The Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore

A Prayer for Deliverance.. Posted on 26th Sep 2014, 10:51am by Alvin

My better half recently shared with me an interesting thing she used to do when she wrote cards – she would close her eyes, mutter a quick prayer, flip the Bible open, and read a particular verse. Then she would interpret it into the card for her friends, and it would always be relevant, pertinent, and useful for the situation.

I won’t go so far as call myself the doubter, but I tried doing that this morning, and here’s what the Bible was telling me:

A Prayer for Deliverance” – Psalms 89: 46-52
Lord, will You hide Yourself forever? How long will Your anger burn like fire?
Remember how short my life is: remember that You created all of us mortal!
Who can live and never die? How can Man keep himself from the grave?
Lord, where are the former proofs of your love? Where are the promises You made to David?
Don’t forget how I, your servant, am insulted, how I endured all the curses of the heathen.
Your enemies insult your chosen king, O Lord! They insult him wherever he goes.
Praise the Lord forever!

I mused at it for a while. Sitting in front of my computer, staring at the baking sunrays whilst on leave – it was a bit hard to think of something depressing whilst being on leave.

Then again, is not leave like a form of deliverance from the mundanes of daily work life? When we get too bogged down at work – burdened by workload, admin redtape + paperwork, too caught up in our patients’ lives – sometimes we are all in need of much needed rest, even though we may not recognize it ourselves. We should not be reaching the stage of burnouts – that means its too late already – instead, everyone needs time recharge, reorganize, revitalize. As the Chinese appropriately say, 休息是为了走更长的路. Indeed, we all have much longer roads we have to travel.

Reading a level deeper, I translate the reading into my work life. Currently rotating in Medical Oncology – I have seen more deaths in these 3 months than compared to my regular 3-month postings. Cancer is a frightening disease. It strikes one out of the blue, and literally leaves you hanging to the last hopes you have in your life. In these 3 months, I’ve seen a wide spectrum – Denial. Anger. Ignorance. Hiding of diagnosis. Acceptance. Refusing treatment. Refusing to give up palliative treatment in the faint hope for a cure. Enrollment into trials. Unfit for trials. Best supportive care. The emotions that go through patients’ and families minds… are simply indescribable.

One of my best friends just completed his chemo + RT for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a few months ago. A curable cancer, with a worry for relapse. We’re all keeping our fingers (and toes) crossed for now.

You have to admire the resilience and strength of cancer patients. Especially for patients who are accepting of their diagnosis, prognosis, and at times, the futility of medical interventions – I hesitate to use the word “treatment” here, since at times there really isn’t any left. One of my favourite patients recently went quietly into the night – the patient and family were already very accepting of the diagnosis. My Indian patient aunty was really adorable in many sense – she spoke English, Hokkien, Malay, Tamil + a smattering of Chinese. I always enjoyed speaking Hokkien to her in the morning ward rounds, and she kept asking when she could go home / or for stronger painkillers for her bone mets. Perhaps it was a form of release and relief for the family, that she was finally free of the disease wrecking her body, and that she’s now in a better place. Her domestic helper also shed tears at her passing, as she murmured that “ah-ma won’t get a chance to teach her Hokkien”.

It’s painful at times. To feel for our patients and families, yet be equally detached and logical. What’s important for us as medical professionals to remember, is that even if there’s no possibility of treatment left, there is always a patient in front of us. An individual. With his / her own life story. His / her own family.

Even if there’s no treatment left, there is always a role for us to support them, and be with them towards the final moments of their journey.

One Comment

  1. Dr Eileen Tham Wai Fong says:

    God bless St Ignatius Church.

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Past Blog Articles

2015 Jul: May You Rest in Peace
2015 Jan: Happy New Year 2015

2014 Dec: A Prayer for Deliverance 2
2014 Oct: Who are you, Where am I?
2014 Sep: A Prayer for Deliverance
2014 May: Behind Those Clothes
2014 Feb: The Red Packet(s)
2014 Jan: God Loves You

2013 Dec: Caroling Reflections of an Expired M
2013 Nov: Scripture Reflection for Physicians
2013 Oct: Hang on. We haven’t beat this thing yet.
2013 Sep: Me and My Ride
2013 Aug: A Gift of Life
2013 Jul: Finding Happiness in a Land of Plenty
2013 Jun: A Beeline
2013 May: Living My Love Of..
2013 Apr: The Healthcare Debate
2013 Mar: A Doctor’s Prayer
2013 Feb: Project Battambang ’12
2013 Feb: Mission Srolanth ’12: To Heal the Heart, with a Heart to Heal
2013 Jan: The Hardest Thing To Say…

2012 Dec: The Lost Art Of…
2012 Nov: Rome Sweet Home – Short Reflections
2012 Sep: He Keeps Falling
2012 Aug: God Decides
2012 July: Am I To Blame?
2012 June: Saving Fragile Lives
2012 May: Ruminations On Love
2012 Mar: The iPhone

2011 Dec: The Red Cross
2011 Nov: Give Thanks!
2011 Aug: Ashes – The Epilogue
2011 July: Charity
2011 July: Ashes
2011 May: Of Angry Birds & Cowardly Mice
2011 May: Notes From Salzburg On Good Friday
2011 Apr: What It Means
2011 Mar: A Job.
2011 Mar: Dear Father…
2011 Feb: Clothes, A Person Doth Maketh
2011 Jan: Wonderfully Made

2010 Dec: A White Christmas
2010 Dec: A Medical Christmas Carol
2010 Nov: Saying Goodbye
2010 Oct: I Am Always With You
2010 Sept: Be Joyful Always
2010 July: Managing Expectations
2010 June: But They Are Our Masters…
2010 June: Driving: A Means of Personal Formation?
2010 May: HO Welcome Tea
2010 May: The Rain
2010 May: A Missed Lunch
2010 May: Man In The Mirror
2010 May: Reflections At The End Of The Day
2010 Apr: Finding God In All Things
2010 Mar: Surely You Put Your Trust In The Lord?
2010 Mar: The Significance of a Name

2009 Nov: Batam: Beyond A Mission
2009 Oct: The Broken Rosary
2009 Sept: Love Note To God, Father
2009 Aug: Let God Take The Wheel
2009 Aug: The Prequel: The One About Graduation
2009 July: The Sequel: The Later Months
2009 June: First Month of HO-Ship
2009 May: “The House of God” by Samuel Shem
2009 May: In The Discipleship for Christ


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