“Everything but the kitchen sink” pasta.
When I was younger, there was this one thing that I did when I get upset or when someone tells me off.
I would find a dark room, go behind the door and pull it towards me until it traps me in between the wall and the door panel. Then I would sit and wait for someone to persuade me to come out of the dark. I learnt from then on that I needed that sense of seclusion when dealing with a lot of stress.
With a schedule of almost daily night shifts in the surgical department, having to adjust to moving into a new apartment closer to the hospital and pushing aside relationship issues, my head is close to bursting. I skipped the apartment, came home last night and emptied half the contents of my stomach into the toilet; something of a re-occurrence for the past few days. Made a mental note to go to the hospital and realized the irony of it all, and then found myself wishing I could just find a dark room and hide.
But in the end I settled on taking a sick-day and sleeping off the emotions and tiredness and spent the morning on the porch listening to the birds. Then opened the fridge to see it overflowing with ingredients on the verge of going bad. And decided to make a bowl of pasta. I’m not going to include a recipe for this since I don’t feel much up to writing it up at the moment, so please enjoy the pictures instead.
There are two kinds of people in the internship circle.
One who holds the candle and goes around lighting other people’s. And one who blows the others out to make themselves look brighter.
Of life’s bittersweets and photographs
Why is it that some tumblogs with food or cooking related names have nothing to do with food or cooking whatsoever? And vice versa. And don’t even let me get started on thumbnail images. It all gets so very confusing and difficult, because I like going through my followers seeking for a fellow food appreciator.
Today I’d planned to make a post for jjeolmyun, or spicy Korean noodles with vegetables. But I only got as far as photographing the below steps:
before Mother came home from a wedding she attended and I had to abort the whole thing. The reason being is that she only allows a strict diet of rice porridge, clear soup and boiled eggs for me. And the reason for that is because a couple of days ago I had a bad case of abdominal pain - which I mistook for period cramps, and one thing led to another I was diagnosed with bilateral dermoid cysts. A tumor, essentially. Two of them. Benign, but tumors nonetheless.
Pics or it didn’t happen, right? Well have a glimpse of the scan instead.
I think it’s bittersweet that in a time like this, when my photography work is getting a bit more exposure that I may have to take time off from it. I tell you all this not because I’m fishing for sympathy, but just as a heads up for the decline in number of posts to come.
That, and to remind my lovely followers to go for a regular health check-up, you never know what’s creeping around and growing inside these temples of ours.
Of immunity and short-lived aspirations
Death is a funny thing. Sometimes you think it can change you, that it can push you to be better and do great things. And while this is true for most people, I want to share what it’s becoming for me.
I remember the first death I ever saw. We were assigned a patient for a case report and the two weeks following up to her death were spent history taking and doing physical exams. And talking about the nursing school she used to go to. And how she used to have thick, wavy hair that cascades down her back. And about boys. And about hair accesories.
The morning of the day she passed away she asked the residents if she could go home. We all took turns comforting her, saying that it’d be better if she stayed here because we’re trying to get her better. Besides, you have us, we said. She agreed and we all went about our day, planning to get her a thank you gift the next day for being so co-operative during our case report workup. I had my evening shift this particular day and during our task briefing I found out that there’s a transfusion planned for her. She didn’t even make it to our “strict-monitoring” list - reserved only for patients who, indelicate as it may seem to say so, are within an inch from death. So imagine my surprise when one of the student-nurses ran to tell us that there’s a patient “turning blue” in one of the rooms. Imagine my horror when I arrived in said room only to see her, seizing and showing signs of decortication and yes, turning blue. We got the crash cart and ambu bag ready and the resident on-call was ready to commence CPR, only to be shooed by the crying mother, saying she doesn’t want any attempts of resuscitation. I watched as she drew her last breaths, rubbing circles on her forearm and reciting short verses in attempts to soothe her. And then she was gone. I quietly gathered my kit and texted my groupmates about her passing. And on the drive home I cried. I cried and swore I would study my hardest and made a promise to myself to keep an attention at hematology and immunology (she was diagnosed with SLE) so that this disease may find its end one day.
But of course that promise lasted as long as any promise made out of misery would. Because before you got over the first death there was another, and another, and it keeps coming until it numbs you. Until it becomes nothing but a medical record you discuss over with your resident as to what causes it to happen. And now as I’m nearing the end of my pediatric rotation, I had entertained hopes that things will change. But as a patient came in to the P-ICU with paraquat intoxication with a predicted 1 week of life left, we merely offered obligatory condolences to the family while we watch for signs as the poison circulates through the kidneys and lungs, eager to see how close the prediction was.
It was spot on.
When I heard people say that sometimes they get too tired to even eat, I scoff. I scoff because eating is a pleasure. Slurping up a piece of noodle is a pleasure. Slicing through a perfectly cooked steak is a pleasure. Buttering up a piece of crunchy toast is a pleasure. I scoff because I didn’t think it was humanly possible to feel so tired that you would deny yourself the gratifying act of eating.
Well now I silently apologize for all those times I spent scoffing, thinking that it was just another excuse for being on a [sometimes unnecessary] diet. Truth be told I would rather swap three warm meals a day for an uninterrupted 3 hours of sleep, where I don’t have to think about which kid’s PRC transfusion is coming up next, whose heart rate should be monitored post Doxorubicin-drip, or, as of recent events, about chiding looks after the verbal throw-down with the nurses about…respective responsibilities when it comes to patient care.
You’d think being around all these children will revive you somewhat, but being greeted with wails and cries of “I don’t want to!“s, “go away!“s or “it hurts!” every morning as you pass through the door before you even so much as to say hello, well…let’s just say it can be very trying to your sanity.
Of balloons and drains;
On the first daily round of my pulmonology rotation there was something pleasant to the eyes. A patient of room III5; a room strictly for pulmo-onco patients - with the requisite weary family members with tired smiles by the bedside, had three balloons tied on to his IV stand. The balloons were of different colours and sizes.
You’d think it was a gift, but one look at the bandaged scar on his right 3rd intercostal space and you’d know the reason for the presence of balloons (actually, you do not, since most patients usually dispose of them once they’re done with it). He’s had a pleural [ec malignancy] drainage and in order to have a proper expansion of the lung the patient was asked to blow a balloon and do breathing exercises.
It was nice to see the progressively larger size balloons; adeptly tied off and marked with numbers for each day post-chest tube removal, proudly displayed by his side. They might not have the cheerful disposition of helium filled balloons; all perky and uniform in size, but it makes you smile nonetheless.
Of wooden boards and misplaced vessels
When I had my Internal Medicine out-post in another hospital, I had to pass the children’s ward on my way to the rooms. It was a country hospital, surrounded by tall trees; they make a rather picturesque view during the day, but becomes increasingly spooky when it gets dark.
Outside the children’s ward there were little white benches where some kids usually sit during the day, talking nonsense to their parents or showing off their IV-lines to visiting siblings and friends. When you first pass by you won’t notice it, but at a closer look you’ll see that some of the more younger children has their hand that’s hooked up to an IV laid flat upon and loosely bound to pretty little wooden boards. One would wonder at it, but then you’d realize that it’s so that they won’t flex their hands (or more - kids) and accidentally pull out the catheter. You’d then think, why the effort? You can just put in another on the other hand.
Well, you can.
But at the prize of the kid wailing in pain calling for their mother (or father, of course), as I’ve heard plenty of times during my passing the ward. Which breaks you just that little bit each time you hear it.
An 18-days old patient passed away yesterday due to transposition of the great arteries. You’d think the cries of someone older would not pain you as much as a child’s, but to hear it from one slumped on the CVCU floor as they call out the baby’s name…well, you’d be having a difficult time deciding which one you’d rather hear.