Don’t Force Your Kids to be Doctors

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m a doctor. I love my job.
But I have worked for almost ten years and have seen too many people who were forced to study medicine, or forced to become doctors. I have also seen people who thought they wanted to become doctors (after being convinced by their parents or teachers), but they could have done better with other things.

It is sad. Very sad indeed.

Dear parents,

Medicine is not for everyone. Being a doctor is not the only way to succeed, and I can tell you, if you think that being rich equals to success, you are totally misguided and will be deeply frustrated. Of course, it is a professioon where you try to help others to your maximum ability, but it does not mean that you could not help others by being in other fields. Personally, the job satisfaction as a doctor comes when we help the poor and needy, when we listen to their worries, when we attend to their needs. I can tell you that those will not come with million dollar paychecks, but the contentment is beyond measure.

Medicine is not for the fainthearted. It is not for those who can’t answer to others. It is not for those who are calculative and unfair. It is not for those who only think of money and nothing else. It is not for those who are not ready to study and read books all their lives.
It is not for people who are NOT INTERESTED.

I am very sure those students who excel in their studies have other ambitions than becoming doctors. Some might want to be chefs, architects, fashion designers, teachers, interior designers, farmers. Some are interested in agriculture, history, fine arts or literature. Many wanted to become religious teachers or imams.

So be it.
We need people who could excel in their studies to excel in these fields. Some students may not excel in their SPM because none of the subjects above were taught in schools! In fact, so many things are NOT introduced in schools that the interests and potentials of all of these students were not discovered. Society labelled them as slow, so they were left behind or even drop out of school, when they were simply not interested with what was taught in school.
Do you know what kind of students or doctors they will be if they are not interested?

They become lazy, unmotivated, sad, stressed up for even small things, unfriendly, calculative, angry doctors. When they study they fail often (which would waste parents’ or even people’s money). If they went on to become specialists, they are the bitter ones who throw files around at juniors and call others names. Are these the kind of doctors you want your kids to be? Are these the kind of doctors you want treating you?

I’m not saying that all “forced” doctors are bad doctors. I have friends who were told to study medicine and they excel in it. They became great doctors because they have accepted the fact that God has given them this path for a good reason. They are nice to patients because they know it is the right thing to do. They know they made their parents happy so they are happy too.

All I’m saying is, there are so many options for your children. Watch them and listen to them. Let them choose what they are interested in (with halal means, of course, as Muslims) and support them towards their dreams. You will later find out how much it means for them.

Have Faith, I Will

I hoped.

And then not.

And hoped again.

And then decided not to.

But as the train moved into London, my heart was filled with hopes and dreams.

My dear,

We’ve been through this for so many years, it is unbelievable. Well, at least I have. We’ve been close, and then we fell apart, but never too far. I thought I was fine, I was ok without hoping anymore. I thought I did not care. But I do. I do so much. I jumped with every moment of pain that you went through. I cared not only about you, and you know that very well.

My dear,

That big smile of yours meant so much to me, and it still does. It is amazing how you could still make me smile after all this while, for that I am forever grateful.

My dear,

You know very well that I have you in my prayers. You and I know that God will answer me in His own special way, His own timely schedule. You and I understand that His answers will only be good. I know, even if I don’t have hope on you, I have hopes on Him, to bring me everywhere I should be, and to give you and me the eternal happiness. 

I don’t know why we are where we are, I don’t know why we are doing what we’re doing, I don’t know why there is too much struggle to go through, at least on my side. All I could do is to look into myself; maybe He wanted more from me, He expected better, much much better from me, for perhaps I have not lived up to my potential. 

Until then.

Hold on, I would.

Keep on trying, I should.

Have faith, I will. 

Always.
  

Picture Perfect

Some moments are just picture perfect.
But a lot of times, I’d rather live in those moments.

* * *
I love photography. I really do. I inherited this love from my uncles (and even perhaps my dad). My favourite subjects are flowers and events. By events, I mean taking candid shots of people working hard to make the function go smoothly, people behind the scenes, people enjoying each other’s company, kids running around. By events, I mean laughter and colours.

When we first got the camera, we wanted to photograph everything. However as time goes by, I realize that it is worth putting the camera down. Instead of clicking away capturing those moments, it is as nice to just stand there, watch, listen, and feel the moments. Just immerse myself with the sights, sounds and emotions of it all.

Like just now, in the afternoon. My younger brother with our young male cousins, putting sand into holes in the parking space, to make the ground level. Under the durian trees they were working, some pitching the sand into the wheelbarrow, while the little kids tried to chip in. Some leveled the sand and make sure the holes are properly closed. Some watched while talking and laughing.

I watched, smiled, even teared up a bit with pride.

Then there was a time during a recent wedding. A car was stuck in the mud in the parking space. My uncles and some of the boys helped pull the car until it came out. All with laughter.

Or that day when I was driving to work. The sun rose slowly, amongst the hills, while the fog lifted. Flocks of birds flew across the road, out for the day’s sustenance.
Made me think of paradise.

Or the market, the fish stall to be exact. The old fishmonger, leaning on his wooden cash box, with cigarette in one hand, counting his change. His son was busy packing the seafood for their customers. The cat looked around with high hopes, tail moving left and right.

Or when my brother sat in front of his fiance’s father, about to be married. The father asked something about the dowry, my brother answered with a few words, barely audible to all of us. The father then pat my brother’s cheek in such an affectionate manner. My brother was so surprised he started laughing.

Or when the boy peeked, smiling, into the hospital room, where the mother is resting. The girl who came together beamed from behind him, having not seen them for more than a year.

* * *
It is too easy to take out that smartphone and snap a photo.
It is too easy to capture those moments on our DSLRs.
But often we fail to notice, while being busy with our cameras, the setting and quality, we could not truly immerse ourselves in those moments. We could not fully appreciate the beauty of the sounds and the sights around us.

Most of those moments, are better captured in our hearts.
Those moments etched in our souls would last so long that no one could take them away from us.
  

Dragging Your Legs

And this.Recently a lot of dark thoughts went into my head. Perhaps it’s the exams, perhaps it’s for seeing ‘ghosts’ too often. But it has become a habit, to turn those dark thoughts into something better. I have to admit though, at times we just want to stay there and go with those negative feelings. 

So those enlightening thoughts would almost grudgingly appear, dragging its legs. It’s like saying, “hey, you negative thoughts, go away,” in a lazy tone.

It’s like saying, “please smile,” without smiling.

But it is worth doing. Grudgingly, dragging our legs, without smiling, whatever it is. Just force those positive thoughts in, and soon enough the negative ones will have to go away!
  

Optimism of the Believers

“Does God really love me?” “If He loves me, why am I facing so much difficulties?” “Has God abandoned me?”
People ask these questions all the time. Some ask these questions to the extent of doubting His existence. In the early days of his prophethood, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had these questions, therefore Allah SWT sent down two surahs, they are Al-Insyirah and Ad-Dhuha. Since then, our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW has never became depressed and has never felt hopeless anymore.
(1) Allah asked rhetorical questions in the beginning of the surah, allowing us to reflect and count on our blessings.

(2) Therefore, indeed, definitely, truly, surely, that with every difficulty, comes multiple ease. 

Allah did not tell us that life will be fine, that life should not have any problems. He never told us that His love is seen on how easy our lives would be. But Allah reassured us that with every single difficulty, there is at least two eases/relief/blessings that would come with it. At least two, but most of the time it is multiple.

(3) Allah advised us to keep on trying to overcome our problems, keep on planning to do one good deed after another, to keep on praying to Him for help in facing the trials in life, that this world is not a place to rest. 

(4) As long as we have Allah’s pleasure as our aim, this world will be secondary in our concerns. We would live a life free of anxiety, full of hope and positivity. 
Human beings need something constant in life, and knowing the nature of the world, NOTHING is constant. Not our parents, not our siblings, not our partners, not our children, not our health or money. The only place to find constance is with God, for He is the everlasting. His words in the Quran are constant; they have not been changed and will never be changed. His promises are constant. The hope He gave is constant. He has told us to be positive in our lives, in many many words in the Quran, and that is what we’re going to do. It is only when we could hold on to a constant figure that we could live life without the chains of anxiety and hopelessness.
I have witnessed, and I have surely experienced, that indeed, with hardship comes multiple ease. I experienced something difficult for a few weeks of my life, something that no women would want to go through, yet those few weeks of difficulties have given me almost SEVEN years of ease, and I know many many more years of ease will come by. I bear witness that the promises of Allah is true, and I hope He will never let me forget this.
May Allah bless Dr Yasir Qadhi and his family forever and ever.
The lecture he gave is as follows:

With Hardship Comes Multiple Ease – Sheikh Dr Yasir Qadhi
  

My House Officers

I feel like telling stories tonight.

It’s been seven years since I finished housemanship. I did not have house officers (HOs) to help me out in more than half of that seven years. I know some people are never happy with their HOs, some even call them names. But I have to admit, I had fun working with them. Not all, but many.

As with other people, there are HOs more memorable than others.
I’m not talking about work, at least in most of these stories.

The names and details of the stories were changed to protect privacy.

* * *
It was past midnight. I was exhausted running between two wards and a high dependency unit. The HO saw me and had just eaten what was probably her dinner.
“Boss, come drink this watermelon juice,” she said, showing me an unopened bag of cold red juice.
“Thanks, but it’s ok, I’ll get my own drinks,” I told her.
“Please take it. I bought extra,” she said.
So I did, with a lot of thanks.
* * *
I was on call, it was around 6.30am, two patients in different wards needed intubation, so I had to run between the two wards (with the help of anaesthetic colleagues, of course). I walked into the ward again, and there she was, running towards me.
“Boss! Boss! Boss! Boss! Boss!!!” she called.
I was too tired, I only raised my eyebrows.
“The patient we intubated, her heart stopped and I did CPR on her! After 10 minutes she revived!”
I walked faster, I was impressed.

* * *

Both of us rotated to different departments. One day she referred a case to me, so I went to her ward. Before I met her, I bumped into another HO, who immediately brightened up (from a flustered appearence), saying, “Oh! Medical people! Nice to see you!”

I was a little surprised, but I smiled and walked away.

She came to see me when I was done seeing the patient.
“It’s not as nice here as it is in medical..” she said with a pout.
“Why would you say that? Weren’t you much busier back then?” I asked.
“Well, over here the gap between us and the seniors is so distant. They wouldn’t sit and chat with us the way you did with us all this while,” she complained.
I could not find any words for consolation. So we spoke about other things.

* * *

We did not meet each other for many months. By the time I met her again, she’s a senior HO finishing her final posting. She put on a lot of make up for my liking; she doesn’t need it because she’s a pretty girl already.

“Boss, have you found a boyfriend yet?” she asked.
“No. What about you?”
“Me neither..I don’t know..” she sighed.

That was the last time I spoke to her. I had in mind that I wanted to suggest maybe she could put less makeup because she’s a nice, sweet girl, but I never met her again.

The last I heard, she married a cardiologist.
A cardiologist who doesn’t like even a single layer of powder.
“Clowns,” he used to say.
I knew about it because he’s my ex.

Oh well.
Life goes on.
* * *
I was having lunch with my colleagues after our teaching session one Wednesday afternoon. I was on call. My phone rang.

“Hello, is this Miss Maria?” the male voice asked.
“Erm..yes.”
“Hi. I’m from Pizza **t. I’m sending you some pizzas,” he said.
“But I did not order any,” I told him.
“I know. Someone ordered this for you,” he said convincingly.
I wondered who that person would be, and the fact that I have almost finished my food.
“Boss, this is Abu. Dr Abu. HO from your previous ward,” said the “pizza boy”. He then chuckled.
I laughed.
“I need to refer a patient to you…” he went on.

Oh dear…and he dared to do this!!

* * *
I was doing some paperwork on the nursing counter when Abu came and sat in front of me.
“Boss, may I ask you something?” he asked.
I had a feeling that it is not about work. “What is it?” I asked.
“Are you married?” he asked.
“No,” I answered.
“Oh. Then I won’t ask you my second question.”
I looked at him and raised my eyebrows. He got scared, so he blurted out, “It wasn’t me. Syarifah asked me to ask you.”
I was not convinced.
“She asked me to ask you whether you’re pregnant,” he said, almost cowering.
So I laughed. I laughed at him, and at the question.
“You know, you’re not the first person to ask me this question within this week,” I told him.

* * *
A few days ago, my nurse asked me, “Weren’t you pregnant 8 months ago?”
Again, I laughed. “I don’t even have a husband.”
My HO in front of me showed a surprised look.
“Don’t worry. This is not the first time. I don’t know what is it about me, my BMI is good. Maybe I glow, or maybe I look too tired all the time,” I said to them.
“Why are you not married yet? Are you choo…” he blurted out but stopped in his track.
I laughed again. “What were you going to say? Choosy? Well, I need to be choosy, right?”
He just smiled.
“I had a bad experience. That’s all,” I told them, got up and left.

* * *
I was upset about the difficulty of obtaining clinic appointments for our patients. Our specialist pushed for it and I fully understood her concerns. It was 4pm. In the end she asked this HO to get the appointment himself from the clinic counter.
He went there, did not manage to get the staff to help, and called me from there. All I told him was how upset I was about the whole system.

It took him a while to get back to the ward (our hospital is huge).

When he reappeared, he said, “I got it for you anyway, boss. You sounded upset so I tried to get the appointment date again. I knocked the locked clinic door because I knew they were in. I waited and knocked and waited and knocked. In the end they opened the door and set the appointment. Here you are.”

Oh, thank you…!!!

* * *

I was on the phone with my former boss on the hospital corridors one evening. A female HO who worked with me a year ago walked by.

She showed a big smile, came closer and gave me a hug, and walked away.

That felt good.
* * *

There was a HO who, when he smiled, he could “light up this whole town.”
When I heard him speak, I knew he could sing very well. Turned out I was right.
When I looked at him back then, I knew he’s going to be a physician. He’s currently on his way there.
I had a feeling he’d want to be a cardiologist. Turns out he really does.

I pray for the best for him.
* * *

I don’t like to tell stories beginning with “When I was a house officer…” because it annoys a lot of people, and I don’t think it’s fair.

But today I want to begin some sentences with that.

When I was a HO, I had nice, cool and super cool seniors who taught me a lot of stuff.

When I was a HO, we would sometimes have tea with our senior or the surgeon and talk about life.

When I was a HO, I spent the nights in OT with my senior, sometimes the whole night, sometimes only partially. One of them would ask for nice songs to be played from the radio while operating. He never brought along his own CDs though.

So by the end of that posting, I compiled a list of songs that I thought he might like, and put them in a CD. However it seemed that the CD player could not read it.

When I was a HO, I extended my stay in surgical posting because I had so much fun.
During that rotation, I had to go for an emergency surgery, so I was on medical leave for two weeks, cutting my posting short.
One day the department clerk called me and said it’s ok to leave as scheduled because I did not take those days off for fun.
I told her, I want that two weeks back.
So I stayed an extra two weeks.

I would have been a surgeon now if I could stand cold temperatures in long duration. But obviously I’m not.

When I was a HO, I missed my brother’s birthday dinner, because we finished work at 10pm on that particular day.

* * *
This song was played on radios a lot when I have just started working: Aku Bukan Milikmu by Rossa. It was on air when my consultant was giving me a briefing, while we were in the operation theatre, in the ward while we were doing our paperwork, at night in the cold and otherwise quiet OT.
This song marked the beginning of my working life.

Dahulu kau mencintaiku
Dahulu kau menginginkanku
Meskipun tak pernah ada jawabku
Tak berniat kau tinggalkan aku

Sekarang kau pergi menjauh
Sekarang kau tinggalkan aku
Di saat ku mulai mengharapkanmu
Dan ku mohon maafkan aku

Aku menyesal tlah membuatmu menangis
Dan biarkan memilih yang lain
Tapi jangan pernah kau dustai takdirmu
Pasti itu terbaik untukmu

Janganlah lagi kau mengingatku kembali
Aku bukanlah untukmu
Meskiku memohon dan meminta hadirmu
Jangan pernah tinggalkan dirinya untuk diriku

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