new beginnings


dear sleep,
I knew we had problems when I was younger but I love you now. 
There are varying stages of lethargy. Physical exhaustion. Mental exhaustion. Emotional exhaustion. "Family Medicine? Easy game," they said. But they didn't factor in self-induced stress. It's partly my own fault, I suppose. I simply couldn't stand not preparing for tutorials beforehand and entering a session empty-minded. I would force myself to read up, study, make notes. For the past few days, I've been racking up a sleep debt, all thanks to self-study sessions that lasted way into the night.

On day 1 week 2 of my posting, I gave up on attempting to tame my unruly long hair. It was taking up too much time and effort. If you're giving me trouble, screw it, I'll snip you off. And that's how I ended up with hair half of its original length.

It was incredibly cathartic watching the locks drift to the floor in wisps... I even felt lighter walking out of the hairdresser's. New hair, new me. I chanted to myself as I made my way back home.

Our days are long. Clinicals is almost like work, in a sense. We sit in for consultations, advice patients on their blood test results, monitor their chronic conditions, check their compliance to medications and counsel them on lifestyle modifications. Talking to living, breathing patients as real as you and me brings a whole new perspective into Medicine. Some days are gratifying - when patients are receptive and cooperative. Other days are shitty - when patients get cranky, defensive, or even hostile.

Isolated screwed-up cases have started making me feel the cynicism setting in. I recall a case of a patient presenting with complaints of discomfort but none of his symptoms matched up to his test results. All were perfectly normal. In an Oscar-worthy performance, he faked an episode of losing consciousness and spasming. Of course we had to send him to the A & E, in the event that he really had some medical emergency. Our tutor saw through his bluff (as he had full control of his trunk and neck when "floppy") but sent him over anyway. Subsequently, follow-up reports from the hospital revealed that he was fine. I was rather pissed when I heard of his results. What was he trying to do? Seek attention? Deprive other patients in REAL medical emergencies of a hospital bed? Wasting our healthcare resources? That was an extremely selfish and inconsiderate act.

Interacting with patients in a polyclinic setting also gave me new perspectives into life on the ground. Poverty is a real and pressing issue. However subsidised our polyclinic consultations may be at around $10, there are still Singaporeans who are unable to fork out this sum of money (which most of us would splurge on a meal without a second thought).

It was sobering, definitely, and at the same time, saddening. I suppose living a long life with a chronic illness is more challenging than simply living a shorter, but fulfilling, healthy life.

And that marks the end of our 2-week posting at Bukit Batok Polyclinic with Dr Kwek and Dr Zheng. 

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