Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Doctors with Compassion

What a great breakfast i had today. I am from duty and i fed on our chairman's famous expressions and emotional outburst. Well, not just me actually but all of us in the department had a share of it. What a surprise it was for all of us. Our chairman came to the office early in the morning to deliver his quotable quotes complete with all the bleeep.....bleeep..... and bleeeep.

The last time i saw him so furious was about 2 years ago. It was our first day in the department as post graduate interns. I was wondering what caused all of those bleeep and bleeep to spill from his gray matter. We later found out that he didnt have had a goodnight sleep the night before. Of course, we knew it after he has mellowed down. Our chairman's like a pendulum you know. He could be furious for a couple of minutes and be as warm and as dear as a father once he cools down.

Fact is, he couldnt sleep after witnessing something in the wards. He was very much affected by the death of one of our patients and was very much disturbed by the reaction of one of my co-residents. Sad to observe that there really are some colleagues of mine who become so detached from their patients that they almost forget to emphatize. Some become calloused, insensitive and too mechanical that there seems to be a barrier between him and his patients. What's worse however if this attitude starts only a year after one become a full-fledged doctor. A doctor with brains but with no heart.

Here's this man however, so successful in his chosen profession, strengthened and hardened by the system, dreaded by the interns and residents, respected by his peers, been in this profession for decades, who showed me what a good and authentic doctor should really be like. He might have fed us with all his bleep....bleep early morning today, but he fed my heart with something to blog about.

I was once again reminded not to lose that compassion. The character that makes us doctors different from the others if i might quote him. I remembered how i got so affected by my patients' death when i started residency training. I remembered too however how i become numbed at times for being too detached, in order to prevent myself from feeling something awful about myself and my patient's death.

It is not an excuse for us just because we are toxic with work not to feel something for our patients. It is not an excuse too not feel for our patient's family. I believe that in all the residency trainings here in town, we are the ones who are very much challenged. We get to face patients and their families who are illiterate and who, pardon my words, really didnt have manners. We get to treat patients who are penniless, with nothing but sickness. The challenge of treating the patients' sickness and getting along well with their families is a big feat for us everyday.

Challenged we may be everyday, but we are just too blessed to have one great mentor with us. Someone who never fails to remind us to keep that compassion and spirit of service alive. Someone who never fails to show us what an ideal and compassionate doctor really is.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I Survived

Currently from duty and i'm quite wasted from my duty last night. Was the only resident on duty in the Department together with my intern. In anticipation, i was expecting for the worse. Branded as the most toxic resident in the department, being left all alone with noone to neutralize my so called "toxic powers", the worse i guess did happen.

I'm nursing tendinitis while posting this blog. My ankles were swollen after a 24-hour roving around the hospital. Had to answer several referrals aside of course from managing the emergency room. At least my intern was reliable enough to be left all alone at the ER lest i wouldnt be able to answer ward calls.

Toxicity started around 7pm right after i cleared the ER and started to make my ward rounds. Havent finished making rounds with our co-managements in surgery when the ICU nurse texted me that our ICU consultant was making her rounds there. Had to rush to the ICU and accompany her then in examining our patients. A few minutes thereafter, i received a phone call from a friend in anesthesia. They're having a post-op patient with arrhythmia. Oh well! Seems like i was having my practical exam from the workshop i just attended.

My hunch was right. When it rains, it pours. After hanging up, i received another call from the emergency room. We have a new patient for intubation, a case of hemorrhagic stroke. Where to go first? What referral to prioritize? Time to rationalize and intellectualize. Ordered my intern to do the intubation herself and to admit the patient. Asked the anesthesia resident to have an ecg taken first before i see the patient. I was alone alright and i couldnt answer all referrals at the same time. Fortunately, my consultant felt the urgency of the referrals ive received. Her rounds didnt last long. Just in time when i received the message from my anesthesia friend that the ecg strip was already waiting for me. Rushed to the operating room and went to see the patient. Toxicity, fatigue and hypoglycemia overpowered me that i could hardly identify an SVT! Sheesh! Where has my workshop learning gone? Well, with a conviction that was quite non-convincing, i called up our cardiology consultant to refer the patient's case. He believed my reading and trusted my judgement. Gave me a go signal for the plans i wanted to do with our patient. Deep inside me though i was thinking,"If i'm reading this ecg wrongly, i'm messing up not just with our cardiology consultant but with 2 other departments in the hospital: departments of surgery and anesthesia."

I hate the feeling of not remembering anything. Seemed as if i was having a short-term memory loss. Signs of aging or signs of brain decay? But no. I couldnt allow this thing to happen. Rushed to our conference room hoping that i could find someone to confirm my reading. God is good to me i could really say. A senior of mine was still around and she confirmed my reading. Woohoot! I'm not getting demented yet i guess.

In summary, here i am, posting this blog, happy to announce and document that i survived that one hell of a duty. As always, not losing my temper and keeping my cool has a prize. Just when im from duty, there would always be cash distribution...may it be in a form of our montly salary or the hazard pay. Today, after a hard day's work, i received our hazard pay and our monthly bonus! Sheesh...ive got this feeling that Big Dad really spoils me...tee-hee!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Back to Reality

After a coveted 4-day vacation in the country's jungle capital, and after living a life of comfort in one of the 5-star hotels in the country, here i am, back again to reality. For tomorrow's another 24-hour duty for me. Alone! Not literally alone actually, but officially, i'm the only resident who's on duty together with my interns. Add the fact that i will be on a duty again the next day! Hay, i just wish that i'll be benign and be able to tackle the tasks that are expected from me.

Anyhow, was back to the wards this morning. Was once again exposed to the smell that's unique only to our ward. A few hours before that, i was smelling the crisp smell of the linens while lying in the comfort of my hotel room. I was once again exposed to the cold and bacteria-laden hospital beds where our patients rest in contrast to the bed i was sleeping upon in my hotel for four straight nights. Floor 1's humid environment once again activated my sweat glands that also took a break when i was in the confines of my hotel room. I was once again acquainted to the dietary trays that are being distributed to our patients and where cats roaming around the ward would sometimes eat. A complete opposite of the breakfast buffet meals we had where we get to choose from a variety of breakfast preparations. May it be an American, Filipino, Japanese or Chinese meal, it simply conveys one message: feast your eyes, feed your stomach.

I was just thankful for that break in my routine schedule. A little rebreather once again gave me the energy to keep what i'm doing. That is, working and serving in a humid, smelly, bacteria-filled environment. The contrasts that i have witnessed even strengthened the idea that yep! the hospital is the place where i am very much needed. There's no match to the warmth of human interactions that im having with my patients no matter how sick they are. There's nothing more comforting than the idea that i have saved a life from sickness or from death. Having that break in a comfortable place is just an opportunity for me to regain all the energy and warmth that i'm pouring into this place of the sick and the dying. Back to reality, here i am, once again a doctor, and no matter how draining this profession could be, forever i still choose to remain.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Counting the Hours

It's 1 in the morning. I'm currently on duty. Guess what i'm doing? Actually, after about two weeks, we now have an internet connection here in our office. So this blog.hehe Well, it's been days that we had our connection back according to our ISP, but our pc had its fits, we still couldnt connect to the net. I really dont know whats happening but a troubleshooter that i am, i was challenged. In short, i tried to connect the wire to our laptop and i discovered just tonight that our ISP wasnt lying after all. I was able to connect to the internet. The second puzzle was to figure out what's happening with our pc why it cannot access to the internet. Well, curious that i am, i tried to press different buttons, entered the set-up menu, discovered somethings that were disabled and enabled them. Tadaaah! Here i am posting this blog from our pc! The signs! I really think that i must have a career shift now.hehe

In relation to the so called career shift, a few more hours from now and i'll be out of this hospital! Yipee!!! Not a career shift actually, just a minor break from my boring work. I'll be flying to Manila to attend a workshop and though it's still work-related (sob!) knowing that we have to read and interpret ecg tracings there, the idea is, im still out of this hospital. Period. For 4 days, I will not interact with the sick and the dying. For 4 days, i will be away from this jungle i am in. For 4 days, i'll be in a new dimension! For 4 days, i will have a rebreather. Oh well, thinking about my 4-day break from the hospital already brings relief.hehe

I love the feel of being in the airport, waiting for my flight. I love the feeling of travelling in air, almost touching the clouds. I love the feeling of being in a new place, breathing a different air. I too love the feeling of troubleshooting pc stuffs may it be software or hardware related. Geez, when you're bored with work, just a minor change in the schedule, activity or in the environment would definitely give you a different high.hehe