Thursday, January 29, 2009

A year for heifers

Big elaborate decorations adorning every store you see with staff giving out the traditional greeting. Visiting relatives you haven't seen for a year and realizing, when you meet them, why you don't see them for one year. Eating traditional food that you wouldn't eat at any other time of year. Receiving boxes of chocolates as presents when you hate chocolate.

Sounds familiar doesn't it?

I'm not writing about Christmas, although I could be doing so. I'm actually writing about the Lunar New Year, which has just passed. I'm rather glad it is over. I'm not a great fan of holidays. There are just too many people at one time and I don't have relatives whom I don't want to meet. It's not that I hate them. I just don't have anything in common with them and rarely have anything to talk about with them. I spend the least amount of time at the dinner table and more time in front of my cousin's TV playing "Gears of War 2" on his Xbox 360.

I know it sounds sadistic but I'm glad I could work on one of the three public holidays. At least I got some unexpected 'lai see' from people I don't know and from some people I do know. I know I don't need the money but who doesn't like money when given to you free with no strings attached?

Well I'm glad the Lunar New Year is over for one year. I'm just dreading the next celebration in my life...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Getting into the groove...

I am more or less settling into my post as intern in the orthopaedics department. The hours are not harsh but I just have to wake up to perform ward rounds at 7:20 am with my medical officer, who happens to be visiting for six months from Argentina. This situation means I have to do some extra duties than is normally expected, such as translation between the medical officer and the patient and being a middle-man in helping the medical officer understand the hospital's way of working. At least this doctor is very nice and teaches me how to perform a proper neurological examination.

In fact all of the doctors are nice in orthopaedics. I'm currently attached to the spine team and the sports team. I asked to be attached to these teams for various reasons. One of the fields I'm considering entering is sports medicine, so being with the sports team lets me know what I need to know. Also I'm interested in join the department as a resident, which means making myself notice to the head of the department, who is head of the spine team. I hate playing politics but I know I have to play the game to get ahead in life.

In that respect, I already sent out my cover letters and CVs for job applications. I have decided to go for family medicine and, as mentioned, orthopaedics at my current hospital. I have already received my first rejection, from the orthopaedics department. The letter said they are only receiving applications from April onwards, so I'll try again later. I'm still waiting for the replies from the family medicine. If the orthopaedics letter got through, hopefully the other cover letters were received by the respective doctors.


Speaking of politics, it was great to see the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. It was also great to show Barack Obama fluffing his lines. That shows he's human after all. It also shows how influential conspiracy theorists are, since Barack Obama had to be sworn in again in private later to quell the suspicions that he wasn't President.


The other big political story I want to mention, since I haven't blogged for quite some time, is Israel. I don't know enough about the Israel/Arab situation to claim to be an expert but I have learnt enough from history that peace cannot be achieved by the total annihilation of a race or a group of people. Israel cannot achieve peace for themselves or for the region if they try to kill every Palestinian on the face of the earth because there will always be retaliation and revenge. Both sides need to sit down and compromise (a very important word) if they want to achieve peace for both their people.

The outside world, especially the West, have got to stop feeling guilty about Israel and start clamping down on Israeli aggression. Israel are no longer the bullied, they are the bullies. People have to realize if you are criticizing Israel, you are not being anti-Semitic.

I don't care which side kicked it off this time around. The brave person is the one who admits he or she has to sit down and talk. That will take courage.


Seeing a patient die in front of your eyes is not the most pleasant experience one goes through. In the past when I was a surgical intern, I didn't know enough about the patients to have an emotional attachment so I wasn't so upset when I had to certify their death.

This time around, there is one particular patient under my care where it is heart-wrenching watching the person die. It is quite obvious this patient has cancer and since the way I'm talking about him/her, it is terminal. What makes it more upsetting is the circumstances. The person has quickly deteriorated in front of my eyes. The patient was admitted at the beginning of this month and in the past three weeks the patient has quickly deteriorated in front of me and there is nothing we can do for him.

Also the patient has such a loving family and friends. Every day the family visit the patient and there is quite a large extended family and friends who visit the patient. Literally at least 10-20 people visit the patient each day. It is bad that the patient cannot see the daughter get married or the son graduate from university. Unfortunately we cannot pick who can live or die - that is God's duty.

I don't know how I feel when the patient dies. Hopefully is later rather than sooner, for the family's sake that they can have more time with the patient.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The future

I get more and more depressed when I log on to Facebook each day. Everybody I know seems to be going to weddings or actually getting hitched. Some part of me is a bit miffed for not being invited but another part of me knows I don't the person that well to get invited. I probably wouldn't attend the wedding banquet anyway. I don't like weddings. They are extraordinary large lavish affairs with a real lack of intimacy for the guests. If I get invited to a wedding, roughly 90% of the guests I wouldn't want anything to do with and I don't want to talk about medicine all the time with my fellow doctor peers.

I'm more saddened about my current marital status. When I was sane and not despondent about everything in life, I wouldn't have cared if I remained single for the rest of my life. It is not the end of the world if you stay a bachelor for the rest of your days on this Earth. Now that feeling for companionship and yearing for human relationship is eating at my soul like a dog gnawing on a bone. Soon or later there is going to be nothing left and I dread to think what I will do then, such as marry the first woman I see.

People I know are also studying for professional examinations and undergoing endless preparation for interviews. I'm at the stage in my internship when I have to decide what specialty I want to continue with for the rest of my career. Currently no specialty holds a special place in my heart which can interest me, which makes me want to be a doctor.

At this moment in time, it is a process of elimination for me...
  • Radiology: Out of the picture (both metaphorically & literally). I know nothing about anatomy and I've already peeved off half the radiology department at one hospital, seriously affected my job prospects.
  • Surgery: Not bad but I don't think I can handle the politics and the male personalities. You need a lot of self-confidence, bordering on arrogance, and I don't think I have guts to perform the job.
  • Ophthalmology: Again, no interest.
  • O&G: Pregnant woman? I still want to stay heterosexual, so no thank you.
  • Paediatrics. Definitely not. The prospect of dealing with screaming kids and anxious parents is not one which entices me.
  • Family Medicine: Being treated like shit for the first two years doesn't entice me. I've heard stories about family medicine trainees being treated like secondary house officers in various localities and I don't think I can put up with that.
  • Anaesthesiology: At one point I wanted to do this job but for some reason I lost interest. Maybe it is the people involved in the job.
  • A&E: I don't think I have the mind to work fast enough for Casualty.
  • Microbiology & Pathology: Don't think I can consider a whole life of staring down microscopes.
Which leaves me with two options: Orthopaedics & Medicine, which happen to be my last two rotations of my internship. I would like to do orthopaedics, since I have an interest in sports medicine but I know nothing about orthopaedics, anatomy or neurology. It will be more difficult to impress in Medicine since the interviews will have already taken place when I do my rotation.

But committing my life for another six years doesn't entice me at all. The alternative is going private, which I hate since I don't have the experience or the knowledge and I hate to be a mercenary.

I really don't know about my future... and some part of me doesn't care enough to do something about it.