Yesterday, I met with my cousin mostly because of the whole-day power interruption — the humidity was too much to bear that my face was shimmering but not splendid — and partly because the five-day pseudo-break calls for catchups with people I seldom hang out with. (Thanks, med school.)
Anyway, she told me of an anecdote that, I’m pretty certain, will stick with me for as long as my memory is reliable.
She rode a taxi going to the hospital where she works as a nurse. Taking cues from her uniform, the driver talked about a time he fell ill and had to be admitted to the hospital. He talked about how hospital bills and medicine were too costly, especially given his meager income. Needless to say, he shares the same story with millions of Filipinos whose daily income is insufficient even for daily needs. Then, he expressed gratefulness along these lines, “Buotan kaayo ang doctor. Wala na lang ko gipa-bayad [professional fee] kay dili man gyud nako kaya maka-bayad. Dako kaayo akong pasalamat sa iya.”
He’ll never forget that doctor, he said. Intrigued, my cousin asked, “Kinsa diay na nga doctor?”
“Doctor Aranas,” the taxi driver replied.
Apparently, the doctor he was talking about is my father. (The driver probably needed a minor surgical procedure.)
People often assume my parents forced me into studying medicine. I don’t take such assumption as an offense because, looking from a common perspective, it’s expected. They’re both doctors and I, a development communication graduate, suddenly decided to enter this labyrinth called med school. This, my friends, is a typical reaction:
But I disagree. My parents themselves, in the words of my mother, “discouraged” me before enrolment. More of a daily reality check. Our conversations included them telling me I would need to overhaul my lifestyle and habits; my resiliency and determination would be put to test; and that med school is not “glamorous” as most people make it to be. I have been studying only for four months but I can attest to the truth of their “words of precaution.”
I willingly signed up for this not only because it’s the only field I see myself committing to until the age of retirement but, most important — I have seen how my parents use their profession in helping make other people’s lives more bearable, return these to normal, or in giving the slightest hint of relief and reassurance.
He is not an unbelievably wealthy surgeon who spends 90% of his time at work but my father definitely has the traits of a doctor I want to become — earning enough through honest means and handling patients, regardless of economic status, the way a human deserves to be treated and not as a mere piece of disease with a hefty paycheck attached.