Sunday, April 16, 2006

I've been pretty quiet, I know.
It's been a busy week and weekend. I've been oncall for the last 14 consecutive days, and though it's homecall, it gets mentally tiring. Not to mention not having a day off in as many days. I terminate my call next Sunday, so it's another 7 to go.
Anyway. I was tired, so I decided to relax in the tub. Long hot soak, music, and a good book. Tuesdays with Morrie, one of my favourite nonfiction books. And as I read, it reminded me again of man's endless quest for bigger, better things, until it's too late. Perhaps I am guilty of that myself, being in the endless pursuit of medical knowledge, career, letters behind the M.D. that comes after my name; the pursuit that has taken me so far away from those I hold most precious, for the last 8 years.

"Love each other, or perish"

I remembered my patient too. The only ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease) patient I ever saw, lady in her 60's. That was 2 years ago, when I felt like a hotshot senior resident. Had a constellation of neurological signs and symptoms, and perhaps out of luck, or wisdom, or perhaps for the lack of any other better diagnosis, I thought it was ALS, and sent her to neurology. They confirmed it.
They took over her care after that. Me, I wrote her up, and presented her at a medical conference. And never saw her again. And sometimes, being from the physician's perspective, especially if you never see your patients again, you can be pretty nonchalant. Forgetting that you just gave them a death sentence. Yes, sure, we're usually pretty sympathetic and we listen. But what happen when they leave your office? When they begin the downward spiral, when they begin the process of dying?
I wonder where she is now. I hope she's doing okay.

I like to think about that book as a 'reset button' to make you ponder about your life, to remember what's important and what's not. And it does make one feel blessed, to have all that one does, instead of focusing what one doesn't and is yearning for. I love that book.

Coincidentally, my other favourite nonfiction was written by another who was afflicted by the same illness. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. Someone who chose a totally opposite destiny with regards to ALS.


Blogger titoki said...

Don't be too hard on yourself doc.

As the quote (made famous by William Hung) goes, "I already gave my best. I have no regrets at all."


11:02 PM  
Blogger spinosum said...

I love "Tuesdays With Morrie" too! Excellent book. Even the movie is very well done! :)

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long gone visitor but I am back =) That sure is a good book, hope it inpires you as much as it inspires me.


2:55 AM  
Anonymous sabrina said...

hope you didn't cry bucket loads of tears like me..
but if everyone of us could bring the lessons of Morrie with us in life, i am sure this world would be a better place.
take carez..

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