Friday, February 26, 2010


Hallux valgus at the mosque

I just hadta write this one as soon as I got back.

Went to the mosque for Asar prayers. I was about to take ablution at the tap outside the mosque but offered to this pakcik instead to take his ablution first. That's when I noticed he hada bilateral hallux valgus, his second toe crossing above his first like when you cross your fingers whenever you lie, and the medial side of where the distal end of his metatarsal bone was grossly swollen although I did not notice any ulcerations or abrasions.

He was your average pakcik, thinning grey hair, wearing horizontal striped collared maroon - white T-shirt and brown pants. He walk this his feet like he was used to it.

I kept thinking, I need to get a picture of his feet! for my own collection.

And what luck! I stood next to him during prayers. That distrupted my concentration (habis tak khusyuk). Kept thinking how could I ask for his consent for me to snap a picture of his feet. This was the worse case I've seen so far, and I'm quite sure this degree of hallux valgus is not very common. I just needed a picture. And a reason to ask for it.

So I completed the prayer. Completed the after prayer doa, and walked with the pakcik. Braved myself to start a conversation.

"Assalamualaikum, pakcik."
"Saya perasan kaki pakcik tu. Pakcik ada pernah jumpe doctor nak tengok?"
"Ape? Jari kaki nih? Pakcik doktor."

Disbelief and dumbfounded. Huh???

"Pakcik doktor apa?"
"Pakcik doktor bedah"

Really thought he was pulling my leg.

"Where do you work at?"
"Kerja kat Jalan Hospital, I'm a senior consultant, plastic surgeon. I'm also with USM's plastic surgery masters program. I was retired but now reserviced."

In that instant, terus cold feet to ask for that consent. Gahahaha!

"Oh. Cause that's the worst case of hallux valgus I've seen."

Pakcik surprised.

"Are you a doctor?"
"No, I'm a medical student"
"Kuantan, with UIA"
"Oh, I've been having this for a long time and it has progressively worsen. Tapi tak sakit ke apa. If tak sakit toksoh kacau."

He walked to his Volvo, me to my Myvi and went our seperate ways.

Aku gelak je sorang2 dalam keta. Didn't even tried asking for the photos.

Macam-macam orang you can meet at the mosque.

(Order of the conversation was based on very poor memory despite the event occuring only a few minutes ago)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Health is God's Grace.

As I write this down, I have no idea as to what title best suit this article. Perhaps I'll have an insight as I go on.

I have a friend. I'm not very close to her but we did go to Yogjakarta together and we undergo pediatrics for a week at Wirosaban hospital and teamworked on a seminar on thalassaemia. She is a big sized woman, very active constantly on the lookout for adventure. She has been to Cambodia for a mass circumcision program and other community activities that I am not aware though I'm sure her, being in the facilitator club has organized a number of moderating programs.

Recently, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. She requires chemotherapy.

Being a medical student, we're always on a lookout (well not always) for interesting cases or those cases where you happen to read in the textbooks but never seen in real life. In my time doing internal medicine or pediatrics, I could not recall having seen a patient diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma (kantoi x gi ward sgt), most that I've seen are non-Hodgkin's which carries a better prognosis than its counterpart.

Never did I expect it to hit a classmate who has undergone 5 years of medical education with me. She was so near the end but had to take leave for whatever purposes to handle her illness.

A disease, those that you see in the hospital or in the textbook, may hit ANYONE. I most often hear patients saying, "Eh, doktor pon boleh sakit ke?" whenever one of us sniffles. Now one of us has cancer. Being a medical student or doctor does not make you impervious to disease. We are all just HUMAN.

I always imagined what would it be like if I knew I had cancer had my time is borrowed. Would I fervorously study or find out more about the world? Would I become more religious and pray more 'Khushukly?' Would I use whatever time I have to make a difference to the world? Would I perform an act of self-sacrifice and throw myself into a war hoping to die in martyrdom?

Would being terminally ill change someone?

I wouldn't know. I'm not terminally ill.

But seeing my friend a few days ago. She lost weight. She looked tired after her laparatomy done just to take a biopsy sample of the paraaortic nodes. She still haven't undergone her chemotherapy regime yet which will definitely drain even more of her energy. And I have no idea what her psychological state of mind is like.

And when I think about it. I doubt I'll be strong enough to do anything when I'm sick. I falter with even a simple bacterial pharyngitis.

One of a Muslim's right is to be visited when he/she falls sick. In this context I see two important reasons. One, the most obvious is to provide moral support for the sickly. Two, is to remind ourselves that, a lot of times, we can only perform well when we are healthy. And we will never forever be healthy.

Reminds me of Ust Chowdry giving an analogy during the Al-Khauthar course I attended. Why would God make us sick? Why does He send down disaster if He is so Graceful? He has been graceful to provide us health. He is not obliged to forever pour His grace. Whenever He likes, he may just turn off His Grace. Although even that to those who are patient and in remembrance will also see that as a Grace, whether its near or farther into the future. Allah knows best.

While His Grace is still turned on, we should attempt to do our best in this life we have been granted. To wait for a life changing event to change us is, to me now, a silly notion. An stupid excuse not to do things RIGHT NOW, AT THE MOMENT!

What has befallen my friend perhaps serve to be a hidden agenda that Allah has prepared not only for her, but those around her. It has certainly in a way remind me of Allah's Almighty power although for how long I shall remain in remembrance I can only pray that I continue to have this insight.

I pray the best of health not only for my dear, friend, but to my colleagues, friends, teachers, my family (who are also mostly ill even if they do not know it), and myself. So that we may strive to improve and do our best in our good health.