Friday, May 30, 2008

Off the Edge

photo by timwillis

This is how I feel at the moment.

The visa is in, and suddenly I am careening full speed ahead. While I know I have been planning this trip for months, I feel like I've been suddenly pushed off the edge. Probably because, given my penchant for pessimism, I haven't really given myself any leeway to get used to the idea that I'm leaving.

On the other hand, glitches just keep on coming - some of them due to my own stupidity and lack of foresight. I am still running against the deadline, and since the process of getting the visa took so darn long, my papers there are no longer valid and I have to send new copies. It's a tedious and frustrating process. This is particularly daunting because I have bled my savings dry and if things don't fall through, I will be all but destitute.

Oh, well... nothing to be done now but let what will happen, happen! After all, they don't call it a leap of faith for nothing.
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Monday, May 26, 2008

Fishball Memories

Fishballs! Squidballs! Quail eggs! Kikiam!

I was just in Diliman for an errand yesterday, and any visit to my college alma mater is not complete without a pit-stop at the decrepit COOP to get my fill of these goodies. Not because I think it's more sanitary - it's just the only place where I've gotten street food with no adverse consequences following.

Being a doctor, you'd think I would be more wary of any kind of street food - but, truth is, it takes a good deal of willpower for me not to just buy them from anywhere.

I don't know why I love the stuff. It's all just mostly flour, binders, and flavoring (with the exception of the quail eggs in batter) - not a squid or fish or piece of meat in sight. The little suckers are deep fried in hot oil and smothered with a mysterious brown sweet and spicy sauce - the exact flavor of which I cannot seem to reproduce at home. For some reason, the sauce made by the vendors always tastes better.

But there's more to my long-standing love affair with fishballs and squidballs than an addiction to processed flour, the MSG of the mysterious brown sweet sauce, and health-risky behavior. For me, certain foods have a way of triggering certain memories by association. I have a lot of memory-triggering foods, but this is among my most favorite.

During the summers we spent in my grandfather's house in Project 2, my cousins and I used to drop whatever we were doing to gather around the fishball cart that passed by his house every afternoon. We would dip the fishball skewered by bamboo sticks into the jars of sauce - no ladles and plates back then! Five pesos worth of fishball was enough to fill the tummy and completely ruin our appetites for dinner - but lolo would each give us five pesos to spend anyway.

When I was in college
, friends and I used to frequent the fishball stand just in front of the Main Library after class - our recap and chika sessions disguised as an afternoon snack. A good number of times, a fishball session for me and my best friend would be a pretext to swapping secrets about anything and everything under the sun. We would buy two sticks each and tote them away on a paper plates, finishing them off over good conversation once we'd found a spot to sit at in the Sunken Garden. Fishballs were obviously the precursor of the ubiquitous Starbucks of this generation.

Eating this stuff again always manages to bring me back to those much happier, less complicated times of my life. And, of course, let's not forget that despite the lack of any substantial ingredients, they actually taste good.

Ever since medical school, after I made the acquaintance of typhoid fever, hepatitis A, and the other wonderful possible consequences of eating street food of any kind, I haven't really been able to indulge in them all that often - which is why it's such a treat every time I can. When I do, I cross my fingers, eat up, and hope my immune system does the rest!

For readers passing by: What is your favorite memory-triggering food and what memories do they trigger? And for fellow UP Diliman alum - which fishball stall served the best fishballs and what was your favorite UP food?

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Cookie Love

I've never been a fan of the "American Idol" franchise the way some of my other friends and family have been (Raymond and my dad, in particular). And much as I love music, rock has never been my favorite genre. But in my case, idle minds turn to "Idol" minds, and I found myself tuning into this year's competition... and actually rooting for someone - and a rocker, to boot!

My bet, David Cook, is the winner of American Idol season 7!

I would have voted for him via text if I could... not that he needed it, with a 12 million vote margin against runner up, tweener favorite and crooner-wanna be David Archuleta.

I started watching AI this season just to pass the time - and also because I was curious about the Filipina finalist Ramiele Malubay. But the Cookie soon emerged as my runaway favorite, catching my ear with his now-famous Mariah cover and finally making me a believer with his version of Neil Diamond's "All I Really Need is You."

David Cook, hands down, beats the rest of the playing field in stage presence and being a total performer. Archuleta, the Cookie's closest rival, is strong vocally, but as a performer still needs a bit of growing up to do.

While the Cookie was the pundits' clear favorite, the judges were particularly scathing to him during finals night. Coupled with the Little David's strong performance, it seemed as if Big David's AI hopes were down the drain. In fact, my friends and fellow Cookie fans and I were already consoling ourselves that maybe not winning the AI title would even be a good thing for him - less pressure and more freedom.

There are some speculations that the anti-Cookie sentiments from the judges were just put-on to add to the drama of the win. Nonetheless, drama or no drama, I really think David Cook deserved the title.

Besides, the final song was perfect for him - and is, hopefully, a hit waiting to happen. If "All I Really Need is You" will be on the album, I'm definitely going to be one of the first people standing in line to buy it. But even without it, my non-rocker self will probably get a copy anyway.

I should have thought of betting money against my dad - who predicted with impunity that it was the Arch that would triumph (he thought Cook was too cocky for his own good). I could have put the money into my must-have-these fund!

Did any of you watch the AI season 7 finale? And if so, who were you betting on, the Cookie or the Arch?

Go, David Cook!
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Wish-I-Had-These List

from flickr

Because it was just my birthday yesterday, I am giving myself license to be completely shallow today. And what better way to indulge in my utter shallowness than to make a list of the material things on my wish-list?

Of course I know that the likelihood of my getting any of the items on my list from someone else is nil to negative. Everything here can be purchased on-line - so if on the very, very off-chance someone feels the urge to get me an extremely generous gift, you can contact me for my snail mail address through this form. Just kidding!

On the other hand, it's always free to dream. Without further ado, in no particular order... here my is Top 5!

1. A 3M Littmann Cardiology III stethoscope - Since, if my Perth trip pushes through, I will be handling both pediatric and adult patients - this steth is perfect for me because it has a listening piece for both kids and adults.

2. My own digital SLR - I've been suffering from serious camera envy these days. Travel to gorgeous destinations + DSLR = potentially gorgeous pictures. While my point and shoot does quite nicely, I want to learn how to do this on a higher level!

3. A new PDA (Palm TX) - With the advent of smart phones, PDA units are becoming passe, but I've never liked placing all of my eggs in one basket. My phone is a phone, but my PDA... it's a must-have! I've had one on and off since I started residency, and it stores dozens of textbooks and formulas that I can carry in my pocket. Unfortunately my last one got stolen in the PGH emergency room, 4 days after I bought it. They're notoriously difficult to find locally these days - so if any of you know where I can get one, please contact me so I can look into it!

4. 80GB iPod classic - I love my click wheel 2nd (or is it 3rd) generation 20GB iPod, which has been my best friend for 3 years and is still serving me well despite being chewed on by our pug. But if I had the chance I would love to upgrade - more space, more music, more love!

5. a candy pink VAIO laptop - Isn't it just the cutest? And it's loaded, too! :) Enough said.

On a more serious note, I can say with conviction that it was a great year for me. Career milestones achieved, new friends made, old friends rediscovered, good health for me and my loved ones, beautiful places visited, the potential for something new - one blessing after another. God has been exceedingly generous, and I thank Him for a life rich with what is priceless.

Truthfully, I don't think I can ask for more.

Many, many thanks to everyone who sent messages, good wishes, and hugs to me via the gamut of electronic media we have today! May all the good wishes and prayers come back to you a hundred-fold.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Out of Narnia

I first fell in love with the land of Narnia as a little girl watching a cartoon version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The story of four ordinary children stumbling by accident into a magical land of talking animals and other mythical creatures come to life immediately captured my imagination. But it was when I found the entire series of books a few years later in our school library that I became a lifelong devotee.

There are seven books in this series by Christian author C.S. Lewis, all of which are related to each other yet can stand alone. Despite criticisms against them in recent years for their alleged "racist" and "sexist" undertones, these books stand as classics that are still loved the world over by both children and adults alike even today.

I've read all of the books in the series too many times to count and, even today, I continue to go back to these stories over and over again. One thing I've enjoyed about revisiting these books as a grown up is finding parallels to my Christian faith woven into the narrative. While C.S. Lewis denies that he created Narnia as an allegory of Christianity, he does not deny the existence of similarities, specially between Christ and Aslan, the Great Lion son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, guardian and savior of Narnia.

Reading the books as an adult, I have learned to appreciate the stories through the lenses of my experiences and see the instances where the fiction mirrors my life, more specifically my walk in faith.

In one of the books in the series, when Aslan tells some of the children it would be their last visit to Narnia, he explains that was because it was time that they got to know him and love him in their own world. Because he had met them and allowed them to know him in the fantastic world of Narnia, it would be easier for them to meet him and recognize him in their own world.

I have been given the privilege to meet God in very personal way many times in my life. Like the children of the Narnia saga, these encounters have seemingly been a product of coincidence, but with eyes of faith, I've realized that they were really brought about by His design.

But once I am back in the Real World, it becomes so easy to forget.

It's so hard to hear His voice in the noise and distraction of life. It's so hard to see how He is moving in my life when I'm so caught up in my own concerns. I praise Him that despite my stubborn insistence on straying, He constantly brings me back to Narnia, to remind me that He is the God of miracles, the God of love, and the God who keeps His promises.

That is the constant challenge He has for me - that I may persevere in the walk that He has called me to walk even during the times in my life when I can only vaguely remember the brief glimpse I had of Him. And it is my prayer that He will give me the grace to have that seeking heart, that I may be sensitive to feel Him moving in my life, recognize Him in my everyday, and love Him unabashedly - even when I am out of Narnia.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Party 101!

Hey, folks, there's a party in my Middle of Nowhere!

No, not because it's my birthday (that's still a few days away and another celebration altogether). It's because my blog has passed its 100th post mark - this is my 101st post. Welcome to Party Central 101!

I can't mark my blog's existence in years because you can see from the archive list that it's been around since 2005 - so technically it's over 3 years old. But I wanted a blog milestone to celebrate since I really just started blogging 6 months ago. Hence this big hullabaloo for reaching post number 100.

I initially started this blog to be a repository of random thoughts and gripes - and also as a means to practice my rusty writing skills. However, since I really got into blogging, this blog has evolved into a place to meet people of differing opinions and a place where I have learned much over these past few months. I've been having so much fun! Even if I've been confined to my very little corner of the blogosphere, it's been a really great place to be.

It's pretty obvious to regular visitors - (wowee, I still can't wrap my head around the concept of regular visitors I've never actually met!) - that this blog is still suffering from serious blogizophrenia. Personal diary one moment, travel blog the next - my thoughts bounce off the walls of this pinball mind of mine and posts come from all over the place. I am, as one of my new on-line friends, Linc, puts it - blogging in the "me niche."

However, despite my blog's needing a serious dose of direction, there are still people who come - and stay! So I'd like to thank everyone who reads my posts and engages me in a conversation every now and then. It's great to know that I'm not all alone my middle of nowhere in the blogosphere! I'm even more amazed to realize that while I started doing this to keep in touch with my friends, I've actually ended up making new ones through this blog - and that's really double the blessing.

So I'd like to give some (link) love to the people who have taken the time to regularly read and comment on my posts, to tag and be tagged back, to link and react, and who have become an informal circle of friends for me on-line - Manggy, Em Dy, Ris, Woobie, Panaderos, Mari, Ness, Joey, Marj, Megamom, Vanessa, all my fellow doctors from The Blog Rounds, and everyone who has ever made a comment that I haven't enumerated here. Thank you so much for your visits - and I look forward to having you guys around for the next 100 posts!

Oh, yeah... I'm not really sure what this means since I haven't really thought seriously about monetizing this site, but there is one additional thing to celebrate about aside from this being party 101 central.

Free Page Rank Tool

Would you believe it? For a blog that started out as a means to find my way out of my quarter-life conundrum, that's not so bad at all. :)

So pull a chair, have a slice of cake, and blow out the candles with your hopelessly lost but happy hostess. The champagne is free flowing, and so is the beer - and whatever poison you may want to overload on. It's time to party!
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God Bless the Children

Bloggers Unite

Today, May 15, 2008, Bloggers Unite in a project that aims to harness the power of the blogosphere "to help elevate human rights by drawing attention to the challenges and successes of human rights issues." Take up the challenge. Blog about it.


"The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development."

- Principle 9, Declaration of the Rights of a Child

To all Manila citizens, they are a ubiquitous sight - knocking on windows, peddling their wares. Rain or shine, night or day, they dart among cars stalled in traffic, knocking on windows with winsome smiles and wistful eyes. We have become so used to seeing them that we take for granted that, by virtue of who they are, they should not even be there at all.

Several years ago, as a college student researching for an article for the school paper, I had a glimpse of what some of these children's lives were like. My two interviewees were both flower vendors, both below twelve years old and small for their age.

Their typical day would consist of going to school early in the mornings until noon. Once home from school, they would help their mother and the other women of their community prepare the strings of sampaguita they were to sell in the evenings. After dinner, the girls would walk down the length of East Avenue to Quezon Avenue, most of the time staying out until past midnight until all their flowers had been sold.

As heartbreaking as their story was to me even then, I realize now that these two little girls were among the lucky ones.

Street children continue to be a major problem in the Philippines. Whether they are children working to augment their meager family incomes or children who have been abandoned and survive only through their own wiles, their numbers continue to swell to the hundreds of thousands around the country and are growing every day.

Instead of being accorded with protection and nurturing that is their right, in their young age they confront the harsh realities of the urban jungle. Undernourished, exposed to possible physical and sexual abuse, violence, and substance abuse, with no opportunities for education, and no moral guidance apart from the law of the streets, these children live on the edge of a very high precipice - over which many of them inevitably fall.

Innocence should be but an empty word to these children made to grow old before their time. Yet their resilience wins over the meanness that they encounter on the streets, and the joy and ebullience of childhood sometimes shines through. They are not beyond redemption.

Fortunately there are many organizations and kindhearted individuals who take up the cause of these lost children. Some provide shelters for the homeless, where volunteers take care of nourishing these children physically, mentally, and spiritually. These people help the kids reclaim their lost childhood and give them hope for a better life off the streets. However, despite these small victories, the enormity of the problem remains.

The challenge is for us to learn to see these children in a different light - and to shake off our matter-of-fact acceptance of their existence. The challenge is for us to realize that these children deserve to have a real childhood, the same kind of childhood we were blessed with. The challenge is to realize that our responsibility to uphold and defend the rights of each child extends to these desperate children of the streets, who have nowhere else to turn.

They are, after all, children, too.


Among those already doing the work (and whom we can volunteer with):
Childhope Asia Philippines
He Cares Foundation
Child Protection in the Philippines

For more eye opening fare on Child Labor in the Philippines, try to find a copy of the heart-rending documentary "Minsan Lang Sila Bata" ("Children only once").

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Great Beefcake Festival (a.k.a. Why Women should give "300" a Chance)

I happened to unearth my DVD copy of 300 last night, and, because I had nothing better to do, I decided to watch this hard-core guy movie again for the third time (or is it the fourth?).

Hard to believe, as I was the lone voice of dissent when two of my best girl friends picked this to be our detox movie of the week when it first came out last year. From the reviews I'd heard, I knew that with its requisite blood, gore, and body count - it was eons away from my usual fare of neuroses-inducing romantic comedies or intelligent thrillers. I was completely befuddled by my friends' vehemence to see it, but so outvoted, I let them usher me into the theater like a lamb to slaughter.

And actually found myself glad that I did. But not just for the reasons you might think.

300 is a film adaptation of a graphic novel of the same title by Frank Miller starring as the warrior-king Leonidas. It is based loosely on the , where 300 soldiers held off the might of a much larger army coming to conquer the Greek nations. The outcome of this lopsided battle is a foregone conclusion, but the Spartan warriors' valor in this battle takes the fight out of the Persians, who eventually give up their plans of conquest.

Fearing this would be another incarnation of , I was pleasantly surprised to find the movie had a completely different feel. The surreal rendering, done to stay as true as possible to the imagery of the graphic novel, made the violent battle scenes less gory and more palatable. There wasn't much room for three dimensional character development but the movie never made that promise from the start.

Besides, who really needed character development when there is so much eye candy to go around?

And the man-candy is definitely one good reason for why any living, breathing female should watch this film. Which, I discovered during our post-movie powwow, was my movie buddies' ulterior motive to begin with. (But they insist to this day that the story was still the primary draw - yeah, right.)

It was a veritable feast for the eyes. The actors playing Spartan warriors were one and all flaunting six-packs and well-defined chests and legs - because for reasons I cannot begin to fathom, all their fighting uniform consists of is a helmet, a cape, sandals and shin guards, and a leather codpiece. Great way for medical students to study the anatomy of the musculoskeletal system, I must say. Hurray for minimalism!

Don't get me wrong, being a fairly intelligent person, I didn't miss the point - you know, the one about courage against overwhelming odds, never surrendering, and so on. In fact, I even enjoyed the storytelling. The beefcake parade was a nice bonus, that's all I'm saying.

I don't know if there is a guy in existence who hasn't seen this uber macho flick, but for them, it's the blood and gore and super battle scences that make it worth the cost of the DVD.

But for the women out there who scratched this movie off their list when it first came out, I highly recommend taking it for a spin. Because, as my friend V bluntly puts it, "Sa dami ng mainit pandesal, kulang na lang ang palaman." ("With all the hot buns available, all one needs is the butter.")

Okay, enough said. :)

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Must Love Dogs

is it possible for anyone to resist this funny face? (our family pug, Sage)

A person can fall under any of the following categories: dog people, cat people, other-kind-of-pets people, and get-those-animals-away-from-me people. I make no secret of the fact that I am and will always be a dog person.

Dogs are funny, amusing, and great companions. But it's their uncomplicated love and adoration of their "pack" that is a definite draw for true blue doggy lovers - and something that cat-people hold against them.

While there have always been dogs in our household for as long as I can remember, I really want to have my own dog. Not a family dog, but MY own dog. Unfortunately, given the uncertainty of my circumstances, it would be crazy to even consider raising a puppy now. But I've already gotten as far as coming up with the breeds I'm considering when I do get one - someday.

The breeds on my dream-puppy list, all things being ideal, are:

- It's like having your own live big, cuddly teddy bear. Intelligent and independent, they won't mind being left at home very much and can adapt to apartment living. The drawback? A chow would require major grooming - and shedding hair would mean I might end up living in a giant hairball instead of an apartment. And they're notoriously hard to obedience-train.

- It is among the most popular breeds today. And why shouldn't it be? Highly intelligent, loyal, friendly, sweet, and gentle for their size. And so very pretty. This breed requires serious grooming, though - and lots of exercise. (Hello, me and lots of exercise? Does not compute!)

- they look like miniature boxers, they're highly intelligent and easy to train - and they'll take well to apartment life. What more can a yuppie doctor ask for?

Any other suggestions for my dream-puppy list? Since I'm not going to be following through on this particular wish of mine for a long time, I'm still open to any and all recommendations.

In the meantime, I get my dog fix from our two family dogs. One is a stately old lady, who turned ten a few months ago (that's 70 in dog years, in case you didn't know), and the other is a incorrigible clown of a , who is about two years old. I am also silly in love with both of them, and would also most definitely consider these breeds when it's my turn to get my own puppy.

But most definitely, if I were ever to write a personals ad, one of my desired qualifications would be, "Must love dogs." Then again, as they say, you may never find the perfect man or woman, but you can always find the perfect dog... so I think I'm going to stick to chasing my elusive puppy dream for now!


Post-script: Here's another option for people who are looking for pets. I recently stumbled upon the site Me Find Home - and it's all about adopting pets from the animal shelter in Katipunan Avenue. They have around 30 adoptable dogs and 100+ cats, all rescued and neutered/spayed and dewormed, who are just waiting for someone to take them home. I'd consider getting one if I could, but we have our hands full already with the two dogs we have at home.

But if you're in a market for a dog or cat right now, you just might find your perfect canine or feline companion here. Spread the word to your other friends who might be looking for pets. These animals need good forever homes. You can check out details on how to adopt and how to get there on their website.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tagged Again - 10 Random Facts About Me

with my batchmates during our oath taking as diplomates in internal medicine

I should really be sleeping right now because I'm driving early tomorrow morning (no rest for the wicked!), but my friend Renee sent me this tag, and I don't like putting it off for too long. It's really pretty simple - just a request for 10 random facts about me.

The rules?

  • Each blogger starts with ten random facts/habits about themselves.
  • At the end of your blog post, you need to choose ten people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don't forget to leave them a comment telling they're tagged, and to read your blog.

Here goes!

1. I am actually the eldest of 3 children. Of course my friends are quick to say I'm more like a youngest than an eldest, but that's just them picking on me as usual.

2. I once sang for a singing contest held at the SM Megamall Building A atrium when I was in high school.

3. I've appeared on TV a few times, thanks to my aunt's old showbiz connections. My longest appearance was as a guest anchor on the long-since-defunct Junior Newswatch when I was ten. The most memorable one was when I sang for a local Christmas special when I was fifteen - I even got to record the track for the show in a real studio!

4. I love the beach! (Stating the obvious here!) And I love the water... yes, despite the fact that I almost drowned when I was 6.

5. I love to dance the swing (the 70's kind) - but not much else!

6. I once wanted to be a romance novelist when I grew up... now I dream of becoming a travel writer after I retire from medicine.

7. I customize the colors of my highlighters. (I will demonstrate how I do this in a future post one of these days. What can I say? Geek! Geek!)

8. I am a certified bookworm. I eat, breathe, and sleep books of all kinds. I'd rather read than do anything.

9. I have worn the UP medicine toga thrice in my lifetime (for college grad, university grad, and for diplomate oath-taking) - and I still haven't figured out what side the tassel should be on. (see photo above)

10. I only learned how to bike when I was in high school... and since it's been more than a decade since I've been on one, I'm not sure I still know how.

I tag... anyone who wants to grab this tag. :) But I may make a real list in a few days, when I am feeling less sleepy and more inclined to do some link love.

Good night!

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Under the Influence

my co-resident Jill during teaching rounds with her students

Up to my 4th year of medical school, I was going to be a after I graduated. Since I'd always enjoyed kids, I thought becoming a kid doctor would be a great way to spend the rest of my productive life.

Then I realized that liking children does not translate to liking treating sick children - it cut me up too much emotionally. Also that practicing pediatrics involved a lot of mathematics - medication doses, ET sizes, IV fluids were always based on weight - which I abhorred. Besides that, children and infants were notoriously difficult to line.

And, most importantly, I fell in love with .

IM had always lurked in the periphery of my choices ever since we had our first lectures on it in 2nd year. As far as I was concerned, it was the subject that first introduced me to Real Medicine. The thought process of arriving at a diagnosis appealed to my inner nerd immensely. I enjoyed our 10 weeks of lectures in 3rd year despite the weekly Monday exams that completely negated our weekends for the duration. Our internist attendings never failed to amaze me with their clinical acumen whenever they would take us for bedside preceptorials.

But whenever people ask me why I decided to make it my specialty, my answer is always the same - because of my 8-week clerkship rotation in Internal Medicine.

Thankfully, I am a product of an era in medical education when intimidation and "terror tactics" at the bedside are no longer the norm. While my classmates and I faced the dreaded "morning endorsements" with a great deal of caution and respect, the senior residents who conducted them were more focused on milking each case for clinical pearls for the students' benefit than humiliating whoever was in front at the time. They taught us practical points on how to take a clinical history, what to ask, and even practiced us in the skill of arriving at a diagnosis.

I was lucky enough to have been assigned to residents who picked up on my interest and really took the time to teach. My senior resident in the wards would even ask me to research about patients under our care to help solve in dilemmas in their management. As a medical student, it was the first time I had ever been given any serious responsibility for any patient and the first time I felt I was really part of the medical team.

My clerkship experience gave me a pretty good glimpse of what working as an internist would be like, and, on top of the strong leanings of my inner nerd, clinched the choice for me two years later.

In a field where one of the cornerstones of education is "See one, do one, teach one," medical doctors at all levels in their training are obliged to teach. But, as anyone who has ever trained in a teaching hospital can attest to, this is a lot easier said than done - something I have grown to appreciate even more after having gone through residency myself.

I recently saw these seniors of mine at the convention just this past week. They've all started practices in different specialties and are now scattered across the country. I always enjoy seeing them again and updating them on my progress. From being once their high-strung clerk, I am now an internist in my own right - but they will always be my seniors.

During these once-a-year encounters, I let them know, tongue-in-cheek, that I blame them for getting me into internal medicine. Still, no matter how disgruntled I pretend to sound about it, they all know otherwise.

This is a submission to TBR-9 - Mentors, Tormentors - at Megamom's site.

(As a related post-script, Megamom was actually one of my Microbiology teachers when we were in medical school - and one of my classmates' favorites because of her clear lecturing skills and very practical examination questions. :))
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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Laid to Waste

So Sick of This by aperfectfailure

Due to incredibly bad luck, the three hectic days I spent attending my specialty society's annual convention - full days of lectures by day and living out of various hotel rooms at night - was capped with a serious bout of acute gastroenterititis.

It sucks big time to be sick.

My troubles started yesterday afternoon, a few hours after lunch, when my stomach suddenly started doing some serious acrobatics. I'm not going to go into detail about the unsavory bodily functions that went horribly awry after that, but suffice it to say that by the evening, I had lost a LOT of water - and my intestines weren't through making me miserable. I felt weak and dehydrated, but I couldn't bring myself to drink to replace my losses because every time I did, my gut would tumble in protest.

I woke up a few times in the course of the night to go to the bathroom, and by this morning, I was not only dehydrated but also fuzzy from the lack of sleep. Thankfully, my tummy had settled down enough for me to take some soup and more liquids this morning, but my entire body screamed in protest every time I moved. Using the last of my energy, I hauled my backpack heavy with dirty clothes and another heavier bag of freebies to catch a cab home.

As a doctor who knows her stuff, I knew this would be self-limiting and nothing to worry about too much. But as a patient in abject misery, I thought it would never end and wished for a bit more sympathy from my friends apart from being told I just needed to hydrate and wait it out. The problem with understanding what's going on with yourself when you're sick and being surrounded by people who also know what's what is that you don't get to milk this period of vulnerability for what it's worth.

After spending the afternoon in bed despite the sweltering heat, trying to recover from one of the worst bouts of diarrhea I've had in years, I feel marginally human again. Maybe after a few more bottles of Gatorade, I'll finally stop feeling like someone stole my brain and replaced it with cotton.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Thanks, But No Thanks

The world in your hands by Kelsievent

I'm on my way to a convention, so I only have enough time for a quick post.

My colleague and co-TBR member, Joey, sent me this little tag a while back. I've been meaning to answer it but putting it off because I have no idea how to! Well, here's a shot at it.

If you were the ruler of the world and you could have anything you wanted as well as have people do anything you wanted, do you think you would get greedy and mean or would you be a good and fair ruler?

Frankly, this post was hard for me because I have never entertained any ambition to achieve world domination - and it's hard for me to understand someone who would. Being a live and let live kind of person, I wouldn't know what to do with absolute power. I'd be more likely to give it away to everyone else as soon as I got it. Nonetheless, I don't think anyone can predict what the answer to this question until he or she is suddenly given this responsibility.

I'd like to think that I would never fall into the "greedy and mean" category, but if I use my power to grant a few big favors here and there to the people I love over other people I don't know, how does this make me different from the people who do?

Over lunch yesterday, Ei, my idealistic lawyer friend, and I were discussing Philippine politics today. I posed to her the question - "How can these [corrupt] people in office live with themselves when the poverty of the people they are sworn to serve is blatantly staring them in the face?"

Where do they get their sense of entitlement? Where do they get their nerve? Did they start out as well-meaning idealists before they became corrupted by the power they were given as a means to serve? Were they changed from people who sought these posts to change the lives of others into people who now only look out for themselves?

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Where to Next?

Me and Ate Fe at Davao International Airport, August '07

I've always had the heart of a kaladkarin (from the same Tagalog verb which means "to drag; to haul along"). I've never made a secret of the joy I get from going to new places and just drinking everything in, no matter the destination. Whether it's a trip to the glitzy and cosmopolitan or the rustic and back-to-basics, if I'm free, I'm in.

Summers have always triggered a serious attack of itchy feet; this, the longest summer I've ever had since I started kindergarten, is no exception. But now that I've indulged my inner lakwatsera (n. "wanderer"), she simply doesn't want to stop.

So does anyone know where I can take my itchy feet next?

Obviously, I'm trying to make up for lost time and throw myself into exploring the Philippines - a beach lover and traveler's paradise if there ever was one. I'm just beginning to discover just how much there is to see here and to appreciate just how beautiful this land of mine really is.

My friends marvel at how eager I am to plan the next trip... let's face it, even domestic travel costs quite a bit, and I'm not exactly earning anything right now. Neither do I have a good amount saved in the bank - and it's shrinking by the day.

But I've come to realize that there's a good chance that having this much time and freedom to wander and having money to spare to do it might never quite coincide. Once I start working and training again - which is really my long-term plan - I won't be able to indulge my wanderlust this way again for years. Maybe it's a crazy philosophy to live by, but it works for me right now. At this point in my life, when I'm in flux and trying to catch up on everything I missed, it makes perfect sense.

Now I'm scouting for a place to hold our next adventure - and I was hoping one of you could help me. We're targeting just a weekend get-away in May, so it can't be too far or too activity intensive. And of course it can't be too expensive - so travel by plane is out. Personally, I would prefer another quiet beach where I can lie around and just watch the world go by... hey, don't be judgy, it's summer after all!

So, if any of you know of a beautiful, as yet undiscovered destination not too far from Manila, easily accessible by public transport, and won't cost an arm and a leg to get there - please give me a heads up. You can leave me a comment or use my contact form to reach me by email. I've been looking at potential places in Bataan and Quezon, but I'd love to get more input from people who have been there or any other place worth visiting.

I can't wait for our next trip. So, does anybody else want to come along? :)

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

I Don't Smoke

photo from flicker

I don't smoke. I've never touched the stuff in my life, and I never plan to.

I don't drink often - maybe once or twice a month at most - but when I drink, I pull out all the stops. But any medical textbook will tell you that that kind of drinking really doesnt count.

But that's pretty much all I don't do.

I love to eat at fast food joints, I'd die without chocolate, and you all know just how much I love anything cooked with coconut milk. Meals are not proper meals unless there is a salt shaker just within reach, and I always dash a liberal amount. Apart from the occasional banana, I hardly actively look for fruits to supplement my diet. In my world, fruit is not counted as a dessert. Ice cream and cheesecake are.

I have had periods in my life when I've had regular exercise - but this period in my life is not one of them. I would love to swim regularly, but there aren't any pools anywhere near my house. Everything else is a no-no because I don't like to sweat and because anything that has to do with athletics makes me feel as graceful as a pregnant elephant.

This is a point of contention between my dad - the worst patient I have ever had - and me. He's diabetic, hypertensive, and his cholesterol is going through the roof. I constantly scold him about the contraband he insists on eating and the exercise program he refuses to start. He's always on my case about being a doctor but not living healthily. I glibly argue that I'm not the diabetic in the family - and by virtue of that being an irrefutable fact, he loses the argument soundly. Still, he refuses to toe the line.

But, thankfully, he's the only one who doesn't.

Apparently, this is one thing doctors get away with just by donning a white coat. My other patients don't really ask what my eating habits and lifestyle choices are like, so I guess they assume that as a doctor, I live clean. Their blood sugars and blood pressures are generally good and their weights are steady when I follow them up, so I assume they're following my advice to live a healthy lifestyle - even if I'm not living it myself.

Quite obviously, the advice works. I just haven't gotten around to following it to the letter myself.

I know that I have to start eating smart and improving my diet. I know I have to get my cholesterol and blood sugar levels screened soon. I know I have to get my requisite 45 minutes of exercise a day, three times a week regularly.

Maybe I'll start tomorrow. Or maybe next week.

But till then, I can still tell my patients with conviction, "I don't smoke."


For 8th Edition - Practicing What We Preach, over at Dr. Emer's blog, Parallel Universes.

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