That patient | Inquirer Opinion
Young Blood

That patient

/ 10:06 PM September 25, 2013

You’ve been a junior intern (the lowest life form in the medical field) for five months now. It’s been an adventure. It’s very different from the books, the lectures, and the school-home routine of a medical student.

You handle real lives and real people. Your patients are the center of your medical life. Every patient has a story to tell, and you remember each one who has taught you well, who has made you feel more blessed, and who has inspired you each waking hour. Do you remember?

That patient with a major depressive disorder, who was distant and as still as a portrait. But in time he learned to smile, and laugh. He even started a conversation with you. He stayed locked in for weeks, and when his parents came for a visit, he gave you one of his pasalubong and that was your first patient care.


That patient who was on his deathbed. You first complained how toxic he was, how there were too many things to do but you had to do them because you were in charge. And in his last breaths you stood beside him; you were hooked to him while you were “ambubagging.” You heard his children talking to him one by one. Tay. Where do I start? said one, a grown man. And he sobbed like a little boy and hugged his father tight. Say hello to Nanay for us, ha?


That patient who was brought to the ER unconscious and nonarousable. You were summoned to do vital signs every so often, and it was 2 a.m., when you were prepping for a few hours of rest. But you had to do it because it was your job. You saw her next of kin, and you were ashamed because you were complaining in your head and these people were seeing their loved one fighting for her life.

That patient who was unable to eat for a week or so because he had dysphagia. He also had TB and he was so thin that he probably weighed like a 10-year-old. You had to do NGT but you didn’t know how. First attempt was a failure because the tubes went out of his mouth. Second attempt was a success. You even said, There, Tay, don’t pull these out, ha? So you can eat now. And you’ll get fat like me, ha? He nodded; he was too weak to talk. You saw his daughter just beside his bed, tears rolling down her cheeks. She said, Thank you, doktora.

That patient with stage 4 pancreatic cancer who had a double biliary bypass and who was teary-eyed after being given a strawberry shake (her favorite) when she was finally allowed to take fluids.

That patient who talked to you in church and told you that she had mere months to live. And you didn’t know what to say. You were asked if she should do chemotherapy, or just live life to the fullest. And you didn’t know what to say.

That patient who had an uncontrollable nosebleed. You were getting annoyed because whatever you instructed in the ER was not being followed, and it was not working. You applied ice. You pinched his nose for hours. Supportive measures. You were there from 2 a.m., and the sun had already risen when it was controlled. Much later you saw him and his family in the mall. They greeted you and thanked you because the bleeding had not recurred.

That patient who was to undergo an operation and who asked you, Will you come with me, doktora?


That three-year-old with craniopharyngioma who remembers you. You hate being mistaken for a “nurse,” but then this little angel calls you “doctoranurse” and you don’t care.

That patient who had been bedridden for months, who made you realize what a disease could do, how life could be off to the level which you could no longer grasp. That patient whose breathing had to be supported by a machine, and who could not even wipe off body secretions. That patient who made hand gestures if he wanted anything. And once when you asked him what he wanted, he waved his hands and his relative interpreted the gesture as: I want to die. And you were distraught, because one of the worst things that you don’t want to see in patients is giving up on themselves, giving up on life.

It has been a very fulfilling time. May you continue your passion. As your patient said at one time: I know you’ll be a good doctor. I will pray for you always, doktora.

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Clarisse Cledera, 23, is a junior medical intern at the University of Santo Tomas Hospital.

TAGS: doctors, medicine, Nurses, patient, relationships

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