Friday, November 06, 2009


this morning, i talked to an old man with a lung infection. i had specific reasons for seeing him - he had an interesting disease that had some good learning points for myself and the junior i had dragged along - but it didn't seem right to march up to him and say "uncleineedtoexamineyourhandsandtoesandauscultateyourlungsmayipleasedosokthx" so i took some time to just have a chat with him.

i wondered where his wife was and he told me that she had been admitted in the ward downstairs for chest pain. there wasn't anyone available to feed him lunch later so could i please tell the nurses that he needs to be fed? after sorting that out, i told him that his oxygen supply has been reduced and that's a good thing, and updated him on his condition.

the whole time i was getting a little agitated, thinking that i will never be able to slot a quick examination in at the rate we were talking. however, i remained patient and gave non-verbal cues to my junior to be patient too. before i knew it, the old man was smiling beneath his non-rebreather mask and giving praise to God for the little improvement that has occured.

he thanked God in short, broken sentences, pulling off his mask at one point to proclaim that "God is our creator", God knows all things and that doctors are healers who deserve a place with God in heaven.

i was amazed by his...fervency in praising God even in the midst of an illness that could kill him before his age does. an illness that has sent him back to the hospital over and over again. a disease that has effectively incapacitated him, confined him to a bed and an oxygen tank.

and still he praised God.

earlier this year, a rehabilitation medicine specialist-in-training told me that he decided to abandon his medical qualification exams after a year because he found it too depressing. i agreed with him - most of the patients in the medical ward have chronic illnesses with chronic complications. furthermore, this being a government hospital, most of the patients are financially insufficient and hence cannot afford the full spectrum of treatment they may need.

but just watching that old man rejoice and give praise to the Lord because he doesn't need as much oxygen as he did the day before and his crepitations have reduced a little...that was the most uplifting thing i've seen in a long time.

lishun at 11:51 AM