The Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore

Ashes. Posted on 12th Jul 2011, 8:45pm by admin

Feeling rather unsettled. My mind was in a bit of a flurry today after I learnt that my MOPA had picked up smoking.

I still remember asking all my new medics on the first day when they came in, who smoked and who didn’t. Seemed promising – 2 smokers. I had rather lofty ambitions of getting them to cut down and eventually quit smoking. My new medical centre building doesn’t even have a designated smoking area. On hindsight, was I blinded by trust? Should it have been 2 truthful people back then? I made my anti-smoking stand clearly, and dutifully reminded the rest not to pick up smoking from their counterparts, while trying to encourage the smokers to cut down and quit.

4 months down the road – 2 regular smokers, with 3 new / closet / social smokers. I think he tried to hide it from me – the gum chewing, the deodorant. Please. Its like trying to hide an elephant in an open field of lalang. Nothing can hide the smell of cigarette smoke.

As I sit in front of the computer with fingers to the keyboard, the emotions wash over me one by one…

Anger – anger at the smoker medics who offered cigarettes to the non-smokers. Anger at the non-smokers who didn’t heed my advice and warnings not to pick up smoking. Anger at myself for not policing them more stringently.

Disappointment – Really, I initially had higher hopes for some of them. Smoking is like a one-way path. Its hard to find that elusive U-turn.

Regret – parents send their sons into NS to defend their nation. Now I have 3 people who have “picked” up smoking in my Medical Centre. How am I, as a doctor, and their direct superior, going to answer to their parents as to why their sons picked up smoking?

Vexed – smoking, at the end of the day is an individual decision. I cannot simply force a smoker to quit smoking by fear of rank / punishment. He has to want to stop smoking himself. There is no point giving a top-down order to ask them to stop smoking, or tell them to knock it down 20 for every cigarette that they smoke. Yet as a guardian of healthcare, how can I go around telling people to stop smoking when my own medical centre personnel are smoking away???

What should be my next step? Is there an easy answer to this?

Why should I be so unsettled? Many will just tell me to let it go – they won’t want to quit; they’re just here to finish their time and leave; and after all, they are just a temporarily 1.5 year part of my life. Well, the answer is that even though they may just want to come here, serve their time and leave – but I just simply can’t let them do that. I answer for them. These boys are my charges. I want the best for them. Even though I may just be a transient 1.5 years to them, I want this 1.5 years to be a positive impact on them too.

And now as anger gives way to disappointment and resignation, with only ashes left behind…

What’s next?

One Comment

  1. John Chua says:

    They are adults, not boys.

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