Friday, September 15, 2006

Letters to the Forum

Why do people write letters like this to the newspaper?

"No lunch served on SIA's flight from S'pore to Shanghai

I recently took SQ826 flight to Shanghai, departing Singapore at 8am and arriving at Shanghai at 1.30pm. I was very disappointed that no lunch was served on board. Food was served at about 9am to 10am, which was called brunch. It was breakfast to me.

When I asked about lunch, I was told that only one meal was served on that flight. I pointed out that the flight only landed at 1.30pm, so the one meal in the morning was not sufficient to fill our stomach. I was feeling hungry then, but the stewardess could only offer me cup noodles, peanuts or biscuits.

I was disappointed that not even light snacks were served during lunch time. Other airlines normally provide main meals and light snacks on board. SIA's management should ensure that passengers are served sufficient meals on board.

Tan Saw Bin (Ms)

This lady could very well have written to SIA directly to voice her complaint and give her suggestions. I find it hard to understand the mentality of such people. It's the same with medical-related complaint letters. Instead of going straight to the hospital or clinic with their issues, patients or their kin write to the newspaper.

And it looks like this letter is going to open another can of worms...

"Don't salvage lives that will weigh on family

THE article, 'Parents of the disabled have a long list of woes'' (ST, Sept 13), serves as a launching pad for me to write to ST Forum on a topic I have felt very strongly about for a long time.

Of the long list of woes, one dominates that of all elderly parents: 'Who will look after my child after I pass on?' Many parents have expressed this concern to me.

In other cases, I have reminded younger parents to cease their globe-trotting in search of a miracle cure and set aside funds to provide for their disabled child while not neglecting their other children.

For those who can afford it, I advise them about setting up a trust fund. But many do not have enough money to provide for their disabled offspring for as long as the patient will live.

I understand the parents' pain and burden because I see it so often. It is one of the reasons I have written to ST Forum more than once about not salvaging lives that will be a burden to their family and society.

My conviction was further strengthened last Tuesday when a patient in his 50s, who I have seen for more than 15 years, came for his annual check-up with his sister.

Surprised, I asked what happened to the father who was the one who brought the patient every time.

'He passed away' was the sister's answer.

'But he looked in good health when I saw him last year.'

'Actually, he jumped and killed himself. He meant to take my brother with him but could not do so.'

I was greatly saddened. The father had asked me for help to find a nursing home for his son two years ago. I gave him a list and he phoned each of them, promising to will everything to the home which would promise to look after his son.

He had a landed property which he lived in, but that too would be willed to the home when he died.

Last year, he told me sadly that all the homes wanted money upfront and turned him down.

As medicine advances, more and more brain-damaged patients will be salvaged. We doctors are playing God all the time though we pretend we should not.

We are trapped between the old days when many of these disabled patients would die because medicine could do no better, and a rational era (which may never come) where doctors and families can come to a rational decision that 'enough is enough'.

As a First World country where millions of dollars are being poured into making us a cultured and vibrant society, could a few million dollars be spared to build nursing homes for disabled patients whose parents are getting too old to look after them any longer?

Dr Lee Wei Ling

Our esteemed colleague had previously written into the papers with her views on the surgery performed on the Nepalese twins, one of whom apparently is not doing well, requiring full-time care from her family. I suspect this letter will also trigger off a spew of responses.

I can't say that I disagree with her views entirely, especially where it comes to building nursing homes for disabled patients or at least, some kind of daycare or support facilities to help care-givers with what must be an extremely difficult situation. I myself have asked the question "Why?" many times when I did my rotation through Neonatology, resuscitating premies, & taking care of severely ill neonates. Many end up vegetative or with terribly compromising health conditions likely leading to lifelong complications which tax not only the wallets of their parents, but are also emotionally draining. But it was not my call to deny or withhold available treatment. When called to resus, you resus.

Perhaps I am cold-hearted, but personally, if I had a child whom I KNEW was going to go through life with a multitude of health problems if we kept him/her alive with all our modern medical means, I would rather let him/her go peacefully instead of having to suffer through a life of questionable quality.


amaranth said...

it's the public-shaming mentality i think.
people feel that their concerns would be more likely answered if they raised it in public rather than with the parties concerned.

love your blog btw :)

aliendoc said...

Thanks for tuning in, amaranth ;)