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Friday, 15 December 2006

a morbid post

Just got back from our rotations in KKB yesterday. We didn't do much, just clerked patients and learned physical examination. Yet.. i learned so much.

How behind every patient there's a long story to tell.

A lady with fever. She was diagnosed with dengue earlier but she has pretty much recovered fully by the time we clerk her. Halfway thru, i saw her kids peeping into the ward from outside. No doubt why she's so cheerful that day =)

A guy complaining of abdominal pains. He came into the outpatient department and we chatted with him because we did GI this sem. Apparently he's been bearing with the pain for 3 whole years, and it's because the pain has gotten worse recently that he came to see the doctor. He talked bout his work, his living with his parents, his family. He lost his work because of technological advancements and became a rubber tapper. He couldn't work with the pain these days so he's staying with his parents, who keeps nagging him. He has to take care of two children all by himself because his wife passed away 2 years ago from breast cancer. And i can clearly see the pain he's experiencing isn't the pain in the abdomen. The tears in his eyes isn't due to that persistent abdominal pain. It's how life has been treating him so unfairly.

A man who had been coughing for the last half year. Working in the printing industry. He had seen 3 doctors before being admitted. The first auscultated him and said it was just cough and gave him cough medicine and antibiotics. The second asked a few questions and prescribed him cough medicine again straight away, without doing any examination. It's only the third that heard something on auscultation and advised him to have an X-ray scan, which ultimately lead to the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis. He was in the isolation ward, and he told us bout how prison-like he's feeling. And then the other patients in the isolation ward he met.

One was an old man with TB as well, who passed away during lunchtime. He was asking the old man to eat after seeing the old man keeping quiet and not touching his food. 20 minutes later, he's just gone. The second was another patient who came into the isolation ward and didn't even survive 12 hours. He didn't get a chance to talk to him.

And all the while he talked bout the 2 patients, he pointed to their beds. Reflexively, i turned to look at where he pointed and saw the empty beds. The beds had been neatly made, with the blanket covering them. And i wonder for how many patients, those beds had been their last lying place.

A young man, just a year older than us. Lying on the autopsy table. He killed himself by drinking some poison. His mom smelled something when he came home and asked whether he's ok. He dismissed his mom and went up to his room. One last cry for mom and he collapsed. He never made it to the hospital.

But most of all.. i learned how fragile life really is, and how so many of us never realised it until it's too late.

Recently i found out two friends of friends passed away. I don't really know them of course, but still.. i can't help but feel the tinge. I looked up their friendster profiles. Their faces i'd never see in real life. Their personality i'd never get to know. Their stories i'd never hear.

I read the stuff they wrote about themselves. The testimonials their friends wrote for them. The things they like, the dreams they had, the path they walked.

If only there's another way i can get to know them more.

I thought bout how many people die each day. How each death affects more than one person. I thought bout how if you looked at each stranger's face that passes you by everyday, you might not see one of them anymore the next morning.

And you will never get to hear their life stories first hand.

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