The past two years have been the most harrowing I’ve ever had the misfortune of experiencing. Around seven years ago I wrote an annoyingly dramatic entry in my… Friendster blog (AHAHAHAHA!) where I declared that I was very much in emotional distress that I wanted to wrap my brain—and my entire head—in bubble wrap to shield myself from thinking… thoughts. I also declared that I had the sense to eat those tiny moisture absorbent packets in food packages that bear the label “DO NOT EAT” under the false notion that they were poisonous, until I’ve rotated in the toxicology clinic many years later and learned that it’s totally idiotic because, as we would advise many phone-in questions from all over the country, those packets are—all together now—inert. If I can go back in time I would slap myself for that drama over totally useless, juvenile stuff. The disastrous events in my life that followed, with everything culminating and piling up in pure horror during the fellowship training of the past two years, render those juvenile concerns extremely embarrassing. Die, my 26-year old self, you horrible, self-indulgent, shallow, drama-whore. You don’t know real drama until you personally experience the real life concerns of disease, poverty, and death. Die, burn, trip and impale yourself on the exposed steel bars along Faura, take a bath and stick your wet thumb in an electric socket, die—and take your old Friendster entries with ya!
Living off ten pesos daily and hoping a charity patient would show me charity by giving me a professional fee of… Jollibee Chickenjoy, not for sentimentality, but so I could eat… Jollibee Chickenjoy might have taught me something about sacrifice, life, the value of money, the risks of gastric ulcer, etc etc etc, but I would trade all those lessons for security. What if I suddenly do impale myself on the exposed construction steel bars along Faura, how would I afford hospitalization? Granting my surgeon friends would operate on me for free, how could I even afford a charity-priced processing fee for a pack of blood? How, dear sponsor-who-sponsors-stipend-every-six-to-nine-months? How? AHAHAHAHAHAHA. How. Enough with the life lessons! I’ll just watch movies about them!
The four-month preparation for the oncology boards was not any easier. I got a couple of odd-jobs, but eventually I had to devote myself to studying, painfully embarrassed at the thought of my mom feeding me once again. And when you study you don’t only think about the material, you also get to ruminate on the horrible things of the past and the horrible things of the future. And when you finally do get to concentrate on the material, what is that material about? CANCER! Cancer cancer cancer. Volumes and volumes of fucking cancer, from dusk till midnight, compounded by the constant paranoia of everyone around me having cancer, and the regret of how things might have been have I known all the things I know now, and how things have turned out better for Mrs. Therese who was right, boy was she right.
Four months hence we passed the boards and we were blissfully thankful, but we were painfully exhausted. Like winning a race but having horrible cramps afterwards. Or more like winning a race then getting rhabdomyolysis and kidney failure. You just want to lie down and stare at the ceiling, with those new letters that would be attached after your name floating in your head, annoyed that they couldn’t be eaten or used to pay the bills.