Change

You know how they say that in 6 months, you’re gonna be in a completely different situation and mostly it is not what you’d expect? Well, it’s really happening to me right now.

I’m into the 8th month of online school, and two more months until the feared oral examinations, which I am not confident with, at all. It’s really scaring me a lot, because my life depends on it. It will determine if we will go to 4th year or not. But I take comfort knowing that probably none of my batchmates are confidently ready for it as well. But we never know, maybe I’m the only one who’s not ready. But I hope I’m wrong.

Anyway, I moved into a small apartment last month, and let me tell you that it was the best thing that happened this year, so far. You see, I was drowned in deep anxiety and pestered by my low-threshold irritability at home due to the build up of undesirable circumstances that really affected my studies, and moving out really took that thorn out of my flesh in an instant. But the following weeks were kinda disappointing, but still lesson-bearing.

During my first week in my new room, I had two pimples on my forehead. I’ve never had acne all my life, and I don’t really have a skincare routine so I was just cool about it because I know they’ll just disappear and so I just let those pimples be. But over the next few days, more pimples were appearing each day, until it was already looking bad. I went to the local beauty store to buy that acne spot gel I used to use years back which would really get rid of random pimples overnight to 2 days max. I applied it regularly every morning and night, but a week later, the pimples still wouldn’t stop growing! My forehead became a disaster and it made me so insecure and depressed. Going out to buy food didn’t feel nice at all. I had to cover my forehead with my bangs just so it wouldn’t look obvious. It’s really embarrassing. I tried another product which had better ingredients and a few pimples disappeared in a few days. I thought that was going to be the end of it but no—my skin broke out again, and this time more and more were added to my acne gallery (lol).

One day, I noticed that some black-ish spots looking like faint little molds were growing on the walls of my room. They were also in the bathroom, and I noticed some moisture going on on the ceiling as well. I googled it and apparently it was due to poor ventilation, and yes I realized that my room did have poor ventilation because I always kept my windows closed even during the day. There was literally no opening for air to come in. I didn’t even use the electric fan at night because I was concerned about saving electricity, because back in my med school dorm, my goal was always to pay less than P300 for electricity. You’ll probably think I’m stupid for realizing that a little bit late, but it is what it is. See, this is my first time living in a room as beautiful and clean as this and I honestly didn’t know about how to maintain it (lol). I was just used to weaved bamboo and wood walls back home, and my dorm room had an open vent. Also, this room wasn’t really occupant-ready yet—it has no vents at all. The owner is my dad’s friend, so he just agreed to let me stay for the meantime, and I am eternally grateful, because he gave it to me for only half the price of its worth, inclusive of electricity already. So see how stupid I was, compromising my skin for electricity which I can always pay as long as I have my sponsors.

I realized that maybe it was the high humidity that was worsening my breakouts, and so I started opening my windows for the whole day everyday, and I did see an improvement on my forehead. But I guess it was a little too late, because my once flawless and carefree skin was now a dirty canvas. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s how I see it. 😂 I’m still having pimples right now, on my 4th week of treatment and I really hope it’s going to be gone at least before I go back to the great city for face to face classes. I’m gonna update you soon about this acne story of mine.

But wait, it doesn’t end there! See, I’ve been overconfident about my weight (which was 48 kilos before I went home for quarantine). I’ve been struggling to gain weight all my life, and it was during med school days that I finally gained weight and people would say that I looked good in it. And then quarantine happened, I had to go home, a year has elapsed and and all this time I believed that I still looked the same as the year before. I really thought I lost maybe only 3 kilos, but whenever I went out of the house and met people along the way, they were starting to tell me “Woah, you’re becoming so skinny! What happened? Are your parents even feeding you? Are you that stressed?” Trust me, it hurts as much as being told that you’ve become so fat. I know we should love our bodies, but sometimes we just wanna look and feel good, right? Those comments really hurt me, because all this time I thought I was still at 45-48 kg. But when I checked, I was back at 40—my pre-medicine days weight. Then I realized that I was indeed stressed, and I rarely ate breakfast at home. I didn’t snack that much as well. So now, I’m struggling again to regain what I lost, and it’s not easy I’m telling you. But I really hope I could look decent soon enough. If you’re struggling in gaining or losing weight (or getting rid of those zits), know that you’re not alone, and I’m rooting for you as well! It won’t be easy, but let’s just trust the process. We can do this!

So yeah, I end this post saying that change is indeed inevitable, but I guess we just have to go on and make the most of every step of this journey that we are in. What’s important is that we acknowledge what we have been missing out, and do something about it. That’s what were here for.

That’s all! Goodnight and stay safe and healthy!

Lockdown Anniversary

Today marks the anniversary of the last day of school of 2020.

It was March 13, 2020 and we were having an activity in Clinical Pathology about blood morphology. News about lockdown were already spreading like wildfire but we were just in the lab, going about our usual routine. Our activity needed a volunteer, and of course, nobody wants to be pricked by a needle. I was ready with my excuse, but in my mind, I was also actually up for it, because I thought it might be the only chance I would experience being a patient during our laboratory sessions. Who knows, it might be the last day of class, because word about class suspension was already being circulated too. And so I did volunteer, and indeed it was the last day of physical classes.

Lockdowns started the following Monday, and I was just cool with it because I thought we were gonna go back after 2 weeks anyway. Little did we all know that a strange year was waiting ahead. And true enough, here I am writing this post a year later. My, how time flies. I just really miss physical classes. It’s frustrating and sad because this pandemic took away a year of the wonderful city life I’ve always dreamed of and lived in. My heart sinks everytime I reminisce the couple years that had been. It’s bittersweet, but it is what it is. I’m just thankful that I got to spend half of my medical schooling physically. Hopefully, we will be able to experience face to face classes soon, although it’s still a blur.

Finally Moved Out

I have finally moved into an apartment.

I got busy with moving last week–all with mixed emotions. I was happy because I finally get to have the privacy and peace I’ve always needed but at the same time sad and conscience-stricken because I feel like people are thinking I’m leaving because I don’t wanna be with them. It’s not that and it’s just hard to make other people understand but this is what I think is best and there is no time to dwell over all these feelings.

Papa and I had a confrontation that Saturday–I suddenly burst into wailing because everything has taken it’s toll on me. It was the first time I let my family see me cry like that. It was really hard holding in those feelings for the past six months knowing that you can’t escape. But that Saturday, I just let it all out. Papa came, consoled me with a firm voice and told me to use my brain. It was what he would usually tell me, but right at that moment, it sunk into me. I’ve been letting my emotions rule over me for quite some time, and I realized he was right. I felt embarrassed because I’ve shown them more than what I should have and I might have hurt their feelings even more.

So the following day, I packed my stuff and moved into this new apartment which is owned by a friend of papa. My brother accompanied me during the first night, because the room didn’t have curtains yet. The next day, I was left alone to continue my journey. For the first time in forever, I felt peace almost immediately. It was like a huge thorn was removed from my flesh. I was finally able to make a very good report during SGD and it was really nice reporting without having to feel awkward from people watching and/or hearing you. The following days, I was able to study and focus more. It was good, but alarming as well, because I realized I hadn’t studied like that for the past 6 months of online med school.

I know a lot would say that having a non-conducive study environment is just an excuse. Yes, I did believe in that before, but trust me–it’s not an excuse at all. It is a need, especially if you’re a medical student. The ideal study space varies from person to person, and in my case, I really prefer to not see and be seen because that’s where I can focus best. Yes, I know, I am bound to be exposed to stressful events in this field, that’s why I need to have peace at the moment so I can prepare fully for when that time comes.

I’m Sorry

I’ve been a bad daughter and sister.

I let being a medical student get to my head to the point that I forgot to cherish what really matters most. I haven’t ate any citrus fruit in months and I’m becoming hypersomniac and irritable. What’s happening? I feel like I’m stuck in one corner, wanting to be free and back in the city again, yet dreading the thought that I’d be lonely again and regret my decision to go back. The thought that when I’m away, something bad would happen and I wouldn’t be able to come home easily due to lots of travel requirements.

I’m sorry that I overlooked and wasted this blessing in disguise. This opportunity to make the most of family time, for this probably will be the last before I go into clerkship and eventually into the real battle. This opportunity to practice my musical instruments—I could’ve learned more guitar fingerstyle instead of spending the quarantine days in the misery of my own thoughts. I could’ve improved my violin skills a bit. I realize now that music will probably just be a sideline, and I will never be a master of this trade. I should’ve listened to papa and practiced more in high school.

I’m sorry if I have to keep secrets, but it’s all for the best. I was given an opportunity, but with it comes great responsibility. I’m getting scared each day, doubting myself in the process but still having a spark of hope. Maybe it’s just my current environment that’s making things dreary and hopeless. It seems that nights are black and blunt and mornings are dull and dry. I hate that I have to make tight choices everytime because I can’t have all good options.

I wish my family lived in the city, somewhere where nights aren’t entirely black and dead silent. I wish they were more happy in spite of our unchanging fate ever since we happened. Sigh.. I know I’m not making any sense. My mind is a hurricane right now and I can’t even shed a tear.

It’s Okay

Last December 13, a day after I received my iPad, I was bitten by a dying kitten. And after that many unpleasant events unfolded. I know, life is a wheel of fortune or what we call Gulong ng Palad in the Philippines, and I guess after receiving my iPad which was an incomparably joyous moment in my life, this misfortune took over right away. I’ve already promised myself that this year I would stop keeping a record of negative events in my life, but I just can’t forget it and I don’t think I ever will. To be honest, my holidays weren’t as happy and relaxed as I wanted it to be because I let this thing get to my head and it’s been troubling me for quite some time. So let me share it to you.

It was December 13, a fine Sunday and as usual, a study day. I went out to bottle-feed one of our kittens during one of my study breaks because she was quadriplegic (due to some accident). I could tell that she was already dying because she was getting paler each day. But I’ve always believed otherwise because I once had a quadriplegic kitten a few years back which survived and returned to normal. So I really wanted to try to save this kitten this time. She was still feeding well so it was a good sign. I’ve been feeding her for a few days before, but on that day, just as I was putting the medicine dropper into her mouth and my other hand supporting her head, she bit my thumb (on my supporting hand)! And it profusely bled. My, how painful it was! I put the kitten down gently and immediately washed my wound. It was my first time to be bitten by an animal and it was deep! After I washed my wound I sat down, but I felt like fainting so I quickly walked to bed. I did faint but I was aware. I was just really overwhelmed.

When I was back to my senses I messaged my doctor aunt, asking if she could help me. Thank goodness she was available that day and so I went out to buy Anti-Rabies vaccine and Tetanus Toxoid. It was quite pricey and I was kinda hesitant to spend my money but it was for the best. After all, hospitalization and dying is more costly. 😂 And so I brought the medicine to my aunt’s house and there she administered them to me. She was really good, I barely felt any pain. But wait, this is where things started to seem worse. She told me that my next dose would be on Wednesday. What? There’s still a next dose? I remembered that I spent P2000 for the first dose alone. I told her, “Okay auntie, see you then.” and left.

Upon arriving home I looked up the WHO protocol for animal bites. It said that I would only need to observe the kitten or receive 1 or 2 booster shots since I was already previously immunized in 2016. And so I was quite relieved, thinking that that dose given to me earlier was already enough and that I wouldn’t spend no more. But when I went out to check on the kitten, IT WAS ALREADY DEAD! And so I panicked and my heart sank, because I know I’ll have to spend money again for a 2nd or even 3rd and 4th dose (because it’s a high-risk exposure and better be safe and get the necessary doses than sorry). I know, I’m being very particular with my money, because I was just frustrated why I have to spend it on something which was totally preventable than on things that could’ve made me or my family happy.

I spent some time thinking about it, but I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Oh well, such is life. I should be thankful it’s only an animal bite.” That night, I received my assignment for our small group discussion for Wednesday. Yup, same day as my 2nd dose for the vaccine. I honestly wasn’t able to focus that much on studying because I kept thinking about the money and my schedule. It was really cumbersome. I kept re-reading the animal bites protocol hoping that something will change but it was really it. I even asked some nurse friends about my situation, and they said I would need only a booster shot. BUT, if I can’t provide my old immunization card (as proof that I have been previously immunized) I would have to get a full course of Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) also considering that the animal died. Great! I left my immunization card overseas and I’m not even sure if I received the complete course of Post Exposure Prophylaxis before. Sigh, now I’ll have to spend P2000 three more times so that would be a total of P8000. 😔 It’s just frustrating because I wanted to save as much money as I could, cuz it’s not mine in the first place.

And so Wednesday morning came, we had our small group discussion and my, it went so badly. I only had one question to answer and I swear it was the most basic of all, but I got it terribly wrong. I felt stupid and dumb and I wished the ground would open up and swallow me whole. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. It was so embarrassing, because most of my groupmates were the top-tier students of my class, and maybe they were thinking “WTF, seriously, Maria? Gosh that was so basic!” because they know I also have pretty good grades and it’s impossible for me to not be able to answer a basic question. I actually had the right answers but I was just not able to organize my report well because I was too overwhelmed with everything and I thought I could just get away with it. I was just really after getting things over with during that day (finishing the SGD and going out to get my 2nd/last dose of the vaccine) but there I was, terribly ashamed by the extreme interrogation that happened. In the end, I thanked our doctor and listened to the next reporters, but my day, my whole being, it was all ruined. After SGD I gathered myself and went out to get my 2nd shot. It was not good, because it seemed like every person I met outside knew what was going on. I felt like the world was laughing at and mocking me. I know, it’s just my pride, and that event taught me a very valuable lesson that I seem to have forgotten.

I cried myself to sleep that night, and kept thinking about how I could’ve done better. But I told myself it’s okay because I was only limited by the stress of the events that happened and I can always improve, right? But it wasn’t helping. It really hurt my pride. When we had the next SGD (the last before holiday break), our doctor commended the reporting group because they did it well. I felt even more stupid hearing that, because it reminded me how I’m never good enough no matter how I try. I remembered how in our first meet with her she told me that most of my report was insignificant even though I mentioned the important stuff. Maybe she wasn’t listening when I said it. It was kind of annoying but as usual, just accept it. And so I spent the holidays with all those things in my mind. It was not good (but of course I was still happy and thankful to be able to celebrate the holidays with my family, as this would probably be my last before I go into a no-holiday internship this year). But I really felt kinda empty, all rooting from that cat bite.

Last Tuesday we had our first SGD of the year, and I was finally able to fight the fear and report well. But guess what, of all 3 topics, the doctor said that our topic wasn’t discussed very well, especially with the diagnosis and treatment part (It was me who presented about the diagnostics but I discussed all that was in the book and from a YouTuber OB GYN even). I was starting to think that she has personal grudges against me (but why would she tho? 😅) or maybe someone told her to make my life miserable. Okay, enough with the overthinking. She’s only after our learning. But the thing is I didn’t miss anything and she only repeated what I already discussed! Of course it would make me wonder. Ugh. Anyway, nights before, I read Dr. Najeeb’s holiday message on YouTube, he said, “Remember, failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” It made me feel lighter. Thanks Dr. Najeeb, always an inspiration.

And so I’m ending this post here, telling myself and anyone who might need this, that it’s okay. Forget pride and accept that sometimes things have to happen to open your eyes. I should be thankful that I was embarrassed during that SGD and learned something than get away with it and learn nothing. After all, it’s the knowledge I’m after, no matter how I earn it, right? Some groups would even skip SGDs and end up missing lots of stuff and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one in my class who has experienced something like this.

I still feel what I felt that day but to a lesser degree now, and I still have one more shot of Anti-Rabies on Wednesday. Hopefully I would improve further and be braver in facing whatever life throws at me.