A fiction

Since I was in my primary school, I’d loved writing short stories. I was nowhere as skilled and as competent as my elder sister in writing stories. But I did it anyway because I enjoyed it.

So today, I find myself wanting to do it again…to write a fiction, just to recapture again the innocence of my childhood pleasure in losing myself while composing something from inside my head, merely for the heck of it. The title of my short story is: Risiko.

Enjoy!

***

Risiko

Dr. Assad Fajaruddin memicit-micit kepalanya yang mula berdenyut sakit. Gagang telefon yang tadinya terlekap ditelinganya dijauhkan sedikit. Gema suara bingit Dr. Syed meleterinya mahu dikongsi bersama jururawat yang bersama-sama oncall dengannya pada hari itu.

Staff Nurse Fatin yang kecil molek itu tersenyum simpul, faham apa yang Dr. Assad rasakan di saat ini. Inilah habuannya apabila oncall dengan doktor pakar seperti Dr. Syed. Staff Nurse Fatin sudah lama menadah telinga mendengar doktor-doktor lain bercerita tentang Dr. Syed. Malah dia sendiri, pernah merasai kepahitannya. Tetapi  ah, sabar itukan separuh daripada iman. 

Assad menggigit bibir bawahnya menahan geram yang menggunung. Masih dia ingat kata-kata rakan baiknya sebentar tadi, Dr. Taufik. Taufik telah memberi amaran kepadanya tentang betapa ‘legend’nya Dr. Syed ini. Taufik sering berkongsi rasa tidak puas hatinya terhadap Dr. Syed kepada Assad sebelum ini. Assad layan dan dengar. Hari ini, dia pula yang kena.

“Good luck ya, oncall dengan Dr. Syed. Aku doa kau  tak ada kes dan aman tenteram oncall kau. Seksa weh… oncall dengan dia. Seriously macam siot gila!” Taufik berkata pagi tadi. 

Waktu tu, Assad hanya ketawa kecil.

Tapi kini, tiada humor di wajahnya. Hatinya hanya bergema dengan bisikan yang menyatakan bahawa kata-kata Taufik memang sangat tepat. Memang macam siot gila, getus hati Assad.

Assad cuba untuk mengawal intonasi suaranya yang dirasakan sudah mula mahu melonjak ke oktaf yang tertinggi. Dia cuba beristighfar…. tapi rasa marah itu membuak-buak.

Suara Dr. Syed tidak habis-habis meleterinya menerbitkan suatu rasa muak dan mual, hingga mahu muntah. Sungguh Assad menyampah! 

“Dr. Syed, pesakit ini agresif. Saya bukan saja-saja nak admit pesakit ni ke wad. Tapi memang ada risiko kalau tak admit. Skor BPRS dia sampai 18. Sampai sekarang pun, polis masih tak buka dia punya gari sebab dia agresif! Dia sangat paranoid pada ahli keluarganya. Mak ayah dah tua, tak boleh kawal pesakit di rumah. Kalau saya bagi dia balik, tak ada sorang pun  ahli keluarga yang berani jamin akan bawa dia follow up semula esok. Kita sendiri tak boleh buat home visit sebab esok adalah hujung minggu. Jumaat dan Sabtu…. dua hari itu…how are we going to continue our treatment of the patient dan support dia punya family dalam masa dua hari ni?” Assad menarik nafas laju dan panjang, setelah membalas leteran Dr. Syed dengan jawapan bertubi-tubi.

Staff Nurse Fatin terangguk-angguk di sisi, gaya memberi semangat untuk Assad meneruskan hujah bagi meyakinkan Dr. Syed untuk memasukkan pesakit ini ke wad psikiatri. 

Tapi Dr. Syed masih berdegil. “Assad, saya tau dia agresif. Tapi bukan semua patient agresif kita admit.”

Assad yang dah bengang mula mahu memotong. Dah lama dia berhujah dan mengulas tetapi Dr. Syed masih memberi jawapan yang sama. Dia sudah sakit hati dan bila-bila masa dia boleh meletup.

“Memang bukan semua patient agresif kita admit ke wad. Tapi ada yang kita admit juga kan… sebab ada risk of harming others! Kita masukkan pesakit yang ada risiko la, Dr. Syed. Macam selalu!” Assad ternaik juga suara akhirnya. Sudah lima belas minit dia bercakap dengan Dr. Syed. Kata putus masih belum dapat. Dia sudah penat.

Jam sudah menunjukkan pukul 12 tengah malam. Yang menambahkan lagi bebanan perasaannya, ada satu lagi kes yang belum dia lihat dan sudah pun dirujukkan kepadanya sebentar tadi oleh doktor kecemasan. Kes itu pastinya akan makan masa berjam-jam lamanya kerana itu juga adalah kes baru. 

Assad mendengar Dr. Syed mendengus di corong talian. “Dia dah tak sihat setahun, Assad. Selama ni boleh jer family dia kawal dia. Baru hari ni bawa datang ke kecemasan. Kenapa dah setahun sakit, baru hari ni tiba-tiba keluarga tak boleh manage pula?”

Assad menggenggam tangan, cuba menahan rasa geram yang makin mencengkam. Berapa kali aku nak ulang benda yang sama ni? Apakah Dr. Syed tak faham apa yang aku dah terang tadi? Iys, hampir kesemua pesakit psikiatri yang dibawa ke kecemasan selalunya tidak sihat memang dah lama. Paling tidak pun, tiga atau empat bulan dah tak sihat baru keluarga bawa ke kecemasan. Kalau ikut hujah Dr. Syed ni, tidak ada seorang pun yang layak masuk wad psikiatri selama ni. Baru hari tu saja, ada seorang pesakit yang dah lima tahun tidak sihat sebelum akhirnya dia di bawa ke kecemasan, tapi dia tetap dimasukkan ke wad kerana ada risiko!

Reasoning apa macam ni? Assad mula menggerutu dalam hati.

Yang menentukan samada pesakit dimasukkan ke wad atau tidak adalah betapa tingginya risiko untuk pesakit mencederakan diri sendiri atau orang lain. Bukannya berapa lama dia dah sakit sebelum datang ke kecemasan!  Kalau macam tu, tiada sorang pun pesakit  yang datang ke kecemasan yang layak masuk wad!

Kalau dah pakar, jangan bagi judgment dan reasoning yang lemah macam ni. Menjelekkan, tahu tak?! Assad sambung mengomel dalam hati. 

“Jadi, Dr. Syed tak nak admit lah ni?” Assad menekan.

Dr. Syed terdiam.

“Dr Syed?” Assad menekan lagi.

“Bukan tak mau admit. Tapi pesakit sebenarnya dah  tak sihat setahun dah kan. Kalau ikut pengalaman saya, tak perlu admit pun.” Suara Dr. Syed yang turut melonjak naik itu memanaskan lagi hati Assad ketika ini.

Mata Assad mula mencerlang. Tak habis-habis kau bagi kat aku reason generic yang sama. Aku bagi situasi yang context-specific. Kau bagi reasoning yang langsung tak tepat dan jitu dan mengabaikan konteks yang aku bagi. Assad geram.

Aku dah cakap yang dia agresif; yang dia paranoid; yang dia nak bunuh keluarga dia hinggakan pisau-pisau tajam semua disembunyikan oleh ahli keluarga; yang dia mengugut keluarganya; dan esok adalah weekend di mana kita tidak dapat melakukan lawatan ke rumah jika ahli keluarga tidak dapat membawa pesakit untuk pemeriksaan semula. Punya banyak reason aku bagi, kau asyik dok ulang ayat yang sama yang kononnya pesakit sudah lama tidak sihat.

Samada kau pekak atau kau langsung tak memahami perkataan! Bengang Assad berganda-ganda.

“Kalau Dr. Syed tak nak admit, tak apa. Tapi saya rasa ada risiko lah.” Assad tegas dengan penilaiannya. Dia takkan berganjak.

Dia mahu kata putus. Tak guna mendengar Dr. Syed berleter jika akhirnya kata putus masih tak dapat. Kalau kau tak nak admit, kau tak payah berletar panjang-panjang. Kau cakap jer tak nak admit; aku akan tulis yang kau tak bagi aku admit. Tapi aku takkan buat-buat, berpura-pura  seolah-olah aku puas hati dengan keputusan kau. Takkan! getus hati Assad.

Sekali lagi dia teringat kata-kata Taufik yang sering meluahkan perasaan kepadanya mengenai Dr. Syed. “Dr. Syed tu anxious. Dia tak berani nak buat keputusan. Berleter panjang-panjang sampai nak dekat setengah jam. Lepas tu tak ada kata putus. Haru betullah pakar macam ni!” Taufik menggerutu, geram.

Assad mengeluh, kesal. Taufik, kau dah bagi amaran kat aku. Sekarang baru aku rasa. Damn it!  Hatinya menyumpah sorang-sorang. Bila diingatkan semula, bukan setakat Taufik yang memberi amaran kepadanya tentang perangai ‘anxious-tiada-kata-putus-suka-tolak-kes’ Dr. Syed. Malah begitu ramai lagi. Tapi tidak pernah Assad kena handle situasi seteruk ini.

Kakak, ibu dan adik pesakit di hadapannya memandang wajah kelat Assad dan mendengar setiap butir kata-kata yang keluar dari celah bibir Assad. Walaupun mereka tidak dapat mendengar apa yang Dr. Syed cakap di talian, tetapi, mereka dapat meneka yang Assad sedang berperang dan berjuang untuk mereka. Assad malu kerana mereka mendengar dia sedang bertekak dengan bossnya.

“Macam ni lah, kalau you nak admit juga, you admitlah. Tapi kalau esok saya tengok dia okey jer, saya takkan sign borang 6. Sebab borang 6 tu untuk extend admission sampai sebulan. Kalau esok dia okey, saya takkan sign borang 6.”

Menyirap darah Assad.

Kau cabar aku… tak nak sign borang 6? Damn it!

Tidak pernah selama dia bekerja sebagai pegawai perubatan di jabatan ini dia mendengar seorang pakar yang setuju untuk admit pesakit ke wad, dan kemudian dengan ayat seterusnya menyatakan yang dia tidak akan sign borang 6.

Kalau kau tak yakin yang pesakit ini patut masuk ke wad, sampai kau nak buat statement berbaur ugutan tak nak sign borang 6, kau patut turun sekarang ke kecemasan, kau tengok sendiri pesakit ni! Bukannya buat keputusan bodoh seperti ‘allow admission, but I might not sign borang 6.’ Itu hanyalah sikap seorang pakar pengcecut  dan tak berani nak ‘commit to a decision’ tapi pada masa yang sama pemalas nak turun padang tengok sendiri keadaan pesakit. Hati Assad membara panas.

Kalau kau dah perangai macam ni, kau tak payah jadi pakar okey! Kau patut ambil tanggungjawab kau, commit to a decision and don’t blame others the next day! Sekali lagi jiwa Assad meronta-ronta mahu melepaskan apa yang dia rasa terus ke corong telefon, biar Dr. Syed tahu betapa marahnya dia sekarang ni.

“Okey. Kalau Dr. Syed tak mau sign borang 6 esok, tak payahlah Dr. Syed sign. Discharge lah dia,” Assad membalas cabaran Dr. Syed.

Dr. Syed terdiam sekejap kemudian menjawab. “Tak adalah… memanglah kalau kita admit patient, selalunya kita tunggu sampai weekdays juga lah nak discharge. Tak adalah kita discharge over the weekend.” 

Dah tu? Kalau kau dah tahu memang macam tu kita dok buat selama ni, kenapa kau nak bring up pasal borang 6? Saja nak bagi aku sakit hati? Hey, tak payah nak berleter lah pasal fungsi borang 6 tengah-tengah malam ni. Aku tau lah borang 6 tu untuk apa. Hiys!  Assad mencemuh lagi dan lagi.

“Jadi, kita admit ke tak ni?” Assad menekan. Dia tidak kira, Kalau Dr. Syed tak bagi dia masukkan pesakit ini ke wad, dia akan call boss besar sendiri.

Kau ingat aku macam Carla yang baru setahun jagung jadi MO sampai kau boleh berleter panjang-panjang dan aku akan dengar saja tanpa boleh berfikir dan buat judgment sendiri? Hey, kau silap orang, okey! Carla yang setahun jagung menjadi MO pun pandai menilai, mana pakar yang cekap, mana yang cemerkap!

“Ha, admit jerlah.” Dr. Syed akhirnya mengalah. Tetapi nada tidak puas hati Dr. Syed bagaikan api yang di simbah dengan petrol dalam hati Assad. 

Gagang telefon diletakkan. Sedikit kuat ia terhempas. 

Assad memandang staff nurse Fatin dengan mata dan wajah yang letih. Letih yang amat sangat!

“Benda boleh selesai consult lima minit… jadi 20 minit.” komen Staff Nurse Fatin.

Assad tersenyum sinis. “Hari tu, Carla kena setengah jam! Rania pula hari tu hampir 45 minit dengar bebelan jer… dah lah tu, tak ada kata putus pula lepas tu. Ni first time saya pula kena sedahsyat ni. Ni pun kira okey lah 20 minit jer! Dan akhirnya dapat juga admit. So, puas jugalah hati saya. Kalau sampai 20 minit consult and then tak dapat admit, saya pula yang mengamuk sampai Fatin kena cucuk Haloperidol kat saya pula nanti.” Assad berseloroh, cuba memujuk hati sendiri dengan berjenaka hambar. Staff Nurse Fatin hanya ketawa kecil. 

“Kalau tak dapat admit tadi, saya dah call ketua jabatan.” ujar Assad, kali ini lebih serius.

Staff Nurse Fatin menggeleng-gelengkan kepala dan kemudiannya menyelesaikan semua urusan surat-menyurat yang diperlukan untuk memasukkan pesakit ke wad psikiatri lelaki.

“Terima kasih, doktor Assad. Sebab masukkan adik saya ke wad.” Kakak pesakit bersungguh-sungguh berterima kasih. Assad dapat lihat sepasang mata wanita itu sedikit berkaca.

Assad menarik nafas, menahan rasa terharu.“Sama-sama.” Hilang penatnya hanya kerana ucapan terima kasih yang ikhlas daripada ahli keluarga pesakit yang begitu mengharap padanya.

Assad menyandarkan tubuhnya ke belakang kerusi, mahu membuang lelah atau melelapkan mata barang seminit dua. 

“Doktor, ada satu kes lagi ni. Tak boleh rehat lama-lama.” Staff Nurse Fatin mengingatkan.

Assad kembali menegakkan badannya dan mengangguk, tahu yang dia tidak boleh berehat lama, membiarkan satu lagi kes tergantung menunggu perhatiannya. Oncall masih perlu diteruskan walaupun jiwa dan emosinya masih terdera dengan kisah kes tadi. 

“Kali ni, saya akan buat keputusan sendiri. Dan takkan consult Dr. Syed lagi. Buang masa!” Assad mendengus. “Okey, panggil next patient masuk!”

***

Pada hari Ahad itu, Assad segera pergi ke wad psikiatri lelaki. Dia mahu melihat sendiri keadaan pesakit yang dia masukkan ke wad sewaktu dia oncall hari Khamis itu. Adakah sudah bertambah sihat atau masih agresif seperti hari tu?

“Dr. Assad…. you tau tak, patient yang you admit hari tu… dia mengamuk sampai pecah cardiac table semalam. Teruk sungguh” Carla bercerita.

Assad tersentak. Terangkat keningnya.

Dia tahu pesakit itu agresif dan patut masuk ke wad. Tetapi dia tidak fikir pesakit itu boleh sebegitu ganas sehingga ranap cardiac table wad psikiatri ini. Dalam hati, Assad memanjatkan rasa syukur kerana dia bertegas mahu pesakit dimasukkan ke wad walaupun terpaksa bertegang urat leher dengan boss sendiri.

This is why I become a doctor. For my patient. Not for my boss. Do what is right and you will be rewarded. If not here, then in the hereafter, insyaAllah.  Hati Assad berbisik.

Taufik yang berada di sebelah Assad memberikan ‘thumbs-up sign’ kepadanya. “Puas hati juga gaduh. Kau tahu kau betul. Dah clear tanda Allah bagi… untuk tolong kau justify kenapa kau admit pesakit ni. Pesakit lain yang senang admit pun tak adalah ganas macam ni. So, don’t worry. Obviously, Dr. Syed was wrong.” Taufik menepuk bahu Assad.

“Kalau nak ikutkan, buat apa aku nak penat-penat gaduh dengan orang atasan. Apa yang aku dapat? Buat apa nak susah-susah kalau bukan mengingatkan yang kerja ni amanah dan insyaAllah kita akan dapat balasan yang baik. Kalau hari tu weekdays, aku boleh justify lagi nak bagi pesakit balik rumah. At least, aku boleh back up dengan lawatan ke rumah pesakit esok hari. Tapi in this case, esok tu cuti….dua hari pula tu….dengan pesakit agresif macam tu…aku tak boleh nak justify diri aku kalau aku  tak fight untuk admit pesakit. Kalau jadi apa-apa, I can’t live with myself.”

Carla mengangguk.

Taufik pula menyampuk. “Memang tak logik la Dr. Syed ni. Judgment out! Punya banyak you bagi reason nak admit… dan reason you semua context-specific. Dia dok ulang reason yang umum yang sebenarnya bukan justifikasi yang cukup untuk tidak masukkan pesakit ke wad. Punya banyak pesakit yang kita admit selama ni yang datang ke kecemasan lepas dah lama sakit. In fact, hampir semua pesakit yang datang ke kecemasan dah berbulan-bulan dah sakit… adakah semuanya tak admit? Admit juga kan! Maksudnya admission bergantung kepada risiko harm to self and harm to others…tak ada kaitan kalau dia dah sakit setahun ke, sepuluh tahun ke…. be objective la…yang nak ulang ayat yang sama tak habis-habis tu, dah apahal??!”

“Aku rasa aku boleh tahan lagi kalau dia berleter jer. Aku just tak suka kena cabar. Kena ugut. Konon tak nak sign Borang 6. Tak pernah aku dengar pakar lain cakap benda macam tu. Aku tahu dia tak nak admit pesakit. Tetapi pada masa yang sama, sebab aku insist pesakit ada risk, dia tak berani juga nak discharge. So dia tak boleh nak buat decision. He was upset and he took it out on me. Kau ingat, aku ni baik sangat ke macam si Carla ni, nak tahan sabar bila kena treat macam tu?” Assad bercerita apa yang menyebabkan dia benar-benar nak naik hantu pada malam itu. Pantang Assad Fajaruddin diancam dan diugut! Pantang dia jadi pengecut! Lagi dicabar, lagi disambut. 

“Assad…. maksud nama kau kan singa! Memang takkanlah kau boleh sejinak Carla. Sabar itu jauh sekali.” Taufik menjuih bibir. Dia masih ingat lagi Assad memberitahu kepadanya bahawa namanya dipilih oleh bapanya. Assad Fajaruddin bermaksud ‘singa yang pertama atau the first lion, memandangkan Assad adalah anak sulung. 

“I bukan jinak laaa…. I kena buli laa…. sebab I baru. Tak berani lawan.” Carla memuncungkan mulutnya.

“Aku nak pi complain kat ketua jabatan. Dah setahun aku sabar. That was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. And I couldn’t take it anymore.”

“Apa yang ketua jabatan boleh buat, weh? Nothing. Boleh slow talk jer lah… kau rasa ada perubahan? Memang takkan punya!  Ada specialist Ortho kat hospital time aku buat houseman dulu, punya banyak orang complain pasal dia… masih lagi dia dok bermaharajalela. Specialist O&G kat hospital adik aku dulu pun sama! Bila orang complain kat facebook, kata tak guna saluran betul. Tapi sepanjang kita dok guna saluran betul ni, tak ada pula nampak perubahan pun! Ayat politik jer lebih! Saluran betul, konon! Kadang-kadang kena ada juga orang macam kau ni! Baru orang buka mata!”

“Tak apa… aku cuba pula saluran betul kali ni. Tak jalan juga… Aku akan burst out balik. Macam selalu. Hahha”

“Typical Assad. A leopard can never change its spots!” Taufik berseloroh. 

“Perhaps, I can hide my spots with cosmetics of some sort!” Assad membalas.

“And the cosmetics will come off the next time you are doused with a stream of provocation,” Carla membuat konklusi.

Terhambur ketawa mereka bertiga. 

Assad, Carla, dan Taufik berjalan bergandingan keluar daripada wad psikiatri lelaki dan menuju terus ke klinik.

Assad berfikir sendiri: Yesterday in history. Today is another day. And If I have to do it again, I would not change a thing! Not a word! Not even a single syllable!

-The End-

Disclaimer:

The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this creative writing are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.

Ultimately, my responsibility is for my patient!

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My facebook status today!

My life would have been a lot easier if I can be someone docile with no principles and no backbone to fight for what I believe as right.

Unfortunately, my father raised me to be outspoken and to fight when I believe I am right. (so my life is full of the drama of me being a rebellious anti-authority) I am taught to fight for the underdog and to crush the bullies in the society.  I am always going to be the one who cheers for the losing team against the favourite team. I am always going to be pro-housemen, in general. I like it when the underdogs win. I like it when the underdogs DARE to fight for the sake of truth and justice. Truth and justice are like my life’s theme, around which I build my personal saga on.

And 90% of the time, I always win whenever I fight for something. Another sunnahtullah that I believe in is that Allah will help you when your intention is sincere and you are doing it for the right cause!

I might be a rude, loudmouthed virago in the society. But when you are looking for a sidekick to fight with you for the sake of justice, I am the one you want by your side! I will get things done, insyaAllah. And I won’t stop until I get it! My patients are lucky if they get me as their doctor… I will fight for them if they are ever in a situation of injustice. I can face my superiors and debate with them until I get them to agree to give what my patients need. If my patients need something that my superiors won’t allow me to give, I will find another way to get it for them if I believe  they deserve it.

My job is my ibadah. And I take it seriously. I may not look deeply religious. I may not be able to quote Quranic verses out of thin air or effortlessly talk about hadeeth narration on top of my head. But I understand the core principles of my religion. And I stick to it. I can even be pretty rigid about it. Like an autistic kid who would throw massive tantrum at the  existence of the slightest deviation to his normal routine. When it comes to things involving my principles, I am very strict. Principles are not to be stuck with just when it is easy to do so. The purpose of having principles is to help and guide you make the right choice in the situation when it is so hard to choose. If you are going to balk and cower down at the slightest pressure by any authority, then what’s the use of having principles?

My job is my amanah. When I am oncall, my patients depend on me to argue their case on their behalves. If I think they need admission, I am willing to argue and fight until I get them admitted. If I think community treatment is the one that is best for them, I can spend one hour just cajoling and persuading the relatives to bring the patient home after acute treatment has been given. On the one hand, I will have to persuade my boss to allow me to admit my patients when I think they require admission. On the other, I will have to persuade the patient’s relatives to bring the patient home when I think the patient’s best treatment should be in the community. Ultimately, I do all that for patients. Not for myself.

My patient is my amanah. I don’t work for bosses! I don’t work for my hospital director. I don’t give a damn about KPI! I don’t give a damn about kissing my superiors’ ass. If they punish me in any way, shape or form (public reprimand, giving low marks for my annual appraisal etc etc), I STILL don’t care. I don’t need a high SKT marks for MRCPsych program. So, I don’t need to kowtow to anyone in the work place. And that’s my power. Because you can’t blackmail or threaten someone who don’t give a damn!

If I am nice to you or polite to you, I do that out of common courtesy and because I genuinely like and respect you. I have no ulterior motives to be nice to you, otherwise. Because I don’t need you that much to pretend differently. If you have pissed me off, I won’t even bother to hide my disdain. I am transparent, that way.

I have designed my life so precisely according to my cardinal trait and my central trait. I have also designed my life so precisely according to my most enduring overvalued idea. My overvalued idea is “Power tends to corrupt! And absolute power corrupts absolutely!” So my life is lived in such a way that I don’t have to need anyone for anything and I pray (so hard!) that I will never be forced to sacrifice my way of life as it is. This is liberation! I pray that no power can ever threaten to corrupt me.

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Another facebook status of mine!

I respect good reasoning! I respect excellent clinical judgment. I respect genuine intention of someone wanting the best for their patients regardless of what the KPI or the hospital policy says. I respect someone who can bravely do what is right even if tomorrow they will have to face the displeasure of someone above them, judging their clinical decision. Having a responsible, honourable boss like that will gain my utmost respect.

I abhor cowardice. I hate indecisiveness. I despise incompetence. And I don’t care what position you have in the society or in the government! If you are my superior and you are indecisive and unnecessarily anxious, I will find it VERY HARD to respect you. I may not go out of my way to challenge you for every single annoying thing that you do that affect me. But once you get in the way between me and my belief system (which include doing the right and honourable thing for my patients), I am going to fight you.

So, don’t get in my way! Because I am not moving! When it matters to me enough, I can be either an unstoppable force or an immovable object.

immovable object
Physics  101, anyone?

The best thing is: When you TRIED to get in my way, and then I fought you until I got what I wanted. And AT LAST, I was proven right for fighting for what I wanted.

That, dear readers, is the sweetest feeling in the world. Such a sweet, euphoric feeling! My own version of cocaine. Yup, to be proven right is my cocaine! (Hahha. I am so immature when it comes to wanting to be right and wanting to win)

Thank you, Allah! For always giving me the signs that it is worth it to fight for the right thing.

I leave you with a repeat of my facebook status with the extension of the comment section. Just a little private joke to those who know the story. 🙂

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For A Happy Life, Make Life Decisions Based On Your Cardinal Trait

I was asked for tips regarding how to pass MRCPsych Part A at one shot.

The truth is, I don’t really have any tips. I can only tell them what I did (mainly doing a lot of questions and covering 80% of Stahl’s Psychopharmacology). But how would I know whether any of the things I did were REALLY what made me pass? I have mentioned before that I passed by the mercy and grace of Allah. Even after the exam, I wasn’t able to tell for sure whether I was able to make it.

So my tips would really be worthless. Because some people didn’t do what I did, and they still passed. And some people did more than I did and they still did not pass. So, you can ask me and I will tell you what I did but don’t blame me if it doesn’t work. Hahah.

To me the most important thing is to KNOW YOURSELF. You have to know your weakness and your strength, your style of studying and revising, whether you can deal with last minutes cramming or you are the steady and constant type, whether you are good at memorizing without having to understand or whether you must understand before you can memorize, whether you can study in noise or whether you need peace and solitude, whether you can deal with distractions or whether you need to shut yourself off somewhere to focus.

Once you know all that, you can start planning to study in your own way and style. Never let anyone tell you or influence you to do what they think is best. No one KNOWS you better than you know yourself.

I know I don’t like distractions, even minor ones, when I am deeply enmeshed and engrossed in certain stuff. When I am focused in certain things, I can shut myself off in my house for days and weeks and not contact anyone and just do my thing. Any attempt to contact me would be rebuffed and rejected.

When I was preparing for my exam study, some specialists suggested to me that I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my annual leaves for study time. Instead, I should just come to work as usual  (punch in and punch out to record my attendance) and just be around the clinic without having to do any clinical work. They said that they would allow me the time to study in the clinic, but I must ‘be around the clinic’ instead of at home. Even if I am not doing any clinical work, I must be around, they said. 

I thought that was ridiculous of the admin, by the way! Why should I come at all if you don’t expect me to work? If you only want me to come to work to be around while I am studying, why can’t you allow me to study at home? How come other master students can take unrecorded leaves without having to be around at all? That’s just unfair to me and Dr. T! Until now, whenever I think about how many years I have covered for everyone’s unrecorded leaves… but when it comes to my turn, you guys create so many administrative issues to deny me the SAME privilege that others have enjoyed before me… when I think about that, I become angry all over again. Me and Dr. T got over our anger eventually but damn, it was hard! Hahha. I still feel angry on and off. Which goes to show that I don’t get over things involving fairness and justice easily. I will always remember stuff like that. I might not show my dissatisfaction anymore, but I will always remember it. That’s just how I am. 

I decided that, “Fine, I didn’t need the unrecorded leaves that you so begrudged!” I could use my annual leaves because I had so much of them (I don’t have children for which I have to use my annual leaves to care for them if they fall sick. I don’t even need my annual leaves for balik kampung because my kampung is right here in Alor Star and I can always  see my parents during the weekends. I have so much accumulated leaves from previous years  that I can afford to use up some of my annual leaves to study) Since they were going to create so many obstacles for me to have my study time, then I could afford to sacrifice my annual leaves. But I refused to do something as stupid as just coming to the clinic to punch in and punch out and being around without having to do any clinical work. What’s the point when I KNEW I could do better in my own domain. I study BETTER in the solitary of my own house. I might want to study until 3.00 a.m and not want to have to wake up early just to come to the clinic to punch in and ‘be around’. Or I might want to sleep early and wake up to study from 4.00 a.m non-stop until 9.00 a.m. I might want to wear comfortable clothes while I am studying and I can’t do that if I have to ‘be around’. When you asked me to ‘just be around in the clinic’, you took away MY FREEDOM to arrange my schedule any way I wished at the most critical moment when I needed it the most.

Because I knew myself and my need for peace and solitude, I told them that “I prefer to not be around even if I have to sacrifice my annual leaves for it.” I need my solitude. My time alone. My space. And I will do whatever I can to get it! If it means I have to use my annual leaves, well be it! But I will always remember that other master students did not HAVE to use their annual leaves and simply took unrecorded leaves without having to ‘be around’. No one made a fuss when THEY took unrecorded leaves.

You see, that’s my cardinal trait. I want justice to be upheld. Things must be fair and balanced. In books that I read, the theme of justice and fairness reigned supreme. Most books that I read involved a struggle for justice and a journey to find truth (Books like ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, ‘A Time To Kill’, ‘Twelve Years A Slave’, and many, many more. Especially books written by John Grisham which I devoured in my teenage years. Those books shaped my worldview and my principles in life.).

Another one of my cardinal trait is: being free. Freedom is important to me. I need it so much that I am willing to sacrifice anything I can afford to get it.

So whatever choice I make, at the forefront of my mind, I will always ask my self “Will I still retain my freedom if I make this choice? Should injustice happens to me, will I get the freedom to fight back without suffering unmanageable consequences?”

So some of you without any psychiatric background may still wonder what is this cardinal trait Afiza is talking about. Well here’s a little background story:  Gordon Allport was an American psychologist who was considered as one of the first founding figures of personality psychology. He was also one of the first modern trait theorist of personality. He looked at thousands of personality traits and then organized these traits into three hierarchies; Cardinal Traits, Central Traits and Secondary Traits.

trait-theory

Well… cardinal trait is this characteristic that you have that dominate and shape your behaviour and collectively known as your master control; your ruling passions. It tops the hierarchy of your traits.

Some people don’t have cardinal traits (only central traits and secondary traits) and therefore might find it difficult to understand those who do have them. But to those who have cardinal traits (and there are not few of us who do. I have known some.) they make all their life-altering decisions based on their cardinal traits.

Including me.

Some people with cardinal traits sometimes can make the mistake of choosing a certain life option that opposes their cardinal traits (because at first, they thought they could handle it) and they usually live to regret the decision they have made. It is not easy to constantly and consistently live in a manner opposing your cardinal trait. One day, something got to give.

So, if you have a cardinal trait, you should respect it. Otherwise, you shouldn’t have one (even though whether or not you have cardinal traits is beyond your control). Admittedly, it’s easier for those who don’t have cardinal traits because they won’t be bound by it. But for those of us who do, never make the mistake of tricking yourself into thinking you can be someone you are not.

I believe that we should not always remain the same and unchanged…. because we are not perfect. We should always improve ourselves… but only according to our own cardinal trait.

For example, I don’t want to remain as just an MO even though it is comfortable enough for me. I have to change! I know that. Remaining the same and stagnant does not do justice to what Allah have created you to potentially become. I should improve myself and study to become a specialist. I knew that. But now, I have two options to go about doing it: master program or MRCPsych program.

I knew from the very beginning that MRCPsych program was the one to choose because it celebrates my cardinal trait (even though at that time I did not have any idea about trait theories just yet. I just knew that master program will never be for me)

When people asked me why I didn’t choose to do master and had chosen MRCPsych program instead, I told them a lot of things such as:

1)It is internationally recognized. My undergrad medical degree from Newcastle University is internationally recognized and I want the same for my post-grad qualifications too. (Should I need to move elsewhere outside Malaysia, I would have more choices regarding where I can practice).

2)If I pass this exam, I know that I am at par with the World Standard. Not merely the local standard. (The local standard might also be at par with the World standard but getting the world to recognize that is another matter entirely).

3)I like the lack of hassles and the flexibility.

4)I don’t want to owe the government a large sum of money should I fail to complete the Master program.

I told them a lot of things regarding why I chose MRCPsych  but only one thing matters the most to me: MRCPsych appeals to my personality and my cardinal trait.

As I mentioned before, my first Cardinal Trait is justice. I want justice to be served and fairness to be upheld. Not just for myself but for everyone.

I have heard so many horror stories about the master program. Some of the situations were so ridiculously unfair that if I were put in that situation, I would have the tendency to answer back and argue with my superiors. And if they then make my life difficult due to my inability to suppress my dissatisfaction at them, I would have no choice but to bear with how they treat me for my, ehem, insubordination. Or maybe I will have to suppress my tendency to fight back (and thus I cannot celebrate my cardinal trait of fighting for justice and fairness). At the same time, I could not just quit because I would then be owing the government a lot of money. So, there goes my freedom too… another one of my cardinal trait that I have to suppress if I choose the master program.

So repeating the questions that I always ask whenever I have to make a decision (“Will I still retain my freedom if I make this choice? Should injustice happens to me, will I get the freedom to fight back without suffering unmanageable consequences?”), would a master program ever appeal to me?

Nope! Not in a million years!

Now, compare the situation when I am taking MRCPsych program. I don’t owe money to anyone. I use my own. There are no lecturers or supervisors to annoy me (until I have to do  attachments later on…. but by then, insya Allah, I would have passed the major exams already). Should I, for any reason, decided to quit, I can do so without suffering any unmanageable financial setbacks due to the owed debts.

Of course, I do have superiors in my own hospital that occasionally annoy me (like all superiors anywhere else do. Let’s just admit that all of us cannot be in the same page with all our superiors all the time. It’s the facts of a working life. Colleagues and superiors annoy one another. That’s just how it is). But most of the time, I know I can answer back. Even if they can make my life difficult (most of my specialists are generally nice. None of them are malignant. But I am speaking theoretically and hypothetically), I know I have the freedom to walk away anytime I like after giving them a piece of my mind. I can simply quit and work with my father. No one will have any absolute power over me… ONLY relative power because of their position as my superior. But at the end of the day, I can keep the image of me as a free human being, unafraid of anyone.

How can I do that if I take the master program? How can I retain the mental image of me as a free person, able to say what I want to say and do what I want to do without being afraid of anyone… how can I retain the ideal image of a free self… when fighting back would make my life miserable and at the same I can’t just walk away because I will then have to settle a huge debt to the government?

Our religion taught us to FEAR debt. Because debts can take away your freedom. Debts can force you to remain in an oppressive situation because you have NO OTHER CHOICE. (in other words, no freedom). Our religion doesn’t want us to be in debt because it curbs us from doing what we feel as right… because we are too afraid to speak up. And therefore we were taught to pray the doa that I always say at the end of my prayers; the doa that would help us avoid being in unmanageable debts:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْبُخْلِ وَالْجُبْنِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ غَلَبَةِ الدَّيْنِ وَقَهْرِ الرِّجَالِ

“O Allah I seek refuge in You from worry and grief, I seek refuge in You from hopelessness and laziness, I seek refuge in You from miserliness and cowardice and I seek refuge in You from overwhelming debt and from the force of men”.

I love this doa so much. One of my favourites of all time! Seeking refuge from hopelessness and laziness… that’s awesome! Hopelessness is one of the symptoms of depression and this doa reminds us to protect ourselves against it. I also love the part where you are seeking refuge from cowardice! One of the things I never want to be is a coward. And finally…. you are seeking refuge from ‘overwhelming debt and force of men.’ Have you ever wondered why overwhelming debt and force of men are being grouped together in this doa? Because they are related! Once you are in debts, you are weak enough to be forced upon! In the past, your inability to pay debts could turn you into a slave!

So this is why I am in love with the doa, which is included in one of the Al-Mathurat verses! This doa encompasses everything I want for myself! From the very moment I learned of this doa and its meaning when I was in medical school, I was struck by how much this doa suits me to perfection!

I work because I like working. I don’t want to have to work for money alone just for the sake of making ends meet and settling debts. That would be a miserable life. I want to work for myself to serve my society because that’s what a good Muslim does. Even if I am ever lucky enough to marry a rich king (haha, not that I believe I am at par with Neelofa who is now gossiped to be in a relationship with one of the royals out there), I will still want to work because being able to contribute to the society is our basic need. It fulfils our needs for esteem and self-actualization (Abraham Maslow theory of hierarchy of needs). It resolves our middle adulthood conflict of generativity vs stagnation (Erik Erikson Theory of Psychosocial Stages). It fulfils our need to create and nurture things that will outlast ourselves.  In fact, being able to function is one of the main criteria being evaluated in psychiatric assessment.

Productivity is what makes us a happy human being, folks.

Feeling useful is a need. Even if you are born rich or a princess, you will still need an outlet to be useful. So these rich people would then devote themselves to charity organizations or to become presidents of NGOs etc etc. When they accomplish something altruistically for the sake of the society, their reward is the inward joy that they feel in their ability to contribute for the betterment of humanity. That’s why… eventually, no matter how wealthy and privileged you are, a life of hedonism and enjoyment would not satisfy you anymore and you will want to find meaning to your life by being useful to the society. Everyone needs something to do! According to Joseph Addison, ‘something to do’  is one of the three grand essentials to happiness.

joseph-eddison

So, work for yourself! Love your work. If you can’t love your work, it might be because your work is oppressing some integral part of either your cardinal traits or your central traits. Try to find another job that is more in tune with your cardinal traits or central traits. But if you need your job and cannot afford to follow your natural inclination (and therefore you have to be practical rather than ideal), have some form of outlets in hobbies or favourite pastimes that would spice up your life.

I will NEVER choose to do anything that goes against my Cardinal Trait, if I can help it. Once you put yourself in a situation that is repugnant to your core principle, you might as well just be prepared to deal with discontent for as long as the situation persists.

So I leave you now with my happiness maxim: “For A Happy Life, Make Your Life Decisions Based On Your Cardinal Trait”

Trust me! I always stick to this maxim and the doa above! And Alhamdulillah, I am content all the time and happy most of the time.

harmony

Intense Alhamdulillah

We say Alhamdulillah so frequently in our daily life that sometimes we don’t even realize what we should really be feeling while we are saying the word. We eat, we burp and we say Alhamdulillah. We sneeze, we say Alhamdulillah. We say Alhamdulillah when people asked us how we are doing.

But are we really feeling grateful to Allah while we are saying it? Or has it become part of our reflex response to everything mundane that we do?

The utterance of Alhamdulillah from someone who has gone without food for the past few days is different from us whose previous meal was only a few hours ago. The feeling of gratitude is immense and overwhelming when Allah finally gives you THAT VERY THING that you want so wretchedly badly that your heart constantly prays for it and at the back of your mind, you are always thinking about finally having it.

And you know that no one can make it happen except The Glorious Almighty.

I have mentioned before that I believe in the sunnahtullah of berusaha. But I also know that there is fate and qada and qadar. I have always known that ‘berusaha’ only qualifies you to be in the race. But whether or not you will win is something that can only be determined by God. Ultimately, God grants you what you work for. You don’t even get to paradise by your own effort. You get to Paradise by the grace and mercy of Allah.

Our Prophet (PBUH) points out this truth as follows:

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “No one of you will enter Paradise by his deeds alone.” They asked, “Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Not even me, unless Allah covers me with His Grace and Mercy” (Bukhari, Riqaq, 18; Muslim, Munafiq, 71-73).

Our deeds and our worship would not even repay Allah for the gift of a pair of eyes, let alone for the usage of the rest of our senses and our many blessings in life.

Alhamdulillah, my dear readers. I passed my Part A MRCPsych exam.

Alhamdulillah. One step forward to becoming a specialist in the field that I love.

Alhamdulillah for this happiness.

And my Alhamdulillah this time feels way more overwhelming than what I feel after my usual meal. (Haha. Not that I think a meal is not just as important as passing an exam. I mean, if survival is the main aim, food is so much more important than whether or not we pass ANY exam, right?)

This particular Alhamdulillah is intense stuff. Serious stuff, folks! After more than 2 months of excruciating wait, FINALLY Allah allows me a beautiful rest. Alhamdulillah.

And this success feels even sweeter because my good friend and colleague, Dr. T, passed too. We were overjoyed when we found out that we passed from our friend, a Master student in UKM who had checked our results even earlier than us. At that time, Dr. T was busy oncall so she did not have the opportunity to check her result straightaway. As for myself, I was driving back to Alor Star, bringing my staff nurses and PPKs home from our fun kayak trip in Baling. Me and Dr. T knew the result would come out around 8.30 pm on the 17th of February (it is morning, UK time) but we just didn’t have the opportunity to get to it straightaway.

When our friend congratulated both of us (in our own Whatsapp Group created only for the three of us) I was afraid that she had somehow misled me. I needed to see it for myself. Haha. So, I told my staff that I needed more time with my phone even though all of them were already in the car and eager to resume our journey home after the short break in Gurun.

When I finally see it… MY NAME! on the list of those who have passed (or rather, my father’s name, since that is my surname, Haha) I wanted to jump with joy. So, unofficially, my staff nurses and my PPKs who were in the car with me were the first people in my department to know about my passing the exam (other than Dr. T and our  mutual good friend who had congratulated us). I told my staff nurses and my PPKs not to tell anyone in the department first, because I have very specific people I want to have the honour of being OFFICIALLY informed first.

Such as my family.

I whatsapp my parents straightaway because I couldn’t wait until I got home to do it properly. Haha.

And my siblings were like “Okay, esok Angah kena belanja makan!” Hahah. My younger sister, Alida, has been saying “Kak Ngah memang suka buat drama. Hari dia balik exam, muka monyok macam apa. Cakap konon susahlah. Exaggerate la tu. Sebenarnya dia saja kata susah, supaya kalau dia pass, dia boleh cakap kata dia terer.” I laughed out loud. (That’s NOT TRUE, guys! To me, it was the hardest exam of my life. Only about 50% of our candidates actually passed. Out of 661 candidates all over the world, only 346 passed Part A. I have told my siblings, if I pass, it must be because I was somehow triggered to choose the BEST answer. Because correct answers were in the options, but BEST answer is the one they want. It was confusing as hell!)

I had officially informed my dearest best friend too, Dr. F, who has just passed her Master exam Part 1 last December and we are planning to celebrate our mutual happiness once she is back from KL.

The next day (well, this morning), I sent a text to my ex-HOD, Dato’ R, to tell him that Dr. T and I have passed our Part A. I think he deserved to know first because he was the one who had granted us our one month unrecorded leave to allow us to focus on our exam. (I end up using my own annual leaves due to some really annoying administrative stuff. But his intention to grant us such generous unrecorded leaves was clear from the start and Dr. T and I really appreciate his gesture from the bottom of our hearts. In some centers, they won’t even let you get straight study time even if you are using your own annual leaves. So, I am very grateful to Dato’ R.)

And then,you, my dear readers! Officially, after my family, my best friend and my ex-HOD, you guys are the ones I officially inform regarding my beautiful blessing. My happiness is too big for me to hug it all to myself. I am JUST over the moon.

***

I am very blessed for having such a supportive people around me. My family is my pillar of strength. My parents never stop praying for me. They take academic performance seriously and they always push us to continue our studies. When I achieve anything, the first person I want to inform it to will always be my mother. Then, my father and the rest of my siblings.

They give me what I need to put in a good fight and a good effort. As much as I appreciate wishes of good luck and emotional support, I don’t really need it that much (especially the copy-pasted good luck spamming via Whatsapp that people tend to do these days). I mean, by fitrah, Allah gifted me with the ability to self-motivate. Alhamdulillah.

I appreciate practical assistance and practical help rather than just meaningless wishes of ‘good luck, Afiza. Mesti hang boleh buat.’ Hahah. I mean, that is of course very nice of them to say that. But at the end of the day, I can say that to myself too, right?

I appreciate practical assistance to help me with my effort. I don’t need you to teach me or to study with me or to supervise me. Because I can do that for myself. I can study myself and to be honest, I study best by myself. (I am not trying to sound arrogant here. I just know myself and my style of studying after years and years of non-stop exams. INTPs in general don’t want anything that curb their freedom to do what they think is best and supervision is one of the thing they don’t really like. They are more likely to disagree with their supervisors and would resent having to follow what their supervisors say. Hahha)

Give me the tool that I need, and I will appreciate you so much more than if you just give me words of encouragement. For example, my parents support my effort by sponsoring my flight ticket and my hotel room. Money is practical stuff. (Hahah! Take note that I pay my own exam fees. I could have paid my own ticket and my own hotel room, but my parents insisted to pay for my flight and my hotel. So what is a daughter to do but to accept? Haha)

Doa is also practical stuff. My mother especially never stops praying for me. It so happened that my parents’s annual umrah is always in November. My parents just got back from Makkah one week before I was due for my exam and they told me that they prayed the hardest for me. So when I was sitting for my exam, I was accompanied by a fresh doa out of Makkah!! I believe that doa is powerful stuff.

I appreciate past years papers or notes too. Those are really practical stuff I can actually make use of!

The reason I appreciate Dato R so much is because he too had given me the practical assistance that I really, really, really REALLY NEED to help me with my effort. In order to put up a good effort, I need TIME! Time and space to focus and do my thing! And he gave it to me. I don’t think I have ever properly thanked him for it. (Because even though I am a psychiatry MO, I am just not so good at expressing my own feelings, especially face-to-face. Tender feelings such as fondness and gratitude… I stumble whenever I want to say things like that. I am just VERY good at expressing disdain and contempt at those who annoy me. That’s a bad, bad trait, I know. I am nicer now, though. Ehem, I think.)

I am not saying that when you guys are wishing me good luck and all the best, I don’t appreciate it AT ALL. I do appreciate them, especially personal messages of good wishes that are not copy-pasted over and over again in the Whatsapp Group. Very nice of you to take the time to think of me and type up your personal wish properly to let me know that you want me to succeed. I am just saying that I appreciate practical assistance THE MOST. (because Alhamdulillah, I have enough motivation and encouragement for myself within my own self)

My friend told me that I am a hard-to-impress person. Mengayat, memujuk, memang tak jalan… habis air liur pun tak hairan! Hahah. It’s true. Because words will never be enough to impress me. I know very well how words can be said without meaning it. Maybe because I read and write so much (almost all my life, minus the first five years of my childhood when I was not yet able to read) that I have become an expert in how words can be manipulated, twisted, bent over, rhymed together, and punned… so that I can clinically and objectively appreciate your ability to use your words to be nice or romantic or diplomatic, but that will never be enough for me. Subjectively, intuitively…. I will never be won over by words ALONE.

I need pure, sincere intention as well. And that can only be determined by your actions. To me, Dato R has shown his INTENTIONAL support for me to succeed in my exam by his ACTION of allowing me a one-month leave to focus on my study, just like what he had given to all other master MOs in the past. He WANTED us to succeed. He had proven his intention by his action. (Even definisi iman adalah percaya dalam hati, ucap dengan kata-kata dan amalkan dengan perbuatan. Ucap saja tak cukup, kan? Aku pun boleh ucap apa saja!)

And I am so GLAD that me and Dr. T have been able to show him that we used that one-month time properly. That we did not abuse his trust. What he gave us, we were able to make use of. Alhamdulillah.

Alhamdulillah for everything!

Effort And Sincerity

Once upon a time, me and my sisters were at a small hotel in KL, feeling hungry and needing something savoury to eat. The problem was, we didn’t have any transport and the only options were the food stalls around the area.

We are not picky eaters, exactly. We are not food connoisseurs or anything. We can eat at stalls, mamaks, or gerai tepi jalan, medan selera…. whatever. As long as the place is clean, then we will eat there. 

So me and my sisters walked around the many stalls around the area, trying to choose which stall was the best to eat at. I noticed a bunch of young kids at one of the stalls there had poured some water at the ground surrounding their stall so that the wind would not scatter the dust away into their small stove or bother their customers. They were just a bunch of teenagers but they caught my attention.

“Weh, jom makan sini.” I suggested to Alida

Alida agreed because she too had noticed what I noticed. Then all of us siblings ended up eating there. 

It was a simple effort. But it made all the difference in where we chose to eat.

And when one of the kids took our orders, we could see his polite respect, his effort to make suggestions about what was the best to eat at his small humble stall.

I could see his genuine pride for what he did as a living. He may not be able to do much, but he would do what he could. That was all it took to win our hearts.

***

I think that I am not exactly the most social person in the world, either in the social media or in real life. Social media to me is more as a tool to propagate a certain worldview, a campaign tool to get people to pause and realize how ridiculous society really is (my own paltry version of ‘kritik sosial’ just like in the literature that I read, hahha) or to stay connected with friends.

Mindless socializing is not my forte (even though I could do it, if I have to).

But when I finally do socialize, I make an effort. And I am sincere with the effort I make.

I am not only sincere with what I say when I am being nice, I am also very sincerely earnest in what I say when I am annoyed.  By reading my blog or what I wrote on whatsapp, you can tell whether I am joking, happy, annoyed, about to burst out or downright furious at something. Hahah.

My friend used to tell me “Afiza, you are so good with words. How come you cannot find a prettier way to express yourself when you are annoyed?”

I laughed out loud. Can you see how brilliant my friend is? That was a backhanded compliment at its best. Very diplomatic of her to compliment my literary skill (a sure way of warming my heart, making me more receptive to her suggestions or criticism) and in the next breath telling me in no uncertain terms that the way I express myself when I am annoyed have a lot of rooms for improvement. (She is a master at diplomacy without making it fake! And that’s rare!)

I don’t socialize much, but when I finally do, I try my damnedest hard to be genuine. The point is, you know that you are interacting with Afiza, as how she really feels and how she really thinks. If I am annoyed, you know it. If I am amused, you know it. There is no misunderstanding.

True, I could have found better ways to express myself when I am annoyed. I just don’t want to. It’s not that I can’t be diplomatic. I just don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t have the skill to butter up to my superiors and be nice to authorities. I just don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t have the mental capacity and the language skill to couch my words in a manner that is more pleasant while delivering my message, but I just don’t want to.

I. DON’T. WANT. TO.

Not because I can’t. But because I won’t.

If I had wanted to, I would have done it! Make me want! Or make me feel like it is VERY IMPORTANT in this particular context for me to be diplomatic, then I will do it.  I do it with my patients, for example. Counselling, Motivational interviewing…. it’s all about giving a certain message in a manner that the patient can see, understand and accept. Another way of looking at it is explained by Wilfred Bion in his Containment theory. We do it all the time during therapy.

Bion’s theory (1959, 1962) explains how a mother receives unwanted and/oroverwhelming projections from an infant, processes them and then returns the experience to the infant in a modified, palatable form. This process also occurs in therapy with the therapist acting as a ‘container’, taking in thoughts/feelings from the client and re-representing them so they are both more understandable and less potentially destructive.

When I am doing therapy, I am working. My working persona, as Jung would term it! Not my real personality.

But when I am not working, I have no reason to contain anything. Hahah.  You will get me all raw and unprocessed. My own version of being a straight talker (because I think normal people should be able to take the truth without me having to dress it up the way I did with my clients and patients. If I have genuine respect of your intellect, I would be straight and honest with you. The moment I think your intellect cannot handle it, then I will try to be more diplomatic. So when I am being honest and blunt, take it as a compliment! Hahah. It means that I think your intellect can pass muster. Being blunt is also my own way of weeding out who I can be friends with and who I should only bother to communicate when there is a need for me to do so. As a result, I surround myself only with people of similar wavelength as me. Real, genuine people who would not act like they are in a drama all the time. Hahha)

Putting a lot of emphasis on being real and genuine, I was quite affronted by people who simply copy-paste messages of birthdays, Hari Raya wishes, CNY wishes, congratulations or condolences in whatsapp groups!

Gila malas!!

For example, when someone’s mother pass away, the first person giving the condolence message in the whatsapp group is the only one who actually puts a sincere effort to write his message properly. The rest of the whatsapp group members then simply copy-paste the first message ad nauseam, ad infinitum. It feels like you are reading repetitive spam messages instead of a genuine expression of sympathy and empathy towards your friend who has just lost her mother.

How can the society be so insensitive and so lazy!

Orang cakap aku tak diplomatik! Tapi sekurang-kurangnya, when I do socialize and communicate, I am sincere about it and I actually make an effort.

Instead of copy-pasting the same thing, I wrote a different message of condolence into the whatsapp group! It was my way of saying that I actually thought of her while she was dealing with the lost of her mother, that I had bothered to compose something out of my own heart and mind.

A minute later, the rest of the other members (who had not yet said their condolences before) copy-pasted MY message and turning it into another set of spam!

Adoiii!!  *tepuk dahi* (By the way, when did I give anyone the permission to plagiarize my message? Haha.)

What the hell hangpa semua ni! Pemalas nak mampus!

To be honest, aku pernah jer tak wish birthday and tak ucap takziah in whatsapp groups. Maybe because I am not particularly close with that person and therefore my wish (or lack of) would not really mean anything to them one way or another. 

But when I do finally write something, I compose my own! 

Maybe it is the writer in me that makes me so fastidious and fussy about showing some effort when you are making your greetings and wishes. Maybe this is just my personal pet peeve because I am so used to communicate my thoughts in writing, so that I become quite particular about the lack of genuine effort and warmth in what is supposed to be a sincere, personal wish of condolences by your so-called friends and colleagues.

But heck, this is not supposed to be my own pet peeve. Anyone with common decency should have thought about this too.

When I scrolled back the messages in the Whatsapp Group, I took note of people who actually bothered to compose a different message or insert their own personal message in the Whatsapp Group. And my INTP mind started analyzing the pattern (as it tends to do all the time. INTPs like patterns) People who I noticed had written different messages are either people of genuine kindness and warmth to everyone (one of my female specialist is like that), or people who are actually really close with the person suffering the lost (even though in other occasions, they too are copy-pasters).

So my mind came up with these conclusions/patterns: 

1)If you are genuinely saddened by someone’s lost because you are close to this person, then you would show an effort to express your feelings properly because you honestly feel sorry for them in view of your friendship. And because of your close friendship with this person, you feel compelled to personalize the message because you WANT this person to know that you SINCERELY share her sadness. Generic copy of condolence won’t do justice (in the context of your close relationship with this person.)

2)And if you are someone with common sense and common decency even though you yourself are not personally close with the person suffering the lost, you would also bother to compose your message properly. (this is because being a nice person is who you are and you would extend the same kind of thoughtful personalized message to everyone suffering such a great loss, regardless of the intimacy of your relationship with them. One of my specialists is like that. She is genuinely kind-hearted and nice.)

3) The rest are just actors and players (or perhaps robots that have been programmed to repeat or plagiarize) pretending to do what the society expects without having to really think about it or making any real mental effort. (And these are the ones that annoy me. At that specific  time, I don’t respect them or their sentiment).

I do personalize my messages and wishes. But it’s not because I am a nice person all the time. It’s because I am so rarely nice that when I am FINALLY being nice, I will make a real genuine effort. Or else I wouldn’t even bother.

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***

Please don’t bother to wish me anything (birthdays/ condolences/ congratulations) if you are just going to seem like you are suffering from echolalia. The writer in me do not feel anything (no joy, no gratitude, no respect, no real warmth) with such messages. I wouldn’t even remember the people who copy-paste the same darn wish over and over again like uninspired spammers with nothing better to do. If I am ever tested with the loss of my beloved mother, I don’t want anyone to display such a lackadaisical attitude with the way they express their condolences to me. (I might not even announce the matter in Whatsapp group and just personally call my boss to inform the matter privately and quietly in order to avoid reading copy-pasted messages and having to pretend that I feel thankful??! about what you so effortlessly and thoughtlessly plagiarize. Gosh!) The loss is devastating to me! And you are just copy-pasting like you don’t really care? How dare you! (I understand you may not mean it that way. Maybe you do genuinely think of my mother when you are copy-pasting that message, but how would I know that… when your effort is so paltry?!)

To rub salt to the wound, you are annoying me by spamming the group.

I appreciate genuine effort! That’s all! It can be small, it doesn’t need to contain bombastic words ala Shakespeare or Chaucer, but it can be genuine and real. At least!

Even if it contains grammatical errors/misspelled words… I would appreciate it a thousand times more than a thoughtless copied message.

I leave you today with the facebook status of someone whose idea and intellect I actually respect who had said the same thing I am trying to say. Maybe his facebook status could convey better what I really think when I write this post. He wrote about the unfortunate rampant spamming that has become the ridiculous trend in our society during festive season. I agree wholheartedly with what Tai Zee Kin in his facebook status had said. And below, I copied his very thought provoking facebook status into my blog post.

I think, this facebook status deserves a standing ovation.

Until next time, my dear readers.

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Ethics & Professionalism

“Kenapa Dr. Afiza tak jadi MO medical or surgical? Dr. Afiza nampak macam doktor yang patut duduk dalam department yang busy.” One of my HOs had asked me.

So, I told her that I was supposed to be an ENT doctor after my housemanship. But I wrote so many letters to the hospital director to refuse my posting in ENT. In my last letter I had said that “putting me  in ENT would be a waste of time for me and for everyone. It would be a waste of time for ENT department to train me when they know I am going out to psychiatry one day.” After that last letter, I think even ENT department would think twice before they take me as their MO. When I wrote that letter, I imagined that the ENT specialist would feel “dah budak ni cakap terang-terang tak mau masuk department aku, aku pun tak mau terhegeh-hegeh nak ambil dia”. Hahah. But I wrote that blunt sentence anyway. (Because I don’t give mixed signals. Hahha) The purpose of my last letter to the hospital director was  to state in the boldest possible manner that I’d rather be in the busy A&E where I could learn a variety of cases, than be placed in a highly specialized department such as ENT when I KNEW I would be going out anyway. It WOULD be a waste of time placing me there.

I remember thinking back then that if I couldn’t get into psychiatry, I would be happy being in  the busy A&E. I actually enjoyed my A&E posting when I was a HO. No matter how busy it gets, you can get off immediately once your shift is over and there is no on-call!  So yeah, I don’t like heavy on-calls like the ones they have in  medical or surgical. I have other interests in life such as reading, writing and hiking that I really don’t think I would be happy being too busy as a doctor. But I can do A&E. You just need to be fast in A&E and no matter how busy it gets, once your shift is over, you are done! Tomorrow is another day with another set of patients.

Maybe my HO’s observation that I should be in a busy department sprung from the fact that I have a type A personality. I want things to be done fast. I walk fast, I talk fast ,I drive fast… I even eat fast. In fact, my brain is always busy trying to think about making  things even faster. For example, I never park my car on the porch of my house because I wouldn’t be able to get moving fast. If I park my car inside the porch, I will have to open the gate first, then get into the car and reverse my car out of the porch, then I have to get out of the car and close the gate, and then I have to get back inside my car and only then I can start moving. See how troublesome and time-consuming it is!

Instead, I just park my car directly outside my front gate. So that when I want to go somewhere, all I have to do is get inside my car and just drive away. It’s more efficient and less time-consuming.

If I ask for something to be done, I want it to be done fast, especially if the completion of my task depends on YOU doing your task, FIRST. If your work doesn’t affect my work, then I won’t mind one way or another. I am pretty easy going actually (I think, haha). As long as my work is not affected by your progress, I won’t really notice your activities in the office.

To me, work performance is the ultimate goal in your working life. I don’t want to be involved in office politics, administrative stuff, gossips and conflicts… as long as they don’t bother my own work and my own performance, I will steer clear of non-doctor activities. I want to be a doctor as much as possible rather than being an administrator, peacemaker, mediator, conflict-solver etc etc. I have zero interest to lead or manage people, nor do I have any desire to be led and managed by others. I would follow whatever the majority has decided to do (if I agree to it. If I don’t, I will certainly speak up), and I would keep on doing my work as I always do. I won’t get into conflict with you as long as your conduct doesn’t bother me. I would never willingly accept being tasked doing the MO roster or being in-charge of other people (I had to do the roster when I was a HO in A&E and it drove me nearly loco arranging for everyone’s leaves and requests. I promised myself that I would never again take on the task of being the captain of any department). I want to go to work, see my patients, and come back from work to read my books or study for exams.  My external life must remain pristine, neat and uncomplicated because in my internal life, I have a rich universe inside my head. I read, and then I think about what I had read, and then I research/google about matters I have thought about,  and then I write about what I’ve thought over. Then I repeat the whole ‘read, think, research, write’ sequence.

(To be honest, my internal life is much more interesting than my superficial external life. Haha)

I have no time for dramas. (Having said that, I WILL be a drama queen should you ever decide to bother me with your ‘entah apa-apa’ ideas that affect how I do my work.)

But when the office politics or personal conflicts start to affect your work or my general surrounding, then I will start noticing. Orang yang tak bergossip macam aku pun boleh jadi bergossip. Hahha. I am usually the last person to notice anything, but when I finally do, I will start paying attention. And then I will start thinking about it… the ethics of it… the professionalism of it.

Because other than reading, I am also very interested in matters of ethics. Books and ethics are the reason I choose to practice psychiatry. Have you ever noticed that a lot of characters in novels deal with personality? (and thus are psychiatry related) The villains in mystery novels have antisocial personality disorder, for example. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes as an opium addict, did you know that? And addiction IS part of psychiatry. A lot of themes in novels deal with psychosocial issues…. a fight for justice, a fight to break away from poverty and bad childhood circumstances, a struggle to overcome some form of traumas so that the character would emerge to become a strong hero. These are all psychiatry-related issues and stuff which I have been fascinated with since the day I could read…. which would be at 5 years old.

And I grew up reading John Grisham’s books. The theme of all his novels are law and ethics related. And thus, medical ethics was my favourite subject when I was in med school. 

And one of the most emphasized aspect of ethics in medical school were conflict of interest and ethics in the work place.

***

I think most people have forgotten their ethics these days. It pained me to say this, but Malays especially are really bad at work ethics. Isn’t it such a tragic coincidence that ‘Malays’ sounds just like the English word ‘malaise’, the meaning of which is hardly flattering. And even the Malay version of ‘Melayu’ makes you think of a withered, shrunken flower.

Malays, in general, tend to allow their personal emotion to spill over into the professional realm and cause chaos in BOTH realms. Their ethics are haywire.

What do I mean by that? Well, I have a list. 😉

Romantic Relationship In The Workplace (intra-department)

This is a NO-NO!! I don’t care whether it is between staff nurses and PPKs or between doctors and staff nurses or between fellow doctors. It’s just really bad ethics! I am not even going to touch on the ‘dosa pahala’ and the morality of your conduct towards your legal spouse at home. But the workplace affair that you have is bound to affect the dynamic in  the department. If your workplace love affair then suffers through a break up, can you imagine how havoc it would be for the rest of us who might feel compelled to take sides just because they are good friends with one of the parties involved? The awkwardness of it is just not worth it!

Ni tempat kerja, bukan tempat ada affair! Get your personal life sorted out!

And if your spouse creates havoc in the workplace because of the affair you have with your colleagues, I am not likely to have a lot of sympathies at the downfall of your reputation at the work place. You put yourself in that situation and you better get out of it without affecting your work performance. The bottom line is work efficiency!

Last but not least, tak malu ke?? People talk about you, you know! It’s degrading, humiliating and an insult to your self-worth. Bagi aku, point malu ni dah cukup untuk menghalang niat untuk mewujudkan office affairs! If you still want to have affairs, at least one of you must have the decency to get out of the department first before you begin any such destructive affairs.

Personal Conflict Impacting On Work Accomplishments

Go ahead and fight with your colleagues if you have to. But never let it affect your work performance. No matter how angry you are at your colleagues/subordinates/superiors, your work must be well-done.  No ELs/MCs or asking to be transferred to a different unit just because you just had a fight with someone in your unit. If you have to communicate with your enemy to get the work done, then you have to do so despite of what you really feel. I can have a verbal argument with anyone, but if my work requires me to communicate with the person I have just had an argument with, then I WILL do so. It is a matter of pride for me that no personal feelings should ever cause my work to suffer. This is nothing extraordinary; just normal, expected professional behaviour. 

It would be the height of unprofessionalism for you to recruit supporters to your side and cause division within the department. If you have a problem with person A, then that’s on you and Person A. There is NO NEED to go to your boss, crying and asking your boss to intervene on your behalf. No matter how good your relationship with your boss is, crying and ‘mengacum’ about your colleagues is just not professional.

In general, spilling tears in front of your boss is just not allowed, okay! We are all adults here! Settle your problem among you guys and don’t bother your superiors with petty office fights.

In general, I don’t like crying women. Go ahead and cry in the toilet, if you must! Don’t do that in front of others! I think, crying publicly is a manipulative behaviour. If you have a point or an argument, say it clearly and professionally…. or even unprofessionally loudly, if you have to! But crying is pushing it beyond acceptability. If I were the boss, I would never let such an act influence me in a positive manner (ONLY in a negative manner).

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Taking sides

No! Double no! Especially if you are a boss! You must investigate the matter properly. It’s not enough that you are fair; you must also be SEEN to be fair. At least, be a good listener to BOTH sides.

Injudicious Emergency Leaves

I have never taken any EL since I came into PSY department (touch wood). I understand that some people have a lot of trouble and commitments in life and EL cannot be avoided entirely. But efforts must be displayed to minimize the frequency of ELs as much as possible. Maybe if you have taken one day of EL when your child has fallen sick, then the next day you can arrange for your spouse to take up his/her share of caring for your child too. This goes to BOTH men and women. Child rearing is not only the job of a mother. A father must take part too. Whenever I heard that a female colleague had to take ELs a few days in a row because her child was admitted into the hospital, I would roll my eyes and think inside my head, “Suami kau buat apa?? Dia tak boleh function ke? Korang tak boleh selang-selang or take turn ke?”

My mother and my father gave me the work ethics that I have now. The only ELs they have ever had when they were still working were when their parents passed away. Me and my sisters were healthy as a child, and we have rarely been admitted into the hospital for anything. So, I guess, my parents were lucky with us. Furthermore, my mother had a reliable domestic help when we were children. My mother said “Kerja elok-elok. Kalau perlu orang gaji, cari orang gaji. Mak sangat-sangat jarang EL. Mak sangat tak suka bila kena pi kerja, ganti orang EL. Seboleh-bolehnya cuba jangan menyusahkan orang”

From 2013 until now in 2017, I have never taken any EL. All my leaves are planned. I don’t know how the future might turn out to be… after all, my commitments are very little now and therefore I can afford my ethics in this. Maybe in the future when my commitments grow bigger and varied, I would have ELs too. But my point is, be considerate and judicious in what you consider as emergency. Kalau sikit-sikit nak EL, orang yang easy-going macam aku pun (ehem!) akan bengang!

Being On Time

I think that I am pretty punctual. There have been times when I arrive late to work, but it is not very frequent at all. Usually it happened when I have stayed up late to study (or to finish a novel) and thus accidentally wake up late. Or it is raining and there is an accident on the road causing me to be stuck in traffic jam.

I can get to work in a 10-minutes drive. So I usually start to get out of the house at 7.45 a.m. Usually my punch card would show that I arrive at 7.55 and occasionally 7.58/7.59. When I still lived with my parents, they would always nag me about it. “Waktu mak kerja dulu, setengah jam sebelum masuk waktu kerja, mak dah ada kat tempat kerja.” Then my father would add something along similar lines. My parents are a strict disciplinarian. 

I told them, “Mak, angah pi kerja sampai on time lah. Lepas tu angah terus pi ward and buat kerja. Angah jarang sangat nak dok kat pantry makan-makan macam orang lain. Orang lain sampai lagi lewat daripada angah, lepas tu pi pantry pula tu. At least, Angah dah makan siap-siap kat rumah.” I would defend myself.

“Mak dah makan kat rumah AND sampai setengah jam awal” My mom would shot back. Yup! When it comes to punctuality, I can never outdo my own parents.

Punctuality is not even an ethical problem…. it’s our life’s general rule, already. Being raised by two parents who take punctuality seriously, I became quite anal retentive about being on time, myself. Having said that, I don’t go around checking on other people’s punctuality… EXCEPT when it affects my own work. If your being late causes me to be slow in doing my own work, then I will start noticing. eg; HOs being late for morning rounds. Even then, I don’t make an issue out of it, if their lateness is not severe. I will simply start the rounds myself. But if you are 10-15 minutes late, then I will start feeling agitated already. So if you want to be late, please keep your lateness within the acceptable range of five minutes. And that’s the max!

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***

Of all the items in the list that I have enumerated above, romantic affair between colleagues is the most troublesome! If the affair involved a high-ranking officer with his/her subordinate, then there might exist an issue of conflict of interest when the officer in question make certain decisions that may seem to favour his/her romantic interest against the rest of the other subordinates. Then, the credibility of the officer shall suffer. All his/her decisions will be second-guessed and silently challenged behind his/her back.

And if the affair is found out by the spouse(s) of the involved parties, that is a whole lot of another can of worms! Your own colleagues would surely gossip about you. And can you blame them? You are the one who brings that sort of trashy, cheap entertainment into the workplace. They are only responding in kind.

So with all these troubles that would ensue when one is involved in an office affair, it boggled my mind as to why would anyone even bother? Even if you are a two-timing cheating bastard, can’t you at least seek your conquest from another setting or another department? Why must you involve someone at work to enhance your career as a casanova? It would hurt your own reputation and distress the whole department!

When I was a HO, my friend from another hospital told me how everyone in her hospital had talked about how this particular doctor had cheated on his wife with a female doctor with whom he worked in the same department. To make matters worse, his wife was also a doctor in the same hospital. Some of the staff nurses had seen the male doctor with his female colleague outside the hospital setting while they were out on a date and then tongues started to wag and stories about them got spread and embellished to an enormous degree. Do you know how ugly the talk became?

Let me enlighten you regarding how humiliating the talk can be. The dialogue would go something like this:

“Weh, MO mana yang teruk sangat ni? Handsome sangat ke dia ni?”

“Tak handsome pun! Tak layak langsung jadi kasanova.”

“Wife dia cun dak?”

“Cun la juga.”

“MO tu dah ada anak pun dengan wife dia. Baru kahwin jer pun”

“Girlfriend dia lagi cun daripada wife dia kot.”

“Wife dia baik laa…. kesian kat wife dia.”

“Awat yang MO perempuan tu pun gatal sangat. Dah tau laki orang!”

“MO perempuan tu pun dah ada boyfriend sebenarnya.”

“Habis tu? Awat dia pi kacau laki orang lagi?”

“Yang wife dia ni pun, awat tak tinggalkan ja laki macam tu?”

Isn’t it ugly? People would speculate about how you look, how your spouse look and whether your romantic interest is more beautiful/handsome than your spouse. If you are not that handsome/pretty yourself, they would talk about how ‘tak sedar diri’ you are. Hahhah. And then they assassinate your character and shred it to pieces! What would be left of your self-respect? Zip, zero, nada!

10 years hence, people STILL talk about you. Trust me! When a new HO enters your department, the gossipy staff nurses would tell them “Doktor ni dulu… dia… yadda yadda yadda. Dia suka kat bla bla bla. Lepas tu dia bercerai and so on and so forth. La ni pun dia dok….bla bla bla” It would be a never-ending headache, following you around like a relentless nemesis (which might be a fitting consequence to your own terrible mistake).

You might as well just transfer yourself to another hospital to get away from all the talk!

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In general, it is NEVER a good idea to mix business with pleasure. But if you cannot help yourself, at least one of the parties involved should transfer herself/himself to another department as soon as things get serious.

If you love your work and you value your reputation, please be professional with everyone at work and keep the relationship platonically friendly. Keep your flirtatious comments to yourself. All affairs start with flirting. So, don’t flirt! If someone tries to be too friendly with you, make your discomfort obvious and better yet, just walk off. He/she will get the idea and won’t try again! Tapi kalau kau pun tak assertive… giving mixed signals here, there and everywhere, it’s your fault! Lepas tu kau dok budget konon ‘aku dalam dilema’. So drama queen! You are the one who perpetuate the dilemma in the first place! G…God!

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In general, if I am nice to you and you are my colleague, that’s just me being kind. Hahaha. My principle is CLEAR about office romance! It’s a dumb thing to do!

Other than via flirting, affairs also get started because a member of the opposite sex starts talking about his/her personal problems to you. Sheesh! If I were the person at the receiving end of such heart-pouring session, I would think “Hiys, hang ni pathetic gila! Hang tak dak kawan lain sama jantina ka nak curah perasaan pasal masalah hang ni? Awat cari aku? Unless you wanna become my patient, I am not interested about your marital problems, especially since you are not of the same gender as me.”

Seriously! What the hell is wrong with people who like to talk about their marital problems to outsiders? Unless you are doing it in a clinical setting, talking about your marital problems to outsiders (especially with one of the opposite sex) is SO INAPPROPRIATE and SO WRONG!  (But then I guess, such conduct is already expected of someone who would have no qualms about starting an office affair and become a cheater). Even if you are in need of a good listener, don’t you have friends of the same gender who might understand you even better? Aku seriously tak faham! What a dodgy way of starting an affair!

My theory is: those who talk about their marital problems to someone of the opposite sex is actually subconsciously already attracted to that person, in the first place. They try to get that person’s attention by pouring out their sob story to this person in a manipulative manner. If this person is smart, he/she would put a stop to such sessions by saying “I wish I can help. But may I suggest you seek professional help with counsellors in pejabat agama, instead?” But if the person is just as ‘gatal’, then he/she would pretend that he/she is just being a kind-hearted, helpful listener to someone with a personal problem. Pffft! Self-delusional, MUCH??

“Maybe office love is about meeting the right person at the wrong place and the wrong time.” My best friend challenged my analysis, laughingly. “Cinta tu buta, Afiza,” My best friend gave me the cliched phrase (just to bait me for a response, I am sure. That’s just like her. Hahha)

Then I guess, love is not just blind but deaf and retarded as well. If I were the guy, I would have a few doubts about falling in love with someone so morally corrupted that she doesn’t mind stealing another woman’s husband. (Is such a husband-stealer the right person? Pfft) And if I were the woman, I would have a lot of qualms about falling in love with a guy who would cheat on his own wife with me. (Is such disloyal cheater the right person too, that you just happen to meet at the wrong place of your office and at the wrong time when he is already married? Come on!) That’s such a sick way to begin a relationship. But then, maybe this is sunnahtullah. After all, birds of a feather flock together, right? And dodgy male and dodgy female are probably made for each other, anyway.

So now the ball is in the court of the poor spouse at home. Would he/she have enough self-respect to leave his/her cheating spouse and move on? Alas, most of the time, they would only break down and cry and beg the cheater to come back into the fold of their loving arms. *sigh*

Sometimes there is no justice in this world. There is no satisfaction of a good ending and an amazing outcome in the stories of real life.

That’s why I prefer books over real life. In the books that I read, the wife will have enough pride and self-respect NOT to beg her cheating husband to come back to her. Instead, she would take matters into her own hands, get some revenge in unique ways, go on to become successful by herself and then find herself another more worthy hero as a replacement. Now, THAT’S satisfaction!

But in reality, the wife would only patiently waits. Konon ‘redha dan pasrah’. Setia ke hujung nyawa, berkorban apa saja. And all such drivel!

Maybe such wives don’t read what I read. *sigh*

***

To all people who are involved in office affairs,

“If it’s the wrong place, at the wrong time… then it is MOST CERTAINLY the wrong person!”

Get over it, and don’t start something that would end catastrophically for everyone involved, only for it to be a fodder for malicious gossip. The tragedy of it all would make you weep. 

Defensive

I think that I am pretty tough as a person. I was raised that way by my father. No one can bully me without me fighting back. No one can ever try to put an unfair blame on me without me lashing out right back.

Speak it loud, speak it proud and justify! That’s my modus operandi, always. Justify what you do if you believe in it enough.  My father encourages that sort of thing in all of his daughters. So that when people criticize us (and we disagree with that criticism because we have our own reasons), you can bet YOUR LIFE that we are going to be very blunt in defending ourselves. Some people would call us defensive.

If I am defensive, so what? From your position, of course you would prefer that I just nod my head and agree to your criticism. But how about from my position?  Kalau hang attack aku and then aku tak defend diri aku, syok kat hang la kan?” Hahha. But I am only defensive in things that I believe I was right or when I have a very good reason to do what I do. If you are going to criticize me, you can at least try to understand where I am coming from. If after having understood my position, you still believe I am wrong, then fine! Give me your counter-argument! Go ahead and silence me! I dare you! I want to know when I am wrong. Challenge me and make me see. Make me learn! Make me shut up simply because I have nothing else to say to defend myself. Defeat me! Go on!

Otherwise, just admit that I am right. (Yeah, sometimes I am so immature. Haha)

You see, me and my siblings don’t run away from confrontation. Even with each other, we are just like that! We are really loud girls! When we grow up, we realize that other people would find us rude instead of frank. But unfortunately, our manners were set already by the time the realization and insight came to us.

Of course, being adults, we are now quite good at softening our manners somewhat. *coughs*

But still a leopard can’t change its spots… but sometimes the leopard can hide the spots, disguise them. (by making a promise to ourselves to be more polite and more humble yadda yadda yadda. Make it a personal jihad to be nice and so on and so forth. Hahah) But the leopard’s spots do not stay hidden all the time. The disguise could unravel anytime, especially during time of stress (when someone pushes our button and irritates us that we just went, “ugh!!” Then all our resolution to be nice is forgotten! Haha) Sometimes we slip up, our amygdala takes over and our REAL nature comes out. So when that time comes, you beware. It’s either my biting tongue or my sharp written words. You choose! 

With that sort of background growing up, I always think I am a strong, independent person. I can live by myself without feeling afraid. I can drive all the way from Alor Star to JB by myself without any worries. I have traveled on my own across the seas thinking of it like another solo adventure. I can argue and defend myself against anyone if I believe in something strongly enough. If  you piss me off enough, one day just you wait for my retribution because you will get it.

I was raised believing that if you want something badly enough, you just have to work hard until you obtain whatever your heart desires. My father said that it is sunnahtullah. “Aturan alam… you usaha, you dapat.” And my father proves it right, most of the time.  When he wants something, he would insist, persist, and go at it until he gets it. When I had to do my History Project (Projek Salasilah Keluarga or something along those lines when I was in Form 1), I had to do a biography of my father. I interviewed him to complete his biography in the project and when it came to his motto in life, he told me that it was ‘usaha selagi daya’.

His name is Azmee….in Arabic, it means determined, resolute, purposeful. Like the name Azam, I suppose. Berazam… It is about persistence, perseverance and firmness of purpose. So at 13 year old, it struck me as such a beautiful coincidence that his motto in life kind of matched his namesake and his personality. Haha. So then, that became my motto in life too. Do whatever you can, and you will get what you want because you have followed the sunnahtullah of ‘berusaha’. Allah will give it to you. So, ‘learned helplessness’ is not in the dictionary of the Azmee girls.

We are strong ladies. Or so we thought.

Well, but now I admit I am weak in other ways. I am not good at accepting disappointment or failure or setbacks. This is a natural weakness for someone who is raised the way I was; raised to think that effort and systematic planning would always yield good results. People who were raised this way are really bad at dealing with things not going their way. We are such control freaks. That’s our number one weakness. My emotion when dealing with disappointing events is raw and immature and I just want to shout on top of my lungs, rebel at the source of my disappointment or otherwise withdraw myself into a corner to THINK!! about how to deal with this raw, immature emotion! (at least I have good insight about my weakness).

When I have done everything I could possibly do … I couldn’t handle it if things don’t go the way I expect it to go. It perplexes me. Why? What did I miss? What have I done wrong?

Alhamdulillah, I have been so blessed in life. All my difficulties are not that difficult, really. All my trials are not that trying. I haven’t experienced losing someone close to me. There is no such a thing as ‘the greatest lost of my life’ for me. Pfft. I have NEVER lost anything I can’t replace. Even my previous life disappointments are not that severe. It might feel bad to be disappointed at that specific time when I was dealing with it, but I could get over it by simply shrugging my shoulder, moving on and telling myself “well, it doesn’t matter anyway. I don’t really need it all that much.” (or maybe that’s my defense mechanism at work) Because in the first place, I REALLY don’t need anything much to feel happy. I have a great, amazing support system in my family and friends. In terms of material, I just need enough money to afford my freedom and enough money to afford my books. (And I thank God, I love the  job that has given me that money.) I also need enough time and space to be on my own to recharge. And then I am good to go. Good to move on. 

Disappointments in my life are rare and far in between… that I don’t get enough PRACTICE dealing with disappointments. Even when I experienced some initial setbacks, my family would push me to work harder until I obtained what I wanted at last, so that the initial setback felt as though it never happened. If I have been disappointed many times in the past, maybe I would be better at accepting it when things don’t go my way or follow according to my plan. I have been so spoiled to think that I can always get what I want if I work hard enough.

Now life taught me that my math is faulty. That the equation involving effort and outcome is not always right.

It is right only most of the time. But not always. Sunnahtullah cannot beat fate! Cannot beat qada and qadar.

For example you could have done all you can to make sure your patient gets the treatment she deserves, and then things go awry. Badly awry, that it devastates you.

For example, you could have planned everything to make sure the patient’s relative understood what he was supposed to do, but then he didn’t do what you told him to do. And then, you got blamed for it. Even though there was no way you could have foreseen what the relative would end up doing despite of your clear, specific instruction.

For example, you could passover your case to another center as flawlessly as you could over the phone, but things still ended up haywire and not properly carried out from the other side because of their own lack of communication with each other. And then, you got blamed for it.

I don’t mind being blamed. I can defend myself really well and I don’t care whose butt or feelings I hurt when I am being defensive. If you are going to attack me, I am not letting you do that without you understanding my position. If I sound defensive, be it. I AM defending myself, so OF COURSE I will sound defensive. Come on, what did you expect? You can label my behaviour whatever terms you want and I will keep on doing it because that’s what I do. I have been labeled ‘defensive’, ‘keras kepala, ‘stubbborn’, ‘asyik rasa dia saja betul’…. hahaha. Even my own mom said that to me. And then I said the same things to my own sisters, too . But really… deep inside, we understood that we are these stubborn defensive people not for ‘saja-saja’, you know. It’s because we have our own reasons for doing what we do. It’s because we believe that you have laid the blame at the wrong person and we are just trying to enlighten you until you see it. You can call it as ‘being defensive’, but I am still going to do it. As long as we know why we do it, we can ignore what you call us and keep on right doing it.  

But when things go badly awry for a patient – something you didn’t expect – it is really disappointing. Really disheartening. There is no one to blame. Nothing to be defensive about. Nothing for me to do. But just to deal with the feeling that I don’t have enough practice dealing with.

Disappointment really sucks. Full stop. 

But I will get over it.

I will shrug my shoulder and get over it. 

But…this time, how do I just shrug my shoulder and say “it doesn’t matter.” Because it matters.