Sabi ng aking misis ay nagiging masungit at bugnutin daw ako habang ako ay tumatanda. Siguro dahil na rin sa stress sa trabaho, lalo na at napaka-busy pa rin ng aming ICU at sunod-sunod ang aking duty, at marami pa rin kaming kaso ng COVID-19. O marahil talagang gusto ko lang maging “grumpy old man.”
Pero may nahukay ako sa aking baul na magpapatunay na hindi ako tumatandang masungit at bugnutin. Ang aking ebidensiya? Bata pa lang ako ay bugnutin at salubong na ang kilay ko!
Halos tatlong buwan na po ang quarantine sa Pilipinas. Nabubuwang na ba kayo? Sige ituloy-tuloy na natin ang magpakabuwang. Heto po ang mga hugot lines sa quarantine:
Ang tagal na nitong quarantine, sana matapos na. Para makalabas na ako at magkita na ulit tayo. Pero ang masakit kahit wala ng quarantine, hindi ka pa rin akin, at wala pa ring tayo.
Dahil po sa COVID-19 ay panatilihin lang nating dumistansiya. Lalo na kung hindi naman ikaw ang kanyang mahal.
Ang tagal ko rin naghintay ng ayuda at ng mga relief goods. Pero buti pa ang ayuda, dumating kahit na nade-delay. Ang hinihintay kong pag-ibig, wala pa rin. Hanggang sa dulo na lang ng walang hanggan ako maghihintay.
Sabi nila para makaiwas sa pagkalat ng corona virus ay magsuot ng mask kapag lalabas. Pero naiinggit ako sa mask mo, laging nakalapat sa iyong mga pisngi at nakadampi sa iyong mga labi. Sana ako na lang ang iyong mask.
Payo nila lagi raw maghugas ng kamay o kaya ay magpahid ng alkohol. Diyan magaling yung mahal ko. Siya na nga ang may ginawang mali, naghuhugas kamay pa rin. Lagi na lang nagmamalinis.
Ang tagal nang walang pasok. Miss na miss ko na ang classroom. Sa classroom may batas. Bawal lumabas, oh, bawal lumabas. Pero pag nag-comply ka……….teka, teka, iba na yata ‘yon. Sorry po.
Ang tagal nang walang pasok. Kailan kaya ulit magkakapasok? Pero hindi na bale, lagi ka namang pumapasok sa aking alaala. Ako kaya, pumapasok din ba sa iyong isipan?
Wala naman akong ubo. Wala rin akong lagnat. Wala naman akong virus at hindi rin naman siguro ako mukhang virus. Pero bakit lagi ka na lang umiiwas? Dinadahilan mo na lang lagi ang quarantine.
Buti pa ang mga komunidad naka-lock down. Bakit ‘yung mahal ko, kami na nga pero hindi ko pa rin siya ma-lock down? Labas pa rin ng labas at panay pa rin ang papansin niya sa iba.
Tulad ng champagne na ito, “Daming Hugot” pa. Hanggang sa susunod na lang ulit at sana makalaya na tayo sa hugot…..este, sa quarantine.
Because of this COVID-19 pandemic, as a defense it is now advised that everybody wears a mask when going out. However, there is a shortage of masks available and other personal protective equiptment in many hospitals. Dark times indeed.
Thus, I’m wearing my own respirator mask to work.
“You are unwise to lower your defenses.” – Darth Vader
(*Warning: not a true protective mask. Rest assured for I am donning an officially prescribed PPE when dealing with patients.)
From out of the blue, I received a greeting recently from a classmate in pre-med and in medical school whom I have not heard from for a long time. In fact I am receiving many thoughts and prayers from friends and family lately knowing that I am a frontliner in this war against COVID-19 especially in the ICU.
I wondered what prompted my classmate, but I was both surprised and touched that she remembered me and also my birthday. After hearing from her, I was reminded of our class party during our senior year in undergrad which was held in their upscale home in the Philippines.
In that party we had a game that was patterned to the old game show “Make Me Laugh.” The idea was that the “contestants” would try not to laugh as “comedians” do their best to make them laugh.
Being one of the jokesters during my college days, I was one of them who would attempt to make people laugh. There were 3 classmates of ours as “contestants,” and there were 3 of us “comedians.” If the first comedian was unable to make the contestant laugh, then the 2nd and the 3rd would give it a try. The contestant who would not crack a smile or laugh wins.
I was the first comedian.
I was a lanky kid in college, weighing 115 lbs in a 5’8” frame body. I look like Fido Dido. My gig was I borrowed an over-sized leather jacket (yes, there were leather jackets in Manila) from one of my burly classmates, and I filled the sleeves and the chest area with socks so I looked muscular. I also borrowed a heavy duty power twister bar from a classmate to show that I am trying to flex my arms. In other words, I am like the Filipino actor “Palito” impersonating Arnold Schwarzenegger.
On the first contestant, after I came out of the room and started walking to the contestant, she already burst into laughter as well as the whole class. I did not have to do much. Needless to say the 2nd and the 3rd jokesters did not even need to come out.
On the second contestant, I saw that she was trying so hard to keep it composed when I came out. But when I walked towards her and came face to face with her, she was red and to the point of bursting. After I tried to flex my muscles by bending the power twister (in which I really struggled), she finally lost it and broke into a laugh. Again the 2nd and the 3rd comedians did not have to do a thing.
On the 3rd contestant, I could sense that I would have difficulty making her laugh. She had this calm demeanor that was unperturbed by my nonsensical act. And while the whole class was already rolling in their bellies laughing, she just looked at me with a half-a-smile like that of Mona Lisa. After a minute of trying, I failed to make her laugh. I was a failure!
By the way, the second and the third jokesters did not succeed as well.
At the conclusion of the game, some classmates got hold of me, dragged me, and dumped me in the swimming pool. I had my full street clothes and shoes on! I was just the first one that was thrown into the pool though as what followed next was a pandemonium with many of the class being shoved into the pool. And we were not even drunk as there was no alcoholic drinks involved.
It was not supposed to be a swimming party. Perhaps they blame it on me, for not able to make that particular classmate laugh, that ended up into a pool-dumping frenzy.
On the side note, I know many of my classmates live in exclusive gated communities and have their own swimming pools. However, I pride myself that we have a bigger pool at our house in Sampaloc Manila, that is the whole street turns into a large swimming pool after a heavy downpour.
I admit, I was goofy when I was young, and perhaps I am still today though I may have mellowed. Maybe I just don’t take myself seriously. However at that time I wonder, were they laughing with me or were they laughing at me? It’s just funny that the kid who they probably would not take seriously before is now seriously taking care of people who are ill and in serious condition.
Kung minsan ay may mandurukot sa loob ng jeepney. Mag-ingat po tayo sa kanila. Pero hindi po ‘yung mga nandudukot ang tema ko ngayon, kundi ‘yung mga humuhugot kahit na sa jeepney. Unawain na lang po natin sila.
Kung hindi ninyo maibigan, ay ipagpaumanhin na lang po sana. Wala na lang pong kokontra.
Driver: Heto po ‘yung sukli nung isang Quiapo.
Pasahero: Hindi na bale mama, nasanay na po akong hindi nasusuklian.
Driver: Pakiabot na nga lang po.
Pasahero: Matagal ko nang pinapaabot kuya, pero dedma pa rin. Wala pa rin marating.
Driver: Saan po itong bente pesos?
Pasahero: Diyan po sa may PAG-ASA. Kahit wala naman talaga.
Driver: Saan po papunta itong bente?
Pasahero: Isa pong pa Balik-Balik. Walang ngang kadala-dala eh. Hindi pa rin natututo.
Pasahero: Manong, kulang po yung ibinigay ninyong sukli.
Driver: Kulang? Lagi na lang akong kulang! Kailan ba makokontento?
Driver: Ilan po itong isang daan?
Pasahero: Isa na lang po. Dalawa po sana, pero iniwan na niya ako.
Driver: Bawal po ang sabit.
Pasahero: Alam ko namang sabit lang ako eh. Hindi ko lang talagang kayang bumitaw.
Driver: Saan po itong singkwenta?
Pasahero: Diyan po sa Monumento. Pero pwede rin sa Luneta. Lagi na lang kasi akong nagpapakabayani. Pwede na akong tayuan ng Monumento.
Pasahero: Para na po mama.
Driver: Sandali lang po, itatabi ko lang kayo.
Pasahero: Ganyan naman talaga kuya, lagi na lang ako sa tabi.
Driver: Paki-usog na lang po diyan sa kaliwa, kasya pa isa diyan.
Pasahero: Hindi bale na lang po. Kahit pagsisiksikan ko ang sarili ko, wala pa rin akong puwang sa kanya.
Driver: (*nagtatawag ng pasahero habang nakaparada ang jeep) Antipolo, Antipolo, Taytay, Antipolo!
Pasahero: Kuya, male-leyt na ako. Pwedeng tayo na?
Driver: Tayo na, Miss? Sige, sabi mo eh.
Matapos ang ilang minuto lang……..
Pasahero: Para na. Dito na lang ako.
Driver: Hanggang dito na lang? Pero salamat pa rin, dahil kahit sandali ay naging tayo.
Driver: (*sa pasaherong sumasakay) Konting bilis at kapit na lamang po. Lalarga na tayo.
Pasahero: Ang higpit na nga po ng kapit ko. Pero lagi pa rin akong laglag, kuya.
Hanggang dito na lang po, boundery na. Magkakarga lang po ng krudo….este, kape. Sige, laglagan na.
(*blaming my jet-lag for this transient craziness)
I was rounding in the hospital with my team when we came to a room of one of our patients. The patient was a frail woman in her 70’s, who had significant lung disease and was oxygen dependent. She had improved on this hospitalization and we were discharging her home.
When we were heading out of the door, I overheard the patient told one of my team members, “I want a copy of that calendar.”
I have no idea what they were talking about, and not trying to be nosy or maybe little bit, I asked my resident, “What calendar was the patient talking about?” Since it is a new year, perhaps the hospital is giving away new 2019 calendars, I thought.
Then my medical resident sheepishly smiled and told me the whole scoop.
I learned that this patient thought that our team was “hot” and she was calling us the “Dream Team.” I have been in this teaching hospital for 15 years and have rounded with hundreds of medical students and residents that came and went, but I have never heard my team referred as such before. Or maybe it was, but I was just not aware of it.
So this particular patient, the elderly woman, suggested as a jest to my resident, that “we,” or my team should put out a calendar featuring our team members as models. Whether it’s a white lab gown edition or dress suit edition or a swimwear edition of this calendar they were thinking about, I dared not ask!
I then looked at my current team, and agreed that the old lady had a point. My team appears “hot.”
One of my new resident is a blue-eyed gentleman of English decent, clean-cut and handsome. Now that I think about it, he really looked like a much younger version of the actor Mark Harmon.
The other new resident is a young good-looking French guy with well-trimmed mustache and beard, with hair slickly combed back. He always dress very neatly too.
And then there’s the attractive and muscular Asian hunk of a guy. But before you think I was referring to myself as the Asian hunk, I was not. I was talking about the 4th year medical student I have on my team.
Of course I don’t consider myself as chopped liver. I can definitely hold my own. I deserve to be in that calendar too!
We have women medical residents and students as well in this hospital but it just so happened that this month’s rotation, I have all male house staffs.
But seriously, I never consider much the appearance of my residents. When I evaluate them during their rotation in our service, it is mostly based on their performance, their knowledge, their willingness to learn, and their emphathy to our patients. But of course we don’t want them to appear like hoboes or dress like gangsters. They need to look professional too.
I understand that our patients get well mostly due to our comprehensive care stemming from our intelligent decisions, skillful procedures and emphatetic support. But if our good looks help them heal faster, then I am fine with that too.
Would I put out a calendar featuring my team? Don’t count on it.
There is a raging war inside of me. The resulting blaze and smoke of this battle is evident while I am shaking and crouching under my blanket.
It all started a few days ago when the enemy gained unwelcome entrance to my domain. Perhaps these intruders escaped from another territory by a sneeze in which they could travel up to 20 feet at 100 miles per hour, and they usually travel as a mob with other members of their gang (a sneeze can have 40,000 droplet particles and can release up to 200 million viruses).
They got a foothold on my borders through my nasal and airway passageways. It’s really difficult to close all the entryways unless I quit breathing all together. The invaders then broke through my barriers and overwhelmed my sentinels (usually takes 1,000 viral particles to get infected). I should build a border wall and have Mexico pay for it. Hah!
As soon as there was a breach in my initial defenses, my border guards alerted the headquarters and radioed for back-up. They have identified these infiltrators and relayed their profile to the central intelligence.
The headquarters searched the database if I have a pre-fabricated artillery specific for this certain enemy. But lo and behold this “common” enemy is not so common after all, as it probably continues to change its appearance and structure to outwit my defenses. So my system staged an all out war to fight this common cold.
The first to arrive into the battle field are the big boys, called the macrophages. They are the biggest soldiers among my army of white blood cells. These big boys are like Pacmans as they hunt and engulf these viral invaders.
But the enemy has hijacked some of my manufacturing plants. They infused their DNA (or RNA) into my own cells and they are replicating themselves using my own factories and resources. The Pacmans cannot eat them all as they are too many now and they continue to multiply. Good thing my defenses have more tricks under their sleeves.
As soon as the macrophages got an exact profile from the captured intruders they send signals to the headquarters, my bone marrow, to have the rest of the cavalry released.
One of the most effective fighters are the B-cell lymphocytes. They are part of a line of my white blood cell army. These cells uses the information of the enemy’s profile and they start building specific missiles, a protein called antibody, to fight these particular intruders. Once these virus-seeking missiles are constructed they are launched into the system to seek and destroy every infiltrators.
Some of these specific antibodies are stored into memory cells. So the next time this specific virus intrudes again, my body already has the pre-fabricated missiles ready to launch to fight them back.
Another important battalion of my soldiers are called the T-cell lymphocytes. These are elite fighting machines, like the SWAT or the Navy Seals. They don’t just track and kill the enemy but also destroy cells that harbor them. With some named as “natural killer T-cells” you know that these are badass soldiers.
Go, go, go my army and defend the motherland! And die you infidels!
There are also some foot soldiers that are deployed to the area of the breached wall. They have fortified the defenses there, and as a result the lymph nodes around my throat are swelled up, a sign of an ongoing battle in that area.
Besides the chills and runny nose, so runny I can’t keep up, I also started having this paroxysmal cough. I got out of my bed and went to the bathroom. I hacked up a phlegm into the sink – a nasty purulent and rusty mess. Then I realized that part of that purulent mess are dead bodies of my white blood cell soldiers. They have laid down their lives for the cause.
So before I flush down the purulent mess deep into the sink, I thanked them for their sacrifice, and as a grateful nation I fired up the canons and gave them my 21-cough salute.
After hearing my cough, my wife suggested that I should take some medicine to relieve my symptoms so I can have a better night sleep. Being hard-headed as I am, I said no to the medicine and just trusted that my body will take care of itself as I crawled back under the covers.
The next morning, I don’t feel as awful as the day before. Perhaps my army is winning the war, and they are rounding up the remaining stragglers, and cleaning up the residual wreck and ruins of the hard-fought battle. I guess I will live.
This is another victory for my immune system. But I’m not ready for a victory march and parade as of yet. I think I’ll take it easy and still stay in bed today.
(*Credits to my immune system and also to the Immunology class in my medical school)