compassion · CYA Staffer · doctor · doctor dreams · faith · friendship · God · inspiration · Milk Matters · pearls · personal · Phi Lambda Delta Sorority · sacrifices · Service · spiritual dryness · UP-PGH · work

Parallel Experiences

I can’t help but think, as I am experiencing my uninspired moments in Christ’s Youth in Action staff, that these moments are going to recur when I proceed to Pediatrics residency.

Contrary to popular perception, staff work is actually toxic. It is so different compared to what the students apparently see. There are a lot of stretching of the self, a lot of dying, a lot of breaking, a lot of pruning, a lot of feedback (for me, because I am stubborn) that happen in the background and away from the prying eyes of the university students. A good shattering of expectations leads me to realize romanticizing staff work is not going to work if I want to stay.

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Christ’s Youth in Action Staffers doing a Rurouni Kenshin pose in honor of Flo. Cute namin!

Not that the shattering is a bad thing. It’s part of the process. And in staff, I’m experiencing what it really is like to be a disciple of Christ. And I feel I am not even closer to the woman He has created me to be. The disciplining of the leaders in CYA staff is probably one of the most strict, yet most loving, that I’ve signed up for.

I also cannot help but think, during this seemingly lack of enthusiasm in what I do, that I’ve dealt with similar moments before.

Cases in point: Phi Lambda Delta Sorority and my internship in UP College of Medicine.

Gela with Phi Surgery
I cannot count how many little boys I circumcised. Organizing a tuli mission is one of my main jobs when I was a leader in Phi.

No need to bore you with details, but these two big decisions of my life contained my most uninspiring moments. But look what came out of it: during my term as Phi’s Sister Caritas, Milk Matters was born. Then, I was able to graduate from UP College of Medicine with awards for leadership, service and meritorious performance. I passed the Physician Licensure Exam! Goodness abound.

So as I try to find ways on how to deal with this demoted spirit in staff work, especially since BUSIER days are coming, I have three lenses I can look at that can present me rich strategies I can be creative to use: to look back and be grateful; to look forward and be ready; and to experience the present– find joy in what I do and do the things that bring me joy. (Read Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do it for the Lord and not for men.)

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CYA Medicine just launched out! Here I am taking a two-hour teaching off my doctor work to cater to my brothers and sister in Medicine schools. (PLM and UP Med) High yield ito ang saya! No regrets doing it kahit sobrang pagod ako after this.

I am just afraid of completely missing out on what the Lord is trying to teach me in these moments of dry inspiration. I need grace for a good sense of detachment. Another strong motivation is I just do not want to go back to the old me. Not anymore. I want to learn Your ways, Lord.

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Just because I am radiantly beautiful and happy to be here. Where I am right now. Though I know not the road ahead of me, I trust in the Lord that He will carry me through, victoriously!

Grant me faith for the future. Grant me a grateful heart. Open my eyes to see your work in me and in others.

What are You teaching me? Teach me to persevere and find joy in things that I do, even if I don’t see its fruits.

compassion · doctor · doctor dreams · empathy · faith · Global Health · God · life · Milk Matters · Phi Lambda Delta Sorority · sacrifices · Service · sisterhood · UP-PGH

One Seed Grows

MM WDC

This is the photo of my sorority sister, Ja Verceles, as she represents Milk Matters in an annual convention in Washington, DC. Milk Matters has been selected to participate through poster presentation and in the conference for global health.

I am so proud. I cannot help but thank the Lord for the grace to actually see this happen. I am thankful, that as I look at the photo I see two blessed things: 1. To see what Milk Matters has become, that I treasure it like a child borne out of my heart, and though I have become detached from it, my love for it has been stable, steady; 2. To see that my sorority sisters are growing out of themselves and becoming a better version of themselves through service.

Six years of intensely immersing myself in service taught me to focus on the latter blessing. To invest on people. To add value to their growth by helping them maximize their strengths and work on their core passion. That, in fervent hope, as they work tirelessly and relentlessly, a change of heart happens.

That is how I show my love– through service. Amazing how it gels together, when before the Milk Matters team only set our sights on just one milk drive and see how it goes from there. The Lord makes me see His work bloom right in front of my very eyes three years after its conception. I am but His servant.

It is great to see women with such big potentials who dedicate their efforts to help the poor and the sick Filipinos.

*This is the second international conference participated in by Milk Matters. The other one is an international award and representation in China. That is aside from the many accolades it has received in University of the Philippines College of Medicine and at regional and national levels.

clerkship · doctor · doctor dreams · empathy · faith · friendship · God · life · sacrifices

Student In Charge

The SIC. One can always read it in the doctors’ order sheet, like some monotonous voice of an unseen robot giving out instructions.

“SIC to complete database for patient information.”

“SIC to refer patient to SAPOD, IDS, TB DOTS. Inform service once with labs.”

“Highly appreciate SIC efforts!”

In the world of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, SIC means student in charge. He/ she is either a clerk or an intern. Each one is assigned a number of patients to be monitored for any progress in health management. It goes without saying that the doctors’ orders must be followed and carried out. Without fail, or else.

So when the textpass came that all classes in Manila were cancelled due to inclement weather, Clerk Villa shrugged it off. Class suspensions did not really apply to us anymore. We were waterproof. The dedicated mermen and mermaids of UP-PGH. I continued with my battle gear preparation for perfect storms such as this one: the boots my Daddy bought for me, a functional jacket, a sturdy umbrella and my indispensable, ever-reliable duty bag. Off I wade into the high waters of Taft Avenue!

Oh it was such fun wading the waters with my boots on! I crossed the then ankle-deep muddy water of Taft Avenue with the strong winds slapping against me. Without fear. Without hesitation. I felt so privileged, confident that my feet would always be dry and my white pants unstained. This must be a semblance of what the Israelites felt when the Red Sea parted for them and they walked on dry land right through it. Amazing.

I arrived in the Orthopedics ward (unscathed) to see my patients and check up on the latest doctors’ orders.

I have four patients so far. Two of them have undergone below-the-elbow amputation on the right forearm because of a cancerous mass or a complicated extrapulmonary tuberculosis lesion. They are happy and relieved to be going home on Sunday, partly because they have no money to spend anymore. One is a 15 year old kid who has bilateral clubfeet that makes it hard for him to walk and relate because of the seeming disfigurement of appearance. My last patient has gone home already. He’s my age, and his fracture on the left leg necessitated that an external fixator (Ilizarov) be put on for proper bone healing. It looks like this one:

Ilizarov

Why am I writing this?

Because upon arriving in Ward 8, I am not surprised to see my blockmates, even those who are not on duty, doing their SIC work. I am not surprised to see my classmates in UP College of Medicine Class 2016 walking along the dark and cold hallways of PGH, entering their designated wards to do what they are tasked to do. Getting the latest lab results for their patients. Endorsing needed requirements to facilitate patient healing with fellow clerks. Bad weather or good. Even if they feel like doing it or not.

I am not surprised, but I am amazed all the same.

I honor the clerks, the interns, the doctors, the nurses, the utility workers, the lab technicians, the medical technicians. Being a health professional is a sacrifice. It is not easy and at times it is most inconvenient.

But the joy of serving the patients. No one can take that from us. I would like to quote my fellow clerk, Doi Infante, on his beautiful insight after a tiring duty:

“Did my rounds early this morning after a toxic 24-hour duty, and found out that one of my patients will be discharged today. All the exhaustion seemed to fade away when Lola said, “ma-mimiss ko kayo, doc!”

It may not seem much, but it made me smile.”

Doing my rounds despite the weather may not seem much, but the Lord designed my heart to bask in the joy of seeing my patients heal and get better.

A simple thank you from a worried mother, a smile of acceptance from a sick old man, even seeing the healing wound of a quiet child. These incidental forms of appreciation make us feel more human after executing the must-be-done-without-fail orders churning out from that unseen mechanized robot voice.

Class suspensions don’t really apply to us SICs anymore. Bad weather or good, we go to the hospital, do our thing, and hope that at the end of the day, our patients get better. That at the end of the day, the things we do for our patients eventually teach us to become good doctors with kind hearts, willing to cross Taft (or Pedro Gil) even if it morphs into a monster of a river.

clerkship · doctor · doctor dreams · faith · God · love · personal · sacrifices · UP-PGH · work

Clerk 157

Each medical student has his or her own class number corresponding to the surnames’ alphabetical arrangement. I am 157 out of the 162. I am one of the people who belong to the last block, occupy the farthest of the locker spaces, and can be at peace when it comes to graded recitations because my surname’s a kind of a charm for starting with the letter V. Teachers call us last, and the questions are not so difficult by then.

“V as in Victory po,” I tell the lady who writes “Billa” on my health record.

“B as in Bictory?” she asks. I make the peace sign and she gets it.

Being the 157th clerk in our batch in UP College of Medicine Class 2016, however, affords no perks or points whatsoever. All of us have to be trained under the rigors and pressures of UP-PGH so we can be the best doctors of and for the country. No way out but through, unless one quits.

And by God’s grace, I finished my first month of clerkship and am currently on my third department rotation assignment in Orthopedics (specialty for bone diseases). Such happiness! After assessing numerous distressed patients, extracting bright red blood for tests, coaxing shy veins to appear for intravenous lining, writing on dozens of patient charts for disease management, presenting different cases of diseases to consultants and residents, toxic 24 hour duties, busy nights at the Emergency Room, sleeping on the ER bench to catch up some needed rest, doctors’ rounds at 12 in the morning, bloodied uniforms while taking care of vehicular crash patients, studying medical books despite the tiredness and hunger and lack of sleep because in the morning a patient’s case will be presented to a senior doctor, etc.

Busy life. And I only have Ophthalmology (Eye), Otorhinolaryngology (Ear, Nose, Throat) and Orthopedics (Bones) under my list of clerkship experience.

No, I am not ranting. I write this to try to make sense of everything, as a thanksgiving, because despite the sacrifices I choose to make while living my doctor dreams, I can honestly say I love what I do. I love where I am now, and I cannot see myself as anything except as a doctor, to be working anywhere except in a hospital. I love the action and challenge of learning about my patients’ lives and their diseases, of being inspired by the excellence my mentors, senior residents and consultants display, of being an instrument of God to care for and heal His people.

Sacrifices are part and parcel of this profession. I am home from my 24 hour duty to find the apartment empty. I see my younger brother a lot less now. With my schedule intertwined with the hospital, there are family parties I cannot attend, CYA and Phi activities I cannot join, sleep that should have its maximum to three hours only. My free time has become a prized leisure time: first for the Lord, for catching up with my family, for studying, for eating, for taking care of myself when I don’t take care of patients. My dinner tonight is my first meal of the day. I am tired from duty and I opted to sleep rather than eat.

Everyday, I still choose to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to pray. I’d be insane if I don’t have God to be with me as He molds me to be His image of a best doctor. Like clay in a potter’s hand, I pray that God bless me with the grace to strengthen my faith in Him. That amid the tiring, sacrificial and sometimes frustrating life of a clerk, I can find in Him the peace of mind, the satisfaction of heart and the grace to deny myself, to take up the big and small crosses and follow Him. He is always there for me to be my number one mentor. He is, after all, the greatest physician of the whole wide universe.

Nine months to go. Lord, reveal Yourself. Open the eyes of my heart. I offer my clerkship year for Your Glory.