Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tales of life and tribute to humanity

Before I go on to talk about my hospital, i need to take a break and talk about certain issues that happened to the people around me, life and death stuff that doctors seem to be so 'immuned' to. we doctors sometimes think that just because we deal with human lives directly and have many successes in treating diseases due to advances in technology and medicine, we think we could control many events in life. unfortunately, i could go on and on about how healthcare had failed many people in various parts of the world...

i work in a hospital which is relatively small and the population we serve are mainly oil palm estate workers, lorry drivers, small hawkers, fishermen and elderly people. some of them could not even afford to see private doctor for cough and flu and many of them have not seen the gleaming insides of Suria KLCC, the Gardens, etc with its Chanel, Guess, Prada, LV and whatnots. Many of them has never seen movies in brand-new theatres or drive fast, new BMWs, Hondas, Toyotas.Instead, they grapple with raising up a family of 5 to 10 children (no knowledge or ability to afford family planning) to bring bread to their family and travel around in old second-hand Mazda or beaten-up kap chai motorbikes.

these are the people who have never heard of the latest fashion or movies or gadgets. yet, they are the friendliest, happiest and most polite patients I have ever met. They will bring guavas, mangoes, salted fish, etc from their farm and give to the 'tuan doktor' as they are so grateful for the medical treatment they are receiving. In my years in HKL and Hospital Ipoh, I have not heard so many words of 'thanks' from the well-heeled and well-educated patients. In fact, I have heard of stories of multitudes of complain letters and lawsuits brought against doctors for numerous reasons, some so trivial that we grimace and tremble at the reasons quoted but I do not blame these patients as they have the full rights to do so.

yet, most doctors, including yours truly, have often neglected the noble calling of our profession and seek to work in the wonderful sleek urban enclaves like kuala lumpur, penang, etc. Even more anbitious souls wandered far to foreign lands like UK, US, Singapore, Australia, etc to seek for greener pastures and a better 'quality of life'. however, children in our own land are dying from tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, extreme prematurity and malnutrition due to poverty and maldistribution of healthcare.

last week, my heart bleed as i hear about the story of Dr Tan Gie Hooi as she passed away in a foreign land. She was a very nice, helpful doctor who saved life even in death. Then I received another news that one of my juniors from UM, a young doctor from Seremban, has met a fatal accident on his way to Klang and perished at a young age, just a few weeks ago.

That's how I began to wonder why am I was so self-seeking and so proud of my abilities at times. I began to seek God and ask him, in full humility, that what I could do for Him. I wonder what will people say at my eulogy and what will Jesus tell me at Heaven's gate if I were to meet Him one day. I realized that my problems in life cannot compare to what some unfortunate people go through in their daily life. I began by being so grateful to God and promising that I will change to be a better person and a truly noble, caring doctor. The things that we treasure on Earth will fade away like dewdrops in the desert, but the goodness we sow in people, in relationship, in deeds, will last for generations to come.

As another Sunday comes along, I ask myself..what could I do for my poor, sick and lonely patients in the wards besides dispensing medications and doing operations on them? What can I do for the needy population of neglected corners of this land? What would Jesus do? You could ask yourself the same questions as God gives you and I another week, another month, another year, another decade to walk upon this land. As we are so blessed, let us give in return...

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