Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Between Dirty Greasy Hands and Clean White Coats

I have always been this prejudiced against medical students.

In case you wonderful students of medicine are now starting to lose your temper on me, I suggest you to calm down and finish reading the whole article. You are taught to read lengthy documents and journals after all.

I have been with engineering for six years now and probably for the next few decades. It would be nasty of me to say that I do not love the engineering field now, but I did feel so when I was in the first and second year of engineering program here in UTP, which technically was three to four years back.

I am always fancied by medicine. Back in the secondary school I scored my biology paper like an expert when almost the whole class averagely scored between the range of numbers usually depicted as ‘any number that explains the age of human from infant years to mid life crisis’. My score usually started from ‘mid life crisis to death due to very old age.’

I underwent my biology lesson personally with one notorious biology teacher ever in MRSM Jasin until he was replaced by somehow a younger lady teacher soon after we ended form four. This teacher, the much older notorious one, was a man of wonderful ideas. Under his supervision I started to study blood cultures, skin pigment, cells structure and other profound studies related to that of deeper biology none be taught in the syllabus of higher secondary school biology class.

When he left while we were about to start our form five and had himself replaced with the lady teacher, I found her entirely useless for my study of human body. She was a wonderful teacher indeed; young, fresh from teaching school, and relevantly educated to the standard of being a Biology teacher. That was where the problem lies; she was only entitled her life to teach whatever it was in our syllabus but nothing beyond.

So I had to study medicine by myself. Oftentimes seen in the library during morning break, lunch hour and prep hours, I dug through piles of medical-related journals, documents, books, notes, graphical representations and other materials I took to be relevant to feed my curiosity in medical wonders. I made my own black book of knowledge where I jotted down endless notes about biology and medicine but somehow I lost the book some years later.

In Jasin there was this room with an exhibition part of it made from glass as its wall so people could take a look a whatever the put inside it. There were jars of preserved carcasses of animals; rabbits, mice, insects, snakes and other things as well. But the only thing that always made me curious was this fetus; a 5 weeks old human fetus in formalin liquid stored in a small bottle about an inch and a half tall. Every day I spent my evening time looking continuously at it wondering about its past stories; why was he not developing, reasons he was aborted, what was going on et cetera.

When I was at home while my mom prepared the chicken freshly bought off the market shelf, I took its organs and started my own procedures on the heart, the liver and the lungs.

There were this time when my uncle was hosting a wedding and two goats were slaughtered for the feast when I was caught red handed trying to open up one of the stolen goat’s head with a hammer, a wood drill and a pipe saw in a way of conducting my own necropsy procedure. Well I did not need to go sterile since the ‘patient’ was already pronounced dead the time I got the head, and I was trying to drill into the 'patient’s’ skull before opening them up using the crown cut method. Plus it was just a goat. I was already inspecting the Dura Mater and about to proceed with the saw when my patient’s head was dispossessed from me by the slaughter house crew, only to see the head ended up on a pile of smoldering coal to be ‘appropriately processed for delicacy purposes‘.

Earlier on I was suggesting Y-shaped incision procedure on the freshly murdered carcass, only to be chased away by the way too regular to be large and casually brutal local slaughter crew guy who continued with vertical cut instead and later seized my patient’s head from me to feed his own belly. From that moment onward I saw him as my potential T-shaped incision experiment material and also the best test item for testicle removal via dismemberment procedure.

Later in the years when I registered in UTP as a student under the Bachelor (Honor) Degree of Mechanical Engineering program, I could have never forgive myself for not pursuing my study in medicine. I was previously offered for a matriculation program and later a few offer from various medical schools that were willing to accept me as their future medical practitioner. But the obligations, too many of them, prevented me to further proceed.

A series of complete frustration clouded my days as I saw many of my friends, no offense but some of them did not even have a strong foundation of biology and chemistry back at school but were somehow accepted to be into the medical schools all around the entire globe. Yes, a few of you were geniuses which I did not really have doubts in, which is, good. Yes, good, I guess. Even more frustrating was when I heard some of the people who were handpicked for the medical program screwed pretty bad and failed to proceed entirely due to ridiculous self-expressionism, out-of-control behavior and culture shock, having them expelled for good from their respective medical schools.

Wholly disappointed I have taken aback quite badly for some time until I took an effort to study medicine by myself. I started downloading endless number of journals and articles about medicine off the net and studied them at night. I went to the huge library we have here in UTP and started reading on basic anatomy and clinical procedures while my friends were studying metallurgy and laboratory procedures. I flipped pages on medical handbook over and over while my friends flipped their ‘Rules of Thumb for Mechanical Engineers’ handbook.

And I started to make friends with medical students. And that's when things started to grind my gears.

Constantly seen as totally below the average class to being a medical student, I often received many disappointing treatments from various med students I have communicated with. Many, though not all, saw me as incompetent, knowledge-wise empty, and never to excel with medicine facts.

I still remember the day when this one time I was chatting with a dearly young girl, not even 20 that time, on cardiac problems. She got it wrong on the catheterize procedure, and as I was correcting her, she cut me off and said to me the for ever remembered line of prejudice:

"What do you know anyway. You’re just an engineer. You can only fix machines. Why bother about human body? We both know why you ended up being an engineering student and I on the other hand med student. Because you were never able to reach our level."

An engineer. Just an engineer.

I did not let out even a single word nor I executed a full scale catastrophic attack on her by showering her endlessly with my wonderful vocabulary of curses and swear words. Instead I sat down on the bed leaning against the wall with my legs fully straightened, holding my book I bought using my pocket money at a secondhand bookstore, entitled The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Anatomy and Physiology.

As I flipped the front page I could still see the fading handwriting that anyone could barely read. It says, ‘To whoever this book ends up with, I wish you well and I hope you will keep this book next to your heart. Take a good care of it, and I hope one day you will become a good doctor. Signed, M.F.S, MBBS Manipal.

I hugged it next to my chest and I my heart cried silently inside (I lived alone back then so it was OK to sit alone in despair without having my pride slashed into pieces) on my bed inside my dark room, none of the lights but the study lamp was on.

Maybe I am an idiot anyway.

p/s: keep feeding your egoistical facade. maybe it helps that way.


It4Ch1 said...

mungkin kau patut teruskan kerjaya kau sebagai pakar terma perubatan atau pakar analisis darah.

sila rujuk siri rancangan televisi Dexter.

aku pasti kau akan tertarik.

redSeptember said...

My friend, if I could give you one thing, I would give you the ability to see yourself as how i see you... then you would realize what a truly special person you are.

Dusty said...

an engineer.just an engineer?

apa kata kau putuskan connection brake paddle kereta minah tuh.bila dia speeding dekat highway.dia tak boleh brake.speed increasing.itu engineer boleh buat.

tak pernah terlintas pun dekat fikiran aku,aku akan jadi civil engineer.tetapi?

road not taken.

EFF said...

i guess it takes one to know one huh jack? it doesn't matter if you approve this comment or not, i know you have to read it to delete it anyway.

and i told ya i was going to write something about it. at least i actually talked to you about saying im going to say something about it.

but whatever you know, this is your space in the blogging arena, and the other place, yeah, the one with the egoistic facade placed in front is mine. so write whatever you want.

and im sure deep down, you would actually see, through the slit eyes of the sparrow, we both have something in common. im not the only one behind the egoistic facade. you can check the mirror to see who else has that facade.

this is not a start to a big argument online. im done. im settled by just writing that freaking blog entry, which i intended to write in the first place without even commenting on your page.

but whatever. this is your blog and you can do whatever you want to do.

Mohamad Nazmi Zaidi said...

Muspa: Oh eh? ha ha ha. nanti aku carik kat DC++. Thanx Muspa!

Alia: Oh sweetnya kamu! Thanx for the inspiration Alia! you're gonna be my panel cardiologist nanti ok!

A'an: Atau maybe kau boleh mendapkan sikit foundation rumah dia. Kau kan Civil Engineer :D

Farah: I am sorry but I beg to differ. I am not that nasty, and do not common me with you. I am never that, and I am never going to be you. noktah.