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A time for bonding with kids
Monday, October 06, 2008

Ever since school started this June, each member of my family had been very busy - the kids with their studies, MTAP reviews, and preparations for the different school activities; me and hubby with our work. Of course, we were yearning to have a break, something that would change the monotony of things. And the invitation by Merck for a summit in Baguio City last week just came at the right time - no long exams and projects to rush for the kids. It was a time to take a break.

Whenever me and hubby attended conventions, conferences, scientific meetings in the past, whether out of town or just nearby, we never brought the kids with us. It is not because we don't want them to enjoy. They were just too young then and I worry a lot for their safety when I have to leave them in the hotel room. I figured they might get bored and might go out of the room and start looking for me.

Everything changed after our PSP convention in Tagaytay last year when a colleague told me that kids are meant to be taken anywhere - where the parents go, the kids go. And so this time, they went with us. It was a precious time for the whole family. More so, it was bonding time for me and the kids for I stayed with them most times while my hubby had to attend to several lectures for diabetes and hypertension. Yes, I was not able to update myself with these topics but it is nothing compared to the grand time I had with my kids.

We stayed in The Suites, an extension of The Manor hotel. It was not fully finished yet. But there were a few rooms ready for occupancy and we stayed in one of those. It was great, the food is excellent, and the weather is lovely. We strolled and played games in the park, went shopping, dined out in the kids' favorite spots. It was fun and full of memories. Now I know my kids are ready - to join us in conferences out of town, to fend for themselves when Mom is away, and to take care of each other. I just know we will have more of this in the future.


posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 3:29 PM   0 comments
Happy Birthday, Ralph!
Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I was initially scheduled for cesarean section on September 8, 2001 by my obstetrician, the reason why I had myself admitted on September 7. But so many mothers wanted to deliver on that day so that their kid's birthday would coincide with Mama Mary's. My doctor had to move me a day later so she can accommodate them. I didn't mind. What mattered most to me was to have a safe delivery. And Ralph turned out to be a very healthy baby.

It was an unexpected pregnancy. I did not know until he was already two months in my tummy. I was so glad yet a little apprehensive at the same time. I was not ready for another difficult pregnancy like my previous one. But I just continued with my normal routine until it was time for me to deliver. It turned out that it was not a difficult pregnancy after all.

From infancy to toddler stage, it was not difficult either to take care of Ralph. He would sleep for long hours especially when I put him in prone position on my chest, while I lay on the bed. I watched him sleep during his early days and softly caressed his soft body.

As he began to eat solid foods, I noticed that his taste is so bland. He prefers to eat spaghetti sans the sauce, bread without any kind of spread on it, just plain mayonnaise on his toast, and plain rice. He hates it if I prepare fried rice, especially the one with lots of ingredients in it. He would painstakingly get rid of all the solid ingredients from his rice if he had no choice. He is a very picky eater and he hates new recipes. He would prefer the same thing over and over again. But he loves anything sweet - from candies, chocolates, cakes, ice cream, etc. The exact opposite of his elder brother.

He started playing Game Boy at age two. The toy was actually a gift for his elder brother, Raymund. But the moment he set eyes on it, he fell in love with it. And it became his right that very moment. He tried so hard not to depart with it, putting it on the bedside table while he sleeps, and brings it with him wherever he go. He started to bring it to school when he started schooling at age three. What amazes me is his ability to finish an entire game within an hour or two. And he would be asking for a new cartridge again.

He has this penchant for playing and manipulating computers even at a very young age, even at an age when I was not sure yet if he can really decipher the words. I had this feeling that he understood computers very well, as if he and the computer are one.

Ralph is now in grade 1. His interest to his subjects seem to diminish as compared to his performance during his preschool years. I'd like to think that he is just having a hard time adjusting in grade school. Maybe because of staying long hours in school, so many subjects to study, left and right assignments, long hours of studying.

His attitude changed a lot, too. He would cry at the slightest provocation, even at just the sight of a list of things to memorize. I'm taking it easy on him though. I just hope that he'll be more confident and develop a more positive attitude. I know he will get by.

Today, Ralph turns 7. How time flies so fast! We celebrated his birthday this weekend in Baguio City, where he shopped for the things he loved most - toys! He bought several Spiderman toys including 2 Spiderman cartridges for his Game Boy.

Ralph, we love you so much. I want to thank you for being a good child and for just being there.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 12:00 AM   2 comments
Meet My Maids
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Getting and maintaining maids are some of the domestic problems most mothers have. My sister is not an exception. She changes maids almost every month, and finding a new one always means trouble. When she is able to get a new one, by the time the maid learns the routine she is again ready to go. I am lucky enough to have two maids who had been with me for years, even before my child Ralph came into this world.

Meet Lanie. She came from Tabugoc, Pandan, Catanduanes, the very place where my husband was raised. She was just 17 when she came to me, a girl so naive, though she worked for a few years in one family in Manila. I taught her how to cook, her primary job then, and how to properly clean the house. During those times, she relied on my instructions, doing only what I asked her to do.

When I became pregnant with my second child, I asked her to be his nanny, and she gladly agreed. I brought her to Manila when I was getting ready for my operation (2nd CS). She was with me in the hospital when I gave birth, up to the time we came out of the hospital, and to the day we went home to the province. She was so thrilled to see the baby, to hold him in her arms, and to learn the basics in taking care of him.

She was very good in her job, and I learned to relax and to go back to work after a few weeks of giving birth. She learned to love my son, treating him as his own brother. She reported to me through the intercom any concern that needed my attention. She saw Ralph's firsts, and she would gladly show me his new developments.

It has been ten years since Lanie arrived, Ralph is now in grade one and turning 7 on September 9. She watches over him even in school. I know she loves Ralph very much, even fighting for him when he is about to be bullied. She is the first to complain when she notices that Ralph is not given enough attention.

Meet my other maid, Gina, Lanie's cousin, now in her 40s. She came as a substitute to her sister, Bing, Raymund's nanny. But since Raymund does not need anymore close supervision when she came, her assignment became cooking and cleaning the house, among other things.

She wakes up at the crack of dawn to prepare the day's first meal, goes to market, cooks for lunch and dinner, and brings the kids' lunch to school. She was not perfect when she started especially when it comes to cooking. But she eventually learned in time. Now she cooks so well and can definitely earn a living with her own carinderia in the future. She has been with me for seven years now.

They came when me and my husband were just starting out as a couple. They have grown with us, became part of my family. They work spontaneously at home, no need for me to tell what needs to be done. They have done so by the time I notice.

I'm sure not everybody will agree with how I treat them- they eat at the same time with us, eat what we eat, comes together with us in family outings and all family activities, including attending the Holy Mass. I will do the same to anybody who comes after them.

They have their day-offs. They are free to watch movie with friends, attend parties, or celebrate birthdays at home. Of course they have their own moods, as they are only human. But when they have learned their lesson, they know how to say sorry.

What I love about them is that they know how to sacrifice their own schedules for the advantage of my family. Six years ago, when I was scheduled for a back operation (discectomy and laminectomy) which coincided with Lanie's schedule to visit her family in Bicol, she decided to postpone without me telling her to. It was something I appreciated, sacrificing her once-a-year vacation so that she can take care of the kids while I was confined in the hospital.

I know that one day they will leave to have a life of their own, especially when they have found Mr. Right. It would be hard to let go, as they have been part of me and my family. But when I tell them so, they would say that they will still take care of my kids' children, laughing at how they would look by then.

There is no secret in making them stay that long. I just let them feel that they belong.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 7:06 AM   0 comments
Sunday, a Family Day
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I love Sundays! It is always the day I looked forward to every week. It is the day when the whole family is at home, enjoying our free time together.

Our family always spend our Sundays at home, except on special occasions when we have to attend meetings, birthdays, etc. It is the day when the kids make their homework, getting ready for the school day ahead. It is also the day when we watch TV or DVDs together. It is the day when I prepare something special for my family to eat. It is always my day in the kitchen.

Because of our internet problem, we just can't refrain from going out today. We need to go to the mall where the internet cafe is. To my surprise, there are lots of people in the mall. Even having a seat in the internet cafe took each of us 15 minutes to wait.

Outside the cafe, people are just chatting with one another trying to catch up with the latest news. Some are just window shopping, others are just plain lazying out wearing slippers and house clothes. Well, doing that is waste of time for me. I'd rather stay at home than walk endlessly in the mall trying to kill time.


posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 5:27 PM   0 comments
He turned 41 yesterday!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Who else but the love of my life. My best friend. My adviser. My husband.

He was a heavy alcoholic drinker when I met him. Before we got married he asked me if I will still allow him to drink after we marry. I answered, " Yes, but only occasionally". I was expecting for him to complain but he kept silent. After we married, he became a totally changed man. He only drinks when my uncles ask him to, which is very seldom. I am even the one to tell him that he can drink when we are on parties, but he always decline. When I'm in the grocery, there are times that I buy 2 to 3 cans of beer, his favorite brands, but they are just allowed to expire in the fridge. He only drinks red wine nowadays, once a week, and that's because it is good for the heart.

My best friend turned out to be a very responsible father to our kids. He teaches them to be courteous to everyone, by correcting their manners as he sees them. He is very supportive to all their undertakings.

He was the laundryman and the house cleaner when we were starting out as a couple. He sometimes cook during those days, only when he was really sure of the recipe. Because of time constraints, he does not cook anymore, but he remained to be the driver, plumber, carpenter, and a very good provider.

Life with him is full of happiness. There are no regrets whatsoever. I'm just so lucky having him as my husband.

Happy Birthday, my love!

Don't tell me that I have forgotten it. No, it's beyond that. I was just too preoccupied with work these past days that I failed to find time to post. Anyways, I was the first one to greet you on you birthday.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 10:44 AM   1 comments
Feelings of Acceptance
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
One Sunday afternoon, my hubby told me that my dad called him up because of difficulty of breathing. He said that dad had it immediately after a short jog. Initially, of course, Randy don't know what to think. He has been dad's doctor for his hypertension and diabetes ever since we got married but dad was lost to follow up since he stopped coming home. It was a surprise for Randy to know that dad was still taking the same medicine he prescribed on his last visit. Randy requested for a chest x-ray, prescribed antibiotics for his cough, and asked him to visit us in our clinic.

The next morning, after bringing the kids to school, he again received a call from dad. He was already near our house but dad asked him to go back to Dagupan where he lives. Being the obedient child that he is, he obliged though patients are already waiting in his clinic. He had a short chat with dad over a cup of coffee and assured him that he'll be back the next day with his bag to examine him more thoroughly.

Of course I was surprised to know that he met with him, entered his house, and that he was going back. I was pressing him to tell me what the house look like, how dad looks like, how he is, who was with him when he visited, etc. But he said that I was going with him when he returns to dad's. I don't really know what to say or feel so I didn't answer. But honestly I was thinking about my feelings. What if there's somebody there aside from him when we visit? I was skeptical about going but Randy just laughed when asked if dad wants me to go with him.

I was still undecided but I know that I feel happy just thinking that I was gonna see him. In fact I even bought fruits for him. Maybe this is how it feels if a person finally accepted the situation.

Classes was canceled that Tuesday morning because of heavy rains. So instead of bringing the kids to school and visiting him afterward, the boys came along with us.

It was raining heavily. The maid opened the gate and instructed us to park inside. It is a big house with two cars in the parking space. Dad was in the front door waiting for us. He smiled when he saw the kids stepped out of the car.

My heart was pounding heavily. I hastily approached him, got his right hand and paid him respect. He looked at me and smiled, patted the boys and led us all to the receiving area. His adopted son was there and sat with us. Randy immediately examined him while I scanned the place sitting down.

Dad looked very different from when I last saw him months ago in Manila. He is skinny now. And his blood sugar is way too high. I instantly felt there is something really bad happening to him. After an explanation, he finally agreed to come with us in our clinic for more thorough examination. That was after we had a hearty breakfast with him and prepared by him.

After taking ECG, it saddened me to know that dad is suffering from myocardial infarction. This means that the artery supplying his heart is already blocked making his heart to malfunction. We advised hospitalization but he declined and just asked for medications instead. We advised him on the gravity of his condition and that he is free to call us anytime. He went home after taking his lunch with us.

I felt sorry to see him in this condition. Now I am praying that God will give him more days. To enjoy life with me and my family. To patch up whatever misunderstanding he had with mom and my sister, before it's too late. My feelings for him have not changed at all. I still love him despite his shortcomings. Now I'm sure that I have forgiven him.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 2:36 PM   2 comments
Smart Kids
Saturday, June 28, 2008
It was Wednesday afternoon. Randy and I decided to meet in CSI City mall, a more convenient place for us to meet, instead of him fetching me in the medical school. It is faster that way, with less traffic because we will not be passing the downtown area.

When the kids learned that their Dad will see me in the mall, they called me up and asked permission to come. I insisted that they stay behind and just rest. But they insisted to go with their Dad.

When they approached the mall's parking area, the kids thought that they saw me walking in the lobby. They asked their Dad to drop them in the spot. Then Randy proceeded to look for a place to park.

The kids then walked towards the direction of the lady that they thought was me. After noticing that it was a stranger, it was too late to go back to the car. Their Dad was nowhere to find.

Being the kuya, Raymund thought of a way to find me. He felt that his brother was his responsibility as the younger one started to cry. He first thought of calling home to tell the maids where their exact location was. Because he left his cellphone at home, he asked the guard where to find a payphone. The instruction was so vague to him so he started to think for another way. The guard asked him who he was looking for and so he began to describe me. The guard told him that he saw a woman in violet pass by and went in the direction of the National Book Store. Since he knew I needed to buy some school supplies for both of them, he led his brother to the National Book Store. And it was there where they found me.

I was looking for a sketch pad when I heard the word "Mommy!" from somewhere near. I was very sure it was Raymund's voice. I turned around and saw my kids- Raymund wet with too much perspiration holding the hand of his brother. Ralph was crying and wrapped his arms around me immediately after he saw me.

I was then in a daze. I forgot everything on my list and just proceeded to pay what I was holding. Then I led them out of the book store into the parking area where their Dad was.

There is no blaming anybody. I consoled my kids and was just glad nothing bad happened to them. Yes, it was a bad experience for them but it was a learning experience.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 8:00 AM   4 comments
Will I Greet Him on Father's Day?
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Father's Day is celebrated every 3rd Sunday of June. It is during this day when we pay tribute to our fathers for all the good things they have done to us. While this year's Father's Day is fast approaching, one question keep on popping on my mind: Will I greet my own father on that special day?

He lives with his other family (his other wife and their adopted son) for some years now. We rarely see each other though he stays two towns away from us. Our means of communication is either through telephone calls or text messages. I last received a text message from him on my birthday (June 6) just to greet me. No more no less. He never asks anything about his grandsons, or on how we are doing, much more about my mom who lives with me and my family.

My relationship with him is erratic. I guess because we live in the same province where it is impossible not to see him with his other family. Maybe because I still love him not only because he is my father but because I had wonderful memories with him when I was still growing up. Maybe because I idolized him so much when I was still a child. Maybe because....

He is closer to my elder sister who stays in Manila. Oftentimes he would call her and sometimes visits her in her house and stays with her for a few days. It is from my sister that I learn most of the latest happenings about him. Maybe because she is more open-minded. I don't know. All I know is that I feel pain whenever I think of him. This is the reason why I never greeted him on any special occasion.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 7:16 AM   4 comments
About Me

Name: Amelyn R. Rafael,MD
Home: San Fabian, Pangasinan, Philippines
About Me: Family Physician, and Associate Professor (Clinical Anatomy and Medical Physiology)
See my complete profile
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