Kids, before med school happened, I never knew that life would be this hard. First, let me tell you a realization that this 28-year old brain was able to conceive while inside the confines of a cold but well-lit operating theatre at 3 in the morning while waiting for an emergency appendectomy patient to arrive. Life will tend to pull you back so hard that your vision would start to tunnel blurring everything out to the periphery. Now you shouldn’t take that literally unless you have glaucoma. But kids, I’m telling you that there will come a time that you will not be able to see anything else but the complexity and unforgiving nature of this perplexed thing we call “life.”
You see, I grew up within the reach of your Grandpa and Grandma. Life has been so good and accessible. I’ve been used to a good life with nothing else to think of but what to do. Or what to do next. Hakuna matata. Sometimes, your grandmother would even scold your ol’ man for being too lazy. Nope, just because your Dad was lazy doesn’t mean that you guys can be lazy. You should always do your best and work hard. As I have read in a Rick Warren devotional yesterday: “If you are going to really reach your goals in life, sometimes you have to delay gratification. You have to do the tough thing instead of the fun thing, the right thing instead of the pleasurable.” Your Gramps and I share this same philosophy. Things become more fulfilling when earned, not when given. You should work hard for your dreams.
I know some people who constantly complains of the pain that this dreadful cyclic event occurring every seven days bring: Monday. I know the feeling. I experienced that too since grade school until 3rd year of medical school. But come 4th year until forever, I felt doomed every 3 days. For the first time in my life, I felt totally separated from my family. The hospital started to become my home and the home that I used to live in became a transient place for baths, meals, and naps. A new zone started to eclipse my comfort zone.
It broke my heart when one day, your Grandma sent me an SMS while I was trying to make adjustments regarding my December holiday schedule to sync it with theirs inside the Department of Surgery office where I was rotating that time. “Sa amin kahit ano lang. Kasi naka-set na mind namin na sa pinili mong propesyon, ganyan talaga. Palaging may options sa mga special occasions.” (We can go for anything. Your Dad and I have already accepted the fact that in your chosen profession, you will always be faced with options when it comes to special occasions.”)
In my first few days as a doctor, I was the happiest person on earth. Who wouldn’t be? I have that stupendous M and D attached to my name. Every member of the family was in a rejoicing spirit. Most importantly, I have made my Dad and Mom proud. You know that stuff. But later on, I realized that things as great being a doctor do come with a price. Kids, there is nothing else that a parent would like to see in their lifetime but their children’s success. That alone would tell the world a lot of things. That they have been good parents. That they never lacked support and admiration to their kids. That they believed in their kids. Being a doctor is a huge achievement. But that would also mean compromising a lot of hours with your loved ones.
When in duty, I counted the hours before I finally go home. Before I finally see them again. 36. 35. 34. To 17. 16. 15. Finally down to 4. 3. 2. 1. I checked on patients and ran on errands at 4 in the morning always intermittently glancing on my watch just to remind myself that I’ll be home in a few hours. The long hours was always worth it whenever I arrive home with your Grandma’s Pork Sinigang or any home meal that she’d cook for me. More importantly, it was always delightful to be with them again after the 36th hour. Being a doctor is not easy. But I believe that most of us are still standing tall, brave, and proud despite the long hours and everyday battles inside the hospital. It’s because of them – the bone fide superheroes behind our success. MD. Mom and Dad.