Our rotation in Otorhinolaryngology has ended. With just a week, my prospect field, that is, Internal Medicine, gradually waned as ENT tickled my interest in both its clinical and surgical aspects. I want to be a clinician and at the same time a surgeon. Ophthalmology and other fields also offer that but it is the ORL that awed me. One wonderful thing in this field is having a good grasp of the head and neck architecture in order to operate successfully. (Unfortunately, during this rotation, I studied ENT anatomy only up to some extent thinking that I will just master its details once I train in this field in the near future). Besides, being a specialist of the head and neck does not mean I can set aside systemic symptoms. In order to manage patients well, I must see to it that I have a useful knowledge of hypertension, diabetes and other warning signs of systemic symtoms/diseases. One drawback I can think of in this field is seeing the gag reflex (which psychologically affects me to vomit also) as well as causing pain as tubes/scopes are placed into every hole on the patient’ face (good thing, there is anesthesia but it is, of course, not indicated all the time).
In terms of the actual rotation, there is one thing I noticed in PGH ORL Department. They let the patient stay in front during conferences. I disagree with that and I entirely believe that it is unnecessary. For instance, our patient asked for privacy, so we had to cover his eyes in our presentation slides. Letting him stay in front even if we are doctors and student doctors is still derogatory and defeated the purpose of covering his eyes in the slides. Just think of us a crowd all in white observing one patient in front. Now, if the consultant wants to examine him, he should have done it after or before the conference.
Yesterday, I decided to start anew with my medical education (especially after these past few rotations in the clinics). It is because of the constellation of symptoms of poor listening skills, forgetfulness, passivity and mediocrity. I have noticed that everything starts with my poor listening skills. Maybe I am thinking too much or focusing too much on my own that I hardly understand what another person in front of me is talking about. (You can check that by randomly asking me what has just been explained by the other speaker.) Add to that my slow comprehension of concepts. Or maybe I am just complicating things so much. Nevertheless, such listening skills and my forgetfulness (that I often whine in previous blogs) results to my passivity. Because of the latter, I am afraid to venture outside my comfort zone. I am always going with the flow and letting others decide for me. My passivity also has led me to assume a lot of things. And believe me, being an “assumptionist”, that is, believing without further reading, asking or clarifying, has made my medical education at stake and ridiculous in lectures, SGDs, preceptorials and exams or even in extracurricular activities. Because of this anxiety to volunteer, participate or lead, I think of myself as a mediocre. Well, nothing is wrong with being a mediocre but I think being one means having an opportunity to excel. Mediocrity is a step before excellence, I think.
I really miss my years prior to medicine. Now I want to struggle for excellence again. And I believe, such struggle does not mean being cutthroat and competitive with others. I just want to excel and surpass my mediocrity. May my Teacher help me. And goodbye, assumptions! Goodbye poor listening skills! Goodbye passivity!
Today we just had a demo-return demo of the 5-point ophthalmologic exam. We were assigned by two’s and my partner in demonstrating the gross eye exam and pupillary reflexes is Jhing. I tried to conquer my negative thoughts especially since Jhing knows that I am such a clumsy and forgetful classmate. And so I greeted her “Hi Jhing!”, more of to calm myself. We proceeded, with me as the examiner.
I tried to ease my tachycardia with deep breathing, a concept I learned from traditional med lectures of Dr. Galvez-Tan. My heartbeat eventually became normal but I noticed a different chilling/tremor sensation in my body specifically on my face. Weird. I then said to myself, “kaya mo yan” hoping to perform well. But to cut the long story short, I did not succeed again. It was fail, even if that was just a simple activity and not even at the level of an OSCE.
The problem is I suck doing PE in front of people. I could not take a good command of my voice, which apparently becomes soft as I try to avoid a pressured speech. I could not speak in English spontaneously, and this also happens even when I am speaking in Filipino. Mental block at its finest. I am beginning to think that my memory is really starting to betray me. I have noticed this already way back in second year proper. I already miss that feeling of being a good memorizer, that young boy who loved to learn and not easily forget the wonderful concepts of general science.
The only funny thing I can think of when these happen (and they happen most of the time, and will happen again in the next times) is that I have to master all these failures while I am still a medical student so that when I become a doctor, these would never happen again. Maybe I am just an OC-type of person, so keen with perfection that I am not satisfied with what I have just done. Maybe I look to much with my errors. Or maybe I am just one of those persons who cannot see the good in the bad. Maybe my classmates are already thinking that failure is my friend. And the latter is close to the truth as I have noticed in my blockmates.
[This is a late post which is actually both an account and a reflection about our block’s Banaue-Nueva Viscaya trip. It was my first time to travel northbound.]
Many things have transpired within the last few days. As for me, we were in fact at the mercy of what I call miracles. For the past days in Banaue, life has been as fragile as a glass. Thanks to the guide and the drivers who toured us around their place. I had to inject into my mind that these people are already experts of their terrain, meaning to say, the winding road that we are traversing are not anymore new and difficult to them. There are two things I have observed among the people of Banaue: their eyes, which make most of the people look alike, and their ‘moma’, which make the some of their surroundings really red.
I never imagined myself hiking on several mountains or to be exact, edges of mountains. I am proud to say that I conquered Banaue. I wouldn’t be able to finish it without Kuya Dandy and my blockmates. We hiked for hours to reach the Batad area as well as the Tappia falls. The trek started in the morning but unfortunately reached the sheer darkness of the evening. I will never forget that darkness when we were on the edges of the mountain, holding each other’s hand, hoping to survive and pass each step safely at the mercy of our cellphone’s flashlight. It is really hard to reach a goal even if you can see it already, especially when you are climbing on foot. That was my thinking when it was already dusk but the Saddle Point where we started is just virtually above us but is actually still afar. Twice the 3 or 4 hours of walk even if with an hour of ride will sure make your gastrocnemius painful and weak. But then, a miracle again. The next day, we visited the View Point, where we had the best panorama of the terraces, and the all-white Good News Clinic, where we met the humor and wisdom of Dr. Antonio Ligot.
Days in Nueva Viscaya were the actual work for Management. Nevertheless, we were able to enjoy it. We stayed at the clinic/house of Bea’s family at Solano. We studied the Pharmacy of Veterans Regional Hospital at Bayombong. We met Maam Gigi Bautista and several other doctors and personnel. We had free flu vaccines, where we were able to administer it to another for the first time. We also got our souvenir PNDF manual. We also visited Pisay-CVC.
Going home, I realized what a larger-than-life experience the whole journey is. The road I never saw when we went there was indeed serpentine and encompassing mountains. I just thank my God for everything, hoping that I will remember this when I get old, since I may never go back to such place again where risks were my tests of faith.