Thursday, November 27, 2008


A friend of mine used to say “it’s easy for you to do ‘amal jariah’, everyday you go to work part of it is amal jariah”. (Note: amal jariah is a malay term equivalent to charity). Anyway, I do not see it that way, to me, each of us has a role in the universe and if we do our job right that we are doing ‘amal jariah’ in our own way.

Anyway, what I love about being a doctor is the people I get to meet. I know previously I had bitched about irritating patients and families but that itself is an experience. I get to learn about a lot of things I normally would not be exposed to. I listen and get humbled by other peoples experiences. Some may be good and some may be bad. But in the end, I learn. “Yang baik dijadikan tauladan, yang buruk dijadikan sempadan”.

As a specialist, the opportunity to listen to a patient’s thoughts is quite limited. With the bigger responsibility of supervising and monitoring the daily on-goings in the wards and hospital I haven’t had the luxury of sitting down and chit-chatting with each patient. It is usually my medical officers who would alert me to any personal problems that the patient may have. Well, it was during my housemanship and MOship that I learnt the art of listening, I guess my time has passed.

However, today the rare opportunity presented itself. It was in the Operating theatre when I saw one of my ward patients waiting for a minor surgery in the waiting area. He is an elderly Malay man in his late 60s, white hair, an unkempt beard, and a pair of sad beady eyes. His pressure apparently went sky high as he entered the OT (it has that effect on many people, especially with its 16 degrees temperature). Anyway, he looked a bit distressed and so I decided to talk to him and ask how he is doing.

“ I am exhausted” he said. The polished English blew me away. He must be fairly educated, I thought.

I examined him quickly and then proceeded to talk to him. “That’s fairly normal Uncle. You have heart failure and thus you find it a bit difficult to breathe. The oxygen will help you”.

He said “Heart failure…hmmmm… that is how my wife died. She had heart failure, She left me 10 years ago”.

Me “I am so sorry uncle”

“That’s why I am here alone.” He paused for a while. Then he said “ I am so disappointed”.

Me: “Why uncle? Is anything wrong?”

“I have many children but all of them have to work. *sigh* You know, when you are ill, you hope there would always be someone beside you to cheer you up; to give you inspiration but now……”. He then kept quiet.

I was at loss of what to say. I just held his hand and told him that we are going to try and make him better. Deep down I know, physically he may be ok but deep inside he is a crushed man.

Well, it got me thinking. As a human being we need company. At the end of the day, having someone beside you in your time of need is the best feeling of all. It give a person the sense of security, that someone will be there to catch you when you fall.

And at this point of my life if I hope that all that I have done in the past and all that I will do in the future will not keep my family and friends away from me in my time of need.

Ah.... what deep thoughts have my brief 5 minutes conversation provoked. And this is what I like the most about my job, there are always subtle reminders surrounding us to keep us grounded and human. But only if we stop and listen!


Anonymous said...

Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I really do enjoy reading your blog, especially those related to your job and lessons in life that you are sharing with our readers.

Thank you much!