Things I Learned From My Patients

Hello, world! I am no longer a slave! JUST KIDDING. Clerkship (4th year of medical school) has been a year full of learning and extraordinary experiences. I gained a lot of practical knowledge and I can’t wait for the next chapter of this career that I chose.

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But before I completely move forward, I want to share with you what some of my patients taught me. Akala ko drama lang yung sinasabi nila na you learn from your patients pero totoo pala. You can learn about tuberculosis more effectively by actually seeing a patient with this disease and then reading about it on your textbook or journal articles. The patients won’t tell you about the technicality of their disease, obviously, but what I learned from them are lessons that are deeper than the things you could read in a medical book.

So, these are the things I learned from my patients, in chronological order of my rotation as a clinical clerk.

Surgery

During our rotation in Amang Rodriguez Hospital (Marikina), a woman stabbed by her husband was brought to the ER. I definitely learned to stitch the scalp (yes, she was stabbed on the head!!!). But most importantly, I will always keep in mind to marry a keeper. Girls, stay away from criminals, and criminals in the making. Katakot!

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Trying to make sense of the CT scan plates…
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This was taken in UERM Hospital during a surgical procedure.
Medicine

I had a very lovable elderly patient who was obese, with heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Whenever I see him, I couldn’t help but associate him with Santa Claus! If only he stopped smoking a long time ago, started living a healthy lifestyle, and became proactive in taking good care of himself, he may have been living a comfortable life without fear of whether or not he would be hospitalized again in the near future.

Psychiatry

Patients in a mental ward are still human beings, with emotions and an innate kindness in them. One time, we taught them how to make pastilles during one of their occupational therapies. They were so sweet, they even gave us some of their finished products.

Ophthalmology

My mom had a cataract operation in UERM (thanks to Dr Felarca and the whole department!). I’ll never forget how happy she was to be able to see the smallest details again, for example, a tiny dirt on my dress. Let’s appreciate the small things in life. How lucky are we that we can send text messages, appreciate Instagram photos, and read wonderful novels?

Otorhinolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery

There are bad people everywhere. Some may even break into your house at night and stab you in the face if you try to stop them. Keep your house and neighborhood safer. Again, katakot!

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Equipped to look inside your ears. There was one patient with a cockroach stuck inside his ear. I KNOW.

Pediatrics

Looking back, I actually learned the most in this rotation. The most unforgettable is the five-year old boy who had Cerebral Palsy, a neurologic disorder. While he was still in the womb, his mother was advised that it was likely for the child to have a disorder (based on the ultrasound). She still chose to continue with the pregnancy and to give birth to him even if she had the chance to terminate it (at that stage it was still an option). I would say this kind of love is definitely unconditional. The mother was doing everything she can to provide the child with a comfortable life.

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Cute babies make work so much easier! (Photo taken and posted with permission from the mother)
Obstetrics and Gynecology

For me, the most memorable part of this rotation is when I was coaching mothers during labor. I’ll never forget this line we kept on telling them — “Hingang malalim, pigil, and push!” It must be really hard and painful for mothers to give birth. Dugo, pawis, at marami pa ang pinuhunan nila. Thanks, Mami, for pushing me out of your uterus, to be a part of this amazing planet.

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Delivery room — where babies are born (East Avenue Medical Center)
Dermatology

We had the option to choose two elective programs for one week each and I chose Dermatology twice. You may think this specialty is shallow and easy but it’s the complete opposite. Skin lesions usually look the same and you have to read a lot (and see a lot of patients) to be able to distinguish one disease from another. I interviewed one patient who had Psoriasis, and his whole body was covered in thick crusts. He was a hard-working man but his condition was preventing him from going to work (kasi nakakahiya raw). Diseases affecting the skin not only affect productivity but the mental health as well. Everybody deserves to be confident in his or her own skin (I swear this is not a sponsored post, haha).

Neurology

During my first day in the ward, there was this one patient who was always grumpy. I’ve never seen her smile the entire day. But then, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor so I completely understood. The following day, she was visited by friends and family. She was smiling the whole time they were there, even long after they were gone. She had a brain tumor and nobody in the entire hospital (or the entire world) was sure of what would exactly happen to her after her operation; but she seemed happy and hopeful. So, what are the key ingredients for a happy life? I guess family, friends, and optimism.

Community Medicine

While teaching barangay health workers in a health center in Rizal, one of them asked if drinking pineapple juice can decrease blood pressure. You see, most people in the province believe that if one is having symptoms due to increased blood pressure, he only needs a can of Del Monte pineapple juice to alleviate the symptoms and normalize his BP. There are so many misconceptions about health and medicine that hinder us from preventing common diseases. I think kids should be taught in school about the important things they should know about healthcare. Let’s debunk the myths at their level.

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Our group with the receptive barangay health workers

This would be longer if I’ll continue to talk about the changes I would like to be implemented in our healthcare and education systems so I’ll stop right here. I’m not an expert and I know  the people in charge are doing their best (well, hopefully).

And no, drinking pineapple juice is not enough to decrease one’s blood pressure. A healthy, active lifestyle can, with the aid of medications (depending on the individual).

There you have it, a preview of 12 months worth of education. Thank you, dear patients! In a few months, I will be starting with my post-graduate internship which for sure, would be another year full of learning and meaningful stories.

Take good care of your health because I don’t want to see you in the hospital!

Rachelle

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