I struggled during my first two years of medical school in the University of the Philippines (UP). This I can say only in retrospect, not because of a lack of awareness at that time, but more so because I refused to acknowledge how I felt. I thought I was OK. I wanted to believe I was OK. Many years later, as a doctor and teacher at the same medical school, I can say I wasn’t.
Sa taun-taong pagtuturo ko ng biochemistry sa mga medical student na nagre-review para sa Physician Licensure Exam, nakagawian na ng mga estudyante kong magpatasa ng lapis sa huling araw ng klase. Diumano, upang makapasa, kailangan mong magpatasa ng lapis sa isang lisensyadong doktor na nakalampas na sa board exam.
“Anong kuwento mo sa akin ngayon?”
“Ga-graduate na po ako, Dok. Sa wakas.”
“Talaga? Anong course mo?”
In medical school, the pun I would hear most often when friends find out that I was interested in Neurosurgery was, “Vegetarian ka ba?” Used to the punch line that would come after (“Kasi lahat ng pasyente mo, gulay!” or any of its variations), I would just grin in response, without ever feeling the need to justify my career choice.
“Nakaka-disappoint nga Sir, eh. Kaka-declare pa lang na suspended ang klase bukas dahil sa ulan, tinatanong na agad ako kung puwede bang half day sila. Nung (medical) clerk ako, kahit gaano pa kataas ‘yung baha at kahit gaano kalakas ‘yung ulan, pumapasok kami.”
“You have to realize, not everybody sees the world the same way you do.”
Magbaon ng maraming Micropore tape. Pang-wound dressing. Pang-label. Panggawa ng collar at splint. Pang-secure ng IV line, foley catheter, at NGT. Pandikit ng natanggal na suwelas at napunit na pantalon kakalakad kung saan-saan. Matutuklasan mong guguho ang ospital kapag nagsara ang pabrika ng Micropore tape.
Humigit-kumulang walong taon na akong nakikipag-usap at nagpapaliwanag sa mga pasyente ng pinakamalaking pampublikong ospital ng Pilipinas. Bilang medical student noon at neurosurgery resident ngayon, natutuhan kong dalawang tanong ang pinakaimportante sa lahat.
Medical students and doctors have this nasty habit of using the letter “x” to stand for anything and everything. To illustrate:
An intern sees a Px in the ER, elicits pertinent SSx, and writes his clinical Hx in the chart. The resident-in-charge examines the Px and subsequently orders Dx and Tx, which include getting a CXR to check for a possible rib Fx. Seeing that the Px might be suffering from an acute appendicitis, the receiving physician then refers the Px to a Sx resident for further Mx.