Around a month ago

A resident asked me to go out with him. When I say “go out,” I literally mean it. I didn’t want to interpret it as a date. He had been talking to me for a few days prior to that, asking me personal questions, which is unusual for a resident, as they usually quiz us about theoretical, medical-related things. He found me watching a video on Youtube about history, asked me if I liked history, and then it went on to asking me if I could go to a museum with him. Of course, I said no. I haven’t told anyone around me except for my mom and brother, probably I think they would think I’m lying. It’s not that this doctor is highly sought-after. It’s just that we consider anyone (well, everyone) above us our bosses. I even use words of respect when I talk to him in my native language.

I find it weird. I haven’t been thinking much about my love life lately. I know the hospital can be a huge place of temptation, but I’ve just been preoccupied with my duties. I’m really scared to disappoint and I get hyper-critical about my mistakes and the things I miss out. This is why I think I’m kind of stressing out. It’s manifesting as a desire to have longer sleep than needed and a lack of appetite. This means I don’t have time to think about those sort of things. It’s just weird to have to think about it after quite a while.

Yesterday

I was maltreated by a patient’s father. We, clerks, were supposed to interview and do physical exam on patients before they were seen by residents, so the process would be quick. I came across an infant who had a 1 day history of vomiting. The father got pissed off at me because he was waiting for his assigned resident to see his son. I did not know that, and he only informed me when the resident had gone out. Nevertheless, they were not scheduled to see the assigned resident. Any resident was allowed to see him. He got pissed off at me and confronted me in front of the resident I endorsed the patient to.

And then I was shocked to see my resident defending me. She was almost yelling back at the father, who called me names other than “Dr.” My resident told him I was not a nurse, or anything else. I was a doctor. The father then apologized to me. I could see him cowering slowly as he did so.

It’s funny, because we were warned not to introduce ourselves as doctors, yet, but the residents insist we do so. It’s funny because everyone in the hospital knows we’re soon-to-be doctors, but our uniforms say otherwise. It’s funny because nurses, residents, and even consultants call us doctors. To be honest, I loved it. I loved that I didn’t talk back. I didn’t care if the patient didn’t look at me as a doctor – that time will come when I’ll be able to introduce myself as a doctor. But for now, I’ll learn. I learned to respect him even if he didn’t respect me at first. I’ll learn about all the things I should learn before I deserve those two initials after my name. Responding with anger is not the best way to fight back. It’s not what the Bible taught me.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5

It’s the little things

It’s the little things you think you can forgo that make one Christian. The hospital is filled with temptations. It’s filled with corners you think you can hide your little sins in. But it’s also filled with opportunities of God’s grace. It’s only through His grace you can treat someone with kindness, after having just been treated like crap. I’m realizing this after being treated like crap. It’s a common thing for junior interns. A lot of nurses treat us like crap. Not all, but a lot. Strangely, it’s the residents who treat us better. Maybe it’s because they are our future colleagues. But I’m realizing that it’s just a cycle. A lot of consultants treat nurses like crap, so they take it out on naive beings like us. But it doesn’t mean it gives us the right to fight back. It just means it’s an opportunity for God’s grace to be shown.

God’s presence is not in displays. It’s not in Jesus stickers you stick on your car or on your laptop. It’s not in Bible verses with pretty backgrounds you post on Facebook. It’s not in laptop wallpapers. It’s in the times when you don’t want to obey Him and think you can get away with it, but still do obey, that makes you Christian. It’s those times which set you apart.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thes 5:11

And what’s more, it’s not just through those things. I had recently been praying for my social anxiety to be cast out. I went home from a 30-hour duty, happy in my heart to realize I just reported a case without the jitters overtaking my brain. Presence of mind was there, even though the whole department’s eyes were on us. It may not be a big deal to a lot of people, but for someone who could feel her blood draining to her feet every time she had to speak in front of more than three people… it was a huge deal for me. I thank God for it.

Day 10 in Pedia Wards

Just because platform sneakers look cute on others, does not mean they look cute on you. Just because some shoes look cute, doesn’t mean they’re the best to have for 36-hour long duties. Ugh. I had to learn this the hard way. I just bought two pairs of shoes as buy-1-take-1 on impulse, thinking I had the better end of the deal. No. NO. I was wrong. They are heavy and are difficult to lug around the hospital. Now I have to settle for my old, broken ones, which broke down just after a month of being the lowest form of mammal in the hospital.

It’s almost 2 weeks since I’ve been in the Pedia wards. Only 5 days until it’s over. They say it’s the busiest rotation in Pediatrics, and one of the worst. I dunno about that negativity, I’m actually having a lot of fun… except when I can’t be human, like that time I was on duty on Sunday, and kids didn’t want to go back to school. There was visibly no time to eat, pee or sleep. It was the most toxic duty I had so far. Other than that, it’s been fun. You learn a lot in teaching rounds, and most doctors are kind enough to orient and quiz you about things you should know.

I remember myself a month ago, when I was dreading all of this, when I was asking myself if I chose the right path, if it was too late to turn back. I want to laugh now. Even if I’m still practically part of the bottom of the food chain, it’s the truth – I am having fun. I think I’m starting to love medicine again. At this point, all I need is time. The certainty is there, I just have to hold on. Of course, there will still be countless exams. And there’s the board exam to look forward to. But at this point, especially when I feel exhausted in all aspects, or when I feel it’s hopeless to come out of a situation, it’s been amazing to witness how God works through seemingly impossible situations.

I just listened to a Christian song and it’s been stuck in my head for the past few days, especially this line, “There’s a war between sin and grace, and they’re fighting for a sacred space. But I’m living proof, grace wins every time.” The hospital is filled with temptations, whether internal or external. There are times I do fall, but it’s His grace that allows me to be picked up and keep walking.

Still aliiive

It’s been a month since hospital rotations started. I’m still in Pediatrics, for until the end of the month. For the next two weeks, I’ll be in the wards. They say it’s the busiest sub-rotation in Pedia. For the first two weeks, I’ve been rotating in the ER and the Nursery. It’s been fun, and I’ll miss the babies, but I’m ready for new challenges.

In the hospital, it’s not only important – it’s essential – to have a positive attitude. It’s best to try to avoid complaining. I need to process what happened during the day and sift through it, to keep the learning and throw the negativity.

I just stumbled upon a post saying that INFJ is the rarest personality type in the world. I happen to be good friends with one who is INFJ. I then went on to read some websites about it. It all makes sense. It’s why I’m so in touch with my emotions. It’s why crave the first moment of silence when I walk out of the hospital after a 30-hour duty. It’s why I almost wanted to cry upon seeing a kid who was very friendly and energetic, but also happened to have cancer. It’s why I always think about what the patient would want whenever our mentors would ask about what we should do as doctors – would you prefer to have the kid undergo open-heart surgery or not?

If I don’t focus so much on the fear, it’s been enjoyable. But the fear seems to always be there. The fear of criticism, the fear of not being good enough, the fear of making mistakes, especially those which will harm others or slow the hospital dynamic down. I always fear that the people I’m with are always better than I am. I’m always fearing that I’m not good enough, that at one point, I’m bound to stumble and not be able to get back up.

I should accept that, but only because I have to make an effort to brush it away. If I don’t focus too much on that, I can actually think about how I’m on my way to getting that MD. Time is not stopping. It all depends on whether I give up or not. And God did not put me here to stop when I get tired, because I can always rest… in His presence.

The hospital is a whirlwind

And burnout is a real thing. You have to find a way to keep yourself stabilized in the middle of the tornado. I’m gonna have to find this work-life balance soon, even though I’m home only 1 day of the week, most of the time not even for 24 hours. Today is a Sunday, and it’s my grandma’s birthday. It’s the first time I’m home for more than 36 hours. It’s actually my first “weekend off” since hospital duty started June 1. By weekend off, I mean I got off my duty yesterday at 12 noon. So, it’s not the whole weekend off, but I’m not complaining. I’m gonna take what I can get.

I don’t dread the hospital so much anymore. Right now, for the last 2 weeks of June, I’m having fun, because we’re rotating in the Nursery for Pediatrics, and it’s so fun to be with babies. Babies are the softest, purest things on the planet, aside from baby animals. You can prick them all you want and they would cry while you do it, but they resume sleeping right after, as if nothing happened. Bigger kids are more terrible, usually.

But for July, the wards are waiting for us. It’s the most dreaded rotation of everyone in Pediatrics. I have yet to find out what it’s all about, but I realized it’s important – no, it’s crucial – to keep negativity out of your life every chance you can. I know it’s mean to keep negative people out of your life, but if they’re your duty-mates or if they’re your friends, you have to make every effort to turn them away from negativity. You have to keep finding the positive in every bad thing. Even when the resident yells at you, even though your seniors tell you about how incompetent you are, even when some nurses never fail to point out your mistakes and seem happy to do so, always view everything as a learning experience. Always make yourself a better version of yourself with every bad encounter. Only then will you become a winner in all these situations which make you feel like a loser. Strive to react better the next time bad things happen, because bad things will always happen. You don’t have to be full of hate every time. You don’t have to be consumed by the hostility of what’s supposed to be hospitable. Respond well. You have control over all your decisions. Feelings may be uncontrollable at times, but don’t let them be the master of you.

I think I just told all these to myself.

Being on duty also entails discipline. For the first three years of med school, it was all theoretical. We had to read a bunch of stuff and take a lot of tests. We saw patients at most 4 times a week. If you didn’t study, if you failed a test, you had only yourself to answer to. If you don’t keep it a secret, your parents, too.

But in the hospital, no matter how much you want to be absent, you can’t, and this is for your sake and for the hospital, too. No matter how incompetent I think I am, I actually have a role to play. Manpower is always appreciated in the hospital. The discipline comes in when you have to put everything about you on hold, for your patients. You can’t eat even if it’s past 1 in the afternoon, you can’t pee every time you’d want to. You can’t sleep when you have patients to attend to, and when you can sleep, you don’t have any place to sleep on, so you’d have to settle for the floor, or if you have a bit of a stomach, you can go to the couch doctors usually use (which I did out of desperation the other night). It entails so much discipline, I forgot what relaxation means. Getting home from a 30-hour shift is a luxury. Sleep is such a luxury, I realized I would choose it anytime over food. This is probably why I don’t know how to crave the usual things I used to crave back then. It’s like everything has paled into blandness. But you know, it didn’t stop me from cramming everything in my stomach at my grandma’s birthday lunch.

I told myself once I find that work-life balance, I’m gonna start exercising again. Once I get used to having only an hour or two of sleep (this is a luxury; there will be days when I won’t have any sleep), I’ll have to go back to the things I usually did, before all my hours went to being in the hospital. I just hope it’ll come soon. It’s been almost a month.

Ten days in the Pedia ER

as a medical clerk, and I don’t want to not do it as much as I did during my second day of clerkship. I’m back to night shift later, which I’m not looking forward to, because my body clock gets busted, and I basically just eat one meal a day because most of the day is spent sleeping.

Ten days into this and I’m feeling excitement again, the same excitement before third year started and I couldn’t wait to get to work in the hospital. This was not the case right before clerkship, when I was so scared of all the wrong things that could happen. It made me break down on Day 2. I’m hearing all sorts of things from my friends or roommates who are in more toxic duties, and it’s quite exciting. One of my roommates is in OB, and she literally just sneaked 15 minutes of sleep in 24 hours. She was even ashamed to be caught by one of the residents. Apparently, if you are on duty, you are not at all expected to sleep. Ha-ha. This doesn’t happen in the ER. In the ER, we usually don’t have patients from 3 to 5 in the morning. They’d come singly, and we could sneak a nap. At least, if there’s no one to take a photo of us and post it on social media.

Seriously, why do patients do that? Even before I entered med school, I wouldn’t frown upon doctors who sneak naps in between, when they’re not tending to a patient. Would you want the person who’d be dealing with your body and your health to not have any minute of sleep? Think of what a surgeon who hasn’t slept in 36 hours could do upon exploring an abdomen. I wouldn’t sleep in the middle of a busy shift, but during idle times, I hope patients would give us a bit of rest. Doctors or med students are humans, too. If there was a way to turn myself into a robot or a vampire, I’d gladly undergo the process, just so I could work efficiently for 36 hours straight.

Interesting cases come only rarely in the Pedia ER. It’s usually kids who have cough, colds, vomiting, and loose stools, which can be common but serious. Unfortunately, there are also kids who just need to poop. Seriously. You’d spend some bucks on a STAT x-ray just to find fecal stasis over and over again. If I could shove vegetables down these kids’ throat, I would.

I also can’t help noticing how there are more spoiled brats than good kids. I remember my mom telling me I’d be the first to stick my finger out if the med technologist needs to get a CBC. Most of the kids I see have to be wrapped in burrito blankets just to extract from them good blood samples. If I considered pediatrics before, I thought about pediatric oncology. Now, not so much, because I’m wondering why it’s the good kids who get sick. Yesterday, I saw a kid who had myasthenia gravis. His kidneys were damaged because of his disease, and he’s on maintenance meds. The kid was an angel. The nurses stuck all these needles on him and all he did was look on with his big eyes… with ptosis on his right eye. My roommate said these kids are used to needles. Even so, I couldn’t help but want to cry (again, I’m such a crybaby). His parents seemed like good people, too.

I have only 5 days left in the ER. My next shift in Pediatrics is in the nursery. We’d be working with OB, catching newborns and performing tests, doing rounds, and all these other errands. I’m still a bit nervous, but at least, we’d finally have interns with us. I thank God I’m here in the Pedia ER, just so I could have a warm-up of hospital duties. I hope to be stronger in the future, accepting that I will make even more mistakes, and not break down every time I do. I hope, as time passes, that I take all these as learning opportunities, and not as wounds to tear myself down. I hope I stop telling myself I’m stupid just because I’m currently grouped with the top student of our batch, and some of the top students of the batch. I’m so tempted to rule myself in as the stupidest in the group, but I just read yesterday that God gave us all different abilities. It is in my weakness that He is strong after all.