Ahmad Sampang ibnu Hajiri, MD

A Personal blog by a Tausug medical student (now a doctor!) from Sulu and the stories that inspired him.
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Alhamdulillah! (All praise be to Allah!) After the loooong wait, the list of admitted applicants who passed the rigorous application process in UPCM is now up! We now have the initial list of LU3 students (1st year Medicine Proper) for the school year 2015-2016. 

MashaAllah! I can still remember that day when I received the same news, it was still unbelievable for me! Allahu akbar! (Allah is great!) And now I can't believe I am already about to end my third year in UP College of Medicine as an ICC and a proud member of the awesome Class 2017! 

It was a life-changing news for me. And I am sure this will surely be another life-changing news for the 160 applicants as well ^_^ 

To check the list of successful admitted applicants, just click this link 

Snapshot of the official announcement of the UP College of Medicine website
This year, Alhamdulillah we have 3 Muslims (that I know of) ^_^ I already met two of them. And I am not sure if there are still other Muslims in the roster (there are Muslims with non-muslim names you know?). I will make sure to meet all of them before my toxic clerkship year begin next year in sha Allah!

For now, let's focus on our current problem: Last week in Surgery ^_^

Salam Kasilasa!
busy Ahmad

When your mind is full of ideas but you lack the words to express them.

I simply keep asking myself "Why?"

Why? really WHy?

It's official. I am indeed THE toxic magnet in our group.

It was just recently proven last Friday during my short ER duty under the Surgery Department. Just a little over an hour since I logged-in and a number of trauma cases came in one after the other. Two vehicular accident with one of them receiving a compound, comminuted open fracture of the left tibia and fibula (in simpler terms, his bones where crushed and we can see them jotting out from his bleeding legs. He was literally screaming his lungs out due to pain @_@  Yeah, sorry for the bloody description...). Not an hour had passed and another patient was brought to us, unconscious and barely breathing. What happened? He tried to kill himself by hanging with a rope x_x Good thing our DEM doctors are really good at "reviving" (?) patients. He was given proper resuscitation procedures while we try to interview his family members what really happened and how long he had been "hanged".

It was just a few hours since we started our duty and I could already sense my senior clerks and interns on duty glaring at me with those "it's-your-fault!" eyes. It was supposed to be a calm day during their rotations, until we came in, or so they claimed.

Oh well. I never really planned to be there in the first place. That day when our Liaison Officer informed us about the "optional duty" under surgery, I was more than willing to volunteer. Why? Because I thought it would be an OR-based duty helping out with surgeries in the surgical theatre. I have no idea that it was actually an ER duty! (yeah, blame it to the guy who never listens intently to announcements before raising up his right hand... who? Me? Come on!)

And because our names (me and another victim who also thought the same way as I did) were already listed and the SOD (Surgeon on Duty) was already informed about our presence, we have no choice to go on. For higher learning, we tried to convince ourselves. But hey! Alhamdulillah, it was indeed another learning experience to remember!

This is the "Baby Schwartz" Companion Book that I bring everywhere during this few days in Surgery. Pretty helpful to those who have no idea what they are doing (like me)
Although we didn't get the chance to do the suturing, we were still able to help in doing some of the prox (procedures: inserting folley catheter, blood extractions, IV lining). It's a good way to practice our skills somehow. Another action-packed day in the emergency medicine.

Lesson of the day: Listen to what your LO is saying and be more conscious if it's an OR or an ER duty. Also, inform your comrades-in-duty that you are a "toxic magnet" to prepare them somehow.

Exhausted Anakiluh, MD

(Written April 10, 2015)
Assalamu Alaykum (Peace be upon you all)

I was still conducting my history taking with a patient in the out-patient department under TCVS (Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery) when I received a sad news. A good friend of mine died just the morning of that day in the hospital.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raajiun. (Indeed we are from Allah and to Him we shall all return)

He was still young, around his 20s. He was a cheerful classmate, a very good-natured guy. And above all else he was a humble, righteous and sincere Muslim brother. He died on a blessed Friday which is a wonderful sign. He lived a short yet satisfied life. May Allah be pleased with him and his deeds and accept him with His boundless mercy. May Allah lighten his grave and make things easy for him to enter Jannah in sha Allah. Allahumma ameen. And May Allah make our deaths as peaceful and as blessed as that wonderful brother had.

Indeed life is nothing but a fleeting hour-glass just waiting for that last grain to drain out. Each of us has our own designated time to "expire", to rest and end all things then and there. We may have different lifespans, some die young some die too old. And all of these are already predestined by Allah (God). Everything has been planned. All we are left to do is wait for our own designated time to come.

We all know these undeniable reality: All men must die. Nobody will live forever. No one will turn into stone and stay forever in this worldly life. We must all taste death as what was mentioned in the Noble Qur'an

And yet, here we are human beings, living our life like we have all the time in the world. We pretend and deceive ourselves that we will live forever. We treat life as it if it's already eternal, everlasting, unending... We try to fool ourselves that death is "still faraway. Little do we know that sooner or later, we will be the next one in line. We all forget these things as we become too preocupied with all the things we plan to do in the future. We tend to forget to ask "I wonder if I will die today? What will happen to me and all these things I am working so hard for?"

And on the "Medical professionals" setting...
After being witnesses to different kinds of deaths and life-and-death situations here in the hospital, there are times that we, health professionals would tend to belittle the message of death. We see patients succumb to death almost everyday. We see family members mourn over their loved ones. We do express and extend our condolences at times, but it all end up there. We move on to our next living patient and try to keep ourselves busy hoping that the idea of another death will just fly away. But it wont. It will stay right there. Death is normal part of our life. We just have to be prepared for it when the time (our time) comes.

Perhaps through these series of incidents of deaths of loved ones, of acquaintances and friends... that we may be reminded about life and it's fleeting deadline: grains continuously flowing until the appointed time comes up. Maybe perhaps after knowing that somebody you know died, you will tend to pause and reflect, look at things differently. That "Hey! I have a deadline! I might be next! I won't live forever here! I have to spend this little amount of time I have left to things that are important and meaningful. Those things that would last forever and those things that I could bring with me even after the graveyard." 

We have different ways of interpreting the statement of "Spend your life well". But perhaps we can all agree that the actions we take to accomplish that statement must answer the question "Is the life you are living now worth dying for?"

Let us spend this wonderful gift called "Life" meaningfully.
And may Allah accept all our deeds and give us meaningful lives. Allahumma ameen.

Salam Kasilasa,

It was February 22, 2015 when I finally crossed out one of my Bucket lists: Visit Baguio City!   

The plan to go to Baguio was already planned 2 years ago with some Muslim brothers that I met in Manila. Who are we and what do we do?

Well, we are a group of Muslim students and young professionals (all male) mostly friends and acquaintance of one another. And during the past two years, we usually gather once in a while, mostly during weekends or during holidays and spend time talking about Islam and our roles as young leaders in the society (naks). Sometimes we talk about how we can improve ourselves and dealing with the daily challenges we meet. Or at times maybe we just go around town and try different coffee shops , looking for good "study place" while we do our own separate "projects" and "assignments". 

Later on, these "gatherings" became more frequent and the Muslim brothers attending are increasing in numbers. We were hosted by a very hospitable "Abe" (or "kuya"), a Turkish friend who would always offer his dormitory and even his brothers' restaurant for us to gather. It became formalized that we finally had a module to follow and we would once in a while conduct exams as well. It was then that the "Baguio Trip" was raised and revived.

And so the plan was polished and preparations done. The schedule was fixed and we were all set to go! And so here is my 2 nights and 1 day travelogue on my first visit to the Summer Capital of Philippines: Baguio City! 

NOTE: This post is mostly composed of photos.

DAY 1: Off to Baguio!

It was a long ride... Had to fight boredom with my Camera

Solitude house in Baguio CIty

We are seeing some signs! We are almost there! (after a few more hours perhaps?)

The roads are clear

Panagbenga 2015.
It was during the peak of PanagBenga Festival in Baguio that we went there

Exhausted and starving!
We finally arrived in Baguio. Brrr it was really freezing out there

The Musim brothers and our Turkish hosts
The Nghtwalkers

Upon arrival and after we had our Dinner and finished our Salah, some of us went to bed already while the more adventurous ones (including me) went out for a short walk. We wont be staying long in the city so it's best to make use of the tie we have.

Would love to check the archives in this library. But it's already night time

flowers baguio night
Night flowers..
Burnham Park

Somewhere in Burnham Park

Taking another pose

Then we wen to the street market. It was just like the Divisoria in Manila or "Juwalmura" in Sulu
Only in a rather cold setting

So many people around

DAY 2 More tours!

The second day after the freezing night, we went for another round of walk/jog. There were only 4 of us who went out to see Burnham Park again. 

In search of a hot coffee...

With Brother Yassen. We were the "Originals" who started the "gathering"

Checking out some souvenir shirts

Aahh the sun is up and it's still cold....


We went back to our host's place and by then they were already preparing the breakfast. They told us that we will spend and eat "brunch" at Camp John Hay (at first I heard it "Com Chang Hey", so I thought it was some Chinese place hahaha) .

Camp John Hay wonderful Place
Arriving at Camp John Hay

And this is what welcomed us!
MashaAllah I have never seen pine trees as high as these!
Those in Marawi City became dwarf-pines!

The Muslim Brothers for a better society.
With Dr. Abdelhamit (in red polo at the center) our host.

Striking a pose. It was too shiny I went all white!

And the delicious meal was served. Bismillah!

We only have a limited time as most of us have to go back to Manila by night time. (We have classes the next day! haha) And so we were asked to decide where to go next: The Strawberry Farm or the Mine's View Park. Both place are really highly suggested but the group decided to go to the former as most of us haven't tried picking up fresh strawberries in our whole life!

And so off we go!
Going through the City proper, this actually amazed me. The houses in Baguio are all piled up in hills.

The city is really getting overpopulated -_-

And here we come!

So, BSU owned the Strawberry farm? Awesome.

Tasted both the freshly picked strawberry and the Strawberry-flavored Ice cream. Yummy

The farm.

(the photo above, the first one, was taken here)


As all stories have their endings, our short visit to Baguio City also has to end as well. After our trip to the Strawberry farm, we went back to our hosts' place, took some snacks and brought all our stuffs back to Manila -_- Well there was something good that happened before we left. The city, maybe saddened that we are already on our way back home, sent us a parting gift: FOGS!

Yes, the city was engulfed in mystic fogs (more intense than those I have seen in Marawi)  as we exited the City. Bdding us farewell and perhaps telling us to come by visit some day in the future in sha Allah. Perhaps I will. Perhaps I will in sha Allah!

Saying good bye

The irony of this signage. We are just about to exit the City and it says "Welcome" haha


Got some cool photos as remembrance



It was a cold night after my sister's wedding in Sulu. I have to catch the last trip to Zamboanga even though I failed to buy my own ticket (the vessel was already fully booked the day before!) This was not new to me, racing with time, catching trips, no tickets. I am well aware and familiar on what to do: Find a vacant bed and wait till the ship departs. If it's still vacant by that time, then good for you. But if not, then repeat until you exhaust all measures where you end up with the last plan: the rooftop. 

Honestly I have done it a couple of times. Alone. But this time it's something really different. I was not alone. I have 11 other passengers with me. ELEVEN NO-TICKET PASSENGERS! Half of them were students like me, mostly cousins who have exams the next day. While the other half (5 of them) were professional photographers my sister hired for her wedding. They, too have to join in with the unexpected adventure. 

We have no choice. It was the last trip to Zamboanga. And we cannot risk delaying another day. 

We tried the "Wait and see" strategy, and to our dismay, all beds were occupied.  And yes, we were left with the last resort: The rooftop.

And so, that cold evening of my sister's wedding... 12 innocent souls spent 8 hours sleeping on the rooftop of a moving vessel under the starry night with the moon at its fullest as M/V KC Beatrice lazily tread the sea of dreams.

I did not sleep well that night worrying that some of my companions would catch a cold. This was my plan anyway. And I am responsible for them somehow. But hey, we have no other choice alright. So yeah, if I could just sing the "Let it go~~" song and end it with "~the cold never bothered me anyway~". But I didn't. And perhaps I won't.

It was the night after the Lunar eclipse. That night while the moon was at its fullest grandeur and the stars decorating the dark sky, I embarked the ship and left Sulu once again with a heavy heart.

I never wanted to leave you again. But I must. I have to.
This is for you anyway, so please... just a little more time... A little more time and I will surely return to your warm embrace once more.

Till then, farewell my beloved homeland. Wait for me.

Two months left

I still have 2 months left under my ICC year. I only have 3 rotations left: Surgery (3 weeks), Internal Medicine (3 weeks) and Traditional Medicine (2 weeks elective). Then after that is the dreaded Finals week and the Comprehensive exam. The Grand OSCE will be scheduled on the first week of June as well. Two months. Surely that is something I really have to prepare myself for.

Honestly, I don't feel that I am ready for clerkship next year. I... I fell like I am not yet competent enough. I still don't know a lot of things (that my fellow classmates are already masters of). I am afraid that I may not be able to handle the tasks and the pressures that lie ahead. I still don't feel like I can already call myself a "doctor". And next year is the most challenging of all the years in Medschool. How am I supposed to prepare myself in two months' time?

Ugh! Somebody told me that this is normal. That feeling that you are going on a war without arms and bullets. But when finally stepped on the battleground, after a few exchanges of bullets, you will realize you already have them all by your side. You just have to prepare yourself beforehand. How? Perhaps focus on learning and remembering the most important clinical and practical "pearls" in the past three years you had. Surely, those three years were not spent wasting time on useless things as Facebook and Clash of Clans? Oh wait...

And so reality sinks in.

I have two months left.

And by then I have to be the best that I can be in sha Allah.

Oh Allah, make it easy for me. Allahumma ameen.

On a happier note though, two months left and it's RAMADHAN!!! Alhamdulillah! 
Ramadhan is scheduled to arrive by the 2nd week of June in sha Allah. Maybe I will be in Sulu by then to spend Ramadhan with my family in sha Allah (while trying to decide if I will do a summer elective as well). Looking forward to it ^_^

Salam Kasilasa!

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just saying. -Dr. Ahmad