“Have you ever tasted a death?”

No one in this world is willing to taste the death and neither I am. However, the destiny said the other way round. It flashes me back to January 2010, just after the New Year. I had exams in the first 2 weeks in January. All I wanted to do just to make sure that I passed those exams and it would really mean a lot to me as I would ease my days.

I fought harder than what I could actually do. I pushed my efforts up to the limit and beyond. It was not easy. The first exam day passed quite nicely. I got full confident, and I though with a few more luck I could get an honor. The second one was worse, much worse. I had only 3 days to finish everything. With tiredness following the first exam, it made it much more difficult. For your information, every exam day I would not sleep at least for the last 24 hours prior to the exam. Last January, I made 2 days prior exam day. That concludes I only slept in 1 night out of 5 nights I should have. This was where the nightmare started. On the 4th day, I felt I had no feelings at all. Everything tasted the same on my tongue. Everything seemed not interesting. All I could taste was the bitterness on my tongue. That was not all. I felt dizzy. I lost any kind of emotion. It was just like I had my soul but not my body. I started to lost control of my mind. It was where meditation was very helpful. I could still manage my concentration and awareness.

The following day was even more awful. I could hear some voices saying like, “There is a rope on top of your head, just strangulated yourself.” or “This is the death, my friend, stop what you’re doing and let’s follow me.” or “Isn’t this so nasty? Why don’t you just end everything?” and many more with similar intention which is to propose a suicide. There was once I had grabbed the rope before I took back my mind. It was scary. I had to run out to the living room and stayed with my housemate the whole night. Could you imagine what actually would happen if I stayed alone that day? I might not be here writing this post.

However, the exam was not too easy. I could do but not perfect. The main problem was the misdiagnosis of TEMPORAL ARTHRITIS. A disease which they did not deliver in the lecture or write in the notes. They only mentioned in one of the tutorial briefly. That quite disappointed me but I did not really care as I had another one to come in just 2 nights after the second exam. In preparation for the last one, the cycle of day 4 and day 5 recur. The same thing happened in day 6 and day 7, but in much worse and I became exhausted and lethargic. I only drank a few cans of energy drink to keep my mind working. Fortunately, the last exam was not too hard. I got full confident I would pass it.

Three weeks passed by and there you go the exam results were released. When I checked it, I was in full confident that I would pass all papers. However, when I read my number on the list it says ‘FAIL’. I fell deep down. I crushed. I failed the first 2 exams. It was madness. It was a disaster. The disaster was not the fact that I failed but because how close I was actually to the pass. I got 45% and 47%, respectively, and the pass threshold is 50% or I would rather say 49%. I cried. That was all I could do. I still remember on that night I stayed all night long on my bed. I did not eat or drink and even go to toilet. I was frustrated and disappointed.I spent the rest of the night sleeping or rather lying on my bed with emptiness.

The following morning, I woke up and I said to myself, “This is actually nothing. It is just a FAIL. That does not mean the world ends here. There is time for a revenge, a time for you to fight and prove what you are worth for. Don’t let your dream destroyed. Remember, you’re not doing this for yourself only. This is for dad and mom, for your ancestor, for families and the most important thing is for humanity.” I got up from my bed. I took a shower and started to repair the wounded cycle of my life.

When you have to study for the semester and you had some papers to repeat just 3 days after your exam is really confusing. It was difficult to choose and prioritize one on top of the other. Therefore, when the time to choose the Student Selective Component, which is some kind of research you need to do as part of your assessments, I chose the one I thought would be the easiest. I picked a topic on ‘Diabetic Foot Ulcers’. I thought it would be just like reading few charts and report the findings. However, that was not the case. I was given 99 charts by my supervisor to be reviewed by me and my partner. I was requested to review a 10 years follow-up since the day of admissions in 2001. Could you believe it? 99 patients and 10 years follow-up for each of them, that is 990 years of medical records! It was freaking nasty. People had finished by the 3rd or 4th week while we only finished by the end of 5th week. The dateline was the end of 6th week. That means we had 7 days to analysed data and write the report. I did not sleep for 3-4 days just to make sure I could finish everything and so my supervisor would be able to read and made some correction on it. Amazing! we finished everything just 1 hour before the dateline. I was so proud of my work and hopefully I could gain some benefits from the research if I could not get it published.

Then my study break started. I had 1 full month to enjoy myself actually but I had to spend it on my bed reading my notes. I started my 3 hours sleeping per day from that moment. I fought hard. As hard as I could do. By the end of my holiday, I did not manage to finish both modules which I failed and that really scared me because I still had another exam for the semester. I needed much helps from my friends to review for Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) exam while I spent my other time with the repeat subjects.

This is where a friendship is truly tested. When I asked for it in the beginning, everyone was very enthusiastic to help me. However, the plan did not really work because they did not actually care for me. The exam itself was a practical exam and so you got to master your technique to pass it. With some of my group mates, I had 3 days of practice which was quite helpful although the first plan was to do 5 days. Then, the study week arrived, I planned to practice with some of my friends, who I believe was my friend. When I texted them the week before, they replied with an encouraging reply. On the day, only 1 person turned up. One guy said he did not want the practice anymore and the other one said he was sick. In the end I found out he was sick until the end of the exam with the fact that the sickness has never happened. So, I had only this 1 guy to practice with. The first day he came and we spent quite a big amount of systems. The second day he came late and said he had not read as he overslept but he came in the end. The third day he said he was not well and promised me to come the following day, but I did not see him anymore since then. From that moment, I realise who I am actually to them. They could do it for other friends, but not me. Perhaps, nationality and race is one of the issue, I don’t know, but obviously they are my colleagues but not friends. There is a different in those 2 terms. Friends have a care while colleagues mostly don’t. Then I realised that I have actually no friends here in Dublin, well no one has proven to me that I am a worth friend for them by replying the same. I am not demanding a care or what, but friendship is a two-way relationship just like love. That is why between friends you would need love also. In that moment, I really missed lots of my good friends in Jakarta. They helped me wherever I needed them. They cared with my struggles. I have to admit that I could make until the 3rd year in medicine is mostly with the help of my friends from back home. Here in Dublin, I sometimes still feel like a stranger. I got to do everything on my own including practising. Fortunately, I got 8 pillows which I could arrange like a person, than practice on them.

With some ‘betrayals’, I went to the exam. I was not fully confident because I did not practice on a real human. I just hoped I could get an easy history and physical examination, such as cardio (heart system). I also hoped I would not get any killers to examine me.

My numbers was called and I went into the room. When I walked in, I shocked because the room was so big and no one in front of my eyes, then I looked to my left, I ALMOST FAINTED! What could be worse than getting the second most scariest Professor in the institution? Of course, the most scariest but that was impossible as I was in a different hospital with the first. With a lot of worries, I stepped in and the examiners asked me to take history. That was the turning point. What could be any better than getting what you wished in the exam? I got a case of unstable angina. I executed it quite well in my opinion and I answered some questions well although I missed 1 investigation question which I could only remember the answer after I just passed the door! The answer to the last question was Oesophagogastroduodenoscopy (OGD)! That should not be any big deals, anyway. Then it was a boring waiting time. I had to wait for 5 hours after the history taking station to do physical examination! Gosh. It was the longest ever 5 hours, much worse than waiting for a delayed flight.

Finally, at 4pm, as the last group, I went into the physical examination stations. There were 4 of them. I went to room 3 first. The examiner told me, “I want you to check this patient praecordium.” Oh, I flew up to the sky. There is nothing could be better than 2 wishes came true. I also executed it well. The second station was even more amazing! I had ‘Diabetic Foot’! Remember those 6 weeks I spent on 990 medical years? I was like giving a lecture note in that room than a student giving answers. The station 3 was not important as I had passed it by uploading cases. I did not do it well because the examiner asked me about epilepsy while the case was about stroke. I was not sure whether it was just me did not know how to take epilepsy history or she misunderstood the case. Lastly, the 4th station, I could not believe until today what actually I got in that station. I stepped in and suddenly a foul odour struck my nose. Smelling that odour, a big smile rose on my face. It was a smell of Diabetic Foot Ulcer! Perhaps I was the first ever person to smile and be so happy smelling a foul odour, but who cares? As long as I got what I really understands. I could not give any better answers in that station and the last 1 minute, the examiner had no more questions and he gave me a bit of lecture instead of examine me. Aha! What a wonderful day. It paid off all the betrayals and hard work really.

Then I went home. I sat on my sofa and reflected what had happened in the last 4 months since my fail results on February 18th 2010 until the exam day on June 18th 2010. First, I failed exams which I thought I have passed it. Following that, I picked the easiest research which turned into the most difficult and busiest research. I planned a practice and then my colleagues betrayed me. I started my exam preparation only 3 days prior to exam. Wishing and mastering on systems which I really understood well. On the exam day, I got a straight forward case of heart system. On physical examination stations, checking for heart sound has been on my lips months before the exam day while Diabetic Foot and Diabetic Foot Ulcer were what the 6 weeks with 990 medical years are worth for. I realised that it is a karma. I did not know what good things I had done that could make this karma happened but I am really thankful that I now understand one little thing. It is what I learnt in this process. A thing called ‘survive’.

Life is not all about fighting for the best result you wish. It is also about defending your rights and surviving through the madness to actually claim and prove what you are worth for.

For that reason, I have deleted ‘give up’ from my life dictionary. I made 3 quotes to encourage me.

Never say give up!

Say No To Give Up

No time to give up

These quotes that encouraged me to finish my repeat papers. Hopefully, I could now proceed to the next stage in my study and 1 step closer from being a doctor.

I also remember 1 quote I read from 1 book. I can’t recall the title but the last Q&A answer on that book, Lama Yeshe said:

Life is hard but there is always a way out. There is no problems can not be solved

I now believe it beyond the limit that ‘There is always a way out’. It is now just about whether you want to get out of the box or not. It is about how you survive in life and get the better out of it for your very own eternal happiness.


Tot ziens.