Monday, September 29, 2008

Somebody's Birthday

Today is the birthday of my favorite teacher. He is already 51 years old and yet he's as youthful as ever. As most great men do, he is getting more handsome, wiser, smarter, and full of depth now that he's older.

To surprise him, the residents are preparing a video tribute. I was able to review the pictures. There he was, grinning in his high school uniform, with that George Harrison hair. There he was in short shorts and knee-length socks that used to be in during the 1970s. There he was looking like a stick in his wedding barong. There he was lugging around three very cute and happy-looking kids. There he was dancing with his wife, still looking smitten despite more than 20 years of marriage. I wonder if during his early years of cowlicks and pimples, did he ever have any idea he was going to be great? Did he ever have any idea that his circle of influence would someday extend so far to even include someone like me?

A man of few words but excellent straight-to-the-point remarks, he is also a fellow eccentric, an advocate for weirdness, someone who gives more importance to creativity and curiosity over knowledge. Tall, sporty, eccentric, really smart, idealistic, musical, artistic, adventurous, with a soft spot for plants and all living creatures, and a fellow Beatles fan (which is the most important part), the mere existence of someone like him is amazing. Sometimes I wonder if I was born too late (ang swerte ni ma'am inday). Sigh... Getting a chance to work with him is blessing enough.

When I was in Leyte in August, I found myself quoting him rather often. "The worst thing we can do to our patients is to prescribe a drug that does not work." "Evidence does not widen the gap in health care; between those who know and do not know. Instead, it attempts to bridge the inequity between the rich and the poor." "Normal is just an arbitrarily derived population-based mean, so there will always be a certain segment of the population who will be considered abnormal." "The challenge is to find the middle ground between excellence and relevance." That's why I want to be a teacher myself. If someone can influence me this way, I would want to do the same thing one day.

With the great Dr. Tony Dans. PGH Graduation, December 2008.

He may not be able to read this. But I'd like to put it in writing that I was sorry for hiding from him during his rounds back in 2005 when he was my buddy consultant. I was sorry I didn't attend his lectures and evidence-based-medicine sessions. I was sorry I never even did my meta-analysis (and got away with it). I still hate research and will probably resist it even when I'm cranky and old. But I am certain that my next years of practice as a physician will definitely be stamped by his influence.

Happy birthday sir!

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