Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Was making rounds a couple of days ago in the peripheral areas of the hospital, and having done most of our stuff in the Cancer Institute we sometimes find that it requires extra effort just to walk to these peripheral wards. First, because it indicates that our patients who are usually okay enough to have outpatient chemotherapy or uneventful inpatient chemo in the CI become sicker and would need to be brought to the emergency room or the medical wards. I sometimes let out an audible girly shrill whenever I see one of my patients in the ER wasted and extremely toxic after having just seen him well a few weeks ago.Second, it's a chore to walk. In fact it's a chore to stand up. Or wake up every morning to take a bath, brush my teeth, or groom myself. "Groom yourself? AHAHAH AHAHAHAH AHAHAHAAHHA" is what some of you might be thinking, and that is absolutely fair. As I was walking to the ER yesterday I saw Fulet Esplana and she said "You look so pagod!" I was, in fact, pagod--from sleeping, having woke-up quite late at 8 am AHAHAHA AHAHAH AHAHAHHA. It elates me whenever I see my Internal Medicine batchmates prowling the hospital, those five seconds of interaction are essentially the only social interaction that we get to have, until the next PCP convention.

After making rounds in Ward 3 I stopped for a while in one corner to reply to the many text messages I have received that morning, mostly from patients. I found it essential to give my number and e-mail away indiscriminately and discovered that it had more advantages than annoyances for both me and the patients. I sometimes forget stuff, and it's comforting that I can reach someone from Aklan if I forget to reiterate that they take prednisone for their CHOP chemo, or tell someone from Bicol not to come for follow-up the next day because of some surprise clinic cancellation. Annoyances include getting a few weird text messages, and getting a lot of that bane of all text message closers: "Text back ASAP."

As I was frantically replying to these messages who should approach me but some girl and some guy, whom I thought were med reps. I didn't know them, but seeing as it was one of those weird days when I was wearing my white blazer with  a steth around my neck, I thought that they might have just needed one final signature from any doctor for the day so I just signed on their signature sheets without looking, after which they handed me a flyer and said thank you. I mindlessly put the flyer in my pocket thinking it was some drug promo material. While eating grass later that day I read the flyer, and it wasn't some drug promo material. It was from some weird company, telling me their mission vision and stuff etc etc. The triteness of the mission vision with the stock words "proactive", "family", and "wellness" got me interested, so I kept on reading. Finally, at the bottom of the sheet was a telephone number, which I should call if I want to be... a medical transcriptionist.

Apparently people pick-up on my ennui and strong sense of world-weariness that they think I would require no more than a few gentle shoves to change professions. And they are absolutely right. Except that I don't want to be a medical transcriptionist, I want to sell comic books.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cassandra Cain Goes On A Date With Hellion

A few nights ago as I was sleeping comfortably in my tiny room I call The Coffin my phone suddenly rang violently and who should be on the phone but Cassandra, who was quite frantic. It was one of those cartoonish moments where you imagine spittle coming out of the phone, so I knew it was an emergency. It was pretty late, but Cassandra would not be stifled: "You are available for drinks!" she declared.
"I have no money," I said in an exaggerated bedroom voice.
"I'm driving and I will treat you to beer AND pizza!" Cassandra growled. More spittle from the receiver.
"Where?!" I asked.

While eating in Yellow Cab in Harbor Square Cassandra narrated the harrowing experience she just had. She apparently had a blind date with a guy called Hellion, whose face she wanted to ram down a poso negro.
"I knew it," Frichmond said in her wisdom. "Not to be a MALTA (matapobreng alta), noh, but as soon as you said that he was asking to meet you in Starmall I knew this would be a disaster." Frichmond reached for her abaniko and fanned herself.

Cassandra's date started well enough. Instead of Starmall they went to Trinoma, where Hellion asked that they meet in Jollibee. Hellion treated her to Jollibee, and in these times of poverty a free meal is a free meal. They introduced themselves, started to conduct themselves well as people who go on dates do. How are you nice to know you thank you for meeting me here. So, what do you do?
"Doktor ako," Cassandra meekly said.
"Ay talaga, yung tita ko pala may goiter," Hellion said. "Yung isang uncle ko naman nagka-tulo. Ano ba yung tulo? Yun namang isang pamangkin ko, etc etc etc"
Cassandra politely answered these queries. Those answers would essentially be her last words for the next hours, Cassandra later told us, because Hellion started talking about himself. For two hours. Occasionally Cassandra would try to get a word or two in, but he would not be listening as he would ask about these things again later in the horrid conversation/soliloquy.

"Nagka boyfriend ka na?" asked Hellion.
"Ah, isa, last month kasi..."
"Ako naman nagkaron na ng APAT na girlfriend!" Hellion announced. "At TAKE NOTE, yung isa tiga-ATENEO! Je je je je je!"
He didn't really go je je je je, but to Cassandra's ears he did.

Like a turd Cassandra just sat there for more minutes waiting for the right time to escape, but Hellion was just starting. Cassandra would probably let him talk himself to death, except that his last statement made her want to kill him herself by ramming the chickenjoy drumstick down his fucking throat.
"Ilang taon ka na?" Hellion asked.
"34," Cassandra said nonchalantly. 
"AAAAY! Hindi ka na magkakaanak nyan!" Hellion announced. "Ako nga pala 29 pa lang. Je je je je."
Cassandra stood up. "O sige, una na ako. Gabi na, baka mahirapan kang sumakay ng MRT," Cassandra said.

We like it when vitriol suppressed for two hours get transmogrified into free Dear Darla pizza and beer. Ahoy!

Pinna Melanoma Recurrence

A year ago I've posted much to everyone's disgust (or nonchalance) that I have pinna melanoma. Of course as soon as disgusting pus started spurting out of the pinna I sort of thought, maybe this isn't melanoma, maybe it's something more hideous, like an abscess. But the pinna didn't go back to its normal size. There was still some residual mass there, something dormant, something just waiting to explode or metastasize or turn into an alien (the one in X-Files Fight The Future with fangs and stuff, not the timid gray aliens from the TV show). And true enough, as soon as my immune system plummeted from some stressor, like hunger and general poverty, the mass grew back. "I think it's lymphoma," I told Frichmond and Smoketh as we were eating in Tokyo Tokyo. I've whined about it for hours on end through the snack in Tokyo Tokyo, through the kiddie play we watched, through the dinner in Aveneto, through the coffee break in UCC. Frichmond would no longer hear one word about it. "Ipaopera mo na yan kay kuya," Frichmond declared. Frichmond's brother is a plastic surgeon.

"Gaano na yan talaga katagal?" Frichmond's brother asked.
"Ten years." I declared.
OR day finally came and I walked to the plastic surgery clinic. All my friends were busy so I couldn't get anybody to come. I was the classic PGH patient, the one with no bantay, so if I suddenly died intra-operatively there would be no one to make decisions and everyone in the clinic would be annoyed as hell. Social service would then need to come in and a frantic search for contacts would be conducted. In genuine PGH fashion I imagined that as I walked to the clinic I would be told, "tumungo ka na", upon which a circular cut-out would be made from the wrapping paper of the sterile gloves and would serve as the sterile eye sheet. It was henceforth surprising that the nurse asked me to change into a sterile gown after which I was led to a fantastic out-patient operating room. As I laid prone on the operating table (which smelled great) a BP app was wrapped around my arm and a pulse oximeter was clamped on my finger. Layers upon layers of brand new sterile sheets were placed on top of me until they covered my entire body. My right ear was cut, the mass excised, and cauterized painlessly.

After the surgery Frichmond's brother declared that it was merely a lowly sebaceous cyst festering with hideous infections. As he was reiterating the steps on how to reduce the scarring and such I had to stupidly ask, wide-eyed and frantically:
"Wala talagang solid areas? Hindi po kailangang ipa-biopsy? Puro sebaceous lang, wala pong solid areas? Any solid areas?"
There were no solid areas. In a few short days my ear was back to normal, and with that simple procedure I felt great. Which made me think, as I stared at the list of plastic surgery procedures in the flyer I got from the clinic, what MORE if I will have THESE procedures! AHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHA AHAHAHHAAH!

(Dr.Espiritu, plastic surgeon, holds clinics in Manila Doctors. Yeah!)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ninth Floor

                One morning while leisurely eating her breakfast in their mansion Zlurketh’s dad happily announced to Zlurketh:
                “Get dressed. I have enrolled you in a modeling class.”
                Zlurketh choked on her sausage and aspirated some rice.
                “Gggbzrtzk?!” she said.
                Since graduating from hellowship Zlurketh has involved herself in so many things: the Rotary Club, yoga class, book clubs, trips abroad, local choirs, various avenues for meeting potential mates, and practicing medicine on the side. It was to Zlurketh’s father’s credit that he has thought of Zlurketh’s potential as… a fashion model!
                “But… but…” Zlurketh started to protest. In her head:
                Why the heck would I go to a modeling class?! Why the fuck would I need to get up early every Sunday just to meet people who would teach me how to do make-up and how to dress up?! Why the fucking hell would dad think I need a bleeping modeling class? Why won’t he just give me the tuition fee worth, what, three thousand pesos, so I could buy clothes in SM? Why the fuck should I….
                “I’ve already enrolled you for FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS! Get dressed and get in the car!” Zlurketh’s dad declared. “AHAHAHAHAAHAHHAHA!”

                In the modeling class were girls in their teens and twenty’s, most of them earnestly trying to become professional models. Zlurketh was introduced to Faciphaga Emasculata, some 40’s dude who would direct the entire program. On the first day Zlurketh was ordered to walk and toss her hair and strut and stuff.
                And just when Zlurketh assumed this was all for fun,
                “For your final exam after months of intensive modeling classes,” Faciphaga Emasculata announced, “you are going to take the runway in… Trinoma!”
                Since then Zlurketh has been going to intensive modeling training every Sunday. Her face would be assaulted with cakes and cakes of make-up, she would wear eight-inch stilettos, and pose in strange contortions for peekchurifications. A few days ago, while waiting for her date in Trinoma Zlurketh frantically gave me a call:
                “Faciphaga Emasculata posted one of my modeling pictures in Facebook!!! Rose Z said I should erase it!!! Here’s my password, erase it erase it erase eeeeeeeet! Wait how do I look in that pic?”
                I frantically erased the pic, after saving it in my hard drive. In the pic Zlurketh was lying in bed with her hair spread out, her right leg folded under her left leg. She looked a bit stoned with her eyes glassy and stuff, but she was still well made-up. Sort of like a model who was shooting up cocaine, got dizzy, and plummeted down from her penthouse.
                “Er, para kang nahulog from the ninth floor at nagka locked-in syndrome,” I told Zlurketh. “Pero yung ibang pics maganda.”

                But so far Zlurketh has been immensely enjoying the modeling class. Her confidence has shot up to astronomic levels, her posture has never been better, and she has lost 8 pounds in just two weeks with no evidence of malignancy. She has also become some sort of confidante among the aspiring models. While buying mineral water in Mini-Stop, co-modelling student Rozabelle asked Zlurketh what could be causing her palpitations. Zlurketh, having just lectured weeks ago on palpitations in a private medical school, confidently said that the most common cause of palpitations among women in their twenty’s is psychogenic.
                “Bakit, hija, may problema ka bang iniisip ngayon?”
                In the middle of Mini-Stop Rozabelle hugged Zlurketh and wept.
                In her head of heads Zlurketh rolled her eyes. “Tell me about it,” she thought.
                “There, there,” she said while patting Rozabelle’s head. “There, there.”

Monday, October 22, 2012


There are few unalterable truths in life, like if you stay up until 1am and turn to WOWOW back in 1998 you would see a Japanese guy doing a Japanese girl with all the sensitive parts and points of contact strangely pixelated. For more, here are MORE unalterable truths in life, and because we are in a nega mode these are mostly unalterable... annoyances!

1. The waiter's elbow or forearm will always brush against your straw as he reaches for something from your table.

2. I have horrible luck in raffles. I only won once in my life. It was during the Mini-Olympics when I was in grade 3. My name was the first one picked from the bowl. I thought I would get the major prize--the board game Scribbage. I quickly ran in front excited to get my Scribbage. I instead got an illustrated book of Little Women. I never got to read it.

3. You will at some point inadvertently come across the poetry and prose you wrote back in college. Back then you considered them as art expressing your angst and the general ennui of things, but now you realize that not only were your poetry and prose disgusting crap, but your angst and ennui were crap. No amount of existential crisis matches hunger, disease, and death. We are all going to die, either by some freak accident or some disease, which can be acute and fulminant with sudden extreme suffering, or chronic with prolonged extreme suffering. Life is great. Cheerio.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Contemplative Crap

And before we knew it we are running at four months to go before training ends. My greatest fear is to die before all of this wraps up. Or if not die, become debilitated for some reason. For instance, i've recently discovered a tiny pigmented thing on my sclera that could be melanoma. I've also noted recently that my voice has been slowly changing, like in patients with laryngeal ca. I sometimes cough. And have recurrent chest pains which could be a mediastinal mass or massive pleural effusion. At one point while taking my pulse I've noted that my heart skipped multiple beats--worse (or is it really worse?) than any malignancy I could just develop arrhythmia and suddenly die. Talo ko pa ang isang lola na may symptom salad, but just because the lola has a laundry list of symptoms doesn't mean she doesn't really have them. And even if these are just imaginary symptoms, I could slip while walking along Faura and get impaled in one of those metal construction bars.

To further emphasize that training is on its final leg people everywhere are losing their heads on what to do next. Pre-residents have recently completed the application process and would soon start in the department. Senior residents are graduating and are now vying for spots in various Hellowship programs. This reminds me that back in October of 2010 when we were contemplating on what hellowship program to apply for, I had absolutely no idea what to do, as always. I was counting on again copying Mrs. Therese's decisions in life (like her decision to go to medical school and then go to Internal Medicine), but she would eventually bail out on me. So while sitting and fixing my stuff in the senior residents' office, contemplating and whining on what to do next, I've decided that the best way to go about choosing which fellowship to take is by the classic, foolproof method of... voting out!

I listed all the subspecialties and one-by-one voted them out on certain grounds. The easiest, for example, was Cardiology: "Ayoko na mag-night duty ever EVER!" and then Pulmo: "Ayoko na mag-night duty ever EVER!" Of course it was probably just a matter of finding the reason for not liking something that I haven't really liked anyway, and I still feel that, despite all the extreme difficulties of the past two years, the pieces are maybe fitting together. Eventually the pieces would probably fit together to form one demented picture. Except if I die before March. 

I Opened My Eyes And It's A Lovely Day! (Bulalas Portion Part 2!)

This is the 2nd part of my two-part nonsense entry about the Strangeland Keane concert. To recap, in the first part I've discussed the following points (in a jeje manner):
1. That the SM Mall of Asia Arena is a culinary destination.
2. That I've whined and keened and wailed my way to watch the concert.
3. That Helliza thinks the concert is for depression portion.
4. That a mysterious character named F5 has arrived and who knew if we would see her again.

Finally at around 9:30 the band arrived and sang You Are Young, from their latest album Strangeland. Whenever a song from this album was being played the Strangeland wall decor would light up. We were ecstatic, except that from our seats we really couldn't recognize Tom and the gang. We made googly-eyes with the ushers and hoped they would let us go down to the lower box. To no avail. Keane played on. The setlist was shaping up to be identical to all their setlists during this Asian leg of the Strangeland tour. I've researched it beforehand. As with most artists whenever they would sing some of their older, more familiar songs the audience would get wilder and sing along more. In pure snootiness I've declared to myself that I wouldn't have that problem--I knew all the songs from Hopes and Fears, Under The Iron Sea, Perfect Symmetry, Night Train, and Strangeland! And then they sang Spiralling, making me tick off one of the things in my bucket list which is to scream "OOOOOOOW!" in a live performance of Spiralling.

By the time they were playing Stop For A Minute the ushers asked us to go down the lower box. There was a point when the band played the less popular, mellower songs in succession (Your Eyes Open, Try Again, Strangeland...) that I was afraid the audience's interest might die down a little, until they played a song I couldn't quite put a finger on, a familiar song that wasn't quite in any of the albums but a song that I really really like, and then the entire arena realized that they were playing... Snowed Under! Snowed Under is a B-side track from the Hopes and Fears album, and is in fact the song from which the title was lifted, "someone to understand your hopes and fears!" We went wild, and HTGOF had the misfortune of sitting beside me. AHAHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHA AHAHAHA! But the crowd experienced the highest euphoria at Somewhere Only We Know. And Bedshaped had that strange effect of making me want to drink spiked Kool-Aid, and should therefore be inducted in my list of Kool-Aid songs.

I left the arena extremely elated, except that the rain was pouring down hard. We lined up for taxi, and who should be right in front of us in the queue but... F5. 
"Meant to be kayo," HTGOF said.
"Yes, pero meant to be kayo ni Bonetelya," I said.

To this day Bonetelya is still in the arena taking pictures of himself. 

Bulalas Portion Sa Culinary Destination

Akala ko talaga ay hindi na ako makakapanood ng concert ng Keane. At oo, Keane na naman. Paulit-ulit di ba. Nakakairita. Para na akong magulang na paulit-ulit na nagpopost ng litrato ng anak sa Facebook.

Pangunahing kadahilanan ay kahirapan. Sa nakaraang buwan ay nagtitiis ako sa pag spend ng P16 per day, at dito ko na realize na kaya naman pala, basta gagalingan  lang ang paglilimas ng mga delata at ulam mula sa bahay para kainin sa dorm. Kung dati ay nahihiya kami sa mga magulang namin tuwing naglalabas sila ng malaking supot at tupperware para mag-uwi ng pagkain galing sa isang party, ngayon ay mas malala pa kami.   Kaya hindi ko na kako kayang ipagkasya na manood pa ng Keane, hanggang nag-email sa akin ng link ng sabay-sabay sina Namtab Pots, Helliza, at Toby na SALE ang tickets! Malamang ay dahil hindi naman super sikat dito ang Keane.

"Wala pa rin akong pambayad kahit sale," pa-whine na text ko kay Helliza.
"Wag mo na bayaran! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!" text ni Helliza.
Syempre babayaran ko, pero fifty pesos per week. Sa isang iglap ay nagkaroon ako ng ticket at mga kasama--si Helliza, HTGOF, Ken, and Deon. AHAHAHAHAAHHAHHA! Nakaka two-weeks na nga pala, wala pa rin akong naihuhulog.

Pagdating namin sa Mall of Asia Arena ay excited na pumasok kami agad kahit two hours pa bago mag concert. Gutom na gutom na kami at excited na rin kaming kumain dahil may napakalaking sign na nagdeclare na ang Mall of Asia Arena ay "A CULINARY DESTINATION!" Except! Hindi pa nagagawa ang mga destinations na ito at ang meron lang ay mga tindahan ng hamburger at burito. At pag nasa loob ka na ng arena ay... bawal nang lumabas! Kumain si HTGOF at Ken ng burito at tuwang-tuwa sila. Ito ay matapos ang isang oras na pagkilatis sa lahat ng pros at cons ng bawat fast food.

Isang oras bago mag concert ay pumasok na kami sa concert area at... wala pang katao-tao. Namatay na ang initial excitement ng iba hanggang sa may nakikita na kaming naglalaro ng Logos Quiz. Inentertain na lang namin ang aming mga sarili sa pamamagitan ng panonood sa isang lalaki sa audience na naka-bonet. Paulit-ulit niyang kinukunan ang sarili nya ng picture nang naka labas ang dila at naka-tagilid na peace sign ang kamay. Sa sobrang tagal nyang kinukunan ang sarili nya at sa sobrang tagal namin syang pinagtatawanan meanly and secretly ay nagkaroon na sya ng code name na ginawa ni Helliza: bonetelya. Nabore yata si bonetelya kaya pagkatapos ng isang oras ay lumipat na sya ng upuan. At duon ay nagpicture-picture ulit ng sarili nya for one more hour.

"May number ba yung seats?" biglang tanong sa akin ng isang babaeng tawagin nating F5. "Dito kasi ako sa F5. Pero kung dyan mo gusto maupo ako na lang ang lilipat." offer pa nya. "OK!" sabi ko. Apparently mag-isa lang sya manonood ng concert, at napansin namin na ang daming nanood na mag-isa lang.

"Muntik na rin ako manood mag-isa," pa-whine at pa-self pity na sabi ko.
"Hindi naman siguro weird manood mag-isa ng Keane dahil ang Keane ay para sa mga taong may DEPRESSION PORTION! AHAHAHAHAHAHAAH!" bulalas ni Helliza. For more of Helliza's bulalas portion, kailangan nyong basahin ang blog entry nya na ito: http://benefitofthedaw.blogspot.com/2012/10/sit-backenjoybe-movie-hahaha.html


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Not Dolls!

One of my many addictions is that I need to read at least four comic books per day. Even if it's already 1:30 am, I would need to sate this addiction. These days, what with the horrific--HORRIFIC!--DC's New 52 and Marvel's Avengers VS X-Men that seems to drag on forever, I've been reading The Simpsons Comics, mostly written by the magnificent Ian Boothby. And just because this panel captures the plight of all action-figure playing young boys in the world for centuries, this is my panel of the year:

And just when HTGOF (who had the misfortune of sitting beside me during the concert) thought I've shut up about Keane, I haven't. I'm still just trying to compose myself enough to write about it ahaahaha ahahahaha AHAHAHAHAHAHHA!