An emotional roller-coaster week and the Hippocratic Oath

As this week draws to an end, I reflect and realise that it has been a very emotionally charged week. I have had periods of euphoria and moments of fear. Phases of grief and agonising seconds of shock. I have been happy, grateful, calm and at peace as well. But then this was a rather exceptional week in quite a few ways…

Monday began and someone very close to me began a new job after a long period of speed bumps in the road we call life. I was eternally grateful that the tide had turned. It also brought home to me the importance of keeping ourselves sane and grateful even in adversity. Otherwise our mental health can really suffer. On Monday I also received a few emails for personal statement help. Having never been in a position to be of use to anyone really, this was a moment of pride and happiness. Finally something I had done was actually helping someone. (They say that its only clinicians and medics who are constantly feeling grateful that someone wants their help! Guess I chose the right profession…)

On Thursday I graduated. With the full academic gown, national anthem being sung (which I’m ashamed to say I don’t know the full lyrics to), hand-shaking with the esteemed principle and most importantly sharing a very important moment in my career with the most important people in my life. Emotions that day were all over the place…mostly because there was no phone signal in the graduation centre so none of us could find each other for congratulating/picture-taking…I also felt a sense of honour to share the stage with so many successful and brilliant people. From fellow graduates to our professors to phD students and those being awarded honour degrees due to special recognition and contribution to the scientific community. For me, what stood out the most was that I was at the cusp of something big. A stepping stone, if you will, onto a future which I had only imagined from this end of the ‘football pitch’ of my career. And as the medical graduates recited the Hippocratic Oath, along with the principle, a small bubble of excitement and awe erupted inside of me. One day I too will pledge to become a good, faithful and genuine doctor. But until then, here is the oath which is the first and final prayer of a doctor, nurse, paramedic, health care assistant and any individual who finds themselves responsible for another human being. Although written by Hippocrates (A greek philosopher/ physician) in the 5th century B.C.E, its still relevant in today’s modern day and medical practise. I do urge you to read it and understand it, especially if you are in the medical field. Here is a quote from the original text:

Make a habit of two things: To help, or at least, to do no harm – Hippocrates.

But on Thursday I also heard a very shocking and sad news. A student of a local school, a friend of many close friends of mine, had sadly passed away in a tragic accident. Although I didn’t know this person, I felt numb and a little helpless. Who knows when we could get ill, hurt, or die. All we can do is minimise the chances of it happening. It made me acutely aware that everything I had achieved and stood for, I did for survival. In death, my name and fame will mean nothing. Death won’t pick and choose. Death is random and inevitable. And so it is even more important to be grateful, happy and forgiving. To love and smile. To hug and kiss and laugh. And to do it today. Because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

My brother often says (thought he didn’t come up with the quote):

The past is history, the future is a mystery. Today is a gift and that is why it is called the present.

I wish all of you a very happy, healthy and safe weekend!

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