Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Patient Chronicles: What to Do When Patients Don't Pay You

The day before we closed for the holy week break, we received a call while I was working on a patient. It was around 4:30 pm, a certain lawyer called and begged to be given an appointment at 6:00 pm because her crown (with post) came off. Mid-patient, I was sincerely dying to get rested for the day, but I agreed to see her because it was an emergency case. Also, I thought maybe it was a simple re-cementation job, so I told my assistant I would see her--one quick one and then we could all go home happy. 

The patient arrived at 7:00 pm (an hour late) with her husband, child and the nanny. They were too nice, a little chatty, but the need was real so I was glad I agreed to see her. It wasn't a simple re-cementation case, by the way. The little boy did a solid head-butt on his mom and her crown came flying out of her mouth (the post in tow). Hopeful, they scoured the street to find it, but it was nowhere to be found. Anyway, I noted multiple problems with her front teeth (including the need for a root canal on another tooth) but that was for another appointment, and I proceeded to address the pressing issue. She came in, toothless (a face mask covering her mouth) and she was desperate "to have her tooth back" for the holy week--so I worked some dental magic and restored her smile. 

I dismissed her with a temporary crown and took a mould to have my laboratory fabricate a brand new crown for her. I worked on the case for two hours, I finished at 9:00 pm, tired but happy to have helped her. 

This is my clinic, specifically the Treatment Room. I have two chairs and I worked on the lawyer in the green chair.

After I work on a patient, I dismiss them to the reception area while I chart the procedure. As usual, I gave it to Monique when I was done and as my assistant (and dental secretary) she took the chart and presented it to the patient. It is a routine we've mastered, but when she collected the fee, the husband said: "I will come back tomorrow, after lunch". I heard it--it did not register right away, but suddenly the guy was in front of me, shaking my hand and thanking me. I didn't know what to do. Maybe I was too knackered to be rude or too wasted to think ill of anyone, but after they left Monique and I couldn't believe what happened. We worked for two hours and we didn't get paid. Ouch!

The Morning After

The following day I decided to message the patient around 11:00 am and the following was the exchange I had with her:

Crix: Good morning. This is Dr. Crickette Inserto, may I know what time you would be coming by to settle your treatment fees from last night?
Patient: Will be there after lunch.
Crix: Okay. Thanks. See you. 

Around 3:00pm, I received a text.

Patient: Hi Dr. Crickette. Good pm. This is Atty ____. I won't be able to come on time before your closing today. I'm still in Makati for a board meeting. If it's okay, please text me your bank account details. I'll just have my staff deposit the money. Will send you thru MMS deposit slip for your confirmation. Please and thank you. 
Crix: Yes please, thanks. I also have Viber. (Bank Account Details). I believe Metrobank cutoff is at 4:30 pm. Thanks. 

Around 5:10, without any MMS, Viber message or update, I decided to text again because it was my birthday that day and I had to leave for dinner. 

Crix: Have you made the deposit? I am heading out early today because I have dinner plans. Should I leave my assistant instructions to wait for you? I am sorry to be asking you, but I don't know whether I'm supposed to ask her to stay or go home. We are closing for the holiday and will resume office on Monday. 
Patient: Not yet. Will deposit by Monday nalang.
Crix: Okay. God bless and happy holy week. 

After Holy Week

It's been two weeks and I still haven't heard from her. When I came back Monday (after holy week), I decided I wouldn't message her anymore because I felt that doing so would seem like I was begging and I didn't want to do that. In my mind, she came in with a face mask because she couldn't show her toothless grin in public and I worked "dental magic" to produce a tooth for her just like that--so she knew what I had done for her. She needed my help and even if I was tired, I took her in because it was an emergency. She knew what I did for her, it was a good job too, and when the temporary crown breaks in a few days or weeks she will remember me (but I'm sure she will not contact me anymore).

Tuesday 31st of March, the morning after, I pulled out her case from the laboratory and told them not to proceed with the work. I told Monique we'd wait for her payment--and since it never came, the case is left untouched.

To confirm her identity, I visited Google (my pal) and I saw her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin. She is really a lawyer--so I am reminded of my mom's constant statement when we were growing up: "Lawyers are liars". Okay, lawyer friends and readers, I said I am reminded of a statement--I did not say think you are ALL LIARS (because my best friend's husband is a lawyer and he is the best). But really, I just feel bad about what happened. I mean, I've had bouncing cheques before or patients with balances left unsettled, but none who actually came in demanding treatment with no intention of paying. I feel so bad because I wasn't smart enough to collect some kind of collateral (an ID card, cellphone or ATM) and I feel so bad because she is a professional and worst, she is a mother so I fear for her son. You know what, my clinic is along Timog Avenue and that street is a wide stretch of banks so they could've withdrawn some money (while I was slaving for two hours), but they didn't. 

The work we do is not glamorous. Some people think it is, but when you're in this position for a long time, it does a number on your neck and back. N.B. This is me working on a different patient. 

So, what do you do when patients don't pay you? Well, rest assured, Monique and I agreed to never let this happen to us anymore. We'll charge this to experience--at least nothing bad happened to us, right? For now, I'll just wish her well. The post I installed will survive a long time but the composite (resin) crown will disintegrate in a few days or weeks. It wasn't meant to last, but she'll just have to get her crowns somewhere else. Maybe she'll trick another dentist, but I hope for her son, that she wouldn't.

Case dismissed, 

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Song In My Head: Better Than Words

My sisters, especially the youngest, are huge One Direction fans. I never really liked them or knew any of their names, I just knew there was a HARRY and he used to go out with Taylor Swift, but I didn't know any of them until my sister "forced" me to watch their movie. I remember saying: "Aba gwapo pala mga mokong na ito!" (Wow, these boys sure are good looking!) -- and I immediately picked Zayn as my favorite. An obvious choice for me, I guess because I always have the tendency to favor the "bad boys" and Zayn looked liked one. Bad boys are interesting, most of the time, until they show you how bad they can be. I've had my share of bad boys, which kinda makes me wanna rethink my whole preference altogether, actually. Haha!

Anyway, going back to the boys, I have never been a fan of One Direction but I know their songs because my sisters have obsessive periods and when this happens, you have to listen to their playlist in the car. Since the concert and Zayn's departure, echoes of One Direction songs play wherever they are and this song caught my attention.

Better Than Words
-One Direction-

Better than words
More than a feeling
Crazy in love
Dancing on the ceiling

Every time we touch
I'm all shook up
You make me wanna
How deep is your love
God only knows, baby

I don't know how else to sum it up
'Cause words ain't good enough, ow
There's no way I can explain your love, no
I don't know how else to sum it up
'Cause words ain't good enough, ow
I can't explain your love, no

It's better than words
Better than words

Better than words
Drive ya crazy
Someone like you
Always be my baby

Best I ever had
Hips don't lie
You make me wanna
One more night
Irreplaceable (yeah), crazy (crazy)

I don't know how else to sum it up
'Cause words ain't good enough, ow
There's no way I can explain your love, no
I don't know how else to sum it up
'Cause words ain't good enough, ow
I can't explain your love, no

Everyone tries (They try)
To see what it feels like (Feels like)
But they'll never be right
'Cause it's better (better)
It's better

One more time
Better than words

I don't know how else to sum it up (I don't know)
'Cause words ain't good enough, ow
There's no way I can explain your love, no
I don't know how else to sum it up (To sum it up)
'Cause words ain't good enough, ow (The words ain't good enough)
I can't explain your love, no

It's better than words
It's better than words
It's better than words

The initial hook was the melody because it sure is catchy, but when I began to really listen to the song, I appreciated it even more. The lyrics are fairly straightforward. It talks about a growing emotion... a ripening love that words cannot really explain. It's so apt for typical "Directioners", young at heart and of the perfect age to fall in love. It's no wonder girls go wild for the boys: they look good, they sing well, they have good songs. I heard some of the boys even write, and that is one thing you have to note--even in a popstar.

Anyway, I feel bad for fans because Zayn left. The day he announced, my sister got home and said: "I've been too busy at work, can I have some time to cry now?" And she sure did. My other sister compares the incident to the Geri Halliwell's exit that eventually led to the disbandment of Spice Girls in 1998-1999. You see, I may not be a Directioner, but I was a big Spice Girls fan and I understand how devastating it is to find out that a group you like, is breaking up. I cried when "Viva Forever" was played for the first time and then I got over it, eventually. Hehehe. So the fans, I'm they will be fine!

But this song--this song is definitely on repeat for a few more days...

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Life Begins at Thirty

They say life begins at THIRTY,  it sure is true... but just so you know, I have stopped bothering about ages for quite some time now. 

13 Going On Thirty

Have you ever seen that movie? That one's really funny. It is about a girl named Jenna (played by Jennifer Garner) who at thirteen wished to be "thirty, flirty and thriving". She was desperate and then she woke up one day as a thirty year old woman--and she was ecstatic!

I guess we  really know nothing in our youth and Jenna realized in the end that her wish---it wasn't a good wish at all. Anyway, I remember being that young. I wasn't even in high school yet and my concerns revolved around school, friends and crushes. At thirteen, your concerns and issues are shallow and very much negligible so it really is a mystery to me why Jenna was hurrying to be "thirty, flirty and thriving". 

Well, In case you didn't know, I am thirty-something and today I turn a year older. When I was seventeen and anticipating the day I turned eighteen, I remember being so excited, just like Jenna. I couldn't wait to be eighteen because I regarded it as a very significant age and I counted the days until I got there. I wanted to be an "adult". I wanted to be taken seriously. But on my nineteenth birthday, I suddenly lost interest in aging, counting and birthdays altogether. Actually, most of the time I am confused with my age. When someone asks and I'm not paying much attention, I would struggle and lag on my answer and say something like this: "I can't remember... twenty-four, twenty-five. Yeah twenty-five. Oh I'm not sure."

Anyway, it may seem as though I am in denial of my age, but the truth is that I love being in my thirties. No longer an awkward teen with trivial concerns and issues; and more credible than a twenties individual in my profession, so patients are more willing to trust me. As a thirty year old I am more independent, more decisive, more confident and more mature--or maybe I am just kidding myself. Hahaha! 

At my last high school reunion, a batchmate said: "At this age, we gotta be working on becoming future cougars". Haha! So here I am trying hard to bring "sexy back" at thirty. 

Soon enough I will no longer be in my thirties and I realized I should delight in the fact I am still in this bracket, before it's too late, so "Hooray I am so happy to be thirty-four today!" Anyway, age is just a number, right? So let's delight in numbers that relatively mean nothing in this life. 

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Binky, My Baby, Has Gone to Doggy Heaven

Two years ago, Gigi our old shih tzu gave birth to 4 puppies and since I was in need of a companion at that time, I told my mom to give me one. I named her Binky, after a reality tv star from "Made in Chelsea" and she became my companion. Unable to have a real one yet, I treated Binky as my baby and gave her all the love she deserved. 

People say I spoil her because I buy her clothes, toys and so forth. But Binky was not spoilt. She was a disciplined dog and she was potty trained. She knew how to fetch and I didn't even try hard to teach her because I just threw her toy many times and she got it, then gave it back to me, each time. She also knew how to walk without a leash, merely following my orders to "go" and "stop" but I did not teach her this, I just tried it one day and was surprised. She was car trained and you can take her anywhere, because she wont poo or pee. If I take her to a friend's house, she wont make a mess there, she will only do so when we've gone out to the street--it is amazing.

In other words, inasmuch as I would like to say Binky is the product of my hardwork, know that I didn't do much. I was lucky with her because she was kind, loving, smart and entertaining, so it is really a pain for me to accept that my perfect pet (my perfect baby) has left me. 

That Fateful Morning

My alarm went off at 6 o'clock that morning but I opened my eyes 30 minutes later. At times I would find Binky still lying beside me or she would be curled like ball in her bed. That morning, she was neither beside me nor in her bed, but I wasn't surprised because she usually goes down to hangout with manang when she hears her working downstairs. 

Anyway, I had just finished reading my daily devotional and I was about to stand-up and as I did I met a frantic manang, with a helpless looking Binky in her arms. "Nakagat sya!" (She got bitten!) And at that I screamed. I was in hysterics and I woke everyone up. At that point I screamed for my sister to get me a pair of shorts (because I slept with long shirt that night) and I remember giving one look at Binky, and I saw her kind eyes, look at me. Within moments I was ready to go and I gestured for manang to follow me but she looked at me and said: "Patay na sya maam" (She's already dead) and I collapsed on the floor, crying. I remained that way for a while and my sisters tried to calm me down, to no avail. I couldn't believe it. I slept with Binky beside me and I hadn't even woken up properly, and I was being told she was gone--forever. 

I didn't know what to do. I was just told that my baby is dead and I felt helpless. That was when I decided I needed to see the owner of the dog that attacked her. I rushed downstairs, I called manang to take me to the house and I gestured for my mom to come with me (I needed her to be my buffer because I was raging and I knew I was going to explode). 

When we got there. I found the house maid cleaning the car, the gate open, and I saw the dog cage--the chow chow inside, in another, was a chihuahua. When the maid saw me, I introduced myself and said that I am the owner of the dog that their chow chow attacked and she smiled: "Naka-smile ka?" (Are you smiling?) Maybe that was rude of me but I felt her attitude inappropriate and I was in a desperately furious state. We, then, requested that she call the owner of the house and it took awhile, because they were still asleep. When they finally got out, I began talking to the mother and that talk didn't go very well. You know, I was aware that talking to them would not exactly bring Binky back, but I desperately wanted them to know that their dog is DANGEROUS and DEADLY. I wanted her to know that there is nothing wrong with walking a dog, it was Binky's favorite thing to do in the world, but she died because their chow-chow was out of the cage.

I was accusatory. Maybe I was wrong to be so and she immediately got defensive and started to argue with me. "What do you want?" she asked me. And I continued to talk about my frustrations and she asked again "What do you want?" and I screamed in desperation: "Listen to me!" She continued interrupting and that made my heart ache even more so I screamed: "You do not get to talk! Listen to me! I lost my baby, you do not get to talk!" And I broke into tears. At that point I knew it was wrong for me to be there, so I excused myself and told my mom to take over. I turned around and ran back home (passing through the same path that Binky took before she breathed her last breath). 

I remember checking the time as I was running back--it was 8 o'clock in the morning. Normally I would just be getting ready for work at eight, but at that day was different from my usual mornings. I knew I wasn't fit to be a dentist that day so I cancelled my appointments, called my assistant and informed close friends about what had happened. When my mom returned home, it was only then that we realized that manang got bit too and her wounds just started to bleed profusely, so mom rushed her to the hospital to receive shots.

The Deadly Walk

Binky passed away around 7 o'clock, the morning of February 21st. In the mornings my dad usually asks manang to get pandesal and he did that day. Binky loved her morning walks so she usually tags along with Manang. As usual, they walked to the bakery and then walked around the opposite street to go back. As they were walking happily back home, they were unaware that an aggressive (and deadly) chow chow was out of the cage and the house gate was open. The dog went out and without a warning bark or an angry growl, it attacked. They were walking and Binky didn't even see it coming because she was bit from behind (area of buttocks) and then bit a second time in the chest (the fatal bite). Manang struggled with the dog, got herself bitten as well, and she was screaming for help as she tried to pull Binky away from her attacker, but no one was willing to help. Eventually the maid of the house (owner of the chow chow) came out with a small tub (tabo) of water but it was too late.

As soon as she was able to separate Binky from her aggressive murderer, manang ran back home. She had bloodied Binky in her hands and she ran back home, desperate to take her to me. It was a long walk back and through that stretch Binky was already struggling. She continued to walk and when she got home, she hurried upstairs where I met them. At that moment, she swears that Binky's breathing ceased and her eyes closed: this means that when I saw her eyes stare at me, we shared one last look and she let go.

My Binky was attacked and she held her breath long enough to say goodbye to me. As an owner (and her mommy) I couldn't ask for more. 

Dogs Are Meant to Be Loved

Dog ownership--this is a thing often confused by many. You see, owning a dog is a big responsibility. It is not merely a CUTE toy or a fun companion. When I made the decision to take Binky from my mom, I thought hard about it because I knew it was going to be hard work and it was. Some people buy expensive dogs because they can afford it but many of these dogs are unloved, caged and deprived. Dogs are meant to be loved. They will love you, unconditionally, but you have to love them too. We have eight dogs at home (minus Binky) and they are all loved immensely so they are kind and gentle.

A friend immediately researched about aggressive dogs the day I broke the news to them. Apparently, dogs are aggressive when they lack exercise and remember that when I saw the chow chow and his companion chihuahua, I found them caged. Now, I do not like to make assumptions, but maybe they stay in the cage almost 100% of the time and get zero exercise. Now this is frustrating. I mean, why have dogs if you can't take care of them? Why have dogs if you can't be a responsible owner? Owning a dog is more than just having them--it is really so much more.

Let me remind you that apart from Binky's death the dog injured our manang and she endured stage three bites (lacerations). We initially spent Php17,000 on shots and medications and she is due for more (total expected at Php25,000). Much could have been avoided if they were responsible owners.There is nothing wrong with walking a dog and Binky was leashed, enjoying her favorite thing in the world, when life was snatched away from her. Is it worth it to have a dog, if even you are frightened of them so you keep them locked in a cage? The owner said it was the first time for the chow chow to do something like that--so how many times does he have to attack before it becomes valid?

Anyway, that day ended with my mom filling a report. We wanted it known that a dangerous and deathly aggressive dog is a threat in the subdivision, so we filed a report. I cannot let anyone go through the same pain I went through. No dog and no person, should be hurt by that chow chow ever again. 

One Week After

That was a week ago. Before she died, Binky was with me for two years and two months. I miss her terribly. I have put away her clothes, her bed, her cage, her leash and her toys--I have no use for them anymore. The morning of her death, I asked God why, but even though I did not get an answer yet, I understand that this is all part of God's plan. To tell you honestly, I am still sad. The day she died, I was devastated and broken, I cancelled all my appointments and I cried until I had no tears left to cry. I am still sad today. I keep on imagining she is still with me and I keep recalling the things we used to do, and it makes me smile. But I can also recall the last look she gave me that morning and it breaks me into pieces. Binky was my baby and I know some people will think it's weird but she meant so much to me. Her death is too intense and it may be awhile before I would forget her, but I am okay.

You know what, this post was initially titled: "Binky, My Baby". I had this queued for awhile but it remained unwritten for a long time. When I planned this post more than a month ago, I wanted to talk about how Binky, a hairy dog, is my baby and my love. The night before the accident, I saw it again and realized it was due to be written, so I opened it and began writing--the first sentence of this post is the original sentence I constructed that night, but I stopped and said: "I'll write this tomorrow". I knew I wasn't so hectic in the clinic the next day so I had time to write this... but that, of course, never happened. 

It's quite sad when you think about it, you know? I feel as though I didn't write it because I was meant to write it THIS WAY. Now I wonder: would I have changed the course of time if I finished the post the night before and it was a jolly one? Deaths are never easy--even deaths of pets. Many of our dogs have died on us already but most of them died of old age or of a sickness, so we got the chance to see them weaken and deteriorate. I was given only ONE LOOK. Binky looked at me, one  last time, and she left me. I couldn't touch her. I couldn't even look at her injuries--it was too painful, so I just asked them to describe them to me. I wish she died differently, but I knew she had to die this way. God has a reason for this and even though I am sad about her loss I have no regrets because I loved Binky sincerely and during our time together, we had a blast!

I miss you so much Binky. I miss you Beebs, Binks, Binker, Monkey, Mongkaleesh, Mongkonks. Binkaroo, Bunks, Munks--my baby and my princess. I know where you are because they say, "all dogs go to heaven"

I will love you always...

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I have forgiven the owner of the chow-chow for what has happened. I accept that things happen and this did. I would also like you to know that they shouldered all the hospital bills for manang. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Going Loco Over Locavore

During the holidays last December I had gazillions of parties and dinners (it's always really fun). Around the middle of the month, however, a group friends realized we hadn't set anything yet for the season but despite our desperate attempts, we failed to arrive at an concrete. This is the problem with big groups. When it is a gathering of two or three, you only have a few schedules to think about, but when you're finding a convenient date for a group of eleven or more, it is almost impossible. By the end of December I decided to make "solo" plans with one of them and we said: "Let's set a dinner date and then see who is free. Let's make it final for the two of us and just give them the date. Whoever's available that day can just join!" Well guess what, that bullying tactic worked because with the date, time and venue set--everyone felt they had no choice but to comply. So after months of trying to find a convenient date and time, I got to see the friends I've missed for so long. 

The night was a lovely one and what made it even more special was our choice of restaurant. We decided to brave the long weekend queue at Locavore to checkout what everyone was raving about and we were not disappointed. As a matter of fact, we had a great time sampling different dishes from the menu so this review is going to be a good one. 

Streetfood Platter

If you want to make "tusok-tusok" the fishballs, order this one. It's complete with your favorite street food finds: fishballs, squidballs, kikiam and kwek-kwek, served with three different sauces: the traditional sweet and spicy sauce, spicy vinegar and sweet chili. My personal favorite is the spicy vinegar sauce. Actually, after we finished all the contents of the small pan, we graduated the vinegar as a sauce to some of the other dishes we ordered. 

Gabi Chips

This one is so good, we ordered two of these (well not right away). When the girls realized we loved it, we decided not to give any to the boys, so we forced them to order their own--and got their order (in the end). Haha!. The chips are perfectly crunchy and the garlic dip is amazing, we just couldn't get enough of it. 

Ensaladang Pakwan

This salad is quite simple, but the play of flavors is very interesting. The contrast provided by the vinaigrette, cheese and watermelon is a wonderful surprise in the mouth. 

Ginataang Kaldereta

I love this one. Actually I love all kinds of dishes cooked in gata (coconut) so I was looking forward to this one. It is a noted specialty and it did not disappoint. The beef is tender and vegetables are cooked perfectly, so every bite is memorable. 

Crispy Tilapia

This is just okay, but maybe because we did expect it to be this way. When I read crispy tilapia, I was thinking it was going to be deep-fried to crispiness but it was deep-fried with batter so the fish wasn't "crispy" at all. It was good, though, despite its "kwek-kwek" impersonation, just do not expect so much from it. 

Sizzling Sinagang

This one was everyone's favorite and we ordered two because we really enjoyed it. When we read the word "sizzling", we had all kinds of ideas about it, but we immediately deduced that it would be dry sinigang and it was. Despite the absence of the traditional sinigang soup, however, this dish is tasty and its sourness is so addictive. Oh it is another proof that my favorite Filipino food is sinigang (the more the sour the better).


I love gising-gising and our magnificent cook at home makes a winner version of this dish, so I was a little disappointed with Locavore's rendition. Actually, of everything we ordered, this one got a lot of bad comments from our table: it wasn't as spicy as I would wish for it too be--and there was just too put into dish, I guess, when it should've been a simple one. 

Sinugbang Bangus

I am not a fan of bangus (milkfish) so I wasn't very fond of this. You can tell from the photo, I wasn't so interested, so I am very sorry. Anyway, I found it a little bland but the spicy vinegar from the streetfood platter made this very interesting for me. 

Pandesal Pudding

I've always loved bread pudding and this one is a good. The dulce de leche is very good and the sogginess of the bread is just perfect so that every forkful you take is guaranteed to be flavorful. I would prefer it in a bigger serving but maybe I'm just being a little demanding. 

Torta Manga

This is not exactly special because all mango tortes are good for me--and this one is. What is notable about this dessert dish is the variety of texture provided in a single plate, so every bite is truly characteristic. 

We had no plans of having coffee here, but the men in the table started ordering rounds of liquor, we decided we had no more time to transfer and have coffee somewhere else. A blessing in disguise, because their coffee is lovely and as an avid coffee drinker I give their cup three kisses of appreciation. Hahaha! Well, I think it also helps that the presentation is this creative... what do you think?

Anyway, I told you we went LOCO over at Locavore. We got there at around 8:30pm, got seated at 9:30pm and left the place around 2am (I think). It was a great dinner with friends and it was lovely that we chose a place that served good food. Oh, we went through the menu like there was no tomorrow and if we could, I'm sure we would have sampled everything, but maybe we'll just come back some other day to try the rest. 

So, here's to hoping that the next time we see each other, we don't have to wait MONTHS before we find a convenient date and time. Haha! 

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I drove myself to Locavore after a busy Saturday clinic-day and used Googlemaps to locate the place (I had no problem getting there). My friends who have become totally dependent on Waze, followed the registered directions and they were all led to a bogus location a few blocks away from the actual restaurant. This may be a prank and it is a good one. If this has been corrected by the owners, do alert me, but as of publishing---know what that Waze is unreliable when locating Locavore.

Brixton Technology Center
#10 Brixton Street
Kapitolyo, Pasig City

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Reading While Driving: Voiceover ON

I have been driving even before I turned sixteen years old. I remember the first time the driver asked me: "Gusto mo magdrive?" (Do you want to drive?) and I remember how eager I was when I said: "YES!" Despite the early training, however, my strict parents did not give me official permission and responsibility of a car until the age of twenty-two. Fortunately, my school was far and my schedule got too erratic, so they finally let me go on my own--and so I did. Armed with my matchbox of a car, I would brave the travel from Camp Aguinaldo to Manila, where my school was. Trained by soldiers, my skill was properly honed by the streets of Aurora Boulevard, Sta Mesa, Mendiola and Recto. I remember the day my dad gave me my first car. It was a second-hand Kia Pride and he said: "Ito cge, gawin mong bumpcar" (Here you go, you can treat this as a bumpcar)--but of course he was just kidding and trust me, I tried my best to make that statement, ridiculous.

Anyway, I really love to drive; and I would choose to drive than to commute, even in the worst traffic jam. I would choose to be driven by a chauffeur than to drive, of course, but I'm sure you get my point. I like the authority you gain when behind the wheel. I like the mobility that comes automatically, and I love how it is sometimes therapeutic, so I crave it. When I'm harassed and piled with a lot of worries, my time behind the wheel is often the best place to make decisions. Some people meditate in the washroom, I do a lot of meditation while I drive (with my eyes opened, of course). I could drive in silence, with just my thoughts raging; I could drive with the radio screaming out loud and the music soothing my nerves; or I could be driving with my iPad reading a book to me. 

Most people have trouble enduring traffic, when I'm with my iPad, I'm all set

Apart from driving, reading is one more thing I love to do. Always on-the-go and without much time to really flip through pages of a book, I spend my hour to an hour and a half drive to and from work, with a book. Since it is not conducive (and safe) to use my eyes to do this and since I do not have audio versions of my books, I turn on the VOICEOVER function of my iPad so that the book is read to me. I use either Kindle or iBooks. They're slightly different because Kindle reads continuously, from the moment you prompt it with a downward stroke of a finger and iBooks requires a page-per-page three-finger swipe from right to left (as if flipping a real page). Nevertheless, they're pretty similar and it will all depend on the copy you get. 

As reader, I'd it is loud enough, but I'm sure it would be best if it is connected to a speaker. On a good week, I am able to finished 1-2 books, but if I am preoccupied and would rather have some quiet time or music moment, the  the iPad stays shut in my bag. Anyway, if you have an iPad you don't know how to make it read to you, I will teach you how. Note that I own a mere iPad 2 so I wouldn't know if the settings are the same for a newer version. Anyway, you basically have two options;

Option 1: Go to Settings ---> Click General ---> Click Accessibility --> Turn on Voiceover function
Option 2: Triple click Home Button --> Click Voiceover to turn it on 

It is a .really simple and reliable function... I also use it when reading at night so I can close my eyes and wait for sleep to make creep and bring to dreamland. Go ahead and try it...

Happy reading!

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

SONG IN MY HEAD: Love Me Like You Do (Fifty Shades of Grey OST)

My ringtone had been "Anything Could Happen" by Ellie Goulding, until I changed it this year. I like Ellie. Her voice is distinct and her music is easy to listen to, so when I heard her new song on the radio, I immediately picked it up. I proceeded to download the song on my phone and much to my delight, I found out that the song is part of the OST for "Fifty Shades of Grey". It is a catchy song with lyrics that definitely suit the controversial R-18 movie and it's been on constant replay on my drive to and from work, for almost a week now. 

Love Me Like You Do
Ellie Goulding

You're the light, you're the night
You're the color of my blood
You're the cure, you're the pain
You're the only thing I wanna touch
Never knew that it could mean so much, so much

You're the fear, I don't care
'Cause I've never been so high
Follow me to the dark
Let me take you past our satellites
You can see the world you brought to life, to life

So love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do
Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do
Touch me like you do, to-to-touch me like you do
What are you waiting for?

Fading in, fading out
On the edge of paradise
Every inch of your skin is a holy gray I've got to find
Only you can set my heart on fire, on fire
Yeah, I'll let you set the pace
'Cause I'm not thinking straight
My head spinning around I can't see clear no more
What are you waiting for?

Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do
Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do
Touch me like you do, to-to-touch me like you do
What are you waiting for?

Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do (like you do)
Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do (yeah)
Touch me like you do, to-to-touch me like you do
What are you waiting for?

I'll let you set the pace
'Cause I'm not thinking straight
My head spinning around I can't see clear no more
What are you waiting for?

Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do (like you do)
Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do (yeah)
Touch me like you do, to-to-touch me like you do
What are you waiting for?

Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do (like you do)
Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do (yeah)
Touch me like you do, to-to-touch me like you do
What are you waiting for? 

A few years ago a friend told me to download an ebook. That was the first time I ever heard of E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey and I decided to read the novel despite how little I knew about it. Before this book, I honestly haven't read any romance novels, but I went for it because I was curious. And when I began reading, I carried on because as much as I transfixed on Edward Cullen before, Christian Grey captivated my senses, too. So what does this actually say about me then? Does this mean I like vampires? Do I look for men in power? Do I like men to have control over me? Well, if you've read the books, Edward and Christian adored Bella and Anastasia. It may be the unhealthy type of adoration--the type that's ominous and all-consuming but I understand the appeal and it is no wonder women worshiped them. And in all honesty, I think if have the opportunity to live a bizarre fictional existence, I'd also say: "Give me a wealthy vampire with super strength and amazing prowess in bed, please!" (Oh no, I did not just say that...) 

Okay, let me make things clear. I may have read the books and enjoyed my mental picture of Christian Grey, but it does not make me a pure follower of the whole idea. First of all, I find BDSM very weird and unnecessary and in the case of Twilight, I think Bella was being stupid when she chose to become a vampire. Nevertheless, I can see myself falling for these type of men--the type that's dangerous and mysterious. I mean, if he will love me right, the kind of love that's written in books... The Mr. Darcy type of love that overflows and breaks boundaries, I'd surely go for it. Anyway, we're just talking about a fictional existence right? So basically, it really isn't about vampires or wealth or even about talents in the bedroom. Bottom line: women fixate on fictional men like Edward, Christian and Darcy because these men know what to do...

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Working Away From the Clinic

For more than a year now, I've been working outside of the clinic as a retainer dentist. I devote two days of my work week to the company and I spend the rest of the week in my own practice. Ever since, I have been looking for something like this because I'm easily bored and life in the clinic can be very monotonous. I needed variety because after seven years of working in my own practice, I knew it was time for me to spread my wings. Luckily, I landed part-time clinic hours at a Hong Kong-based corporate medical company. 

I remember going to Makati for my interview around September 2013. Severely anticipating rush hour traffic, I left my QC-home before 6am, just to make it to my 8am interview. I miscalculated and got there so early, so I decided to pass time with a book and cup of coffee at a nearby Starbucks. The last job interview I had, I was barely out of College. I had just completed a three-month externship at the Philippine Air Force Dental Dispensary and I was much too eager to work and jump start my career. I remember that day, I was armed with resumes that were filed neatly into individual folders, and I presented myself like fresh meat at a butchers. Fast-forward, seven years later, I was sitting at a Starbucks waiting for 8 o'clock to arrive and I was hoping to land the job being offered.

The Starbucks I chose is walking distance to CEU Makati and I happened to sit beside two Dentistry students, so I ended up chatting with them. It was a brief conversation; we talked about clinical requirements, the struggles of finding patients, my old teachers who happen to be their teachers now and the realities of being a dentist in this country. I told them about my practice, its ups and downs, and I mentioned that I was heading to an interview for a part-time placement. Anyway, that was more than a year ago today. I landed the job the moment I entered the room, and much has happened since.

Working away from the clinic took a lot of getting used to. I remember the first few weeks was physical torture. I was plucked out of my comfort zone and had to wake up early to attend to 8 am clinic--the whole ordeal was a mixture of good and bad, I had no choice but to endure. 

The Bad

In 2006, I briefly worked as a dental associate before I opened my first clinic and that stint went on for about 11 months. When I started working for this company I am with right now, I encountered the same complications I did before, and perhaps they are common issues that people endure in the workplace, but I just wasn't used to it: office politics, conflict with co-workers, working under a boss. Just imagine I've been in private practice for seven years and in my clinic I am the boss so I make decisions, I answer to no one (but my patients) and I follow my own rules. I had one person working for me and she has been my constant companion, but now I have to deal with several superiors, co-workers and subordinates. When you're working with a lot people, you're forced to deal with different attitudes and personalities. Although I wouldn't exactly say I'm completely adjusted now, at least I can already cope. It is a day-to-day learning experience and I'd admit, I've been humbled by the experience ( and battle). 

The Good

Working away from the clinic may come with its disadvantages, but it is also good for a lot of reasons. The initial appeal was getting a clear break in the monotonous routine of private practice. I used to work six days a week in the same place, doing the same thing over-and-over again, it wasn't always delightful. With the change, however, I get to be in a different environment and I get to interact with more people. This interaction, especially with fellow dentists, is good because I am able to learn a lot from them. When I have a difficult case, I consult with them and I get help where its needed. We get to discuss cases and it is a good alternative to my usual work week with my assistant as my constant companion.

Basically, the best thing about working away from the clinic is meeting new people. I used to be confined to the four walls of my clinic, suddenly I was in the presence of people who eventually became my friends.

Strangers, initially, they are now more than companions... more than colleagues. When I was sitting at Starbucks more than a year ago, I thought I was merely looking for a part-time position in a company. More than a year after, I realize I found so much more than that.

Hooray to friendship that breaks boundaries (and survives the "rigodon")

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Am I Really A Bully?

Am I really a bully? I just checked the dictionary and the definition of a bully is "a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker". I don't think that's me. First of all, I don't bring harm on people. I mean, I do get my way sometimes and I am able to convince people to do what I ask them to, but I'd like to think it has to do with how effectively persuasive and charming I am. Charm. Well, someone did tell me I have powers to "charm", but if I will accept this theory I'd like to think that I am able to charm people with proper reasoning and presentation--not just with a smile.

After all, I don't think I've ever smiled my way out of number-coding and I assure you I am in no capacity to flash pathetic puppy dog eyes on people. I do not pout and make twinkly eyes--that is not my style. Actually, I don't think I know how to do puppy dog eyes and I think I'd burst into laughter if I even try. 

I cannot do puppy dog eyes, but "makuha-ka-sa-tingin-look" I can do so well

So, a bully, I don't think that's me but there are a few things that I can do:

I cry when I get caught by the MMDA

Now that's not being a bully--that's acting.You see, I employ various strategies to get out of a ticket when I'm behind the wheel. Just remember that these are men in power and although they like to intimidate, this is usually limited to men and I am GIRL and men in power want to show compassion to women. Therefore, you do not really have to raise your voice (but I do sometimes, if I know I am right) to get out of a ticket. I've learned that you can pretend to feel harassed and distraught about the situation. You can add tears for the extra mileage, but bowing your head and covering your face is often enough. See, that is not bullying. You cannot bully the police. 

I've always found it challenging to try to persuade people

Back in St. Paul for our Speech Class, we were asked to write a speech either in an instructional, persuasive or narrative form. Most people wrote instructional speeches because you can teach someone to bake brownies and all you needed to do is to memorize a recipe--it's easy. I, however, wrote a speech to convince my teacher that it is a brilliant idea to make ST PAUL PASIG CO-ED. I remember doing well with that. Of course my school is still exclusive for girls, but that may have changed if they made me do the speech to the school directress (just kidding).

I do win favors from people from time to time

Like I have this guy friend who I am able to to convince to give me all kinds of things and he's often left scratching his head in disbelief because in a matter of minutes I've already gotten him to say yes to giving me pastries, pizzas, hangers and whatnot. I've even forced him to become my best friend and it was like he had no say on it. And back in Dentistry school, when I was the school council president, I was able to make people host, sing or dance at the events I was organizing (even when they would normally not give a damn). You see, I can make people do things as if I've trapped them in a dare and they know there's no escaping the contract. I think that's a great talent--entrapment--and it isn't bullying at all. 

I am a natural leader

I've always been a leader in school and mostly any group I am in. Not always because people vote me to be the leader, but sometimes I just step into role because no one else wants it. 

Well, when made a leader like for instance in my old Clash of Clans team where I am one of the leader/pioneers, I boss people around and tell them what to do during clan wars. Believe me, I do not delight in this, but no one wants the responsibility so I have to take charge. So in such cases, I just automatically assume responsibility and hope that my leadership does everyone good. Actually in that COC team, people actually thought I was a guy because I was much too bossy. I guess they thought  most girls aren't usually like me, so imagine their surprise when we created a Facebook page and they all got confirmation of my true gender and identity--shock fest! 

Now, here's the truth as I see it...

A lot of people say I am bully and maybe I am, dunno. I am the eldest of four girls and I was born to basically be the boss of my sisters, so maybe all this is just natural to me. I've been a big sister for twenty-eight years and I have three little sisters that look up to me and when I am not being the protective sister or the one that guides them, I am the big sister that bosses them around and tells them to do stuff. Perks of being the eldest, you get to bully everyone to follow you--but that is heavily compensated by a lot of older sister responsibilities, so it may just cancel each other out.

I say I'm just bossy--bullies are a different thing altogether. I'm a born leader and I have the tendency to take charge because I am quick and I have mechanisms in my head running on overtime (all the time). Moreover, note that I've had years of training at home so I have mastered how to boss people around.  But I don't think I am the type to really "bully" people (although I may have done that in the past, but let's save that for another story). Haha!

Am I Really A Bully?

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Patient Chronicles: My Frustration with Parents

If you are my friend on Facebook, then you are familiar with my the series I have called: Patient Chronicles. You see, in my work I meet a lot of people and I deal with all kinds of things: patient problems, attitudes, complaints, demands and so forth. At times the work is monotonous... you come in and you almost do the same thing over and over again, but then sometimes work is quite entertaining. Sometimes work becomes very interesting because of the case at hand or the patient I am attending to. 

Patient Chronicles are posts about some of the funny encounters I have with patients. I share them not really because I'm making fun of them (I love all my patients) but because they're quite interesting. Like the famous "Overheard" series, I share my funniest encounters with the sole purpose to entertain. They are anonymous and fairly straightforward, much like this favorite one of mine:

Of course that is my favorite because a patient thought I was still in my 20s. For your information, I am 33 and I shall age another year by the end of March. Anyway, there are many funny conversations that I have with patients and I want to share with you the most recent one I had, between a mother and father who came into the clinic with their little boy:

Crickette: Hi mommy, how old is he?
Mom: 1 1/2 years old doc
Crickette: What's the problem?
Dad: Bulok na po kasi yung front teeth nya (All his front teeth are badly decayed)

With that I proceeded to check the boy's oral cavity and I was shocked at what I saw. Barely two years old, the child's teeth have deteriorated and is plaque-ridden 

Crickette: The anterior teeth are almost completely gone, and the rest are all badly decayed. Who brushes his teeth mommy?
Mom: Wala po (No one)
Crickette: What do you mean?
Mom: We don't brush his teeth...
Crickette: You don't what? Why? As in, ever?
Mom: No.

That went on for awhile. And believe me, although that was the worst one I've experienced, I've met many parents who don't have a clue about taking proper care of their baby's teeth and it is quite frustrating. Yes, of course, the baby teeth are only temporary and they eventually get replaced by the permanents, but do you know that the complete set of permanents (minus the wisdom teeth) could come as late as 12 years old? This means that when a child loses his teeth at 2, he waits almost a decade for some of his teeth to get replaced. As parents, this shouldn't be something that you are just "okay" with. As primary carers of your child's health and welfare, you should want the best for them and this means that you will do all it takes to properly care for the health and beauty of his smile. 

As soon as your child gets his first tooth, your duty begins. As a matter of fact, even before the first tooth comes out, you can start a habit of swabbing the baby's mouth clean with dampened cotton or gauze to keep the tongue, lips, gums and palate clean. Understand that the milk your baby loves is heavenly food for bacteria; and when you let it accumulate in the mouth, it is like you are making your baby susceptible to dental disease. When you leave food particles around, you are leaving food for bacteria to thrive in the mouth. Yes, caries development proceed at a slow pace and surely the baby teeth eventually get replaced by the permanents, but that is not reason enough for you to relax and neglect your baby's teeth. Your baby relies on you to know better. As the primary health provider of your child, you have to be aware of your duties and responsibilities; and you are expected to do all it takes to preserve the health, function and beauty of their smiles.

In the clinic, when parents present to me a child with severely decayed teeth, I usually ask them "what happened". Some parents would admit negligence (and I take this as the first step to rehabilitation), but there are others who will be quick to blame the child: "Kain kasi ng kain ng candy". (He can't stop eating candy!) or "Ayaw kasi magtoothbrush" (He doesn't want to brush his teeth). They blame the yaya or the child and it frustrates me because much of this is very commonsense, you know? So when the mother and father showed me their 11/2 year old son with teeth almost obliterated by caries, I wanted to cry. I wanted to hug the little boy and tell him: "I'm sorry that even before you learn how to say teeth, you may lose all of them..." 

Anyway, after our discussion I dismissed the family with a hopeful thought: "Mommy he is your first child. You will have a second, maybe a third... I hope you won't let this happen again."

Please brush your teeth,

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N.B. The child's case is not a hopeless one. The gravity of his problems could be remedied, as long as the parents are open and willing to explore the options.

You and Your Teeth Dental Clinic
Unit 312 3F Sir Williams Hotel
#39 Timog Avenue, Quezon City
(02) 4412981