Last October 21, 2017, I, alongside the other 3, 339 passers of the September 2017 Physician Licensure Examination, took my oath as a full-fledged physician, eager to serve the people in whatever way that I can. It’s been quite the journey, these seven years of medical school, but all its ups and downs, victories and failures, were worth it. I could never hope to explain how I felt upon seeing the letters MD attached to my name as well as the word Physician on the license that would permit me the privilege to practice the noble profession in our country.
“And that is the most important thing you had given her,” he said. “Hope.”
In fellow doctor-writer Celestine Trinidad’s novella, Ghost of a Feeling, I related much to the protagonist’s struggles in more ways than one. Cris Villareal is a junior intern / medical clerk, and it’s probably when the idealism and optimism of a young doctor reaches its peak. For it is during this time that one is finally allowed out of the classrooms and into the hospital; it is finally time to see all the lessons firsthand and put everything into practice. But clerkship is also arguably the hardest part of the medical school journey, because now, not only do you face the continued struggle of learning and studying, you must also now face the physical and mental challenges of going on duty, of making literally life-changing decisions, of witnessing a life begin as well as end.
Having gone through such trying times myself, and so recently at that, I can tell that Trinidad bared a part of her soul in this novel as she attempted to put into light the difficulties that came with the journey to becoming a doctor. The hierarchy is a sad reality in the hospital, with some doctors still putting on airs as if gods and far above those junior to them. The overwhelming grief that comes upon the loss of a patient can drive one into madness, as one repeatedly questions each and every decision and action made, searching for what might have gone wrong.
“I’m just so tired of it all. I’m not as strong as everyone needs me to be. I’m not okay. But I can’t not be okay. It’s stupid and weak. I hate myself for being so weak.”
And to face those left behind is another battle all on its one, for there can never be right words to explain or to express. Trinidad takes it a step further by spotlighting an illness that has been causing much people suffering, albeit slowly and silently, an illness that not even doctors are immune to. It’s something that could affect anyone. Depression is a serious problem placed by many, and it is quite a difficult topic to tackle, but Ghost of a Feeling not only succeeds in this. The story gives us much hope that there can be so much beyond its unforgiving prison. It’s a problem that can be addressed.
Our love interest (mumu LI <3), Nathan is such a sweetheart. He himself is fighting some inner battles of his own, coping up with much heart ache. I really like that he isn’t portrayed so perfectly, as with other love interests. Nathan is as human as they come, and I truly love how he grows and finds healing of his own throughout the story. Likewise, the book features several other supporting characters that are so easy to fall in love with. I especially liked the banter between Sam and Alex. (Spin off story on them, please? Haha. Sana from Sam’s point of view. Hehe)
Ghost of a Feeling had me so invested, both as a new physician and a reader. I shed so many tears as I read through Cris’s story because I went through a lot of her struggles myself. Indeed, I also wanted to quit Medicine at some point, but like Cris, I found solace and comfort in those I love the most. There can never be a guarantee that things will be 100% alright, but there will always be a chance. And no matter how small that chance is, it is a chance you shouldn’t let go of.
“I went into medicine to take care of these people, to make a difference in their lives. I know I still have a lot to learn, but I will work hard and learn as much as I can. And you, or anyone else, won’t keep me away from this dream.”
You matter. Your emotions matter. Never be afraid to reach out. There is hope.
*The ARC e-book used as the basis of this review was provided for by the author. Thank you!*
DOCTOR’S ORDERS: It’s definitely not your typical romance novella, and that’s exactly why you should pick it up! This book shines with its great cast of characters and beautiful story-telling, but its true jewel is its heartfelt message. I highly recommend this book.
Watch out for: moments that will make you laugh, and later on, cry; a dreamy “wounded soul” love interest (“mumu LI” FTW!), and a great amount of hope that’ll sure to be planted in your heart, hope for the future, hope for the rest of life’s journey