Hi guys. I have not plan for this blog entry to turn up here –in my website, so soon. To be honest, today has been a shitty day😩and I am kinda dealing with a complicated issue regarding work so I decided to write about my life being a doctor -the good, the ugly and most importantly, the truth. It is already 7pm and I am due to do my 30-minutes daily yoga and finalised my reading on ‘The Monk who sold his Ferrari’ before I crawl on top of my cosy bed -but feck that. Life happens. And I need to get it out there as raw as possible.
So grab your popcorns and tissue paper. Fine. The latter is for me🤧🤧🤧
The truth is, I never really wants to be a doctor. I do not have the full understanding of medicine when I was young but I always knew that I do not want to be a doctor. That is practically the irony of life -the more I resented my destiny, the more the world conspires helping me towards it. For as long as I can remember, my father has been calling me Sophia-the-great and even named me after the world-famous Dr. Sophia Jex-Blake, with the hidden desire for me to be just that. As you hypothesised, indeed I am the rebellious child and indeed, I would run the longest miles just to prove to them (my parents) that I will not be what they wanted me to be. My mom can also attest that I am probably the most stubborn hence my infamous caned-for-charity affairs. I was not doing any charity but I was caned so often that I need to justify my contributions in the caning history.
To say the least, fast forward 30 years later, here I am. A doctor.
I hate my internship. It was practically like navigating a 100 year old ship across the big waves, over and over again. I had sub-zero wisdom, no sense of authority and running around like a headless chicken. I wanted to do everything, I wanted to be everything and I had been awake for more than 36 hours straight (in the hospital of course) way too many times -but somehow, time was never enough. I was given simple tasks but was not able to execute them ‘well’ because I, did not even believe in myself. In rare occasions when I was given more important responsibilities, I would screw that up too because I have too much on my plate but I could never say ‘no’.
In medicine, we always worked in a very highly competitive manner with compound pressure from all around -patients, colleagues, administration, managers, directors etc. Due to my petite frame (and probably Asian features), I was walked all over way too many times than I could count. I would shivers at the angry voice of nurses, I would second guess my decisions and I was never brave enough to even stand up for myself. This happened for the whole 12 months (of internship) -too long to bear but it was probably the growth I needed.
Now you gonna ask me (ok, just pretend you did) -what happened to that bold girl who used to take over the stage without a care in the world? Who spoke without any fear in her eyes? Well, I was looking for her too. For a very very long time😢
The truth is, being an overseas student is not, most of the time -rosy. I am undeniably smart, cunning, full of potentials with witty sense of humour. But why, in this place, where white people (I am not writing that to deliberately discriminate any skin colour -just bare with me, please) speak English, carrying their coffee cups on hand at all times and running as if the world is ending -intimidates the shit out of me? That when I speak English, it was not good enough. When I put on my make-up, I was not pretty enough. And no matter how much I read my medical books🤓, I was never there -receiving awards or honorary distinctions.
Am I really what my father say I am -smart, bold and beautiful? But you know what -I don’t even remember what those are.
Life certainly unfolds itself in the most unexpected ways. I did not do medicine because ‘omaigad I love it’ kinda thing. And yes, I got scholarship to go abroad hence studying medicine. However, I have grown to love this career that I once loathed. Not at all because of what I am able to offer my patients but more so because of what they (patients) have offered and relentlessly taught me -about life.
Our daily work tasks as a doctor are quite standardised. We have ward patients, dozens of clinics to run, never ending on calls, meetings after meetings, surgery lists, discussions on complex cases, conferences, teaching for junior doctors etc. Due to these heavy responsibilities, we have unknowingly segregate our patients into two large categories: 1) done✅ 2) not done❎. I am not proud to admit this but ‘treating’ patients to most of us (not all, obviously🙄) becoming more like a chore than anything else. While diligently realising our Hippocratic Oath of ‘first, do no harm’, we have completely forgotten that they (patients) are simply humans -not a ‘thing’ that you needed to fix or sorted out.
Me? Completely guilty as charged✋🏼
However, when I started listening to my patients with a genuine interest of knowing (not just to fill in all the bloody 10 admission pages), I came to know who they really are, what they were like, their life stories and what they have become. Through my newly found compassion -naturally comes wisdom, confidence and love ❤️for what I do. In addition, I make sure that I stand tall despite my height, my voice heard and that nobody, I mean nobody, treat me like I’m a child😤. I give respect to those who earns it and carry myself in such a way that my words are only truth, my work is thorough and my time is precious.
And if you ask me now -do I feel smart, bold and beautiful? To that I will reply: Even if I’m not, why the heck do you care?
P/S The picture above was taken several years ago now and I even posted it on FB. I called him Big Boss and he called me Little Boss. We were bickering on daily basis during the ward rounds but I have my utmost respect for him albeit his very little words. I managed to meet his demand in prosecution and he tolerated my sarcastic jokes -win! Before I left for my career move, he pulled me aside and said: Do you know what I like about you the most? That you treat patients like they are humans. Never ever lose that. Oh, and also, stop being so cheeky!!😝😝😝
Okay loves, I think that is all I got for today. I am going to re-treat to my bed and sleep a restful night! I wish you a fruitful weekend and time well-spent with loved ones. Ciao!😘
Xx Sophie Voon