Posts Tagged ‘wasting time’

Many of us have probably already watched Katy Perry’s music video, “Part of Me.” In that one particular scene after confronting her cheating boyfriend, she went into a public restroom and started chopping off all her hair in a fit of tearful rage.  After that, she signed on for a tour with the marines in Iraq and began a grueling training to become one of the meanest fighting machines the world has ever produced.

Although most women do not necessarily join the marines after going through a major life-changing experience, it is generally a truth that the desire to control that which seems to be uncontrollable becomes so great that we try to control that which seems to be feasibly controllable – our hair.  Of course, other women have enough vanity in them to not actually try to raze their own hair so they solicit the help of a professional hairdresser.  However, something more drastic than just a trim is bound to happen like coloring it from black to blonde or getting a perm or having it chopped off from waist to ear level.  Others who are less adventurous would just stick to cutting their own bangs just to feel like, “At least that didn’t turn out to be such a disaster.” If the purpose is merely to show off and not to change something in her psyche, then a woman would generally not do something so immensely drastic to her hair.  It was after all Coco Chanel herself who said, “a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” The bottom line:  women have a very special relationship with the hair on their heads.

I was asking my brothers if they felt the same way about their hair and, of course, they did not.  My younger brother does apply some blonde streaks to his black hair from time to time but it is more of a show-off thing rather than a control thing.  Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the socially accepted concept of feminine beauty appears to be directly related to none other than a woman’s hair.  I heard a group of guys talk about how pretty one of my female classmates’ hair was and one of them said in a loud, obnoxious voice, “Well, that’s what she uses to flirt and play around.” Not cool, bro, not cool.

A male friend was once put on the spot by a group of girls who were asking him questions about which girls he found more attractive – the long-haired ones or the pixie-haired ones.  He told them that he found long-haired girls to be more feminine because the long hair showed him how different the girl was from him – a guy who preferred to keep his hair close to his scalp.  On the other hand, he also said that what he liked most about pixie-haired girls was that he could see their pretty faces without them hiding behind long hair.  That last one, I’m not sure if it’s complete bullshit but, at that time, it sounded so freaking good to female ears.  His point though?  To each his own; whatever floats his woman’s boat.  This is one guy who knows better than to come between a woman… and her hair.

When I was a kid, my parents enrolled me and my brothers into a lot of classes.  For learning and improvement, they said.  My mom tells me now it was their way of making sure that their kids would be able to achieve all of their potentials in life.  Thus, from my childhood to my teenage years, I had taken classes in piano, ballet, karate, taekwondo, landscape sketching, portraiture, acrylic painting, guitar, typewriting, computer technology, swimming and First Aid, declamation, theater, and journalism.  My older brother got enrolled into a summer course on automechanics once.  He was ten.

As a result, there are a lot of things that I know how to do.  The problem is that I’m not sure if I’m that good in all of them.  As such, each one of them is a hobby that I don’t share with a lot of other people, simply because I don’t think they’re at that level of share-ability.  This desire to know or maybe to learn was probably the one thing that my parents had painfully but successfully instilled in me because of the constant barrage of diverse information during my formative years.

Speaking of the constant barrage of diverse information, which sounds suspiciously like medical school, perhaps the downside to being enrolled in an MD-MBA program is that it can be a bit confusing sometimes.  Sure, we know we are here to become clinical doctors but how can you focus on becoming that doctor when you also have to put aside what little time you have to become a public health practitioner, a quick-witted businessman and a social catalyst all at the same time?  Excuse the whining but I’m simply wondering, in earnest, how can you compete, clinically speaking, with other medical students from other medical schools whose only concern is to become the best clinical doctors ever?

It makes me think sometimes that, to have an MD-MBA attached to your name, you have to become sort of like a jack-of-all-trades –you have to know how to do a lot of things but you can’t be so sure if you’re that good in all of them.  Not unless you get the balls to try them all out, all at the same time – now that’s some serious balls.  However, these days, whenever I feel the urge to complain about the work load, I think about Daddy and Mummy and how they used to (irrationally) bombard me with diverse information that are so unrelated, I sometimes thought they were torturing me.  Yeah, my parents were very loving people.

The point though was that I learned how to do many different things and, in a way, I was able to achieve the potential to achieve.  I don’t care that I cannot readily define Ashermann’s syndrome or that I do not know what to call lub-dub-click-whoosh when I auscultate a cardiac patient or that I still cannot pinpoint the parts of the basal ganglia.  I mean, I am doing a lot of things here, okay, I am trying to be a lot of things here so chill, okay?

That is the reason why I am still slaving away right now, not for the MD-MBA titles (although, of course, they are still a major reason why I’m doing the shiz nits I’m doing right now, haha), but because I want to learn something new everyday and, these learnings may not be totally related to each other but they will help me achieve all of my potential – as a doctor, as a social catalyst, as a businessman, as a person.

Boom, we just had a pseudo-mature monologue right there.

Grey's Anatomy (season 7)

House MD is great. It’s hard-core medicine. It’s irreverent. It’s sarcastic and I love sarcastic humor.  However, this series? It’s kind of dark.  Sometimes I feel the doctor lacks respect for life.  So, screw the hard-core medicine because hell would freeze over before I would allow myself to turn into the kind of doctor – maybe even the kind of person – that House is in that series. He’s a great a doctor but I’m just gonna go hit my books and hit them hard to be a good doctor.

On the other hand, Grey’s Anatomy is full of drama. It’s exhausting – the drama and the complications and the personal lives spiraling out of control and people dying and getting cancer.  So messy (which is why I have no personal life whatsoever).  However, the one thing that makes me like Grey’s Anatomy a lot is how it presents the human condition.

Okay, I just made Grey’s Anatomy sound philosophical when it’s basically all about sex.  I’m kidding, haha.  For me, Grey’s Anatomy shows what life is like as a person practicing medicine but is also completely immersed in an uncontrollable world. Ergo, it shows me that doctors still have a life and it’s as messy as anyone else’s.

You see, what I’m trying to understand and look forward to is the life with the medicine. I’m already expecting the life of a workaholic. The hospital is a really small place and, as a clerk or an intern or a resident, that is going to be our world.  What a small, constricting, suffocating world.  It excites me.

The thought of waking up at 3 in the morning to go to the hospital while everybody else is asleep and be good at what I do excites me. The thought of myself in an O.R. with a scalpel in my hand just standing for eight straight hours fixing a stranger up excites me because that’s just so hardcore. The thought of travelling to other countries and treating people by the millions excites me.  Yes, it’s exciting to think about the medicine but I want to understand not just the medicine but the life that we are to live while practicing medicine.

I want an exciting life but I don’t want a messy one.  Constantly thinking about people you care about who are dying on you – well, it’s exhausting and that’s inevitable. People gravitate towards drama because we feel. We get hurt. We want to hurt others. We get angry. I just want to do my job well. People make it so hard to do just that because, honestly, it’s not the work, no matter how heavy or how seemingly unending the load is, that makes everything exhausting. It’s the people.

Which means that I do like watching Grey’s Anatomy and the series and the messiness it depicts never fails to entertain me.  In essence though, I don’t want to be House but I want to learn way he handles his life as a doctor practicing medicine because he finds ways to make life less messy.  How ironic is that?  Does that even make sense right now?

Maybe I’m better off in Pathology. Dead people can’t be that exhausting to be around.  Or maybe this is exactly the reason why I want Surgery. People can’t talk in my O.R.  The person on the table sure as hell couldn’t when he’s heavily sedated and I’ve my hands full squeezing his heart, his kidneys and his bowels. Now, that’s exciting.

Bullshit Ahead warning in style of warning roa...

It is not (that) difficult figuring people out. I am of the belief that we, as human beings, inherently wish to be understood by those around us that, even though we would like to seem mysterious and unreadable, that innate desire to be understood is reflected on our faces, on our body language and even on the simple physiological processes (i.e. sweating, increased blinking rate, body position and even the occasional smirks and eye-rolling etc.) that reveal the emotions that are boiling within us. Yes, I am a big believer of body language reading. However, although observation plays an integral part in showing the realness within us, intuition plays an even greater role in how one is able to gauge the character of another human being. This is what we call getting vibes or testing aura and, in my case, this is how I gauge the level of another person’s genuineness.

Genuineness is (personally) an important concept because having surreptitious agendas or putting on a mask of overt plasticity for no productive reason is, admit it, somewhat a waste of time. A mentor once said that the only way you will be able to spot bullshit is by being completely honest with yourself. Her point was this: how can you tell if another person is being honest with you if you are always lying to your own self? An argument could be that constantly bullshitting with yourself will make it easier for you to recognize other people’s bullshit but that would probably lead to a slap at the back of my head so I just keep my mouth shut.

It is a difficult endeavor, this being honest to self thing, which is why I truly appreciate people who have the most transparent faces. It makes spotting either bullshit or genuineness easier in the sense that there is no need to be paralyzed by analysis. There is no need to try to sift through their childhood and what could have gone wrong and the motivations that make them the way they are and how you can possibly help them and, damn, would prayer be enough to yield change in these people? Don’t hate on the effort at Psychiatry – I’m trying to make myself believe I didn’t flunk that exam. In short, it makes life easier… and why does life need to be easier at this point?

Because we do not have time for bullshit. Just kidding. Life needs to be easier because we are here to work, boo, not to produce, um, stool.

But what do I know anyway? There is a land called Denial-asia and I am their top monarch… and I bet I’m ruling this kingdom with several other monarchs.

Teamwork logo

My batchmates have always complained that the school administration makes our lives difficult by assigning us to different groups with different people for the many SGDs, preceptorials and other group works that define our medschool life.  One of the teachers told us that there was a reason why admin opted to try this constant reassigning of groups but the reason was never really made clear.  However (because I am a philosophical medstudent and all that), I have figured out the reason.

Doctors work in teams to ensure that a patient is given maximal care.  You don’t always get to choose who you work with.  That’s the point.  Assigning us to different groups for different tasks allows us to develop the necessary skills to deal with other people in a teamwork setting, especially with people we find most difficult to work with.  After all, what is the challenge in working with people you’re already comfortable with?  Constantly assigning us to different groups with different sets of people teaches us how to be professional, ergo thick-skinned, results-driven machines.  Just kidding.

Perhaps it is all about developing the kind of work ethics that we could someday be proud of.  In all honesty, I find working in groups, even partnerships, somewhat stressful but there is one principle that I follow when teamwork is necessary:  always give credit where credit is due but don’t overdo it.  You do your work well and, if you have leftover time, do more/help your teammates out but you don’t just hog all the credit to yourself.  It is, after all, group work.  Contribute to the formation of your teammates by making them do some work that they can be proud of as well.  However, if you are not able to do your work well because of some uncontrollable turn of events, apologize profusely and try to make up for it the next time and do not let your preceptor or your senior think that you’d done work that you hadn’t.  Give yourself enough credit – the operative words being just enough… not too much, not too little.  Just for the sake of fairness and balance.

There are people who I truly admire in my batch, not just for being exceptional leaders, but for being excellent team players.  The thought of working with them excites me because you learn so much from them – how to lead without using a condescending/offending/dominating tone of voice, how to include people without compromising the results, how to allow teammates to recognize their potential without truly pushing, how they praise their teammates for a job well done while themselves trying to keep a low profile.  It is amazing just observing how they go about it.  They’re very inspirational.  They make you want to better yourself.  Tear.

In my opinion, some doctors and even some soon-to-be doctors have this arrogance – a sense of entitlement – that makes it so difficult for them to sometimes see from the viewpoint of the other.  We are not perfect.  We make a lot of mistakes but, if these mistakes were made in a teamwork setting, you, my friend, have got to brace yourself.  Sooner or later, you’d find out you’d been called incompetent bitch or bastardous slacker at least once in your medschool life.  Just kidding, medstudents are not (that) mean.

So, how do you deal with fellow (pseudo-) doctors?  Haha.  I have no freaking idea, man.  I’m still trying to figure it out myself.  Considering the many mistakes I make in a teamwork setting, I’m just really trying to stay out of the rumor mill.  This ain’t professional school, boo.  This is high school with scalpels right here.  Fun.  

English: Med school

A few weeks ago, I told my aunt that I sometimes felt as if I’d made the wrong decision of going to medschool.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love medschool and enjoy being in it.  I constantly feel excited when I’m learning things that very few people have the privilege to learn.  However, for someone who does not exactly come from an affluent family, the decision to pursue medicine was probably one of the less practical decisions ever made, considering that finding work right out of college could have been elemental in alleviating the family’s financial situation.  However, after much reflection (because, yes, I cannot help but say once again how philosophical we, medstudents, are), I’ve realized that there are many things that are keeping me here.  These are the reasons why I’m still in medschool and why I intend to stay.

  • LEARNING.  The difference between studying and learning is vast.  For most people, studying in medschool means cramming.  You see, given the barrage of information and the lack of time available to digest all of it, studying can be tantamount to mindless cramming if one’s only concern is to exceed the minimum passing score of each exam.  However, one thing I’ve realized in all my three years here in med (because I am such a sage, you know) is that time should not be one’s enemy in medschool.  Studying could be such a burden, especially if you feel that you don’t give a rat’s ass about the topic.  But if you muster even just a little gram of excitement for the subject matter, as in find just one little bit of it that makes your brain go whoa and your heart go yeah, absorbing and retaining medical information won’t be so difficult.
  • MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES.  I’m not referring to the organization that sends doctors to war-torn areas around the world, although that is a very noble cause and I would love to be a part of it someday.  I mean, being a doctor without borders, without limits, without prejudice – that is the kind of doctor that I would like to be.  I honestly believe that most of us who are pursuing medicine could not just be in here for the glory and/or the riches.  First of all, an MD at the end of one’s name does not define the person… except if the person does not fail to remind everyone he meets that he is a doctor who is supposedly entitled to whatever.  Second, having that MD at the end of one’s name does not necessarily equate to big bucks.  I (desperately) believe that most of us are in here because we have a (secret/innate) desire to serve others.  I (desperately) believe that most of us are in here to become medecins sans frontieres.
  • INVESTMENTS AND SACRIFCIES.  Think about it.  The money our parents/benefactors/donors have spent on our medschooling could have been used for something else, something more… tangible.  Beneficial.  Something that could’ve churned out more immediate returns to equity.  We, my friends, are long-term investments, the returns of which can only be attained six or more years from now.  The road that we are travelling is fraught with potholes and obstacles but there are people who had enough faith and belief in us.  We have the goods to someday make them feel that we are worth the cash.  We are merely assets here, boo.  We’ve sacrificed too much and we’ve invested too much and, if your reasons for leaving cannot be justified by yourself and by those who’ve given up so much for you, for the sake of all that is good and holy, STAY AND WORK IT OUT.
  • PERSONAL REASONS.  Roughly 13% of my class have left for pastures that are of a different color from this one.  I have reason to believe that this will probably rise to around 18-20% by the time we begin clerkship year.  Most of the people who’ve left were academically fine but the universal question for most, if not all, medstudents is this:  “Is this really what I want to be doing for the rest of my life?” I don’t know if young adults with ages ranging from 22 to 26 could be old and experienced enough to answer life-altering questions such as this but, I guess, after a while, you arrive at an answer that will ultimately coerce (?) you to make a decision, not just for yourself, but for the significant others who are expecting something else from you.  Personal reasons are, perhaps, the most important factor that could be fundamental in formulating that make-or-break decision, especially if you are not meaning to come back.  But you know something though?  To each his own.

In all honesty, I often wonder what are keeping other people in medschool.  I mean, it’s not all that glamorous at the end of the day.  In fact, even now, patients sometimes scare me, not because they’re scary per se, but because they trust their (pseudo) doctors, ergo me and my classmates, with their health and their lives.   That much responsibility is honestly terrifying and is not a very “glorious” concept.  To be here and to stay here, your reasons have to be your own, not somebody else’s.  It is easy to lose your drive in medschool, especially if your reasons for being here are not enough or simply are not clear to you, because, man, this is a damn long journey.

I am getting my little pillow out and sleeping through the entire duration of it.


My mom noticed my dad on the first day of their post-graduate medical internship program. My dad swaggered into the room and unknowingly sat on a chair with a broken leg. Because my mother was a fair woman with somewhat Caucasian features, when he looked up, he immediately saw her. Later on, he pursued my mom relentlessly. Effort could have been my dad’s middle name.

My mom has a very funny story of how my dad used to make his moves. He told her one day he was going to take her to a posh restaurant for a dinner date. However, he claimed they had to pass by the college where his sister taught so that he could introduce my mom. When they got there, he introduced her alright but, when my mom pretended to look away, he quickly whispered to my aunt that he wanted to borrow money for his date! When they were already seated down to dinner in said posh restaurant, my dad gallantly ordered an expensive plate of pasta for my mom… and water for himself. Apparently, the money my aunt gave him was only enough for one expensive meal.

My mom still laughs whenever she tells this story. They married right after they passed the Medical Boards. He was my mother’s first boyfriend.

On their third year of surgical residency, they were earning less than Php 3,000 pesos each and already had three children, delivered roughly one year apart from each other. They decided to sacrifice residency and enter government service. It was a move borne out of necessity but my dad, I think, liked it. He was a passionate man. My mom used to say, albeit not too happily, that he was a man who firmly believed he could change the world. He served as Chief of Hospital in several district hospitals in a span of nine years. My mom, on the other hand, grew up kind of well off. She was a city girl through and through. She never wanted government service and never liked going to the mountains. She stayed as Municipal Health Officer of a mountainous municipality for close to twenty years. She, who had abhorred going to rural areas, pursued a Master’s degree in Public Management and in Public Health.

There is this theory in relationship psychology, which I firmly believe to be the foundation of any healthy relationship. It’s called Matching Hypothesis. On an extremely shallow level, of course, physical attraction still rules. However, on the level below that, outsiders would say that opposite personalities attract. But, for me, sharing the same set of beliefs, principles and values on a deeper level is what truly makes any kind of relationship work. There are certain non-negotiable values that we subconsciously look for in a partner or even just a friend. Perhaps because we know that we have to have that similarity in our belief systems for us to actually agree and coexist harmoniously. Or maybe because we know that a partner’s exemplary belief system could influence us to better ourselves. Or perhaps because we want someone who knows how to have a decent deep conversation because, come on. If you enjoy talking to a person, why would you not want to spend a lot of time with him or her?

But what do I know anyway? I’m, like, the most active fellow of the medical association, FSJAI – Forever Single, Just Accept It.