AML Journal 22

Aug 12, 2012

A lot of friends and relatives have given us food, supplements and what nots that they think will help our patient.

I was reading the ingredients to this anti-oxidant juice that a cousin gave us. The different fruit purees were ok, I mean what fruit isn’t? And then I get to mineral water (from a rainforest in the Andes mountains) – and that was that. I made a face and decided this has got to be a quack drink.

It was really going great, I was ready to give this drink some good points, why did they have to spoil it by writing something so over the top? I suppose the majority of people will be taken in with water from the Andes mountains, but me, all I could think of was -BS.

Water from a rainforest in the Andes? And the drink is bottled in the USA. So how did they transport this water? No matter how fresh the source is, such distance will have brought to naught any advantage water from a rainforest in the Andes could bring.

So, this drink is now in the “to give away” box. By my category, another one of those scam drinks.

AML Journal 21

Are You A Doctor?
Aug 1,2012

My stay in the hospital has taught me a lot. After 3 months of being exposed to the medical field, I have picked up a lot of high faluting words. Words like febrile, syncope, neutropenic, peripherals as opposed to having a fever, fainting, low white blood counts and surrounding/ indirect. – Hearing those official medical terms being used regularly, of course I use them too since it makes it easier to communicate with the nurses and doctors. Its like some sort of password. Like Open Sesame. You use those words and doctors are more forthcoming with details.

Anyway, I chalked up the taxi drivers’ questions of “Are you a doctor?” whenever I take a cab with the hospital as a destination, to the fact that I am usually smartly dressed. But when some nurses and even a doctor in this new hospital ask me if I am a doctor, I’m thinking it must have something to do with the choice of words I use to describe certain medical conditions. What else could it be?

So how is a doctor supposed to look? and act?

Maybe I can impersonate a doctor, specifically an haematologist ūüôā

A Flicker

For a moment there last night, as I was straddling dreamland and the conscious world, I had a flicker of understanding about this lofty idea of detachment.

For a brief moment, I understood how I could love with all my heart, live with all that my soul can manage with no reservations and still not be a slave to these earthly emotions and concerns.

It was as clear as pure crystal. But when i tried to grasp the idea, it was gone.

For that wonderful second, I finally understood. And then it slipped away again, as elusive as a will o’the wisp.

I savored the knowledge that my goal was not impossible.

My Perfect Lunch

-sad to say I was enjoying myself too much to have thought of getting photos-

My good friend Tris and her husband J were in town and they asked their host if we could join their lunch. So there we were, O and I in the home of their host MK, a very gracious southern lady in her ancestral home filled with wonderful paintings and old black and white photos of her relatives.

MK is a very talented artist and very active in a local NGO that helps fishermen and their families by providing them fishing boats and teaching their community to crochet and make gift items from shells, buffalo bones, and other local materials.

So there we were in their hardwood dining table with good quality china. The table napkin was accented with a sprig of orchid tied with fragrant grass.¬† I couldn’t help smelling the grass as I took out my napkin.

First on the buffet table was a family recipe chicken soup.¬† Flavoured with ginger, potatoes, carrots and¬†lemongrass then cooked in bamboo over fire.¬† It was¬†medium broth, very saboroso (flavourful).¬† Next up was the roasted pig ordered from the Carmelite Sisters. Their pigs are fed left-over hosts and other organic products from the monastery’s produce. So the pigs are quite lean.¬† And the fact that their diet is clean, comes out in the taste. I can’t define it but the taste is crisper and … well, purer.

Then I got the grilled prawns that was cooked in cream, celery, chopped tomato and bell pepper.¬† Despite the garnish, the taste of the prawns came through. And it smelled good too.¬† There was crispy noodles I didn’t try but Tris liked very much. There was some sort of lobster that was done torta style.¬† Tasted like crab fat, very yummy. Scallops steamed in butter and garlic.¬† Oh my goodness.

We are a rice eating country and rice is a staple but for the first time, rice for me was simply a tool to sort of cleanse the palate before tasting the next dish.

Then we had macapuno (kind of coconut) ice cream with barquillos and pili (a Philippine endemic nut that tastes a bit like almond) squares for dessert. Oh my goodness, yum yum yum.

Tris and O had local coffee after lunch and they both said it was very good. O said, similar to Lavazza.

To top it all off, one of the guests was an up and coming artist who was opening an exhibit later today; a painter I had long been curious to know more about. And now there he was in front of me, telling us the inspiration for his work and showing us the evolution of his style.

My perfect Saturday lunch.  Purrrr.

AML Journal 20

Jul 28,2012

Such a different experience from the previous hospital stay. We are at the new St. Luke’s Hospital in Global City.¬†I haven’t seen a resident doctor. There are no fellows. Nurses come in alone. And when they see the patient sleeping, they withdraw on their own and inform us they will return another time.

This is definitely not a teaching hospital.

Naninibago ako. (I’m not used to this) Too quiet, I am almost afraid of what will come next.

AML Journal 19

Jul 17,2012

While looking for the doctor’s clinic, I passed by the hospital chapel.¬† It was quiet, solemn and nearly empty.¬† I paused.¬† I went in and knelt at the back pew.¬† I looked at the altar.¬† It was a nice haven, peaceful.¬† I sent a brief prayer.¬† I did not pray for our patient to get well.¬† I did not pray that the AML be eradicated.¬† My prayer was simple, that the patient be able to accept her fate whatever it is.¬† Whether good or bad, that she will have peace in her heart to accept.

Many people tell me that they are constantly praying for our patient to get well soon.¬† I smile and say thank you.¬† To those who are close enough, I tell them to please pray that her blood counts normalize or that the medicines will work.¬† To those I do not know well, I stop at thank you.¬† They would not understand where I’m coming from anyway.

Personally I think it is a bit of an affront or a contradiction to their so-called God to pray for a complete recovery.¬† If their God is all good, who are we to change the course of his plans?¬† Better to work with the flow.¬† Yes, we accept whatever illness or trials that come but I believe we can pray for a break every now and then.¬† Maybe we can pray for less pain.¬† Maybe we can pray that no complications set in.¬† But to pray for something that drastic?¬† I’m sorry, I know the score with AML at our patient’s age.¬† There is no getting well for the long term.¬†¬†

Still if you think about it, even without AML, your life can end anytime too. 

What’s the Lesson Here?

Our professor was telling an anecdote about his strained relationship with his mom. His mom lived in a northern city while he lived in Manila. During weekends he would bike in one of the biking trails in the north near his mom’s city. And of course he would update his FB status to declare that he was biking in so-and-so trail. He would also post photos of his bike rides on FB. And he says his problem started when his mom got a Facebook account. After posting his rides, his mom would lay on the guilt trip by asking why he didn’t pass by to visit mom.

So what did I do?; our professor asked his class. For me it was simple, don’t post your whereabouts on social media.

But no, what he did was to make sure to drop by his mom’s place every time he was in the vicinity. Reasoning out – well, she is my mom. Even if the relationship is a love-hate sort.

I chuckled at such different takes on the problem. I remembered a classmate who was a player; the kind who had a girl in every port. And he doesn’t like to use protection.

Well, one girl got pregnant and told him he was the father. He was shaken but stood up to his duties and provided support to the girl and the baby. His mom would have none of it though and demanded a dna test to confirm his paternity. This was 10 years ago in the Philippines, and results from dna testing took months. When the results came back, my classmate was not the father.

Prior to classmate recounting his story, we were telling him he had to use protection if he insisted in playing around. And of course after his story, we asked him – so did you learn a lesson from this pregnancy scare? We were hoping he would finally see the value of using condoms.

And he said, Yup -now I will insist on DNA testing before I support any girlfriend.

Different mindset.


I shake my head in disbelief at how some people can be so greedy.

An employee asks for our help to pay off his loan from this lending firm.  Employee had used his residential property as collateral. I tell him to ask for the computation of his payables should he decide to pay off his loan. And he faxes me today the computation. More than double the loan amount in 3 years.

The way I see it, this lending firm is very interested in employee’s property and is piling on the penalties so that employee will find it impossible to pay off the loan and then they can foreclose on his property that has been reclassified commercial.¬† I shake my head again as I view his situation. But what can I do? If employee signed the loan document knowing full well about the usurious interest rates, then …

Sigh. Why are some people like that?¬† I don’t think I can help employee out of his bind in this case.

AML Journal 18

July 14, 2012

My mom does not want the maintenance medicine. She wants the cure. She wants to get well. She wants to attend the wedding of my eldest son. She still wants to see all grandchildren grow up.

I think differently. But then I am not her. It is not my life.

So I visit a new hematologist in Manila. He wants to do a third induction therapy with slight changes in the drug cocktail.

My mom believes in asking the buddhist gods and the gods have answered that this new doctor will be good for her. Singapore is out. The gods did not answer her when she asked about going to Singapore.

And so we prepare to return to Manila by mid month. My mom’s return back home has been good for everyone. But she wants to fight it out. I guess it’s good too. She has been deluged with visitors who do not understand that my mom’s immune system is almost nil.

Though it has lifted her spirits, we do have to control the visits. Her children will have to be the bad guys who control the visits.