Friday, January 27, 2012

Chapter One

The cardiac monitor beeped out another alarm.

He woke up but all he could manage was silence and the opening of his eyes to the white hospital overhead lights.

From what he could see with his remaining gaze functions, he definitely was in a hospital room -- cool, moist, subdued -- he couldn't feel anything, any sensation but he had the feeling that's what this room would feel like. And from what remained of his memories of hospitals, he probably had wires going all the way to the monitor by his bedside, IV lines and catheters, as well as an NG tube for feeding.

Meds usually came like clockwork in the ICU. This much he knew.

He knew that he was in his bed, motionless but alive underneath clean white hospital sheets. His feet were most likely propped up by makeshift water balloons from sterile rubber gloves, and in his hands were silly red stress balls he couldn't grip.
His was the world of bleeps and alarms, and the rush through each of his doctors' day or the nurses' shifts.

But nobody else knew that he knew.

He had lost track of how long he has been in the state he was in. To the nurses and doctors who have slowly and sparingly visited him, he was staring out blankly into space, not being able to show any signs of recognition or any semblance of higher cortical function. He was muted by his disease. A "locked-in" syndrome was tossed back and forth between his neurologist and pulmonologist at one time, and a barrage of medical residents had chalked him off as a vegetable.

He too had nearly given up screaming from deep inside. He knew all too well that he was not reaching through the barriers of what was human understanding anymore.

So he stared out blankly once again at the immaculately white hospital ceiling. He knew that if he was capable of feeling, his back would be hot from all the lying down all these months. Were there any bruising? Open wounds already?

He blinked. One.

Again. Two.

And Again. Three.

The anguish of each minute passing buy with silence screaming more often than the sounds around him -- it was more than he could take. More than a few times, his thoughts had turned to how he could catch that train that kept passing him by to go into the white lights of heaven, but even that was beyond his reach.

Not now. Not yet.

She was coming.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reasons For A Sinulog

While I was hunkered down, trying to cram in what was going to be a few more days of miserable existence hoping to pass the diplomate exams, I wrestled with the reasons I found it somewhat amusing how Sinulog survives every year. Oh, and that's Sinulog in Cebu, for there really is no other.

10. THE SALES: The malls go on pretty good sales during this time of the year here in Cebu. Unfortunately, a lot of people go to the malls as well turning the often-comfortably-cool mall into a relatively warmer-slightly-uncomfortable-mall for me. But the sales are pretty good!

9. THE FASHION: Now, why would a guy like me care about that? Well, it's another reason to look at people and see what they come up with. This would be the time of the year where a guy can wear a bright pink cap with a neon green shirt and purple shoes and be straight, sane (until the alcohol or fashion police find him) and actually think he looks cool. This is the time where a girl can wear a short black mini-skirt with stiletto heels and a one-shoulder black blouse and walk the whole length of Mango avenue and thinks she looks hot. Well, one thing I'd confirm for everybody, she would certainly feel hot. People come up with a lot of wacky fashion sense during Sinulog, and you'd have to see it to make fun of it, err, believe it.

8. THE TRANSGENDERS: Well, if this wasn't the time and place for guys to look as good as girls and girls to look as fetching as guys, I don't know what is. Seriously, when Sinulog time comes every year, there are times when you really can't tell the difference. Oh, but those lording it over in the streets and directing the dances in the arena, there is no match for these guys. Makeup, fashion, celebrities, masks, dancing -- what more can gayness ask for?

7. THE CELEBRITIES: Really, the showbiz people come into town for the festivities. Homegrown talent and Manila-talent abound on floats and mall shows. If you really like the glitz and glamour of Manilalywood, then the stars are out in Cebu.

6. THE SHOW: People come from all over the country and from all over the world to see the Sinulog street dances and show. Once the drum corps, with the makeshift drums, get to beating out the rhythm, you'll slowly feel your head bobbing, and the next thing you know it you'll be swaying and just having a rolling good time. To those who aren't beat inclined, well, you can't help but actually be more fun when the guy next to you is just grooving to a beat without want for techno-crazed disco mixes and lyrics. The dancers in all their colorful costumes twirl and glide on the street and revel, whether in the sun or rain.

5. THE ECONOMY: Who doesn't benefit from the influx of people in the city? Except for the environmental technicians maybe, the local businesses, and heck, even the scam artists and pickpockets get a boost in income. The taxi driver I was riding home in at 5 in the morning had been driving for almost 24 hours straight to milk out more income from the fares of the crowds returning home from a night of partying. I was thankful that he didn't fall asleep at the wheel, which he expertly attributed to a coffee-laced candy he had taken earlier in the night.

4. THE ALCOHOL: It is endless. So are the people crawling home at 5 am in the morning. So are the people who get into fights and injured but heck, they sure had a good time doing it, albeit a bit drunk and memory-deprived in the morning. Beers, liquor, tequilas, cognac, gin, brandy -- every mind numbing drink is out in full force during the festival -- and well, what to do with a seemingly endless supply of alcohol? Drink it, of course.

3. THE FOOD: The food that Filipinos are known for, are out in abundance as well. The luscious lechons and the delectable barbecues, delicacies, fish, every mouth-watering aroma wafts in from everywhere. Every atherosclerosis-inducing morsel sumptuous to the last bit and the sweetness of the native fruits and mouth-watering desserts keeps you full and content enough to forget the need for angiograms and an HbA1c determination a few months from now.

2. THE GOOD TIMES: All the stuff that happens in Sinulog, stays in Sinulog -- not really. You'll remember it, once the alcohol wears off, and laugh again at the times with friends, family and people you knew for those fateful few days of revelry. You'll remember that once in a year, the streets belong to the people and no jeepney can take you down (albeit after a few shots). You'll want to come the next year to brave the searing heat and/or the drenching rains to jump up and down to the beats of the drums. For the lesser fortunate, you'll remember cutting yourself on the beer bottle that broke when you threw it on the sidewalk in glee! All in good fun!

1. THE FAITH: Let's not forget the very reason why it is "'pit Senyor" in the first place. It is the to celebrate the our unwavering belief in the Almighty that once took human form, and was a child (probably the coolest kid in the existence of humanity) and grew up to die on the cross for sins that were never His. It is this faith that we sangpit senyor to -- that we hold Him with the highest of regard and thank him, immeasurably, for all that He does for us. Nothing can make sangpit senyor more meaningful than a conversation with Him.

So here's to a great time during your own Sinulog!

'Pit Senyor!

Sinulog photo credits to: Karlo Matuguinas and Christopher Colinares (publicity ni bai, kung naa man gani mubasa!)

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Right Time

What is "The Right Time?"

This question came up again after a mishmash of decisions made and yet to be made have stacked themselves up on my table. Between that and upcoming exams and reports to be completed, I've simply come up with a short time frame to do every thing and hope for something good to come out of it.

Yet, there still is that question of when the right time actually is. Does anyone really know?

For the most part, I think it has been mostly used as a convenient excuse for not doing something. Like a what one says to a lover pining for one's affections but maybe there is just a better guy/girl out there, thus the jilting-the-lover excuse, "It's not the right time," and eloquently put to music by the Eraserheads (Pare Ko). One disregards the effort, weighted decisions, and sacrifice for that certain, or isn't it uncertain, time.

I've heard it used in other aspects of life, like careers (Oh, it's the right time for him to take that job.), and life moments (Oh, it's just about the right time for them to finally move in together), but that's AFTER things happen. Why not know the right time before we decide? Why not know it beforehand, because, I sure wouldn't want to be the one to wake up one morning and realize that the right time to read that chapter on heart failure was yesterday.

I've lived the most part of my existence with time-bound goals like a four-year high school, a five-year college course and the next years of medical school and slowly towards a medical career, but for the other parts, it has never been about a right time, but rather about right moments.

A man shouldn't propose to the woman of his dreams because the time is right, but rather because he feels the love they feel is right.

One shouldn't choose to go into medicine because it's just about the right time to go into an honorable career path, but rather it's because one decides its the right fit for him as a profession. (And quite frankly, if time is what you're worried about, it isn't medicine you want to go into).

The right time, doesn't exist.

The right people do. The right moments do.

And they count more than the seconds on that clock.