Friday, December 21, 2012

Cassandra On A Rampage

A dating rampage, that is. Having had no life outside medicine for twelve years, Cassandra has decided that she is a woman of the world. In the few times I would see her what should she regale me with but horrifically harrowing tales of dating horrifically harrowing men, sprinkled with the occasional fantastic fairy tales with fornicating frogs. Truly she is having her cake and eating it too, not to mention smearing her face with icing and licking the crusting icing off her fingers.

Just a few weeks after ditching Hellion and telling him that they are worlds apart in terms of jeje-hood, Cassandra met with Proky. Proky is an interesting character, and we know what people mean when they say that something is absolutely interesting. And just because we are protecting Cassandra's integrity as a dater, we shall not go into any horrid detail about the date whatsoever and just let this one exchange (an exact transcript, not the hyperbolic version I am always accused of making) during the date speak for itself:

Proky: (while staring at Cassandra) If I see a bead of sweat rolling on your face, will you allow me to wipe it off?
Cassandra: I'm not sweating so the question is moot and academic.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Turn Your Lights Down Low

Woke up at 6 pm with a crushing headache, the sort where you imagine a vise clamped on your head and you just hope that someone would very well make it quick and do the deed already. And in my phone, 8 messages. I was supposed to meet with a few friends for dinner. I already had my general rants organized in my head, as there are very specific rants you can only rant to very specific friends. One of the messages, of course, read that the thing was cancelled as the people involved are scattered all over. I drifted back to sleep and woke up a few minutes later feeling better.

I put a crumpled polo on, looked at myself in the mirror, only to see the reflection of a cockroach surreptitiously crawling its way to a half-open bag of potato chips on the floor, among other neglected and spoiling food--a plastic bag of moldy bread, two rotting mangoes, chopped crispy pata in a tupperware sitting there for weeks on end. I turned around to step on it, and as soon as I did it was gone. Of course it was gone.

I went out for token dinner by myself in the nearby barbecue joint. I ordered two hotdogs, a bottle of Coke, a cup of rice. Very few people were there--the usual customers probably in some high class restaurant for their Christmas get togethers or such. I ate the hotdogs and a few spoonfuls of rice. Keane started singing "Try Again" from the album Under The Iron Sea in my iPod. Followed by "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac. Followed by "Some Unholy War" by Amy Winehouse--three songs I never really bothered to understand the lyrics of but always sounded depressing as fuck anyway. My iPod has always been some kind of empath, knowing which song to play in my ongoing state of my mind, but sometimes I wish it would play the opposite-- like Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohen just to cheer me up. The song Walking in Memphis was played in one of my favorite X-Files episodes of all time, The Post-Modern Prometheus. As that song was playing Mulder and Scully were dancing with each other in a rustic pub. Come to think of it that episode was quite depressing in itself.

Thankfully "Some Unholy War" was followed by "Turn Your Lights Down Low" by Lauryn Hill. I love that song, and for once that night, something that wouldn't make you want to drink spiked Kool-Aid.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Forms and Requirements and Things to Pay

We had our hospital-wide residency and fellowship graduation this morning. Once again, as in the ten other graduations we've attended in our lifetimes, inspirational speakers uttered the phrase "this is not the end but merely the beginning". And don't we feel the endless cyclical beginnings. Sometimes I just want to hear "THIS is THE END! The REAL one. Congratulations!"

A few months ago during our mid-year convention, and again two nights ago during our holiday gathering with our  internal medicine residency batchmates, we've been fascinated at the wonderful stories of JD-Lu, Lloydie, Popopopokerface Popopokerface, Aids, and Djana as practicing general Internists. Two years ago they have wisely and courageously decided not to pursue hellowship and instead jump in to the real world. We have marvelled at their stories, and hoped to one day graduate so we could practice like they do. And then these things come up in the multi-thread conversations.

"Dapat pala during training nag-file kayo ng no income and then file the withholding tax forms you got for your stipends or else you would pay P12,000."

"Lalakarin mo dapat yung Philhealth, pay P14,000, then yung PMA kung hindi ka nakabayad before, around P12,000. Required din pala ang ACLS certificate, diplomate and fellowship certificates, etc certificates."

"Okay naman yung stocks dun sa isang hospital, P450,000 lang."

"Sa mga babayaran mo pa lang wala ka nang kikitain."

"Hire an accountant."

"Requirement din pala ito. Ito rin required. Lalakarin mo ito, tapos pupunta ka dito, required din yan, magbabayad ka nito. Fill up FORMS CT3, CT4, XFT, XFT-1, XFT-2, etc. Repeat 10x."

At which point our collective hellows' brains shut down.

"We take it back. Ayaw pala naming grumaduate! Ayaw namin! Ayaw namin grumaduate! We take it back! We take it baaaaaaack!!!!"


One of our favorite activities while waiting for a friend to arrive during dinners or drinking sessions is trying to guess what this friend's first line would be. Given our common friends' relatively whiny profile the first line is usually "HAY NAKO!". The said friend would then proceed to narrate harrowing tales about hellowship or residency or general pag-dodoktor with a few invectives inserted here and there. Interestingly Smoketh's tale is not about hellowship, residency, or general pag-dodoktor. It's not even about weird men. Tonight her tale is quite domestic, in particular, her now domestic task of getting house help.

A week ago Smoketh, in desperation, has contracted the aid of an agency to provide them with two housemaids. Being a housemaid in Smoketh's house would be harrowing in itself, as she has to not only scrub the floors. She also has to clean the moat, polish antique cannons and silverware, and make sure everything is glistening down to the last lumiere and cogsworth. The agency gave her a supposedly 59-year old female and 23-year old female, who we shall falsely name here as Alice and Belle respectively for easy reference. "Wala po ba kayong high blood, diabetes, hika, sakit sa puso, goiter, allergies, TB?" Smoketh asked. Medical history-taking and physical examination are apparently applicable to all sorts of things in real life. "Wala po!" the two jovially declared.

The next day as Smoketh was driving to Manila to meet with Frichmond and Quagmire who should call her frantically on the phone but her very pregnant sister! "SMOKETH!" frantic sister screamed. "Bumalik ka dito! Si Alice (the 59 year-old), nag-CARDIAC ARREST!"

Smoketh immediately made a U-turn, imagining Alice suddenly dropping dead while cleaning the moat. So much for the walang high blood diabetes hika sakit sa puso goiter allergies TB! So much for her history-taking and physical examination skills! She arrived at East Avenue Medical Center where she is now a consultant (ahem), and found Alice perfectly alive. Not moving in bed, but perfectly alive. From being a consultant she suddenly crashed back to being an intern, as she took charge of pushing the stretcher, bringing the patient to the neighboring CT scan laboratory, etc. Everything was normal, and when she did the malingering test thing (we forgot what that test is called, where you try to hit the patient's face with her own arm), she sort of suspected that it was not organic. Social workers finally managed to contact the relatives, etc etc etc, and after hours of stress they went home.

The next day Smoketh was awakened by some yelling. They were contacted by their village security guard who discovered that Belle (the 23-year old) was... hiding behind the bushes carrying all her things!
"Bakit sya nagha-hide behind the bushes?!?" Smoketh asked. Apparently Belle, after having spent a couple of days in their mansion, suddenly missed her boyfriend and tried to go back to the province that same night. For Belle there was simply something there that wasn't there before--loneliness.

"This agency sucks," Smoketh muttered under her breath as she fired Belle. A few seconds after muttering that under her breath she called the same agency... to ask for another housemaid. She talked to this new prospect first over the phone. "Wala po ba kayong high blood diabetes hika goiter allergies TB sakit sa puso?" "WALA PO!" prospect jovially declared.

Tina, this new prospect, arrived the next day. Smoketh saw her features as Tina was walking towards her from a mile away: huge bulging eyes, huge anterior neck mass, cachexia, abdominal enlargement, some huffing and puffing as she walked, profuse sweating.

"THYROID STORM!!!!" Smoketh screamed.

"So hindi nyo na sya tinanggap, I guess," I told Smoketh a few nights later as we were drinking in Whore House with Frichmond.
"Er... dinala ko sya sa clinic at pina X-ray, FT4 TSH, CBC, blood chem, ECG, abdominal ultrasound. Nakakuha nga ako ng discount eh ang galing!" Smoketh said. "Pina-start ko sya ng methimazole. And then we accepted her."

Frichmond could no longer contain her MALTA-ness. She flicked back her hair, brought out her abaniko, and fanned herself furiously. "OMG, ano ka, DSWD?!?"

For which we shall award Frichmond for the MALTA Line Of The Year. Congratulations!

Beware The Gray Ghost!

It is with much authority that I declare the 90's cartoon series Batman: The Animated Series the best TV show of all time. It is not an opinion. It is an established fact, which I have established with authority and certification bestowed upon me by myself. I have recently watched the series again, and it is without question that is a perfectly wonderful series. I love the stories, the 50's art deco look, the general feel, the voices, the performances, the direction. It has my favorite interpretation of all the characters in the Batman mythos, in particular that of Bruce Wayne, Batman, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, and Commissioner Gordon. The show brought new life to old but overshadowed favorites like Killer Croc and Two-Face, created new fantastic characters like Harlequin and Roxy Rocket, and introduced me to my favorite tragic villain duo of The Ventriloquist and Scarface.

The first episode I have re-watched after years and years of not having watched the show is Beware The Gray Ghost. In it  Simon Trent, a washed-up actor who used to play a superhero on TV called The Gray Ghost is suspected of re-creating crimes that were originally done in the old TV series decades ago. Simon Trent is aptly and wonderfully voiced by Adam West.

Of course the villain turns out  to be this blonde bespectacled guy Ted Dymer who sells action figures!

"And I knew what else a toy can do. It can carry a bomb. It can hold a city for ransom. Oh the power of the toy! It can earn millions, millions for the little old toy!" - Ted Dymer while breaking apart a Batman action figure!

Ted Dymer has one of the best lines in the entire series as he watches his action figure shop explode and burn:


As Ted Dymer watches his toys get reduced to ashes-- toys he's been collecting for years which pushed him to crime!-- I could only give him a spiritual pat on the head and tell him: There, there. I understand.

Craptastically Convivialic Corpulence

There were a few peeeeekchur worthy non-events the past couple of months, and as I was reviewing the photos for deletion in my camera I noted that I now look like a ref. I have grown fatter than ever, with bulges where bulges shouldn't be.

While this infernal fatness may seem intuitively inconsistent to my impoverished state (having spent blog entries upon blog entries about having to ask someone to roll over his car over a toothpaste tube so I could make it said) I realized that my fatness is totally a function of having no money at all. In this regard a hellow's state of kahirapan is unique, because while I may not have the option to eat in Sbarro whenever I want, buffets and pastries and donuts and pastries are thrusted upon our faces and rammed down our throats all the time.

For instance, I usually wake up in the morning and go to the clinic with no plans to eat breakfast at all, having gotten used to a cup of coffee in sheer pagtitipid. However, what should I see in the callroom table one morning but a box of Krispy Kreme. We hate Krispy Kreme, horrified at the thought of a sweet donut coated in thick confectionary sugar dipped in chocolate with chocolate sprinkles with a huge Kit Kat bar sitting on it. But since it's THERE, and I was afraid I would go hungry later in the day, even if the thought of eating a sweet donut coated in thick etc is gross, I wolfed down... two donuts! In five minutes! Or when Gay B. brought back an apple cinnamon cake from Session Road, since I probably wouldn't go to Baguio any time soon in pure kahirapan, I ate TWO slices immediately! Or whenever we are treated to restaurant or hotel buffets, I would eat loads and loads of fatty lechon and paella and crispy pata and cherry pastries and plates and plates of sushi and salmon sashimi despite being extremely full, afraid that I would not have a chance to eat again later in the day! Add to that the fact that my patients from Aklan, Naga, Zamboanga, Batangas, etc. bring all sorts of native pastries and the ubiquitous Red Ribbon cakes for more happy eatification! In two words: Patay Gutom!

As a second, and possibly MORE feasible explanation for my craptastic corpulence, is that I have consciously stuffed myself with lots and lots and lots of food to gain lots and lots and lots of weight and somehow diminish my daily paranoia that I have, what else, cancer. In the past two years I have feared that I have all of these cancers, and since I don't want to do diagnostics and stuff I thought I would just use weight gain as a surrogate marker. Of course this is not absolute, but for now I would like to enjoy a few weeks of being paranoia-free.

And as a third reason, the real one: I don't exercise. I'm an M.I. waiting to happen.