Monday, December 22, 2014

First journey to Gerik

As many of you know, I am going to be posted to Hospital Gerik. It is 3 hours away by car. We went to Gerik last Saturday - Dad, Mum and me.

It was a long, long drive. We cut through to Langkap, then highway towards Kuala Kangsar and then towards Gerik town itself. I was so gung-ho about driving all the way to and back, but in the end, I faltered. I slept late the previous night. Dad didn't want me to drive.

I was trying my hardest to memorise the route and landmarks. But everything along the way seemed so similar - I gave up. As we approached Gerik, the roads began to climb steadily. "Are these the roads I am going to drive on from now onwards?" I grew scared.

It was raining the entire Saturday. The rain was relentless. Even as we hit Gerik town, the rain had not stopped - not even once. We drove through the main street of the town. We saw the hospital. It was quite small. One look at the Emergency Department told me that it is a busy hospital nonetheless. One good thing about this place that it is so contained. The hospital is across the street from the bus station. The Store supermarket is just nearby. The town centre is a few streets away. Even TF supermarket is opening soon - just next door. I felt a bit lucky. New shops are springing up everywhere. Most are painted in bright colours - yellow, red and pink. Even the hospital is pink. (Why pink?)

After we had lunch at KFC, we headed back home. I offered to drive. Because the rain did not stop, I really had a tough time driving. Raindrops on the windshield was so distracting. I was fighting sleepiness and fatigue. I realised I couldn't drive all the way from Gerik to TI. I cannot possibly do this every time I want to go home. Dad drove from Kuala Kangsar onwards.

That night Mum received a phone call from our nosy neighbour. We nicknamed her 'Datin Bandar'. Her daughter was posted to Hospital Slim River (a mere 1 hour journey compared to my 3 hours drive). She sounded so 'concerned' that I am going to a place so far away from home.

"Why didn't you appeal?" "Gerik is so far." "Such a remote town!"

Mum was quite pissed off at Datin Bandar's remarks, but she remained civil. She dispelled all our neighbour's 'worries' one by one. Mum and I suspected that DB just wanted to gloat about her daughter's posting and revel in our misery. Too bad... we are not wallowing in misery. Overall, we feel quite positive about things. (Although I am not positive about the long drive and my lack of accommodation at this point in time.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My two cents on methadone

"Why should we spend money on these people? The money could be used to buy medications for cancer patients..."

"I really hate drug users! They are good-for-nothing!" (Said in reference to methadone patients)

These are only few of the many negative comments I have heard in the past year about methadone maintenance therapy (MMT). And these were uttered by healthcare workers - mainly pharmacists and pharmacy assistants.

I just nod my head silently, but inside I am already judging them for judging others. (Hey, I am not perfect.) I know a lot of money has gone into the programme - with the daily dosing of methadone for so many recovering drug users. And out of the many patients, there are many of them who would try to cheat and lie to us. Old habits die hard.

But for every misbehaving patient, there is one who is committed to the programme - one who works an honest job, one who brings his kid in every day with him, one who expresses regret for abusing drugs many years ago. Heck, there are some who don't believe in the efficacy of methadone but choose to continue, because using illicit drugs can be more harmful.

I think that we shouldn't discredit the entire programme just because of the patients' previous faults. As health professionals, we shouldn't judge others. We are not supposed to be a moral or ethics police. We are just here to provide medications to people who need them in a timely and safe manner.

I also truly believe in what I learnt in uni a few years ago. MMT is beneficial because it removes drug users from harmful behaviours such as the usage of dirty needles, overdosing, Hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS. If MMT could reduce the likelihood of Hep C or HIV/AIDS spreading to wider society, why not?