Sunday, November 27, 2011


I started watching downloaded episodes of The Big Bang Theory on my laptop a few months ago and it didn't take me long to realize, I had so much in common with these guys.

The realization that I was a nerd.

But what makes a nerd? Is it just wanting to be Lion-o of the Thundercats or be a member of the Silverhawks, or knowing that Patrick Stewart was Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation (a series which I absolutely adored? Wanting to be MacGyver?
At times, I find myself laughing so hard at what Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj talk about on the hit series and I find myself relating to everything they're doing. My wife apparently, who has come to grips with marrying one, laughs along as well.

The all knowing Wikipedia defines it as "a derogatory slang term for an intelligent but socially awkward and obsessive person who spends time on unpopular or obscure pursuits, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities." They are "stereotypically intelligent and but socially and physically awkward."

Hmmm. Hold up.  Wait a minute.

If it means growing up intellectually inclined, I guess, yes, I'm a nerd.

But I'd like to think I didn't grow up as a social outcast. I'm not saying I was a jock, given how most of my life I've made it a dream to win big on Jeopardy! but I had more than my fair share of stage time, lettered in almost every sport I could think of, dabbled in writing for the school paper and some, so pretty much a non-social outcast life.
But still, whose fault is it, (aside from myself) that has me thinking I'm more a nerd than most people I meet?

As I read on its origins, I realize that society at large is to blame. Popular culture makes this so. The norm established by "normal" people setting trends refer to social status and inclusion by referring to people of lesser stature in terms of social interaction -- the outsiders, the "nerds" -- for them to stand out.

Well, in those terms, I'm glad I'm a nerd. Seeing it through my eyes, they're the ones not on my social radar. They are outsiders to me and I'm pretty happy with how I've turned out. Even if it means knowing who Brent Spiner is.

As Charles Sykes said, "Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stepping Out The Door

On a bright sunny Tuesday morning, November 1, 2011, I glanced at the office's clock's second hand make its final turn. It was 7:30 am.

Flashback to the time when I first came in to this office 3 whole years ago. I arrived second that day, second to Mush, who would eventually become my competition for earliest to log in during that first year, and with whom I will proudly say, most of the time, haha, that we stuck through this residency gig and survived. It was November 1, 2008. 6:30 am. (Yes, I came in that early). A freshly minted and licensed physician armed with his stethoscope, sphygmomanometer and pen as weapons, and a trusty wooden clipboard as a shield, I went on duty.

I smiled as I sat in my usual place at the far end of the office table near the AC and the window. The early morning sunlight started peeking through the 3-year old curtains and the paging system crackled to life. I took a deep breath and lay back to stare at the ceiling. Mixed emotions washed over me as I took a mental picture of what would be the last view of this office as a medical resident at the same time, knowing I was a far cry from the physician I was when I first came here to train.

I reflected for a bit, standing up to put my things in order. I thought of the people that have come and gone -- patients who have gone home or have moved on to a better place, staff and personnel who have left for greener pastures or simply moved on to other fields, friends and colleagues who have come and gone as well -- and thought wow, it has been a great ride. The signs had been there the past few weeks -- new faces , new systems being put in place, new technology -- kind of heralding the culmination of a particular time in my life, and the beginning of another.

I finished endorsing every little thing I could think of to Pie, who is taking over my job, the night before. I checked in on the critical patient in 2A who was in severe congestive heart failure and I went on my last hospital rounds. I made sure to check the charts and the patients in each station before moving on to the next. I said my goodbyes to the hospital staff who were still on duty when I first took my first station (2C) and so with the personnel. Haha, most of them were happy to see me go, I think, for all the good and bad reasons, but hopefully mostly for the former.

I thought selfishly for a moment. I knew way before today, before I even first set foot in Perpetual Succour Hospital, what it would take to finish residency.

 Just give a damn.

Yes, if you actually care and feel the need to improve, you will find a way to do so. If you give a damn that your patient receive the best physician-care possible, you will actually give more than what is asked for. The drive of actually wanting to do a good job, will, most likely, make you do so. It will make you walk faster, get labs faster, think quicker, run, jump through hoops, prove people wrong and ultimately get the result you want. It definitely got me through the three great yet bone-tired years. It made me learn to operate the CT scan machine, just in case the technician wasn't there to do it. It made me push stretchers and ICU beds without transport personnel just so I could get imaging within the prescribed time limits. It made me brave enough to stand up to anybody, and I mean anybody, and say, all that I was doing was in the best interest of saving a life of another human being.

Apparently, the powers that be thought I was doing a good job, because they dumped a whole departmentload of responsibility on me in my senior year. Teaching the new residents, administrative, defense, representative -- all in stride, done and finished. To the open minds, I've shared most of what I knew. I've defended even those that were not worth the time for others, hoping that the promise of something better came along. And well, I felt like I did a pretty bang up job of everything.

But there's always a critic, a dissenting opinion, another point of view.

I was finishing putting my laptop in and took a sip from my gray cup of water. I glanced at the white board, the tables, the files and thought of the tears that were shed in this office, the arguments, the scolding and reprimands given, the countless questions rattled off in many a morning report or ICU rounds and the countless blank stares. But for all those things were overshadowed by the comebacks, the smart replies and right answers, the laughter and joys and the growth that stemmed from taking every little comment constructively. But most of all, their was strength and joy in sharing with people who actually gave a damn. Some more than others, but who cared nonetheless, to improve themselves for others.

My bags were packed and my office cubicle emptied. I slowly peeled off the taped name under my space. I turned the knob and halfway out the door, looked back inside for anything I might have left behind.


Just a whole load of wonderful memories and a immeasurable gratitude.

See you on the flipside, PSH.