Tuesday, August 02, 2011

From Hell

"There's no escape
No sleep tonight
You won't get no sleep tonight"

No Sleep Tonight (2005) by The Faders

I'm in my third week of Life holding down the unenviable position of a House Officer in the Sarawak General Hospital while holding on to the soundness of my mind. For my first ever posting, I was paradropped far behind enemy lines into Obstetrics and Gynaecology to fend for my life, and for the first time, I truly appreciate just how microbial my present position in life is. In just one short day, I had all my self-respect and dignity wrung right out of me. I am now subject to the whims and moods of my immediate superiors, the Medical Officers, who are in turn subject to the mercy of the Registrars. The Registrars bow to the Specialists, and the Specialists answer to the Consultant. Shit rains down from above often and bountifully.

My initial 10 days were called "tagging", which had me in the hospital from 6:30 am till 10:00 pm learning the ropes, knots and whatnots. After which, my average working day starts at 6:30 am and, if I'm lucky, ends at 5:00 pm. Two or more times a week, I will be "on-call", two words which are no where close to describing a solid 35-hour stretch of non-stop servitude. When they tell me that slavery had been abolished, and I ask "when?"

My Medical ID
Object in the picture may no longer look so well-fed and well-rested.

The only thing keeping me going is a week-old memory of a patient I attended to at 3:00 am in the morning. She told me that I am a good doctor, not knowing how much that meant to me.

"It's my job," I said to her. Yes, it's my job now, however much I loath it. I want very much to quit it and write, but writing isn't going to feed me.

Or help pay for my new car.

P.S. Last Sunday, a staff nurse asked me if this is my fourth or fifth posting. She was surprised to find out that it is my first, and told me she thought that I am very efficient. If someone would say something like this to me at least once a week, I think I might just pull through my 2 years of housemanship without plunging a scalpel into my carotids.

k0k s3n w4i


Zulfahmi said...

I don't like going to the doctors...

Last time I went, the doctor asked me, "What medicine do u want?"

How the hell was I supposed to know what medicine to get... I never studied medicine before...

And I don't like it when a doctor asks: "Sakit apa?"

I hope u wont be that kind of doctor...

Zzzyun said...

sounds like you are doing well despite whatever shit that is being thrown at you. so jia you, keep going! :)

Phoebs said...

i miss you. working sounds horrible

shanaz@RS said...

Keep your head up, Sen Wai. The world needs a presence as intriguing and understanding as you. Not that I know that personally, but based on your thoughts written here, you're simply and wonderfully magnetic! I mean that not in a pervy way. lol

c3rs3i said...

I wanted to be a doctor once. I still think I'd look quite good in a white coat but I guess that ship has sailed. Do you really hate it or would you just rather do something else?

Every time I have read a shit book I vowed to write my own cos if that crap can get published and stay in publication, I'm sure I stand a chance.
It's still on the cards.
What genre would you write within?

Any idea why the hours are such - is it because of a shortage of doctor power?

You bought that car already or are you waiting for the piggy bank to burp first?

K, interrogation over. >.<
Hang in there in the mean time.

yuhhui said...

Work sounds pretty tough! I think after the shift system is implemented, things will be better a little? Hope you get enough sleep after this.. hehe

McGarmott said...

I did think that was a rather douchey goatee when I saw you that day. Why la don't shave before you go to Putrajaya?

Sapphira said...

Bon courage! I hope there are more who remember to thank you for doing your job, and doing it well at that! :)

Azygous said...

"I think after the shift system is implemented, things will be better a little? "

The whole purpose of implementing the shift system? - help the government to save cost.
Everybody would have thought that shift system is here to counter the current "housemen glut" in Malaysia.
But hey, there isn't much left in the tank, country is running dry....

Once the shift system is implemented, HO get less "on-calls", which saves the government upto RM 10,000/year/HO.
But we doctors? - bad

I remember there was once our new DG even suggest that MOH should stop paying HOs since they are "doctors-in-training"...

k0k s3n w4i said...

Zulfahmi: well, that doc you saw was quite unprofessional, but then again, there are many patients who seem to know exactly what they want. a doctor asking "sakit apa" is perfectly normal methinks. it's just badly phrased. i usually ask "why are you here today?" i don't expect my patients to know exactly what's ailing them but i do expect them to inform me what symptoms he or she's been having (cough, abdominal pain, etc). we use a patient's symptoms to guide our physical examination and investigations to triangulate the problem and then to treat accordingly.

Zzzyun: i'm actually doing quite well when i'm not bemoaning how little time i have left for myself these days :)

Phoebs: yes, i want to be a househusband T_T

shanaz@RS: wow thanks, but the long-suffering girlfriend™ will probably tell you that in reality, i'm nothing like the person writing in this blog. thanks for the compliments though. you just made my day that much better :)

c3rs3i: i rather be doing something else - many things else, in fact. i was mostly attracted to the field of medicine in the first place because of the pool of knowledge the discipline commands, and knowing intimately how the human body works gives me great satisfaction.
when i do write for realsies, i'd probably dabble mostly in speculative fiction. i already have book ideas for a high fantasy, a ghost story, and faith-based exploration of the afterlife.
i find it hard to explain the situation of the medical fraternity in malaysia. we have a paradox of too many and too little doctors. most hospitals already have too many, but there is a dearth of hospitals equipped to train house officers such as myself - and we certainly do need more hospitals in malaysia to service the people.
i have already ordered the car, and today afternoon, i'll be signing an agreement for my car loan.

yuhhui: the shift system means (at least in the department i'm in) that on a normal day, instead of working till 5:00 pm, i would have to stay till 6:30 pm to complete my 12 hour shift - while getting no recompense for the extra hours. at least now, i get a hundred bucks for every call i take.

McGarmott: it was meant to be douchey. i just wanted to see if i can grow one :P

Sapphira: one can hope. and what i need isn't courage. i need fortitude and endurance. it's a marathon of a job.

Azygous: i like to see them try and run specialist hospitals without house officers. there's been threats of a strike when the rumour that they are cutting our critical allowance (which makes up like a fifth of our salary) was being passed around. our new dg is a right asshole. everyone is missing ismail merican now.

c3rs3i said...

Car post, please? - complete with photo of car salesman shaking your hand and handing keys to you.
And congrats =)

Sapphira said...

Haha, don't worry, I've given you that. 'Bon courage' is a French saying to tell someone not to give up. Thought it might be fitting. ;)

Liz said...

All the best! If you're in your first posting, and you're getting compliments like that, I'd say you have it in you to make it through! :D