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Covid quarantine centre in Serdang, Malaysia on June 11, 2021. Photo by: Nisha Gobe

Dicom turns to God to cope with mounting Covid-19 cases

Agvina Dicom is a Senior Biomedical Technologist and Phlebotomist in the biochemistry department of a medical laboratory. Her workload keeps mounting like a large boulder with the surging number of Covid-19 cases and the stress weighs heavily on her shoulders. Here is how she turns to God to keep herself sane and continue to persevere in this field.

By Agvina Dicom
JUNE 11, 2021

I started the day with my usual routine of checking our laboratory work calendar, making sure I’ve checked off finished appointments, completed tasks and re-confirmed shift schedules with colleagues. Glancing at the dates, it suddenly struck me that nearly half the year was almost gone! Gosh, didn’t the year just begin not so long ago.

From March last year until now, I believe all of us have witnessed or experienced some form of drastic changes in the various aspects of our human life; changes in financial situations within families, alterations in social connections and habits, the higher visibility of physical crimes and virtual scams, the structural changes in political governance and the overwhelming burden on the healthcare system due to the surge in Covid-19 infections, increased cases of patients with comorbidities and the alarming rise in abuse and mental health issues among the general population.

As the days go by, one can literally feel the stress mounting up, like a large boulder that keeps getting heavier on the shoulders. I’m the kind of person who rarely shares about my work in the medical laboratory. Being quite reserved, I try to sort things out on my own. I think many people are unaware of the happenings that take place behind the scenes in medical laboratories – the loads of test samples that keep coming in for screening, the detailed and numerous training for handling and testing Covid-19 and other infectious diseases, the frequent calibration of machinery and equipment for optimal accuracy, and the rush to replenish depleting PPEs and other lab essentials. Then there is the juggling of shifts to cover for colleagues who’ve succumbed to stress-induced illnesses, the management of dramatic and panic-stricken patients when drawing blood or performing swab tests, the pressure of having to meet deadlines in compiling and submitting clinical data to relevant authorities. 

Then there’s the most challenging situation – having to convey the bad news of unfavourable test results to patients. Some patients are calm and receive the unfortunate news with grace while others are unable to control their emotions, either bursting into tears or letting their tempers flare.  I feel sorry when gazing upon the look of sorrow and despair in their eyes. In these instances, uttering words of consolation or attempting to calm these distraught individuals sometimes has no avail. Through experience I’ve learnt to look past a patient’s angry spew given their emotional state and to keep my composure as best as I can.  

Dicom at work

I must admit, frequently facing these kind of difficult situations is draining. Not long ago someone asked me, “How do you keep sane amidst all these things?!” and my answer was this – I honestly could not have gotten this far in one piece without God’s constant help.

From young we’ve been taught to put up a strong front despite the emotional turmoil raging inside. At times, one can feel like they’re drowning in a sea of hopelessness and in such moments, the only rescue to safety is the Saving Hand of God Himself.

I recall back of my lab training days at University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) while studying at the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences in Taman Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur. Whatever challenges we faced during our practical training or research studies those 21 years ago was nothing compared to the current challenges met in this pandemic.

When things got particularly difficult, I used to drop by my church, the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puchong. Not long ago, it’s doors were still open for individual prayer time and I would sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament for a heart-to-heart conversation with the Lord Himself. To Him I released all my lamentations and in Him I placed all my worries.

I still remember the feeling of setting foot into this church for the first time some 13 years ago. Sitting somewhere in the middle peons with eyes closed I could hear the sound of honking cars in busy traffic on the outside yet strangely there was a quiet reassuring peace on the inside, just as how a child would feel secure in the warmth and protection of a mother’s womb. Ironically at that time, I didn’t know that the structure of the church was built to resemble that of a womb, symbolising the sacred womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary until many years later. Astonishing isn’t it? The uncomplicated settings of the church truly resonated the beauty of Our Lady’s simplicity and humbleness.

Whenever I looked upon the tabernacle at the altar, my heart would deeply yearn for the Holy Eucharist. Not being able to physically receive the Body of Christ has made me realise how important God is in my life especially during this critical period and how I long for Him every single day. Without Him, I could not have possibly continued to persevere through this pandemic crisis and without the Good Lord I would surely be helpless.

It became very clear to me of how greatly I depended on the Lord and that by my own human capacity I am able to do nothing. On days when I awake feeling demotivated and heavy-hearted, He never fails to strengthen and revive my drooping spirit. I bless the Good Lord for his gift of loving and caring family and friends, for their unconditional love and genuine concern keeps me going each day and I pray that the Lord Jesus will grant His Loving Kindness to all those who’ve suffered greatly during this pandemic.

I will forever be grateful to our Heavenly Father for bringing me to Our Lady of Guadalupe for it is here that I gained a replenished Faith in God and it was through Her that I found a profound Love for the Holy Rosary. I know that whenever in despondency, SHE will always be there to encourage, to give Hope and to bring us closer to God. My Lady of Guadalupe, my Mother, I love thee most dearly and most of all I bless thee, for amidst this debilitating pandemic, thou has renewed our confidence and trust in the promise of your Divine Son, Jesus Christ – “Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1-3).

Agvina Dicom is a Senior Biomedical Technologist and Phlebotomist in the biochemistry department of a medical laboratory.. She runs screening tests on any form of samples (blood, urine, normal swabbing & Cv19 swabs) and does inventory checks and trains junior or entry level MLTs or Biomedical Technologist fresh grads during their nine months of probation in the Biochemistry section. She also attends to walk in patients and does one-to-one medical report consultation, especially for urgent cases (detected HIV or other STDs, cancer, autoimmune disease, metabolic diseases and others).

These are her earlier reflections published here:
Anthony Soosay – first sacristan at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Puchong – passes away
Memory of Fr Phillips Muthu lives on after four years|
Church leaders should push for safer, ethical way of treating Covid-19
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