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Monday, October 22, 2007

In the physician we trust

The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. ~Thomas Edison


A doctor in the family is not necessarily a good thing. It may or not be good for the family but definitely not good for the doctor. A lot of people take it for granted that once they have a relative as a physician they can do whatever they want. The physician will in the end take care of the ailing health of the relative. Usually, they (the relative) are not interested in prevention nor taking care of themselves.

My encounters of such has been quite minimal but there are a few. Many of my fellow colleagues suffer from 'relativitis', a not so new disease inflicted only on doctors by the family members and is mainly infested by severe headache, unnecessary worry and feeling of self-worthlessness.

Take for example myself, my auntie's husband (therefore my uncle by marriage) was a young diabetes. They were married when I was 14, my auntie 24 and uncle was 28. So I basically grew up being close to both of them. Fast forward a few years, I was in medical school and being more aware of medical illness I realise that the family was not in a healthy condition. My auntie being a great cook, was obsessed with feeding all of us, it was how she shows her love. It wouldn't have mattered much if they were also active but being a typical 'nerd' my uncle doesn't exercise nor do much heavy work. At that point, my advice did not matter as I was only a 'medic student'.

By the time I graduate, my interest in diabetic care grew as well as my love for orthpaedics. It's an interest out of frustration on how poorly Malaysian in general precieve diabetes. They always think that by taking medicine they are free to abuse their body and binge on what ever they desire. And when they come to the Orthopaedic ward they are usually in sepsis with fulminating infection of the limbs that we have no choice but to amputate the diseased limb in order to safe their lives.

Back to my family, at this point, uncle has had diabetes for nearly 12 years. The lifestyle had no improvement nor did the diet. I sat one day to have a heart to heart talk with both of them. I told that dietary control is more important plus quitting smoking and the need to exercise. I also told that with a young family he needs to take care of his health - renal failure, eye complications, neurological complications and lastly what I do the best, amputations are real risks. It went like... "yeah, yeah.... I know... don't worry, I am taking care of myself... nowadays I only take 'teh tarik kurang manis"... Uh duh?? Got me so riled up but I decided to leave things alone. I guess since they know me as a kid, I have no right to give any advice.

A year after that he was so ill that they came to see me in the hospital. He has sepsis and uncontrolled sugar level (this was way high). I admitted him to the medical ward (3rd class ward) and I gave him along lecture in 'I told you so'. His eyes and kidneys already showed some impairment. And all his stupid relatives could see was..."hey, why is he admitted to the 3rd class ward?". Still after this incident, he was unrepented and continued his 'wayward' ways. Well, both of them. And everytime I came and visit them I can only shrug my shoulders and let it be. The worse thing is, they'll ask me "Eh ok kan???....memang banyak lemak tapi uncle makan sikit aje..boleh kan???"

But the highlights of it was when we went for a fishing trip in I think was Sabak Bernam. Met somewhere at a the highway, I noticed that his face was skewed. When I inquired, apparently it occured overnight. It seemed like a stroke to me as he also had difficulty in walking. Although I inststed I was right they decided to go ahead fishing at some river and being worried I tagged along. However, as the hours passed he got weaker and weaker. I was very worried but he was as stubborn as a mule.Finally, his own uncle (who is a contractor and businessman) told him " Ekau ado angin ahmar".. and they believed what he said.....and all this while what was I saying....another Uh duh??? I guess apart from being a contractor he was also a part-time bomoh and thus is more revered and trusted than a medically trained doctor.

That was the starting of the end, my uncle had abused his body till he went into end stage renal failure (ESRF), severe retinopathy and thus vision is impaired and has numerous other complications. The ESRF was a jolt into reality but then it is too late. Now he requires thrice weekly dialysis and that is such a hassle and a lifestyle change.

As a niece, I went a did my duty. Arranged all the medical treatment, got my friends to look after him and advise the various aspects of his illness but I kept my distance in taking any part. I cannot be compassionate anymore and furthermore, I would not be taken seriously so why bother.

This is just one chapter in a few family stories but then the gist is the same. Never treat your close family nor friends. They are just using you to justify their illness and actions. 'Relativitis' and 'Friendititis' are real and makes you wonder why did you ever want to be a doctor.


5 comments:

John F SeaDemon said...

Hmm...you remind me of a person I know called SeaDemon. His full name is John F SeaDemon. I will leave it up to you to guess what F stands for.

He is like that. I keep telling him to control his diet etc. Today he's found out he is a borderline diabetic. He still wonders if it is the Atenolol that is causing this although his Total Cholesterol level has gone down, HDL increased, but LDL hasn't gone down much.

Anyway, I think he needs to marry a wife who would care for him. He's had three pathetic marriages.

This also reminds me of a gynae friend of my father's. His wife was in labour about to deliver twins. He insisted on delivering the twins himself. There were some complications and he panicked.

Wife died. The twins are now in their 30s or early 40s.

ardy said...

It's true. As a nation, we have gone far, but as a society, we are still living in the stone age.

As long as you are still breathing, and walking, then it is okay to do things that might hurt you. But what doesn't kill you, will make you stronger, right?

Not in this case.

Asri said...

is he recovering now?

Bakawali said...

SD, no comments ere for you but then I care for you and your health (hope it's worth my while....hehehhe)

Ardy... majority of malaysian refuse to care for their health and blame others for their problems.. it's an ever recurring theme,,,

Asri, recover for my uncle is a relative word... damage is done and he needs life long dialysis

John F SeaDemon said...

Bakawali...yeah right. Like feeding me with 5 tonnes of carbo that night.

And I had nasi lemak tonight.