Today, I wish I was some place else. While the rest of Metro Manila is still busy cleaning up the mess from Ondoy, or just picking up the pieces of their recently devastated lives, life goes on here in the hospital. We scurry around as if Ondoy never happened. Since it is the beginning of another month, it's the old shifting mental dullness and the traditional furor while frantically searching for charts, establishing patient rapport, catching up on long-neglected reading. But despite the busy day, my mind was wandering somewhere else. I want to be where I'm needed the most now - using my medical knowledge and skills to touch real people, victims of the storm that ruined the lives they so painstakingly tried to build. Not here where things have remained untouched by the storm, not here where most people are mindless of the things that happen outside these walls, except for things that directly affect them, not here where life revolves around our daily routine, our charts and our orders and our academic conferences - senseless activities masquerading as medicine. But isn't Medicine all about being where you are most needed?
I just realized how heartless and selfish I had been during the past few days since Ondoy. Despite the predicament of millions of my neighbors, I've been whining about the small flood in my apartment, or the slow internet connection in the Cardio office, or the careless resident who forgot to carry out my recommendations for the patient I'm comanaging. I was jolted back to my senses and I realized that I want to be where I'm needed - right there, where the brown and murky waters are still waist deep and the children scream for milk with fevers burning, and the wounds are still festering. Right there where the white coat doesn't count and doctors truly become doctors - that's where I'd rather be.
My wake-up call came from an unlikely source. I recently reestablished contact with a good old friend who, cluelessly, has been my anchor to reality for a long time now. This good old soul was miraculously spared from the floods, and was asking me for opportunities to serve, as if believing that my magnanimity is constant, resistant to the effects of stress and disappointments and living itself. My old friend knew, and believed, I was already out there doing something. And suddenly, I was like, "whaat?!? what have I done except grow bed sores on my ass, sitting up around here in airconditioned offices while 700,000 of my neighbors suffer in those damp evacuation centers?" It's time to do something. Now.
I'm glad my old friend reminded me of what I should be, before I totally became something else. For the nth time, my greatest fear, my source of terror and unspeakable agony, has again saved me.