....
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Anna Santos


SDC10683

It's been a year since my first dive into the Davao's Deep. My first ocean plunge, I did out of curiosity, but my second leap, I did out of bravery.


Honestly, I don’t know how to swim. So I am not supposed to be called a diver, right? But yet, scuba diving has become one of my greatest challenges wrapped up in my own adventures.

My dad has loads of stories of my misfortunes since the time I learned to walk. My mini adventures and the peculiarity attached to each mess, like falling from a tree, tripping over to a filthy canal, crashing my bicycle, and even my hairpin electrocution continued to amuse me as my dad used to jokingly unearth the memories. 

I love the beach when I was a kid, and I couldn’t count the times I almost drowned, turtle-turned by the waves as it brushed the shoreline. And my dad, who spent half his lifetime traveling the sea, was my first knight in shining swimsuit that saved me off my first taste of E.coli-infested, unsterilized, undrinkable salt water. Yet I never dared to learn swimming beyond the capacity and the height of my undersize legs. I hated the tan acquired from swimming as I was already dark in the first place. Hence not even a formal swimming class could convince me from learning.

Except for the backstroke I discovered I am capable of, I grew up swimming only till up to my neck and never over my head. I only have guts. Yes, guts! So as daring as the daring duck, I dive through my first journey underneath the earth’s ocean. After all, if you have the scuba gear (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus), who needs swimming huh? I can breathe. I thought smugly.
SDC10689
Unluckily, I learned my first underwater lesson the hard way. I let my mouthpiece fall off after a big wave hit on us! I was in the state of shock and drowning myself with questions. How am I going to breathe?! That’s my life line, right? How am I going to put that mouthpiece back in my mouth without the water? 


I was already at 20 feet below sea level. I don’t know how to swim back to the top without breathing. In that very brief seconds of holding my breath, questions came as fast as the strokes of waves. My oxygen-deprived brain couldn’t even help me figure out the hand signal for “problem”. So I struggled like I’d die for my life. My expert diving partner, sensing the urgency, hurriedly ascended me to the top just one push-button from my gear. Rescued from my misery, I gasped for air and breathe the ocean breeze. I was so embarrassed and panicked stricken that I noticed my diver looked like my ex who was a swimmer; or was it because I still do not have enough oxygen to feed my brain. I must have drunk seawater that pollutes the mind and got intoxicated. I blushed and whisked it off!

I almost got drowned but I didn’t give up that easily. After a short chat and a quick reminder from my diver, I repeated the whole diving process again like recovering from a fall. This time I had done it successfully, graced the underwater beautifully, until 35 feet. Awkward as it may sound though; I had to hold my diving partner’s hand, as I'd bit my mouthpiece like a line between life and death.

When I did my second dive this year, I’d like to say that good things come out from bad experiences. This time, no more falling mouthpiece, and no more holding hands. I still don’t know how to swim though, but I was more confident. I played with the clown fish, watched the sea snake, and posed for the underwater camera, and enjoyed the wonderful scenery my eyes could lavish. I had a diver with me, still, as “never dive alone” is the general rule. But at least he didn't looked like the ex ex-swimmer of my past as I assured myself no more oxygen-deprived brain that could play tricks on me.

When I fell from the tree, I may had scratched a knee, but I brushed it off and walked through pain, till the pain's gone. I may had made a false move and tripped myself into the canal, but I rose from shame and washed it off. 


Diving can be pretty scary if you don’t know how to swim. Yet it must not stop there. Nothing has to hold you back from exploring your wildest wishes and aspirations, to open your heart to the possibilities and discover who you are, what you want, and what you can do. I’m afraid that life will pass me by if I don’t dare. I will remain at this point forever and I might never get a chance to see the other side of the world had I given up. 


Life is full of possibilities, and nothing is impossible. If it meant climbing a mountain’s peek or doing a Bungee jump to fulfill your heart’s desire and exist for one moment then let it be. Your limitations is all yours to break. 


Go,  dare life!





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PICT0046
Anna Santos


Why do people always get the wrong first impression sometimes? They always thought doctors don't have a life, don't have a sense of humor, and just modestly serious. They thought we are one dignified humorless human being.

Why can't doctors be lighthearted, flamboyant, flashy, goofy, loud, ostentatious or swanky? For sure, our society dictates and insists what type of personality we should be acting in a role only a few were granted to have, Gods assistant for healing. For sure too, nobody wants their body to be entrusted to a cuckoo doctor. Of course, doctors have no right to be insane, or be foolish in treating their patients. That's why you can't expect them getting ridiculously comical inside the consultation room or that would be unlikely. I can't imagine laughing it out over an ailment, could you?

But on the contrary, they have the right to laugh and become wacky over themselves. To drink and be merry like normal people does. Outside, when we are not in our white coats, we are just ordinary human being. Who knows, you might see us in Bakbak drinking and laughing, or at K1 singing and dancing and you enjoyed how we make a fool over ourselves, then until such time you find out we are a doctor, you change your mind.

Some doctors become engulf with these silent mandate from the society, they turn out to become sobered and stern. Perhaps in witnessing the magnitude of a disease progression, there was no time to laugh. But hey, after all, this is our life. Life is what we make it, so they say. I hope these type of doctors would remember to laugh again.

I remember med school and how wacky we were out there (yo! Augs Bulai!). Medical students are extended adolescents. We don't mind much since time's not on our side. We didn't have time to write blogs or to go to bars all the time, we had a way of just simply take off the boredom inside school or outside during parties. None of us were working students. How was it possible? We went to school early in the morning till early in the evening, then we studied at night or we party at night (sometimes). Hospital duties were 24 hrs too. Well, what was it to worry except keeping the grades to a passing mark, joking it out when all got the reds (happy valentines day on the grade-posting bulletin board). We were scholars of our parents or a wealthy sponsor, and all we have to do was study, or should I say, cram studying.

So, whenever we are out there with our friends, even to this day, we too act like you. We laugh and play, we quarrel and make up, we also worry about our bills too (not grades now). We can be naughty and mischievous, and cunning or whiny at times. Yet most of all, we longed to spend time with our love ones too, just like all of you.

Anna Santos
I have been trying to decipher what I longed in my life. A lot has been given now by our Almighty but I still need to achieve more. Was it truly the saying that man (or woman) doesn't satisfy himself (or herself)?

After all the code blue and code red, code white and code black, intubate here, there, ASAP, Now, STAT, run go move, think accurately but think fast.....One great moment to save someone's life at the brink of death is one great leap to a euphoric disposition... . So now what?

Post-residency and post- ICU days, it seems that my life went to a halt. Yes, frozen like a toad mortified in the pond of ice cold water. I get flustered, and I don't like it.
For 3 months now, I've been dealing with OPD consultations, walk-in patients, and possible admissions. And what do I deal with?

  • * Students who sometimes came to me with their own self-made diagnosis;
  • * Ladies who came for documentation of a slap on their faces but without a slap mark (what would I write on the medical certificate?);
  • * Teens complaining of their breast getting bigger (it's just their growth hormone);
  • * People who want to avail their sick leave, so they complain to you:
  • * They have cough without fever;Or flu without symptoms; Or just anxious of 0-3 rbc on urine; Or walks towards you limping after accidentally hitting their ankle, but walked out straight after receiving the medical certificate.


Times like this, when I like to vomit all the nonsense complains of these ambulatory people, I think of wanting to go back to ICU, to say hello patients, I miss you. There, they really are sick that they are sick to death of their illness.
And so I miss the days when I'm the captain of the ship. When I shout they scram, when I say move, everything was laid to you in place. Back then, the patient can't tell straight what to do or what not to do, because they are either dyspneic (difficulty in breathing) or comatose or moribund, they will just be grateful for you later.




I miss the intensity of how I deal with life, of how I respected it, that seconds counts, and that life is not to be joked at, that I could lose him/her in my hands. ICU and Emergency Room were the best places I was assigned. It makes you forget problems, gets you to be focused.




I remember during my junior days of residency, I can't wait to be out of the hospital life, and live normally. I had a whole bunch of unsupportive seniors who knew nothing of helping and camaraderie but moves great on crab mentality. Friend colleagues who turned out the same way, soon I have nothing to trust on to but myself,for life in the residency training is all about competition.




Shortly I learned the art of therapeutics, by myself, in the midst of those who wanted to sabotage my existence. I conquered my fear and the lack of confidence; I acquired clear insights and judgment. Later speed on critical analysis of the disease ensued. Who would have thought ICU and ER will become my favorite place when I kept on evading this area during my first year. I have won over my seniors, they failed to fail me.


Now I'm here, working as a consultant, funny I'd like to go back. I don't know, the hype of the hospital rush is addicting, "I love the playing field" so to quote.


Subsequently, I am now at the focal point of an intersection, laying down options is hard but deciding ultimately is tougher. I want to pursue further, I want to prove myself worthy in my medical world. Scholarship grant has been offered. Subspecialty training is waiting. Should I proceed or should I not? Here I go again. I am torn from my being a career woman, to a mother, a wife and a daughter.



But one thing is sure, I will aim high.

So help me God.
Anna Santos

Graduation is one of the rare moments in life when I find myself looking back on where I used to be, while at the same time looking forward to what lies ahead. Behind are the precious memories of experiences that I will never forget, heartfelt emotions that may fade in time but will never disappear. Without my past, I have nothing on which to build my future with, and without the future, my past would have been irrelevant.


Residency training for me was demanding and difficult. I have often seen myself in the middle of situations that required both courage and sacrifices. To bridge the silence, I must have the courage to risk rejection from my consultants; to be efficient, I must sacrifice my time with my family and bear the pain of leaving my loved ones. Often, I am standing at the crossroads thinking to opt for the easy and well-trodden road out from this miserable life, but instead, i chose to venture further down the world of internal medicine where I realized how fragile life can be, minutes , if not seconds counts.


I have known the pain of failure, frustration, disappointment and defeat, because I have taken a chance on winning and succeeding. Surviving disappointments awakened me to see that I have made it through the difficult times. Soon I discovered that real success is conjoined in loving relationships. What matters is people, as what lasts is love. What counts are true people that molded us into who we are now.


Thus, I am grateful to my seniors who made my training rough and tough, for there I learned to struggle and forge myself to a new horizon. I am also thankful to my co-residents which made my residency training bearable and memorable; to my consultants who shared their art of management to us; the nurses who in one way or another worked hand-in-hand with us in saving lives,the basis of unity despite some of our differences; to my friends who understood the reason for my non-appearance but supported me in various times though; and to my family, my inspiration, who despite my absence in our home most of the time, backed me up in my decisions.


Thank you for the people who believe in me, but most of all,thank you dear Lord and Mama Mary bacause as I looked back and smile at what had passed, I asked myself "How did I get through all of that?". Well, its just putting in mind to never let go of hope, to never quit dreaming, and never let love depart from our lives.


I would like to say that residency training is one of the best chapters of my life, (though I didn't say it's easy), and I thank all of you for being a part of this painfully wonderful memory.


To my fellow residents, never stop growing and never stop learning, put in mind values of persistence, discipline and determination because we are meant to be whatever we dreamed of becoming. Remember to stop and take a breath. Life is not a race to be won. The only way to enjoy all of it is taking it one moment at a time. And you'll see the task at hand is already done. As the saying goes, "Success is not measured by how well you fulfill the expectations of others, but by how honestly you live up to your own expectations".


To my fellow graduates, there are a lot to be proud of, the obstacles that made us stronger, the determination that has remained steadfast, the willingness to keep on path, to stay and not quitting.Dreams really do have a way of coming true...this is the moment we have worked for. Lets move on and take a leap for the next challenges ahead.



Anna Santos
Have you ever argued with your thoughts? Did you feel like every decision you are about to take warrants a counter-reaction more destructive than before? Just because you are a physician, did you ever think you are so sure of yourself so arrogantly that you can keep your cool and strong enough to doctor your own relative's battle against the grim reaper we called DEATH? It happened to me three months ago; the gruesome truth left me barefaced. I was thrown out of the sizzling lava, remained blankly motionless, and thawed like there’s a nuclear meltdown.

“Ate, nahirapang huminga si Gladys” (sis, Gladys have difficulty breathing). These were my brother’s worried words as he tried to search for understanding on his wife’s fatal situation. His tensed voice and uncontrollably trembling hands were the unspoken gestures of how much he cares for her. When I saw him nearly bursting to tears, desperately clinging on for hope for his wife and their first born, never knowing what to do nor what to expect, I felt a humongous burden in my chest. I never thought I couldn’t handle the sight of him pacing the corridors back and forth, treading the nursery ICU seeking comfort from his newborn, then back to the room, then to the prayer chapel, then back to the room again. His eyes unable to fix mine, and with restrained emotions he tried to conceal it with casual talks. This wasn’t the cheerful and comical Allen I know, and it just ripped my heart apart to see him so lost and exhausted.

My sister-in-law successfully delivered to a preterm baby girl. Though her infant was placed in the incubator due to prematurity, everybody thought she would be discharged right away. However, two days after that normal delivery, she began to bleed profusely. Worst, her OB-GYN went out-of-town for a convention. What's more? She was left under my care as the internist. Yes... me, her husband's sister. And in that terrifying night, something went wrong...

Less than 16 hours of intermittent blood losses, she gradually deteriorated. Her blood counts dropped so low, she had no blood pressure, no urine output, and her skin was as cold and pale as dead (hypothermia). Her eyes turned yellow (jaundice), and her abdomen bloated. No matter how much we ordered for stat laboratories, boluses of emergency drugs, fast dripping of fluid challenges, and ASAP request for blood transfusions (whole blood, FFP, platelets), there were new episodes arising every hour like cliff-hanging chapters of events waiting to unveil its scene in just a moment.

As test results arrived one after another, I stared and stared in disbelief. I was facing a stormy battle for her life. Findings showed sepsis (a blood infection) and DIC (a blood clotting problem). I tried to keep my cool but being a doctor doesn’t help me from harboring unwanted thoughts knowing its pathophysiology, or the disease progression. She was in impending shock and coma and I know her shallow breathing entailed possible ventilator, her status… an ICU settings. The decreasing urine output might lead her to dialysis and low blood counts may bleed her to death . I have to be one step ahead. Because one false move, one second short, few minutes delayed on rescue treatment, she might then be irreversible. It dawned on me that a lot of women with this condition did not survive due to delayed recognition of a fatal encounter. What if she dies? What will happen to my brother and my niece? I don’t want to regret this for the rest of my life. For the first time, I got scared.

Maybe the priests can be a priest to their own family. And lawyers can be a lawyer to their own brood without hesitation. But can doctors deal the life of their own bloodline? I don’t know. Perhaps, that’s why the Oath of Hippocrates was made.


(TO BE CONTINUED…. read on and click When Life is A Relative - Part II)
Anna Santos
(CONTINUED FROM When Life is A Relative – Part I)


Flipping the charts with quivering hands, I glanced at Gladys' semi-conscious state of mind and gazed at Allen's bewildered appearance. My eyes surveyed the gloomy room, our relatives were there, entirely clueless of what I have in mind. I wanted to burst into tears and scream “She may die anytime!” but I haven’t uttered it in blur and confusion. How do I prime my family to expect the worst? I used to do that to patients, unrelated to me. How do I say to them to be prepared of a possible death when I myself wouldn’t accept that dreaded idea? I had to get out of the room, evaded the pressure, and stayed at the nurse station, for if physically, she was in agony, emotionally, it was torture to me too.

Perhaps it was too heavy to bear that I couldn’t write any medical orders anymore, for fear I might push her to death, or be blamed by my brother, or worst, by myself. So I asked the Lord why her and why me. It’s hard to pretend in front of the people who expected too much from you that everything is in control when you know only the Lord knows if He would like her to respond well to our treatment. And it’s also lonely to cry alone, never letting your family see you cry because you should be the last man standing strong.


As a doctor, when dealing with life itself becomes a routine day to day encounter, we become detach to maintain grace under pressure. We cling to our defenses to think clearly and objectively. But I got stuck in the danger zone, unable to create a detached attitude. My judgment was already clouded. I couldn’t be a doctor to my sister anymore. I tried, I thought I am strong enough, but I failed.


I have earlier called in the Hematologist and the Infectious specialist. With HELLP syndrome versus Postpartum HUS as a consideration, they continued with the treatment I initiated and worked their brains out in saving Gladys until she was out of the ICU. I thanked my colleagues for understanding how I bothered them in my crisis. And I thanked Dr. Amy, my cousin, for the support she gave in that crucial day. I never thought how noble my profession is until this time, when I had a hands-on experience of their camaraderie.


Learn to quit when you are supposed to. Do not push yourself and be stubborn if you think you can’t. Step aside and be a relative. These I learned well.




So I step aside and been feeding my little niece with my breast milk at the nursery while my colleagues deal with the mom at the ICU. For a while, I’ve been the surrogate mother for baby Mickey up till she was roomed-in.





My brother’s family is now out of the hospital enjoying the life together. Last week was baby Mickey’s christening, and I thank the Lord to have been constantly guiding my thoughts and the hands of all the physicians who attended to Gladys.

As for me, I guess, I’ve been a better relative than a doctor to my relatives. But the pleasure and contentment to have saved one relative is, after all, more than the money could give.



Anna Santos

The breast…., one of the most controversial parts of a woman’s body. Depending on the need of the individual, it is used for breastfeeding first and foremost, than to lure men to its attraction.

I mind my breast these days, more than I care for it before. Why bother about it then when it is as good as a size of a large mosquito bite? Or, make it a bumble bee bite. Fact of the matter is, even if you exercise your arms and positively say “I must.., I must.., I must increase my bust”, it won’t. Breast pads and Wonder Bras would help make it look bigger though, and there are silicone and other breast enhancements as well, for a more expensive price, but then again, so what? It’s just the view you’re minding. So I don’t give a damn.

Until I gave birth lately, I decided to breastfeed my second born as I have not given my first child the delight from the nutrients that comes along with this milk. I am therefore a first time nursing mom with no idea whatsoever on how to deal with the intricacies that accompany breastfeeding and working. From the time I drank my mom’s special recipe for lactation, you know, the native chicken soup plus papaya and malunggay, whoa…it seems like a whole new world for me! I am stripped of control. Milk came rushing squirting anytime and anywhere, dripping me wet I feel like a milkmaid. But, as I am a hopeful beginner, I try to learn new strategies everyday.

Of course, if you are breastfeeding and already working, you mind your breast all the time. Not because I’ve got bouncy boobs that bubbled now, or am able to wear plunging neckline brought about by my newly designed cleavage-capable breast. But because every now and then I have to pump it out to keep the milk for the new baby at home, and to avoid embarrassment from staining my wardrobe, and then I have to feed my baby, and if I could avoid it, I try not to get hurt from accidentally hitting this engorged breasts by my kids because it aches an awful lot.

These two overhanging mammary pair made a radical turn from aesthetic display for my husband, into a drastic role of feeding an infant. Since these breasts are supposed to be twins by nature, it has to be proportional, and I have so much difficulty to master the art of balancing. Yes, balance. When the right one is larger than the left, you’ve got to make your left catch up, go feed your child more from the left. Or else, the aesthetic side of this breast is gravely endangered. Sure thing, you don’t want to see an asymmetrical breast with the left ones big, the other one’s small. How do you like to have an option which one’s to touch? And I wouldn’t have to wait to run for a breast augmentation. All I know, I’ve got an instant breast enlargement courtesy of breast milk, free of charge.

My first born has 3 hospital admissions, from pneumonia to tonsillitis. Though I regret that I have not let him savor the benefits of breastfeeding due to pressures in the hospital residency training, I will not do the same for the next child. So I don’t mind minding my breast now. I let myself enjoy the fulfillment of nursing my newborn despite the great deal of sacrifice that goes along with it.

I believe women are flexible in times of great demands and more psychologically stable in socially unstable world. Let us salute all women…and their heavenly breast! We are truly blessed for breast.

Anna Santos

I woke up 4am in this irksome morning, awakened by Egan's singing Elmo songs while sleeping, It was followed by his loud burst of "dede ko! dede ko!" in the tune of jingle bells. It signaled the end of my happy slumber. It was time for me to get to my feet, as I sluggishly paced thefridge for his milk.


Silent as this crack of dawn, my mind was wondering of how his thoughts came to be so vibrant even in his sleep. My two year old son amazes me sometimes, if not all the time.


He could sing his choice of songs to you even if you didn't ask for it for he loves to entertain people. Or he could ask you again and again in his own language which only he could understand. He may dance to you or sing to his version of medley nursery songs (and the APO's Heto Na in a rock-and-head-bang-your-head state).


His exploration of things is more than his curiosity could be, he could slam the keyboards with his grandpa or strum the guitar with his tito, but he dances when I play the keys or he sings with papa, and he's not out of tune. I am curious how come he knew the next note when he only heard the music just once. He is not afraid to run and fall or bump himself up on a wall. Though he cries so loud when he's hurt, an ice cream will sooth his ailing body parts but still dares to do it again.


Was it too much TV? Maybe yes, or maybe not, he just may have inherited the best from both of us.


I recalled as I looked down his plump body while he lavishly savored the last few drops of milk, of how he survived in my womb , taken out barely 37 weeks AOG (age of gestation).


I was on my senior year of residency when I got pregnant. I may have a 36 hours shift duty, but making rounds was just fine, most of the time I only get a hold of ICU and command for codes outside.


Being in command during code blue and code red, was supposedly all right. But for Egan inside my womb, it may be music or noise as that of the beeping cardiac monitor, in a way, relatives were shrieking, doctors were shouting epinephrine!, intubate!, ambubag!, Defibrillate 200 joules!,300!, 360!, clear!, CPR again...


Inside, Egan was using his tiny little feet to thrust my tummy, whether it meant to say "hey mom its noisy out there", or it meant an out-of tune music, I don't know. All I knew, as I get to go back home and take my rest, I played Bach and Mozart songs and he stomped his feet inside my tummy, this time he was thrusting to the beat. He was always moving, most of the time. No wonder he's been singing and dancing nowadays.


Wandering inside the hospital while I'm still pregnant gave me a sense of security, and that taking a leave off is not in my agenda. I could go straight up to the labor room to hear any of my contractions, or I could go to my friends in the radiology to check my baby on sonogram, call them my "pasilip" (kapal muks).


Apparently though, these friendly "pasilip" gestures lead me to save Egan just in time. One day, my friend called my attention and immediately asked for 2nd opinion from the sonologist. Egan had no water!!(Amniotic fluid gone dry). It was not my due date yet, and I have not felt any labor pains, nor a leaking bag. But an emergency CS was done. Egan was taken out, and dry enough to have caused the amniotic sac to cover him without the fluid. Truly, we were just in time.


Developing postpartum BP rise made me stay in the PACU longer than expected; it was some pregnancy complication we once again prevented. What would have happened had I not known my status sooner? Or if I had gone into labor I may have preecclampsia, and other possibilities.


I may be lucky, but what about our less fortunate women who do not have this kind of privileges, worst, who do not have any idea at all of maternal mortality and morbidity? I could just imagine how that could be if I am one of the unfortunate ones. Looking back, Adriel Egan is one great survivor.


And he is one great kid too. Just yesterday, we had a long drive with Egan and friends. He did not sleep during the travel course; he was just awed by the beautiful scenery. Driving at 100 kmh, he was so sweet to keep his hands laid in my arms just that, enough for me to consider driving carefully. And we made it back home, safely...my angel and me.


Now, as I am about to return to my interrupted sleep, I took one last look at him before I close my eyes. Egan was back sleeping, still smiling though, and never loosening his grip from his feeding bottle.


The gift of life the Almighty gave is as precious as the ones I get to be His steward.


And I am constantly grateful.

Anna Santos

Tomorrow, November 30, will be my 37th week of pregnancy. Finally my baby is ‘full term'. I will then be waiting for his arrival, to see his face, feel his soft sweet smelling skin, the smile, the yawn, and the many adventures we will be lurching thru. It's been nine months of having this seemingly unusual feeling of carrying a human being, moving on its own, not under my control but God's, like an alien hovering in my gut, waiting to exit. Yet it was quiet amazing to get excited again and be thrilled, to recollect and restructure my life according to what has now been laid...this second pregnancy.


If you thought this was easy, you're wrong. My mood swings were terrible, from grin to grouch then back to grinning again. Shaun has to put up with me and try to be patient. So allow me to jot down this circus-like episode of my womanhood, fresh from my memory before a blanket of flimsy clouds cast over my mind making this extraordinary experience hazy.


The Grouch

I had a horrible first trimester due to a debilitating hyperemesis gravidarum, or the so called "morning sickness". My tummy's tone often wobbled from nausea to vomiting with a considerable amount. I lost weight, and felt tired. I hated taking medicines because it made me sick. I'll just threw up my gastric contents. Yeah, yeah...I know I have to consume it. They said nausea and vomiting gets worst every pregnancy. I don't know. Medical books didn't tell me so. More, the feeling and suffering is an unfamiliar territory. Maybe I missed my OB class watching movies at Victoria during medschool (bisto ang bisyo). Or fell asleep during conferences (ikaduhang bisyo). Hmmm, still my review class for the boards had not prepared me for the so called tales of the oldies (try daw sa aklat ng albularyo).


This year was supposed to be a truckload of activities. There's the long list of conventions (especially Palawan), the Talikod scuba diving, the CDO wild river rafting, the 60th SPH celebration, Alumni homecoming, Friends' weddings and now the several list of Christmas parties. I have to bear the anguish of staying home while my colleagues were enjoying the fun and adventure. I have to put up with the disgruntled look from those who invited me as a team in dance numbers/competitions (yehey, got an excuse). And I have to accept the misery of ugliness despite concealing the intractable change of my looks by make-up of course! So, this is a year of refusing invitations, and I have to be content in lingering in Marco Polo or Insular as a get-away (maayo na lang, ingon nila).


So what was it with my looks? This progesterone, well, this hormone raging inside my body, is the one responsible for my emerging new beauty. Suddenly, from a plain Filipina I have become a mestisa. Yup! Mestiza Africana., in other words, NogNog! Hahaha! Black is the color, from my armpit, to my neck and up to my face. And as I am waxing a bit emotional every morning in the mirror, my husband would simply and starkly say I looked like an ‘Ata' and with my disdainful stare, he would again say ‘no,no,no, gwapa na Ata' or much more ‘princesa sa mga Ata'. Then we'd laugh our way out from my struggle to self-preservation.


The forces of nature just wouldn't stop yet! I watched my fresh young skin across my belly stretched into an enormous mound, the tissue underneath breaking, leaving a permanent scar, you call it stretch marks. As my ballooning abdomen grows, I have difficulty looking at my feet and touching it to apply a dab of lotion. So I have to ask my husband to give an extra hand in applying lotion from my thigh down to my feet. Of course, the ‘touch-me-not' rule may suddenly conform into ‘touch-me-sometimes' (bigaon ay). Then, it was such an ordeal to cut my toenails . I'd rather rush for a pedicure or leave it as is, just out of laziness to bring on a little effort. And talking about laziness, I hate picking up things from the floor or the ground, even to bow down is an effort too. So I have maneuvered the dance step of picking things with my bare foot. Use my toes to pick it, swayed my leg backwards, reach it up from my toes to my hand. Easy! Better yet, I would ask somebody to pick it up. Hehehe..


As I reached my term, I get bloated, from my face down to my hips and toes. I feel like a puffer fish in a puffed state, knocking everyone who gets in my way, good thing I'm not poisonous. My tiny fingers are stubby that even Shaun's wedding ring won't nearly fit now. My swollen feet are aching from my new shoes getting tighter. I kept on buying a bit larger shoes, knowing it won't fit later so occasionally borrowing from my mom would be fun. Fun because you wouldn't have to think of giving it back.


And now I got the funny nose. In between my eyes, I could almost see the ‘alae nasi' (nasal wing) flaring as I catch my breath, enlarging steadily like a fertilized Del Monte tomato (or Dole, depending on your brand of ketchup). My lips have become fuller and thicker, somewhat pouting, but never like that of Angelina Jolie. Mine is a lips of an indigenous Malay race. Good thing my hair doesn't go kinky! If I could only walk through corridors with a paper bag covering my head and two holes for my sight, I would. Then I wouldn't have to put up with people who gave remarks like that of the little red riding hood commenting to the grandma wolf ‘oh, what a big nose you have!'. So what, I would say, it's the wonders of life. From a goddess-like demeanor to turning into an unsightly figure, then hoping to become ‘fit' again, this is the art of humanity. Well then, I just have to convince myself to keep a positive outlook in living the day of today, period.


The Grin

But after all this sulking moments, is what's worth the wait. I have always been fascinated with my baby's movements. He'd greet me everyday dancing inside my belly like clockworks. Aside from talking to him, I find myself indulge in the guessing game of every body parts I get to palpate when he produces a bumps and hoops. Sometimes I'd felt his tiny hand, or his stumping feet, a large bulge may mean his back or butt, and sometimes, I'm so sure he got hiccups.

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But nothing excits me more than having a proud daddy preparing for his baby's first world exposure. The sight of Shaun counting mittens and shoes, securing feeding bottles, looking for an extra small diapers, and baby's get-up gear upon discharge and many more (which I have not done on this second pregnancy), made me realized I've never been most proud of him that day. Aside from working his brains in creative designs accepting more than one project at a time lately, in preparation for my C-section financial cost, I know my babies and me will be just fine. And I've never been much happier. I've never regretted the day I have chosen this man to marry.


Pregnancy is one of the wonders God has gifted humankind. And it's a privilege to have this exciting acquaintance on each woman and each expectant daddy's too. The roller coaster ride towards motherhood, and fatherhood, is bumpy, full of loops and unpredicted turns. Sometimes we tend to give up our own personal pursuit and plan anew.


I know I may have written too much on grouching, but what I have gone through is just temporary. Shaun and our kids are my stable variable. They mean the world. Time will fly, and suddenly, our sons will grow as a young adult, ready to soar into the world, each with a unique journey towards a great adventure.


Hence, I'm here, grinning now. As my husband would like to say it, "let's get this over and done with." So we wait..... and ready to say "Welcome to the world, our dear baby!"

Anna Santos

"Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice, journalism what will be grasped at once." (Cyril Connolly, British journalist)



I have my own way of writing my literary folio. I do not have any particular criteria in composing my blogs to start with, nor have undergone some rigid formal education in journalistic skills as a fortress of knowledge. So spare me. I do not wish to be a writer of any tabloids or news magazines for that matter, nor wish to win and become a famous blogger.


But what I do have is a fervent mind rich in nerve-wracking experiences, from unique adventures of failures and success, of losing and winning, of hating and loving, of fears and hopes, of frustrations and satisfactions. Maybe, I am something of a dreamer. Perhaps, I breathe life into a dream, but both feet glued to the ground of reality, striving to achieve maturity to balance idealism and realism. I don't know. All I know is that I treasure my vivid literary imagination. Thus, I believe that putting these into words is an art, believing that anything is possible for art's sake. So allow me to scribble down my thoughts in a spur of the moment, may it be a bit drafty, or a bit flashy, for each moment may pass, never to be recovered.


Often, I used to break away from the standard and customary writings making my audience gawked in disdain or blankly awed by the words and phrases I used. But like movies, heroes and villains clash. Some people never get tired of their silliness, spending time crusading against those who stray from their standards. My article was once blogged as "pretentious mixing up of words to become high sounding phrases only ends up awkward......so brazen yet so terrible." Whether this blog was intentionally meant for me or not, I feel guilty. Perhaps to them, I am an embarrassment in the blog world and ooh what a high standard to be imposed in such a mediocre site, when I have seen far more terrible blogs.


My adoring husband, Shaun, who noticed my disenchanted confidence, just gave a chuckle and jokingly suggested to have my blog submitted to Ninang Gail, if that's how the trend now goes for just a blog. He could not be serious of course. So I let out a hollow laugh. Ma'am Gail, as she's popularly called, is one of the coolest writer and editor in our locality. A nose bleeder in writing too, which triggered my nosebleed blog (but then of course, she's not part of that minute populace I've been discussing all about). It was my husband's way to keep me going, to encourage me to write more of our family, him, egan, and my profession, not just creating some counter-attacks from those who embraced the wicked pleasure from bullying. So now I'm back into blogging again after a few months of silence. He carefully screened down my friendster "friends", and turned the settings into non-viewing to non-friends, in the hope that no stalker shall penetrate the deepest recesses of my blood-brain barrier. I don't usually mention my Shaun's name in my blog rants for he is too wholesome to be stained, but this one deserves his credit.


Still, the trivial pursuit of ordinary literary writings is terribly interesting. I will write what I want to write, the way I learn to write it. I am not perfect and the world cannot forgive those who pretend to be one. Hence, call me unconventional, a deviation from the mean, different from the conservative, and that of which can be detrimental to the health of those who are stereotypical. I don't want to create fury amongst the beaten but i do acknowledge the testimony of those who are weary. Perhaps chained to their obligation as a writer by profession, where words are counted and pages selected to fit a few. But yes, I am blatantly bold and shameless over my articles because I do not wish to live to be broken by those who are drenched in bitterness. The best way to deal with my journal is to offer decency instead of cynicism, because our wit is not enough to outsmart this cruel world.


So go ahead, read on... Love it, or hate it. It is fun to see how my stories end to your senses. Throw in more coal and keep the fire burning!

Anna Santos

What you think of me may not be what I think of myself. But it's ok. We are all entitled to our own views and who am I to insist my mind over yours. After all, we are what we think we are.


I have a lot of "friends" in this cyber world. Some are my old time friends or classmates, previous workmates or just plain acquaintances. Some think of me as plain and simple Anna, or some, the other way around. Indeed, you don't know me that well, or you don't know anything at all.


Let me guess... you wonder how I put regard on myself so you're reading this blog. Perhaps, sharing my thoughts of how I feel who I am may help you decipher the inner me, without, of course, trying to be close to me. Now that's the beauty of the internet, you can stalk from afar. But you don't need to prey on me, I'm an easy slay. Read my blogs and you'll see me, slowly stripping naked.


I always ask myself, what's it to hide? They say that we be careful writing personal blogs. I always watch my words on it. I don't resort to name-calling nor posting inflammatory remarks, you know, the dolor, rubor, calor thing (ooops, medical people knows this). But more than being careful with words, I mind my manners. You don't know who read your blogs, right? We are being watched all the time.


So go on and probe me, read my views and agree with me, or contradict against it. If you want to scrutinize, I hope you refute the writings and not the writer. It's fine with me. Ok?

Anna Santos

TANSAN is derived from my real name. T stands for Teresa, AN for Anna, and SAN for Santos. Though it should be ANTSAN because my first name is Anna, my friends in medschool juggled the letters until this name sounds beautifully in their pinnacle. Yes, medschool. That was first year, 1995, and thanks to Chilay anyway.

My friends thought that the name Anna was too ladylike, the name Teresa was too holy, and Petit ( my pen name back in college editorial years) was too cute. They thought TANSAN best fit me, though in tagalog it meant bottlecap, in any other way it is just light, jolly, funny, boyish. In other words, they never thought of me as holy, cute and lady like (well, the way i drove my volkswagen made my classmates believed i'm a boy who underwent sex transplant).

At first it was just a joke. But everytime they started calling me in that name, i gave them a violent reaction, and the more i have a reaction to that name, my classmates (the boys usually), enjoyed naming me repeatedly until we passed 1st year, 2nd yr, and 3rd yr. Worst, the name was carried on to our residents during clerkship days (4th years) and during our internship.

I can't correct them when they call me TANSAN, our residents, our superiors, (Should i tell my boss to call me Dr. Santos?). So the residents passed it to the consultants, now my colleagues. From then on, i already accepted that in the medical field i will be Tansan, so unique that anybody looking for it will find me right away because nobody was named that except me.

I LOVE MY NAME!! THANKS classmates....

Anna Santos




Have you ever felt a writing depression? No, not really a blogger’s block, but for whatever this is called, somehow, Jan and Dee’s awards made me hold on to blogging. James often told me that bloggers are basically nice people who will help their co-bloggers achieve their full potential. That there will always be somebody who would take side on you. Now I understand what awards are for, it’s an appropriate abracadabra to ease out, to breathe in and boost your activity. With much profound gratefulness over such a generous act, thank you Jan and Dee from my bottomless heart.


Did I say bottomless? Sorry, I can’t find words that best fit a ‘cardiac anomaly’, might as well be accused of playing with words again. Plus the fact that doctors don’t blog that much, who else would understand if I choose a medical term? Alright, they do blog, about the JNC or the ASCOT, the new drug, the latest randomized, case-controlled or cohort studies. And it bores! In that sense, you might as well get epistaxis without thrombocytopenia or blood dyscrasia.


See, even my computer complains that I’ve misspelled it, highlighting the unfamiliar words in red. “What duh?! You don’t know that?”, I retorted in disbelief. I’d rather have such a high expectation for a machine that doesn’t even talk, than a person that talks like they knew everything. But yes, I get the message. Let’s talk layman.


I have once lost that zeal to blog. I marveled at the spectacle of the colorful emotions of the bloggers’ world and I feel I failed to catch-up. And I hate to be a failure. The blogosphere is trendy and plugged-in, hype and wired, and bloggers are parading one blog post to another, yakking away in full shrill, and generates excitement without shrieking. No, I don’t feel like there’s nothing more to write, nor everything has already been written. To tell you the truth, I have a million moments worth a million of letters and a thousand of words to be written, but time is not bias on my side. There are touching stories of people and patients I have encountered, waiting to be told. Knowing you have a whole bunch of these stagnant ideas quietly positioned to unearth but can’t, isn’t it depressing? Even the search key didn’t help me interact with bloggers who are doctors, doctors who are bold enough to express their being human; search cloud gave me foreign doctors with a medical Q&A site, tedious and self-absorbed. I don’t need the academic bull shit I know I am well equipped of, readers don’t want experts, if they do, they would rather go search for it in academic journals.


So before I could feel that I don’t belong here, or prescribed myself with Prozac so to be “blog”-productive, here comes Jan and Dee’s awards. Jan who is a blog addict for a few months now, allowed himself to be seen naked by his readers. Oh, don’t get me wrong. His posts, unabashedand influential, have inspired many bloggers including me. On the other hand, Dee, the lawyer, who took her time off for an extra-legal vigilante-style crusade against global warming, share’s spontaneous feelings and thoughts in a natural manner, like her campaign to help save mother nature. Perhaps these two have a strong sense of a shared destiny in blogging.



If I could only place my first blog awards in my parents’ family recognition table, I would! Haha! That’s how I am in ecstatically twisted mood. Mom and dad would’ve wondered where the heck I have gotten this one again this time. Even if I’ll explain it, the blogging world is like a galaxy away. Nah! Never mind.


So why do I love blogging? Even if sometimes I feel that I have just wasted my time over a blog? Simple, it’s because we share. We share the same interest of wanting to share what we have with others, with limitless boundaries except the art of writing. Art after all, is a better teacher than textbooks. And there’s a lot more, but that will be another post, in another day…or weeks, or month maybe, depending on my bias time.

So I pass these awards to all of Jan’s active followers, who made me hide in the cyberspace for a while…in awe and admiration.

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