Another day’s work

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I awaken to the ear-piercing beeps of a pager screaming for my attention early on a Saturday morning. My shift partner, equally semi-comatose from the pre-dawn callout, stumbles into my makeshift bedroom and grunts, “It’s a 70-year-old with a cardiac arrest.” Afraid I’ll fall back asleep if I close my eyes again, I say a short prayer under my breath, stuff my clumsy feet into my dusty duty boots, and quickly catch-up to my partner who has already got the lights and sirens blaring.  

When I became a Seventh-day Adventist this was not how I imagined spending my Sabbath mornings. But since choosing to study medicine, God has brought me closer to understanding the miracle of life He has blown with loving care into each and every one of us. He knew us before we were even born (see Jeremiah 1:5).  

God leaves us everyday miracles to reflect on, even during the busiest of times—all we have to do is to remember to look up to see them.

God has given us beautiful minds to yearn for love, to ponder with curiosity and to ask questions that seek the truth. It’s no surprise that humans—Christian or not—continue to reach for the stars in the hope of finding the answer to our biggest question: the reason for our existence. 

We crave for knowledge yet we are naively blinded by our own overzealous search. Perhaps the answer to creation is already staring us in the face; we just have to look up (see Isaiah 40:26). 

We arrive at Mr Smith’s house. Standing in the doorway is Mrs Smith, delicately dressed in a warm, pink and fluffy bathrobe with matching slippers. She calmly points us to the bathroom, before retreating to her bedroom and plonking herself down on the edge of her bed. It’s surprising how calm she was; her eyes glassy and darkened with sadness, but she had a certain peaceful resilience about her that I won’t forget.

The bathroom is surprisingly small for Mr Smith and the two of us there to help him—not to mention it is a very warm summer’s night. Mr Smith had finished on the toilet when he apparently collapsed onto the floor. We immediately start giving him oxygen, commence chest compressions and gain intravenous access, before hooking him up to a multitude of wires to read the rhythm of his heart. 

Mr Smith’s heart has stopped beating. We continue CPR and advanced life support measures for an hour and 20 minutes. There are moments where we think the heart starts beating again, but unfortunately it can’t sustain itself. There’s no strict protocol with how long you should continue doing CPR, but we know it’s time. And so we stop. This is the first cardiac arrest I have attended. And you don’t forget it—especially the person and their family. 

Just as God has blessed us with the miracle of life, we are constantly reminded of its fragility on this earth. I always wonder what Jesus would think if He was still here to see how far modern medicine has come. Ironically, it still isn’t enough to save everyone. But, however cliché it sounds, so long as we try our best—one person at a time—we can make a small but treasured difference. And that’s all God asks of us: that we go forth as His ambassadors into the world, as spiritual healers to touch and soften the hearts of those around us so that they may come to find Him as we have. 

I treasure my final moments with Mrs Smith. Disheartened and sweaty, I break the bad news that we were unable to revive her husband. She forces a smile and utters, “Thank you. I’ve been praying for him to go to rest.” Mr Smith had been battling pancreatic cancer for the past five years.  

Before we leave, seeing that I am dishevelled after my first encounter with death, she takes my hand once more and reassures me. And there I am for the briefest of moments the humbled patient, and there she is, the comforting physician.  

By the time we return to the ambulance the sun is finally rising. The shift finishes with no other jobs and I get back home just in time to clean up for Sabbath School. God leaves us everyday miracles to reflect on, even during the busiest of times—all we have to do is to remember to look up to see them (see Matthew 7:7).


Edward Teo is a student doctor at Gold Coast University, Queensland.