A few hours after her son, a nurse, died from cancer, Ofelia Reyes bled in her cerebellum. The stroke (“brain attack”) immediately put her in semicoma. There was just too much blood, too close to the part of her brain that controlled her breathing and heart rate. The devastating news of her son’s death almost led to her own, but I operated on her and saved her life.
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.
On this day in 2011, after a three-year literary hiatus, I decided to launch ronibats.ph. This is my 20th article for the website, and as of this time, my Facebook page is nearing its 500th like. Despite the irregular post times and frequency, the response to ronibats.ph from friends and strangers, colleagues in the medical profession or otherwise, has been nothing short of overwhelming. So on my website’s birthday, despite the nagging urge to sleep, I write this to express my thanks.
The irony is that everything happened in front of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, a 200-meter sprint from the Department of Justice building. I had just attended a mentor’s Christmas party and was walking home just outside the hospital where I had spent almost a third of my life training to become a physician. Looking back, the street was well lit even though it was quarter past midnight. However, the traffic light along Taft Avenue was on green, hence the few jeepneys cruising Padre Faura at that time were stuck on the other side of the intersection. The iPod, long-sleeve polo and jeans didn’t help; I resembled a wandering, inebriated Japanese on his way to get a taste of Manila’s nightlife.
He was walking in the opposite direction. Before I realized his motive, he rushed towards me, grabbed my upper body and declared, “Holdap ‘to!”
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.
Hindi ako nagha-highlight ng libro at transcription. Nadudumihan ako sa mga pahinang ginagawang coloring book ng mga kaklase ko. Sinubukan kong mag-highlight noong first semester ng first year med proper; hindi epektib kasi kailangan ko pang isipin kung kailangan ba talagang i-highlight ang gusto kong i-highlight, at hindi ako makapili kung anong kulay ang gagamitin.
We are buying our first family car. To be more precise, my two yuppie sisters have agreed to finance the purchase of a car to be used by our family of seven. My father and my third-born sister have already made the reservation last weekend, and although I, being an overworked and underpaid government physician, will not make any financial contribution to the purchase, I cannot contain my excitement. Despite my father and mother having been married for almost 29 years, this is our first family anything.
Lately, I have been having a hard time remembering how old I am. When filling out forms or talking to customer service personnel, there’s an inevitable six-second lag before I figure out the answer. I even have to make a quick calculation in my head sometimes. I find this unusual because as a child and a teenager, I always knew my age. You could ask for it while I’m in the middle of a book, in front of the computer screen, or watching TV, and I would instantaneously blurt out the answer. Five. Twelve. Seventeen.