Monday, March 23, 2009

Intermission: Dog


You are no different from the rest. Afflicted with the same old ills, you try to charm an equally impoverished (and gullible) young lady, getting away as you shamelessly brandish your usual disarming doggie smile. And then run away with the best bone from the dining table, so smug and sure.

The lady fell for your little (sweet) disguise, in spite of my warnings. Pity.

The truth is, I would have given you a hug, given my love for furry creatures ... except that your fur is starting to fall off in clumps.


See you around, maybe at the sidewalk later? Arf!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Living In Hostels

I have so many fond memories of Hong Kong.

Although I have been to Hong Kong in the past, it was during my 7-month stay in this amazing city in 2007 as a visiting scholar that I got to see a whole lot more of it. That Hong Kong is more than just shopping and skyscrapers, hawkers and sales. A whole lot more.

I would have called it my second home, but like so many things that I want and desire that easily slip from my hands like sand, Hong Kong can never be truly mine.

First five photos: Sincere House at Argyle St., Hkg. Next two: Mirador Mansions, TST, Hkg

(Repost from Multiply, September 13, 2007)

I only had the slightest idea of how it is to live in a hostel in Hong Kong until a few weeks ago when I flew back to stay for a few days. During the first part of the year I stayed in a roomy flat provided by my employer. Since arrangements for my return to work are still underway, the nice flat was no longer available and I had to find temporary shelter.

Probably the most popular guesthouses are located in Chung King Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, but I elected to go to Sincere House in Argyle St. in Mong Kok, then to Mirador Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui.

It was a rather cosmic experience. I was entering a rather old building, around 15 storeys high, and nearly each floor houses a guesthouse or two. It is a wonder how a building as old as Sincere can house so many rooms. Most hallways are lined with clothes and bedsheets hanging by the nylon clotheslines. In the middle of the building is a space which provides some illumination to the hallways; unfortunately, the stairways can get to be really dim and dirty.

Rates for a standard room range from HKD150 to 250 (around PHP850 to 1250, or US$20). The rooms in the guesthouse where I stayed for a day are quite decent, there was tv, aircon, and phone. No windows though. I transferred after deciding that the toilet was way too small for me and that drainage was rather sluggish (oh, learning experience). I moved to Mirador Mansions where there are hostels with bedspace for HKD80, with roomier baths. The demands for bedspace are rather great, since most foreigners (Westerners and Asians alike) prefer to stay in budget hostels, so I found myself transferring (again, cause I did not reserve in advance) to a single room the following day. By the time I left Mirador to fly back to Manila, I had rashes all over my face and arms.

What can I say? That was the most amazing few days of my life in Hong Kong. I wish somebody could sponsor my stay at The Peninsula by the time I get back, which is a few months from now.

Status: Migrating

Migrating my posts, that is. Please bear with me if you find this site chaotic...

Of course, there's got to be some order in madness, somehow. First on my list: all posts Hongkong-related.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Blog Rounds 31st Edition (March 2009) Round-Up: Quo Vadis, Medical Graduate? (Updated)

Graduation. At once a glorious and unnerving moment in your life. And for you, aspiring doctor (or starting specialist, as Em Dy points out), who have devoted precious years and youth to the study of medicine, graduation takes on a whole new meaning altogether.

A senior consultant, notorious for his harsh, almost demeaning ways in the rounds and in the operating room, once said, "Better that I prepare you now, because this in turn will prepare you for the big bad world." Or something to that effect. He may have seemed to me like a big bad wolf on some occasions, but I hate to say, graduates, he is so right.

Outside, the big bad world is filled with ugly truths, unsettling choices, and unavoidable adversaries. But, and this my good consultant did not blatantly say (I just have to look at his practice to see that his years of experience and hard work indeed paid off) this same bad world will reward you, as long as you take most of your lessons into heart.

And what are these lessons? I have called on my fellow doctor bloggers, all of them in various stages of their respective medical careers (recent board passer, generalist, specialist, educator, or somewhere in-between) to give their insights on what to expect in the years to come and what to do in preparation for more rough times ahead.

You may find that we seem to stand on different grounds regarding matters such as:

1. deciding if medicine should be really looked at as a calling or not
2. whether to complete your training at the soonest versus taking a moment to look at life outside medicine
3. choosing whether to be a specialist or a generalist

And yet most of us tend to agree that:

1. we need to prepare financially for the future
2. we work with people who are just as deserving of humane treatment
3. there is, definitely, life outside of medicine

Now, for the posts.

J.A. said it best: we are students for the rest of our lives. Read about this and her other unsolicited advices she has dispensed since her graduation in April 2005 here.

Doc Harry, I must say, truly lives it up as a pathfinder. He calls on the graduates to find their own paths in this post.

Anakat chose to "reconnect with herself", something that she would not have enjoyed during training. And enjoying her youth and freedom seems to be doing her good.

Gaya did something I personally should have done many years ago: plan meticulously. She has mapped out her game plan in her manifesto. To the graduates, she has these to say.

The Last Song Syndrome asks you to look a little closer, once more: Do you really want this life? She sums up her post by saying: Be happy, above all.

Alack, Megamom states that there is nothing happy with waiting for patients for hours. To save you the heartache, she tells you to do your research and start setting up your medical business. Read about her motherly advices here.

Joey MD also recognizes the need to save up and invest, and suggests starting a small business on the side if you can. She enumerates a few more valuable pointers here.

Meloinks gives you more ways to view the big bad world as he talks about the dissociation of the Philippine medical education from the real world, specialization bias, the business side of medicine, the virtue of the HMO's and tackling the medical trivia examination here.

Doc Ness collates some words of wisdom from the "young once", all of whom are specialists, and at the same time ponders on the careers of her colleagues who have chosen to serve in the barrios. This is what she personally thinks.

Clairebear reveals something darker and bigger, whether you are a specialist or a generalist: Being a doctor is nothing like being in medical school. You seem to lose everything you have learned once you come face to face with real patients and real setting. How is this best handled? Through experience.

There is no blueprint, no ready-made road maps that you can take on in your medical career, says Bonedoc. He does raise a number of questions that may very well serve as your rough guide, and they are all here.

Finally, Em Dy, who happens to be the earliest to submit her contribution, gives a very simple but succinct advice to doctors who are just starting their practice: Love the downtime.

It is an honor and a pleasure for me to host this edition of The Blog Rounds as always. Thank you very much to those who have submitted their posts. To those who haven't, you are still welcome to contribute, and I will keep on updating this post (like I just did minutes ago ;) ).

Lastly, to the medical graduates, congratulations, and hopefully you have picked a lesson or two from the round-up. Here's someone from the big bad world wishing you all the best.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Blog Rounds 31st Edition (March 2009): Dear Medical Graduate

More than ten years ago, you were just like me. Perhaps. You are no longer the doe-eyed freshman that you might had been when you set foot on medical school for the first time some four, five, or six years ago. You spent grueling hours mastering the human body, its compositions and its afflictions, dodging dagger admonitions from your seniors, ruminating the implications of your chosen career...I can go on and on, yes, and you will likely be telling me: Come spit it out, don't tell us what we already know.

If you were more spiteful, you would go on and say: We now more or less share the same happy and bitter experiences of medical school, and you can no longer claim monopoly on them.

Maybe, my dear medical graduate. Your time is definitely different from ours, and for me, no generation is better than the other. Don't you just effing hate it when someone tells you, "During OUR time..." ad nauseum? Our specific experiences are molded by the needs of our times. But lessons, yes, we've learned more than enough of them, and if I may say, the only thing that truly makes me different from you is just ten or so years, and nothing more.

MEDICINE IS A CALLING. It is not for everyone. You have seen the life in the wards, in the operating room, in the hospital and the community. You've already seen patients get well and die before your very eyes. You are practically owned by this seemingly selfish profession, and your time does not entirely belong to you. Would you like to live this way for the rest of your life? It is not yet too late for you to turn your back when you recognize that this is not the life for you: it is a courageous act, not a cop-out at all.

AND WHILE MEDICINE IS INDEED YOUR CALLING, IT IS NOT WHAT YOUR ENTIRE LIFE IS ALL ABOUT. Starting now, if you have not done so yet, write down and rank your priorities in life. Is it family first, money second, and career in medicine third? Or is it God first, career second, family third? Whatever the order you prefer, get it figured out in your head before you venture further.

E, R, and me, Graduation Day

RECOGNIZE THAT OUR WORLD CHANGES. History will tell us time and again that all things on earth evolve: ideas morph in various forms, species come and go. Techniques are constantly being developed and yet we need to revisit old techniques. You actually sentence your neurons to death by dessication when you start denying this change.

THE NAME OF THE GAME IS PATIENCE. Not a lot of things in this field happen by chance and in an instant. I am a crammer and many times I found myself regretting being one. There is a world of difference between getting the work done and getting the work done properly, and this I learned the very hard way.

KNOW THE PEOPLE WHO GENUINELY WANT TO HELP YOU. And once you are able to identify them, learn all that you can from them.

LOVE YOURSELF. Prepare for your future. Most doctors are so financially unsavvy (me included). Accord yourself some time for recreation and growth outside medicine. There are many people worth not only your professional but your personal attention as well. And before I forget, there exist some so-called mundane concepts like dating, sex, relationship, romance, and flirting. To this I say: feel with your senses, love with your heart, think with your head.

ABOVE ALL, BE HAPPY. For when you are happy, inspired, and driven by purpose, everything else falls into place, and no adversity can ever put you down. This, by far, is the biggest lesson I have learned in medicine and in life, and it bears repeating now, tomorrow, a year, ten years, fifty years from now.

Regardless of hard times, I hope medicine rewards you well. All things considered, I do not regret being in this field. Congratulations and I wish you all the best.

This is my submission to The Blog Rounds 31st Edition (March 2009), and I am hosting, and am eagerly awaiting more posts.

Happy International Women's Day (March 8, 2009)

This unsuspecting XX species received a greeting a few minutes ago from the other side of the world. (Thank you, Z.)

I want to share the same greeting to all the women I love and care for. Viva la femme!

Read about International Women's Day here and here.