Tuesday, April 03, 2012


We all feel frustrated for various reasons at some point in life. And, I do, very much so, especially for the past couple of months. Be it a person, a subject or with myself, somehow, there would be something lingering in one's mind.

Not too long ago, I was pre-occupied with whether or not I might have gotten TB from the patients I saw in the ward because it wasn't just one patient, but several. Neither me or the patients were wearing masks when I talked to them and boy, oh boy, could you imagine how much anxiety I had. It all started more than 2 months ago when I "clerked" a patient in my ENT posting who had a sore throat and a cold. Ever since then, I had persistent cough but only at night which worsened during the Chinese New Year celebration but eventually became intermittent. My asthma inhaler expired and there was no free time in my schedule to go to the nearest community clinic to change it for a new one. Somewhere along the subsequent postings, I managed to get a chest x-ray taken of which it was said to be normal. Then, another suggested that I get tested for TB of which I was never able to cough out phlegms for samples.

I suppose it was only a month later when I came in contact with another patient who had TB. Before that, I depended on my new inhaler. Anyway, it was during my long case of which I came to talk face to face with the patient. I have always thought that patients with infectious diseases would not be arranged for us, which was somewhat true. Unfortunately for me, I took that for granted and I definitely freaked out after seeing the x-ray. Well, a few days later when I presented the case to a different lecturer for one of the teachings, I was once again given another scare. That night, I had a pretty bad cough with outcomes I've never faced before.

But having to go through this, though it may mean nothing to some, it brought me to various places in terms of experience. It was my first to go through the healthcare system and see how efficient things are done. To be part of this experience was definitely scary for me because I felt like I did not know who to turn to. To be constantly worried and thinking about the what ifs as well as the worst outcome possible. All that is experienced by a patient, I somehow feel thankful for it because now, it made me a better person. It taught me how to be compassionate.

Now, every patient that I meet and learn from, I'd ask about how they felt, about their worries and concerns. I would ask if they understood what was going on and if they had any questions for the doctors who took care of them. Back in Phase 1 of our studies, we never knew why we had to ask if the patient had any worries. All I knew was that marks were allocated for asking. But now, I realised that it is one way of approaching the patient holistically in a sense that, it is not just the medical but also the social. The care does not end at when the patient discharges from the hospital. It also extends beyond to what will happen when the patient goes home.

Well, at least, this was what I also grasp most in the current Gynecology posting. There is always something ethical to discuss about. And in the ward, there will be women who tries their best to protect a life, be it theirs (in those with a malignancy, or a mass and want to do something about it) or a lifeform of several weeks old.

1 comment:

Kit said...

You are going to be such a good doctor but do take care of yourself too...this is so surreal as I'd just watched an episode fr House, which shows the ethics you speak about in the Gynae dept.