Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dare You To Move

It seems as if if we're ever given a chance to become somebody else, all of us would have definitely something in mind.

At least that is what each of my colleagues have been trying to confirm.

I didn't expect, however, that their answers would neither involve becoming rich or becoming famous as I have previously thought.

For instance, one of my friends wanted to become a better mother, while the other, a better provider for his family. The other guy wanted to become a rock star while the next guy, a CNN reporter.

As for me, I wanted to become an Olympic gymnast, a diver, or a writer, whichever sounds more facetious.

Just kidding.

I couldn't help but wonder why people tend to exist and live in a world that does not afford them the fulfilment of their desires. Why haven't they pursue their dreams, actualize their vision, and realize their Personal Legends?

I guess it’s the convenience of the present, the fears of the unknown, or the complacency of the right now that prevents them from doing so, for now, I could only guess.

I spent a few minutes asking myself the previous question: if I could be somebody else, who would I want to become?

And then it occurred to me. When I was younger I thought that in becoming filthy rich I could attain happiness, or in extreme physical perfection I could find true love, or in extreme success I could find contentment.

But at 22, I definitely know what I actually longed for.

And that is wisdom.

I might have done several mistakes in my past and He knows that I've been burned several times, but if there's something I'm really thankful for, it's for the wisdom that I have gathered throughout the ages. I might have been a fool several times in my past, but in that foolishness I seem to have found myself. And for that I'll be thankful.

Then I was reminded of this message an old friend sent me and I have kept in my inbox for the longest time:

"Never let the things you want...

Make you forget the things you already have."

And suddenly, this too, has passed.

*Images from postsecret and flickr.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Luminescence of Darkness

Around us fear, descending
Darkness of fear above
And in my heart how deep unending
Ache of love!

I’ve been having these intense migraines recently. And no, they’re not just in my head. They’re real and they’re no less than excruciating. At times I could feel my head throbbing in sync with my heartbeat, it’s as if something in my skull is about to burst, and it’ll leave me unconscious, in coma, or in my deathbed.

My intensivist, who diagnosed me as having these tension-type headaches, gave me prn (as necessary) medications every time I’m in such pain, to which I am fully compliant. However, as tolerance sets in, the same dose which used to be effective no longer affords relief when I take it now. And as I take more of them pills, the nasty side effects tend to predominate. Making me sedated, nauseated, vertiginous, and short of breath inasmuch than being painless.

I was advised on having a cranial CT scan once they recur, and I have long been planning on undergoing one but…

It has been exactly one year since I started my professional career in healthcare. Everyday, patients come into our beds, and they go, and for us, every other patient that comes in is nothing more than another opportunity for learning. Every body is a living piece of learning apparatus. Every heart beat a chance of learning about cardiac murmurs. Every lung an opportunity of learning roentgenographic interpretations. Every patient history a chance of discovering a part of themselves. And every patient interview a chance of gaining their most elusive trust.

Looking back on the thousand of patient histories I have in my recently emptied locker, I couldn’t help but wonder what made me different from the rest of these patients seemingly lying on their own deathbeds.

I experience the same chest pain. I do experience the same fatigue. I have had the same shortness of breath. And now I have the same headaches.

A month ago, I admitted one of our institution’s most b
rilliant Hematologist-Oncologist whose chief complaint was a mere headache. She had had a tumor excised a year ago but it recurred again, this time, more aggressive and malignant. She no longer has that same spunk back when we used to join her in the rounds. She’s lying there, almost in the brink of death, fighting against the disease she strived so hard to conquer. At times I’m left with nothing to say but maybe, now, the joke was on her.

Her headache, a malignant anaplastic astrocytoma. The other guy’s chest pain, a triple vessel Coronary Artery Disease. That lady’s bloatedness, a leaking Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. That man’s difficulty of swallowing, anaplastic thyroid carcinoma.

And my headaches? It’s better that I know no further.

They say that knowledge is power. That the more you know about life, the more equipped you’ll become in conquering life’s challenges day in and day out.

Or is it really better that we know everything?

I know that I have to eventually discover what the hell is wrong with my head but for now, let me find solace in the uncertainty. Spare me the diagnosis and let me cope with the fear in my own terms.

There are so many things we have to know. We have to know we have what it takes. We have to know how to take care of our patients... and how to take care of each other. Eventually, we even have to figure out how to take care of ourselves.

As surgeons we have to be in the know. But as human beings, sometimes it's better to stay in the dark, because in the dark there may be fear, but there's also hope.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Everybody's Changing

No dave, I haven’t given up on writing… yet.

It’s been six months since my last actual post, and ever since I’ve left, it feels as if things haven’t really changed at all. I’m still me. The quasi-philosophical, self-absorbed, self-proclaimed intellectual who believe that I still am capable of greatness. The dreamer, who, despite having all the means of achieving my ambitions, opt to exist in the status quo. The fighter who keeps on preparing for my battles but quivers with fear upon the sight of my enemies. And the lover who, uhm, well… loves everyone.

But still, a man with an incredible heart.

I’m keeping this entry short, but this I assure you, my readers, old and new alike, that I, just like the old me, will be here to stay.

And yes, I’m definitely back.