Sunday, October 07, 2007

David and Lilly

Mr and Mrs David Arjun are two of my most loyal patients. They are also two of my most senior patients, David being seventy this year while his wife Lilly just two years younger. They've been with me ever since I started my private practice ten years ago and have been coming in regularly for checkups every six months, except that they've missed their last appointment and I haven't seen them in over a year.

So, when they came into the office this morning for their appointments, I was happy to see them again. Lilly was first, so I sat her down and started to clean up her teeth and fill a tooth. As her husband was sitting in the sofa in the corner of the room, I decided to have a little small talk with him.
"So, Uncle, how have you been lately?" Looking up, he replied, "Oh we're great, Lilly and I. In fact we've just came back from a two-month holiday in Nepal!"
"Nepal?" I thought I heard wrongly. He nodded his head. "Yes, Nepal. We had a fantastic time hiking up the mountain, what was it..."
"Durgh Gurgedst," Lilly pitched in, with her mouth full of water and my scaling instruments.

"You went up Mount Everest?" as I waited for Lilly to spit.
"Yes.... have you been there? You really should go. We hiked up the trail till about 4000 feet above sea level. It was really beautiful." said David, very proud of himself.
As I continued my work with Lilly, I said," Well, Uncle, I would love to, but I really don't have the time. I mean, with my work and all."
"Yes, I understand. You young people are all the same. Trying to build up your career. Saving up money. Working all day and all night..." as he tapered off.
"As you can see, Uncle, I run a solo practice. If I don't do it, no one else will." I said, somewhat unconvinced of my own point of argument.

"Listen, doc. I know you are very capable young man. How old are you? Thirty five?"
"Thirty six this year, sir."
"Well, son, you're still young. Take it from an old man. Stop working so hard. "
I looked at him, wondering what he meant.
"Look. When I was your age, I too was slogging at my desk day in and day out, trying to build a career, earning and saving as much money as I could. And for what? So that I can go on a two month tour of Nepal when I'm seventy??!" He laughed.
I could hear Lilly sneak in a giggle as I was getting ready to fill up the cavity on her tooth.

"Believe me, as much as I enjoyed it, hiking up Mount Everest is no fun when you're seventy. Don't get me wrong. I loved the experience and the scenery up there was magnificent. We loved it and would do it again if we could. The thing is I just wish we had done it when we were younger."
I let out a nervous laughter. "Well..."
"Listen to me, young man. I know building a career is important. And I'm not asking you to drop everything now and go climb the mountain."
I smiled.
"All I'm saying is if there is something you've always wanted to do or see or travel to, do it while you're still young. Appreciate the beautiful sceneries while you can still see clearly. Explore the most interesting places while your legs can still carry you. Enjoy the most exotic food and wine while your stomach can still hold it. And then when you're seventy, you can sit back and recount all your wonderful adventures to your grandchildren so that they'll be inspired to find their own adventures and follow their own dreams."

Half an hour later, when I had completed both their checkups and treatment, I thanked them for their company and reminded them to floss regularly and to come back again in six months.
As they walked out of my surgery, Lilly turned back to me and said, "David was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. The doctors told him he had three months to live."
I was quite taken aback by this revelation but then, I understood why he said what he said.
"And he is still here." she continued, smiling yet trying to fight away the tears.

As she reached out to hold my hand in hers, she said, "Doc, don't wait all your life to do the things you've always wanted to do until it's too late. Nothing really matters except what you have right now. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, but right now."
And with that they said their goodbyes and walked out the door, hand in hand.


Alam Setia said...


Selamat berpuasa untuk anda. Awk doktor gigi ker?

Amazonman said...

Yes I am doktor gigi. :) Thanks for your message. I am Christian, so tak puasa. But thank you anyway. Selamat berpuasa and Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!

Shah said...

great post & a good lesson to be learnt. btw the person in red on the treatment chair isn't mrs lilly isn it? macam i kenal lah hehe...

Amazonman said...

Thanks Shah. Yeah that is "Mrs Lilly"..... from Seremban. hehehe

Victor said...

Such a wonderful couple. My eyes were all watery after reading.

You are so lucky to have such a good pair of customers. It is always nice to see a loving elderly couple.

There is a couple near my house who walks to market every morning. What is so amazing about them is they will walk holding hands without fail everyday! Even after carrying bags full of groceries, I have never failed to see them holding hands. Both their hairs are half white but still so loving and inseperable.

Many couples nowadays do not even talk to each other when they go out for makan. I have seen umpteen couples went in to the coffee shop, ordered, makan and leave without saying a single word! That's why I admired the gray hair hand-holding couples so much.

Anyway, I hope David is still around now as we moved into year 2009 and still goes for his half yearly check-ups regularly with Lily!