A Not-So-Short Summary of Me, and then Some... 4/05/2009 11:51:00 AM

Once upon a time, way back in senior year of high school, we were each asked to write an autobiography for our Filipino class. I put myself to the task and that soft-bound copy of typewritten pages with pictures containing the 1st 16 years of my earthly existence is still in a place of honor at the third drawer of my old desk along with other stuff I had written in the past twenty-eight and a half years. Here, I shall present to you a summarized version of that plus the 12-odd years of the gap that needs to be filled.

I’m the eldest of four children of an eldest daughter and an eldest son. I attribute the success of us four to nature (my chemical engineer father graduated magna cum laude and landed 6th place in the board exams) and nurture (my elementary school teacher mother became a full-time housewife to see to it that no one leaves the house without breakfast, everyone keeps a study schedule, assignments and requirements are complied, and books for references are aplenty). I’m a doctor (radiology resident), the sister next to me is working on an MBA (she graduated cum laude), my brother an electronics and communications engineer (he graduated magna cum laude and landed 3rd in the board exams), and our youngest sister is about to start her 4th year at the local science high school. None of us siblings are married, and we still all live under the same roof that was built by our parents in 1986.

I was born in Cebu City and shortly after moved to Batangas where my father worked. When I was around two or three, my father got a job at the Jeddah Oil Refinery, so we moved to Saudi Arabia, where we spent the next 4 years. When I started school, we moved back to Cebu City and would visit him during the summers until he quit and put up our fully-furnished apartment business. I went to an exclusive girls’ grade school and high school, an environment I thrived in academically, but not socially. It didn’t help that I have glasses, thick, unruly hair, a severe case of acne, as well as palmar, axillary and plantar hyperhidrosis. The few close friends I made though are still my close friends until now. In senior year, I was literary editor of the school paper and class chairperson. I graduated 3rd in excellence with 1st honors (equivalent to 1st honorable mention) in a class of 206 girls.

I only discovered that I wanted to become a doctor in the last few months of high school, specifically a medical oncologist. I initially decided to take up Medical Technology, but then changed my mind and took up Biology at my parent’s college alma mater. A maternal aunt who used to serve as the department chairman’s secretary and knew several faculty members did a lot of convincing. It was one of the best decisions I had ever made in my entire life. I became a member of a class of Biology and Marine Biology students who are still emotionally close until now though we are now spread out all over the world. We even are familiar with the members of each other’s families. While in college, I discovered what I was meant to do for the rest of my life (as explained more thoroughly in this post). While studying at the university, I won several interschool quiz bowls, was a BPI Science Awardee (the same year blind mathematician Roselle Ambubuyog was also awarded), was nominated for most outstanding graduate, and graduated magna cum laude.

My one wish as I began medical school was to be just another one of the many ordinary students of my class, and stay out of the limelight. I got my wish since I did not even end up as among the top 20 students of our class. I managed to pass majority of my exams though.

Senior clerkship was one of the worst years of my life. The every other day duty at our teaching hospital was second to none, as well as the detailed discharges, histories and operative techniques you had to work on. In pediatrics rotation, I had to be absent after suffering from viral exanthems. In my batch, I had the distinction of having been the only one to present a CIM case to the legendary Dr. Josefina Poblete which was then subsequently rejected (my resident’s fault, though as the patient could have been worked up without being admitted to the hospital).

During senior clerkship, while doing my rotation in Internal Medicine at our teaching hospital, I discovered that I could not see myself doing the work of an IM resident. It was then a toss-up between radiology and pathology. I thought that my myopic eyes would hardly stand the strain pursuing a career involving microscopes. It was then that I decided that the field of radiology was the one for me to pursue.

My first mortality as a senior clerk (patient directly under my care when she died) was a very sick young woman in her early to mid-twenties admitted at the provincial hospital, who had multiple sexual partners and a toddler daughter born out of wedlock, probably suffering from sepsis. We couldn't actually figure out what was wrong with her (no money for further work-up) and she couldn't be treated either (no money, again, and a mother caring for her who was clueless on where to get help). I couldn't offer her any financial help either. She was my resident's case during the ward rounds. Shortly before he was about to present her case, she went into arrest, but was revived. Then my resident proceeded with the presentation of the case like nothing happened. We moved on to the patients of the other residents. She then went into arrest for a second time. My resident and I tried to revive her again, this time to no avail. She died before the IM ward rounds ended.

I decided to place as my hospitals of choice for internship those private hospitals in Cebu City which had training programs in radiology. I ended up being matched to the hospital where I am now doing my residency. I stopped for six months before doing my internship to attend to other things (to the consternation of my mother), but was allowed to observe for a few months at the radiology department where I now work. At that time, I got an overnight hospital stay for dengue fever. I then did my mid-year internship, no extensions but a few intrigues…

We were the 1st batch of students studying under the Problem Based Learning (PBL) curriculum. We knew all eyes would be on us as even then, the previous batches would look at as with envy as we studied at our own sweet time. My batch rose up to the challenge and set the bar high – three topnotchers and a near perfect batting average at the board exams (thus far, in the entire history of PBL at the Cebu Institute of Medicine, only one pure-PBL medical student had to re-take the exams, she passed it on the second try, and is now the only psychiatry resident in our batch that I know of).

I am now doing my second year of residency in radiology at a local private hospital. Aside , we also give lectures on radiology topics to the medical students at the school affiliated with the hospital as well as giving them exams. I have the usual night shift duties, but we can also go on call (just coordinate with the radiologic technologist on duty) if necessary. Since I live a short 8 min. walk away from the hospital (or a 3 min. jeepney ride) I usually get to go home for dinner when I am on duty for the night.

Back in high school, I had already made a choice not to become a writer for practical reasons, even if ever since early childhood, it has been one of my treasured hobbies. I loved being transported to a make-believe scenario and putting it in words. Writing short stories, essays and poetry is still my hobby, and with this new technology--- blogging as well.

I would have been a poet, a short-story writer or an essayist if I weren’t a radiology resident.

My former high school English teacher, Gilmin Royo-Kakilala (now based somewhere in the U.S.) is someone who influenced me in writing. She was a member of the WILA (Women in Literature Association) and gave all her students a love for literature through innovative ways of teaching. Once she asked to see me about a particularly poignant piece that I wrote for English class… out of embarrassment, I refused to approach her on that piece. The following year she moved to another teaching job at a local university. She was the one who then trained the applicants to staff positions in our high school paper the following year. I had applied for the literary section editor position specifically (a lot of guts on my part since I had never been involved in the school paper before), and she was one of those who decided that the position suited me just fine.

My reading consists of my favorite children’s classic novels which are also books that adults can learn from time and again, presented here in no particular order:

  1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  4. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
  5. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  6. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
  7. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  8. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  9. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll
  10. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The only other blogs I frequently visit are those of my friends on Multiply which are the following:

Enjoy Sherryl's World – What this budding wildlife biologist, former college classmate and close friend has to say about life.

Fair-inner glimpse - Teacher, business guru, and friend who has always something to say about everything.

stars got tangled in her hair whenever she played in the sky - Musings of my friend, my brother's high school classmate, Fair's soon-to-be-sister-in-law, and now in the midst of medical school.

These are links to my own top 7 blogposts, mostly my poetry:

Return to Waterfalls

Ballad of the Hermit Crab

Disco Without Dancing


28 Verses (Under the Post Entitled "Bisperas (The Day Before)")


Encounters of the "Dean" Kind

Note: This blog was made by answering all of Gaya's questions for this edition of TBR.

7 other thoughts:

MerryCherry, MD said...

It feels like I know you already JA. I am really hoping to meet you (and the other TBR MDs) in the future.

Btw, I'm curious, do you miss patients? I mean, the interaction? :)

J.A. said...

It's a misconception that going into radiology means you don't have any interaction with patients. They may not be under my direct care, but I still have to establish rapor, espescially when it comes to performing delicate special procedures such as a barium enema or a hysterosalpingogram. In ultrasonography, you scan the patients in real time right beside you so the interaction is there as well. In interventional radiology and radiologic oncology, you treat patients, similar to any other clinician. It's only in reading the x-ray films (through the computer monitor in our institution) and the MRI and CT-scan that not much patient interaction is done.
In some previous posts, I have already referred to having been asked to improve with regards to interacting with patients, consultants, fellow residents, other staff that I have to be extra careful with (I am not a people person...), so a lot of patient interaction is still involved.

J.A. said...

I just added a paragraph on my first mortality. I forgot to write it in earlier.

Doc Harry said...

Ola JA! =) Thanks for dropping by my blog. I do hope you find your teaching groove later on! =)

Ligaya said...

Hey!!!!!! Is THIS your contribution? I thought it was the other one... :-( I'm so sorry!

Um...lemme check... yah, the link you gave was to the other one. But I'll find a way to work this in... :-) thanks!!

J.A. said...

Hehehe... I was sort of waiting for you to figure it out yourself, Gaya.

the philippine daily idiot said...

well, thanks for sharing, juy. haha, ok, juvy ka pala.

well, in the US, they are speculating that in the future, interventional radiology will eventually replace surgery. :-)

i remember your poblete dean. it think the poblete at st. luke's is also poblete by marriage.