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Friday, 3 October 2008

Back in Dundee; a month of patients

Okay, so it's not the first time i'm back in Dundee from Fife.

Cut a long story short, stranger asked for a favour, me being 'adventurous' and oh-so-kindhearted, me ended up in Fife for a whole month. Okay, it's only 3 weeks as of now, i've still got one more week to go.

A whole month missing from my blog, just filled up with lots of clinic sessions, ward rounds, and surgery observations. Having gone through Orthopaedics, Rheumatology, Urology AND Ophthalmology in the past month alone, i currently find myself halfway thru ENT. Although, none of these specialties is my thing, really. I realised i can't really do well in Ophthalmo, and it doesn't really appeal to me now.


In just one month, i think i've began to change my view on life.

In one month, i've seen, heard, observed almost a hundred patients i'll say. When one is faced with such torrent of endless patients all with their worries and complaints and, for the lack of a better word, diseases, i find it hard to not be thankful for my health.

For each case note i flipped thru, it's like i'm going thru the patient's life in very fast forward. From the first complaint recorded by the GP, to the last result of investigations carried out, each patient hounded by his own problems. Dozens of case notes i had gone thru, some thicker than even the thickest medical textbook. These case notes had been chasing these patients around from hospital to hospital all their lives, taking down every hospital visit they had, every prod and every poke they got.

And i realised, i never really had a case note to call my own.

The only times i've been to the hospital as a patient, is once to get a frontalis sling surgery for my right ptosis, another for my dengue fever, and the last for my fractured wrist. My case notes, if it even exists, must have looked so insignificant beside these patients'.

Really makes me feel ever grateful for the health i've been blessed with so far. And at the same time, morbidly wonder when will it be my turn to be hounded by my case notes, from hospital to hospital.


And in one month, i saw 3 patients breaking into tears, two of them while i was talking to them.

An otherwise fit lady who tried to stay positive even when faced with her own frustration with her progressive disability. Kept a strong front, she looked like she would not go down without a fight. Yet when she spoke of her grandchildren, she ended up in tears. She was heartbroken that she's unable to lift her grandchildren up anymore.

An elderly man, advanced in age, talked about his life story. His work, his time in the army, his family. And then he looked into my eyes, and tears welled up in his eyes. "I ain't got much time left," he told me. I tried to search for words in reply, but all i could do was look at his sad smile and gave him a pat. I willed myself not to imagine when that would be me with the sad smile one day.

A young girl, worried about her symptoms. A straighforward presentation, and she herself had researched about it on the internet. The worry that it might be just what she had feared, never showed up till the last moment. And when the doctor honestly confirmed her worst fears, she had nowhere to hide anymore. She broke down with her mum beside. One word has just changed her whole future.


After seeing all those patients, it's hard not to try to build up an emotional barrier between me and them. Trying not to be affected by their sad stories. Should i be indifferent, or should i relate to them?

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Just a short note,

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to everyone! (:

Will post something soon. Just came from Dunfermline (which have no unfiltered internet access) to Kirkcaldy (where i'm freeee!). Hope everyone's doing good (:. Ta for now.