Catastrophizing

I don’t know what happened, but at some point in the aging process I stopped being… cool. Not cool in the sense that I buy all my clothes from Bench in Quad II or I would only snack in Bun On The Run after buying trinkets from Gift Gate. More like cool as a state of mind, like not getting easily anxious over the smallest things, or being able to compartmentalize thoughts and emotions. Like when my patients text me that they feel weak or they are losing their appetite–although those are definitely expected among cancer patients who just underwent intense chemo I immediately get aligaga and catastrophize and run every possible horrific scenario in my brain. This is in part due to our training in internal medicine when, as first year residents, we were told by our Department Chair: “When I see fat stranding on CT scan, I don’t walk, I RUN!!!”

For all its toxicity I was able to maintain my cool during training because there were people who exuded being cool, specifically my seniors like Edhel, Kate, and Lalaloo. I once frantically whined to LalaLoo, “He still has fever! He still has terrible cough!” to which she replied “You’ve just given one dose of antibiotics. Wait for it to work. Hey I read your Friendster blog last night!” And then in hellowship there were always the other hellows to ask when difficult cases come in. During our oncology boards review we told each other: Lahat pala ng tanong natin sa isa’t isa nasa libro, hindi lang tayo nagbabasa!

But now years into my private practice, instead of the expected calm and cool that should come with experience, more and more nerve endings are getting exposed–if I started nail-biting in 2019 I would have chomped my hand off by now. Maybe once my routines are slowly established and I’m able to toy rounds and eat fast food and talk to people and laugh I would regain my cool and shed a little bit of this anxiety–only to be replaced by the anxiety of dying from fomite and asymptomatic carriers!

To be cool as Robin!


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