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My ‘different’ daughter is a frontliner

I call her my “different” daughter for unusual reasons.

The first three of my four children were all born at the old Medical City Hospital in Mandaluyong, their births spaced in an ordered manner as my wife and I had planned it. The eldest, Pizza, was born on Nov. 4, 1979, followed by Nico on March 8, 1981, and then by Dana on July 16, 1983. Notice their even-numbered birthdates of 4, 8, and 16. These three grew up in our old family home and neighborhood in Marulas, Valenzuela, and went to the same pre-school.

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Danie, the fourth and the youngest, is the odd one out. She was born at Manila Doctors Hospital in Manila on June 3, 1990, breaking the birthplace precedent that her siblings had established. Notice, too, how her birthdate is an odd number, in contrast to the even-numbered birthdates of her older siblings. She also spent her childhood in our present Quezon City home and attended a different grade school and high school.

Although she went to De La Salle like all her older siblings, she chose a career path vastly different from the ones her brother and sisters had taken. Pizza is a licensed teacher with a master’s degree in early childhood education, Nico is an IT professional, while Dana opted to be a full-time mom after completing a course in HRM. Danie, however, moved on to St. Luke’s College of Medicine after finishing her BS Psychology in La Salle. She then took and passed the licensure exam for physicians in 2017.

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Today, Danie is in her last year of residency in anesthesiology at St. Luke’s Hospital. As such, she is in the frontlines doing the much-needed and life-saving intubations on COVID-19 patients while on regular 24-hour duty.

Last week, Danie posted on her Facebook an angst-filled account of her experiences as a frontliner, echoing the medical practitioners’ call for a “time out.” Here is what she wrote:

“Every day is a struggle. Every day I feel my head and my heart hurt a little but more, both literally and figuratively. Both my thoughts and my emotions are getting harder and harder to keep in check…

“Yet I am in denial because denial is part of grief. And I’m grieving. From something as small as the loss of routine and personal conveniences, to something as big as the deaths (yes, death with an s… plural) of people I know/knew.

“Some say I should move on. But if I move on from being in denial, how else would I cope?

“If I bear the loss of each and every one of the defeats I’ve been facing, how am I supposed to get back up again and carry on?

“Intubations happen as frequent as almost every hour nowadays. If I stop and nurture my feelings for each one, how am I supposed to move on to save the next?

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“And so, I constantly retreat to live in denial, though I sometimes let myself be angry for catharsis. I also sometimes bargain with God that this will eventually end…

“Today, as I enjoy a precious day of rest, I decided to let myself cry and feel everything that’s taken a toll on me… My heart aches for the thousands who’ve lost their loved ones… It aches for all the parents who had to endure seeing their children in pain… It aches for the husbands and wives who had to decide to respect their spouses’ wishes to let them go… It aches for the patients and their families who didn’t have the chance to bid their loved ones goodbye…

“And so, please stop telling me to look at the bright side of things and to just focus on my job. Stop asking me to accept that this is all you can do for the Filipino people when I see and FEEL nothing but loss and grief every day.

“No, none of this is okay. I may only be doing a small part of the big picture, but I’d rather be doing that role than be delusional and say we’re all doing well.”

Today, my different daughter is making a difference… I am a proud father of a frontliner!

* * *

Danilo G. Mendiola, 78, is a retired HR and admin practitioner. He lives with his wife in their Quezon City home. They have four grown-up children and four grandchildren.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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