I originally wrote this post near the start of February, which was one clinical rotation and a lifetime ago. Things happened and this remained stuck in the drafts folder.
Since then, there’s been a surge in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, vaccines have been hesitantly rolled out across the state, and students have again been pulled out from the hospital.
Still: this remains. This is basically a 2-in-1 post about the things I got up to while living (mostly) alone again. This is what I do on Sundays, or thereabouts.
Whenever I feel down at night or threatened by the rising ennui of life, I think of breakfast. It sounds ridiculous. Breakfast meant nothing that amazing to me… then came the quarantine.
Suddenly breakfast was a way to take control of at least one tiny part of my daily life. I could be as lazy or as creative or as cheap as I wanted. When anxiety begged to overwhelm, the question of what to eat the next day was a simple puzzle I knew I could always solve. The recipes I adapted from the internet became ways to show love to my family. I could wake up at 7AM or start cooking so late the rest of the house would be pining in hunger. In its own way, the concept of breakfast ended some form of personal hunger –for control, for peace, for possibilities.
It’s just breakfast. But I still get excited. I can feel giddy. I was afraid I wouldn’t have this feeling now that I’m back at the condo, but somehow it’s still the same. I structure my entire morning routine around this meal. I can have a very quick shower and leave with no eyebrows done, but I need to savor that first meal after a deep sleep –whether that’s at 5AM or 5PM.
I still haven’t had the chance to use my induction cooker or frying pan. I barely have anything in my pantry, though I’m adding to it bit by bit. I have so many canned goods but no can opener. I think I left my chef’s knife at home. But still I find ways to ponder.
Maybe: I’ll order Starbucks when I wake up. I’ll eat some leftovers. I’ll avail a buy-one-take-one promo from Pancake House so I can have dinner and something to heat up tomorrow. I’ll try this ready-to-microwave rice meal from the Korean store downstairs (genius!). I’ll take something from my latest grocery haul, whether that’s just some crackers or cup noodles or cheese on toast. I’ll cook pancit canton in the microwave and think of home.
Ask me what I’m having tomorrow. (Or better yet, tell me yours.) 😊
Buy me breakfast ko-fi.com/jari95
The logistics of laundry
I’ve already blogged about the first few weeks back in the hospital. This is the other side of working and living and struggling, also known as the truly adult minutiae of life.
(Read here: ASMPH MD/MBA: In the business of saving lives.)
Out of all rotations, I think internal medicine has the most challenging schedule. This makes sense for a lot of reasons: the coverage is too broad, the posts for subrotations are too many, we need the experience, it’s best to closely follow patients.
We have around six 12-hour duties every week (that’s a 72-hour workweek, versus the traditional 42, and versus the 80 to 100-hour workweek of pre-duty-from clerkship). There are roughly two “off days” per week, which represent the transition from AM to PM shift and vice-versa. For context, many other rotations have a more forgiving AM-PM-off pattern (so 12 hours of work then 24 hour break then 12 hours of duty followed by another 24 hour break, still with a 60-hour work week) and even up to three to five days off. Then again, an AM-PM-off schedule sounds like a nightmare for the body clock.
I digress. What does this have anything to do with laundry?
I’ve never really had to worry about laundry during clerkship for many reasons. First, I could always have my laundry sent off and new clothes delivered in the span of a day. Second, my family often comes to see me during weekends, usually with clean clothes and food in tow. Third, with a pre-duty-from schedule, we typically can get some weekends off (or as close to it as possible) if we get a “from” status on a Saturday or Sunday. I could sometimes go home and have a go at our washing machine. Finally, if I really need to do my own laundry, I can pop in quickly to the laundromat or avail of an on-demand laundry service.
The pandemic has changed all of these ways to adult.
First, I can’t risk having anyone else handling my scrubs from the hospital. I don’t want to do anything that exposes my family to the virus unnecessarily; it’s also too expensive to keep going back and forth with a courier service. Second, my family doesn’t want to come see me during weekends because none of us want that extra risk or cost. My family coming up to Ortigas all the way to see me was a lot more cost-effective in 2019, when we could still justify it with dinner and a movie as well. I really miss that. I don’t get a lot of free food nowadays…
Third, I can’t go home. I think I’ll probably have a chance after this rotation; the 12-hour duty work week in medicine means I can get only 24 hours off at most during the weekends. With all the rules for disinfecting and the still-constant traffic, it’s just not worth it. And finally, both the laundromat and laundry apps have much stricter hours thanks to the quarantine. If I’m on AM shift (7AM to 7PM), I have one hour after duty to go home, shower, and pop down to the laundry shop before they close at 8PM. Not gonna happen. If I’m on PM shift (7PM to 7AM), I have much better chances, but I’ll also be sabotaging my own sleep cycle for it.
Honestly, how do other working health professionals do this? Should I start saving up for my own washer-dryer unit?
Am I the only one thinking about this???
Until next time!