The words may cut deep
You wish they’re all just stick and stones
But that don’t mean that they’re true
Or that you’re all alone
There’s so much more to life than what you’re feeling now
Someday you’ll look back on all these days
And all this pain is gonna be
To cure seldom
To relieve often
To comfort always
Being a DM for almost a year taught me that there’s so much more in treating a patient than just prescribing medicine and patronizing. Patients need comfort, reassurance, empathy, just like we all do when we’re in any kind of problem. Sometimes a touch, a gesture of agreement, even something as simple as nods, mean thousand times more than a piece of scribbled white paper. I figure that some of the patients seek medical attention merely just to speak their problems out. They need somebody who’ll listen. Headache, muscle pain, stomachache, fatigue, sometimes are just stress in disguise. I’ve witnessed couple of doctors who treated patients as if they were just objects with list of problems. A week ago a 22 yo girl (Miss S) with leukimia was being consulted to the dermatology department because of multiple bullae on her forearms. They were originally small, lied on the suface of reddened skin, filled with clear liquid, and a bit itchy. 2 days later they got bigger, the liquid became purulent and it started to sting. I could tell by how red and swollen the skin was, that it’s super painful. To my surprise, the PPDS showed no sign of sympathy, started asking in jagged tone and close-ended questions (probably cause it was already late and we’re all tired, but still…), no smile whatsoever, and this was where I literally flinched, grabbed and yanked the patient’s hand roughly to examine the wound. Miss S automatically screeched, like normal person with normal nerve-endings would, and begged the doctor to slow down and be more gentle. It only annoyed the doctor even further. After few quick glances, she left Miss S and the brutally ruined dressing to her family with no explanation.
I sat by her bed and started to re-do the dressing, splashed few drops of NaCl 0,9% to cool the skin down a bit. She nonchalantly complained about the doctor being so rude and edgy, and questioned whether she’s a legit doctor or not. I -as much as I like to nod in agreement- tried to explain to her, in non provocative way the best I could. I chatted with her and her mum a bit and repeated few key points in treating the bullae. I checked her vitals and made sure she had no fever. She’s 22. With leukimia. End-stage. No turning back. Nothing. The least we could give to her is little time, little kindness, to hear her out and let her sulk. Let her ramble about any discomfort, and make sure that we’re in this as much as she is. That she’s not forgotten.
My mum gives me lots of speech about being gentle and supportive toward patients. They very much like being examined. They don’t wait for couple hours in overly packed clinic just to answer few questions, receive prescription, and that’s it. I come across few patients who look super content just because I do extra auscultation on their chest and abdomen, even if their disease have nothing to do with heart, lungs, and intestines. So yeah, unnecessary DP, even if it’s pointless, it means a lot to the patients. Proof that we’re doing our best and considering every aspect in order to solve the problem. My mum also says to spend a bit time to talk with the patients. Explain the disease slowly, and try to make them at ease so that they become more open and honest with you. Get them to trust you. Cause sometimes sick people just need someone to talk to. And hopefully when their mind is at peace, it’ll be easier for the body to heal. Mind over matter.
Whenever patients complain about any little thing, whether it’s my job or not, I try to get back to them as fast as I can, with as much hostility as I can muster. I try to speak softly, calmly. Try to address the patient by name. And it feels so so good when you know that they know you do care. Every sincere thank you they give warms you.
I know being a doctor needs more empathy than sympathy. To focus on the regimen, and how to get them better, fix them. But it’s not an excuse for you to be heartless, and less human. If we’re able to lift off a bit of their anxiety, sadness, worries, why the hell not?
It costs nothing to be kind.
I’m almost there only one more step
Flash every smile
Cause I’ve been lost for miles
We’re almost there
Only one more step
See you when I see you. X.
Stress-release for me would be –apart from writing, reading fics, and spending ridiculous amount of time on social media, stalking human beings who don’t even acknowledge my existence– shopping. No, not the kind of I-think-I-look-good-wearing-those-dresses-shall-we-give-the-entire-shop-a-try shopping. God no. I’d feel super content just by going to…Carrefour. That’s like UK’s Tesco, or America’s Target. It has literally everything, ranging from baby diapers to fresh meat. And my favorite aisles would be stationary and body products. I could spend hours sniffing around different scented body-wash or deep in thought, torn between avocado+milk and strawberry+milk lotion. PS: Strawberry milk wins. People would walk past me and absentmindedly pick any product within reach, with no interest to at least read the content whatsoever. They don’t even notice how unconvincing the wrapper look. They settle for original fragrance, form, variant whatever, I mean, aren’t they a bit curious about zesty lemons made out of 100 lemons body scrub? I just stare at them and continue my self-mending journey in disbelief.
The same thing goes to stationary. I would pick the most colorful, feather-y, cheer-y ones. Even if I have like 198769 competently working pens and pencils back home, it’s hard to resist the urge to coo and buy one. Blame the fluffy puppy head at the top of the pen no one says no to a puppy what kind of person would that make me. I would insist that I need coloring pencils just because they come in package with these cute nautical-themed stamps. And of course I have to buy the matching stamp pad. And few matching envelopes. And paperclips with tiny sailor head on top. Things tend to escalate quickly, I reckon. Last thing I know I end up dumb-struck behind the wheel, wondering how the hell do I spend so much in one outing.
I kinda like hearing the music too. You know when you’re in a store, and if you’re lucky, you get to hear some cool songs. Cool as in todays-hit-so-you-can-sing-along-and-skipping- songs. It’s oddly relaxing. That’s why I like shopping alone. No one nags me about time or my odd choice of soap. I love to take my time, strolling away from aisle to aisle, comparing prices and stuff. I always imagine like I’m in one of them crime series where I’m doing mundane/domestic things & about to witness or be a part of something important. Silly I know. Sometimes they’re in the mood to play some really old songs and the memories just come flooding my entire brain without so much of a warning. Next thing I know I’m itching to grab another unnecessary air-freshener just cause it reminds me of summer ’09. It’s a tough job being a melancholic.
My favorite part of splurging is when you’re at the cashier. And your things are being scanned and tapped and wrapped, hands ready on your wallet to fish some rupiahs. Then you get to pay. It’s like you’re in control of what you buy, and you’re able to pay. I feel like a real grownup, cause I don’t need mummy’s approval to buy things. And they trust me enough to handle important things such as money. It’s the exact moment I feel so grateful. Moving on, my second favorite part is when I get to unpack. It feels…satisfying. I have to stop myself from continuously stare/touch any new thing for the first 24 hours or so. It’s like welcoming new addition to your little family or summat. It doesn’t get better than that.
Well, people cling on different things to channel their sadness, desperation, frustration, even anger. This is how I cope, I guess. By dedicating more than half of my pocket money for ridiculously cute stuff. It’s just, whenever I come into my room and the breeze of coconut-orange scented candles creeps in, I just feel at ease. Like a tiny bit of my gigantic worries blows away. The second I pour a dollop of that cranberry body wash, I know for a fact that I’ll be sleeping soundly that night. I feel clean and nice, and pretty. Everytime I need to scribble out some school stuff on my book, the clinking sound of bottled-colorful-glitter hanging at the tip of my pen somehow gives me reassurance, and kinda sorta reminds me that I’m not alone. I feel less lonely.
I don’t know what I’m running away from, who or what I’m hiding from. Or if it’s just another subconscious-stress that resurface. My point is, it’s okay to splurge yourself once in a month or two. It’s okay to hide behind pretty and cute things. Gotta admit it stings a lot when people start telling you off, like they don’t know shit about anything. But. As long as you’re harmless & cost anyone nothing, so what if you’re being a bit self-centered. You’re allowed to be happy. It’s okay to want to feel good about yourself. Even if it takes a whole aisle of scented shower-gel to make you so.
Other people can fuck off.