A lot is said in the media about how corrupt the health industry is and how doctors are looteras (robbers). Well, I am a doctor, a surgeon actually, and the following article is my attempt to encapsulate what I learnt through my residency.
Today, when it’s time for me to start a new chapter in my life, I look back with great fondness and utmost regard for the people and the place I once could not stand. I coped with inhumane working conditions with a lack of basic amenities and I hated every second of it. I hated it to the point that I almost considered jumping in front of a lorry a better end. I cried, I ran away, and I promised to never come back. But life has a funny way of balancing things out and I did return. In fact, I returned and fell in love with the all that the place was and all that the people were.
As I reflect on the past years, I wonder what really changed that I fell in love with that which I could not but hate. The people are the same and so is the place and hence I realized that the only thing that changed was me. I was enjoying things I never thought I would, I was befriending people I thought I couldn’t stand and I was slowly falling in love with orthopaedics which I once couldn’t bear.
Time teaches you lessons that no book can and I have learnt many during my time at the hospital. I learnt the essence of discipline, of respect, of speaking out and keeping quiet. I learnt the need for rules and then the need to bend or break them. I understood how flawed the system was but how beautiful it still was. But the most important lesson I learnt is that nothing is permanent and shouldn’t be taken for granted. I realized the pleasure of dedication to work, the commitment to friends and colleagues, the wonders of learning and then passing it on. I toughened up enough to know hard times shall always come and pass.
I have seen people worship me, love me and hate me. I have understood that the best way ahead is to own up to your own true self. Detractors shall persist but they shall not prevail if your will is strong and your heart pure. Criticism and doubt shall slowly evolve into quiet respect and then into obvious regard if you are compassionate, forthright and energetic. Anger is destructive if not constructively channelled and impatience detrimental if not reined. A smile can cure, heal and end wars.
I learnt to never say no but also to never let myself be sold, to always seek to help but not be gullible, to be generous but not be dim, to work like there’s no tomorrow and live like there’s no tonight, to be particular but not overbearing. Quintessentially, I have realized that nothing is absolute, and the world is just a reflection of the eye of the beholder.
But the last and the most important thing this place has taught me is that I need to learn more than I ever have and to live more than I ever will. Change happens within us and not around us and when we can come to see the same things with a different outlook we appreciate the change. I have come to acknowledge it and I cherish every moment of it.