Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I feel bad about leaving this blog for months in such a sour note with the taxi modus operandi post and not even a single update during the holidays. Not that anybody's waiting or pleading for a blog post, but still. My obsessive compulsive self is spazzing out about this missed personal tradition. How dare me!

Speaking of missed personal traditions, here is another that I've shamefully forgotten to uphold last year. My annual books-I've-read list. It's not anything special nor does it have any point at all. However, the organization center of my brain still demands such and won't stop unconsciously bugging me until it's published. Hence, here am I, with the shortest list I've written.

Books of 2013 

1. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
2. The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan 
3. Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov 
4. How They Met (and Other Stories) by David Levithan 
5. Statistical Probability of Love at First Site by Jennifer E. Smith
6. For One More Day by Mitch Albom
7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
8. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

Three realizations upon writing these 8 books that are supposed to pass off as a legitimate "list":

i. 2013 is the year of David Levithan. I kind of went all fangirl for a moment there.
ii. The Lover's Dictionary is still one of the best books I've read since I learned the alphabet.
iii. These fictional books don't really comprise of all the books I've consumed last year. There are med school books that took up most of my time such as (read as a Game of Thrones character) Moore of Anatomy, Guyton of Physiology, and Harper of Biochemistry (all 5 pages of what I managed to force myself to scan before chucking it away and searching for tutorial YouTube videos). 

Hopefully this year (as I've said numerous of times), the list will get longer. I have the whole summer to gobble all the fiction to last me the rest of the year. Now, if only the Game of Thrones series is as short as normal books, I won't have to worry about being spoiled ever again. I vow to smirk knowingly at all the deaths that I know in advance as they happen in the future episodes of the TV show once I finish reading the series. 

Please forgive the randomness. I am downloading the latest episode of Game of Thrones as I write this piece hence the weird topic insertion. Now if you will excuse me, I have another 9 minutes and 28 seconds to contain my excitement and hit the "publish" button. Will be back soon.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I've been reading a lot lately about various modi operandi taking place in taxi cabs here in the metro, most interesting of which are the stories involving "knockout gas", a rag or a hand towel being waved unnecessarily in front of the aircon and robbery/assault of the passenger once she has been inebriated. Effects of the gas apparently includes dizziness, muscle paralysis among the others. There was even a video of a taxi driver wearing a face mask circulating around the web which led me to believe there is truth to the reports even though a vital question remains unanswered. How was it that the driver was not affected by the gas?

At 8:30AM earlier this day (November 16, 2013) I rode a taxi with plate number UVJ 203 along Marcos Highway (I was on my way home to Rizal). It was a normal-looking taxi whose name I regrettably forgot to take note of since I concentrated on the plate number. Upon climbing into the vehicle, the first thing I noticed was the presence of a rag lying beside the gear stick and that the driver was wearing sunglasses which wasn't a big deal since it was a pretty sunny morning.

As we traversed Marcos Highway, I could feel him looking at me through the rear view mirror (which was easier to do since he was wearing shades) and constantly kept glancing at his right side mirror where I could feel his peripheral vision boring at me.

Alarms went off in my head when we turned to Felix Ave. going to Rizal proper. 

He took the rag beside the gear stick and used it while changing gears so that the rag was between his hand and the stick which was located conveniently at the same level and 2 inches away from the vehicle's air-conditioner vents.

I contemplated on why he would do this and 3 hypotheses came to mind:

     a. He was using the rag as sort of a driving glove for optimal gear changing performance.

    b. He wanted to polish his gear stick so it would beautifully reflect the sunlight and what better way to do this is while driving.

      c. I was on my way to be a Taxi Modus Operandi statistic.

I have read enough tales that I consciously stopped breathing normally the moment he laid his hands on that rag. I can still feel him watching me every once in a while through his sunglasses. Stupidly enough, I still gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he did need the cloth for optimal gear changing purposes, who knows? I knew the place we were in like the back of my hand and he didn't know I was breathing as shallowly as humanly possible so I felt a certain kind of advantage.

But then he started alternating the position of his hands between the gear stick and the right side of the steering wheel, again and again, passing the rag directly in front of the aircon vents. Then I heard a spraying sound near the driver's seat and I knew I had to get out.

I didn't dare find out whether it was (and if there really was) an invisible substance in the air or it was hypoxia from not breathing and being nervous at the same time that was making me feel slightly dizzy. I was genuinely curious whether if I inhaled I would smell a vanilla scent as reported. 

I considered action-star-ily opening the doors and rolling off the moving taxi like a mad stunt woman but lifelong scoffing at over-reacting people and sheer vanity got the better of me. 

Instead, I concentrated on breathing as shallowly as possible and finding a place I could safely get off at because there was no way I was taking this driver to my house. McDonald Karangalan was around 20 meters ahead and I said to the driver, "Manong sa tabi na lang po."

And he said, "Bababa ka na dito?" (I swear I heard disappointment in his voice.)

I replied, "Doon po sa may McDo."

The moment I said this, he immediately let go of the rag he was holding and thankfully decelerated and stopped in front of McDonalds to let me off the side of the road.

When I arrived home, I searched for news articles and reports of similar incidences and found the news articles listed at the end of this page. I remembered the print screen of a victim's experience my mom/sister sent me as a warning on Facebook and 'lo and behold, there he was. The very same driver I was with earlier.

I am 90% sure this is the same driver I was talking about. If not for his big sunglasses, I would have memorized his face because I was watching his movements the whole time. I didn't report anything to the authorities because, technically, I had nothing concrete to complain about except for the suspicious use of a rag while driving and a malevolent spraying sound. 

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has been receiving complaints on taxi drivers using a special spray to immobilize female passengers.
LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez in an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990 AM disclosed the new modus operandi of some taxi drivers preying on unaccompanied female passengers.
Containing a still unknown chemical solution, the “special spray” is being used by taxi drivers to make their passengers feel numb and dizzy after applying the liquid into a towel and expose it to the cab’s airconditioner.
He said that in some instances, the drivers would lower their windows so they would not smell the substance.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/512569/ltfrb-bares-taxi-drivers-new-modus-operandi#ixzz2ko99g8OZ
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

News articles also mentioned this normally happens on alone female passengers and in broad daylight.

I am writing this post as gratitude to the similar write-ups I've read prior to this incident. If not for them, I wouldn't have noticed anything out of the ordinary and may have possibly fallen victim to a heinous crime. Please do not disregard stories and other warnings such as this as they do really happen and with the upcoming holiday season, who knows what other ways they would come up with. 

Stay safe and alert everyone. Please spread the word.


LTFRB to probe on new modus victimizing female taxi riders || Philstar.com

LTFRB bares taxi drivers' new modus operandi || Inquirer.net

Taxi Driver Modus Operandi, Plate No. TXJ-792

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I have a confession to make. And it is the reason why I haven't even visited the admin page of this blog for the past five months, not to mention write and post anything online past two coherent sentences. This endeavor has pointed a sanity-draining rifle at my head and robbed me of all my remaining extra time and energy.

For reasons I will try later to expound on, long story short (and because you've probably read the title of this post already), I have insanely decided to enter the grueling and chaotic world of medicine. From being a part of healthcare in general, I am now striving rock hard to climb the oh so steep ladder of this generation's deadly Medical Hierarchy. 

I am now a "Medical Student".

And yes, as you all may have deduced by now, I am a Nurse studying to be a Doctor. 

I am a pathetic cliche.

Not that I have anything against nurses entering medical school (obviously, because I am one), it's just that recently, it has been the trend and it pains me to be considered as a part of an ongoing fad when it is a decision I have carefully and meticulously considered for months, with intensive neuron and body timeline consultations, not to mention implorations to the heavens to "Please, give me a sign!". 

So, the question is, what convinced an almost mid-20-something R.N. who is four years away from the last time she wore a toga, a funny-looking hat and accepted a blank piece of rolled paper onstage plunge back to 5-inches thick books, uniforms and head aching exams? 

Most reasons are too personal to be understood without background information so let's just put it this way. 

I have experienced the hospital. I have lived in it (mostly behind a surgical mask quietly taking it all in). I have observed countless successes and inevitable failures of various physicians. I have heard stories, the miraculous and the disastrous and everything in between. I have talked with patients and witnessed their apprehension, relief, frustrations and gratitude. 

I have been yelled upon, praised, blamed for something, and blatantly disregarded (sometimes all on the same day). And even with the chaos, the drama, the uncertainty, the culture of seniority, the never ending studying and looking stupid for things you did not study for, the inhumane workload and all the others that I have yet to discover, it is still the world I dream to be a part of.

And when you know that it is something you will regret in the future if you fail to take the chance today, you ******' take it.


But make no mistake, being a med student does not make me any less of an R.N. I'll be honest, I feel slightly guilty because most of the readers of this blog have commended me for being relatable as a struggling nurse here in the country and now all my posts (as rare as they will be) would be about studying and exams and more studying. Nevertheless, I hope my past posts would still be of help to R.N. colleagues and, well, for the future entries, who knows what they hold. :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

So even though, from the looks of the results of this year's midterm Senatorial elections, 90% of the country still has no access to social media and half of those who has are confined mostly to Facebook playing Fruit Diamond Candy Farm Crush Saga, it is still no doubt that this year's elections proved to be a nationwide social media event.

Twitter alone has garnered much of the election-related discussions and debates 140 characters could offer as its timeline is least cluttered with unlimited selfie shots of that Facebook acquaintance or Valencia-ed #foodporn portraits. It was no wonder come election time that shots of dirty fingers with indelible ink (including a viral indelible inked nostril) were posted for all the world to see. And almost like clockwork, once the first news of election results came in, so did the hilarity.

I honestly tried not to laugh at all the Nancy Binay jokes but they just keep getting better and better. Almost everything was well thought of and timely delivered. Add to that the #ipasoksidick trending hashtag and I could just watch my Twitter feed and feel like I'm in a comedy bar. 

But seriously, although it was not at all surprising, it was still interesting to note the polar differences in the mentality of those with social media privileges and those in the legitimate "masa" demographic brackets. And guess who holds the true electorate power. 

It's the hard truth, one that I've recently accepted as I grapple with the fact that this beloved country has once again elected leaders based on anything but valid credentials. We can send unlimited tweets, blog all we want the information about candidates to inform the public for them to formulate an intelligent choice, but the fact of the matter is, we are preaching to a stubborn crowd still easily amused and convinced by popular surnames and catchy television ads and campaign jingles. 

Nothing has changed. Except for several posters eliminated by the Anti-Epal campaign, the majority of the voting public is still the same, with their penchant for pity parties for the kawawa and naaapi and the unwavering belief that the courage, righteousness and the "defender of the people" image that they see on-screen transcends to real life, even to one's daughter.

Self proclaimed intellectuals were fast to display their self-proclaimed intellect mere minutes following the proclamation of the first leg of the results, including me, I must admit, my initial reaction was to blame all the voters for picking wrongly. But then, is there a right and wrong answer when it comes to a democratic election? 

And who should we blame? The uneducated and poor electorate who puts into position inexperienced and incapable "leaders" or these leaders who abuses power and keeps the electorate poor and uneducated?

It's an unending cycle. One that is less likely to break anytime soon. But there is still hope. 

As long as there are concerned individuals scouring for inconsistencies and incompetence of those in position, as long as there are bloggers/writers/bayan patrollers voicing out their comments and appeals to the public and as long as there are people posting dirty indelibly-inked fingers and nostrils on Instragram, there is hope. And however sometimes irritating, this I would want to gladly see in the next elections.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

There will always be stories that will follow us. From something we've read, watched on the news, gossiped from that overly chatty friend or witnessed with our own eyes. The thing about being an operating room nurse is that the events we witness everyday, and is considered as norm (even downright boring as I stare into my 6th Caesarian Section in an 8-hour graveyard shift) are the ones most people cringe and gasp upon. 

But then, at times, stories will come swinging through the semi-sterile double doors that even the most experienced of us will remember.


A 20-something year old just lost his leg the day I was complaining about how I had no time to get a pedicure. A victim of a construction freak accident, his post-adolescent leg was permanently detached from his body. Now, we've seen countless of below-the-knee amputations and once we've gotten over the crude bone sawing, it was not a big deal. But the devastating and instantaneous effect of a single tragic event followed me the whole day from the moment I transferred out the patient to the ward and had to explain to the receiving nurse why a handful of relatives were crying over a BKA. The patient, himself, was in silent tears as he stared at the ceiling, waiting for his stretcher to be wheeled beside the ward bed, probably wondering the future that lays before him.

We've all been there. Thinking that something (or someone) will be with us until the end of our selfish existence, always available and conveniently at an arm's length away. Until they're not. And then the world feels like it has stopped turning as we stand, shell-shocked. I've pictured this in countless scenarios, but never one starring a body part. I guess we are all under the wrong impression that anything we are born with will stay with us to the grave.


Burn patients. I would always cringe internally whenever I see and care for one. Not because I was repulsed by their appearance, with their scorched flaky skin that needs to be scrubbed off like a wood furniture in need of sandpaper, or the smell of burnt flesh, cloying in the air even after the procedure is done. I recoil on the inside because I could not fathom the pain, the prolonged discomfort and the life changing effects of deformity brought upon by seconds of misfortune.

Then I remember the time I looked in the mirror and saw a colossal pimple right at the center of my nose, red and angry at the world. Everyone at work noticed and made me feel like the most dermatologically ill-fated person in the country with stubborn pores rallying against me. Curse those blemish free goddesses with clear radiant skin and perfect bodies. Why can't I look like them? It turns out, luck was still on my side. Very much so.


Running. When people inside the operating room are running, you know there are urgent matters need to be attended to. When people inside the operating room are running with a patient on a stretcher on tow, you know it's a matter of life and death.

We didn't even have time to properly set up a complete explore laparotomy / thoracotomy set when the patient came rushing in from the hospital corridor one minute after a hurried phone call from the emergency room. Middle adult male, gunshot wound through the chest. Someone continued CPR, another ran for the e-cart and ampules of Epinephrine. He was fluidly transferred to the OR table and surgery started immediately amidst the systematic chaos.

It only took less than half an hour before the surgeon proclaimed the inevitable and death certificates were arranged.

A father of children, a husband to a wife, a son to a mother. He was watching TV in their apartment's living room when hit by a stray bullet from a domestic fight near their home. Intraoperative findings revealed that the bullet tore through two of the chambers of his heart, obliterating any chances of survival.

I could hear his wife's agonized cry from outside of the operating room complex as I concentrated on the novel that was my nurse's notes. Too many thoughts poured through my mind. What a shock it must have been to find a loved one dying in the sanctuary of your own home. And what, in this world of unexplained phenomena, willed a stray bullet straight through a man's heart?


It's a common quote: "I cried because I have no shoes, until I saw a man with no feet." We understand what it means, hell, we've read it on Facebook with matching depressing black and white photo of a pitiful looking man looking sullen. Some even clicked "Like".

And yet, do we really remember, as we whine about unreliable WiFi signal and complain about the bipolar weather? They say "Time is gold" and no one has ever really contested that fact, and yet, why are we throwing away valuable stones by the kilo by spending hours on Facebook and obsessing about how everyone's life is better than ours? Or sticking to mindless, purposeless routines because society tells us to do so, all the while forgetting to live our life, the life we truly want to live?

Because, whatever we are doing at this very moment, what makes us so sure that a bullet is not on its way?

Monday, April 22, 2013

I am not a beauty blogger. The only thing I know about beauty is that it is believed to be in the eye of the beholder. What I know about make-up? Less so. Daily regimen consist of face powder, little blush and lip tint/balm. Sometimes with a special cameo of mascara. It was just recently that I got interested (okay, a bit obsessed, maybe) about lipsticks. More specifically nude lipsticks that doesn't make me look like a trying-hard, single mid-50 who goes ballroom dancing at night.

Because of my fair skin, bright, vivid hues makes me look over-painted and weird. I've been searching everywhere for that perfect nude lipstick that will complement my skin tone and will look natural on my lips. Gratefully, with the help of various PH beauty blogs, I've found the perfect nude lipstick late last year:

Etude House: Wanna Be #3 So Chic Beige

To be honest, I didn't like the Korean beauty bar before because I find their items childishly designed / packaged, ridiculously named and waaay too expensive for the product you get. But this sole item made me change my mind. 

The box is gorgeous, the black tube is a darling inside my pouch (but gets scratched easily for some reason), but most importantly, the shade is just spot on perfect for me. I'm not good with colors, but it's a mix of peach and pink which makes lips look naturally plump and healthy. Also, the consistency is amazingly creamy and non-drying, add to that a mild yummy scent that makes you think you're eating something when applying it.

Major CON? It was a limited edition product, part of 2011 Winter Collection, with stocks being phased out of Etude House branches weekly.

So what's a girl to do? I bought a second tube (last stock of Cubao branch) even before my first was just halfway done. As expected, as lipstick tubes do not last forever especially if they are being used daily, I was about to ran out earlier this year and was frantically Googling for the exact shade replica of this seemingly irreplaceable shade. 'Lo and behold, I found it, thanks again to the beauty blogger community here in the country:

Etude House: Dear My Blooming Lips BE101

Yes, the name is cringe-worthy, it doesn't even make sense at all. But what's important is the product, and surprisingly enough, it's the exact same lipstick just packaged differently

Okay, maybe not exactly the same, since the pigmentation was toned down a few notches and the finish became more glossy than the matte finish I was used to from So Chic Beige, but nonetheless, it was the same thing more or less. After weeks of Googling and beauty bar searching, imagine how happy I was.

Staying power is still a downside as it sticks to every straw and spoon it has come in contact with and reapplication is definitely needed after eating and/or drinking. Still, it remains to be the best shade for me, so I'm no doubt keeping it.

If Etude House keep this line for all eternity, I shall be forever happy. Lipstick-wise at least. 

12. You have dry hands and you fear imminent varicose veins eruption in the very near future.

11. You can sleep while standing up then snap awake at a sound of an instrument's name being called.

10. You already have glove and suture brand preferences. (Mine's Gammex 6 1/2 Powder Free for toxic cases. Catgut, most reliabe Chromic we've used!)

9. "Mayo" is not a condiment, as "Army Navy" is not a burger joint nor a specialized government unit.

8. The sequence"OS, OS, Knife, Kelly, Kelly, Army Navy, Mayo.." means something to you.

7. You like suctioning blood clots. It's fun. Seriously.

6. You have touched / poked with a gloved finger a patient's intestine at one time or another (with the surgeon's permission) just for the experience of it.

5. You have witnessed how the weirdest things get stuck in people's orifices. 

4. You know and have experienced the TRUE meaning of "an itch that can't be scratched".

3. You're used to seeing people naked and has seen private parts of all shapes, colors and sizes.

2. The phrases "tusok o patong?", "lunok laway" and "labas dila" don't sound awkward at all.

...and the top sign you are an operating room nurse:

1. You have seen both the pinnacle of human stupidity (with some of the weirdest clients you've catered to) and mortal ingenuity (from the health care providers you have worked with) with each case that has come your way. And, personally, that is one of the reasons that make this profession a cut above the rest.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I think it's safe to say that I've never read a novel or any book like this before in the hundreds (if not thousands) of books I managed to get my paws on in the almost two decades that I've been reading. 

A nameless character tells the story of a relationship entirely in dictionary entries. There is no chronological order of events, no cohesive plot, no palpable characterization, only flawless narration of events, dialogues and feelings that delivers a story that is vague and nondescript but featuring settings and feelings that are all too familiar to most people who is and has been, at least once in their lives, in love.

Since the novel defies the usual paths of plot line developments, what makes this literary gem sparkle is its ability to lure the reader in solely by just the brilliance of its writing and the ideas and insights that comes with such situations universally common in almost all relationships.

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan, an author who was introduced to me by John Green via their collaboration in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, is an easy, wonderful read. It will make you smile, laugh and tear up in different occasions in the less than 3 hours you will spend finishing it. It's a quick read, without overwhelming the senses, without pretending to be what its not. 
 It will make you think about your own life, its past and the future that lies ahead. It will make you love the concept of love, including the struggles and the bliss that comes with the territory. Because, what else is life for?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I was supposed to write this deep and profound (redundancy intentional) blog series about my 1 1/2 year experience working inside the Operating Room. I planned it to be hard-hitting stuff, life-changing even, the kind of articles that would make you think about one's purpose in this world, how people tend to put much value on the wrongest of things and complain about the most insignificant details, but for some reason, I couldn't find my Paulo-Coelho-meets-Mitch-Albom voice and, after several sessions of trying, is still incapable to write my own version of Tuesdays with The Alchemist. 

Instead, what keeps popping out of my head is this sarcastic Gossip Girl style voice which likes name-dropping popular authors and makes fun of everything. So be it. I'll make use of you.

So, what did I manage to soak up after months inside a place where only few have gone inside of, half of them on the table, anesthetized, and the other half literally running around the place just to properly run the place?

Crocs are best friends. They may look fugly outside the sterile section of the OR but inside, they are your feet's closest buddy. From standing in one place for hours at a time to jogging around the facility for the whole 8 hour shift to doing the Tinikling just to get out of the way of spilling blood during bloody operations, you'd be glad to have a comfy rubber barrier protecting your feet from bodily fluids that are not yours nor from a person you're in an intimate relationship with.

Babies are not as fragile as you think. They are actually very nimble and resilient. After witnessing and assisting in hundreds of Caesarian Sections, I'm pretty much convinced I could throw one out the window and it will survive the fall. (Just a figure of speech, please don't report me to Bantay Bata.)

It's never as horrifying as macabre movies present it to be. Replace the gloomy, oil-stained walls with clean tiles and a set sterile instruments instead of chainsaws and pliers and it's pretty much the same thing, intestines and blood everywhere. The difference only lies in the anesthesia, and the fact that no one ever screams and loses their appetite after a major operation. In fact, it's all you can do to not forget to wash your hands before attacking that waiting meal in the pantry.

Nudity loses... whatever effect it has when you're surrounded by it everyday. Now I  can understand how people can go people-watching in nudist beaches and find nothing out of the ordinary. Now, seeing a pregnant mother's labia majora is just like staring at an elbow. Well, the inner part of a flexed elbow, maybe.

Surgeons are also humans. They have different personalities and techniques, they make mistakes and perform miracles, they sleep on meticulously scrubbed floors and wear crinkled scrub suits to work. They are not self-proclaimed Gods some people assume them to be nor crazy overachievers like the ones in Grey's Anatomy who have sex in the janitor's closet. Okay, I'm not sure about the latter because we do not have janitor's closets to begin with but you get the point.

You never know what you got until it's gone. Sometimes, the simplest things are the most important ones. And ironically, these are the things we most often take for granted. Like, feet, for example. I mean, I like my feet, I take them to spas and pedicures every month. But I, you, and most people, don't go around saying "God, I feel so blessed to have these feet." because they've always been there, attached to your legs.  And then the next thing you know, you're witnessing someone get theirs sawed off because of a disease or a freak accident and the unthinkable possibilities that have never entered your mind seemed all too real and plausible. And trust me, it will make you stop ingesting sugar by the kilo. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

(August 2011 - December 2012 Shift)

> In from bum life / office work via ward with fat pads stubbornly intact on hips, belly and on subcutaneous layers covering self

> With mental, physical and parental consent to work for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, in the most random General Reliever shiftings possible

> Transferred into Post Anesthesia Care Unit, transferred out patients

> Scrubbed and gowned aseptically

> Hooked to ongoing operations with OS and instrument count repeatedly done with complete remarks

> Operations ended, post-op care to patients rendered  instruments repeatedly washed and packed.

> Ingested 386 units of 3-in-1 coffee 350 ml type Kopiko Brown Sugar, sipping well

> Above coffees consumed followed by 1,257 cases of Caesarian Section

> Kept alive and usefull to society

> Encouraged foot and leg exercises by circulating ongoing operations

> Referred to Dimsum with orders made, paid and eaten

> Referred back to self for further evaluation and management of further plans in life

> Emotional needs perfectly attended

> Endorsed to bum life/office work with stable happiness, with memories attached at heart :)

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