My Gerik Diary
Guys, currently I’ve been posted to Gerik, Hulu Perak. After completed my housemanship in Hospital Taiping, I’ve been sent to a place where it never ever crosses my mind, Gerik. Where my worst nightmares came true!
OMG! Initially I was so reluctant about the decision made by the state authority. I was so frustrated and keen to make an appeal. It’s not the place I hate, but it’s the matter of distance which means that I have to separate with my loved ones. Few attempts made to contact with the department and person- in-charge were all in vain. Meaning that I have to report myself to Hospital Gerik no matter what. At that moment, all my happiness of becoming a medical officer simply vanished and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gloom which surrounded me for days; when counting the days to Gerik.
For those who don’t know where Gerik is, it’s a small township located at the border between Southern Thailand and Perak. Those who plan to travel to East Coast of Peninsula of Malaysia by using the West-East Expressway, Gerik is a place where they must pass by. The major tourist destination around Gerik is Lenggong, the latest UNESCO Heritage Site of Malaysia in 2012,the place where Perak Man was found. The Royal Belum Rainforest and Banding lakeside is one of the most pristine tropical forest in Perak, and Betong, a city in Southern Thai province.
Not that I’m from a big city, but I found it rather hard to accustom myself with the life style over here. And for the 1st time in my life, I’ve made contact with our peninsula aborigines, Orang Asli.
Batu Dua Green Curry steamed fish! Some of them said this is the reason why they revisit Gerik.
The life is simple over here as there is only one main road in Gerik, with a few rows of shop houses. The only fast food here is KFC, and the only place where we can hang around is The Store as there is no cinema here, no night life!. And the only place operating 24hourly is our Accident and Emergency Department of Hospital Gerik.
The living pace here is much slower compared with other places, thus, for those who plan to spend their retiree life in a peaceful, serenity with picturesque sceneries, then Gerik is a place to consider!
Even though we were the only customers in the restaurant, it took 15-20mins for them to prepare our food. Sometimes the food were not served even after we had finished our second drinks.
Air field of Gerik, the only place where I spent my evening time jogging here…
And don’t assume that the living cost in Gerik is lower. According to locals, they imposed a surcharge on the transportation fees from Ipoh to Gerik due to the distance. The price of the food here is even higher than Penang and the room that I rented is also the same price as in Ipoh despite it being in a rural area.
As a doctor in Gerik, you are highly respected as there are not many medical officers here. Gerik Hospital is always among the least popular. Some of medical officers claimed they have got those big ‘cables’ in the ministry and will try to apply transfer out even before stepping foot in Gerik, and some of them never even show up on the day they should be reporting. So we are always working under inadequate man power. And Gerik Hospital is the only hospital in the area. The nearest hospital next to Gerik is Kuala Kangsar Hospital which is about an hour distance away.
Life as a doctor here is challenging, although it’s only a district hospital, but we are facing all kinds of conditions here, and the one which I never encountered before during my houseman-ship in Taiping is a variety of diseases and different kind of conditions of our aborigines. Frankly, I have never treated any aborigine before.
View from Hospital Gerik
There is another way of treating them, as they are facing conditions where others don’t. For example, for the 1st time I met with women who have already got pregnant for more than 20 times in their thirties, and still reluctant for contraception; needless to say for tubal ligation. Family planning for them is a total failure as they believe that all these are against the will of nature.
Can you believe that they still cut the umbilical cord of newborn with a sharpened bamboo?
Transit, the place where aborigines stay while waiting to sent for medical check-up or awaiting delivery, those aborigines travel few hours from the mountain before they can reach Gerik.
The locals are still practicing the custom where they call ‘Pantang’, which is, instead of bringing those severely ill patients to the hospital, they will bring them into the jungle and abandon them instead, as they strongly believe that the power of nature determines the fate of the ill patient.
Their children are also facing problems of malnutrition which need re-feeding program as they are always the last to receive food and nutrients for according to the aborigines hierarchy only the breadwinners in the family should eat more compared to those whose aren’t..
Transit, interior view…
Decision making is vital when saving patients as you must make decisions fast to avoid any unnecessary delay in your management as Gerik is far inside the inland and sending an unstable patient to the tertiary center would require another one and half to two hours. Sometimes these may be the golden hours to save a patient’s life and we just do the best we can to keep the patient alive. Sometimes due to the long journey, some patients also cannot make it in time to survive.
One must always have faith and pray hard every time you need to send out a patient. Whenever there’s a patient needed to be sent out always means that the patient is in critical condition and you must foresee what will happen in the next two hours in the journey so you are well prepared to keep your patient alive…..
Well, that’s all for this entry. Will share more with you guys in the near future as I haven’t fully explored the area and the surroundings yet. If you happen to read this entry and you’ve been here, kindly give me your suggestions on what I should try and mustn’t miss during my time in Gerik. Ciao…
Pictures were taken by Samsung Galaxy Note 2