December has always been a time for get-togethers, for families and friends. This year was special because a lot of our US-based friends came home for the holidays. Some of these friends, we have not seen since we graduated from medical school. It was truly a great experience to be together once more.
Both Bong and I have known Cesar for a very long time. We first came together as INTARMED classmates fresh out of high school. Since then, we have become not just classmates, but also dorm mates, colleagues in the medical profession and even godparents to each other’s children. We have shared good times and bad. We have seen each other’s best and worst. And through all these, we have remained steadfast friends. All this time, we have found Cesar to be a gentleman, dependable, loyal and always ready and willing to help. To Bong and me, Cesar is not just a friend. He is family. Happy 50th birthday, Cesar!
Now that the kids are bigger and they spend more time in school, I have more time on my hands. So I’ve decided to increase my teaching activities this school year. I volunteered for some sessions this week with first year medical students. It is a refreshing experience to be with aspiring doctors just starting on their journey. They are excited and eager to learn. They see things from a different perspective. It is not very often that I get the chance to interact with young adults like them. And I am grateful to be given this chance to share what I know and to learn alongside them.
One of the patients I saw today was an elderly woman. She said she was referred by her daughter whom I had seen the week before. Apparently, her daughter was satisfied with the service we provided in our clinic and thus referred her mother to me. The mother mentioned later that her daughter was a doctor. Today, I am very grateful for that vote of confidence that doctor gave me. She did not identify herself as a doctor when I saw her. But sending her mom to me was a sign that I had done her some good.
I visited a relative in the hospital today. He was confined in the Intensive Care Unit of a tertiary hospital. As expected, he had numerous wires and intravenous lines attached to him. He was hooked up to different machines, each monitoring one aspect of his medical care. I remember the conditions when I was still in training. We had to manually count the number of drops of the intravenous fluid and adjust it accordingly. We had to check the heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure manually, since there were no electrical monitors. By the time you finish with all the patients assigned to you, it was time to go on the next round of monitoring. Modernization of medical equipment has allowed health care providers to focus on the treatment of the patient. I hope that this particular patient pulls through and recovers from this incident.
One of the hardest things I have had to do was to tell a patient that I cannot do anything more to save his sight. It breaks my heart to be so helpless in the face of devastating news. A patient of mine came in to get a prescription for eyeglasses which he thought would help him see better. Upon examination, though, I found out he was nearly completely blind due to a condition he has had since childhood. But he continues to work, he commutes by himself and tries to live independently. Glasses would not be helpful in this case. I had no alternative and that was what pained me. I wanted to offer him something, anything, to help him see better. Unfortunately, there was nothing.
So today, I reminded my children to be thankful for the gift of sight. We take it for granted, but it would turn our life upside down if we lose it.
My husband is part of a clinical department of a major tertiary hospital. What I like about their department is the friendship and camaraderie among the different members – from the consultants, to the residents, to the support staff, and their families. My children used to be the babies of the bunch. The teenage girls who used to babysit my son are now professionals. There are now new little ones who tail my own kids. It really feels good to be working with people who are almost like family.
Bong operated on a patient last week, one of the reasons why he wasn’t able to join us in Mindoro. Pre-operatively, the patient had many medical problems. But thankfully, since the surgery, the patient has been doing well. In fact, he may be discharged soon.
I am grateful for return patients. It’s always nice to get new patients. But oftentimes, it was just a matter of luck that they came in during my shift. So it’s special to me when they come back for a different problem or when they come with another patient. My last patient today came in a few minutes before my shift ended. The nurses were deliberating whether to go assign her to the next doctor. But I wasn’t busy, so I agreed to see her. As it turns out, she was looking for me. I had seen her son previously and she decided to consult me herself. It gives me some sort of validation that I managed to make a connection with my patient. For that, I am grateful.
I am grateful that Bong’s surgery went well. He was up late last night preparing for this morning’s surgery. It was a difficult case, he said. Things went smoothly at first, but they encountered some difficulty halfway through the procedure. But things turned out okay. They were able to do what they set out to do and the patient seems to be doing well post-operatively.