You see,

When us, doctors, advice people not to smoke, they mock us and say “oh, my father smoked for 50 years and he had cancer only after he quit smoking.”

When we advice them to control their sugar, they whine and say they can’t stand looking at all those food.

When we ask them to not bring their young children visit their ill grandparents in the hospital, they look at us like we’re being overly rigid.

When we promote about vaccination, they laughed and belittled us for “blindly following Western medicine.”

When we promote safe labour options, everyone starts fighting and nobody in the media asked the opinion of a consultant obstetrician.

* * *

Of course, you might want to say it is YOUR rights to choose whether you want to smoke, drink, eat whatever you may want, have all the sex with any prostitute, give birth anywhere in any place you like, expose your kids to any life-threatening infections, or drive as recklessly as you want.

You think it’s your choice.

You think doctors will not have a job if nobody falls sick.

You are WRONG.

There are so many people who are unfortunate to get severe, chronic illness, without even asking for it.

There are so many people who get cancer, lupus, thyroid problems, epilepsy, lung fibrosis, asthma, antiphospholipid syndrome, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, infertility, multiple sclerosis, myasthaenia gravis, muscular dystrophies, mucopolysaccharoidoses, acute glomerulonephritis, and so many other diseases.

You know what, these diseases (and many others) have no cure, and for most of them, no cause is found. That means anyone could get them no matter how they care about themselves. People who have these diseases will need to go for frequent follow up in hospitals. The medications they take may cost thousands or millions of dollars in their lifetime.

Thing is, the psychosocial impact of the above (and many other diseases) are huge. Doctors need time to tackle these issues, on top of explaining to them about their diseases, the treatment options (or lack of it, at times), the medications and their side effects, and a whole lot more on patient education.

We sincerely wish we have all that time to spend with such unfortunate patients.
We really wish we could listen to all their worries, give them words of encouragement so that they could go through this difficult life in the best manner possible.

But we don’t. We simply could not.

Because there are people out there selfish enough to say, “my body, my rights.”

By getting into trouble, choosing to not care for themselves, they crowd the hospital emergency departments, wards, outpatient clinics, specialist clinics, together with the above unfortunate people.

They mock at doctors first and come back later begging for help. For oxygen, for pain relief, for money.

And yes, we do help them. Some sincerely, some not as much (as weak as a human may be). We give oxygen, pain relief, and “referral to welfare”.

At the same time, occupying the doctor’s time that could have been well spent for those who did NOT look for trouble but fell ill anyway.

They selfishly took away the time and resources that the doctors could have spent on those unfortunate patients, because it’s their body, it’s their rights to damage it the way they wanted to.

* * *
Dear fellow colleagues,

This is more of a reminder for myself than for everyone. But I’ll say this anyway.

I know we have encountered very challenging attitudes from people around us, including the one-sided media. I know it is so easy to lash out and be as emotional as those “lay people” out there.

Many of us have spoken out in various manners, including myself.

But I guess it is true, we must not stoop down to their level. We must not reduce our educated minds to their random guesses. We shall not fight recklessness with rudeness. When people seek the opinion of the unlearned, we must continue to learn from the true experts.

We are way better than that.

Indeed, wise people of old times said, we may be able to win an arguement with an intelligent man, but we will never win an arguement with the ignorant.

So let’s stop arguing, because we’ll never win.

* * *
Perhaps it would be useful to hear this Sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s lecture on part of the surah Al-Kahfi. This part spoke about the importance of preserving life, and the sanctity of our lives.

“We shall be brave, but we shall not act foolishly. Why should one die pointlessly, when he could stay alive?”

Sheikh Yasir Qadhi: Tafseer Surah Al Kahfi, part 6.