Monday, February 27, 2012

The Drive Home

I've always thought there was something sort of spiritual with long road trips. So when I got off the barge bringing me across the Sibulan to Santander, I fastened my seatbelt and revved the engine of the trusty Mitsubishi Lancer lent to me for its last tour of duty.

As I pulled out the dirt road and onto the highways of South Cebu, I couldn't help but smile as my iPod blasted out "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2. You have to get that particular road trip soundtrack going. Just think Pierce Brosnan as James Bond zipping along the cliff roads with "I have climbed the highest mountains, I have run through the fields, only to be with you..." in the background. I got from 0 to 60-ish, looking out the car windows seeing the sun glint of the carpet of blue sea in the distance and just thinking, wow, what a great day, "And I still haven't found what I'm looking for..." sings along in my head.

It's a great way to think and run ideas through your head.

Like, what am I going to do now? Looking forward to further training. I laugh silently at both the notion of seemingly endless "training" I have to go through and finding myself at a crossroads akin to the one I faced almost 3 years ago. It is almost a certainty that further training lies ahead and I wish for openings, but if I have to wait, I will. In the meantime, I will most likely be doing clinics here and there, "covering", moonlighting.

I smile as I come to probably one of the most winding roads I've ever been on, and thanks to coincidence and because I loaded my iPod with songs from a bootleg copy of the Beatles' digitally remastered hits, "A Long and Winding Road," comes on.

My wind wanders off to thinking again while listening to the sound of tires whizzing along the asphalt. I laugh at the notion that Congress is trying to pass a bill that stops the portrayal of government officials as corrupt and villains in Philippine movies and television. I can't even begin to describe how dumb that sounds. From a million reasons ranging from simple creative license to how reality often breeds how we are seen on TV, I see no reason for them to actually be trying to pass this let alone come up with it. For this reason alone, I think that our officials are dumber than they appear to be. That may be a bit harsh. Maybe, it's them losing sight of what they are supposed to do, but I definitely feel dumber, just having even seen it on the news.

I zipped through Oslob, with their newfound whale shark tourism, Alcoy and their crystal clear waters, then Dalaguete, Boljoon, Argao, in whatever order they go.

A dozen thoughts come and go -- how Mike Ross is going to get away with being a lawyer in Suits, anti-heroes are the in-themes these days. How we find ourselves cheering for good bad people, is funny because we've come to the point where we think the ends justify the means. Maybe so, but one man's happy ending may not be one to someone else.

I come closer to Cebu, going through Sibonga and Carcar, and eventually found myself turning onto the SRP highway. Another Beatles' song comes on, "Here comes the sun," and I roll the windows and feel the wind in my hair. I look and see how I've gone through my bottled water and Mountain Dew, my pack of Nagaraya, and one bar of Snickers.

Hmm, weight loss, I know I can do it. The mind is willing but the body is weak.

How about that Jeremy Lin? It's amazing how Mike D'Antoni just has one go to play -- have the point guard run around the court until someone's open.

More thoughts for every mile

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Wedding

It is Valentine's Day. Nothing like professions of love to make the world go round during these next few days, and for the most part, we all are. There is nothing wrong with one single day devoted to the expression of love for the special people in our lives. If not every single day, then at least, there is Valentine's Day.

The Proposal

I wrote of a proposal almost a year and a couple of months ago, and they got married a few months after that. They still are happily together and this is a chapter in their story.


The Wedding

It was a perfect night – the stars were finally out after four days of incessant rain and typical Cebu October weather -- the moon was full and draped moonbeams across the manicured lawns of the beautiful chateau where he, not so long ago, asked her to marry him.
He had held his breath as he peeked through the doorway, marveling at the reception that awaited them. Lights were trailing down from the treetops as rain would trickle down from parted heavens or the morning dewdrops rolling down a flower petal, a majestic red carpet rolled straight down the middle of tables adorned with umbrellas of different colors but lined with the familiar shades of green and purple.

The past few months were a blur – the preparations and planning all came down to this moment. He looked at his beautiful beaming bride holding his hand and she looked back her eyes twinkling, her smile radiant and felt that nothing could be more beautiful in this world.

“Shall we?” he asked, beaming back.

“Yes.” She managed to say while reaching out to take his hand. He marveled at how her hands fit comfortably into his and took it and led her in to him for a kiss.

He heard the reception host say their names over the sound system and he led her out to a rain of confetti and cheers. He heard her laugh and greet people as they strolled down the carpeted path to their table as he turned and smiled to dozens of familiar faces on his side as well. They came to a stop in front of the applause, smiles, and tears, as there was nary an uplifted heart in that garden of lights.

He stood and faced her, as the constant banter of the host kept the applause going, and held her other hand in his. She was laughing, giggling and effervescently happy as she gazed back into his eyes.

“Wow.” He said to himself, knowing no words could describe everything he felt.

“So this is it?” He said loudly, laughing, to be heard above the applause.

“Haha, yup,” she replied, laughing along with him. They had toyed with the idea of practicing the kiss after a meeting with their host, but it always ended up funny scripting their kiss. Their conversations had ended up with them laughing and hushed questioning of what they needed the practice for.

“Let’s see a 10 second, hot, steamy….kiss!” He heard the host say just above the din of his thoughts, and laughed. She laughed in return, her eyes still sparkling and moved closer to meet him, halfway for the kiss – sweet, tender, and as beautiful as any moment can ever be, while cheers erupted around them in a countdown that he wished wouldn’t stop.

Flashing through 10 seconds were the beautiful moments of the afternoon’s ceremony. The church aisle was adorned with majestic white flowers and balls, and recalled how he caught his breath while watching her come down the aisle. No tears, no sadness – just joy, as he serenaded her passing down the aisle to the silent whispers of admiration until he took her hand to sit and kneel with him in front of the altar. The frequent professions of love, leaning to each other and whispers that she looked every bit the beautiful bride, drew a smile every time. Everything was dreamy as the heartfelt vows were exchanged and the rings went onto each their fingers, and a union sealed with a blessing and a kiss.

They were married! He silently thought, as the count filled up to 10. She opened her eyes, and smiled and gave his hand a squeeze, “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” He replied, knowing nothing more certain or absolute in his life.

The night would go on with great food and music. There was never a dull moment – their host made sure of that. Her nephew had ran up and down the aisles with a big confetti stick in his hand, their friends and family had enjoyed the speeches and the videos and each other’s company, the squeals of delight and laughter filled the air again as the garter and flower exchange was made untraditionally, going to a classmate of theirs from medical school and a nurse from the hospital she worked in.

From their table, he glanced at the scene before him and leaned in to her and said, “Hey.”

“Hey.” She said, flashing him another smile, squeezing his hand.

“We’re married.” He stated, showing her the ring she had placed onto his hand earlier that afternoon. They had picked out their rings and kept it simple – white gold with each half of a heart emblazoned in the center, that it was complete when put together.

“Yup, we are.” She said, showing her own ring and setting her hand on his.

“I love you.” He said, as he leaned in more to kiss her.

“I love you more.” She replied.

He smiled. Normally he would have said most, but just let it pass. The thought that he was with someone who loved him, immeasurably, brought a smile to his face as she kissed him back.

Rain slowly fell from the heavens, just as the program was drawing to a close. It didn’t fall like the relentless downpour in the last few days, but the kind that lightly caressed your skin and felt more like a blessing than precipitation.

As they watched their guests bid their good-night’s and well wishes, they stood together. He placed his arm around her, and she did him one over by turning to face him and put her arms around his neck and kissed him.

It was there on that viewdeck, at that chateau, on that beautiful night, that he remembered the day he asked her to marry him. Now a few months older, he said, “Thank you for marrying me.”

She replied with a smile and that familiar twinkle in her eyes that never got old, “Thanks for asking.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Medical Consults and Whatnot...

Cough. Cough.

Since arriving home, I've been asked not once, not twice but 3 times in the first day back about what to give for a cough.

Well, I'm a doctor that really doesn't like to give medications that aren't needed. So, my usual response is, to do what I usually do. Drink lots and lots of water.

A cough is not really a bad thing. It is a defense mechanism by our upper airways to expel any foreign particles or any foreign matter that triggers it. In essence, it's a good thing that we cough, so don't be too quick to suppress it.

Well, I've always maintained that the only indication for treating a cough is if bothers you. I mean interfere-with-daily-functions bother you. Like if you have to light the stove and you put the fire out with your cough. This includes if the cough is indicative of any underlying disease and other pathologic states.

I really don't want to go into the details of cough treatment, but the bottom line is not all cough is bad.

But please, don't take my word for it. Go see your doctor.


I've always wondered what philosophy our hospitals based the act of having family members remove an endotracheal tube from a patient on a ventilator from. I think some forward thinkers have already corrected this practice somewhat, with medical ethics taking a prominent role in what doctors do.

But still, most hospitals still stick to the practice of having family members take the ET tube out. Ethics aside, doctors stand by the hospital in this act, probably to save ourselves the trouble or to absolve ourselves from any act that, seems, to go against our oaths.

This is provided, of course, that a DNR has been discussed and signed.

During my residency, I found medical personnel having to take out IV lines, NGT's, stopping all medications prior to sending terminal patients home against medical advice to pass away peacefully at home, but leaving the ET tube removal for the family.

I don't get it. We put it in. Don't we have to take it out?

Fireworks Over Toccoa

Just because there are millions of stars in the sky, it doesn't mean you can't make your own.