Compassion fatigue

Working in a public hospital has its own set of pros and cons. The pro is that you get exposed to a huge bulk of patients. You have hands on cases and you get to practice and learn how to manage patients on your own.

I am grateful that I get to help patients and learn along the process. I am amazed with the medical profession overall but again, as someone who cares deeply about so many things, handling poverty-stricken patients still breaks my heart.

Patients who don’t have money to buy sutures for his wife’s cesarian section because the hospital doesn’t have enough supplies. Hypertensive disorders in pregnant women who chose not to seek prenatal care because they don’t have money. Women who keep on giving birth even if they obviously couldn’t afford another child anymore. Living in a country with backward laws for women. Needing the permission of the husband for tubal ligation consent. Grand multiparity patients who have chronic diseases but since they are not using any form of contraception, they keep on getting pregnant even to the risk of their own lives. Violence against women and children.

I am absorbing all these frustrating energy. I am having compassion fatigue. I feel like our country is just so far away from ideal. It hurts me that day in and day out it’s almost always like this.

Should I stop caring about things that I get upset about? Should I just be okay with how the system is. I know that in my own way, I am doing my part. I am helping by living a life of service. But until when will circumstances change?

The why

Yesterday, I had a meeting with event organizers composed of medical staff. I was tasked to host a lay forum and a fashion show, one was for menopause and the other was for pregnant women. I instantly said yes when I was offered to host the event. It’s one of the things that I do which I truly enjoy, and it’s also a change of pace from my usual routine of going on duty then going home.

As the meeting was about to conclude, the organizers asked if we have questions about the event. One thing dawned on me, I wasn’t aware why we have these events. For the menopause clinic, I believe that its a way of celebrating women’s month, but for the pregnant fashion show, I asked them, “Why did we have this event?”

People got silent for a few seconds, and they told me to think of a reason and just include it on the script. Oh my God, people have been preparing for this event for more than a month and yet they couldn’t answer me what the fashion show is for.

I figured out that the reason why people are so burnt out in our workplace is because they do not have a north star, a clear purpose. That is all that I was thinking about. These hardworking people do not know why they are organizing this event in the first place. I wasn’t surprised that they weren’t aware. I just got sad.

That meeting made me reflect on what I am doing. Amidst the burnout that is slowly creeping in my body, I still feel connected to my purpose. I know that I am training so that I will have the skills and competencies needed to practice as a medical doctor and to serve the community. I know that I want to help people have access to proper care and make them feel safe and supported despite them battling diseases. I know that if I study well, I could help provide answers and let them take charge of their health even if they don’t have money.

I see medical training as somehow like being an army. You have this rigorous training which is physically and mentally taxing, but at the end of it, you come out as a stronger and more equipped person. You know what to do and you are able to make quick decisions especially when the life of a person is literally on your hands. I see training that way.

If I am not clear with my why, I could have quit a long time ago.

I also see medical training as something like that of studying to be a priest. “It is a calling.” That’s what my friend who is studying to be a priest told me. Medical training is indeed a calling. It is a call for me to serve. How do I know this? There are tons of careers out there that I could have chosen and yet, I chose this torturous and bittersweet path. Why? Because I just couldn’t shake it off. I tried to get away from this itch, but I just couldn’t so I gave in. Now that I am seven months away from being a doctor, as hard as each day of training could be, my heart knows that it is in the right place.

So much thought came from that meeting. I remembered how a clear why changes the way you see and do things. I just hope that more people are clear with their why, maybe then this world will be filled with passionate and aligned people.

Recenter

On putting yourself first

I’m starting to put myself last. That is what I have noticed in this past week. I am getting caught up with the whole OB-Gyn drama. Of course, this has to stop. There is a better way of living. There is a way to chase your goals and still be healthy, calm, and at peace and that is by putting myself as a priority. So I promise that today, I will put myself first. I will fill my cup until it runneth over. I will learn as much as I can in the last few days of this rotation.

Refocusing

At yesterday’s prenatal clinic, I just had an epiphany. When I start focusing on my patients and how to best serve them, I suddenly feel at peace. Aaaaah, this is what I am training for. I want to serve them in the best way that I can. I had an advanced maternal age patient yesterday who had long-standing hypertension and was referred to our hospital since hers was a complicated case, and I talked to her about the plan and explained the importance of her adhering to the plan. I saw in her eyes that she was glad that she can understand her situation. When I get to encounter patients in the clinic, that’s when everything starts to make sense again. I like feeling that way.

Turbulence

There has been friction recently at work and I have been thinking about it for quite some time and maybe I shouldn’t be but as an empath and sensitive person, it baffles me when I sense that some people don’t just care enough as long as the consequences of their actions do not affect them. They care, and they don’t have the intention for bad things to happen to you, but they just don’t care enough. As a person who is the complete opposite of this, it is sad when I work with people who are not vibrating on that same level. Anyway, I have to accept that it is just the way it is. You cannot force concern and empathy to suddenly arise in other people. What I can do is just be who I am and improve on everything that I still have to work on. Inhale. Exhale. Not everyone will have the same heart as you but it’s okay.

Just grateful

My heart is filled with gratitude for my teammates who are just some of the most amazing people I’ve met. I’m grateful for my family who provides me the best chance to thrive. I am so blessed with my partner who is holding my hand as we face this rollercoaster of life. I am filled with love and joy even if sometimes I tend to forget. It’s a beautiful Sunday morning as I am writing this and I my heart is beating calmly. This is what matters.

OB-Gyn thoughts

Becoming a medical doctor has been a dream of mine since I was in high school. I didn’t know what kind of specific doctor I wanted to be at that moment. This month, I began my OB-Gyn rotation. I remember this as my favorite rotation in clerkship. I just love the outcome of majority of cases. There are babies, and it reminds me of having a fresh start. Each baby that we deliver carries a lot of possibilities. Childbirth is a positive thing for me.

However, the work needed and the culture is not something that I want to subject myself to. To be honest I am surviving on, Omeprazole, pain meds and multivitamins.

I love the art of learning these information and all the skills that an OB-Gyn has but, the experience as a post-graduate intern has been draining for me. Maybe I changed? Maybe being a junior intern is just different with being a senior intern. The responsibilities are bigger and heavier.

I can’t actually believe that I am saying this, but I am on the process of discovering who I really am, and what I want my medical practice to be. I will just approach the succeeding weeks as part of my training to be a well-rounded physician and find ways to still be curious in the cases and gain skills. I will shift my focus to the patients. I will keep on studying and learning as much as I can for my future patients. They deserve a kind, smart, and competent doctor.

I will get through this. We will get through this.

Every single day is a new learning experience.

Sunday Coffee

I used to have weekly check-ins and grab coffee alone way before the whole coffee shop obsession became a thing. I started doing this eight years ago when I got my first job. I dreamt of doing that as soon as I could afford it. I would do errands and cap off the day with drinking coffee and writing.

You see, I am a worrier, I have to unload all the mental chatter on a piece of paper or a digital platform. It probably lessened now but to be honest, there are times when the darkness still gets to me.

I’ve been used to having Plan A to Z just to be sure that everything is going to be okay. Now that I am finally at a place in my life wherein things are finally working out, not perfect but 1000x better, I can’t help but think about when the next shoe is going to drop. What is the next curve ball and if I happen to cross its path, what will be my approach? But isn’t it about time to breathe and just stay in the moment? Isn’t it possible that the worst part is over afterall?

I want to believe that everything will work out because still existing is a proof that no matter what comes your way, you can still survive. I guess bad habits die hard? But let me just enjoy this coffee, and how much we’ve surpassed and how we thrived in the past couple of years. At least, for this moment, while I’m sipping this coffee, let it be me staying here, at the present, just being grateful with everything that there is. Let me just feel that, hey, you are doing great girl. Inhale. Exhale.

Doesn’t it feel good? Isn’t it nice to just accept good things, and know that you’ve earned every single bit of it? You got this.

Good morning, beautiful

The anxiety and sadness creeps in, but I choose to face the monsters and fight them through. It’s probably the rain, or my hormones, but the gnawing feeling of not being good enough is here again. Mornings keep me hopeful though, it is a fresh start, another chance to build on the hope that is left. I know that every time I wake up in the morning, it is a chance to create the life that I promised to.

A weekend at home takes me back to the why of my existence. Here, we take care of each other, talk, laugh and make jokes. I am currently having an early grey tea together with some good cottage core instrumental music. The air is still cold but after two weeks, there is no rain. We can now dry our clothes outside and enjoy the sunshine. Amidst the tumultuous emotions that I feel, I take the sunrise as a sign that no matter how yesterday went, there still is today.

I go back to the city later this afternoon since my shift is at 7 AM. It’s quite sad because I don’t go home that often but then again, this is for a bigger purpose. The license to heal is a dream that I have not just for myself, but for the community. I only have to think about today, not the whole staircase, just today. Overall, I am still grateful for the tiny bits of time that I can still carve for family and friends.

I hope you also have a morning filled with hope and the belief that things get better in time.

28 things I am proud of at 28.

I am proud of myself for:

1. Choosing to live.

2. Having the habit of reading.

3. Making time for writing.

4. Being a reliable sister.

5. Being a reliable friend.

6. Being a good listener.

7. Being a leader.

8. Being more disciplined than I was before.

9. Being a good daughter to Papa.

10. Making more healthy decisions.

11. Being a good dog mom and aunt to our four dogs.

12. Being in a healthy relationship.

13. Honoring the work that I do.

14. The integrity that I built.

15. Being a law abiding citizen.

16. Exploring.

17. Facing challenges.

18. Healing.

19. Choosing love.

20. Being responsible.

21. Chasing my dreams.

22. Being creative.

23. Following my bliss.

24. Carving out time for exercise.

25. Finding ways to be better than I was yesterday.

26. Being compassionate

27. Being relentless

28. Being more calm.

I’m writing this because, I’m often too hard on myself. I plan on reading this especially on days when I am filled with much self-doubt. I do have a long way to go and a lot of things to learn and improve on, but for today, only for today, I want to just take some time to appreciate how far I’ve come because I honestly believe that being an advocate for ourselves and giving credit where it is due is a must.

January

On multiple streaming subscriptions

It’s true that the happiness you get in new things only lasts in a blink of an eye. Lately, I find myself getting overwhelmed with having multiple streaming subscriptions (Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO) and not knowing what I really want to watch. This is probably why I end up falling asleep whenever I open these apps. It seems like the movies are just too much and it feels like my life is not enough to see all the movies and TV shows that I want to.

On simple living

So far, simple living suits me. I ate hospital food that was served yesterday instead of ordering online. I still have trauma from the whole food poisoning thing that occurred last week but healing takes time lol. Mental note: always smell the food. You have an insanely sensitive gut, Kate.

2023 Vision Board

I am also on the process of creating my vision board. It actually takes me quite an amount of time to create my yearly vision board because I take every step into heart. I just love the Everything is Possible planner. It’s actually my third year using it and it just matches with my vibe. I am loving the habit tracker feature. As I wrote a week ago, I’m experimenting on building one habit at a time. So far, my January habit is waking up at five in the morning. It actually feels nice to be able to rise before the whole world runs after you.

On health and physicality

Writing on my 2023 planner made me aware of how much I’ve neglected my health and finances last year. I put working out on the back burner. I haven’t lost weight and I still have frequent migraines. This year I’ll be prioritizing my health. I’ll be getting lab tests, imaging, and bloodwork done. As a future physician, I have to walk the talk and have integrity. It is time to face my fears. So far I have have been carving out time for exercise. I’ve been doing yoga, Nike Training Club and dance fitness workouts. It feels nice to take care of your body. I hope I can continue this streak.

Hospital Rotation

I am currently rotating at the hospital’s Public Health Unit and we had our orientation yesterday. It’s a positive step forward that the hospital has this program since health promotion is a must. So far, I am leaning into this work of bringing health and medicine closer to the community. I just feel like this is the work that matters. Again, as much as I love the other specializations of medicine, I also want to help in giving access to basic health services to those who are in need.

On PLE review

For the Physician Licensure Exam review, I do as much reading and listening to lectures since this is our group’s last month of being a free elf. My current efforts are: answering Pharmacology and Biochemistry flash cards on Ankidroid on my idle time at work and attending Expert MD’s lectures. So far, I am enjoying learning. This is what matters for me. More than my goal of topping the boards, I still want to find the joy in learning information that will help my patients.

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This is it for the first few days of January, I hope we all have a peaceful and fruitful year ahead.

Waking up before the sun rises

I am experimenting on living a simple life for 2023. It’s kinda ironic because, being a doctor almost doesn’t support that lifestyle but here I am trying to live differently.

This month’s habit that I am practicing is waking up at 5 AM. I don’t want to fool myself in waking up at 4:30 AM so I decided that 5 AM is the magic number. It’s not too early because I can still get 7 hours of sleep, and it’s not too late for me to not be able to do my morning routine.

There’s just something about waking up before the world does that I find peaceful. No dogs are barking. I can hear the birds chirping. I can make and drink my tea in silence. I can write on my blog. I feel so primed and ready to face the coming day. I hope that I can maintain this habit in the whole January.

Amidst all the challenges that will come ahead, I know that the only step that matters is that I live my best life, and and that is one that is filled with peace. As long as I am doing what I love and finding as much balance as I could, I’m good. In 2023 I will wake up before the sun rises. I will choose to spend time listening to nature. I will live simply and love fully. I will keep on keeping on.

2023 is the year I become a licensed medical doctor. This is the year of growing, one habit at a time. It is a year of letting go of what brings you down and focusing on what matters. It is a year of little steps. This is about living a full inner life rather than doing things for the gram.

I wake up before the sun rises.

Let’s be better humans

Are we alone?

We can be surrounded by so many people and yet feel alone. Sometimes we advocate for something, and it’s just frustrating to see that not everyone operates on the same values as you. We all were raised in different environments after all. In whatever we do, I hope we make it a conscious effort to examine if what we’re doing is truly the real us, or if we’re are doing something just so we can please other people. I hope and pray that we all get better at being who we are. Personally, I do feel good. I sleep at night knowing that I contributed, that I gave the day my best shot, that I’ve been kind to my friends and that I did something that was true to myself. Although there are just moments when I still feel so alone, having a spiritual practice, such as writing makes me feel more aligned, and makes me evaluate the things that I do.

Love and belonging

Love and belonging are two things that is a necessity for us humans. We need to love and feel that we are loved, and we want to feel like we belong wherever we are. In my work, I do my best to exude that love and to be honest, I feel it reciprocated as well. Whenever I am rotating in a certain department and I sense negative energy, and too much gossip and doing work like it’s just another transaction, I get instantly turned off. There are departments though that I feel like I belong. It’s like my DNA knows that this is the right place for me. I still have time to think about what path I’ll choose, but so far I do feel that love and belonging in a specific department. They are the right combination of intellect, kindness, and warmth. The residents are nice to each other and they have weekends and holidays off so there’s no constant stress. No matter how enamored I am by other specialties such as OB-Gyn and Internal Medicine, I still see myself doing other things than being a hospitalist. I want time with family. I still want to go on nature trips, go the gym, play with my dogs, and travel. I still want to sing, dance, and write. All those things, I just couldn’t do while I was rotating on the other departments. I want to be in a place where there is love and belonging. I want to live again.

On rehumanizing and dehumanizing

Last May was a sad month for us kakampinks. I really wanted Leni Robredo to win the presidency. I just don’t understand how people could support someone who’s not even familiar with the Filipino’s suffering? Living in this world is just crazy. One of my friends even wrote an offensive comment on my facebook post. I have unfriended quite a number of people because of their political beliefs. However, I realized that we are all humans. We have to stop dehumanizing each other. My God, it is so difficult to do this. It is hard to understand when we can’t comprehend something, it makes it a lot harder to love.

I want to preserve my humanity and not engage, so I deactivated my social media accounts and decided to just stay still and be present in my life. No matter who is the president, no matter who the leaders are, I know that our lives will not drastically change in a snap. I am still a broke postgraduate intern living in a third world country, trying her best to survive and be of service. Aren’t we all just trying our best? No matter what we believe in, don’t we just all want to have a better life? Isn’t that something that’s common among us? I hope we treat each other as human beings again. I don’t want to base how I treat people according to their political beliefs. I want to be better at seeing everyone as a human being. Inhale. Exhale.

I’m not gonna do it perfectly.

As I was hosting a Christmas party last night, I remembered my first few hosting gigs way back twenty years ago, my goodness I started doing it at eight. I was very nervous. I even cried one time because one of my so called friends told me that I was just repeating what I was saying. When I was a kid, I was laughed at because I incorrectly delivered the closing spiel.

It’s funny because last night two surgeons told me that I was so good at this. Damn, that felt good. Looking back, I had epic fail performances, I’ve lost count of many embarrassing moments onstage but I learned how to laugh at it. Whenever anyone gives a negative comment, I just tell myself, “They can’t even do what I do. They don’t even have the courage to stand onstage, in front of so many people and make sure that everybody’s having a good time. Their opinions are valid when they can replace me and do what I do, better, onstage.” That was the trick. I rarely had panic attacks afterwards, and everything just felt natural. I was just being me. I am not perfect. I am not the best. But I am the only one who is absolutely good at being Kate. No one could ever out-best me at being me.

Even in my job as a doctor, I accept that I’m not gonna do it perfectly. But I sure as hell do my best to get better everyday so that I can deliver excellent work. Again, for those seniors who belittle us newbies in the medical field, “We’re not gonna do it perfectly.” Just watch us work and I swear we’ll keep on improving. I hope you see how we try so hard be good. I know for myself, that one day, I will be good, and this will all be just like breathing, it will be very natural and my patients will feel it.

On speaking out

This blog is my way of expressing my thoughts. It’s actually hard for me to type this but I am having an internal battle about the things that I see and experience in the hospital. Harassment is common in females. I don’t want to normalize it, and I am trying my best to put light into these issues. I get sad that I hear stories about female co-workers who get harassed in the hospital. I just get triggered when I think about it. I cannot and will never accept a world wherein men think like it’s okay for men to touch you without consent, and to comment on a woman’s body or anything that suggests sexual things. As an intern, I have personally experienced this and when you are in this situation, it sucks, because you can’t do anything, you just freeze. This person is your senior and as a powerless woman, how do you respond? Why can’t all men respect women? I am speaking out here because this is the only place that I can freely do this but, I just hate that almost all women have to go through this.

On important conversations

As hard as it is to talk about certain topics. I want to live in a world wherein we’re not afraid to have honest and vulnerable conversations especially about things that matter. Even if it is uncomfortable to talk about politics and abuse, I want us to talk about it. This is just a tiny effort on my part, but on my last breath, I know that I helped move the needle forward. Even if it’s a few inches, I want to know that I did something. I hope we don’t opt out, and that when we are in a position wherein our voice can be loudly heard, I hope we choose to engage in these conversations with utmost respect and curiosity.

On shame

Nobody wants to be shouted at, period. I wonder why this is normalized in some fields of medicine. As I am now choosing the next step in my career, my choice is based on values that I firmly believe in. I want to go to a field wherein seniors don’t shame their juniors for their mistakes. Being called stupid or dumb, is a big no for me. People who lash out instead of verbally articulating their needs is also a big no. Why is shaming juniors normalized? I understand that doctors have a high stress job, but it’s just not an excuse to be rude. So thank you to all the seniors who have treated us juniors like a human being, I will do my best to pass on what you have started. We are going to change medicine. We are not going to be monsters.

That ends my ramble. Hope we all live better.