Final Day at the NUH
Trip Start May 29, 2009
59Trip End Aug 19, 2009
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Where I stayed
Yesterday was a very good day as we started at the ward belonging to our nice supervisor and were then treated to a bit of surgery in the afternoon. I donned blue scrubs, hair net and face mask which were a welcome break from my stuffy shirt, tie and black trousers. I then put on a pair of wellies (although a lot of Crocs lying about but I couldn't bring myself to wear them) and headed with one of the nicest surgeons I've ever met to an operating theatre. We came in just as they were about to start a laparoscopic cholecystectomy and we effectively saw the whole thing - I was surprised how quick it took (around 40 minutes) but it was done with the utmost efficiency and skill
In the evening we then went to the Lau Prasat Market which was a nice Victorian-esque pavilion that was effectively a Hawker centre. It was lovely although the experience was spoiled by the "live band" that consisted of a sleazy man on keyboards giving Emily a PA (Perv Alert - see previous note) and a woman who was flat and had the voice of a chipmunk and effectively murdered every song she sang.
The day today started rather poorly as our arranged Cardiology ward round wasn't as expected. The doctor that we were supposed to meet barely spoke to us and it was up to another doctor to give us a patient to examine and look at. Although that was highly beneficial, being here 3 weeks has taught us that we weren't going to be acknowledged and we left as soon as we could. Disappointment was swept away as we then headed to our usual haunt of Ward 42 where we met the Scottish doctor who allowed us to follow him and examine a Malay woman who had a haemoglobin count of 1 (apparently, the only example he's seen of someone who had an Hb of 1 and was still alive). We were allowed to examine her and we reported our findings to the nicer registrar in charge. I again had to use my piecemeal mandarin to explain to one patient who was talking incessantly to us about something we couldn't understand that we couldn't understand her.
We then had lunch and saw the Scottish doctor again who spoke to us and wished us well. It was a cheery bye, but then we were 15 minutes late to the mortality and morbidity round. So we entered the dark room filled with consultants, embarrassed while I tried desperately to suppress a poorly timed laughing fit (due to the embarrassment, not the subject matter which was quite dark and about malaria). We then gave a farewell gift to our amazing supervisor and proceeded to have some final photos taken outside the school of medicine.
I felt somber as I left the NUH for what would be the last time as it has been an amazing hospital. Its clean, beige corridors; reams of signposts in 3 languages and the wonderful food court with the temperamental waffle woman, the stand called "Ole-ole" and the rather out-of-place DeliFrance (that serves hot croissants at lunch but not at breakfast when you need it). I'll also strangely miss the countless doctors, nurses, secretaries, elective co-ordinators and surgeons who have humoured, taught, entertained or just stared at us with a mix of confusion, bemusement, derision, and the classic "who-the-hell-are-you-and-why-are-you-here" looks. I especially am going to miss the things that make Singapore different to Britain such as the need for translators in wards, the mix of tropical and western diseases, the prolific and delicious Asian food, patients with highly complex names I can't pronounce, the computers-on-wheels and the pharmacists in toe.
I've learnt many things from this experience the most important being (aside from the medicine) the value of manners and politeness. Being around countless rude people has made me firm in my belief that courtesy is undervalued here and has spurred me to ensure I don't turn into one of them. It's been an amazing three weeks and I'm sad that it's over but I'm excited at the prospect of learning in Britain again. Only a few weeks till uni, let's hope that something from this experience sticks!
My journey isn't over yet...