Ronibats.PH

Stories of a Filipino neurosurgeon, teacher, and writer

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It Takes Just One Person

At one point, I gave up on Eric Reyes. The 30-year-old was abandoned in the ward by family and friends. He had no wife or children. He was left to care for himself, which he could not do because of the severe head injury he sustained when he fell six feet, during an attempt to urinate on a cliff-side wall while he was inebriated. In the operating room, I had to remove blood clots and damaged brain from both left and right sides, else he would end up dead or debilitated from severe brain swelling.

Kung Paanong Naging Doktor ang Mathematician

Sa lahat ng subject, Math talaga ang paborito ko. Kindergarten pa lang ako, alam ko na ‘yun. Dahil ‘yun sa Tatay kong engineer na nagtiyagang magturo sa akin kung paano mag-compute gamit ang mga daliri ko. Sa liwanag ng kanyang desk lamp at sa harap ng mga hinawing blueprint at triangle ruler, manghang-mangha ako noon na matuklasang 4 times 9 equals 36. Walang pinagkaiba sa isang batang nanonood ng magic.

Alternate Realities

I have just spent 12 hours teaching two classes, on a post-duty Sunday. The schedule was insane: allotting only an hour to take a bath, have a quick breakfast, and travel from the hospital to the classroom; and another hour to rest, eat lunch/dinner, and travel from one teaching venue to the next. My emergency room duty yesterday was no respite either; I have had to admit seven patients, two of whom eventually died because of the severity of their brain hemorrhages. I have been awake for almost 40 hours, but I do not feel tired. Not at all.

Sampung Payo para sa mga Bagong Medical Clerk

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.

That Uneasy Feeling of Knowing All Effort Was Futile

Thirteen-year-old Eric Reyes only wanted to help his six-year-old neighbor cross the street. In an ironic turn of events, a tricycle hit Eric on his way back. The impact immediately rendered him unconscious. Bystanders took him to a local hospital where he partly awakened, vomiting relentlessly and moaning from severe headache. As suspected, on the cranial CT they found a rapidly enlarging blood clot occupying almost the entire left half of his brain.
Sixteen hours later, I received him in our emergency room. He was intubated and he would not open his eyes, no matter what stimulus I applied. He was Glasgow 5 with bilateral dilated pupils, both indicators of poor prognosis. In a desperate attempt at heroism, I operated on him to evacuate the massive acute subdural hematoma and relieve his brain of severe pressure. Two days after his surgery, he died just the same.

That Curious Feeling of Knowing That You’ve Saved a Life

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.

The Neurosurgeon Writes

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.

Ronibats.PH Stories of a Filipino neurosurgeon, teacher, and writer

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