Angry Doctor

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Recurring Nightmare – End Notes

Please read Foreword first.

Recurring nightmares have a quality of their own. While you are in them, you find yourself experiencing the same bad emotions even though you know you are in a dream and the events don’t really affect you in ‘real life’. And even though you know how the story will pan out, there is nothing you can do to stop it from happening the same way it always does. The only thing you can do is to wait for it to be over so you can wake up again.

I end the series with a real (non-recurrent) nightmare I once had.

This happened when I was in O&G posting. I was a 'conscientious objector', which meant I didn’t perform any procedure related to abortions. They offered us the choice way back when, and at that time I chose it as a 'default setting' despite not having very firm views on the pro-life/pro-choice issue. I wasn’t trying to make abortion illegal, but I didn’t want to have a hand in it.

However, I did see patients asking for termination of pregnancy at the clinic for one reason or another. All sorts of women. Schoolgirls in JC uniforms accompanied by their classmates, professional women who wanted the abortion done 'yesterday' because she had to fly off for a meeting, women who used abortion as a means of family 'planning', and grandmothers who thought they were no longer fertile.

I saw them, did the initial assessment and tests, booked the dates for them, and then left the work to others. I thought I was being professional and that the emotional aspects of it didn’t touch me.

Then one night I had a dream that my best friend was pregnant and she wanted to get an abortion. I was pleading and begging for her to reconsider but to no avail.

I woke up with a cold sweat and a thumping heart, and I knew I had been kidding myself.

The next morning I asked to be exempted from seeing women seeking abortion in the clinic.


  • Sound like being a doctor sucks terribly..that why i choose to be an engineer.Circuit spoil just change or redesign.No need to see any "Drama" or feel guilty..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 20, 2005 6:10 pm  

  • It's a fine line between life & death. We need Doctors, Nurses & the rest of the team to make the gap bigger.

    It doesn't sucks to be a Dr. I think it's challenging if U R in the field of yr interest. And the satisfaction of seeing your patients recover under your care is great. Their appreciation made the hard work all worth it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 20, 2005 9:16 pm  

  • The ancient hippocratic oath forbade cutting and abortion but I understand that this is no longer reflected in the modern version of the oath. One can see why because for certain types of situational abortions, it is not an option not to have one, or for a doctor, not to perform one.

    I am surprised that you were allowed to be a "conscientious objector" in the the Singapore context because this country prides itself on being pragmatic and a "frivolous" request like this sets a precedent for all kinds of "conscientious objection" by people of various religious, ethical or moral shades. Remember the case of the female doctor in Malaysia who used a pencil to touch the patient because her religion forbade her to touch another of the opposite sex? But like you said, that was in the past.

    Your narrative gives me the impression that despite your professional training, you are deeply affected by a subject you feel strongly about even though you had no physical part in it. You feel guilty that somehow you were a chain in the events that lead to the killing of an embryologic life, even though the part about your "best" girl friend was only a dream.

    But huh? they allowed you the choice to be exempted from attending to patients seeking abortion in the clinic? Wah! looks like our hospital administrators are very understanding leh! You must have looked very convincing with your "I had a dream" story. ;)

    By Blogger uglybaldie, At November 21, 2005 12:29 am  

  • I am surprised you are surprised! :)

    With regards to the issue of 'conscientious objector' the departments I have worked with never questioned or tried to influence your choice. I actually managed to 'escalate' my conscientious objector status with immediate effect and no questions asked. :)

    By Blogger angry doc, At November 21, 2005 9:20 am  

  • I am anti-abortion. Always have been.

    I knew from the beginning of my career as a nurse that I could not be involved in any aspect of care that would be construed as prepping for or performing an abortion. However, I have no qualms about caring for the women after the procedure is done.

    It has never been an issue for me, I've always known where I stood and what I was comfortable with. I guess I'm lucky in that regard.

    By Blogger Kim, At November 22, 2005 7:14 pm  

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