Rebel Doctor

Over ten years ago, Jenny asked me what would make me happy. My reply was that nothing would make me happy because I wasn’t pursuing happiness.

That has changed. When I read a particular email recently, I felt immense joy and happiness. In fact, it meant so much to me that I read and re-read the email repeatedly and wept for most of that day.

So, if I wasn’t pursuing happiness, what was I chasing all my life? That was a hard question, and I concluded that my life objective was not in pursuit of happiness but living a form of rebellion. Every step of the way.

Existing in poverty in my early childhood, I rebelled against the status quo and started working at aged thirteen.

When death cruelly took my sister and crushed me, I rebelled by deciding to become a doctor. I would fight death from the other side. I would stand in its way and battle it head-on. I drew on my rebellious spirit and rose to academic success in a humble high school and then picked up a stethoscope – my weapon of choice.

The academic road to medicine in war was difficult enough. However, that and the devastating and unjust death of my brother, Naeem, proved the perfect fuel for the rebel doctor. When war came, amid the absence of government and the American invasion of Baghdad, I stood firmly for justice, working hard to protect the integrity of the hospital and university, and ensured that patients had fair access to medical services.

Handing over the hospital to the newly appointed management, I went back to study and to make my dream of becoming a specialist come true. As I continued, many of my friends and people I knew lost their lives or disappeared. Even sitting exams was life and death as missiles rained down on us. Yes, I was afraid – a lot. But rebels draw on a determination that is close to madness, spurring us on regardless.

Understandably, I failed to pass the final exam and went to Australia.

Then, everything seemed to conspire against my life quest to become a doctor. But, my spirit was strong and, time and again, the rebelliousness in me surged, and I fought the odds for more than ten years to bring back my dream.

I did it. I am here at the other end.

In March 2018, I was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physician (RACP) and became a specialist. My dream came true. I had commenced my training in October 2002 and succeeded in my endeavours sixteen years later.

That email, the one that brought me to my knees in tears was from the President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians informing me that I was granted a Fellowship.

Currently a consultant physician at West Gippsland Healthcare Group, I’m part of the Baw Baw Physicians in Warragul and an adjunct senior lecturer at Monash University.

And yes, I am happy. Happiness did find the rebel doctor.