Saturday, December 3, 2016

Another Side of Dutch - Exchange report

The sentiment we have towards Netherlands is not a pleasure feeling. We tend to reminisce the Dutch as “the colonialist”. History books potray them as evil villains that invaded us, colonized us for 3,5 centuries, forced us to work by implementing Cultuurstelsel and they still tried to takeover Indonesia after we proclaimed our Independence.

But, is that all about them?

Let’s put aside the historical knowledge that imprints us any discontent nostalgia and step back to see where they are now. Netherlands is ninth best country to live, according to Forbes, and is one of a few countries that have best healthcare in the world. After the health reform in 2016, everyone is obliged to have medical insurance provided by multiple private insurers. This ensures the universal health coverage to all people.

Netherlands is also home of some of the best universities in the world. University of Amsterdam, Erasmus Unviersity Rotterdam, and University of Groningen, to name a few. And this october, I was lucky to be given a chance to experience a clerkship in University of Groningen - university that raised Bernard L. Feringa, one of this year chemistry nobel winners – in department of my interest, Anesthesiology.

My time in Groningen taught me that Anesthesiology is an art to put people at ease with the most efficient way by paying attention to the patients’ well-being. It may sound simple, but there is more to that than meets the eye. Anesthesiology is not a template, which you give the same dosage of anesthestics to all of the patients. Anesthesiology is not the act of God by controlling the patients’ life and death. It’s an art, to find the harmony between what is needed and demanded by the patients and the surgeons.

During my 4 weeks of clerkship, I learned that the patients’ comfort and safety should always be the main priority. To ensure those achieved, they have everything disposable - even the laryngoscope blade and the cauter - and latex free. The patients are put in a very comfortable position and they also protect every pressure point so the patients don’t feel stiff and pain from maintaining abnormal posture during the surgery. They dont even start preparing the surgery instruments before the patients are put into sleep, or patients’ view are blocked during local or regional anesthesia to prevent unnecessary nervousness felt by the patients.

And by no means abandoning your own. My supervisor told me, “Always wear gloves when you touch the patients. They help to prevent diseases transmitted between you and the patients. And wear the mask, even just for waking up the patients. It protects you from them coughing on your face.” It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

The Dutch themselves are good people, if not the best people you hope to work with. I was often greeted by ‘Hi’, ‘Goede morgen’ or ‘Goede dag’ depending the time of the day, a habit that we dont often see anymore in the big cities in Indonesia. The staff were also very helpful during my stay. They taught me and answered to my questions without making me feeling inferior. But their friendliness is entirely professional. They wont interact with you beyond the necessary.

They are also tolerant. I was taken aback by their perfect english, the proof of their tolerance to the non-dutch speaking people. And their tolerance doesn’t stop there, they even take care of each other during the operation. I was surprised to find my self reminded by the staff to take a break or to have lunch. One time, my supervisor even ordered me to ‘drink something’ because i refused to get out of OR (not the usual order you will hear in Indonesia).

Another thing I noticed was, the Dutch love orderliness (to the point that makes me think that all people here are somewhat obsessive compulsive). There is a need to have rules for everything, an urge to organize things in a way (that’s how we got our complex bureaucracy system), a desire to have routinity. The day starts with morning report that takes place at 7.30 in the Dormitorium and the operation ends at 16.00. If an OR finishes the operations earlier than expected, operation from another OR will be taken over. And if it continues past the office hour? Don’t worry. There are evening shift staff that will replace you.

Although they like to classify things, there wasn’t a marked hierarchy i encountered. Everybody is the same. We wear the same white coat, the same green or white suits. You really cant tell which are professors, doctors, nurses, residents, or co-assistants without the pass card. Even the pass card doesnt tell much about someone, it only provides the name – without the title - of a person and their profession. They dont have a boss, but a leader. The nurses can even make decision. I often saw nurses administering medication without the presence or approval of anesthesiologists.

But it doesnt mean i didn’t face any discrimination. I did feel i was treated differently, largely due to my inability to speak dutch (which i didn’t blame them for it. It was my fault not to learn it. Maybe if i could speak a little bit Dutch, we would’ve easily engaged in a discussion that would’ve made them trust me more, which would’ve lead to them letting me practice more. Language is power). But it was only minor, so it could be ignored. Nevertheless, it was still a remarkable learning process to experience both knowledge and cultural exchange. This program has also convinced me to take the path of anesthesiologist as my future career choice.

Did I enjoy my time in Groningen? Yes, so much. Groningen is a beautiful place with cycling as the main transportation. The centrum is not big and easily accessible by all transportations. There are so many places to visit that i haven’t discovered all of them. And if people ask me whether i miss it, I’ll say yes, i do, very much. I’d like to feel again the cold breeze slapping my face, the numbness on my fingers while i cycle around the city of Groningen, a place where i felt at home while away from home.


Dalam hidup, ada dua hal yang harus kita pertimbangkan. Nasib dan usaha. Dan sebagian besar hidup diatur oleh nasib. Kadang kita merasa sudah berusaha keras, tapi nasib berkata lain. Atau sebaliknya.

Ada hal yang kusesali dalam hidup ini, yaitu usaha. Aku tidak benci kepada takdirku. Menurutku, Tuhan mencipta menurut kadar masing-masing. Ada orang yang emang dilahirkan besar tanpa berusaha, ada orang yang dilahirkan kecil atau sederhana tapi bisa menjadi besar juga dengan usaha. Hakikatnya, yang besar membantu yang kecil. Tapi hakikat bukanlah realita. Yang besar dari lahir, karena tidak pernah berusaha tidak tahu rasanya berbuat besar. Sebaliknya yang kecil, karna selalu berusaha, akhirnya lama-lama menjadi orang besar juga, bahkan lebih besar daripada orang yang besar dari kecil. Intinya, tuhan itu menurutku adil.

Tidak selamanya takdir mengatur kita. Ada kalanya usaha kita mengatur takdir. Mungkin kita dilahirkan dengan nasib jelek, tapi karna kita berusaha akhirnya menjadi bagus. Walau begitu, tetap banyak orang yang menyalahkan nasib. Karena nasib memang tidak gampang diubah. Butuh usaha keras untuk melakukannya.

Dan itulah yang kusesali. Aku telat menyadarinya. Seumur hidupku, usaha yang kuberikan selalu setengah-setengah. Karena menurutku, untuk apa melakukan lebih jika hidup kita bergantung dari nasib yang diberikan tuhan? Hanya membuang-buang tenaga.

Aku menghabiskan seluruh hidupku dengan melakukan hal yang setengah-setengah. Akhirnya aku pun hidup pas-pasan. Aku tetap bersyukur. Walau kerap aku menyalahkan takdirku, aku tetap bersyukur karena aku tidak kekurangan.

Kini dipenghujung hidupku, penyesalanku datang terlambat. Kini yang bisa kulakukan hanya melanjutkan hidupku, menghabiskan waktu hingga akhir datang menjemput. Jika ada kehidupan kedua atau ketiga, aku tidak harap untuk mendapat nasib baik. Namun, aku berharap aku mengingat kesalahanku yang sekarang dan merubahnya. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Dalam renungan yang berulang, hidup dalam kenangan

Tadi malam aku memimpikannya. Kali pertama dia merasuk ke dalam tidurku, walau hampir tiap hari aku memikirkannya, merindukan keberadaannya.

Tapi mimpi itu aneh. Kau datang menemuiku, tapi kau bilang kau ada tugas. Lalu kau pergi lagi setelah berpamitan. Kau berjanji akan menemuiku lagi jika waktunya ada.

Sekian waktu berlalu, dia tak kunjung datang. Walau dia tetap memberi kabar, yang kuinginkan adalah hadirnya disampingku. Aku memutuskan untuk membezuknya.

Kau bilang kau senang. Kau katakan akan menungguku di stasiun. Tapi yang kutemui hanya supir. Ya, kau sibuk dan aku akan diantar ke tempat tinggalmu. Seperti zaman dulu saja.

Lalu semua mulai kabur. Mimpi itu hilang. Tidak ada lagi dia dengan senyumnya. Tapi yang paling kusuka adalah matanya. Besar dan berbinar. Membuat orang, setidaknya diriku merasa diterima.

Bahkan dimimpi pun aku tidak bisa bertemu lagi dengan kau. Kau dan sikapmu yang manis. Membuatku senang. Mungkin memang seperti ini jalannya.

Tidak perlu kuyakinkan diriku itu hanya mimpi. Karna kita bahkan tidak saling sapa. Cuma aku yang begini. Dia merasapun tidak. Tapi aku harap dia bahagia disana.

Lepas kekang, hidup tenang, lupakan sejenak dan nikmati hidupmu. Kau berhak.

Malam sebelum larut, Klaten - 25/11/2016