Today, I woke up feeling a bit better from last night. No, there was no hangover or panda eyes, just an appreciation for life and most importantly health, recovering well from a nasty flu bug that's been binging everyone on the nose. I went to see the optometrist on Monday and my eyes are healthy, except that my left eye is slightly weaker than my right and my new specs will be adjusted accordingly. While waiting for the optometrist to arrive, I sat in front of her office thinking how fortunate I am, to know about the health services offered at the Hospital including the Samoa Vision Services and also the means to get there. I have been in the hospital when the Emergency/Out Patient Unit with so many people waiting, babies crying, old men twitching nervously waiting for their daughters and very sick people complaining about the Health Services. Doctors receive the most complaints about how 'slow' and 'uncaring' they are towards their patients. I have heard patients' complaints each time. I have heard people tell the doctor what they need because for some reason, the doctor was not smart enough to know their symptoms and appropriate medication? Is the service slow? Yes, sometimes. Are they uncaring? I think not. Sure, health professionals take their time seeing patients and the outpatient probably receives more visits than any other section of the hospital on any given day. They also receive the most complaints because of the number of beds available. I have heard some rather absurd, funny stories while waiting in the same section. Samoans love to exaggerate and are great storytellers. One woman told me that she was dying and that she could hardly breath. From what I could see, she was experiencing an allergic reaction to something she consumed or was close to. With my Form 6 Biology class knowledge, I asked her several questions
(playing the doctor), if she had eaten something she's never had before and if she was allergic to certain foods. The poor woman did not know what 'allergic' meant and claimed she had eaten octopus in coconut cream. Bingo! Soon after, it was her turn to see the doctor and I was right, allergic reaction to octopus, she was not dying.
November/December are thanksgiving months. This is the time of year we reflect on the last ten months expressing thankful prayers for God's protection and guidance in bringing us thus far. For adding each new day to our lives despite the trials we go through and days where we just do not want to get out of bed, we are still here, air in and out of lungs, we are thankful. Today, I thank God for my health and even though I have been feeling under the weather these past few days, I am still here. I thank him for professionals such as doctors, optometrists, nutritionists, nurses and other health professionals that work in Samoa.
Looking after peoples' health is not an easy job. I have five close friends who are doctors in different fields and I will never envy them. Their job is hard, trying, challenging,sad and mostly rewarding. I have sat at dinner tables with them discussing the pressures of work. I have listened to the horror stories about teenagers giving birth, patients' families telling them off, older nurses embarrassing them in front of patients and many dates we've missed due to their busy work schedules. I have seen the toll that medicine life has taken on them. These are the same friends I've had since primary school days, one I knew since I was 3. I have one friend who was just ready to quit and change professions because of the pressures that our people exert on them. They graduated young, only 23/24 and thrown into the Samoan arena without a life jacket. They had to find their way and learning procedures fast including several defense mechanisms when people complain to them, about them and so forth. All these confirm that I should never be a doctor. First, I do not have the patience and I don't have the stomach to cut people up. The only time I would want to be a doctor is when a close friend or family member is in pain.
Doctors are some of the most hard working people. They can work anywhere from 8 to 24 hours depending on the number of staff available. If you are a student contemplating on being the cool doctor like the twitchy, old and limping guy in 'House', earning thousands of dollars, owning a brand new car/house after working for 3 years in Samoa, I promise you now that you will be sorely disappointed. Then again, if you ask most doctors, they don't 'do it for the money'. They do it for our people because we do not have a choice or the monetary power to attract first class medical professionals from overseas to look after our hospital all year round. In addition, if you are a doctor you will be peed on, puked on,sworn at and at some point you will have all sorts of bodily fluids sprayed across your face. Let his blog be an encouragement and also an informative note to our people.
Samoans are people of courage and are very proud but somehow these attributes rarely drift to our health genes. Most people wait until they think they are dying before going to the hospital. Sometimes, they leave little infections long enough to develop into cancerous and elephant sized problems and by then it's too late. Understandably, there are many contributing factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, bad habits that lead to poor health. There are preventive measures we can take to be better at looking after ourselves. We are hospitable people, we break out the fine china, the brand new sheets/towels when we have visitors while we use the broken dishes and the beat up towels with holes for our own use. Why do we do these to ourselves? Why do we save the best for others? Today we should start using our brand new things for ourselves and our family. Today we should look after ourselves better. Today, we should be more patient with our doctors and health professionals just like they are with us. Today, we should encourage those who have good hearts, healthy brains, who want to be health professionals in the future to do so. People will always find something to complain about whether it's at the hospital or restaurant. Today, we should be thankful that God exists and he is in control of everything regardless of what our mere opinions or lack thereof of him. Take care of our bodies, it's the only place we have to live in and no wonder the bible says it's a temple.
'The thousand mysteries around us would not trouble but interest us, if only we had cheerful, healthy hearts.
~~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche~~