A Doc's Life is a underground Medical Blog about some poor Singapore doctors. They are sibei sian and very buay song. Best practices not observed!
(Warning: Grammar is non existent in this blog. Those obsessively compulsive about good English please go no further and book an appointment to see your psychiatrist.)

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Holiday Season

It is the September school holidays and Mr Tan was all ready to set off for a short vacation to Hong Kong with his family. He had promised to bring his son to the new Disneyland.There was however just one little problem before they board the late afternoon flight to the pearl of the east. He had to dispose of his wheelchair bound mother.

"Damn that Ah Heng!" He cursed his younger brother under his breathe. Ah Heng was to have taken in the old lady but he called last night to tell Mr Tan that he was on his way to K.L

"You know lah, my wife complain hardly see her parents. So school holidays, I can bring the children all over. No so lucky like you ok, stay with mother!" His younger brother told him.

With that, Ah Heng was out of the question. Mr Tan tried calling his younger sister but she was busy with her sick father-in-law. "Some more there will be no place to sleep for mother! You think my place like your condo? I stay 4 room flat can?!"

He could have kept her home with the maid but his wife already has her hand full with the two older boys. They needed the maid to look after the youngest of the three, a two and a half year old toddler. "I don't care, the maid must come along. You try feeding the little one and see!" His wife had screamed at him earlier on. Indeed, only the maid can make that rascal eat.

So once again, Mr Tan had to resort to that last trick up his sleeves. He drove his mother in his MPV to Accident and Emergency. On the way there he was rehearsing his excuses, fabricating symptoms with his limited medical knowledge. Well, they were not really excuses. "Mother really had been coughing for the past two weeks. What if it was pneumonia or something? Better play safe, send to hospital. No harm getting another check up by the doctors..... "

They had arrived at the A and E at about 1pm. Mr Tan was getting increasingly anxious with the long queue. He had to go back home, pick up his wife and kids and rush to the airport. He took a peek at his mother who had been quiet all this while. She hasn't been talking much after the stroke which left her wheelchair bound. Flashes of memories of his mother bringing him and his siblings to Tao Payoh park appeared in his mind. Those days she was a big strong woman. When he saw his mother turning to look at him, he quickly turned away, afraid to look at the old lady in the eyes. At 4:30pm, they finally saw the doctor.

"Sir, I don't think there is anything serious enough to ward your mother for." The emergency doctor rejected his request. But he came prepared.

"What???!!! After I spent more than a hundred dollars on the private ambulance to bring my mother here, you say don't admit??? Can you be responsible if something happens? I want to complain!"

The part about complaining always worked. Mr Tan left the A and E at 5pm.


********************
"What's the story?" The Medical Officer asked his Houseman.
"75 year old lady. History of CVA with left hemiplegia. Social admission lah." The Houseman replied.
"Oh yeah, now is the September school hols. Season for granny dumping. December even worse!"
The Medical Officer spoke in Hokkien to the old lady, "Aunty how are you?"
Of which she replied in her slurred speech," Can have Milo? I never eat since morning."

As the two doctors walked away to ask the nurse for some food, Mdm Ong struggled to take out a picture of her grandsons from her pocket with her good hand. She missed them already. All she wished was that they had a good time in Hong Kong. It was just one week. One week later they will come, pick her up and she can go back home again.

32 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:45 PM

    Sigh. Back when I was in the hospitals as a HO we used to hate such admissions especially in the middle of the night.

    But thinking back I realise it is very sad for these old people.

    Well at least this old lady is lucky that she will be brought home. There are many that are totally abandoned.

    I remember talking to this family who said got no money here no money there. But then can take out the most expensive handphones, PDA, drive mercedes....

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  2. aiyuh... poor ahma, so kesian

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  3. Anonymous9:17 PM

    another sad thing is, occasionally these patients who are actually relatively well on admission, develop complications while they are admitted - like acquiring a hospital-borne infection which makes them more sick. Then they end up with a heart attack, stroke or bleeding gastrointestinal tract because of all the stress. and may never leave the hospital. ever. again.

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  4. Julian9:42 PM

    man reading your post just tugs at the strings of my heart. How could they toss their mom around like some toy.

    Sadly its a reality in society that old people excess baggage

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  5. Anonymous10:39 PM

    my deceased mum left me and my sibings 3 years back. and i'm still living in guilt that i have not treated her well when she was alive. my mum was not educated, widowed when we were very young, and single-handedly brought us up. yet before she could enjoy the good life, she had to go.

    damn. all these ppl who dump their parents either in old folk homes etc, will be living in guilt for their rest of their lives.

    i missed my mum.

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  6. Anonymous11:03 PM

    i always feel something extra for my elderly patients. extra extra more when i know what kind of relatives they have.

    guilty conscience

    filial piety

    has the modern lifestyle hidden them up?

    sighs!

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  7. Hey Dr Og

    Thanks for sharing. I really pains me that pple can do this to their parents. What has happened to conscience?? I am not even talking about filial piety or family obligation here.... sigh...

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  8. My granny regularly gets admitted to GH. She has many problems, heart-by-pass operation a few times already, diabetes resulting in amputation of 1 leg, high blood pressure, high cholestrol, stroke, and recently some problem with both her eyes. Doctors couldn't find out what's wrong with her eyes despite various scan, blood test etc. I must say that my granny is very fortunate with all the care and concern from all my aunties and uncles, my family and church mates. We're a close knit family :)
    Sadly every time I visit her, I'll see and hear stories of how familes abandon their elderly parents.
    One incident that left a deep impression on me. It happened this year just 2-3 wks ago. My granny was staying in this ward. I'm not sure what it's. It's a more intensive caring unit but not ICU. Anyway there this dying old man that is a bed away from my granny. He is a cheerful old man always joking and laughing despite suffering from the last stage of colon cancer. I understand that his children do not come to visit him. However, when he was dying, his children, granchildren rushed down to visit him. They were crying and wailing. After he died, I heard his children blaming themselves for not looking after him and could not fulfill his last wishes. My family, relatives and some nurses cried too cause he was a really nice man.

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  9. Hi Dr Blog, can u enlighten me on the classification of wards in sg hospitals? I understand that there are some wards that are classified between normal ward and ICU. Thanks :) Also I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the doctors and nurses of GH for taking care of my granny. Esp to the heart specialist. They are very people :) So much so that my granny wants to take a missy home :) Lol :P

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  10. Nicole1:43 AM

    oww so sad....

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  11. I don't understand why there can be such horrible people around... The world will be so much nicer if selfishness never exist...

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  12. gracie: wards are generally classified by how much the patient is forking out.
    C class: war zone, fully subsidized by gahmen
    B2: 6 bedder, partially subsidized
    B1: 2 bedder, paying class
    A: 1 bedder, high class

    then they are classified under disciplines:
    general medicine
    surgery
    orthopedic, etc

    of course there are the general ward, the high dependency and ICU.

    if you feel that GH did a great job, will really like to urge you to write a complimentary letter for the nurses and the team doctors. while complaints are common, compliments are few and far between!

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  13. Anonymous10:49 AM

    All these people who anywho dump their father/mother/grandmother/grandfather/..one day will get dumped at their own 'Toa Payoh Park'! Then they will sit down and tink..

    -discoteck

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  14. Wa, i think it's a sad story that's repeated again and again in every hospital.

    There are 3 main problems:
    1) The mum had to give birth to sons like that.
    2) The son had to marry woman who doesn't give a owl's hoot as* about the mother-in-law.
    3) No one knows how to find momentary respite from non-stop care-taking in the right place.

    Think the problem will only get worse with smaller families and increasing elderly pop.

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  15. feel the moist in my eyes reading this....

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  16. Anonymous1:48 PM

    SOme people are just so heartless.

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  17. You mean this ISN'T an abnormaly and people ACTUALLY do that on a usual basis hence 'granny dumping season'??!

    This is just so wretched. I'm aghast....

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  18. huh!! how can people do this to their own mother..cUcKOo kids..unfillal son..

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  19. its really sad to read this. I wish it werent true.. but there are too many of us abandoning our own family members

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  20. Placing the mother in the hospital is not as bad as not giving her food or drink for half the day.

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  21. Anonymous9:18 PM

    great post.. unfortunate but unfortunately this is predominant in our society..

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  22. feel sorry for the granny to hear this story.

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  23. And there are some whose children didn't want them anymore after they are admitted, so the medical social workers have to scramble to find placement for them. And if no place wants them, they stay in the hospital forever and forever.

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  24. Haiz..The problems of an aging society. Anyway Dr Blog, my aunt did wrote a letter of commendation to GH :) and thnks 4 ur reply :)

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  25. WAH KNN THAT ASSHOLE.!!! he's really beyond the amount of vocab i can use already.

    sigh.

    i hope if you can, find time to chat with them?

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  26. Anonymous9:53 AM

    I guess most people dun realise it. But yes it is a VERY common occurence where during the school holidays or over a long weekend, old folks are DUMPED at the A&E and insist on admission for whatever reasons the family has.

    In the hospitals we call these "social admissions".

    Now you know why sometimes doctors have to be cold and unfeeling. To protect our fragile minds! People in Singapore are the real ones who are cold and unfeeling.

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  27. Anonymous10:50 PM

    Hmmmm I am not defending the guy but haiz at least he is willing to take care of his disabled parent and not dump her at old folk home which many ppl does nowadays. I think there are even cases where ppl juz dump their parent at the hospitial and do not pick them up!!

    So cut the guy some slack, he is not the worst out there.

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  28. you know, it's funny how many other issues I saw after going into this line. All I wanted to do was to get a degree, dispense panadol and hopefully get admitted to a few country clubs but it turned out that I got to see the underbelly of society. "Dumping" admission aside, there're also the cases of morphine theft, MC abuse etc. Social Medicine is a thing which all new doctors should be aware of.

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  29. Anonymous10:49 AM

    I HOPE THE SON DO READ THIS POST AND PONDER OVER!!

    CHILDRENS LEARNED PRECIOUS LESSONS AS SUCH, FROM THEIR OWN BELOVED PARENTS!

    U R A FATHER, URSELF, U SPENT TIME AND $ TO MAKE YOUR CHILDREN HAPPY, STATISFIED THEIR EVERY NEEDS BUT AS YOU AGED, WILL YR OWN CHILDREN CONSIDER YOU AS THEIR BURDEN LIKE U NOW CONSIDERED YR OWN MOTHER AS A BURDEN!!

    SHE MIGHT BE OLD AND SLOW BUT YOU WERE ONCE SLOW AND NEEDED HELP WHEN U BREATH YR 1ST BREATHE IN THIS WORLD! WHO ROCKS U TO SLEEP AND WHO CUDDLE YOU DURING RAINY DAYS WHEN THUNDER ROARS AND LIGHTNING STRIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  30. ah fatt's fan12:30 PM

    Parents who do this are just teaching their own children what to do to them in the future....

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  31. seen this before. and worse esp when they actually call 995 instead. at least they bring by themselves not so bad. i remember when i was still serving my ns. knn. call 995. yet no relatives wanna come along. say what they'll come along in their own car. stationwagon type somemore... so big. yet want ambulance...

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  32. Juz passing by..... decided to say hi.

    Interesting blog!

    Cheers!

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