Amygdala

It all started with an episode of House MD. I have heard of the TV series before from a friend, who claimed it was his favorite TV show. Being the usual late-bloomer that I am, I paid no mind to the recommendation and proceeded with my life. However, one Friday after coming home from Manila, I found myself watching a guy lose track of his time, then it turned out to be a twisted case of somnambulism and addiction, and then I fell in love with the show.

Medicine has always had a soft spot in my heart. It’s been there ever since I became conscious of the world. My mother is the origin (or etiology if this soft spot for medicine were to be treated as a disease), of course. She grew up wanting to be a doctor, and in spite of all the hardships strewn on her path, she became a doctor. Her passion for her work is unlike any other, and it makes her happy. She’s doing what she wants and loves to do.

I grew up being called a “little doctor” not because I’m a prodigy or anything. For a couple of times, I went with Mom when she came to a certain hospital to moonlight (“legally practice medicine without supervision”, according to Wikipedia). I began to see the portrait of a doctor: Sleepless nights, fatigue, the puzzle of diagnosing the patient, the labor of curing people. In Filipino slang, it is “toxic”. Then there’s also the residency training and the toll it takes in the family.

With the immortal curiosity of a child, I became acquainted with medicine. I loved it; I really did. I can’t imagine not being fascinated with the mystery of human life. But it has always scared me. So much sacrifice made me shy away from it. Besides, I was set on taking up Dentistry.

Now, with two years of pre-Dentistry finished, my plans falter. They quiver, unsure, just like a mirage. They seem to be there and yet, they’re not.

My fifteen-year-old self writes:

CHRONIC

Curing. I am good at it as much as I am good at math.

I’m not.

So, why did I choose a medical course anyway? Because the title “Doctor” is dripping with prestige? Because it renders my ears ringing at its captivating sound? Because of the staggering salary? Why?

Wow. I don’t even know the answer to those questions. What I have are mere speculations, guesses that wouldn’t even qualify as “intellectual”.

Now, they’re suggesting I take up medicine (medicine proper, yes, since I’m taking up a pre-med course). It’s not that I am not interested, it’s just that I have closed the door to that possibility ever since I began thinking. I detested the idea of having my years eaten by chronic education.

Besides, I am just purely indifferent to the acquisition of so much wealth. A comfortable life without much luxury is alright for me. But I can already see how this world wouldn’t let me trot peacefully along that line of thinking.

The quest for wealth is just everywhere.

I guess I would have to go back to that closed door, and consider looking for its key.

* * *

If there’s anything I learned in the two years wedged between Sjerlive-15 and Sjerlive-17, it’s that there isn’t a straight course to one’s future. Just last year, I was entertaining the thought of becoming a writer. (I’ve written quite a lot about that, apparently.) And yet, I never passed my application form. And now, I’m considering going to medical school after I finish Dentistry. If someone tells me I have a bad case of indecision, I couldn’t quite agree more. Either there’s something wrong with my amygdala or I’m really just born with an indecisive kind of it. But let’s be serious here. Career choice isn’t just a joke. This will greatly affect my future, my goals, my dreams and hopes.

Hypothetically speaking, if I do finish Dentistry and have enough odds in my favor to get into and out of medschool, then I will serve here in my country. I know it sounds like big, ambitious words coming from a child with purely good intentions and a lack of experience in life. But this is something I’ve always been firm about. I may not always be so sure of the work I will choose, but I’m sure that I want to serve in the Philippines. People would probably laugh at this and think, “She will go abroad. Just wait.” Living in a pragmatic world like this, it’s hard not to grab at the opportunities ballooning in those “greener pastures”. But my country needs me.

Certainly, I haven’t seen much of life enough to declare that I will not work abroad. The necessities at home, the bills to be paid, the budget to be squeezed. I’m only 17 and with the slightest idea of independence. How can I not consider going to work in a place where salary can reach up to six digits a month? Or maybe even greater. Besides, I’m not even sure of my career path.

Ramon Bautista says: “Magiging taong grasa ka ‘pag tinamad ka.” [“You will be a beggar if you end up being lazy.”]

I have to give back. To my family, to my friends, to my country. Again, ambitious words coming from a child. Yet in my own way, I will. I have to. I want to.

Long ago, I thought I’ve closed that door to becoming a medical doctor. It was crossed out in my list, off-limits. I didn’t think I have it in me to sacrifice so much of myself for something. But that’s what work is about. Doing something without giving myself to it would be meaningless. It isn’t work; it’s merely a waste of time.

It kind of sets my teeth on edge when my parents tell me that I should take up medicine, go abroad and practice it. I know that they want nothing but the best for me, and financially, that is perhaps the “best” for me. I am given an option that they didn’t have when they were in college, and they are prodding me to grab it. They believe in me more than anyone ever has, more than I actually believe in myself, and it is a great source of strength. Perhaps I am being too hard on the idea of working in a place I could never entirely call “home”. I don’t know what’s best for me, but I’ll figure it out.

In my own words, what’s best for people is what makes them contented and happy. I have to admit that I have an underlying prejudice to making so much money, and over the years, I might learn to outgrow it. Or maybe not.

* * *

I have always loved medicine. It’s been 17 years and I’m only confessing that now. What can I say? I’m a late bloomer, as always.

It scares me to have a person’s life on my hands, to have ethical and moral dilemmas filling my mind, to have the risk of lawsuits lurking in the dark. But that’s the chance every doctor takes, the commitment each one of them makes.

Don’t get me wrong. This entire post declaring my love for medicine doesn’t equate to any kind of hate for Dentistry. I would love to pursue Dentistry. Over the months of my second year in college as I asked myself why I didn’t take up writing, I found out that some of my plans will fall out, only to be replaced by God’s.

Despite the disclaimer that one would not learn to love Dentistry from our upperclassmen and professors in the college, I have to find out for myself whether it’s true or not. I just can’t imagine working without my heart in it. Similar to Medicine, Dentistry will require a lot of sacrifice from myself. I hope I am capable of that.

Meanwhile, I’ll be back to watching House MD.

Note: House MD is not the center of this post; it is merely presented as a catalyst. I’m saying this because I will write about it soon. Goodness, it’s such an amazing show I just can’t stop. The show needs to be in centerfold.

Have you seen the centerfold? There’s no way those valves are real!”—Dr. Gregory House

 P.S. I love you, Robert Chase.

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