Excerpt from “Memoirs of a Doctor” (Pages 98 to 116)
BACK AGAIN TO IPOH
In 2003, after 5 years in New Zealand, I moved back to Ipoh, Malaysia with my wife and my youngest son. My two older sons stayed back in New Zealand to pursue their own careers, one as a medical undergraduate and the other as a dental undergraduate student.
In Ipoh, I joined the Perak Community Specialist Hospital as a Resident Cardiologist and Physician, and KPJ Ipoh Specialist Center as a Visiting Cardiologist and Physician.
Private practice in Ipoh was demanding and labour intensive. I had to manage a very busy outpatient clinic. Then there were cardiology procedures to do, invasive, non-invasive, interventional, and emergency procedures. I had to be on call 24/7. My REM sleep was frequently interrupted, and I was also exposed to a lot of radiation – which took quite a toll on my health.
My social life was severely disrupted. Time management was important to avoid burning out. Every few years, I would take substantial time off from my work as a form of sabbatical leave to rewind, recharge and regain balance – to ensure that I did not burnout. For me, at this juncture, studying in the bible college was a form of sabbatical leave.
A CALLING, NOT JUST A CAREER
The nature of my work was such that I would be called up in the oddest hours of the day to attend to patients. When everyone was asleep, I would be working.
There were many times I was called up from 3am to 7am to attend to patients and I had to be back at work again by 9am that very same day! This was and is part and parcel of a doctor’s life. To me, it was always more than a career or vocation – it was a calling and a passion!
Perhaps to some degree, my only regret is that I did not have more time to bond with my sons as they were growing up. But I remember telling bible stories, including one of favourites – David and Goliath, to my youngest son Joel every night before he went to sleep.
Now that they are all adults and have their own children, they are not very close to me. If I have the chance to go back in time, I would like to do it differently. But God willing, there will still be the chance to do it right again with my grandchildren.
In the course of my private practice, I was also a marketplace soul-winner. I shared the gospel with many of my patients using my office as a pulpit. Consequently, many of them came to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour as I led them to recite the sinner’s prayer. For patients who were already Christians, I prayed for them whenever they came to see me.
In Ipoh, we attended the Holy Cross Lutheran Church. We also signed up for weekly Bible seminar classes which were taught by an anointed Pastor from Kuala Lumpur.
We followed him through the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation – a very in-depth study of the entire 66 books of the Bible, over a span of 16 years. This gave me a very solid exegetical and hermeneutical foundation of both the Old and New Testaments.
PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND
I also accompanied this Pastor on pilgrimages to the Holy Land twice – in 2005 and 2019. Amazingly, the Bible just came alive when I visited key places mentioned in the bible – the Sea of Galilee, Mount Carmel, Bethlehem, Joppa, Mount of Olives,
Western Wall, Shiloh, The Temple Mount, City of David, Magdala, Capernaum, En Gedi, Via Dolorosa, Garden Tomb, Gethsemane, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Temple Institute, Hezekiah’s tunnel, Pool of Siloam, etc.
After returning from the Holy Land, I feel that the bible comes alive whenever I read and study it even to this day – after all, isn’t God’s Word “Living and Active” as Hebrews 4:12 declares? Over the past 16 years, I have had the opportunity to preach in three local churches once every 6 to 8 weeks.
TUNG LING SEMINARY
My wife and I also studied at the Tung Ling Seminary, Ipoh. We enrolled for night courses over 3-years as audit students. These courses were conducted by lecturers from Tung Ling Seminary, Kuala Lumpur for 6 weeks once a year.
We attended these classes from 6pm until 10pm. They were conducted in the form of lectures, workshops, assessments, and examinations. My wife and I also travelled locally, regionally, and internationally for medical seminars and conferences as part of continuing medical education (CME) for renewal of my yearly annual practising certificate.
Over the many years of medical practice, I was awarded Fellow of the Academy of Medicine Malaysia, Fellow of the National Heart Association of Malaysia, Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, Fellow of the Asean College of Cardiology, and Fellow of the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology.
GOD’S CONSTANT FAITHFULNESS
My wife and I also travel yearly to Auckland and Dunedin in New Zealand, and Melbourne in Australia to visit my sons, daughters-in-laws, grandsons and granddaughters.
Thank God, by 2020 we have three daughters-in-law, five grandsons and four granddaughters. By the grace of God, my family grew from just two persons in 1977 to fourteen in 2020!
I can testify beyond any shadow of doubt that my God is a good God. He has faithfully looked after me and my family through the years, taking me through the best of times and the worst of times.
A dog is indeed a man’s best friend and I had a dog in Ipoh too. He was an Alsatian-Mongrel mixed breed. I also called him Bobby, the same name as my other dog in Tanjong Malim. I got him when he was only a puppy.
One day, a cobra entered into the compound of my house. Bobby was very brave. He saved the day. He barked and guarded the compound and prevented the cobra from entering into our house. I quickly called the “Bomba” (Fire-Rescue Squad) for assistance. They sent a team over to my house and safely removed the cobra. I was forever grateful to Bobby for this act of selfless courage. After about 9 years, Bobby became very old and frail.
One day, when it was raining heavily, I opened the gate, and Bobby rushed out of the house. I could not get him back into the house because of the heavy rain. I thought he would come back later but he did not.
Every day, my wife and I would comb the neighbourhood with our car to look for Bobby, but he was nowhere to be found.
Three days later, we spotted him lying down in a field looking weak and frail. We took him into our car, brought him home and looked after him. However, Bobby passed away peacefully after several days. I buried him in the compound of my house. I was very sad, but thank God, I found him and had closure over the incident. Otherwise, I would still be feeling guilty.