Of life and death

In the beginning of December, I was going to write about people with whom I’ve gotten to know who are living with HIV in conjunction with World AIDS Day. I fell asleep before I could finish writing my piece.

The day before, I was halfway through writing about the exciting experience I had harvesting bone graft from a victim of a suspected murder. It was going to be about Orthopaedics and the things the posting has opened my eyes to. Again, I fell asleep before I was done.

(This should strongly hint to you how tired I am most of the time when I get back from work. lol.)

Today, something happened which gave a breath of life into the medicine I practice everyday. The dry knowledge of fixing this and treating that changed into a practice which involved human life. Yes. You must be going.. DUH! Of course! But so often, I have guiltily treated the patients as a puzzle of diseases and problems which needed to be corrected… and then console myself that this must be how I think or I will get too emotionally involved and will not be able to treat them wisely as I should.

The call came at 4am. I was in the intermediate care ward in the A&E department. Disaster has stricken a group of people in the region of KL and they need a medical rescue team. No, it doesn’t get too exciting as me tagging the team there. I had to stay back and look after the people who were admitted for fractures. It has been a whole night of  clerking reckless drivers who were either drunks or Mat Rempits who raced on the highways in the middle of the night. It was getting to the brink of annoying.

“This wouldn’t have happened if you drove within speed limits….”

“If you have not been drinking under the influence of alcohol, obviously this didn’t need to happen…”, the selfish part of me spoke in my head.

…until that call came. Be prepared to receive patients who are victims of a massive landslide at Bukit Antarabangsa. Clear the IC ward. HKL’s sending more teams as the first team has asked for backup. The injured was more than we had thought.

As I walked into the Resus(citation) Room to refill my cup of coffee to boost my limited storage of energy, I met him. A toddler around 5 months old. Found at the site of wreckage with no parents with him, but was soon in the arms of his aunt who looked lost as she stared into space, perhaps hoping that the parents of the baby she held in her arms were miraculously still alive.

And then I talked to her. A woman who described the agonizing split second moment she had to make the decision of either jumping from the roof for her life (or possibly to her death) or just stand there afraid to jump and be buried alive. You correctly guessed she jumped for her life. She cried as she remembered that second and shook her head in an attempt to forget the fears. She lost her home… but thankfully her family’s safe.

The last victim I met before I left when I ended my call was a 10 year old boy – suspected of a spinal cord injury as he was crushed by a heavy house furniture. His parents were no where to be found at that time.  His neighbours who were taking care of him feared that his mother might be buried alive. He still did not know. I silently prayed that they were being rescued somehow somewhere.

As I drove home quickly after that, reflecting on the moments where death seemed so real.. although it was real just a few days before when I was before a cadavere harvesting his bones. What changed? It was more than just medicine today. It was about relationships and the pain when people are torn apart by death.  It was somebody’s mother, somebody’s child, somebody’s brother.

…and then my thoughts was quickly distracted by the words I heard playing in the music from my pod, as Travis Cottrell and the grand background of choir voices singing out loud..

“No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me.
From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand.
Till He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

Mom has always said that she wishes to have this song played at her funeral. The sombre moment in my car as I cruised along Jalan Loke Yew, with this song playing was a time spent in memory of those who lost their lives this morning and in prayers of hope that many more may be rescued to have a second chance at life again.

*At the time when this written piece was completed, the newspapers seem to have reported that only 3 were dead. hmm.. somehow it was described by the team that more had died than that. I don’t know.


5 thoughts on “Of life and death

  1. Thanks for sharing these ‘secrets’…

    Indeed, God’s love is for everyone – young and old, rich and poor, man and woman of every race.

    Yes, we pray for peace for the troubled ones hit by the disaster. Most of all, we pray for their salvation.

  2. James Ong says:


    Indeed another great post from you… very touching… Hope u will continue to have the energy to face challenges in life and during work. Hope u won’t be so tired after your houseman 🙂

  3. w1 says:

    My family stays in bkt antarabangsa, and is still living there. I remember the day i got to know the news online. I was in shock.

    Even though they werent hurt…i am grateful for the personnel working tirelessly, as the active team or the backup team lending a helping hand.

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