Saturday, July 30, 2016
finally. after 5 years of labor.
yes, of course i would start with that lame sentence. cliche. of course i would be as lame when i finally completed my degree. of course i would think that my course is the most difficult thing to pass. i mean, who doesnt? each and everyone of us would look down at other people and say nope, my course is the most difficult. yours cant compare.
i dont know about other people. dentistry is all about requirements. not many of us fail the year because of our wrtitten exam. we fail because we cannot complete our requirements on time.
no. we do not fail. we do not even get to fail just yet. we cannot go into final examination because of our requirements.
who would've known these 32 teeth would have.. lemme count.. prosthodontics, operative, periodontics, orthodontics, paedodontics, oral surgery, preventive, oral pathology, oral medicine and general dental practice. whopping 10 departments, each with their own requirements we have to fulfill. because this course is all about skills. i can memorise the whole 536 pages of a book but if i can't do a filling without hurting you and killing your tooth then i am not more useful than a 5 cent in malaysia nowadays.
what do we learn for freaking 5 years. only to serve you better. we learn how to take care of your mouth, to save a tooth, to cure a tooth, to cure your gum, to understand what happens in your mouth, could it be something big? is the painless white patch in your mouth means you have terminal disease? is this pinpoint lesion you have in your mouth means your antibody is not normal? you dont have a full set of teeth? we learn how to increase the quality of your life by replacing the missing teeth. well, we have loads of different methods for that. wait, no. a short course is not enough. those replacements? we have to consider your gum condition, bone, age and the mechanical principles of every components we use. your tooth is dying? we can help you save it. it is okay even if your mouth opening is only as small as a cup and your tooth is there, far back behind with only 1cm width, we can do a life-saving operation on your tooth. what do you know. we sacrifice our back and eyes for your tooth. wait, your teeth are not in alignment. we can help you to change that. we can make you look better and feel better. we can change the position of your teeth. oh kids? they are a whole different story because they are very fragile and are the country's assets so.. 5 years to train us to be competent to at least handle a normal child on a dental chair.
who do you think would sew your torn lips after an accident? a broken bone under the eye? operate any lesion on the jaw?
we are not all about filling your decayed teeth, although that is our bread and butter. dentistry is more than that. a lot more than that i would say.
and of course my respect goes to our medical colleagues. learning everything about our teeth almost took away half of our sanity. let alone the whole body and its intricate systems.
theory is one thing. practical is another thing. big thing. 3 years of clinical sessions everyday for us to complete our requirements. to convince a lot of patients to receive dental treatment done by us, young and desperate students.. most people winced at the thought of going to the dentist, let alone receiving treatment from dental students. i bet they all think they are some kind of a specimen for an experiment. i tell ya, all of our patients are the brave ones.
dentistry did not come easy for me. i had it tough. i was on the brink of depression but divine intervention saved me from getting carried away by emotions. there were times when i had no achievement at all for the whole semester. it seemed that nothing ever worked. patients got away, cases got complicated. it was bad because things went beyond my control. i gave my best over and over again only to be left frustrated by my patients' conditions. for 5 years, i stayed lab almost everyday. sometimes, ugly things happened like dental cast broke beyond repair. some things got lost. so i had to call again the same patient for the same procedures which would often make my patients mad. sometimes i had to do the same procedure over and over again because doctors had different opinions. there were so many thing that went wrong although i was fully prepared for every clinical sessions. almost always. of course, few of my friends had it tougher than me.
i did not think that i can manage to complete my requirements on time. but miracle happened at the very last week. well, maybe few weeks before the semester ended. everything fell into place, i followed the flow, and Alhamdulillah He allowed me to finish this on time. i was relieved when my name was among the 22 people out of 50 who were allowed to go for final exam. but i wasnt that happy. i worried for my friends. the whole 5 years i yearned to complete my requirements on time, on the very day they announced the names, i was numb. is this really what i want, is this really important. does it matter if i graduate early or not. because.. what would it mean without my friends. i know i may not be a good friend after all, but i love them nonetheless. i want them to do well as much as i want me to do well in life. i may not do public display affection but my feeling is sincere. my friends are very independent. they rarely asked for help. i did not ask them often if they need my help because ego got the better of me and i dont want them to think that i think they are not capable or some sort. because honestly, they are a lot more better than me. they got to treat different kind of patients, challenging patients with complicated cases while my cases were mostly straightforward in comparison to them. i do not say this out of pity or whatever. it has always been the truth. only, i did not tell them because... why would i? they would think i was a mad person.
it really, does not matter when you achieve it, as long as you achieve it at last.
at the beginning of the last semester, everything went beyond my plan. i was devastated because i had to cancel appointments, i had to redo the same procedures, i had to deal with non compliant patients and i had to search for new patients. i had meltdown with my clinical partner in a restaurant, in public need i say more. i told him, there was nothing he can do to help me feel better. words that he thought were comforting were in fact, hurting instead. i just need him to listen instead of talking back. after that, i went back home and realized the only place i have to return to is my god. of course, i need divine intervention, badly.
and of course, like He said. if i make a step towards Him, He would run towards me. i prayed, cried as i might. it reminded me of those black days i had when i was a young teenager. the same feeling of dependency i dread from God. i was not sad because i was left behind. i was upset because it felt like everything i did backfired. i felt like my efforts went to the drain, worthless, not appreciated. i did a lot of self-help reading. i did not search for it. somehow these reading materials came to me in every way possible. there was one book that was close to my heart. by Yasmin Mogahed.
i realized that i had set my goals wrong. i got carried away with worldly business so much that i forget Him. i think He hold back all my plans because He wants me to slow down and get my feet back to ground. after all, He created humans and jinns to worship Him. none other.
i was the one who was at fault. i am only a servant yet i demand for a lot of things. from that day on, i refocus my life into worshipping Him. act like a servant. duh. not the other way around. He has the right to do anything to me, to give anything He wants, to not give me anything i want because He is my creator. He does not serve me. I have to serve Him. i really appreciate the meaning of tawakkul since then because although He has the right to do anything He wants to me, i know that His love is overwhelming. He loves me more than my mom. He wont do anything bad to me. so, whatever happens, i am happy. nothing bothers me anymore.
after that realization, everything seemed to fall into place. there were unexpected occasions happened that helped me in completing my requirements. ease me in my study. right until the end of the week. is it not beautiful. is that not enough to prove His love to me. He only withheld my prayers because He wants me to not go astray.
not even provisional. i was given the outright pass to sit for my final examination. that was very unexpected of me. all these years, i was always among the students who got left behind. warning letters from every departments overwhelmed me. i did not miss any of it except for periodontics department. me, who collected the almost-complete set of warning letters, can at last finish my requirements right before dateline. this is all from God. His willing. His love.
so of course, this achievement means a lot to me. it was a close shave. for 5 years. had classes from 8 am to 7pm everyday. every day. i kid you not. this is the end of my young and not so wild journey. a journey that shaped me into a better person. and this is the beginning of my adult and responsible life. a more challenging life. fret not, life is always full of stressful situations because this is not our final resting place. we will always have to thrive until the day we meet our God.