Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bawling and wailing

It is the second aspect of paediatrics I dislike, behind the irrational thinking of parents. I hate when children crying. I should correct myself; I don't like the continuous crying of children. Of course it is natural to cry when you unexpectedly get hurt. I don't mind this type of crying if it doesn't occur for too long.

The type of crying I cannot stand is when I am examining a child and when I place the hearing component of the stethoscope on the chest, the child starts bawling like I just stabbed him/her in the chest. I know children associate a medical examination with the consequences of having a needle stuck in you and blood being taken. Yet it is useless to cry at this stage. There is no pain (at this stage) when you are being examined and the child's parents are already there if they need help. If crying is supposed to deter the doctor from examining you, it is not going to stop us from examining children.

It is the same with blood taking. I know sticking in a needle will hurt and you will cry when the needle goes in. Yet at some point children will have to learn when one is admitted into a hospital, it is inevitable blood will have to be taken and it will hurt. It is useless crying out for your parents to help you since your parents are outside and not running into save you.

If there is something I am impressed about the situation, is the capability of children crying. The intensity, duration and frequency of their crying have made my eardrums totally damaged.

Next time I'm going to work I'm bringing earplugs or might as well just listen to my mp3 player.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A new flavour of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream... the Credit Crunch

Whatever you like to call the current situation - the economic depression, the global downturn, the dreaded 'R' word - it is here to stay for us for a while and it will affect us all. For the first time in my life I have to be interested in economics and finance.

I hate having to focus on anything remotely linked to money. When I first heard bankers, estate agents and insurance agents losing their jobs due to the poor financial climate, the first thought which crossed my mind is: "Good". I don't really have much sympathy for people who chase money and have no morals to living their lives. I say this even though my brother works for a large bank. They have enough money in their own accounts to get by without having to claim unemployment benefits. What peeves me off is how the governments of the world are reacting. They are bailing out these banks and businesses by giving them money. This money is probably gained through the taxes of hard-working people. I know I'm a socialist but I hate this idea. You don't have to nationalize financial institutions - just let them die. People have to accept once in a while there will be a downturn in the economic climate. Shares will have to go down as well as up.

I don't think many people grasp these concepts about shares, bonds and funds. They think these magical objects will earn them loads of money if they chuck enough money at it. Many people don't just take a serious interest to go and research what they are investing in. This was the situation when the Lehman Brothers bank collapsed, with many Hong Kong people wanting to claim back compensation regarding the stock they bought in the bank. I'm pretty sure the banks who sold them these stock properly informed them about the nature of shares but common sense tells you the price of shares will go down as well as up.

There was once upon a time when all you had to do with your money is put it in the bank. Nowadays you have to invest in shares, bonds and funds. Yet you do need a little knowledge before you decide which companies to invest in. There are people who use too much time in doing this, becoming too obsessed with the stock market, and there are people who use too little time, leading to bad investments.

Also you have to consider not just saving more but spending less - don't go out dining so much, use your car less and so on. Why don't people do that instead?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Heart-breaking moments

At times it can be rather depressing working in paediatrics. You see all these kids become ill and it breaks your heart sometimes. It just not the medical problems you have to deal with - there are the social and psychological matters that arise when a little boy or girl gets admitted into hospital.

I like to state I'm a huge campaigner of human rights and I respect everybody right to have a child. Yet I feel this right is constantly abused when I see many children with bad parents. I honestly wish there was an examination prospective parents had to take to show they are competent enough to take care of kids. Doctors have to undergo medical training to acquire a license to practise and so lawyers. You need a license to drive a car or have a firearm. So why don't we have a license to take care of our most prized treasures - our children.

During my short time in paediatrics I have observed three types of bad parents:

1. The abusive parent

The abuse can come in a variety of ways: physical, sexual, spoken. I think every hospital with a paediatric department have children who are admitted for child abuse. The children can come in a variety of ages. I honestly don't know how adults can abuse unprotected children, especially their own flesh and blood.

2. The neglectful parent

These are the parents who couldn't care less whether their kid lives or dies. They occasionally take their child to a doctor but they don't care about the long-term management. They just leave their children to the TV or video games and don't really care about their academic achievements. These include parents who use their domestic helper as full time nannies and leave all the upbringing to these domestic helpers.

3. The overprotective parent

You might think being overprotective is not a form of bad parenting but I still think it is. These are the parents who don't let their kids go outside to play in case they get a cut or use the child's free time to engage in extra-curricular activities they don't like. These are the parents who constantly admit their kid into hospital just because they have a low-grade fever for a few hours, despite the accident & emergency medical officer tell them the risks of exposing the child to even more dangerous organisms in hospital.

I know parenting is difficult and not many people are taught what to do and where to go when things go wrong. I admit that I have no idea what being a parent is like. Yet there are people who want a child but have no idea what is entailed.

In the past two weeks I have seen two children whose predicament breaks my heart. For privacy reasons, I'm not allowed to mention their names or go into details about their condition. The first kid was a young boy who had been ill for two weeks with very vague symptoms - fatigue, vomiting. The boy was genuinely frightened about what was wrong with him. Turn out he had leukaemia. This is not what your kid have to go through - thinking about dying, which was probably what this young boy was thinking about.

The other kid was a young girl, a cute, adorable shy kid. She was admitted for recurrent headaches. I noticed in her medical records she was living in a hostel for youths. I asked her where her parents were and she came out directly with, "They both drug addicts." That was a shocking indictment to hear. You don't want any kid thinking their parents are bad, let alone come straight out with that statement.

Kids should never have to think about serious matters such as drug addiction and cancer. Children should be thinking about fun and jokes, not these matters. This is probably why I don't want to go into paediatrics full time. Like oncology it probably be too heart-breaking.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lift etiquette

I know I whinge a great deal on this blog. I’m eternally sorry about this but this is the whole purpose of this blog – to get things off my chest and not to make everybody happy. Occasionally I write about good things such as television programmes I like. For this entry normal service will resume by me writing about how to use the lift (or elevator if you have bought up with American English) in an appropriate way.

It may seem such a minor point in life on how to use the lift but it just one of those things which annoys me. It is more prominent in Hong Kong, since everybody has to use a life in this metropolis of sky-rise buildings and the total lack of manners prevalent in this population. If everybody can use the lift properly, society will run much smoother.

- If the lift button has already been pressed, you don’t have to press it again. Why press it again? The lift won’t go faster to reach its destination. You only have to press the button again if you are uncertain if the button was pressed in the first place (such as the presence of a bad indicator light).
- Let people get out the lift first. This goes not just for lifts but for buses and trains. Letting people out will make more room for you to get into the lift/bus/train. You don’t have to worry – the lift won’t depart without you as most people think it will and if the door closes you can always shove you hand in or press the open button again.
- If you are getting out at the final floor (either the top or the bottom floor, depending if you are going up or down respectively), please make room for everybody else by moving to the back of the lift. It only makes sense since you will be the last person to get out of the lift and you shouldn’t be blocking the lift door like some big fat lemon.
- If you are at the lift buttons inside the lift, do the courteous thing and hold the lift doors if somebody is rushing into the lift and not close the lift doors just so you can get to your destination faster. How would you like it if somebody closed the lift doors on you?
- If you are at the lift buttons inside the lift, press the close button if everybody is inside instead of waiting for the lift to do it automatically, which can sometimes take ages.
- Be courteous and offer to press for somebody’s floor if that somebody cannot do it themselves such as the elderly who cannot see the buttons that well or people carrying heavy objects in their arms.
- If somebody at the back of the lift wants to get out and you are in the way, sometimes you do have to get out of the lift yourself so that person can pass. Don’t worry again – the lift won’t leave without you.
- Try using the stairs if you have to climb up one floor or down one to two floors. You will probably get to your destination faster if you use the stairs instead of waiting for the lift to come. I’ve seen too many health care assistants waste hospital time just by waiting for a lift when they only have to go down one floor. You only have to use the lift if you are going up several flights of stairs, you can’t walk that well (in the case of the elderly or physically disabled), you are carrying heavy objects or if you are pushing trolleys/hospital beds. You probably get some well deserved exercise as well.

All that I have written is basic common sense but nobody uses it. What I have written is based on ‘the good of society’ principle but most people operate on the ‘me first’ principle. So the next time you use the lift, keep these pointers in mind.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

"We're experiencing technical difficulties at the moment..."

I won't be update this blog as often as I like over the next three months. Internet access at my hospital is difficult to come by. So forgive me if I don't answer your Facebook messages or emails as regularly as I can.

Also I won't be reading my SMS/text messages as often as I will. For some inexplicable reason, my hospital provides everybody with a Nokia 3G phone. I don't know why they don't get cheaper phones but they are pretty handy, coming with a MP3 player and camera. Basically I dverted my own phone number to my work number but it doesn't seem to divert SMS messages.

Monday, October 06, 2008

F*cking terrified for no reason

I'm currently settling into my new post as an intern for the paediatrics department . I don't know why but I'm so sh*t scared of paediatrics. My heart was racing a thousand miles per hour and I was having chest discomfort when I was on-call on Friday for no apparent reason.

I don't know why I should be afraid. All the nurses and medical officers are nice to me. The medical officers don't scold me if I keep calling them when I can't take blood or I can't insert a drip. The admissions haven't been too taxing either.

Probably I'm just traumatised by the paediatrics department of my teaching hospital, having gone through the specialty clerkship about four times.