Sunday, November 2, 2014

My First Post Since Clerkship Started 3 Months Ago

Sunset over Jones Bridge, Manila. Oct. 16, 2014. #nofilter

For the first time, I wasn't in Iloilo for All Saints' Day. The past fourteen years, we'd make our way to the cemetery mid-morning and spend close to two hours at my paternal grandparents' mausoleum. There'd be candles of varying heights lined up before their tombs, and father and I would burn traditional Chinese paper money, and some family from a few lots away would drop by and give more candles.

Not yesterday, though. I was here in Manila instead, because a mere weekend seemed too tight and short and hectic for some air travel, and because tomorrow, we begin our month-long rotation in pediatrics.

Yesterday, I watched the third run of Atlantis Productions' "Rock of Ages" (staged this time at the Meralco Theater), capping off my historic, kind-of-maddening five consecutive days of theatergoing. By some divine alignment of the stars, I was able to attend all four days of The Sandbox Collective's multi-arts festival, The Imaginarium, and see six shows (that I should be writing the reviews for right now). Was it exhausting, traversing the Manila-PETA Theater Center-Manila route for four days? Yes. Was it worth it? I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

A week ago, I lost my voice. You know how singers or musical theater actors would say that they just woke up one morning and their voice was gone? That's what happened to me. I couldn't even say "Para!" loud enough for the jeepney driver to hear. I couldn't interview my patients. I couldn't order food without resorting to pointing. I couldn't talk to my friends without some faux sign language.

(The day before I lost my voice, I was at Punta Fuego in Batangas. We soaked up the afternoon sun, swam in the sea at 3PM, lazed by the infinity pool, drank Cabernet, watched a gorgeous sunset, and headed to Tagaytay for dinner and the divine evening chill.)

We're now three months - twelve weeks, to be exact - into clerkship, and this appears to be my first post about it. It's not for a lack of time, trust me, but because I've been mostly doing reviews for the Inquirer (probably my subconscious way of compensating for my three-month absence during the extended summer vacation).

Here's a quick rundown of notable med school-related things and thoughts so far:

1. a needle-prick injury during our penultimate day in ENT, or otorhinolaryngology. It wasn't even because of a blood extraction or IV line insertion. I was trying to empty the syringe after aspirating the patient's thyroid mass.

2. Orthopedics is the rotation of eternal waiting. That is, of course, a reference to the exasperatingly fluctuating schedule of teaching rounds. We also learned to curse - A LOT - during this rotation.

3. an impulsive trip to Manila Zoo one Saturday morning after watching Tanghalang Pilipino's grossly overrated "Sandosenang Sapatos." This zoo has so many reticulated pythons, it's too cute.

4. a late-afternoon walk in Luneta and a side trip to the Japanese Garden. This was during opthalmology, after watching "Barber's Tales" (featuring a super-funny Gladys Reyes) at SM Manila. Again, simply because I had the luxury of time.

5. comedy bar at Timog on a Thursday night with Eli. Yes, I still can't believe that happened.

Sometimes, i find myself asking, Is this really clerkship? What's up with all this free time? Why am I spending way too much time at the theater for a normal med student? Am I still a med student?

And then, of course, I snap back to reality and say, Yes, this is legit, this is happening, haters gonna hate, YOLO. Clerkship has so far been a fun, fun ride, both in- and outside the hospital.

Oh, and have you heard? I'm going to be in a book next year! Maximum Volume: Best New Philippine Fiction 2015 is expected to hit bookstores in February, and my short story "The Woman of Sta. Barbara" will be in it.

My first successful solo blood extractions. 

Mali the Asian Elephant. 

Reticulated python. 

Saltwater crocodiles. 

The "junior" cast of Tanghalang Pilipino's "Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente," a Filipino translation of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman." 

 My sister and I went to the Mind Museum on a Sunday in September.

My legs in Punta Fuego. 

Punta Fuego sunset.

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