life and living

It was a good duty the night before, meaning there were no untoward incidents. There were only 2 admissions, both cardiac cases, but otherwise the ICU was already quiet after 3 AM when the post craniectomy and ventriculostomy patient came in. After endorsing back the ICU, I proceeded to the clinic as I was expecting a patient for follow up consult. She never did come. So a little after 12, I closed shop and headed home, left my stuff and got an earful from my sister who reprimanded me because I did not say that I was coming home for lunch and that there was no more food left over. It was ok, I assure her. I told them that I’ll just be going out but will be back later in the evening. Where will you be going my sister asks me, to which I reply: to UST.

On the bus ride to Manila, it felt a bit nostalgic and poignant at the same time. I seem to have this thing with bus rides. Having nothing to do but sit, given the horrendous traffic of the city, it gives me time to think and mull over things that I would otherwise not have the time for, like having to ride the bus alone. I reach my destination less than 2 hours later. I go up the elevator to the pediatric wing, find the correct room after getting lost somehow and knock on the door. I was greeted by a welcoming smile o a face that’s obviously wanting for some rest. There on the hospital bed was the reason I came here in the first place, my best friend’s cousin who by some unfortunate circumstances beyond his control is being treated for a disease that even with my medical training could barely explain how, more so, why it happened. Currently he is being infused with ATG (anti-thymocyte globulin) for immunosupression. He smiles at me, barely, as he asks that the channel on the TV be changed. After some small talk I am assisted to the ground floor where I sign a waiver and answer some routine questions. I know the drill, I’ve done all this before. When it was my time to be tested, my ante-cubital area was unceremoniously being patted by the med tech intern, but was later relieved by the med tech on duty. “good afternoon doctor” she greeted me, which probably took the intern off guard as he distanced himself from me. “I didn’t tell you, that’s why it was my alumni Id that I gave” I said to the med tech “we have ways of knowing” she said. Then it dawned upon me, I placed physician after the question “occupation”. That’s how they knew. To be fair, they were professional about it, but I did appreciate the courtesy they extended, whether because I was a doctor or they do it to all blood donors is beyond me. I was willing to go for the apheresis, but apparently my veins were not large enough. I ended up giving one unit of whole blood. During this time, my other good friend and current gym buddy called me up and asked where I was. So I told him and he told me that he will just tease me about it next time. It was already late when I got home and my mother and sister were actually asleep already, but I dragged her up so that she can eat her pasalubong. She then pesters me again with questions of why I did it. I chose not to answer because of the same reason of my gym buddy: they will just tease me about it and lecture me about moving on.

Truth be told, I did it because it was the right thing to do. For all the good things that have happened to me, this is my way of paying it forward. It is by no small incidence that today also happens to be my late sister’s birthday. I guess in some way at least I want to honor her this way and I will remember today as one of those moments in my life where I made a choice and I made difference. Perhaps this is also why I ended up in this profession. No matter that there are questions that remain unanswered, that things don’t always end up the way we want them to be, and others come first before our own personal happiness, I still choose to be a doctor, a healer, a friend. And I still would like to believe that sharing your precious time, God given talents and expecting nothing in return and making this world a better place is what makes life worth living.

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~ by allen mallari on July 28, 2012.

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