Monday, June 29, 2009

Bordering on Mad

We make our own sanctuaries. Taken during a rare solitary moment in the city. This would have to do. For now.

What was I doing when Michael Jackson died? Where was I when the number of H1N1 patients in the country reached the 700 mark? What now, Hayden Kho? Really? Gloria is running for congress in 2010? Who in the world is Jake Cuenca and what the heck is "Tayong Dalawa"? So, they've relocated the grocery section of Robinsons' Ermita to another side of the mall? Really? Since when?

Sorry, but I really didn't know. While the whole world was moving about, I was locked in mine.

My good friend, a constant but insensible victim of my whining, once said that I sound like I'm being locked up in Alcatraz. Well, I'm no Kevin Bacon but I do feel like Tim Robbins (as Andy Dufresne) in Shawshank Redemption, gnawing through stone walls with sticks, pebbles, and his very own nails. Slowly, slowly.... Sometimes, I try to glorify my pathetic state by imagining I'm Rapunzel in her tower. But Rapunzel was locked up there with nothing to do! And she had a prince that visits her every night, damn that slut! Even Andy Dufresne had Rita Hayworth!

I have none. Except the evil witch, for company. And she stares back at me when I look at the mirror. Jump off the tower, she says.

Someday, I just might consider doing that.

Before I completely break down, I need that out-of-town trip really soon. Or something more feasible that's exactly just like it.

Dawn through the CVS blinds. Morning comes. And I'm tired. Just tired.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Yesterday, at around 4PM, while I was having my regular quiet time at a Starbucks outlet by the bay, I had this strange feeling. That same ominous sensation you get when you know something peculiar is happening, a sense of impending doom. Palpitations, dry mouth, cold clammy skin - not caffeine-induced at all because you've been used to such high doses for your daily fix.

I feel something is going to change. Something drastic. Something I have to face boldly and without tears.

I remember feeling that way last November, when I learned of news that utterly left me dumbfounded. I was literally frozen that all I managed to do was allow my legs to buckle and seat myself on the floor I was standing on. No anger, no regret, no tears. Just nothing. And then the world stopped for a moment. And after a moment came a frenzy of colors, an exquisite mix of lights and sounds, and everything strange. And then the world moves again.

Something is happening that I do not know. A premonition that something huge and revolutionary is brewing out there. I'm waiting. Bring it on...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Say Cheese! (100% guaranteed to melt when warmed)

Tonight, I'm wondering if you people out there have secret lives too.

And in your secret lives, you have this particular person who...
... you never thought you'd meet but met anyway.
... you never thought you'd keep but kept anyway.
... you never thought you'd have and you're right.

Then these people become...
... the ones who would never find out.
... the ones who'd never give a damn if they'd find out.
... the ones you'll spend the rest of your lives getting over.
... the ones you'll always measure everyone else against.
... the ones you can never get away from because everywhere, they just seem to be there too.

And then you somehow learn to let them go, and in your hearts you wish them all the best...
... may they find their one true love, but may find yours first.
... may they build a home and a nice family, but may you have yours first.
... may they find bliss in every way, but may you find yours too, even if you'll always be looking in their direction.

Hmmm... I wonder. Then perhaps this is universal. We're all wounded in a way, bleeding in different degrees. And the luckier ones have healed, though they will always be walking with a limp.

Perhaps if I see the world this way, it will always be a world full of wounded, limping people. Then it wouldn't be so lonely at all.

Huli Ka! (at least hindi Wow Mali!)

Though I’m not a big fan of television, I managed to watch several shows dealing with real people caught doing something – not anything terrible or mean, but something stupid or ridiculous, or magnanimous, or whatever extreme, enough to get them on camera and make them the public laughingstock for the moment.

I got myself entangled in the same show today. There are no cameras, no one to see me blush, no public to laugh at me. But I got caught just the same. And there’s always something strange about being caught. It’s not guilt, because I’m not doing anything wrong. It’s like having to surrender the privacy of your secret world to someone. Imagine staring at a beautiful face, when for no deliberate or logical reason at all, you just can’t take your eyes off that face. And then suddenly, he turns his head and looks at you and catches you staring at him, and instinctively you look away. The embarrassment stems more from the looking away part, not the staring part I guess.

Anyway, I didn’t get caught staring at anyone. Though it would have felt pretty much the same way. Through the wonders of information technology, my old musings - all written for writing’s sake, by some miracle, managed to overcome obscurity and land in the computer screen of… guess who? The Great Dr. D himself!

He caught me! Now he knows he has a one-person fan club. That’s not exactly embarrassing, right? It’s a good thing the man is ever-indulgent and forgiving. So, since this blog is no longer a non-entity to him as before, here goes… Sir, I’m not taking anything I wrote about you back!

I wonder who else I’ve been writing about are reading my stories about them. Oh my, that’s reason for panic. So if you’re reading about yourself in my blog, please come out in the open and let me know.

One thing I learned: if you get caught staring at someone, don’t look away. Stare back, and smile.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sick Again


1 week history of hypersomnolence, hyperphagia, and anhedonia.
(+) generalized headaches, (+) joint pains, (+) malaise
(+) behavioral changes and irritabilty
(+) hallucinations of beer, beaches, and exotic places
(+) forgetfulness and poor short term memory

For impression and differential diagnoses, let me know.

And for treatment, don't ask me.
I'm referring to you for opinion and comanagement.

P.S. This is a charity case. No PF please.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sense and Sensitivity

Scenarios that totally piss me off:

#1 It's a Sunday morning and you're waiting in line for the PGH elevator. (As a trivia to those who are not aware, there is only one elevator servicing the entire 1500 bed capacity hospital during Sundays.) The line extends up to the ATM machines. After 3 trips, your turn to be stuck in the sardine can finally comes. Then a loud-mouthed woman with foul-smelling hair, tagging along a noisy brat, cuts the line and takes your place. Elevator closes. You have to wait for the next trip.
Isip mo lang, mag-brownout sana.

#2 You're almost done with your 15th OPD patient. You skipped lunch while all other fellows pigged out during a pharma-related soul-depriving activity in a nearby fancy restaurant. It's almost 3PM and you still haven't made your rounds. You're going to be grilled on Hemodynamics Conference in a few days. You're packing up your stuff when... Nurse comes to you and brings you 3 charts of 3 patients. New patients for the other fellows, who already left, enjoying pig heaven. You look at the patients. They're as hungry as you are. They're sick but you're not. You look at them.
Isip mo lang, good karma, good karma.

#3 The sun is up and it's 7AM, you're already harrassed and you smell like a DM foot after spending so many hours at the emergency room. You've inserted a temporary pacemaker on someone you eventually did a CPR on for 1 hour and 15 minutes because your senior fellow told you to. You're ready to hand over the phone to the day-fellow. It's 10 minutes to 7:30. You're enjoying your first 5 minutes of being seated, and your coffee smells good. Then the duty phone rings. OB resident tells you of a patient with a heart rate of 110. You need to see the patient, consultant orders.
Isip mo lang, yeah right. Difference between heart rate of 110 and 100 is the same as 7:30 and 7:20.

#4 It's a rainy Friday afternoon. 5PM, traffic in Taft Avenue is a mess. Streets outside are flooded. After a week of running around, you finally have time to relax. You're thirsting for that cold bottle of beer over long, ponderous and intelligent conversation. And just like manna from heaven, a good friend you haven't seen for months texts. Beer? Come over. Because he's the one who has a car, you ask him to pick you up. He texts you back, sorry, I can't brave the traffic.
Isip mo lang, ASSHOLE! (affectionately though. because, hmmm, what else is new?)

Some people just need crash courses in sensitivity! Yeah, you can always say, "Sorry, but I didn't know!" Who says you have to know? A bit of sensitivity is the same as common sense! It's as simple as the Golden Rule. You don't have to know it. You feel it! You do or do not do some things because you know how it would feel if you're in the other person's place. Come on, show me a bit of sensitivity if you got a bit of common sense in your system!

#5 There's only one functioning computer in the CVS office, where I'm typing now. Been hogging this unit for an hour already. Batchmate comes, bringing along his flash drive. He's complaining to my other batchmates he's got a dozen echo reports to print. I'm deaf. I didn't hear anything. I keep on blogging.

We simply and deliberately disregard common sense sometimes. Pretend we don't hear. Pretend we don't know. The Golden Rule is just too much to be obeyed all the time.

Some people need crash courses on sensitivity. But then again, perhaps we all do.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Estrogen Surge in Testosterone Country

The atmosphere in the CVS conference room has totally changed. Many years ago it was all about basketball and women and boobs and more boobs. Last year, it was all about make-up and hair rebonding. This year, we brought the ambiance to a higher, denser level.

My batch mate Diva and I have been talking about penises lately. To the consternation of our seniors, we have been very vocal about our envy for Maricar and Katrina. Yeah right, you righteous women out there, cast the first stone. I'll be perfectly honest. Say it out loud, we would have loved to be in Maricar's place (sans the video). Women with substance should know how to keep their mouths shut, and they should know how to scream...

But going back to the penises, Diva has hilariously described the difference between a man with a height of 5'11" and another who's a 6'2", and how (s)he'd rather have the shorter one but with the longer down-under. I said it doesn't matter. There's always the tongue. And the finger. Yes the finger. But of course since I no longer smoke, I would say "no" to a cigarette but would probably consider a Cuban cigar.

One hungry afternoon, Diva said he wants bread. Then, lo and behold, a med rep came along with raisin bread straight from Baguio Country Club - those long, hard, thick French rolls that come wrapped in brown paper. All fresh and warm. Diva and I exchanged glances. This is good omen for the month.

Our seniors, all of them oozing with testosterone, glared at Diva and me. They left the bread alone. Diva and I devoured it. Some people just do not realize what they're missing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Save Our Eggs, Save the World

photo from

Last weekend, my good friend C arrived from her 1-year adventure in The-Land-Down-Under. The girl who used to be “stuck in the middle of nowhere stranded without a map” has evolved into a full pledged explorer, and after losing 60 lbs, she has transformed into one hot, independent woman unafraid to face the unknown, willing to take risks, able to stand her own ground.

To celebrate her arrival and to pay homage to the new babe, the rest of the Five-O'-Clock Club from way back residency days gathered together in the spirit of our usual nonsense conversations, romance-bashing, and nostalgia tripping. Despite my recent bout of the dumps and the solitude fever (defined as an incapacity to generate amusement from any social contact of any kind), I dragged myself out of my apartment to spend time with the group. As usual, it was the callroom all over again.

Feeling like the girls from Sex and the City (all of us self-proclaimed beautiful, fabulous, smart and SINGLE), we settled in a not-too-crowded cafe in a nearby mall to catch up on our lives, plan adventures, and save the world. And finally, we were able to come up with a feasible and easy strategy to save the world from complete annihilation.

After due discussion on the current unnatural and extraordinary state of our affairs, we have identified the problem and came up with a resolution. A plan to save the world.

The problem:
The world is in a state of crisis. An emergency, in fact. More urgent than global warming. More disastrous than the swine flu pandemic or the global economic crisis. This is a catastrophe, ultimately debilitating, possibly leading to the extinction of humanity. There is a shortage of men!

The evidence:
In the Philippines, the average marrying age for Filipino women is 24. My friends and I belong to the 28 to the 32 years old age group. Hence, we're way beyond the average! We're among those who raise the value to a higher number. While most women are getting married and bearing children during their early 20s, we have remained single since birth, with our eggs gradually going into senescence and decay day by day!

In 2006, world population data revealed that men outnumber women by 33 million! Where have all these males gone then? If there are more men in the world than women, why aren't there any men around in this vicinity? Now, we can migrate to the Arab nations (where the male to female ratio can go up to 2.1:1) and live in the desert so we can trap a man. Or decide to do something less pathetic - we can save the world using the same principles as saving the environment. After all, men are natural resources, too. And they're scarce, limited, and very valuable.

Hence, this is what we propose. The solution: REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYLE.

photo from

Reduce your standards. Perhaps the greatest marker for maturity (or perhaps desperation) is the length of your list of requirements for your ideal man. So cut the list short. Focus on the essentials.

When I was a teenager, my list was as long as an entire yellow paper, filled back to back, or even longer. Handsome, tall, sense of humor, smart conversations, faithfulness, stable job, well defined ambition, mabango, plays a musical instrument, good singing voice, plays basketball, and the list goes on and on. When I was 20, my list was a lot shorter and a lot more serious: tall, smart, sense of humor, taste for adventure, good conversations, strong spirituality, sense of family, financial stability, emotional maturity, and a few more. When I reached 25, my list was even cut a lot shorter, to only include my few non-negotiables: straight, taller than me, loves the Beatles, spiritual maturity, good text grammar and spelling (!). Still, there was no qualified applicant.

At 28, my list is down to three: tall, straight, and loves the Beatles. Still, there was none.

So at 29, I'm down to one: Genetically XY! (Phenotype, not important anymore)

(Kung wala pa rin, ewan na talaga!)

Assuming that your friends share the same save-the-world philosophy, this shouldn't be much of an issue. If they date someone they don't like, they should set this guy up with their friends, which includes you. Since all of you have reduced your "requirements", there will be few expectations and a much lower chance for disappointments. Date someone you don't like? Set him up with your friend.

For instance, in my Five-O'-Clock Club, we plan to deck according to age: Soltera Mother J comes first and then Hotel-Queen-With-a-Secret, and so on, until Princess Z's turn comes. Princess Z has never really cared for the phenotype even before so even if the guy turns out to be a complete fag, she's going to madly fall for him. In the end, there's really not much trouble. If this decking doesn't work, try doing it alphabetically. In this case, I go first.

The point is, don't keep the precious resource to yourself. Share. Reuse what other people have used. Just make sure he's not HIV positive.

Dig up your old loves and see if you can still recycle them. Put an end to unfinished businesses. Rekindle old flames. Search through Friendster or Facebook and see if your old flame is single. If he is, send him a note. Buy him a few drinks. Make the first move. If he doesn't bite, do something drastic. Slip an "E" pill in his dessert or drop an Ativan in his drink. What's your medical license for if you don't use it to acquire date rape pills? If it doesn't work the nth time, don't forget to set him up with your next-on-deck friend.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Very simple tips to save the world from complete annihilation. Very easy to say. Quite feasible. Practical, imaginative. We will get a Nobel Prize for this.

The girls and I ended up laughing the entire rainy afternoon away. The plan was too simple. Perfect. The coffee was good. The company was fantastic. There is a crisis of sorts. And we're right smack in the middle of it. So it's time for drastic measures. Time to turn over a new leaf. To kick off the inner manang and morph into a Sex and the City babe with condoms ready in our wallets. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Save our eggs. Save the world.

We said our goodbyes. Then reality came back. Even now, I am sure that as each of us was walking away from that cafe that afternoon, we were thinking of our own lists and how each was never really cut short, only modified. We were thinking of how we would protect each other from dates from hell at all costs and how we can never really be insincere enough to waste time and conversations on someone we don't like. We thought of all of the men we loved, those who broke our hearts or dashed our hopes, of affections only momentarily requited or never at all, and we knew we'd rather keep them in our secret boxes, and allow our wounds to totally heal.

The world is in a crisis. There is a scarcity of men. Our eggs face an inevitable extinction. Our mitochondrial genes stand no chance of being perpetuated. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Very easy.

Hah! Yeah right. Who am I kidding here?

Some dreams should not cease being dreams. Our eggs can die. Our hopes should not. Some princesses simply need their knights in their shining armors, though the armors can come in different styles. We do. And the world will quake for each of us. Hopefully, soon enough.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mid-Year Madness

Six months of 2009 have come and gone. Yesterday I was making a list of the things I've accomplished substantial enough to be listed. And there was none. The rest of the day I was walking around in a daze. At 2PM, I had enough of it so I climbed up the top bunk of the CVS callroom bed and did what I do best - sulk. I didn't care about my ward patients or the newly dropped referrals yet to be seen. I just laid down on that bunk and stared at the ceiling until sleep came.

This is what I call the mid-year slump - when you're far from achieving the goals you've set for yourself at the beginning of the year, and too weary of the excitement of the supposed adventures you got yourself into. This is the in-between time - the time when nothing much is really happening. This is the time to hibernate, to wait it out, to hang on. No wonder couples get married in June. They're simply too bored. Or too mad. (This last one is a matter of opinion.)

I woke up at 4PM, still sick with the flu. Still post-duty tired. But in 4 hours, I was able to see all my patients and make decent-enough entries in their charts.

Perhaps the only bridge between hope and despair is a nice long sleep. I wish I could sleep this entire month off.