Sa Kabilang Banda

Sa Kabilang Banda

Tales from the other side

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Man by the riverside in Gogrial Boma, 
Gogrial, Warrap State, South Sudan.

Man by the riverside in Gogrial Boma,
Gogrial, Warrap State, South Sudan.

How Facilitating Talks About Shit Improved My Practice of Art of Medicine

When there’s nothing to do…be creative!
As this boy did.  Living in an area isolated from almost everything and only reachable by occasional boats, this young boy didn’t let this bore him.  He made use of a plastic basin as his boat, the beautiful jade sea as his playground, and the surrounding islets as silent playmates. 
Made my day.
(Photo taken from: Guinhadap, Monreal Municipality, Masbate, Philippines)

When there’s nothing to do…be creative!

As this boy did.  Living in an area isolated from almost everything and only reachable by occasional boats, this young boy didn’t let this bore him.  He made use of a plastic basin as his boat, the beautiful jade sea as his playground, and the surrounding islets as silent playmates. 

Made my day.

(Photo taken from: Guinhadap, Monreal Municipality, Masbate, Philippines)

Quintessential "bahay kubo" with carabao.
(Photo: in Sitio Maglambong, Cawayan Municipality, Masbate, Philippines)

Quintessential "bahay kubo" with carabao.

(Photo: in Sitio Maglambong, Cawayan Municipality, Masbate, Philippines)

It’s sad that many people are using poverty as an excuse for poor sanitation practices, which compromises the health and well-being of kids like him. Background shows the pretty “toilet” that people in coastal communities here in Masbate use.
Open defecation remains a huge problem in the province, with 6 out of 10 households still defecating along the coast, in the bushes, or open field.
(Photo: kid from Sitio Guindalupihan, Barangay Guinhadap, Monreal Municipality, Masbate, Philippines)

It’s sad that many people are using poverty as an excuse for poor sanitation practices, which compromises the health and well-being of kids like him. 

Background shows the pretty “toilet” that people in coastal communities here in Masbate use.

Open defecation remains a huge problem in the province, with 6 out of 10 households still defecating along the coast, in the bushes, or open field.

(Photo: kid from Sitio Guindalupihan, Barangay Guinhadap, Monreal Municipality, Masbate, Philippines)

Despite poverty and hard life, these kids never fail to smile.
(Photo: kids from Sitio Guindalupihan, Barangay Guinhadap, Monreal Municipality, Masbate, Philippines) 

Despite poverty and hard life, these kids never fail to smile.

(Photo: kids from Sitio Guindalupihan, Barangay Guinhadap, Monreal Municipality, Masbate, Philippines) 

Island life.
(Photo: Barangay Togoron, Monreal Municipality, Masbate, Philippines)

Island life.

(Photo: Barangay Togoron, Monreal Municipality, Masbate, Philippines)

If Care Shadows Us, the World Will Be a Better Place

Let me tell you a personal story that has, since recently, been caged somewhere in my brain — until a good friend reminded me about it.

It was around 2005-2006 and I was a 4th year medical student (clerk) then.  My groupmates and I were quite frantic about another bedside preceptorial session for our Neurology class.  In these sessions, we go to the ward, discuss one patient’s case, learn from them, and get graded in the process.  These sessions were crucial.

image

(Photo: Flowers in Brussels, Belgium)

Our preceptor was a known and respectable neurologist.  Having him as a preceptor was something you would want.  For that session, a patient’s case was already pre-selected for us.  Together with the consultant, we went to the patient’s bedside.  He started asking about the patient, how he should be examined, and how the diagnosis was established.

Suddenly, at the corner of my eye, I noticed that the family members of the patient on the next bed were very anxious.  I glanced at the patient.  

Something was terribly wrong. 

Without any second thought, I broke off from our preceptorial.  I went over to check.  He was “coding” — his heart rate was dangerously slow and he was no longer responding.  I called a “code” and started resuscitating the patient.  It was my first time to lead a code.  I was scared.  I was mainly afraid for the patient and his family.  To my relief, my friend had also left the group and helped.  (I am forever grateful.)

Being a mere clerk, with limited clinical experience,  I was hoping the consultant would stop and help out.  I was hoping more people would come and assist in bringing the patient back.

But nothing like that happened.

Each chest pump we gave coincided with the voice of the neurologist that resonated throughout the ward.  He was oblivious to what was happening.  Our classmates stayed with him and just looked on.  Afraid to compromise their grades?  Only they know the answer.

My friend and I continued the resuscitation, surrounded by the patient’s family who were helplessly crying.  

The patient, sadly, did not make it.   

image

(Photo: Duck in park by Woluwé Saint Pierre, Brussels)

I can’t remember crying so much because of frustration over a lot of people and the system.  Our institution was supposed to be producing compassionate physicians but at that moment, everything seemed to have failed.  

I don’t know if the outcome could have turned out differently had others with more expertise stepped in.  I just know that we owe it to every patient and his/her family to at least try and be there for them when we are needed.  

Not because we are graded or it’s part of the job, but because we genuinely care about their well-being.

Not because we pledged to, but because they are our fellow men.

After that incident, I promised myself that I would never allow myself to become that kind of person — successful but insensitive to the plight and needs of others, superficial, uncaring, and without real connection to others.

Once in a job interview, I was asked why I quit my residency training in internal medicine a long time ago.  "I get too emotionally attached to the patients," I said.  Yes, it was part of the reason.  

"Will that not become a problem when you’re already in the field and see a lot of people suffering and dying?"   They again asked.

"No.  The moment I become distant, I will stop caring.  It is by being connected to them that I am able to push myself to do everything I can to help them.”

I am not saying we should all become saints.  I am not. I cannot.  I will not bother to, even in a million lifetimes.

I am just saying that as human beings capable of caring, we should do this often and not scrimp on it.

After all, caring is for free.

If each of us will care a little more for others, we may slowly solve most of our problems. And then the world will become a better place for all of us.

 

Words of wisdom from a friend.  Isn’t it wonderful to have people like them?

(Photo: sand at Tinigban Beach, Aroroy, Masbate, Philippines)

Words of wisdom from a friend.  Isn’t it wonderful to have people like them?

(Photo: sand at Tinigban Beach, Aroroy, Masbate, Philippines)

Tacloban in My Mind
Finally got the chance to see Tacloban post-Typhoon Yolanda / Haiyan. Already clean, up and about, with her people already back to their normal lives.  (And my favorite “chocolate moron,” a local delicacy only found in the area, is already being sold!)  The place and residents are recovering.
Or so it seemed.  Many people still remain in the tents.  Danger zones are still occupied by residents.  Commodities are much more expensive. 
It’s a city that’s close to my heart, being that it’s part of my roots and our family have many friends and relatives in the area.  Since I’ve been there 4 years ago, it has grown a lot.  This was visible despite the destruction it incurred from the typhoon.  
"Thank goodness for all NGOs that helped.  Otherwise, many more people would have died," my aunt said when I saw her in the city.  
Although much remains to be done, with the tons of help the region received (which I’m hoping will reach those who are in need and were badly hit), plus the resiliency of the people from the islands of Leyte and Samar, I know things will (hopefully) soon become much, much greater.

[Photo: Passengers waiting inside the Romualdez (Tacloban) Airport that’s still under repair.)

Tacloban in My Mind

Finally got the chance to see Tacloban post-Typhoon Yolanda / Haiyan. Already clean, up and about, with her people already back to their normal lives.  (And my favorite “chocolate moron,” a local delicacy only found in the area, is already being sold!)  The place and residents are recovering.

Or so it seemed.  Many people still remain in the tents.  Danger zones are still occupied by residents.  Commodities are much more expensive. 

It’s a city that’s close to my heart, being that it’s part of my roots and our family have many friends and relatives in the area.  Since I’ve been there 4 years ago, it has grown a lot.  This was visible despite the destruction it incurred from the typhoon.  

"Thank goodness for all NGOs that helped.  Otherwise, many more people would have died," my aunt said when I saw her in the city.  

Although much remains to be done, with the tons of help the region received (which I’m hoping will reach those who are in need and were badly hit), plus the resiliency of the people from the islands of Leyte and Samar, I know things will (hopefully) soon become much, much greater.

[Photo: Passengers waiting inside the Romualdez (Tacloban) Airport that’s still under repair.)

latest project to relieve myself of stress, one fine day.  
something i’ve been meaning to do for quite some time already.
glad i finally overcame my procrastinating tendencies.  c”,)

latest project to relieve myself of stress, one fine day.  

something i’ve been meaning to do for quite some time already.

glad i finally overcame my procrastinating tendencies.  c”,)

Yoland / Haiyan Scenes

With good preparation, coordination and luck, residents of Monreal Municipality in Ticao Island of Masbate got spared from severe super typhoon Yolanda / Haiyan damages.

I wish I say the same for others on Leyte and other provinces that suffered from the devastating impact of the typhoon.

Calm Before the Storm

Coastal municipality of Monreal on Ticao Island, Masbate on the day before Yolanda / Haiyan hit the country.  
Preparations for the super typhoon started days before the expected date of her landfall.  

Calm Before the Storm

Coastal municipality of Monreal on Ticao Island, Masbate on the day before Yolanda / Haiyan hit the country.  

Preparations for the super typhoon started days before the expected date of her landfall.  

Memories
It pays to have good ones.  They are like a cup of warm cocoa in the middle of chilly night.  They keep you company as you navigate through chaotic thoughts.  
I’m addicted to that feeling of suddenly breaking into a smile when some good ones surface.  Makes me determined to form new good ones — with the people around me, wherever I am.

(Photo: The Meskel flowers in Abramo Kebele, Assosa, Ethiopia.  Around this time of the year, these little yellow fairies against the green landscape are a sight to behold .)

Memories

It pays to have good ones.  They are like a cup of warm cocoa in the middle of chilly night.  They keep you company as you navigate through chaotic thoughts.  

I’m addicted to that feeling of suddenly breaking into a smile when some good ones surface.  Makes me determined to form new good ones — with the people around me, wherever I am.

(Photo: The Meskel flowers in Abramo Kebele, Assosa, Ethiopia.  Around this time of the year, these little yellow fairies against the green landscape are a sight to behold .)

Portrait of Masbate
These boys were hitting a poor little bird with rocks using a sling shot until it fell from the tree. They reluctantly released the bird after this Tagalog girl (a.k.a. me) demanded them to release it.
The area, by the way, is where residents in that purok (those who don’t have toilets) do their thing.  Nice view, eh?

(Photo: Naro Island, Cawayan, Masbate, Philippines)

Portrait of Masbate

These boys were hitting a poor little bird with rocks using a sling shot until it fell from the tree. They reluctantly released the bird after this Tagalog girl (a.k.a. me) demanded them to release it.

The area, by the way, is where residents in that purok (those who don’t have toilets) do their thing.  Nice view, eh?

(Photo: Naro Island, Cawayan, Masbate, Philippines)