Life (and death)...
My life as a Malaysian doctor in the United States.
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Saturday, February 13, 2016
One of my patients broke his leg the other day. A 27 year old man with type 1 diabetes who also has cognitive disabilities. Had a hypoglycemic episode and fell down a flight of stairs and unfortunately fractured his right tibia. I saw him a few days after his surgery, and he was in some pain, and crying because he wanted to go home to his bed.
He happens to be a a huge fan of WWE. This was obvious in the years I have seen him in clinic- he would always come in his WWE cap. To him, John Cena was God himself. And so, yesterday, I dropped by his hospital room to drop this off.
Sometimes, it's fun to get to know your patients. Despite all the frustrations of this job, perhaps the greatest joy is getting to know your patients and feeling like you're a part of their lives. He was still yearning to go home, and was still in some pain, but the smile he flashed when he saw this was priceless. The nurses later told me they hadn't seem him eat so well since he was admitted (though not necessarily a good thing with his diabetes :) )
Ava even drew him a picture/get well soon message. Note the bleeding from the right leg.
Sunday, February 07, 2016
Happy New Year!
Happy Chinese New Year!
Another year, another CNY.
Can't believe it's already 2016. And can't believe it's another CNY. Well, it's not hard to forget living in the relatively culturally secluded Midwest, where there isn't much festivities.
Year of the Monkey. None of my kids are monkeys, though they certainly act like one sometimes. However, my late Ah Kong was a monkey. Until his final years when he was showing some dementia, he was always soft-spoken, gentle, and serious; not the kind of personality the horoscope would suggest.
This is always the time of year when I yearn for home (yes, this is home now, but you know what I mean) the most. When you get a flood of memories, the traditions your family has. The things you'd do, even if you didn't understand why. Traditions you know will die with you, as you plant your new roots in a different land, on which you will make new traditions for your kids to pass on- but not the kind of traditions you grew up with. Bittersweet, but alas, to be expected raising kids here.
However, the standing plan currently, if budget and time permit, is for the family to spend Chinese New Year 2017 in Malaysia. It's ambitious, and with Allison in school now, we'll have to take her out. And the ticket prices will be horribly expensive. But it's important to me that my children at least see and experience a Malaysian Chinese New Year with my parents at least once, so that they'll somewhat understand what their daddy did during his version of 'Christmas'. Thankfully, my wife understands this is important to me. And so, 2017, we'll be there.
In the meantime, here's wishing all you readers, family, friends, loved ones, a Happy and Prosperous New Year, and may the Year of the Monkey be filled with silly laughter and happy memories.
Thursday, February 04, 2016
I took my first sick day this week.
I just couldn't take it anymore- my head was pounding, I had a runny nose and congestion, and a sore throat. And so I asked the clinic to cancel my afternoon.
It was my first sick day in 14 months.
Strangely enough, there was no pride that it's been that long since I last called in sick.
Instead, I felt horrible for a few reasons.
For one, I felt an immense sense of guilt because I knew that would be pissing a long line of patients off. Patients who have waited 2-3 months to see me, especially the very-anxious new consults for a variety of issues they or their PCP felt was urgent and hormonal. And so, to cancel would mean rescheduling and waiting another few months. Who would not be miffed?
The second reason that I felt bad though, was just the sheer madness of the situation itself. I'm not proud that I have a 'clean' record of not taking time off for illness. Instead, I'm ashamed of it. I'm perplexed that we function in a world where either patients or doctors see it wrong, to be ill and to take time off for themselves. We see it unforgivable to make a patient reschedule- the very people who are often themselves on sick leaves to come see the doctor. And yet, for some stupid reason, we think so highly of ourselves that we think our immune system is s resistant to influenza, parainfluenza, rhinovirus, coronovirus, strep or whatever else germs are out there. Perhaps the M.D. degree hanging on my office wall had antimicrobial properties. But no; we are human too, and we do get sick. So why do we find it so difficult, why does the system make it so difficult, for us to acknowledge that, that often we go to work if we are ill, if we think it's mild and not too infectious?
Indeed, I posted something on my blog years ago- results of a survey asking if people preferred their sick doctor to still see them knowing that they might be infectious, or have their doctor reschedule the appointment and wait another few months to see them?
The results- most polled that they still preferred to see the sick doctor.