PETALING JAYA: Come rain or shine, fasting or otherwise, frontliners are required to put their best foot forward and place the needs of others before their own. Even during the month of Ramadan.
And this year, Ramadan was especially trying. The unreasonably hot and humid weather, now with the haze thick and heavy in the air, has made the obligation to fast from sunup to sundown even more challenging.
FMT spoke with four frontliners in the healthcare sector about how they coped, what kept them going, and how they wish to celebrate Hari Raya.
One of them is Izzah Ishak, a senior staff nurse in the endoscopy department of a hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
The 33-year-old, who assists doctors in various endoscopic procedures, typically works from 7am to 3pm on weekdays. Once a month, she is assigned to an on-call team and works from 9am to 5pm.
Izzah shared that her working hours are not fixed and, in the event of an emergency, her day can start as early as 6am and drag on till after 8pm.
“It can be very tiring. When I was on the on-call team during the second week of Ramadan, there were several times when I even had to buka puasa on my way home,” she told FMT.
This mother of three, whose oldest child is only seven, said that on most days, she cooks a hot meal for her family to break their fast.
However, there have been those odd days when, pressed for time, she has resorted to buying ready-cooked food from Ramadan bazaars.
Admittedly, balancing work-life and family commitments has not been easy. “When I feel like I have no energy, I motivate myself by saying ‘I can do it’, especially when we have a difficult case.”
Living in Cheras, she is now looking forward to a well-deserved break during Hari Raya and is thankful that her policeman husband has also got time off.
“We plan to travel to his hometown in Perak, and I am looking forward to seeing my parents-in-law,” she shared with a smile.
The power of kind words
Norfaizah Aziz Ahmad is a senior staff nurse with the endoscopy department in the same hospital, but she works with the daycare team to assist patients who do not require overnight stay.
“What motivates me to come to work every day is a desire to see my patients get better,” the 34-year-old told FMT, adding that she does get tired and thirsty in the afternoons during Ramadan.
Although her working hours are from 7am to 3pm on weekdays, she doesn’t leave until every one of her patients has been discharged.
With little time to cook for buka puasa, Norfaizah, who lives in Semarak, Kuala Lumpur with her policeman husband, is grateful for the many Ramadan bazaars where she can buy good homecooked food.
This Hari Raya, Norfaizah has not taken any leave because her husband is working. “The public holidays are enough for me,” she shared, adding that she will not be leaving town for the festive season.
A nurse since 2010, she said there is something else that keeps her going when the hours are long and she gets tired: kind words from her patients.
“Even just a simple ‘selamat berbuka puasa’ makes me feel appreciated and happy,” she said.
‘Tiredness seemed to disappear’
This is a sentiment echoed by Noor Shazira Suziani Mohd Nor and Norraiezyanee Roslan, a medical and clinic assistant, respectively, at a clinic in Klang.
“When [patients] say ‘thank you’ or ‘selamat berbuka puasa’, I feel good and the tiredness disappears,” Norraiezyanee, 21, told FMT.
The duo said that while they love their jobs, it can get tiring especially during the fasting month. So kind words – no matter how simple – have made a difference.
The duo works in shifts from 8am to 3pm or 3pm to 10pm, and their daily tasks involve assisting doctors and dispensing medication.
And after a month of fasting, Noor Shazira, 28, is happy to spend time with her family in Terengganu during Hari Raya – and indulging in her favourite rendang.
As for Nooraiezyanee, this Aidilfitri is a particularly special one as she just tied the knot in January and feels excited about spending the festive season as a newlywed in Negeri Sembilan, her husband’s hometown.
“After working hard, it is fun to celebrate Hari Raya,” she added with a smile.