Friday, October 9, 2015

Meanings in life

Meanings in life begin with an impression. Actors are experts in remembering episodes in their lives. When an acting situation requires, an actor will recreate the internal sensation of similar situations. Professional actors will store away the internal sensation afterwards, lest it will affect their daily lives. One can't bear to have a loved one died once in a while nor fall in love with a new beauty every day (though the latter case some of us might wish to come true!)  For ordinary people, some incidents can create lasting impressions. When we said we learned from experience, we meant that such experience gave new meanings or perspectives to our lives. Our lives have changed.

A few years ago, I had a PE (pulmonary embolism) arising from blood clots from my broken metatarsal The clots were carried along my deep veins all the way up, passed through my heart's chambers and eventually stuck in the main artery joining my heart and my lungs. I was later told that if my condition was not treated immediately I could have died within a couple of hours. Most physicians I talked to afterwards told me that such condition would commonly only be found out during autopsy. Sudden death in hospital, a number in a bunch of statistics.

The previous evening I was sent from A&E to brain surgery ward of suspected stroke. My wife dialed 999 because I complained about heart pain and half body numbness. After undergoing some tests, with a brain scan, no issue was identified. Next morning the attending physician, a brain surgeon, told me that my heart pain was probably due to my misuse of medical crutches, and I was supposed to be discharged the next day. I had some urgent papers to sign, so I called, in good mood, one of my staff to bring the papers to the ward. My wife said she would come too. She is a jewelry designer and we are in business together.

Who saved my life? A dedicated intern (called houseman or house officer in Hong Kong) who probed into every minute details of the blood tests that I did during admission to A&E. He was not supposed to be in my ward that day, he came to stand for another intern who took the day off. His questions were very thorough. I replied patiently in details too, meaning to be "helping a new intern to better understand a new case"! I was told that inmates in our public hospitals would sometimes complain, among themselves, about interns - "they just look kind, in actual fact they only ask questions but will never follow up on our special requests".  My experience is different, I had good rapport with this intern. Perhaps I felt happy that I was going to be discharged the next day. Or it is simply my nature.

To make the long story short, the intern correctly diagnosed me to have PE and I had an urgent open heart surgery to take the blood clots out. When I was discharged, I tried to find his name but was surprised to learn that interns were not in the hospital's doctor list. I went back to the ward with my wife and asked around. I got his name and wrote him a thank you letter via the ward's physician, in the letter I wrote,

If most (doctors) could be like (you), I am sure our health care system can have a quantum improvement within the next few years!

What is the meaning of this incident? Some of my Christian friends said the intern must be sent by my guardian angel to protect ("He is your guardian angel. God has planned something for you in future"). Some of my Buddhist friends invoked the concept of karma and concluded with "we'd better do more good things to other people during this life!". When I wrote the above I was simply happy that we had one more excellent doctor in Hong Kong who had saved my life and who would save more lives in future. My life though has changed. Changed to the extend that I have begun looking for what meanings I can give to other people for every extra year I blessedly have.

Last year Hong Kong had this umbrella revolution for democracy. On day one the police fired loads and loads of tear gas grenades onto peaceful demonstrators. Such unreasonableness made top line in international news. The movement ended but its influence will be far-reaching in the future. On that day a number of volunteered doctors and registered nurses (many from our public hospitals) immediately came out, organized and ran on site make-shift emergency clinics treating injured citizens/demonstrators. A leading figure was a young doctor from the A&E department of a major public hospital. His name is Dr. Leung Tze Heng (Ray Leung 梁子恒) , the intern who diagnosed my PE four years ago.

Dr. Ray Leung

1 comment:

  1. Blessings Dr. Ray Leung. I too am a health care professional but in America. The story helps remind me of why I probe a little deeper at times. I have made these sort of differences in lives at times although I am not a physician.


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