Saturday, May 26, 2007

inspiration from the unlikeliest places

as medical professionals, i think we think that we should (ideally) be sources of inspiration to our patients. we must (ideally) be optimistically realistic and realistically optimistic, calm, reassuring, patient, loving, gentle, compassionate, generous, inspiring and a whole lot of other "nilai-nilai murni" only found in the textbooks of Moral Education.

i like to think i try hard to be a good person, but i fail every so often. and every so often i come across someone who makes me feel like i'm nothing, merely a small drop of water on a leaf desperately hiding from the sun, compared to the mighty Pacific.

one of them is an 18 year old girl, who weighs only about 25 kilograms. she has been bedbound for the last 4 years, and has progressively lost all movement in all 4 limbs, because of some rare spinal cord lesion. she doesn't eat too well, she's got 4 large bedsores from immobilisation, her hair is all falling out, she urinates/defecates in diapers, all 4 limbs are having contractures and she can't straighten them out.

despite all that - despite not being able to attend classes, not being able to see TV sitting upright, not being able to feed herself, not being able to see a rose bush in real life - despite all that, she got 6 As in her SPM 2 years ago.

she dictated answers to her teacher, who wrote them down. 6 As - she got them all.

6 As. what did i get? my 10 As mean absolutely nothing set against her indomitable spirit and will. your excellent academic results, my gentle readers, and all our physical achievements, pale into gross insignificance compared to how she stood up to her debilitating and crippling illness, stared it down with awesome courage, and finally conquer it.

and she did it with such grace and strength that i find so beautiful in someone so young, so vulnerable, and so injured. she remains sanguine about her ill condition, still looking out for her mother and still sensitive to those around her.

i saw her for the first time in a week today, and she's intubated now, with evidence of multi-organ failure. and you know what? before she was intubated, she was talking to me about going to university.

what are we doing with our lives? whatever we are doing with it, let's pray for her - not to get better physically, but that her spirit may find a more comfortable abode for it to flower eternally.

my first ever call

when i first started out as a house officer, i was thinking that i could perhaps have a running commentary on what happened - the jokes, the fun times, the patients, experiences and trials - stories that i can perhaps one day (when i'm old and decrepit) put into a book that will be a runaway bestseller and win me the Nobel Literature prize.

and then life happened - and i got trapped into a sinkhole of alternate day calls, 12-16 hour days, an endless procession of bleary-eyed afternoons post-call and time sneaked for meals.

but anyway, here's a quickpost to remind myself that i should still try -

i did obgyn first, and my first ever call was the day after i had finished tagging 2 weeks (meaning from 6am to 12am daily for 2 weeks). i actually had jitters, and was quite afraid because it was, after all, my first time.

and what made it worse was that a black cat crossed my path that very morning of my first day! my heart dropped! literally! but the call turned out just fine. *smile*

Thursday, May 24, 2007

a town of rain

i grew up in a town full of rain - all 2800mm of it a year. i suppose that's why the Bintang Range forests are so lush and luxuriant, because the rainfall is also lush and luxuriant. it's been stiflingly hot the last month or two, and working in the surgical wards with only one zinc roof between me and the elements - not fun.

but thankfully, rainy season is upon is - it's been steadily raining more and more over the last week or so, and i'm loving it! you get enveloped in a sense of comfort, and the whole world feels washed after a good bout of rain.

now i just wish i could be allowed to wake up at 10am, instead of 6am daily. :-)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

wedding gifts

weiyih has long hair, and him and i went to The Body Shop to buy a wedding gift for aaron and huichin for their wedding, last labour day. we sniffed bottle in the shop, and settled for two flavours (are they flavours, or smells?) which we then wrapped up with a bath brush and two nice soft fluffy towels. and we wrote on the card (oh gosh this is so corny and stupid, and i thought this was a classy gift):

Ready, Get Wet, Go!

doesn't it look just great?

Friday, May 11, 2007


part of what makes America so vibrant is the number of ideas that they come up with - case in point are the movies. the sci-fi ideas of Minority Report and Click, to the brilliance of CGI animation of Shrek and all those Disney cartoons, to Pirates of the Caribbean and Snakes on a Plane - their movies have entertained us. and now... Next. what a cool idea!

anyway, i'm going to play my own version of next. i've been a huge fan of Transformers since i was a kid, and i've got (and subsequently lost) a few of their toys. now i hear that their movie is coming out. and pretty soon every damn person and thei grandchildren will be wearing t-shirts proclaiming a lifelong relationship with Optimus Prime and Megatron.

humbugs - i hereby declare that my interest in Transformers is way before any movie ever made!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

i hate holidays in the middle of the working week

i hate holidays in the middle of the working week. i spend 36 hours in KL, and when i come back i'm all depressed and unwilling to work. sigh... i'll try not to make the same mistake again - take more than 2 days off in a stretch.

i had such a good time in KL - first the shopping for the wedding gift, when weiyih and i went to The Body Shop and sniffed every bottle in the shop, and then chose two of the nicest-smelling ones for aaron. and then we bought a nice body brush, and two fluffy towels, and packed them all together and called it The Perfect Bath.

then the wedding dinner, in the company of some of the nicest people i know, and some of the people i love the most in the world. Tropicana was especially posh, and the houses there are unbelievably nice and big (and expensive)!

and then the post-dinner drinks and conversation. then the fairly late awakening in the morning. then Spider-man 3! good show, although i thought that they crammed too many villains into the movie at the expense of character development. then ice-cream, then a fantastic chinese dinner.

oh gosh, too much of a luxurious life can lead to decadence! The Perfect 36 hours, indeed!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

body clocks

you know, i just can't seem to wake up late these days. i'm not working today, and i thought i'll just sleep till late - say 9am? but no... i already have to wake up at 7am, after tossing and turning in my bed since 6am.

an early start to the day is no big deal - i am happy because i get to be alone for quite a stretch and do my own things and enjoy the peace and solitude and a nice breakfast. it's a beautiful day in Taiping today and yesterday - yesterday the sun was out shining and the mountains were so clear and near that you could almost touch them. there wasn't much work in the wards yesterday, relatively few admissions - i got come at 6.30pm, and i went out to play football with a few of my high school friends, at the foothills of the Bintang Range, no less.

during breaks in play, you only had to look east to see the gorgeous mountains, this time really within touching distance. what a romantic place to play football huh? playing with friends in God's playground - enough to make anyone happy.

i'm going to KL today for Aaron Wee's wedding. he's a very good friend of mine since primary school, and some of the more interesting experiences i had in my life, i shared it with him. it's funny to see friends your age get married, it reminds you of your own chronically single status (and how the nurses love to remind me too) and occasionally gets me worried.

anyway, today is his day, and a whole bunch of us are making it to KL to be with him - CONGRATULATIONS and HAPPY GETTING MARRIED AARON WEE!! :-)