Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Question on Patience

          I recently went home to my home city, Butuan City.  In fact, I am still in Butuan as I start to write this entry.

          The problem that hounds me here each time I go home is the never ending problem of water shortage.  This is a striking irony for Mindanao, which some label as the Land of Promise. I sincerely hope it would not just be all that -- promises.  We've got enough of that from our politicians.

          Anyway, back to the problem of water shortage here at home.  Just to give you a picture.  You could not just open the faucet full blast.  The flow is controlled to a little below medium or else you'd have grayish water flowing from the faucet, filled with brownish to blackish particles which could be sand or soil.  Booo.  Another thing is, when it rains hard in the evening, people know and already expect that there would be no water flow the following day because the water district will have to allow those silly particles to settle on the bottom of the reservoir or else again, you'll be seeing grayish water flowing from the faucet.

          So while taking a bath, while waiting for the pail to be filled to the brim with water, I was repeating to myself, "Patience, patience, patience." Then, I thought of something.  I know it was such an unexpected time and venue for an epiphany of thoughts to take place.  But there was no way of stopping it.  Not when the flow of water from the pipe was damn slow, you feel like you can still insert a power nap in between showers.

          I was thinking, who then is really the patient one?  Who, among us, is patience personified?  Who, among us, lives by heart, the virtue of patience?

          Could it be the farmer?  He who toils in cultivating the land almost everyday under the unforgiving heat of the sun, while riding on his loyal mate, the carabao, which takes its time waddling as it walks on the rice field.  The farmer, even if he wants his task done in a short time, will have to bear with the speed of the carabao, which walks as if it was in the park.  It has no knobs or gears for the farmer to press on for a faster speed.  aside from that, there was no other way to till the soil very well but with and thru the carabao.  Most farmers could not afford the gas-powered machine that tills the soil.

          The farmer spends his day at the farm.  He sits by the ricefield, as if watching the rice plants grow.  He waits for more than a couple of months before harvest time.  Sometimes harvest would not be as bountifuk as expected, sometimes harvest time does not arrive at all specially when pestilence strikes.  However, the farmer never ceases to do what he does best.  Whether pestilence strikes or not, come rain or dome sunshine, he continues to take care of the land.  It is almost a vocation.  Being a farmer is not necessarily financially rewarding.  It takes love for the land to be a farmer.  Most of all, it takes a lot of patience.

          Could it be our teachers and / or professors?  Before we became professionals, we were nothing more than an empty slate.  We only had -- well most of us -- the desire to learn.  They painstakingly taught us to read and write, count, add, subtract, divide, then on to the higher levels, they taught us how to diagnose and treat patients, to build infrastructures with strong foundations, to become good entrepreneurs,  to defend our clients in the courtroom, and to do practically everything.

          Most of the time, we forget our teachers and / or  professors.   Even after we bask in our place under the sun, even after we find our niche in our own professional world,  most of our mentors remain in the place where we first met them, still doingnwhat they do best -- teaching kids and bearing with their tantrums, teaching college students, and graduate students.  Again, it is almost a vocation.  It takes love for teaching.  Most of all, it takes a lot of patience.

          Next, I could not help asking, could it be the doctor? He/She, who spends almost half of his life studying and burning the midnight candle.  He/She who misses a lot of family occasions and shyly says no again and again to a lot of invitations from friends.  He/She, who misses meals and hours of sleep like it's nothing new at all, also missed his/her child's first step, first meaningful smile, first word, all for the sake of his/her patients.  He/She, in efforts of painstakingly growing up professionally, endures being shouted at and shamed by insultants, uhmm, I mean consultants, in front of everyone.  The senior residents also feel entitled to shame you, or criticize you, but come to think about it, they just happened to actually train ahead.  They were juniors themselves and also commited mishaps, but they tend to forget that.

          It is a cruel and stressful world that we doctors belong to, and that is an understatement.  Amazingly, a simple thank you from our patients works miracles.  Seeing our patients improve and get well dissolves all our pain, and I mean both figurative and literal (e.g. muscle pain from gruelling duty shifts) pain.  To survive in this profession, like any other profession, needs commitment.  It is not all the time that the financial returns make you "roll in it."  In fact, I would rather become an economist or a statistician or a business entrepreneur if I wanted to be filthy rich.  Again, it is almost a vocation.  Most of all, this profession calls for a lot of patience.

          There are actually many other jobs and professions I could think of as a challenge of patience.  Could it be the fisherman, who wakes up early while most of us are in deep sleep, and sails to the deep blue to catch some fish?  They even stay for days at sea.

          Could it be the nurse, who religiously follows the doctor's orders, bathes the patients, listen to their sentiments, and attend to their needs while being confined.  They too are shouted at, or get into misunderstandings with doctors, and sometimes, are even shouted at and doubted upon by patients and their families.

          The questions could go on and on.  I am not sure if the answer would come.  One thing for sure is that, each one of us probably have to work our way through this virtue.  It does not come easy and it is a never ending challenge I guess, because everything and anything on this world can and will test you patience.

          Like this water flowing through the faucet.



Monday, March 31, 2014

Definitely Japan. Definitely Kojie.san

This will be the first time I will be endorsing a product.

For this extraordinary milestone in my blogging career, I would like to make a toast.  

With the distinctive clink of wineglasses crowding my head right now - the sound is so loud, I almost think I am hallucinating, - I realized that the task of endorsing is not an easy task.  That is the reason why, when endorsing a product, I have decided to learn an important lesson from the stars, the high-paid-bigwig-product-endorsers.

This important lesson would be, to endorse in a product that you truly believe in.  A product that you have confidence in, and the surefire way for you as an endorser to harbor that confidence is to use that product yourself, and experience for yourself all the good stuff that the product is claiming.  In that way,  you see with your own eyes too, that the product does not only hold empty promises.  You hit the bull's eye, that is.

Another way, would be seeing how the product is working well as testified by your family members and close friends, and sometimes, even acquaintances in front of the grocery racks where the product is displayed and ready for the taking.

But mine is the surefire way. 

Yes, you read it right, because I use the product myself.  In this case, the Kojie.san soap. 

Who would be a better endorser than one who uses Kojie.san like yours truly.  Let's drink to that again, okey? Now the sound of clinking wineglasses is giving me tinnitus -- but one of the euphoric, ecstatic type.  If ever there is one.  Another milestone right there.  Euphoric tinnitus.  How could ringing of the ears be this ecstatic. Rarely!

Honestly, I have been through a lot of (facial) soaps and toners but nothing has ever lasted and stayed with me longer like Kojie.san.  (I use Kojie.san as a body soap occasionally, but I have definitely chosen to entrust to it the care of my facial skin, a very delicate part of my body. And always, at that! No misses!) Not that this bar of soap grows limbs of its own and runs away from me like an unsatisfied lover.  Of course not.  

So, since I am the one with limbs here, the one with will power (and yes, purchasing power too!) and most importantly, the one with hands with which I could grab a bar of Kojie.san from the racks and dunk it into my cart, let me rephrase my statement above.  I have never stuck so long with another facial soap the way I sticked and stayed with Kojie.san.

This may sound funny and exagerrated but this is true, I have one bar of Kojie.san in each of the places I usually move around in.  There is one in my bathroom, one in my kitchenette, and one in my restroom at the hospital quarters.  Now that does not include the one in my makeshift pantry.  

Forget all your worries about having soaps that damage your skin.  Kojie.san is finally here, the first kojic acid soap to be available in the Philippine market.  Kojie.san is definitely the "it" soap.  It does not contain any harmful chemicals and it only contains 100% natural ingredients with antioxidants to boot, the reason why it feels wonderfully mild yet rejuvenating on my skin. With almost everything going organic these days, that makes Kojie.san way up there in the pedestal of soaps.  It is actually a very helpful beauty aid that comes in an affordable package.  And oh, there's more! A lot of good stuff packed in a box since Kojie.san has a micro-peeling qualities thus making it a potent whitening product.  Truly, it is the bar that sets and raises the bar.

So what now, you ask.  When it comes to your skin care, why is it important to use only the original kojic acid soap, Kojie.san. Of course, you should only use the original kojic acid soap, Kojie.san, because your skin deserves nothing but the best.  Hey, this is your skin we are talking about here, right!? Why would you entrust it to the poor immitations which do not deliver the desired results and are only poorly and recklessly concocted as long as they could rake big bucks out from your pockets.  

Believe me, Kojie.san delivers.  I would not waste my time if it does not.

Experience it for yourself the surefire way, and experience its wonders, like I already have.  I could not forget this one instance when I was asked if I am still a student.  College, at least. Okey, okey, masteral student maybe. I almost choked answering because I am way older than a college student and older than your typical masteral student.  Believe me.  You could only imagine the boost that episode had on my confidence and self-esteem.  From then on, I always own up to my age.  Aside from the fact that age is just a number, I don't look it anyway.  What are you waiting for, grab a bar of Kojie.san, like right now.

But before you run to the nearest store, let's all drink to that!  Cheers! 

Manic Monday

The alarm goes off.  I half-open my eyes. I was lying on my left side, facing the wall which was against my bed.

I let out a soft and subdued "Uuugghh!"  The kind all of us are familiar with each time we remember that it's Monday.  The kind we are all so familiar with specially when we want more time spent under the sheets, half asleep, or pretending to be asleep at least, wishing we set the snooze period longer.

I press the snooze button.  A few minutes of bliss in bed with my pillows.

Then, "Uuugghh!"  

The alarm goes off again.  

Time to really get my ass moving now.  So I turn to the other side before I get up, only to find this baby, propping up from the floor.  As if saying, "Mommy, wake up and get up from bed, your alarm is annoying me!  Who would not let out an endearing, "Aaawwwww!!!"  Have a great week, everyone! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Doggy Love

I almost cried a bucket of tears when my Cody, after three long years, finally mastered his first trick -- sit.  Genius! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

'Tis the season of celebration

My sister saw this stuffed toy in one of the malls outside the country.  A bunch of congratulations and laughter to this year's graduates!  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A doctor's bestfriend

I wonder what you or my colleagues would answer when asked, "As a medical practitioner, what do you consider as your bestfriend?"  As a professional, or as an expert in your field, what do you consider as your bestfriend?

I figure some, probably lawyers, might answer their books or ebooks for that matter.  Probably a gastroenterologist might answer, the scope.  A neurologist might answer, the reflex hammer or a penlight, perhaps.  But for me, I pick the ever dependable stethoscope.  Coffee would come as a close second.

The stethoscope would probably be, for me, what they call in vernacular as "sumpay sa tinae." (Continuous with the intestines.) That vernacular idiom is quoted when one is seen almost always with someone or something, like inseparable bestfriends.  Someone or something that you could not live without, like your smartphone or your favorite gadget.  

For me, as a doctor, it takes the form of a stethoscope.  

If you happen to see me around the hospital, you would never fail to see this baby hooked around my shoulders.  It is almost for me, a body part, or okey, a part of my clothing, that I feel barenaked without it.  Honestly, I do not feel that I am a doctor at all if I don't carry it around with me in the hospital.  

The one above is my third stethoscope in my whole medical career.  Bought my first when I was in second year medical school.  It got lost during internship when I rode in a taxi on my way to another hospital.  Had to order one from a friend who works in Berovan who was kind enough to sell it to me through an affordable installment package for medical students.  The second one was with me for around eight years.  Before my second stethoscope retired, I could not tell whether it was my hearing acuity or it was the stethoscope which was failing.  You see, the stethoscope and I, we were both aging.

Then comes this third one.  I should probably name it "Thirdy."  Thirdy is a gift from my aunt who is based in the United States.  I could not be more thankful and excited about having this dream stethoscope.  In a way, it inspires me more everyday to be the best in what I am destined to do.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Lessons in Residency

Now that I am in the last and final leg of my residency, I constantly find myself looking back at what I have been through in the past years which I have spent here.  I spent almost half a decade of my life training for residency.  Whew! I could not be more glad to see a sight of the finish line.  Finally.

In a way, such as in many things that we are all used to, a little part of me probably wants to hold on.  For a time, even for just a little, and in fairness, this environment which I will be leaving soon, has given me a little comfort.  However, that little comfort is probably not enough at all, because an even bigger part of me wants to get out of here, move on and level up in terms of my profession, and see what the world has instore for me.  Of course.  That's the way it goes, because residency training is just a phase of our professional life.  After this, we all have to raise the bar, as it should be done.  

Residency mirrors life in so many ways.  In fact it is life, for residents, at least.  As residents, to which group I still belong as of this moment, we should not forget that this kind of life is only as good as it lasts.  It will send us through a dizzying and really heartbreaking rollercoaster of emotions but we should hold on to the lessons and the learning we get from each dip and each high.  Through the  dips, we should hold on tighter, or else we fall.  

I learned a lot of lessons during residency.  First, I believe it is a doctor's initiation to the medical profession.  Just when you think it was internship (senior clerkship), get ready to be blown away by the craziness and hell that is residency.

You don't own your time anymore.  You are at the beck and call of your seniors and consultants, aside from the existing pressure from your patients and the screaming paperwork.  The workload just got heavier.  You don't own yourself anymore. All in the name of learning.  From the start, this reality should be in check deep in the heart of every physican who has decided to take the plunge into residency.

Second, in residency, you will get hurt.  This was reiterated to us last month by our Training Officer when our fellow resident had her first conference and got a lot of  'spanking' during her presentation- figuratively of course.  Let me say it again, in residency you will get hurt.  I could almost hear our Training Officer say it.  Then he followed it through with, "It is okey to cry."  Of course, we are humans and very capable of feeling.  Then I glanced at my fellow resident and saw the tears well up in her eyes. The sight of her eyes brought a flashback of memories past. I remembered, I've been there - a lot of times.

Being hurt in residency feels like a plant being pruned, with the gardener as our consultants. Whatever shape and sizes, and abilities, and attitudes they may come, - not the pruned plants, but I mean the consultants - let us all remember that they all just want us to learn.  They want to bring out the best in us.  They just want us to become the best physicians that we can be.  I know that is easy to say, specially for me who easily gets hurt, but struggle to remember this lesson each time you get a "spanking" - not just from the consultants but from practically anybody you work with. I tell you every one would feel they are entitled to do that. Try to forget other side issues or hidden agenda they might have.  If emotions really creep in, allow yourself  a reasonable duration of reaction time then pick up the pieces and equip yourself with the learning from that unpleasant experience.

I remember what Howard Holowitz said to his wife Bernadette, in the television series, Big Bang Theory.  He was sent to a mission in space and his companions were kind of "mistreating" him.  To alleviate his wife's worries, Howard told her something to the effect of "That's the culture here.  It's like an initiation to a fraternity, you know.  Hurting people's feelings..."  Oh well.  As the famous Filipino adage goes, "Matira ang matibay." (Survival of the fittest.). That is the name of this game.

Third, we are all a work in progress.  Even consultants are, but this is more applicable and true for residents who are actually just starting to get a feel of how this profession goes about its usual grind. This is the reason why we go to training in the first place. Everyday is a constant battle to improve  ourselves, to form good habits that we will live by during medical practice in the future. Everyday is dedicated to learning and sharpening our proverbial clinical eye.

Fourth, pick a role model.  This is one of the important lessons I learned in this residency.  It pays to look up to somebody in this profession and draw inspiration from amazing individuals who are in the top of their game.  I was able to pick a lot of role models during my entire stay.  I say a lot, because one can't have it all. Actually.  In times of adversity,  (Yes, I know, a broad and vague term, but hey give this to me, just this once), I try to think how they would react, behave, or decide, given a situation.

I look up to this doctor for his ability to use and hone his talents and skills to improve his status in life.  He is the rags-to-riches guy in terms of material wealth, but he was already wealthy enough to start with, with the brilliant mind he was gifted with.  I look up to another doctor for her excellent work ethics.  I look up to two physicians for a great combination of intellectual and emotional quotient with diligence to boot. I look up to another who has definitely no hang-ups in life, it was as if there was never an exposure at all of the cruelty of medical training.  On the other side of the vein, a role model could be an epitome of someone you would not want to be in the future.  So take your pick.

Lastly, and fifth one is, this too shall pass.  An important lesson to hold on to, no matter how busy we were during our duty, no matter how battered and hurt we were.  Sunset is inevitable and the sunrise is a gift of another chance.  

In the end, the question to answer is, "Did you give your best?"  Did you give your best to maximize your learning?  Did you give your best in dealing with whatever is served on your plate that challenged your person?  Most of all, did you give your best in caring for the patient, the real star in all of our efforts? Were you able to give him the best medical care you could give?  The exact care that he actually came for? 

The questions could go on.  Eventually you will live to find the answers.  As for me, and as of now, let me enjoy the countdown and let me feast at the sight of the finish line. 

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