Sunday, May 06, 2007


When i was starting med school, one of our professors in Ethics said that what doctors must learn to have is EMPATHY, NOT sympathy. Then she went on the explain that the difference between the two is point of view. Empathy is putting yourself in the patient's shoes. It's like seeing the world in his point of view. I thought, easy enough. I just realized now that's where the easy part ended.

My empathizing skills are usually put to test every time I go on duty at the DR-LR (delivery and slabor room). I am single and I think this is my greatest limiting attribute. How can I tell a mother in labor or a mother who's about to go undergo CS that everything will be all right when I haven't even experience like a quarter of their pain? When a mother in labor tells me, "doktor, ang sakit", I am actually at lost for words. I mean, will I say, "OK lang yan mommy" even though I can see that she is really in pain. If I try to appease her, I know that I don't have any idea what I'm talking about.

When I started to work in the barrio, my staff asked me if I can start giving PMC. I asked, "What's PMC?"

My entire staff laughed because for starters, I don't even know what PMC meant. It means premarital counselling. Then they realized that I am single, don't have kids, and don't speak a word of Ilocano. So really, how will counsel marrying couples about family planning?

I realized that I may know the physiology of every family planning method there is, but that's where it ends. In fact, I feel like an hypocrite every time I lecture mothers about family planning or breastfeeding.

Once, I asked a mother in our barrio why she had 8 kids and 1 on the way, she answered, " Mag asawa ka na doktor. Malalaman mo bakit walo ang anak ko."

Well said.


daydream believer said...

i don't know if laughing is appropriate with this post, but i had to burst out laughing. then i burst out in tears.

you asked me why i was so pathetic, remember? well, i think if you'd really think about it, based on what you've just said here --- if you were in my shoes, then you would know why.

Katrina said...

Dr Dr. Che Zabalan,

hi, this is katz ( I posted your inquirer article on my blog a couple of months ago and you commented that I could message you if I had questions. Well this is the only medium I know.

I do have a couple of questions about DTTB and about you.

1) when and how did you decide you wanted to become a DTTB?
what did your parents say/do when you told them.

2) how long is the tour of duty? do you get to go home?

3) how do you get to update your blog while you're there?

that's it for now. you can contact me at my blog or email me when you have time: Thanks so much. :)