If you ask a doctor, what keeps her going.. this is what keeps her going..
I was talking to my cousin the other day and she mentioned that she could never be a doctor because her feelings would disrupt her job. She pity the patients too much. She might cry and thus won't be able to perform. So, she asked me, 'how can you do your job if you feel sad for them?'
I thought for a moment...
Being a good doctor is not about being the most knowledgeable person but it is also about caring for someone. I have seen specialist who did round and didn't even bother acknowledging the patients in front of them. They were too busy discussing about the particular patient's condition amongs themselves as if the person they were talking about didn't exist.
I felt that when I was admitted. The Almighty doctor could spend her only less than a minute explaining to me about my condition and her plan of management. It made me wonder how the other patients must have felt. If I have made them felt ignored when I was busy running around. Did I pay enough attention to them?
Some patients went home not even understanding their conditions. When asked what was wrong with them, they would say, ' doktor tak cerita lagi'. Or tak faham doktor ckp apa.
That was because, the doctors being very clever, couldn't lower herself to the level of an ordinary person, using layman term or to carry out a full Malay conversation. I always take my time to introduce myself, explain in Malay to those makcik and pakcik about their conditions and about what we are planning to do. They need to understand about the disease, about their conditions for them to participate and heed the doctors advices. Felt involved.
The thing is, being caring and feeling sorry for others will make you an even better doctor as long as it doesn't mess up your work. It keeps you grounded whenever you talk to them. It makes you wish to help ease the patient's condition, make them feel better and at the same time feel comfortable, relief and being cared for. Imagine listening to a doctor saying ,'Takpe makcik. Jgn bersedih, jgn putus asa. Kita sama-sama berusaha untuk sembuh ya. InsyaAllah makcik akan sihat'.
Imagine having a doctor sit next to you, patting your hands whenever you felt so down. Trust me, they have all sort of things on their minds. How they are very unfortunate, they won't be able to pay for the surgery, the children at home are unattended, they are neglected by their family. Those are not part of their diseases but it disturbs the minds. If you would just listen and give some words of comfort, it might relief their burden a little bit. A happy patient recovers faster. You can also help with the socio-economy by referring to the social workers. That is why a doctor needs to listen about everything.
I learned to be attentive. I was that doctor busy settling her work, chasing the time to carry out such a long list of plan for the patients in a ward when I first started. Then I watched and learn from senior doctors whom I admired. So thoughtful, so attentive and very caring. They were wonderful. They treated their patients as humans instead of as their work.
It made me love my job from then on.
My cousin said, 'I can't imagine working so much, putting up with the long hours and missing all the family time. I just couldn't do it. You must be exhausted'.
Hmmm it was okay. It was exhausting but I adapted. However, my job was not solely about dealing with exhaustion and all the physical pains,it was much much more than that. I have memories that I wouldn't forget ever.
One night, while working in the ICU, a young man was brought in by ambulance, unconscious, a near drowning case from Kuala Kubu Baru. He went fishing with his 2 other friends at 11 p.m. They were about to go home when this guy said he wanted to check another spot for fishing. It was dark and he couldn't see well. His friends said that he was gone for 15 minutes when they decided to look for him. They found him floating face down in the water.
His condition was pretty bad at that time. We intubated him, performed few necessary procedures and monitored him very closely.
For days, we took care of him. I updated his family every day. His mother came all the way from Kulim, my hometown, to visit him. He was not getting better. I sat in front of his bed, looking at him thinking, 'how young he was, 23, still studying in a local university. He has such a long future waiting and here he was lying helpless, barely surviving'.
I wish that he would make it. I got to know him and his family while he was unconscious. He didn't know me but I know him. On the 4th day, he was getting better so we weaned down the sedation, extubated him. After hours, he started to rise back from his long sleep. The sleeping beauty. Drowsy. hahaha I love when they were drowsy. 'Doctor, saya nak bangun. Tolong saya bgn'. (suara lalok mata buka sepet tapi nak bgn)
Ye awak nak p mana? Kan belum kuat lagi takyahla jalan2. Satgi jatuh panjang cerita pulak (aku mmg suka melayan org lalok).
Doktor, saya nak bgn saya tak kira. Cepatlaaaa!! (annoyed)
Saya nak air.
I just smiled.
And gave him sips of water.
For few days he fought me, hated me in his on and off wakeful and drowsy state.
Finally, one morning he was fully awake and seemed very quiet and ordinary. So I approached his bed and asked him,' Awak kenal saya tak?'.
Tak doktor, saya tak kenal.
me: Awak tak ingat saya ke?
him: (being shy and awkward) Tak ingat.
me: Sayalah yang sambut awak masa mlm awak sampai sini. Saya jaga awak hari-hari dan hari-hari awak minta mcm2 dgn saya. I'm glad you are awake and feeling better.
To him I was a stranger but to me I have known him for a weak. I was so relief and happy when he was better. You see, when you know your patient, being with them from the beginning, take care of them, you will feel such an achievement when they have recovered.
As if they were your own friend. It made me smile and I felt very satisfied, very humble and appreciate the meaning of life even more.
Another story in ICU.
I was checking up patients in ICU during visiting hours when I heard an old lady, a wife talking to her husband.
She was here visiting him everyday. He was in a coma. We had very little hope for him. He was old with grave underlying conditions and now his whole systems were shutting down. It takes a miracle to help him. He was here for weeks and I saw her every day, reciting Yassin next to him, wiping his face with a wet cloth. Not once, has she shed a tear in front of me.
There I was at the opposite bed from her husband, checking up on another patient when she said 'bangunlah. Bukalah mata tu. Buka sekejap pun takpe. Tengoklah saya ni. Dah lama saya tak jumpa abang. Rindu nak tengok mata abang.'
My eyes became watery. Owh makcik I could feel your pain. As much as I thought I could feel, she felt them even more. I wanted to cry. I couldn't tell her that he won't wake up anymore. Let the little hope in her heart kept her going. I couldn't give her the hope, I couldn't lie to her.
To make matter worst, I had to tell her and her family when her husband passed away.
It was not easy emotionally. The art of informing family members the bad news, that is something a doctor need to master.
I remembered a very young Chinese teacher. She stayed with us for months and finally she was getting better. She was at the next ward from the ward I was incharged with. However, I went to follow round at the next ward to help my colleague. Yin yee was her name. She was looking cheerful hearing that she might be discharged in a few days time if she kept getting better. We all know her because she has stayed too long with us hopping from one ward to another and we had our turns taking care of her.
That evening, it was time to go home. I finished my round and work. My MO received a call from the next ward about Yin Yee being breathless and pale. Her blood pressure was low. We rushed to the scene. My colleague who was incharged of her was resuscitating her. Yin Yee was breathless, gasping for air. Bp was low. We said,'Yin Yee, hold on. We are here. We'll help you okay. Just hold on'. She gasped a few more breath before her heart stopped.
I climbed the bed and performed CPR. Pumped her chest. Somebody intubated her. Looking at her young pale face. She was very pretty. Saying in my heart, pleading, Yin Yee don't give up. Never give up. Please wake up. I will do my best. I will help you buy your time until you wake up. But please wake up. She still did not respond.
I informed my Chinese colleague, Dr David to take over as I was getting weaker. Every stroke counts during CPR to gets the heart moving. So if you can't give a good pump, you need to pass it to your friend. He was ready and I stopped when he was next to me to take over immediately.
Whenever we were around, we always partner up for CPR. We always get in this situation together. My CPR partner.
Soon, the others came and everyone helped out with branula, blood, Cpr, informing aneasths, preparation with emergency meds and many more.
Everyone was doing their best as we know this girl, we have talked to her. She was young and beautiful and kind. We really wanted her to wake up.
Her old mother was there at her feet. Pleading,' Yee aa, bangun Yee. Yee, bangun yee'. (Patting Yee's foot).
She kept on repeating the same sentences changing from pleading, begging to an order. She was desperate.
20 minutes have passed and she was not responding. Her heart has stopped for that long. My specialist informed Yin Yee's mother that she was not responding to our help. The mother said,'No she will wake up. I will call her and she will wake up. Doctor,please don't stop'.
It would be pointless to continue. However, she was still convinced. We looked at the specialist and she shook her head meaning we should stop and call time of death. It was almost 40 minutes.
She told Yee's mother that we will stop. The mother said,' Its ok don't worry. Saya panggil dia bangun. Takpa doktor saya panggil dia'.
She kept on calling Yee to wake up, shook the pale, cold body.
In the end, when reality sank in, she collapsed in the arms of her other children mourning the lost of her girl.
We informed her that we need to do an autopsy to investigate her sudden condition.
She said,' doktor, tolong siasat kenapa Yee tiba-tiba jadi macam ni, Saya tau anak saya sudah mati, tak boleh tolong dia lagi tapi harap- harap boleh tolong anak orang lain nanti'.
Her sincere heart and words touched my heart. In her sadness and mourning, she was thinking about helping others. How kind and strong you are auntie.
All my memories were not only the sad stories. I have happy thoughts when my patients got excited when they were admitted and saw me passed by. Some patients were frequent hospital visitors due to their conditions. So we would know them already. A girl name Emy, was crying one night when I was working. It was 1 a.m. I was tired, sleepy but still running around in my slippers and Ali baba pant when the nurses called me to inform that Emy cried requesting for the urinary catheter to be removed. I went to her bed. Comforted her. It wasn't working. She was a pampered girl and her sisters were next to her. Clueless on how should I tackle her. She was 17 years old. She started asking me about my age and commenting how young I looked. I made her play a game of guessing my age. Made few jokes and she laughed. Since then, everytime she was admitted and saw me, she would be all excited and girly. Running to chase me. She was very cute. So young but suffering with a chronic sickness. Poor girl. She was strong and the sickness didn't keep her from being cheerful.
Her mother called me recently to invite me to Emy's sister's wedding.
Having patients remembering your name, smiling at you, looking for you before they leave home made you feel very touched. They adore you which means you must have treated them well. I am so glad for that. No matter how many meals I have missed, no matter how exhausted I was, how long I had to hold my pee, how sleepy I was for running around the hospital the whole night, when I saw their faces and smiles, it made me think, 'It is all worth it. Totally worth it'. I would drive home after work, feeling relief, reflecting back on my day or night saying,'I did a good thing today'. I was in need of my bed but I was really happy. Would share the experiences with my husband and collapsed to the bed after a few minutes. Lost in my lala land.
And that is what keep a doctor going despite her not so ordinary and easy life. It is about the satisfaction you get. So I explained to my cousin 'there are only few jobs in the world that make you feel this way, that touches your heart and make you feel so important and needed. That is why I am a doctor. That is why whenever I felt sad and exhausted and down even during my night calls when I felt too overwhelmed, everything was too much, I can't take this anymore. When will this night ends.I would sat in a corner of a room after my prayer, cried for few minutes and then wiped my tears , pulled myself up and kept going.
If I felt teary in front of my patient, I would turn my head and wiped the tears away.I faced them, talked with conviction, comforted them but no I wouldn't show my tears to them because they need my hope and strength. They have all the tears that needed. My job is to help them, not to cry with them. Still, you can't help having a little bit watery eyes from time to time whenever you deliver bad news as much as you couldn't avoid the hugs'.
I have much to learn from those doctors I admire. Hospital Selayang has taught me a lot. The specialists were very kind towards to patients, treating them like humans instead of diseases, reminding me everytime that I should treat my patients as if they are my relatives. Then, I would do my best.
My job keep me close to the ground no matter how I high I will go. It makes me strong and soft all at the same time. So, who wants to be a doctor??