Friday, November 30, 2007

Music, books, nursing


1. Bobbing head to The Roots' Game Theory. I love it! I didn't like it the first time, but it gets better with each listening... I also loved Things Falls Apart.

2. Reading F. Sionil Jose's Po-on, the first of the Rosales novels.

3. American Gods. My first Neil Gaiman.

4. Listening to Argumentation, a series of lectures by The Teaching Company. (Did you watch the battle between Ateneo de Manila and Ateneo de Zamboanga last Wednesday at Square Off? It was awesome!)

5. Recovering from a very, very busy week at the hospital. I finally got an OR case yesterday. I was in the OR the whole day and we got the last operation for the AM shift. Appendectomy. Three down, two to go...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


This week we can be seen in the Commu Ward of Vicente Sotto. Pedia. My busiest week yet as a nursing student. We have six patients each. Two SOAPIEs. It's so draining. The environment is too hot, plus we have to wear a gown, bonnet and mask which makes things worse.

But today we all did okay, I think, unlike yesterday. We were kind of shocked because it was the first time in a long time we were assigned to the ward. Our duty in Barili a couple of weeks ago was easy-going, there was not much pressure. Our duty in the commu ward this week is the complete opposite.

Tonight I will be going again to the OR in Sotto for my completion duty. I was not able to get a case last week because there were five other schools besides us. I hope I can get one tonight.

I'm waking up early because I'm watching Square Off: The Philippine Debate Championship on ANC. I see the show whenever I can.

After my OR duty I go straight to my commu duty. What a life.

The Hospicio de San Jose de Barili

We are really thankful that we were able to go on duty at the Hospicio de San Jose. It was truly a learning experience for all of us. We learned a lot from our conversations with the beneficiaries – from talking to them and listening to their stories and from serving them. It's too bad we only stayed there for a week. We would have learned more if we stayed for two weeks. But then, our stay there was hard on the wallet. Also, we would've become more attached to our patients – saying goodbye would've become more difficult. More tears would've been shed, not just by the students but also by the beneficiaries.

Just like lola Margarita. She's not my patient, but I love sitting beside her and talking to her. I love to listen to her old Tagalog songs. I don't even know the title of those songs. When I asked her about them, she gave me the names of the artists who sang them. I did not recognize a single name. I suppose they were famous during Lola Margarita's time. She sings because she has no other use for her time. I mean, apart from eating, going to the bathroom, and sleeping, she has no other use for her time, so she sings, and if there's someone beside her willing to listen, she talks. She related to me her story, of how she had so many 'apos', her siblings' children, and how she loved them so much and took care of them. I asked her if she ever married and she said no, because she was too busy taking care of her 'apos'. I asked her where they are now, she told me they're somewhere in Baguio. Did they know that she's here in Barili? She looked at me with uncertainty in her eyes then said no.

When I bade farewell to lola Margarita on our last day, I couldn't forget her reaction. She broke down and cried like a child. She said that it's so difficult that we had to leave her again. By "we" she probably meant her student nurses. She expressed to me how hard it is to be there, how endless the days were for her, just sitting at her cot all day with nothing else to do and no one to talk to, no one to share her concerns with. She was also very much frustrated (to the point of becoming irate) with her neighbor, Lola Agatona, who was always angry at her and at everybody else, who always threw curses and threats. She says she couldn't sleep sometimes because of her. All she could do to get back at her enraged neighbor was to taunt her with her songs.

I was actually assigned to lolo Basilio, lola Arsenia, and lola Leona. Lolo Basilio was in the infirmary. He couldn’t talk very well and his body was so stooped that his back was “humplike”. He doesn’t talk unless you talk to him first, and his voice is barely audible. When you ask him a question he always answers with another question. He seems to get confused at times, like when you tell him that it’s time to take a bath or take a walk he always asks you, “Para asa man na?” or “Ngano man?” or “Dili na makadaut?” But he still remembers who he is, and where he came from. He’s from Negros and he was a farmer. He often forgets, though, that he’s in Barili, at the Hospicio. Lola Leona is from Cebu. Her children died some years ago. She admitted herself in the Hospicio because she couldn’t take care of herself very well where she lived, and neither can her relatives. Who can blame her? Life outside, if you are hard up financially, is hard, so you can’t really rely on relatives for your welfare. She said she only ate one meal a day where she lived. In the Hospicio, she said, things are better because at least you can eat three meals a day, plus snacks. You have a bed, a roof over your head, and you have people your age you can talk to. But, she admits, she still feels lonely sometimes. It’s different when you have your family with you, she told me. She also cried during our culminating activity. I gave her a flower and placed her hand to my forehead as a sign of respect, and kissed her cheek. She cried because she was reminded of her sons.

One remark she made during one of our conversations really struck me: “Bati kaayo ang kinabuhi.” Life for her was always hard since she was little, and now that she’s old, she still has no respite from life’s pains. Lola Arsenia’s story is more or less the same. She, too, doesn’t have any relatives anymore. They have all died; those that remained had probably forgotten her.

There were also other tragic stories like those of lola Dulce and lolo Elly. Lola Dulce was once very rich, but she lost it all, and now she’s alone in the Hospicio. Lolo Elly was an engineer in an international ship. He had three houses and five cars! His monthly earnings were that big. But one tragedy followed another. He had a stroke, lost his job, lost his wife, and then, too, his son. So he sold all his houses and all his cars. He has nothing left. His only treasures now are his books. He keeps them in his closet. He showed them to me once. Most of them are war novels. He loves war novels. And each book was given as a gift to him by his previous student nurses. He was so happy when he showed to me each of the notes that the students wrote for him in the books. They were very heart-warming. On our last day, I gave him a copy of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

I remember one lolo who was very talkative. I forgot his name, though. But he is a man overflowing with knowledge and ideas. In a span of a few minutes, he was able to talk to me about different kinds of musical instruments, chemical products, business ideas, riddles or “tigmo-tigmo” as a superior form of entertainment than singing, and Catholic apologetics. There’s nothing wrong with him at all, it’s just that he is so full of ideas and knowledge but he has no one to discuss these topics with. He is like a fragile dam ready to burst into a torrent of ideas at the slightest invitation. You can spend one whole day with him and he will probably not run out of things to say to you. What he needs is someone who is willing and has the patience and stamina to listen to him.

Each beneficiary have their own stories to tell, but all stories have something in common: they’re in the Hospicio because no one can or is willing to take care of them. Either their significant others have already gone over to the next life or they’re still alive but have already forgotten, or chose to forget, them. But is it so bad to be in the Hospicio? I mean, life is relatively good there. There’s food, shelter, and clothing, all for free. They can barely get three decent meals a day outside. They should feel very blessed! Indeed, they do feel blessed and fortunate that they have a place like the Hospicio to answer all their physiologic needs. Beyond the physiologic needs, though, lies the more complex and abstract needs of love and companionship, and they are not easily met. Sure, the lolos and lolas have each other, but it’s truly different when the people that you have around you, the people that you sleep with every night, the people that you see when you wake up in the morning and whom you take breakfast, lunch and dinner with, are your family members.

It’s good that each week or every two weeks the beneficiaries see new faces. The student nurses really help a lot. The Hospicio can become a very dreary and lonely place, especially for people who are at the latter phase of this cycle called life. The students bring vitality and variety to their day to day life. It’s also beneficial on the part of the students. In addition to contributing to their knowledge about and exposure to geriatrics, it also gives them a chance to glimpse the reality of life – that all of us must grow old one day. We need to be prepared for that day. In the meantime, we must live our lives as best as we can, loving as best as we can. We must apply our whole selves to what is good and beautiful while we still can.

The structures of the Hospicio are really admirable. Some people found it creepy because of its age, which dates back to the 1920s, but there’s something beautiful about structures with historic value, things that have graced the course of time. There’s plenty of archaic stuff in the Hospicio. The design of the buildings and structures themselves are archaic. The style is circa 19th century. The Capiz shells on the windows are very lovely. One can easily imagine a Maria Clara gazing outside the window listening to her suitor’s ‘harana’. Inside the houses and buildings, the space is wide and the ceiling is far above your head. Nineteenth-century houses are magnificent works of art! You should also see the old house in the Villa, a property which I guess the Cui family is also part-owner. That one is more beautiful.

Beside the kitchen, you will see a very ancient-looking weighing scale. We wonder if it is still being used today.

We hope that the Hospicio de San Jose will continue in its mission to serve the indigent, invalid and abandoned elders for many, many more decades to come. Don Pedro and Dona Benigna must really be proud of what they have started.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Preparing for the local board exam

We already started our refresher review for the local board exam last Friday and Saturday. The lecturer was Mrs. Pestano, a former dean of Southwestern University and an alumna of Cebu Doctors' University.

The lectures were not bad, I mean they were not totally boring. It would be terrible if the lectures were boring because the review lasted for a whole day. Mrs. Pestano has sense of humor, although I don't find some of her jokes funny.

One of her suggestions to us in preparation for the board is that we should start practice answering 100-item tests on a daily basis. Then, a few months before the exam, 200-item tests, then 300, etc., as the exam draws near.

Oh my goodness...

This afternoon I bought a copy of a local board reviewer by R. A. Gapuz. Mahal kaayo, pero it might help me... I'm also planning to buy a Saunders NCLEX reviewer. Grabe ka expensive ang nursing... I'm just thinking, grabe siguro ang profits sa nursing publishing business no?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fright night

Tonight I will be going to Vicente Sotto for my completion duty at the OR. I feel so tensed. Wala ko kaila sa akong mga kauban. I just bought the slot from a friend.

Another reason why I'm so anxious is that it's been awhile since I last went on duty at the OR. I've forgotten how to prepare the instruments before surgery and I've forgotten how to conduct myself during the operation. Yes, I've been exposed to the OR many times before, but this will only be the third time I will play the role of the scrub nurse.

Hopefully I'll be done before 7 in the morning so I can have my breakfast and attend my 8 o'clock class in Banilad.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Villa in Barili

Last week we had our clinical duty at the Hospicio de San Jose in Barili. We stayed in a place that is owned by a Yu family. I think the Cui family is also a co-owner of the property.

The place, Villa as it is simply called, is beautiful, but food was our main problem. We had to go to the market to buy our food and other necessities because the place did not have its own kitchen where someone cooked for us, unlike the boarding house we stayed in during our clinical duty in Toledo. So we, or rather some of our classmates, cooked and prepared the meals for all of us. We were lucky that a cook was in our midst. Occasionally, though, we ate outside.

The rooms where we actually slept were decent enough. I mean, they were clean and air-conditioned. But the space was a bit small for us. There were five rooms in all (if I remember correctly). The first room was shared by the guys, while the second and third were occupied by the females. Our clinical instructors got the fifth room. Below the bed rooms were the shower rooms and bathrooms.

The small building has a terrace, so when you step outside your room you will immediately see the view outside. You will see the lot, how wide it is. You will see coconut plants and many kinds of garden plants. Directly in front of the building you will see the huge swimming pool. To your right you will see a very old house. In fact, it's a 19th-century house. The style, of course, is Spanish. Panahon nilang Rizal. I really love looking at those big windows with all those Capiz shells. It's so beautiful because it looks so archaic and quaint. The house itself is made up largely of hardwood. The ceiling is supported by large hardwood trees. On the beams are carvings of fruits that looked like papayas and lanzoneses. The staircase is wide and the balustrades are so beautifully crafted. The house is really a work of art! That's the case with all 19th-century Spanish houses, I guess. They're built with aesthetics in mind; they're not just functional. Most modern houses, on the other hand, are just all about functionality.

Villa is quiet creepy, too. I mean, daghan ghost stories didto, encountered by previous groups. Maayo na lang wala mi ka-experience og mga multo didto hehe...

Our duty at the Hospicio was okay. Maybe I'll talk about it at another time.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Back from Negros

We just got back from Negros. The trip didn't feel that long, or tiresome. Thanks to the wonderful technology of audiobooks. I just listened to Atonement by Ian McEwan. I'm not finished with it yet. It's such a long book (yet the hardcopy I saw at National's looked slim). I'm listening to it because a movie version of the novel is coming out soon. It is starred by Kiera Knightley. She also did Ms. Elizabeth Bennett in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I already heard his The Cement Garden and On Chesil Beach. I loved the latter book, although it was an abridged version by the BBC.

I didn't see ghostly apparitions this time, though. On the evening of All Saints Day I was outside the old house's gate again, raising my cellphone to find some signal. But no child appeared.

One aunt talked about aswangs the following night. People in the provinces talk about aswangs as if they're very real and commonplace. "So and so, daughter of so and so, is an aswang," she said. "They often wander about in the night." She wanted me to accompany her to another aunt's house, which was just next door. It was pitch black outside. When I had to take a leak, I leaked at the nearby garden, because the bathroom was a little too far away. I had to look out not only for ghosts but for winged monsters, too, who can snatch people away ala-Jeepers Creepers. "Dili siguro ko madagit og aswang tita kay bug-at man ko," I told her.
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