The past couple days I had come down with some light cold.  Phlegm, tingling throat, chills, malaise, etc.  Ah but I needed to study (oh when will it end?)!  At least I wasn’t pouring out fluids from my nostrils and sneezing every 10 seconds like I normally do with sicknesses.  This time I could at least read biochemistry notes while snuggled up in my bed.

While this was really mild and I was going to be totally fine, I hated it.  I didn’t like how it inhibited my rate of study and lowered my energy levels.  I also passed it on to one of my friends, and who knows how many enemies?  So much potential productivity lost from just a random microbe invasion that inevitably would disappear in a few days anyways.

But every time I’m sick, I’m reminded of why I’m here studying my life away in medical school.  A few years ago, I was at a week-long Christian conference (Urbana 09) where I had the misfortune of being sick for about half of it.  One particularly bad evening the speaker was talking something about the sick and the suffering in the world or something- I don’t remember much of her talk.  I left in the middle of her talk because I was so sick, and as I was leaving I thought of how much it sucks to be sick; how much it would suck to be sicker than I was; and how much more it would suck to be that sick every single day and know that you’re never going to get better. 

I think a teeny tiny bit of compassion was born that night somewhere very very deep inside of me.  I began to actually care about the fact that sickness and pain exist in our world.  And from that day onward, every time I am sick, I am reminded of the sick and the suffering, and my compassion grows just a teeny tiny bit.

Simeon Koh