Wednesday, October 29, 2008

what you can learn in the basement

A trip to the Metro basement can be an illuminating experience. Bet you didn't know:

- that fancy toilet bowls can cost up to P25,000
- that the cheapest bowls with built-in flushing systems cost around P6,000 (and tend to resemble those things in schools that are often out of service)
- bowls without built-in flushing systems cost only around P700, if my memory serves me right

And to think... Well, let's not go there.

Oh, and a nondescript bath tub costs P10,000.

Thank me later.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mere Christianity

If I had lots and lots of money, I would give everyone a copy of Mere Christianity. It is a book based on a series of talks given by C. S. Lewis and broadcast over the radio during the war (the Second World, I think). I read the first two parts as a compilation entitled The Case for Christianity years ago. (I bought the compilation at a National Bookstore sale for peanuts.) I got the actual book 2 or 3 years ago but I'm only reading it now, taking my time because each chapter is a lot to digest. Still, everything inside is worth it.

If I talk a lot about C. S. Lewis, it's because he manages to explain spiritual things with such clarity that, not only do they actually make sense, it's actually just common sense. Mere Christianity is the book for people who can't get their rational minds to come to terms with religion as they know it. But whether you guys believe in a God or not, are Christian or not, or belong to different denominations, it's a good, honest, sensible, refreshing and life-changing read.

Excerpts here. (And more excerpts to come.)

Monday, October 27, 2008


I like Math. I realize that makes me an alien, but I like it. I can't ride a bike to save my life, and my leadership skills are nil, but I can do Algebra (or used to, and make that high school Algebra), and I actually think it's fun. Remember back in high school, when they have you prove that two triangles are congruent using all these theorems as proof? Gosh, I wish Medicine was as simple as that.

Did I mention I dreamed of studying in MIT?

Plus! They even give you credit for trying! Remember those word problems, and they make you write the "Given" and the "Asked" and the "Solution," and they give you points for getting the first two right? Those word problems are, like, microcosms of life. What's the problem? What do I know? What don't I know? What do I need to know? How do I do it? All right, let me try. Done! (Or not. Points for trying nonetheless.)

It's been a lengthy introduction. What I actually want you guys to do is click HERE and have a right laugh. Go on, you need one!

Monday, October 20, 2008


While doing research for something I was writing, I came across the American College of Physicians' website and noticed this:

"The term 'hospitalist,' first coined in 1996 in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, refers to general internal medicine physicians who care exclusively for hospitalized patients."

Another click.

"Some of the most commonly cited reasons for choosing hospitalist practice are as follows:

1. the opportunity to focus on inpatient care - many find it more rewarding and stimulating than ambulatory care

2. many hospitalists feel like their training provided better preparation for inpatient care than ambulatory care

3. hospitalist practice is a simpler business to manage than outpatient private practice

4. a hospitalist can be busy on the first day of work and doesn't need to spend months or years building a practice, as can be the case for office-based practice

5. greater flexibility in scheduling, e.g., many hospitalists don't follow a typical Monday to Friday schedule

For many, the most significant drawback to hospitalist practice is that it must be a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week enterprise. That creates some challenges in scheduling, and can result in a schedule that requires working more nights and weekends than in outpatient-based practice. But usually this is offset by more weekdays off."

Okay, now. Here's my point: I don't want it.

I want to be the opposite of a hospitalist. I want to set up my own outpatient clinic, preferably some place where people know me and can decide whether they trust me with their ailments or not. If all I get are common colds and fever, that's fine.

I know a lot of people who are or would make brilliant hospitalists. I know a lot of people who have both a healthy outpatient practice and a rewarding inpatient practice. That's great. But if someone started a trend towards being a hospitalist, why shouldn't I head off to the opposite direction and start my own trend, even if nobody follows it but me?

My response to the "most commonly cited reasons":

1. What I find rewarding is helping patients, period. Especially patients who look at you with real gratitude in their eyes, because you've given them something they can't afford.

2. This is exactly why I haven't started residency training, because I haven't found a program that would better prepare me for outpatient primary health care instead of inpatient care.

3. Life is complicated. Deal.

4. As a friend once said, it isn't about the moolah. I hear consultants lamenting their lack of time for themselves and their families. I don't ever want to get to that point.

5. The logic is weird, considering the paragraph that followed it. But whatever.

A lot of people -- like, a lot -- have urged me to start residency training already. I know they do it because they care. And because that's all they know of becoming a doctor: medical school - pgi - boards - residency/specialization. I get a lot of people urging me to specialize in neurosurgery. All they know is the prestige, the big bucks. They don't know what it takes, what one has to give up, what it will mean for the rest of one's life. I get it: that's the way most people do it. But get this: I don't care. And I'm tired of having to explain myself.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Plantation Bay (thank you Ton!)

Aivan graduated from his Mechanical Engineering program last Saturday, and his brother Tonton treated him and their entire family to an overnight stay at Plantation Bay in Mactan, where Tonton works as a lifeguard.

Plantation Bay boasts of beautiful accommodations and fun recreational activites for guests. Here, Aivan poses in some of the resort's scenic spots.

I couldn't stay overnight because I work night shifts, but I was able to go around the resort and try the various activites that it offers. I was able to do wall climbing and archery for the first time!
Our afternoon ended with a banana boat ride. Well, actually, we just climbed up the banana boat and had our picture taken because there was something wrong with the speedboat that was supposed to tow us. But, in exchange, they let us jetski for a couple of minutes. Yey! That's Aivan, Nikki (their cousin), me, and Kim (their brother-in-law) in the picture on the left. That's Nikki and me on the right.Here's a view of one of the Plantation villas. A lagoon surrounds just about everything in the resort. And, on the right, are some of Tonton's co-workers who graciously accommodated us.

Fun! If you're interested, the Plantation Bay website has more photos and accepts reservations. (Rooms start at $190++ or ~P10,000. Of course, at that amount, you can book a promo round-trip flight to Bangkok. Take your pocket-burning pick. Cheers!)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

what am I doing these days?? hmm...

I am exploring uncharted territories. At least, if there's a chart somewhere, no one's showing it to me. What am I doing? Hmm... Let's see... Since passing the August board, I have tried:

1. Doing Free Clinics for a pharmaceutical company. The term "free clinic" is used liberally in this case, since the "clinics" are mostly done at pharmacies where the company's products are being sold, and most of the people who come to pharmacies have already been to a doctor. I mostly suggest vitamin/mineral supplements for people, and they are given samples of these. Hmmm. It was actually my uncle (a surgeon) who got me this gig. It's a decent gig, I've gotten to know two of my cousins better (they're nurses and had the more toxic job of getting people's BP), and I occasionally come across people who are really sick and can't afford to go to a doctor.

2. Moonlighting. Jo Anne and I tried reliever duty for a doctor in the district hospital in Barili. We thought it would be non-toxic. Hahaha! We delivered 5 babies -- 3 of whose mothers were in the delivery room simultaneously -- and had a dyspneic patient who wouldn't respond to oxygen and nebulization. We had a child coming in for a febrile seizure whom we had to refer, because the hospital had run out of diazepam. Oh, and yeah, we had run out of Epi too. (Thank God no one needed it.) And we had a potential multiple gestation (there are no ultrasound equipment or even a Doppler in Barili and the doctor before us said she thought she could hear two fetal heartbeats) and were advised by the doctor we relieved to just deliver the first twin and refer the patient to Sotto if we couldn't deliver the second. SERIOUSLY?!?! Dangerous doctors do abound! I immediately went to the Labor Room and advised the patient to transfer LIKE NOW but she WOULDN'T. Dangerous patients too! Thank God there was only one baby.

3. HMO Work. Soon. I have a gig next week. Just one, though. I thought I'd just try it and see how it goes. Oh, and the HMO lady asked me if I could do a talk on breast cancer awareness and stress management. Some things are beyond me. I declined.

4. I watched Doc Che on Proudly Filipina as a Doctor to the Barrio. Watching isn't good as doing it, though. (Hindi ako nakahabol sa requirements ko, Doc Che, and also I wasn't sure if I could do it at such short notice... DOH 7 said kasi na next year pa tapos 2 weeks na lang pala until deployment... I got scared, hehe! So I'm still re-growing my roots here at home. But I really like the idea.)

5. And now? I'm working for a medical software company. (It's a long story.) I'm not the company physician, but sometimes my co-workers ask me stuff. And our office is located beside a medical transcription company. Hehe... Not the same as doing it, but, basta!

I don't know what I'm doing actually. I am, to be more precise, drifting in uncharted territories, and along the way I decided I might as well explore them. All right, I don't have a chart. But I do have a game plan of sorts. I do know what I want to do, eventually. It's just taking me a while to figure out how to get there in a way that would be acceptable to all my stakeholders. So there, that's out, I do care what people think.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

love and tears

"I will not say: do not weep, for not all tears are an evil." This is what Gandalf says to the hobbits when he and the High Elves and the Ring Bearers leave Middle Earth. (More LOTR quotes here.)

Here's another quote about crying:

"It is better to cry than to be angry because anger hurts others while tears flow silently through the soul and cleanses the heart."
Pope John Paul II

For a girl who thinks she's quite tough, I actually cry easily. I don't cry at weddings or romantic movies, but sometimes kahit my own, random thoughts make me cry. Recently, a few tears escaped my eyes when I read my Papa's blog (yes, he's written a new post at last), and before that I cried unexpectedly when I told my sister I missed her and loved her (which is weird, di ba dapat siya ang mag-cry? Hehehe...).

A week ago, I heard the song Leader of the Band playing on the radio of the cab I was riding, and that made me cry, too. That song always has that effect on me, especially that line that goes, "And, Papa, I don't think I said 'I love you' near enough."

My mother only learned to use the cell phone when I went to Silliman and Lani went to Manila. Whenever I re-read her texts, I cry, too. Here's a sample:

"Gud evening ate gay, mana ka eat? Gud nyt sab daan i know nga bc ka but text lang ko nimo hoping nga mabasa nimo we luv u and take care"
(Good evening, Ate Gay [that's me], have you eaten? Good night in advance. I know you're busy, but I just text you, hoping you'll get to read it. We love you and take care.)
--> Yikes, I suck at translating. But I hope the message comes through.

I cried when my dog Chico died after a prolonged fight with Parvo. I still remember how buotan (mabait) a dog he was, and how, during his last few days, we felt so helpless as he slowly lost his strength and could no longer eat and finally succumbed. I recalled our heart-wrenching experience in losing a beloved pet when, just a few days ago, Aivan lost his baby pit pull Murdoch to a hit-and-run. He bawled as I had never heard him bawl before.

When I think about it, it's not our enemies that make us cry the most, it's our loved ones.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This is my [dali-dali] entry to the latest edition of The Blog Rounds, hosted by Doc Ness.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008


I'm starting a new series of posts, and I'll call them all "seriously?" They won't actually be, like, serious posts but links to articles that will make us all say -- all together now -- "seriously?" This will be my tribute to Meredith, who looked like she was getting her happy ending last season but -- based on the show's previews now running at Studio 23 -- probably won't.

First up: fish being used as currency in American prisons. It doesn't sound too interesting, said like that, but read this article for yourself and you'll see what I mean. Besides, the story hits close to home because I have a cousin-several-times removed who is named Mackerel. Yeah, seriously.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

breaking up is hard to do

The heat at 1 o'clock in the afternoon is unbearable; at least it is in my sister's bedroom, where I tried to sleep after my first day (er, night, actually) at work. So I broke off my planned 8-hour sleep and headed downstairs, where my mother was watching One More Chance. As I fiddled around with my computer, I couldn't help listening to snatches of the dialogue, and then whole conversations, and then finally giving the movie my almost undivided attention (just almost, as it's still playing while I write this.)

Because loving truly necessarily entails giving, it at times reaches a point where you lose a part of yourself. If you're strong, if you've got the necessary ingredients deep inside you, and if you're lucky, you regenerate. And, hopefully, that piece of yourself that you lost isn't lost on the other person. Hopefully it alights on him and helps heal or complete whatever it is that he lacks or needs. And the process goes both ways. After all, they are imperfect beings who love and are loved, and there is raw truth beyond the acquired cliché-ness of the words, "You complete me."

But sometimes things just fall apart. And sometimes they fall apart beyond repair.

The draw of the movie is that it portrays (thankfully -- and I've got to hand it to the people involved in the film -- without overdoing) something that anyone who has loved can relate to. Those who have gone through breakups of their own can relate more, I suppose. But even those who haven't can still imagine what it's like to lose someone who has been such an integral part of your life and who you thought would be a part of it forever.

When one decides to love, one also decides to accept the risk of pain. Even people who love each other very, very much can hurt each other from time to time. Loving someone means giving that person the ability to hurt you and deciding its worth it. You just cross your fingers and pray your darndest that it doesn't happen too often or reach a point beyond salvage.

I'm crossing my fingers that I will never have to endure what Bea and John Llloyd went through in the film. Sure, they got back together in the end and it all made for a good movie, but I can live without that drama. But some have gone through breakups, and didn't get back together, and were the better for it in the end. (I know someone who will be reading this who has, and he ended up with someone else who is a wonderful, wonderful person. He also just recently watched One More Chance, hahaha!) The thing is, not everyone is lucky enough to get it right on their first try.

Whether it's your first try, your nth, or you haven't tried at all, here's hoping we all experience that kind of love that trumps tears and goes on to have a happy movie-worth ending.