Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
– Buddhist proverb

Every child needs to be safe and feel the abundance in life. As a surgeon, it is my responsibility to take care of my patients. A young girl was referred to me for surgical evaluation and management. She went through lots of sufferings that it kept me awake at wee hours of the night. Because of indecisiveness and ignorance, her life almost came to an end.

Maye (not her real name) is an 8-year old girl, who came to the emergency room because of difficulty of breathing. She was admitted for pneumonia and abdominal pain. Based on her clinical history, her abdominal pain started 10 days prior to admission. She was referred to our service after having persistent abdominal pain despite analgesia and medical management. Upon examination, she was found to have an acute abdomen probably secondary to a ruptured appendicitis.

The little girl’s ordeal was aggravated by the indecisiveness of the father to give consent for his daughter to undergo the most needed operation. Despite the exhaustive explanation and repeated persuasion, the father was adamant about his decision not to allow her daughter to undergo surgical intervention. The entire surgical team was put on hold because there was no consent to proceed with the operation. Maye’s life was hanging by a thread. Our hands were tied. Without her father’s consent, we can only watch and wait. The agony of waiting is excruciating as the uncertainty prolongs the grief in us. Every second counts. Every life is important. The painful struggle of knowing you can help and do something, but you can’t. Meanwhile, the little girl awaits a decision not by choice but by a judgement whether she dies or lives another day to tell her own story. 

We are not God. We don’t dictate who will live and who will die. We are just servants of God. With this gift of surgical skills and knowledge, we are here to help and save lives in the best way we can…

Maye’s ordeal and suffering continued as we delay the surgery because the father was not keen on signing the consent form. Every second counts, every single moment of delay is tantamount to a death sentence for the helpless little girl. 

Thankfully, other relatives came to the hospital to better understand the situation that their relative is in. After explaining the situation and the need for surgical intervention the hesitant father finally gave his consent for the surgery to proceed.

Immediately, we brought the girl to the operating room. She underwent exploratory laparotomy. She has pus all over her abdomen because of a ruptured appendix.

Her recovery was slow and painful. She had atelectasis of the left lung because of her limited deep breathing which was aggravated by the post-operative discomfort. Furthermore, her recovery was exacerbated by infection which has spread to her blood due to delays in her operation. With this, she needs broad spectrum antibiotics to help fight the infection.

She stayed in the hospital for about a week. Her recuperation was slow and agonizing. But Maye is a fighter. She is tough, she is strong. She wants to live a life full of joy, and not of pain and sorrow. Eventually, with God’s grace and mercy, she became stronger and stronger each day. Getting back her appetite and the strength to get out of bed. Enduring the struggle in every step she took with the assistance of her supportive relatives who stood by her side. She eventually recovered and was discharged from the hospital.

On her follow-up in the OPD, she gave me the sweetest smile that I would never forget. Her way of saying, “thank you”. Seeing Maye fully recovered from her ordeal and near-death experience made me wonder. How many more like more like her need to suffer unnecessarily before getting the needed surgical treatment?  How many more parents are depriving their children the gift of life that they deserve? How many more ill-informed fathers are withholding consent for the essential surgical treatment of their children?

 Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Our children need not endure this misery. Stop the inhumane suffering of our children who are the future of our nation. We can do something about it. Help is here. Our future depends on what we do now. How we treat our children today will dictate how we will live our life tomorrow. Let’s start giving the life that they deserve. A life of delight and hope for the next generation.

Online Learning for my daughter

Education has never been this disrupted, until the virus came.

We now live in a world of virtual education. With this, comes a different tasks. It can be a mini- task, pre- activity, post- activity, or even a video presentation.

This is how my daughter will gain education for years to come. With the social interactions with her classmates and teachers. She would have her virtual exchange gift this holiday season. An online Christmas celebration. She would have virtual birthday via video conference. And not to mention the yearly, virtual graduation for stepping up to the next level of her education.

Indeed every has been transformed into a virtual environment.

I just hope that she would continue to enjoy social interaction to develop her relationship skills especially with her friends. So, whenever she has the oppotunity to do so, we just let her go.

Recently, with the easing of restriction for children going outside the house. She visited her best friend in our community. Good thing her friend is just living within the same subdivision where we are. It is the first time that we allow her to leave the house on her own. I was a bit anxious frankly speaking to let her go but I know that sooner or later she needs to be independent.

After about 2 hours. She returned home. With her best friend and brother accompanying her. The simple gesture warms my heart. It is a way of saying , thank you for visiting us.

Let’s not forget that we , as human beings need social interaction. We are social beings who hunger for relationship, care, and love. Today’s technology may change the way we do things, but we should keep caring for others. Because that would make this perfectly imperfect world a better place for all.

Covid-19: The Reality Of Global Awakening

astronomy atmosphere earth exploration
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Globalization knows no boundaries. Same is true for a global pandemic.

With the rapid increase in the number of cases, the situation can only get worse. Six months ago, we reached the first 100,000 cases in 60 days. Now, it took us only 4 days to reach the same number.

We use to think that we only see this type of viral pandemic in science fiction novel. But now, it is real. The new normal that we need to face. An awakening in giving importance to personal hygiene and taking infectious disease seriously.

This is a global problem. We need a global solution. It’s not the time for blaming. We need to fight Covid-19, together.

It will get worse before it gets any better.

Social distancing and movement restriction are defensive moves. It is not sustainable. We need strategies and tactics to tackle the problem head on.

Frontliners, especially doctors, are dying. Our fallen comrades are modern day heroes.

We are fighting for our survival. Our future depends on what we do now.

Let’s work together. Let’s fight together for a common goal.

Underground River: An Out of this World Experience

My heart is pounding..not knowing what’s inside. The fear of the unknown.

Yesterday, my parents went to visit us in Palawan. What’s the best thing to do in the Island better known as the “Last Frontier”? So, I decided to bring them to the underground river. And it was the right decision, my parents loved the experience inside this dark majestic underground river. It was a sight that filled everyone in awe.

Truly, a magical out of this world experience that my parents, including myself, to treasure for years to come.

The Stupid Me

A few weeks ago, I had an argument with my wife. I was so upset that I got so furious that I punched the wall. Guess what happened? Yeah, you are damn right. I hurt my knuckles. At that moment of emotional outburst, I wasn’t thinking. Purely emotional anger overwhelmed me.

After the incident, I went into the car, not to drive around but to pause for awhile. Meditate on what just happened, and why? It could have been at lot worst. I could have injured my operating hand which could have ended my surgical career. Or worst, I could have hurt my loved ones.

Emotions are powerful. It is hard to control because it controls us. It could bring out the worst in us. The monsters in us that awaits awakening. What is so frightening is that we could regret, most of it, all the time. An emotional outburst that obscure our logical thinking. It could bring out the worst in us. Once you hurt yourself or your family, it can never be undone. No amount of regret will removed the scar that it would left behind. It can heal. But the mark will always be fresh from your memory. Learning how to control emotional outburst is a skill that I need to learn.

As surgeons, it not only the art and science of medicine that we need to master. But the ability to control our emotions under pressure. I have witnessed in monster in me. Trust me, it wasn’t pretty. I hope and pray that I would never go into berserk mode again. I am sure that I would regret the words that I would say and things that I would do.

It was a stupid mistake. But the scar in my right knuckle will always be there. A constant reminder of the monster in me.

Now, I am trying to do breathing exercise to relax and clear my mind even before opening my mouth. I hope that you learn how to control your emotional anger especially when you are in argument with your loved ones. It is the words that we say and things we do that hurts them most. It’s not obvious physical harm but rather the invisible scar of constant emotional pain that causes greatest pain.

Who Am I?

I am a practicing general surgeon in Southern Palawan, Philippines. Why surgery? Well, when I was young I admire doctors in their white coat. I was amazed by the skills of surgeons during life-saving procedure. No, I don’t enjoy seeing nor being spatted with blood in my face.

I graduated from surgical training in Philippine General Hospital last 2007. After graduation, I started my practice in Cavite for about 3 years before deciding to try our luck overseas. I was a urology medical officer for 4 years in Singapore. Subsequently, I spent 2 years as medical affairs manager for a pharmaceutical company before deciding to return back to my home country.

Back in my premed days, I was the editor-in-chief of Purple Gazette from my Alma Mater. I was fortunate enough to have our English Adviser as my mentor. Through the years, the writer in me never has the chance to reach its full potential. I doubted my capability, I’m no good. Others are better. With the advent of the internet, each and every voice can now be heard. It’s just a matter of time and hard work. Learning to blog is no easy task. But it’s worth a try.

During my residency, I never had the chance to enhance my writing. I like to express my thoughts in words. Words are powerful in conveying a specific message. Hence, I am venturing into blogging to hasten my skills and eventually be able to reach more audience. And eventually, find my voice.

What is Life?

What is life? This question came from my 9-year old daughter. At first, I was taken aback. I don’t know what to say neither do I know how to answer it.

At nine, she already thinks like an adult. Is it due to the effects of social media that at this early age she has a gasped of the questions that even adults find difficult to answer.

light sunset people water

I tried answering to the best of my ability. “Life is about living the moment”, I said. Whether it was or wasn’t the right answer. I honestly don’t know. Was she satisfied with my answer?

Why do you ask such question?”, I asked. She replied ,”IDK” which stands for “I Don’t Know”. The usual answer that I get.

It is hard when your own daughter got questions that you can’t answer. I feel that she thinks maturely for her age. So, they really grow so fast, not only physically but intellectually.

From that moment on, I felt that I need to be more than just a provider but instead be a father who would guide and support her as she collectively encounter questions as she grows.

Furthermore, the technology and social media exposure at an early age makes her curious about life, most probably the whole world we live in. It is good to be curious but it should be guided by the right wisdom. As the saying goes, ” Curiosity killed the cat”.

That simple question about life makes me realize that there is more to life than just getting through. There’s more to it than just financial reward or accolades.

What is life? It is for us to answer as we live ours….


Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Learning is an Endless Journey

My Journey begins..

I wanted to create my own blog to share my thought and insights, not only about my profession, but life in general.  At this moment, I just want the idea to flow and be able to share my thoughts. 

Who am I? I’m a simple guy with a purpose. To serve and help my countrymen who needs surgical care. I wanted to learn how to blog to share my ideas and thoughts about certain issues and events. I want to find my own voice. A voice that I would like to share to the world.

I feel that I have something to say. My opinion may be insignificant but it makes each and everyone of us unique. All I want for now is to find my own voice. A voice that I can share to everyone.

Hi, I’m chubby_pen. Welcome to my blog. This is my very first blog. I wanted to have my own blog couple of years back but I only find the courage to publish my very first blog. I’m excited in this new endeavor to see what I can create and share.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to wordpress.com for the support and guidance. Learning is an endless journey.