days when I'd be playing marbles beneath the calachuchi tree in my grade school or sweating in the midday sun playing basketball with my worn Grosby rubber shoes or whether I'd just be sipping my Hi-C Orange drink in one hand and a 5-peso bag of spicy hot peanuts in the other, was that he championed the Filipino. And for that, I'd always feel connected to him in some way.

As I grew older, in my opinion, so did his music. I grew to like his Rap is FrancisM album and particularly liked "Meron Akong Ano" and the Royal Tru Orange jingle "Ito ang Gusto Ko."

But his masterpiece, in my opinion, had to be "Kaleidoscope World." It became an anthem for peace, equality, pride and a host of other things and it helps that it has great melody to groove along to.

I grew with Francis M. That is why in his passing, I can't help but be sad, not just because we've lost a pioneer in our entertainment industry, nor is it because I feel my age with his death, but it's more because my generation has lost an icon that championed Filipino pride, music and equality.

Rest in peace FM.

Truly, Every color, every hue
Is represented by me and you
Take a slide in the slope
Take a look in the kaleidoscope
Spin it 'round, make it twirl
In this kaleidoscope world.

A FreeMan with A Free Mind