Sir, maawa na po kayo. Tanggapin niyo na po ang anak ko. Hirap na hirap na po siya.”(Doc, please admit my son. He is in distress. Just make him live.)

A man in his late twenties. A diagnosed case of Tuberculosis. He was so thin I could almost trace the anatomic landmarks of his bones. He cannot speak. He could only open his eyes on prompting. He had mental retardation.

The father was pleading that his son be admitted in our institution. I assessed the vital signs. Blood pressure was okay. The oxygen saturation was only a meager 65%. I immediately told my senior the case. He said, like most of the less severe cases we see in our hospital, that they should transfer the patient to another Hospital, at San Lazaro, perhaps, since that institution specializes in infectious diseases such as TB.

And the hardest part of everything is trying to explain to the patients that the hospital has a low tolerance for patients with TB. It is not because we do not care, but because we do not want other patients to acquire TB. The father kept on pleading. My heart was was bleeding. I went to my senior and told him, “Sir, I could not handle this.”

Other patients came, so the patient, in all his frailty, was drowned in the presence of new patients.

I still could not accept the fact that the patient was being sent home with a saturation of only 65%. I asked my senior again what should be done to the patient. He was gasping for breathe. And he was advised to go to another hospital.

I was just thankful that after re-assessment, my senior finally decided that the patient should be intubated.

I went home, under the pouring rain. I almost thought I forgot my umbrella. I rummaged through my bag. There it is. I realized there is always something to be thankful for.  


We age and we can’t stop time bringing out the adult in us.

Recently, our block chanced upon a consultant after the grand rounds presentations of one of our Psychiatry residents. At first, we thought this consultant would not remember us form the last time he met us. Surprisingly, he was able to remember faint traces of our then youthful and wrinkle-free faces back in third year med school. We were oblivious young students back then.

The first thing he told us was that we’ve aged. I hate to admit it but yes, we did.

It’s been almost one and a half years of a life revolving around three days- duty, preduty, and post-duty. It’s been almost one and a half years of a life of running around PGH to conduct a patient to the Radiology Dep’t. for X-ray. It’s been almost one and a half years of trying to take care of patients and trying our best not to forget ourselves. It’s been almost one and a half years of irregularly going back home to see our parents and watch them grow old. It’s been one a half years of clinical work.

“When you see it in the view of patient sacrifice, it becomes meaningful.” This was the final words of the consultant before he left us. It left us hanging and thinking.

I would have wanted to erase the wrinkles on my cheeks. I would have wanted to give these tired eyes a break. I remember one of the priests before, saying that these imperfections speak of what we had to go through in medicine. The long-hours of sleepless monitoring, among others.

Indeed, I pray that the patients will see these imperfections and woundedness as signs of our resilience, and not of weakness. That we, as students, have sacrificed a lot, becoming wounded at times, to make them less wounded and make their lives more meaningful.

That makes us much older than our years, and much younger than our faces. 

The Otherside


Tomorrow, we will embark on our first rotation as interns. We will officially be going to Cavite, particularly in Mendez, for our community medicine rotation. A spectrum of feelings- both excited and nervous at the same time. Excited of the adventures which await me and nervous for the adjustment which I must take into account. I must admit that despite working in a hospital like PGH, I am still in my comfort zone. I have never experienced going to the artisan well and fetching pails of water for my daily baths. These little things excite me, hopefully, will bring greater things.

It is my first time to engage in this kind of activity. It is my first time to go to a community and live in another house for one whole week. I had this chance to undergo an immersion program back in High School but I was not able to. Finally, before I graduate, I get to experience this.

This rotation will hopefully paint me a picture of the life of my patients that I see in PGH. Cavitenos are on top of our roster here in the hospital since they do not have tertiary hospitals in their area which offer quality and affordable services. PGH has its own share of patients living below the poverty line. I had this experience first-hand in some of my rotations- lack of finances for medications and laboratories, pushing them to kneel at the mercy of politicians. After this rotation, I hope that we do not get calloused from poverty. This rotation will hopefully stir restlessness on our parts, which may dare us to move.

Our professors also told us that we must remember that wherever we go after med school, we must remember the context we are living in. After this rotation, I hope I will be able to wake up myself and realize that there is so much to be done in our society.

While I was listening at the lectures during our orientation, I felt that Community Medicine maybe something for people with a genuine passion for the field. There is so much to be done, and at times, I wonder if something could actually be done. I wonder if the Alma Ata declaration would finally materialize in our generation.

I think the main message of this rotation is that of hope. The task is Herculean, and may require magic, if I may say. However, there is always that hope. Part and parcel of the solution is with people who never give up, people who stay in the Philippines facing these problems, people who continue to study what can be done and what needs to be done. Awareness is the first step to action. If after this rotation, I am made aware of the situation of the Philippines, then the rotation has almost done its part.

As Dr. Nisperos would tell us, “poverty should never desensitize us.” If I may add, pverty should dare us to move.

the committment

As I was lying in bed today, I was busy thinking about things. I have decided that being diagnosed with a mental illness, and learning how to cope, is similar to that of losing somebody close to you. It is a very lonely feeling. I enjoy being alone, in fact, most times, I would rather be alone than with a group of people. This is a different type of loneliness. It is a loneliness within yourself. 

When you are first diagnosed, or when somebody passes away. There is immediate response from friends and family. It is an overwhelmingly supportive response; with people sharing their comfort, thoughts, tears, and even a few meals. But the feelings of loneliness, last a lot longer than the generosity of caring friends and family. When you lose somebody close to you, it takes months and years to cope with the loss. It is only those special friends and family that recognize this, and continue being your rock when the flowers and cards stop coming.