Entitled due to titles

We met up with one of mom’s clients yesterday. She’s a professor at a reputable university in the country. As I sat on the table, opposite her, she asked me where I was going for medical school and what year I was in. I answered — it was my last year. I’ll be an intern come July. She then proceeded to tell me her youngest daughter was already doing sub-specialty training/ fellowship in OB-GYN. She told me I should go to the school her daughter went to and train there for residency, and for good reason — experience. Her daughter was all she talked about. I know she has another child, a son, whose work I do not know, because her daughter was all she talked about. She was the youngest of her children, and I got the feeling she may have three kids or more. I wouldn’t know. I asked her if her daughter always wanted to be an OB-GYN. I had an idea about the stressful nature of the job. She said it was her dream to become a doctor, but since she wasn’t able to fulfill it, she convinced her daughter to do it. She said her daughter eventually wanted to pursue medicine. I wonder how the story would go if I heard it firsthand from her daughter.

Three years ago, I was in a flirt-ationship with a guy. I cringe as I type that makeshift word out. It’s gross. But that was all there was to it. I did not flirt much, thanks to my lack of experience. But I knew he was semi-actively pursuing me. I was not that stupid. I say “semi-active” because I know he was on guard. Guys these days don’t give themselves the way our grandfathers used to when they were pursuing our grandmothers. Anyway, I remember being told that this guy was thanking his father because his father pushed him into law school even though he hated it at first, because his title as a lawyer makes him more attractive to women.

… Why? Now I know why I was never fully attracted to him.

I can only imagine how sad it is for my brother, how he senses that our family is proud of me, but our family only looks at him as black sheep, because I am about to finish med school, and he still is not stable with his job. My brother’s not street-smart because we’ve been sheltered our whole lives, but I know my brother’s a lot more intelligent than I am. He just does not have the capacity to fulfill requirements to gain a title, which this world is obsessed with. I, on the other hand, want to pursue a title, to open the door for my dreams and what I want to do in life.

I detest how parents are keen on talking about the child they are most proud of because he or she has achieved the most. The 3rd child or the youngest who did not pursue medicine or law does not get talked about, as if his interests and dreams don’t matter, as if who he is as a person don’t matter. I am proud of people who have managed to pursue their dreams and advance their advocacies without hiding behind a title, people who have been empowered by the mere love of their principle or craft, and have managed to make a change for the betterment of people’s daily lives. People who don’t need a master’s degree to help fishermen with their livelihood, people who don’t need white coats to go out to mountainous areas without electricity or the internet to deliver healthcare. I believe I’m not one of those modern martyrs, but I personally love to hear more about you as a person, your feelings, your aspirations, your relationships, rather than your title, or rather than you talking about other people.

We were on a drinking session one night, and I noticed we were starting to talk about people, people I don’t really care about. Gossip — it was just gossip. I called my friends out, saying something along the lines of, “Why are we talking about person A and person B? I don’t care about them. Why are we talking about people?” And I got something like this, “Because it’s fun to talk about people.”

It’s not fun to talk about people in that sense. I like to hear about people, but only if that story comes from himself or herself. I don’t want to hear only things about your love life, things which came from other people’s mouths. I like to hear about your family. What’s your family like? How’s your sister now? She must be all grown-up. You’re moving to a new country? How do you feel about that? What do you plan to do about it? I believe these stories make people seem more real. They put puzzle pieces of a person together, and I believe they are fascinating.

I told myself the way to know how I truly love what I’m doing is if I’m not pursuing the white coat, or the title which would go at the end of my name, but if I would wake up every single day, still choose to say ‘yes’ even in the midst of exhaustion, and end up sleeping 36 hours after with a thankful heart for the privilege I’ve been given.


Officially done with 4th year of medical school

It’s June 2, 2018. We were done by May 31, 2018. It was also my last day in my rotation in Internal Medicine. That day was a Thursday, and the only rest I got for 36 whole hours was a quick nap in front of the computer as I was editing the social service patients census at around 4 in the morning. I was awoken by a new referral from Ophtha, which was not really a new referral, but which only reached us around that time. My resident and my co-medical clerk were fuming. I, on the other hand, just accepted our fate. I actually just let him deal with the referral because he got a bit more sleep than I did, maybe a decent 30 minutes on a sleeping bag in our moldy callroom which has never seen the light of the sun. I went back to my nap in front of the computer. I awoke a few minutes later and asked him if he already saw the patient. He didn’t. He just copied the history of the patient from the previous notes. Even my resident was too tired to go to the patient and interview and examine him. It was, by the way, 4 in the morning — an unreasonable time to entertain a referral. So I just input him in the census and tried to get some rest at the callroom, which I didn’t get, because I was itching all over, more on my feet and hands. I then came to realize I was allergic to whatever dust or mold was piling in the callroom, because the only time I got out of it was when 4th year of medical school was done, and I itched no longer.

That day, I had also been assigned to see patients in the out-patient department, which was a favor for our leader, who made me cover for our co-clerks who were out of the hospital for an outside rotation at an Infectious Disease hospital. Little did I know, I would not be ending Internal Medicine without experiencing the wrath of this famous senior resident who was known for her temper (bad), her weight (unhealthy), and her propensity to yell at everyone around her, even patients. I interviewed patients first, as I sat beside this resident, and while I was interviewing patients, I could sense they were already getting scared of this resident, who was yelling at my other co-interns or co-clerks, and the patients, as well. This resident is well-known for her bad attitude, but I just convinced myself it was funnily one of the last things I wouldn’t be able to escape that easily. So I got my fair share of yells and slaps of reality about what I was missing from my history, physical exam, and impression, but it did not really bother me as much as it would bother the me who just started going on hospital duties. I was too tired to be affected. I just laughed at the whole thing.

I’m happy I can laugh at things like that. I’m happy about these experiences, and I’m happy that it made me grow. It forced me out of my shell. There were situations wherein I thought I would be absolutely hopeless, situations in which I thought time would stop and suffering would have no end, but I’m always comforted by the fact that we only have 24 hours in a day — not 36 — and that everything comes to an end.

It’s not all bad. I had the privilege to be under medical residents who teach, those who value your input on patients. Every morning, I make notes on patients and suggest what I can contribute to the management. Most of the time, they carry it out. I really had to give myself a pat on the back when I suggested to a resident that they do urine culture and sensitivity testing to a private patient in whom they were suspecting acute pyelonephritis, because they had yet to do it. The next day, I found out they ordered it in the chart. It made my heart fat.

It’s only now that I’m realizing I’m gonna be an actual doctor. It will take a huge amount of time, but I hope I don’t stop having fun, despite the exhaustion. There were times when I really questioned myself, why I wanted to do this in the first place, why I did not want something simpler, more peaceful in the first place, why I had to get involved in this. But then, I always knew it would always be a nightmare for me not to be in medical school.

I’m just really thankful for all these opportunities.

Four days ’til the end of fourth year of med school

Four days left in Internal Medicine. I’m getting pretty exhausted. Every 36-hour duty means a legit 36-hour duty. Whenever I get to rest, I don’t really get good rest, because every ding of the centralized speakers, we pay attention to possible codes, which happen at 2 AM. We pump and bag life into a patient whom we know is not gonna make it, but the family does not know this or does not fully grasp the medical situation, so we keep pumping and bagging and injecting epis. And then after looking death in the face, we go back to sleep at 3 AM, only to make last-minute chart rounds at 6AM.

I just collapse to my bed every time I get home from duty. I only get to read whenever there’s an interesting case, but I have to squeeze time in and compromise rest just so I could do so. I’m just really exhausted right now, this one-month break is perfect for reflection to think about priorities in life. I wonder if it’s worth it to live this kind of life for around 8 more years. I can’t even deal with my own allergic reaction to something I have yet to identify. I’ve been having itchy rashes for 3 days now. I don’t know if I’m still consuming my trigger, but while I’m sick, similar to days like this, duty goes on. I can’t even take care of myself properly anymore. I’m preparing for my body to backfire during vacation. It always does it like that. I get sick during downtime.

I really have to seek effort to find that work-life balance. I need to start eating properly again, I need to restart exercising. I need to stop spending on things I should be leaving at the last of my list. I should also be praying more and seeking more silent time, instead of being consumed by the hustle and bustle of the hospital life. It’s been a privilege, and a blessing, but I forget that because I also spend so much time being ungrateful. A lot of aspects of my health have been damaged — I really need to get back on track.

It’s a good thing there are only 365 days in a year

And only 24 hours in a day. It gives me comfort that suffering of all kind will eventually come to an end. I guess I’ve come to a point when I’m counting down the days when 36-hour duties will be over, and when this year will finally reach its 365-day mark, which is on May 31. On May 31, we will have our last day as medical clerks. On July 1, I will officially be an intern. I will officially wear a blazer.

I know, it’s stupid to be excited about things like that. We will still do the same jobs, except we’re faster at them because we’re used to it, so that means we take the more toxic wards, we take the ICU and progressive care unit, and our superiors expect more from us. But for a med student like me, it’s a big deal. It’s a milestone. I never thought I’d reach this far. I always thought I wouldn’t be able to make it. I’ve just been riding along the waves, not surfing above it. I’m not a prominent personality or an over-achiever. Most of the time, I try to enjoy what I’m doing simply because medicine is enjoyable. But also because most of the work we do are not actually related to medicine. It’s dirty work. It’s work the residents couldn’t usually be bothered to do, even though it’s their job, even though they are being trained to survive without us, but it’s something we do anyway. It’s something we pay 300,000 Pesos a year for. This is why for everything I do, I almost always make sure I get something out of it, just to get my money’s worth, to get worth from my effort and lack of sleep. Of course, if you throw in a resident with a good heart, I’ll just be more than happy to do his extra work for him.

I especially like going on rounds with consultants who teach, and who teach things I can actually understand. Practical things. I’ve also been realizing most consultants have ridiculously ugly bedside manners.

But yes. I’m tired. I need something new to be excited about. I’ve been complaining lately about all the work we’re required to do, about the work we’re being paid to do. Seriously, we pay the same amount as we did back when we were in the classrooms, and we’re not even paying for any facility like that anymore. We have crappy sleeping quarters, if you call that room sleeping quarters. We can only bring sleeping bags. We are not allowed to bring soft mats, because apparently, we’re supposed to be on-the-go. It’s the ironic thing about people in this field — we tell you to get some good rest, eat a balanced diet, but behind your backs, we eat fast food for dinner, and get a crap amount of sleep.

And it’s not like all of us are busy “saving lives” 24 hours. Most of the time, all we do is paperwork or administrative work.

Maybe I’m just ranting because I was at the bad receiving end of a gay resident. I seriously loathe being with him. We were interviewing the relative of a critical patient at 4 in the morning, and he literally made me his secretary in front of the patient’s relatives, and he kept berating me about taking notes. Take note — he does not even know my name. He does not respect me or is not flirting with me to bother to know my name! Meanwhile, he knows the cute guy pharmacist’s name. He knows the names of the other guy interns. But he couldn’t care less to know about girl interns’ names. And he keeps massaging guys in the middle of the Emergency Room. Please take your flirtation elsewhere.

Goodness, I really hate it when personal preferences like that takes over work. It’s like the special endorsement in surgical fields — how some surgeons should have girl assists in their operations and only girl assists, so that they could ask all these inappropriate questions and make us squirm. If it’s a guy assist, they would flip, throw around surgical instruments, and cuss for the whole 8 hours as they drill into a spine or anastomose intestines. These things in medicine, I did not pay for and I’m not here for.

This is probably why I’d prefer to live in somewhere like countryside Switzerland, feed farm animals, milk cows, eat dark chocolate, and be a relaxed doctor during the day on the sidelines. I wouldn’t mind living a peaceful, city-less life. I’m a quiet, peace-loving girl who needs sleep most of the time. I should really get some right now. I’m going to assigned to a toxic ward tomorrow where code blue’s usually occur, and at night, I’ll be at the ER. It’s another 36-hour duty I’ll be counting down on.

I’m enjoying Internal Medicine

I’m just not sure if it’s enjoying me. IM is after all my first love, back when, as a first year med student, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I’ve thought about it since then, how I wanted to become a gastroenterologist or an oncologist. That was before I went into hospital rotations and realized I could never make it in Oncology even though it may be fun. The science is, but the emotional aspect is no fun at all. On the other hand, for GI… it’s like an old love has been reawakened, after I’ve had to handle two consecutive patients with hematochezia. I thought I could escape the digital rectal exam for long. Poop does not really gross me out. Not as much as vomit does.

Internal Medicine as a whole is really fun. And it’s really fun to study, too. I just really do not like memorizing things. I like it when things make sense. I just remember them as is. But criteria for diagnosing certain disease entities… I’m gonna have a bit of a hard time with those.

Not to mention, I’ve been exhausted the past few days. I’m scheduled to sleep at 11 in the evening on duty nights, and I wake up at 2:45 AM, and then I stay awake for 14 more hours to do the regular ward work and see patients at the out-patient department, which reminds me of a marketplace. A classic wet market. The noise drained me a while ago, but I was surprised to find out that I actually enjoyed talking to these patients, even after not having any decent sleep.

One of my hematochezia patients got discharged today after his colonoscopy, and he and his wife couldn’t stop being thankful it was not cancer. I realize I take “Thank you, doc,” for granted because of the exhaustion. But then I also realize we don’t live for that anymore. I don’t even have a license yet. Every day, we think we won’t get through the next 36 hours, but we do, and we actually still smile at the end of it before we collapse into a temporary coma and get in the usual grind the next day.

I know I’m in the race in its early stages and I might be too idealistic, but after almost a year of being in the hospital, I realize I should not and hopefully could ever not take patients as cases, and just as cases to be studied thoroughly, or cases to get through with. I try, most of the time, to understand where they are coming from. I guess that’s the advantage of being a cancer patient’s relative. You get to be more sensitive about the things patients actually care about, things like:

  • Will it hurt?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How long do I still have to stay in the hospital?
  • Why is it that the doctor is so expensive when he just put a pulse ox on my finger and did not say much?

I realize if you don’t work at the hospital, you probably do not like being in the hospital and would prefer being someplace else. As someone who does work in the hospital, I feel like I have an extra responsibility to make them feel as if the hospital is not the end of the world. Even if, at the moment, it’s something as simple as spending a bit more time during rounds to get to know and talk to them more.

Seriously, hearing them thank me as if I also had a huge role in his treatment made me want to cry tears of joy.

I actually had plans

Lately, I’ve been exhausted. Literally. But for the past 72 hours, maybe it’s because I agreed to stop being asocial…for a bit.

A guy friend asked me to watch Lion King the musical with him and his family. The extra ticket was originally for his girlfriend, who is now his ex-girlfriend, of nine years. I almost did not go, because I was anxious about me being a possible rebound, but because I was very busy during the days preceding the musical, I did not have much time to worry about it, and it turned out to be an uneventful night. We watched it with his family, who I’m also good friends with. In fact, I’m closer to his parents than I am to him. His dad is a doctor, who works at the hospital I’m rotating in, and my mom and I are part of the Bible study group he and his wife are in. They are simply the best. They’re like my second parents. They’ve helped us during times when we needed it, especially at the time when my dad was repeatedly being sent to the hospital. I surprisingly forgot to be awkward that night. It felt like I was part of the family because they were all very warm. We went with the grandparents and his brother and plus-one, too.

I hate that I can waste a lot of time on my anxiety, but in the end, it turns out I should not have spent time worrying. And anyway, this is Lion King. Disney on Broadway. How could I have missed that? The show, indeed, was very good. I wanted to cry at the opening song. It was a phenomenal Circle of Life. The production exceeded expectations. The costumes and set were genius. I don’t watch musicals too much so I don’t have the most reliable opinion on this, but I really enjoyed it. It was worth sleeping at 2 AM and waking up to a 36-hour duty for.

Painful introversion, yet again

I don’t realize how much I like being alone until I go out with someone I’m not entirely comfortable with. This is why I don’t date. This is why I’m thankful I don’t date or get asked out a lot. I do like to do some things, especially eat, which is what people mostly do on dates, but if I do something I like with someone I’m not comfortable with, the thing I enjoy doing becomes something like biting into pure matcha powder.

It takes me huge amount of time to be comfortable with someone. I surprisingly got comfy with my med school classmates a bit faster than usual because I am with them in the most nerve-wracking situations. Being in med school with them is like watching a horror movie with them. There is a special sort of bond you form with your med school group-mates or duty-mates. I particularly don’t get comfy with boys as easy as I do with girls, but my group-mates have a special place in my heart.

Last night, I went out with a family friend whom I bumped into on the way home, after a 36-hour hospital shift. He could tell I was really sleepy because my eyes were getting heavy. I blamed it on dry eyes, which I did have. He is nice and I’ve always known him as someone like an older brother. But it was weird for us to go out and eat, just the two of us, because I was used to seeing him with our families, and our other family friends, together. I’m usually comfortable with being with a guy alone, if and only if I know he has no fishy intentions. This guy opened up to me about a lot of things, his struggles, why his girlfriend broke up with him, and to be honest, I was not 100% comfortable. Once I find out he does not have any intentions other than friendship, I may actually enjoy hanging out with him. That is, if I don’t come from a 36-hour shift. I enjoyed listening to him, and I feel like I could talk to him about anything, any weird thing.

I told him about something I saw online before, and I find it quite true: introverts don’t really make their own friends. Extroverts just pick them up out of nowhere, in the middle of their alone-ness, and adopt them. My best friend from high school and college are both extroverts. I am seriously wishing he thinks of me just as a friend, because he is quite an awesome person, but not someone I’d like to be with that way.

If you walk into a room, I’m not really the most attractive person you’d find. However, I don’t think I’m butt ugly. When I was rotating in Surgery, the resident who was in charge of us, medical students, told the whole group that he overheard a surgical resident or fellow tell someone I was attractive. I tried to hide my face in my surgical gown, which we had put on because he was teaching us the proper way to put it on at that time. I didn’t know how to react. After that, our group chat was bombarded with messages about why I did not tell them about that, and who the guy was. Even I didn’t know who it was. I still don’t know up to now. He proceeded to tease me in front of the whole group about how I was a girl-next-door type. I didn’t really know what that phrase meant even though I’ve been hearing about it a lot before. I Googled it right after.

Anyway, after yesterday, I realized I was actually happy I didn’t go out a lot and don’t get asked out a lot. My identity as an introvert got more cemented. I was also thankful I’m not attracted to someone. I’m weirdly thankful I don’t have someone who likes me back, too. Simply put, I’m thankful to be alone. I love my alone time so much. I like being in control of my own time, and I hate having to reject when people ask me to go out with them. I’ve actually dodged some people a lot of times. I’m glad I get away with it. I’m glad they just kind of leave me alone. I’m really awkward when it comes to dealing with strangers and groups of people. I have never wanted to pursue Anesthesia or Radiology so much. Aside from the fact that I am really interested in those two fields, they are perfect for my personality.

I realize I need a lot of time for my identity to be rooted in God. Because if I don’t take time and effort for this, I will be a lost person. I’d be making all my decisions for myself, and I’d probably break a lot of potentially good relationships. Maybe others can live without God, but I really need God in my life. I depend on Him so much. I’d really like for this aspect of my life to be aligned with what He wants, so if He doesn’t want it ongoing right now, then I wouldn’t want that for me as well.

I just have to let Him know I would like a future husband and three kids. And a golden retriever, too.