From My Heart


September 2013

Human Suffering

Written on 1st September 2013 @ 1744hrs.


How often do we look at others and say, “That person is so lucky…”?


How often do we see someone laugh and smile and think that he/she is probably the happiest person in the world? 


How much time do we spend complaining and crying? 


Truth is, we don’t know. 

That person smiling at us, going about seemingly happily, as if there’s nothing wrong going on with his/her life. Wake up in the morning, go to work, come home and cook for the family, shop, perhaps exercise, sleep like most of us. 


What are the things does that person think about before falling asleep?

What time does that person wake up and why?

If that person prays, what does that person pray for?


Have we ever wished that we’re in someone else’s shoes?


* * *

Looking around me, having worked (and still do) with the sick and dying, it’s true that no human beings can escape any forms of suffering. In one form or another, we will be tested.


What kind of trials, is not ours to choose. 


If we are given a choice, would we be able to, anyway?


Like, would we rather grow old and happy with our partner, but he falls sick and has to go back and forth to the hospital for many years? Or for both of us to be well but he strays to other woman, leaving you questioning your self esteem?


Would we rather have our young baby die, or he grows up and become a drug addict?


Would we rather be healthy but stuck in a marital problem, or happily married but bedbound because of stroke?


Would we rather be married and taken away from our parents, seeing them only once in a few months, or single and free to love and care for our parents any way we want? 


Would we choose a husband who’s very nice but his income is bordering to haram, or another man who is as nice but on the hot tempered side?


Would we prefer working very hard, day and night, but being healthy, or on long leave because of a sickness?


Would we choose being stuck in traffic everyday but staying near our parents, or working five minutes away from home but hours away from our parents?


Would we rather be a doctor, working day and night, or an auditor, who also works day and night and weekends like doctors do?


Would we choose between being married but with a mother in law who stabs us from the back, or being single and free? 


If we were to choose between having extremely naughty but healthy kids, or well-behaved kids but always admitted to the hospital for asthma, which one would we have chosen?


Would you be able to choose between having kids who do below average in school but loves to be in school everyday, or extremely smart kids who don’t want to attend school at least half the school year?


Would you rather be divorced with kids, or without kids?


Would you choose a small, cramped flat shared with your husband, or a large bungalow shared with all of your in-laws? With all, it includes your husband’s grandmother, sister-in-law’s husband and their kids, maid, maid’s sister, some of their cousins…


* * *


Most of those things are fated, aren’t they?


Aren’t we lucky that God chose all those for us, not leave it all up to us?


Or would you rather be given the choice?


* * *


My point is, we all will face difficulties in life. To different extent, and with different tests. No life is spared, although our difficulties wil be unique to us. Things may be difficult now but everything is temporary. Those who are happy now will have their tests later in life. 


And those who look happy and never failed to give you a smile, doesn’t mean their lives are perfect. 


* * *


As Muslims, we believe that all of us will be tested. All of us. Because this life is just a bridge to the hereafter. It’s a temporary place which we travel on, our permanent abode is there, in the hereafter – either paradise or hell. How we handle our tests in this world is how we achieve paradise, or hellfire.


“Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, ‘When is the help of Allah?’ Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.”  – Al Quran, 2:214


It makes all the sense in the world. A physician wouldn’t be said to be able to manage a patient with a heart attack until he knows how to manage its complications. A police investigator would not be a good one if all he has ever handled are simple cases. A four-wheel drive wouldn’t be labelled a good one if it has not gone into the jungle, through all the mud and even waters.


Allah doesn’t leave us alone. Whenever He gives us a test, He will provide the answer. He has all the answers, if only we ask from Him, and only Him.


“[…] Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease.” – Al Quran, 65:7


“And your Lord says: Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer); but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell – in humiliation!” – Al Quran, 40:60


We will never be fully ready for any trials in life. We will be caught off guard, we will never know what will come to us and when. 


But He has guided us even before He sent us the tests. His Quran, the traditions of Prophet Muhammad SAW, all will help us through tough times. The fact that He and He Alone have the answers, He Alone is the One we should depend on in sadness or happiness, not other beings, not even our parents. Because He’s there forever, and the rest of beings around us will leave us, sooner or later.


You, You and You

Written on 1st September 2013 at 0117hrs

Thank you for the friendship. 

Yes, you, you, and you.


You picked me up when I was at my lowest.


We used to spend so much time together. Trying to understand something so senseless. 


You’re the companion throughout this difficult journey. To learn, to work, to live healthy.


Your smile brighten my nights, and day.


We shopped, we cooked, we laughed and even cry.



We argued, yes, of course. 


We travelled east, south, north.


We enjoy some small luxuries of life. All worth the wait and the money.


We swam with the fishes, amongst the corals.


We walked on the sandy beaches, feeling the cool sea breeze.


We drove, in the wee hours of the morning, late at night.


We watched the sun rise, again and again.


We had the same dreams when we were younger. Even when we have not met each other.

We achieved some. Shared some. Which meant more.


Our games of squasy. Those days when smashing balls on hard walls meant much more than just “exercise”. When nobody could understand our lack of competetiveness. 

No, we didn’t play to compete. 


Your love for sambal even when you can’t stand them. 


You, when you came I knew you were trouble. 


Those days when we used to come up after clinic and help the rest of them. 


Or were we just making excuses?


Those days when we spoke about our dreams, up to that awkward moment when we realized that we’re not going to achieve those dreams together.


You, who gets moody when you’re on call. I used to laugh, it’s not my problem, anyway. 


You, who wanted to quit your job every once a month.


You, who wondered why you’re here at the first place.

Don’t we all?


You, who listened to all my crazy stories, my obsession. All of it. For years. It’s over the moment you left. 

It’s all over.


You, who have gone through the journey I’m going through now. Different roads, same destination.


You, who knows when to say no. And you say “no” very quickly, as if you knew I was going to ask.

Such integrity. 


You, whose eyes are keen. Sensitive. 


Our first fight. You apologized. 


Those moments in the car together. With you, you and you too.


My lunch partner. My dinner partners.


Partners to go for all those talks. Imam Suhaib Webb. BeingME convention.

No, we don’t have all weekends to spend for all those. But we tried.


We cried watching Junior Masterchef Australia. Every single episode. Without fail.


Remember our Abang Michael Smith? Who accompanied our iftar almost everyday. 


We could talk and complete each other’s sentences. Accurately.


You and your durian theory. 


Your perfect English, when you speak it’s so beautiful.


My shopping partner. We have such different taste. 


Smile like the sun.


We walked through the rain.


My teacher.


You and your tempe, jam tarts and rice for sahur.


There’re so many recipes we have not tried.

There’re so many places we have not visited.

There are so many things that I want to talk to you about.


* * *


Truth is, words can’t describe how much I appreciate having you around.

How much I’m missing all of you.


We may meet again some other time.


* * *

Kau ada dikala ku suka, dikala ku duka, setiap tangisan dan juga ketawa

Kau ada dikala ku perlu, setia menemaniku

Pegang erat tanganku bila aku jatuh


Kaulah yang selalu

Selalu menemaniku

Mendengar kisah pahit manis hidupku


Kaulah yang di situ, setia menunggu ku

Kaulah yang satu menjadi sahabatku


Kau ada di kala ku jatuh, setiap bangunku

Terus menemaniku tanpa rasa jemu

Kau ada di setiap tawa, di kala bahagia

Kau menjadi sahabatku selamanya


Ku tahu ku kan selalu ada

Ada dirimu

Dan ku harap kau juga rasa begitu


* * *


How can I just let you walk away, just let you leave without a trace

When I stand here taking every breath with you

You’re the only one who really knew me at all


How can you just walk away from me, when all I can do is watch you leave

Coz we share the laughter and the pain

And even shared our tears

You’re the only one who really knew me at all


Take a look at me now, there’s just an empty space

There’s nothing left here to remind me

Just the memory of your face


So take a look at me now, there’s just an empty space

And you coming back to me is against the odds, and that’s what I’ve got to face


I wish I could just make you turn around

Turn around and see me cry

There’s so much I need to say to you

So many reasons why 

You’re the only one who really knew me at all


Take a look at me now, there’s just an empty space

And to wait for you is all I can do, and that’s what I’ve got to face

What The Public Doesn’t Know

I’m writing this based on my own experience, and the stories that my friends related to me. I’m writing as a government medical officer in a busy tertiary center hospital, which means I’m not a specialist, and neither am I a junior doctor/house officer. It also means that I have no power at all for decision making about human resource, buying of drugs and equipment, hospital bills, the service of other departments, my own pay or even the food I eat when I’m on call.

The only contribution I make towards the care of my patients is to care for them, with my knowledge and experience, as much as I can, with the most empathy, manners, efficacy and quality that I could give.

The only contribution I make towards the training of junior staff is by training myself rigidly, and then teach them all I know, with the little time I have in my hands (in addition to the job description – treating patients), be a good leader and example to them.

When I said “only”, it basically means there are others who could give greater contribution, or in other means. When I said “only”, it means that the hospital, the ministry of health, have their own responsibilities towards better care for the public.

It basically means that there are so many things out of my control, our control.

However the complains always landed on us, our juniors, the nurses and medical assistants (MAs).

So here you are. What the public doesn’t know.

* * *

You may not know, that the doctor you waited for 2 hours in the clinic, is likely the very same doctor that has to attend the emergency department (ED) because of a case of heart attack. Or sometimes two or three cases of heart attack on one go. The thing is, this doctor may need to attend to another case who’s collapsed in the ward.

You may not know, the doctor that made you wait for two hours in the cold ED, breathless with asthma, before admitting you to the ward, may be the same doctor who is attending a pregnant lady, breathless with asthma too, about a block away, in the maternity building.

You may not know, the doctor that is attending your father who’s having a heart attack, did not even sleep last night, has been working since 8am yesterday, running around until 10am today and still running around. Furthermore, he’s expected to run around with a perfectly functioning mental state until at least 5pm.

Do you know what kind of mental capacity does a person have with not sleeping for more than 24 hours? Apparently it’s like someone drunk trying to drive. Imagine that before you complain to the doctor, “why are you so slow?” when perhaps that’s the ONLY doctor who’s available at that moment to attend to your father.

You may not know, that doctor who’s patiently explaining and teaching her junior doctors in the middle of the night, has not taken a rest since 7am today, is actually expecting a phone call to inform the results of another ill patient, who might collapse soon.

You may not realize that the doctor in front of you is trying to decide, which one among the four emergency cases that he has to attend, is the most urgent case to be seen. They are probably 500m apart from each other, in different wards, on different floors.

You may not even try to imagine, when that bus in Genting crashed and killed 37 people, a few medical officers were on their way back after their shifts, but had to come back to the hospital because of the disaster. Did you ever wonder, maybe one of these doctors may have had a flight to catch, to visit his own ill mother in another state of the country?

You may not realize, that doctor you saw eating his dinner at 5pm (which, by your standards, is too early to have dinner), probably is eating his first meal of the day. Or the first meal after his breakfast at 8am yesterday.

You may not realize that the five phone calls that interrupted your 10 minutes conversation with your doctor, are urgent phone calls, and the doctor is trying to decide whether to stop the conversation and attend to the other patient too.

You may say that the “taxpayers money” was used to buy that state-of-the-art MRI scan machine. But do you know how many people are lining up for that machine?

You may say that “taxpayers money” was used, many many years ago, to buy two radiotherapy machines in oncology department. But do you know that the machines are used to maximum extent, from 8am to 10pm, almost non stop which results in its frequent breakdown? Do you know how many cancer patients line up for that two radiotherapy machines, before you even mention “taxpayers expect the best out of the money they forked out”?

The public may not notice that certain specialties are only available in certain hospitals, and people come from all over the country to get treatment.

Do you know that even with RM1 fee for ED, health clinic and outpatient department visits, and RM5 for specialist clinic fee, there are many people who cannot afford healthcare? So the tax you pay is going to help these people.

The public may not notice that with paying RM5, they get specialist (or future specialist) consultation, with medications that cost up to RM200 per month (often more), and they don’t even get charged for the expensive medications.

You may not notice that there are 50 other patients in the ward you mother was admitted in, 10 of them are very ill, but there are only 5 nurses. You may say that not attending to your mother who had just passed urine in her diapers, is not acceptable. But is it acceptable to not do CPR on your friend’s mother at the end of the ward there, who’s in the brink of death, just to change your mother’s diapers? Erm…can you do it yourself?

You may not know that the doctor who’s working on a Saturday morning, her mother had just called up and ask “are you coming back for breakfast? I made your favourite fried noodles”, while she has another procedure to do, another two letters to write, five house officers to supervise.

You may not realize, by saying “doctors are human beings, they need rest too” will cost your waiting time in clinic to increase up to two hours. Because if one doctor takes leave for one week, the rest of the unit may need to compensate and that’s when emergencies tend to happen but only one or two doctors around, trying to handle them all.

But if the doctors work like robots, not being able to take days off to spend with family, they will become frustrated people, higher risk to leaving the government sector, higher rates of divorce perhaps, mental illness, and the list goes on and on.

It may not cross your minds that it needs repeated education, counselling for patients, emphasising that it’s important to control their diet, stop smoking, exercise more, teach them how to use thei insulin, how to monitor, before patients actually follow our advice. By the time they decide to follow, often it’s too late.

These consultations, to be done properly, will take at least 30 minutes, to cover ALL aspects. There are usually at least 120 patients (can be up to 200 in health clinics, no specialist), 10 doctors (or maybe just 2 in health clinics, no specialist), so one doctor sees 12 (or 100). You do the maths. You expect waiting time of less than 90 minutes? Like, seriously?

Stretch the resources? So, patient come in, say hi, how are you, your sugar is not controlled, add medications, and bye bye. That’s 5 minutes, if the makcik doesn’t decide to say “doctor, I have runny nose, I have knee pain, I burp too much” or “doctor, where are you from? Are you married? Why are you not married? Are you choosy? Where did you go back to during Eid?”

Perhaps the public didn’t notice that the medications don’t work if they continue smoking, continue eating to their stomach’s content, sit around watching American Idol being a couch potato.

The public may not have seen a doctor working hard to CPR a patient who had a major heart attack, send the patient over to IJN for emergency procedure, discharge the patient WELL, and guess what, come back after one year with another heart attack, because he did not stop smoking and did not take his FREE (yet expensive) medications. All paid for by “taxpayers”.

Perhaps the public doesn’t know that the auntie occupying that “paid by taxpayers money” hospital bed, had just been discharged two weeks ago, after being admitted in a coma because of extremely high sugar level.

Guess what, she’s back in the ward because of extremely high sugar level, and a stroke, because she conveniently took the durian crepes her daughters bought at home, and conveniently “forgot” to inject that expensive, paid-with-taxpayers-money, insulin prescribed with a good heart by her doctor two weeks ago. The common excuse, “I can’t stand it, doctor, my daughters bought them so I just have to eat them.” Yup, that’s taxpayer’s money well spent for you.

What the public doesn’t know is most of us, medical officers, treat lives the same. Whether they are teachers, ministers, Bangladeshi petrol pump attendant, Indonesian cleaner, local waiter, when it comes to emergencies, we try our best. Ambulances pick up those unconscious drug addicts on the roadside and send them to the hospital. When they end up in our wards, in our EDs, we do x-rays, expensive blood tests, and diagnose them with TB, HIV and all sorts of other things.

What you may not notice is, perhaps that CPR that the doctor did at 3am just now, was on someone whom she does not even know his name, and none in the hospital knew, no family members ever visited him, not someone who could give her any good recommendations or acknowledgement when he walks out of the hospital alive. Not someone who will recognise her when he woke up to say thank you.

You know why? Because all of us are human beings. A life is a life, no matter who you think that life is. When we know that it’s futile, we will stop trying, but we will make a difference through other means. Till then, while we’re still standing, breathing, this is what we’ll do. No matter how public misunderstood us.

* * *

I’m not saying everything the hospital, the doctors do is right.

Mistakes are sometimes made but a lot of times they are caught early.

It’s alright to complain or to advice, to remind, if you think that something wrong is going on, if you think the medication you mother is receiving is different from what she had yesterday. It’s good to ask for explanation because that’s what we all are obliged to do for you.

It’s even better if it’s done in a polite way, not in papers, not in social media. Not by taking photos of a nurse reading the newspaper at the counter when, actually, she has nothing to do as there are only a few patients in the ward and all things are done.

I’m not trying to be defensive, it just hurts to have people commenting, complaining, or even trying to sue our other colleagues in other hospitals, when in reality, we are all in the same shoes, trying to do our best with the little resources that we have. The only reason I emphasise RM1, RM3 and RM5 is because, basically those are the bills that most people pay, and healthcare cost is heavily, very heavily subsidised.

My family may have noticed that I’ve sat for 7 papers for my professional exams, each paper costs RM2500-3000 depending on the UK exchange rate, and I paid those with my own money. I did not claim a single cent from the government. Yes, I pay tax too. Oh, and my financial analyst brother said those money I spent, I can’t deduct my tax for it. So…yeah.

For those who has the experience of seeing a rude doctor, nurse or MA, do make a complain. Make a report. That rudeness, is never acceptable.

* * *

An orthopedic surgeon might not understand a gynaecologist’s job. A neurosurgeon may not understand a physician’s concerns. A pathologist may not understand a surgeon’s struggles. Even amongst us, we can’t fully understand each other. How can I expect the public to understand us?

I guess in the end, what matters most is that we do our best, to the best of our knowledge, our skills, power and even leadership qualities. What matters is we know God is watching (for those who believe), and He alone could appreciate us in the best way that no humans beings ever could.

The only thing we ask from you, the public, is to control your diet, stop smoking, drive carefuly, take care of your loved ones, remember to take your medications, get to know about your disease and please please please don’t be rude to us.



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