To the keen-eyed & the critical, the title should've read 'Psychiatry & I'.

But I figured a lil' rhyme at the expense of death by grammar is worth it if it'll make the title that bit more catchy. If it worked for Timbaland then it'll work for me;

After all it's just 'the way I are'.

Alhamdulillah, praise be to Allah the Merciful, I've made it to 3rd year. Congratulatory remarks & handshakes aside, I really am grateful tohave finally made it to my Clinical stage.

No more waking up to go for classes you dont believe in.

No more by-hearting things you cant even see.

No more discussions about fictional diseases.

Because now I am in the realm of reality; the substantial & the concrete.

Cold, hard medicine, at it's best.

It's one thing to read about ascites (collection of fluid in peritoneum/abdominal cavity), & another when you're face to face with a patient whose stomach is so distended insects may confuse it for an anthill, & at every turn of their body and gentle palpation of the abdomen will ellicit a wince of the face & a quiet whisper of pain to escape from their lips.

"Novu aagtade"

"I have pain."

Here, pain has a face.

And she greets you 'Namaskara' every morning & hopes that the hand she's shaking is the same one that'll take away her pain.

Ascites is no longer a line in a textbook, or a picture on an OSCE slide; it's walking, talking, & eating. It may have 4 sons & 3 daughters, it may have a history of hypertension, it may also lie about its smoking habits only to be betrayed by their nicotine stained-smile.

Here, ascites is a person.

It feels good to finally put a name to a face. It starts to make sense when & what certain drugs are used for when you see their packaging strewn across the bedside table & hanging off the i.v. pole. You feel good when your finger throbs in pain from the percussion you performed on a patient.

I do feel bad for the patient at times; having to endure our constant prodding & enthusiasm for examining their bodies. I thank them for their patience in answering our repetitive questions when we're trying to document their history. For tolerating our broken Kannada; I know how hard it must be to not die from laughter at our grammatical mistakes (more like grammatical disasters).

This was one month ago, during my Medicine posting at rural Karkala hospital. Bitter-sweet times, I think I'll miss it the most. Though we lived in constant fear from being scolded in front of the patients, it was my initiation & transition into the Clinical world. And like all first loves, you never forget them.

I'm now posted to Psychiatry at KMC Hospital. A hospital so big & twisted I think it moonlights as a maze in its free time. Apart from learning the theoretical aspect in classrooms, we're also expected to do our rounds in the patient wards.

Ward D4. Famous for its residents. The mentally-ill reside & recieve treatment here.

There's only one way in & one way out; and that said portal is framed by a locked metal door. A security guard with a curly mustache holds the key; I am of the opinion that the mustache is the source of his strength. Windows are barred with a grill & no sharp objects are allowed inside.

On my first day to the ward, I knocked 3 times on the metal door. A mustache hovers into view in the door's porthole followed by a face & a critical eye looking me head to toe.

"Tak gila kut", he seems to think.

And I was granted entry.

On my left, an old lady with a green sari greeted me by rocking back & forth on a stool, all the while mumbling to herself & making facial expressions to go along with it. On the opposite wall a girl was giving me the eye as I passed her. A warm welcome indeed.

I walked on with the hope of finding my classroom, which I was told was at the end of the ward. Judging from the seniors' stories about this place, to get to the classroom was like going through a baptism of fire; sometimes you get stopped by the enthusiastic Aunty whom asks you if you're 'the teacher?'. It's also the same Aunty that insists you take her BP measurement just for fun. At other times you may get a man whom has a penchant for Chinese girls & will ask them out to watch Hindi movies together; reject him & you will earn the privilage of getting a banana thrown your way.

I passed a group of carrom players, all of whom stop & raise their heads to gift you a sweet & innocent smile as you approach them.

Just the other day, we were having a class in the classroom by the ward. Suddenly a loud banging & crash blew the thick old wooden doors wide open. Immediately 3 girls did an interpretive dance as a way of expressing their shock & fear (names witheld to protect the sanity of the dancers, nyuk3) at the intrusion. Some of the dancers stood up & did some fancy footwork while others even incorporated the chairs they were sitting on as part of their repetoire.


The 'gatecrasher' strolled in slowly into the small classroom, lending suspense to us sitting at the back of whom our view was obstructed by the old wooden doors until the gatecrasher strolled clear into view. He was of average built & nutrition, dressed in kain pelikat/sarong with a shirt, eyes half-open & with a drowsy look about him. A 3-second pause followed before he issued a very meek "sorry" before turning around & exiting the classroom.

Fuh, what a day.

It may be amusing to read & watch their antics, but never forget that they are still people. Your cynical smiles will still register with them & eat away at their being much like how you'll laugh at a child for his foolishness when he tells you it rains because the clouds are crying. In both situations you willl make the patient & the child cry, the only difference being that the patient cries on the inside.

Psychiatric patients are no less human than you or me, & that their quirks & oddities should be embraced & studied. These people need our help & the stigma attached to them should be abolished so that they may be one day treated & rehabilitated to restore them to the people they were pre-illness,

Or to the people they would have become have they not been born with their illness.

The Reading Habit

An Introuction

Hello & welcome, from me to you.

Talking Shop:
If you talk shop, you talk about work matters, especially if you do this outside work.

But anything goes really.

Hope it's as pleasing on your eyes as it was for me typing it out.

Thank you & enjoy.

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Shop Talker No.1

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Doctor by profession, but generally very lazy in real life. Hailing from Kuala Lumpur, and with the exception of a few years, I'm mostly made in Malaysia. Currently serving in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Malaysia) as a Neurosurgery Medical Officer, discovering and enjoying this blessed 'Land Below the Wind' since 2012. Let's talk shop.