[NB: This blog post first appeared in my other blog as life and living July of last year. It has been slightly modified for this particular blog post]
I was on hospitalist duty the night before. It was a good duty, meaning there were no untoward incidents during the time that the patients were under my care. There were 2 new admissions, both cardiac cases, but otherwise the ICU was already quiet after 3 AM when the post craniectomy and ventriculostomy patient came in. Morning came and I endorsed the care of the patients back to the ICU resident of the day. I had other things to do.
I asked if the patient due for follow up came in, apparently she forgot, so I cut my clinic time short as I needed ample time as I would be taking the public transport. On the bus ride to Manila, it felt a bit nostalgic and poignant at the same time. I seem to have this thing with bus rides. Having nothing to do but sit, given the horrendous traffic of the city, it gives me time to think and mull over things that I would otherwise not have the time for, like having to ride the bus alone. Thankfully, I reach my destination less than 2 hours later. I enter the hospital and go up the elevator to the pediatric wing. I finally find the correct room after getting lost somehow and knock gently on the door. I was greeted by a welcoming smile on a face that’s obviously wanting of some more rest.
There on the hospital bed was the reason I came here in the first place, my best friend’s cousin who by some unfortunate circumstances beyond his control is being treated for a disease that even with my medical training could barely explain how, more so, why it happened. Currently he is being infused with ATG (anti-thymocyte globulin) for immunosupression. He smiles at me, barely, as he asks that the channel on the TV be changed. After some small talk I am assisted to the ground floor where I sign a waiver and answer some routine questions. I know the drill. Having done all of this before. When it was my time to be tested, my ante-cubital area was unceremoniously being patted by the med tech intern, but was later relieved by the med tech on duty. “Good afternoon doctor” she greeted me, which probably took the intern off guard as he distanced himself from me. “I didn’t tell you, that’s why it was my alumni ID that I gave” I said to the med tech. “We have ways of knowing” she said. Then it dawned upon me, I placed physician after the question “occupation”. That’s how they knew. To be fair, they were professional about it, but I did appreciate the courtesy they extended, whether because I was a doctor or they do it to all blood donors is beyond me. I was willing to go for the apheresis, but apparently my veins were not large enough. I ended up giving one unit of whole blood instead.
A friend asked me about the incident and why I did it. Truth be told, because I felt it was the right thing to do. For all the good things that have happened to me, this is my way of paying it forward. It is by no small incidence that today also happens to be my late sister’s birthday. I guess in some way at least I want to honor her this way and I will remember today as one of those moments in my life where I made a choice and that choice made a difference. Perhaps this is also why I ended up in this profession. No matter that there are questions that remain unanswered, that things don’t always end up the way we want them to be, and others needs sometimes come first before our own personal happiness, I still choose to be a doctor, a healer, a friend. And I still would like to believe that sharing your precious time, God given talents and expecting nothing in return and making this world a better place is what makes life worth living.