Wednesday, October 22, 2008

whatever happened to empathy?

It’s been awhile since I had something to say.

Too tired to narrate (sometimes).

Too angry to recount (sometimes).

Too busy living life (sometimes).

I have a life nowadays (in Pediatrics) just so you know… I do things, see people, eat stuff. For the first time in my life last week I had post-work dinner with the urban kin. I drove back to TI Friday morning.. worked.. drove back to KL.. and had dinner with the girls in office clothes (in my case office kurung). They have never seen me in work mode so it was quite a strange experience. So this is how working life is like in PJ / KL hor.

I don’t think I mentioned regarding a case about… 5 – 6 weeks ago of a strabismus (cock-eyed) mother who blatantly dismissed me in front of my staff and patients in the ward. Her 5 year old son has ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia = cancer of the bone marrow) and came for a routine FBC (Full Blood Count: hemoglobin, white blood cell, platelet, the works-lah..) examination. It was a heavy (on)-call last night and I was knackered as hell that morning but work is work. Seriously when you’re tired, even a simple task like finding a bloody vein for blood-taking can seem impossible! I had no luck locating a good spot and only on my 4th attempt at the brachial did I manage to score some blood (which did not even fill the bullet to its directed level). At this point the child was screaming incessantly. The constant struggling and jerking did not help of course. So cock-eyed mother gave me the glare and lots of tsk-tsk noises. I was, like, WTF? She should know by now that her son’s veins mostly all koyak already with chemo and eternal blood-taking. She cannot seriously think it’s going to be a walk in the park right??

After we were done, mother drags her son to the counter where I was filling in his lab forms and remarked very loudly to my staff nurses, “Lain kali saya tarak mau ini doktor. Dia takda bagus. Saya mau itu doktor Cina laki yang pakai spec.” She meant my MO. Right. Perhaps it was PMS or fatigue or just the inability to remain composed, ‘cos I shot right back (to my nurses in front of her), “Kak, lain kali saya tarak mau ini pasien. Dia takda bagus. Sudah susah ambik darah lagi gerak sini gerak sana.” I knew the moment those words escaped my mouth it was a blatant mistake. I should know better. I should have behaved better. And most of all I should have had more compassion. But seriously how much compassion can a person have with only 2 hours of collective sleep after working 29 hours in a row? I don’t know-lah.

What she said about me never left my mind. It shook my confidence. Am I not a good doctor? I know I’m not the brightest or the most ambitious but I did think I was pretty OK… bordering on the good side at least. I’ve never had someone say to my face that I suck as a doctor before. This left me very disturbed for weeks. And people think that stewardesses have a hard time having to smile despite everything. What about me?? You think it’s easy having to be cordial to a person who just told you you’re abysmal at your job? With exception to this case, the happy-to-serve-you-through-gritted-teeth attitude is pretty much practiced every single day. Trust me, it can get tiresome.

Fast forward: today.

Ah Der, a new HO at that time, was having problems taking blood from a patient and seeked aid from me. I was mainly mucking around with the computer at that time so I did not mind helping out. He called for the mother of the patient to bring the child in. As the child was placed onto the examination, I found him to be alarmingly familiar. The mother sat by his side and again: alarmingly familiar. Since I can be quite foolish at times I remarked to myself, “Gee what are chances of there being 2 cancer children with cock-eyed mothers..? Only in TI can bizarre sh*t like this happens..” I did the usual except blood-taking was brief and I blew him a balloon (out of our latex glove) ‘cos he was crying (can’t blame him, I just stabbed his blood vessel) and having a fever AND is probably really bored in the isolation room. I assumed he appreciated it ‘cos he didn’t let it go despite the tears. As for the mother, she was pretty cordial. Not like the ‘other’ cock-eyed b*tch. I mean this lady told me I was good. She used the word ‘good’. At least SOME people can still be appreciative.

As I walked over to the front desk to get paper work done I picked the boy’s book (all cancer patients have a log book that charts their blood work and chemo treatments etc..) up and thumbed through it. Imagine my surprise to see my own handwriting on the last entry. Me?? I don’t remember handling this case. I mean this cannot be the prior vile despicable cock-eyed lady and her wailing…..


Whoah. It was the same lady as before. How is it that I didn’t recognize her?? That whole “itu doctor tarak bagus” must have traumatized me so much that I blocked the episode out.. well, sorta. How is it that she’s so well-behaved now? I thought she hated me! Doesn’t she? I was so boggled with the 180 degrees turn in conduct. I really she bloody hated me lor. So if she did then why don’t she now? Is it because I blew her son a glove balloon? But seriously you cannot imagine how much positive balloons bring. It really ought to be a hospital staple. OK straying from the topic…

Well turns out that they just got back from HKL from a cycle of chemotherapy. I do believe the doctors there must have struggled with his veins as I did. My previous attempt could potentially compare to an afternoon in the town carnival! Still I really must know how to hold my tongue. I learned from the mother (later) it takes them 4 hours via a crappy old bus every trip to get to the hospital just to get his blood checked. I suppose it explains why we were both in such a foul mood that day. Sh*t happens.

I’m glad we got all the bad vibes reversed in the end *phew*

The moral of the story is: behind every grumpy houseman or patient is a lethargic day. So patients, give us doctors a break… we don’t mean to be rude, we’re just tired. Be a lil’ courteous and we’ll finish up on that admission clerking / discharge summary / blood-taking etc as quickly as we can. And doctors, give the patients a break… they’re just anxious and going out of their minds with the waiting. Be a lil’ courteous I’m sure the chivalry would repay in kind.



Former colleague said...

Shelby, you are not only a dumb blonde doctor but you're dumb. If not, why the heck would someone with so much money like you study in Indonesia? Because of crappy results right?

shelbybaby said...

former colleague: since blonde already equalizes to dumb and i'm (in your words) a dumb blonde plus i'm also dumb... would that make me a dumb dumb dumb doctor? ahaha that is alot of dumbs, 3 to be precise *phew.. wipes sweat off forehead*. also 'so much money' is a very subjective phrase. i don't think i have so much money 'cos if i did, i wouldn't even go to medical school. i'd open a spa or a cute boutique or heck not even work at all!! well, like already mentioned i'm not the brightest person on earth.. but i think it was somehow life's mysterious path that somehow, despite the IQ deficit, I could still surface from medical school: be it one from Indon. Indon or not indon, still a doctor *shrug* Thank you for hating :) it really means i've arrived!

former colleague said...

Yup, you're still a doctor, but albeit one which is totally useless after working with you. There are REAL DOCTORS and there are morons like you who graduated from crappy medical schools ie. Indonesia, Bangladesh, Russia etc who in normal circumstances would easily fail even local exams. You're lucky your crappy university passed you because all they want is your money. You have arrived? You haven't even gotten off the ground girl..

Don't flatter yourself aight?
If ignorance was a disability, you would get full pension, you piece of fat turd

shelbybaby said...

former c: wah so much hostility! using me as a punching bag to escape from ur sh*tty existence kah? it's ok my former colleague me understands. nice one with the pension bit. that was good. well i have to say, in defense of the other UN-REAL DOCTORS, not everyone is a moron (ok i accept u call me one bt u sd 'morons like u') and if i'm lucky i pass cos my school only want my money, isn't it better they keep failing me so they can continue to take my money..? ayoyo "piece-of-fat-turd" some more wahaha anothr good one! you're pretty good at name calling.. sure you're not a bully kah?
p.s: got ppl grad from bangladesh one meh? i now only know... wah.
p.p.s: but seriously all this hate can't be too healthy for you-lah, you're a doctor too supposedly so you should know...

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