personal · thoughts

Doctor, Doctor, I am sick.

“Is it okay if I pray to God that I want to marry a doctor someday?” I asked my mom one day. I was 16. “Sure, why not, you can pray for anything as long as it is God’s will.”

I was determined to marry a doctor or at least I hoped I would someday, because doctors are healers at heart, servants by nature. To be one who heals the sick, one who takes care of another’s health, one who looks after another person’s welfare, is selflessness at its very core. And I was always drawn to people who are like that. Sacrificial. Lives for noble causes. Courageous. Personal. You can’t get any more personal with somebody than when you literally look inside their bodies and see what’s wrong. You can very well say then that I idealized, more than the profession, the persons behind it. I believed first and foremost that people do not go into this profession to become wealthy. Those are the after-rewards. Initially, they want to make a difference in the lives of many. When we were kids, we were always asked, “Ano gusto mo pag laki mo?” Kids say, “doctor po. Gusto ko po kasi makatulong.” I hope that innocent sentiment still holds true today. 

I’m 26 now, a decade past since I asked that question to my mom. Do I still want to marry a doctor someday? If those noble ideals still exist in them after all these years of service, why not? And of course, there’s really something about men in uniform. (I might get in trouble for saying this).

Recently, I was hospitalized for three separate conditions. On those hospitalizations, I encountered three different kinds of doctors. My last doctor was the head of the department of Gastroenterology. He was old, experienced, and, forgive my frankness, very impersonal.

After telling him my complaints and that I wanted to know what causes my frequent abdominal pains, he told me, “tomorrow at 6am we’ll have you undergo Gastroscopy, if it clears your mind to find out what’s wrong. You have GERD, but the abdominal pains are not symptoms of that.”

I was a little bothered, not for the way he went through with the procedure; he was the head of the department and therefore, very able. It was in the way he related to me, his patient. It seemed to me like I was just another cash register for him. “If it clears my mind to find out what’s wrong?” Of course it would, is he serious? It would make me sleep better to know at least what’s wrong with me. I found him very “business-as-usual”, cold, distant, mechanical. Yes, that’s the word. To top it off, he could have at least looked at me as he was explaining my condition and not on the paper. It felt like there was no ‘heart’ in his service anymore. It wasn’t like he had a long day: I was his first patient. I was really let down by his demeanor. Is this the kind of doctors we have today? I don’t like them. I don’t want them treating me. And I don’t want to marry someone like them.

And then I hear on the news that doctors are “misreporting” on GMA’s supposed life-threatening condition. The discrepancies are not only bothersome; they’re frightening. Doctors have said her surgeries were successful, only later to recant and say she needs to undergo more. If it were me, I’d be worried. “Ano ba talaga, te?” Make up your minds. But the real cause for worry is when doctors are suddenly so politically-entrenched that they forego their medical ethics for an unspeakable price, and at the expense of their name, their profession. In the end, it isn’t their profession that led them to do this. It’s their person.  

Suddenly, I’m not so idealistic anymore. Are we losing our good doctors to the love of money?

On another note, the missionary doctors I’ve met and climbed with who go with us to missions have a different spirit about them. They’re experienced doctors, too, but you can tell that they’re different. They shell out from their own pockets, trek the whole day to reach a village where their presence is to the community a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. They’re just quietly serving the community, not much fanfare, no microphones or cameras, no fancy equipments or secretaries to remind them of their appointment. Everyone is their appointment. To me, they still have the heart for the people. It makes a lot of difference to have that, because you aren’t treating cancer or ulcer or kidney stones here. You are treating the person.

These are the doctors I still look forward of meeting someday. People who have healer hearts. People who are gentle and passionate and personal in a way that maybe the doctors in our city hospitals will never be. I don’t mean to generalize and I don’t mean to say all doctors in the city are like these. But I do hope they become more like the missionary doctors. Otherwise, mamumundok pa ako para lang makita yung mapapangasawa ko. Chos.

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4 thoughts on “Doctor, Doctor, I am sick.

  1. I take some classes with med students and unfortunately today, most of them are in the field for financial security (people will always need doctors) in the future. One of my teachers tries her hardest to show them that they are supposed to be sensitive to people. That they can’t save everyone’s lives, and if they lose a patient, they should be very warm to the family members.

    It really is a shame. We need more people with a spirit of grace and mercy to be the one to care for us. Not for the money, but because of our humanity

  2. :)

    You don’t see them that often because, as you said, they are quietly serving the community. But just let me know, I’ll introduce you. ;)

    I was thinking of GMA’s doctors the other day — how they let money run with their conscience. I just hope there’s not much of them left here on Earth.

  3. hahaha I was waiting for you to say that! What took you so long?!?! Kidding. (am I?) *wink

    But I’m really glad I know of many doctors like you who are different. :)

  4. @Ash – True. You know, I might be stepping on some toes here, but even for people who take up nursing, some of them took it for the lure of ‘greener pastures’, better pay abroad, more than the actual wanting to help people first.

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