Friday, April 25, 2008
That's a pic of me on my first wall-climb experience. I was a Lara-Croft wannabe but sadly, my limbs are just a wee bit short for the handholds and reaches at times. And definitely I don't have Lara's well-endowed proportions. Anyhow, climbing is a strangely addictive sport and I feel like going again although after my long break in Borneo, my boss will probably ground me in Teluk Intan for a long time. There goes my social life and sporting activities hor...no way man, I will find a way to be as hyper as ever..
This is my new group of friends. Mostly new anyway. They belong to a club called LOD (Locus Outdoor Dynamic) and they are a hyperactive, fun, cheerful bunch of ppl. They multiply via multiply and have various outdoor activities throughout Klang Valley and beyond. In short, really adventurous souls who are down-to-earth and humble.
This is my climbing partner, Sally. We are supposed to be around the same size. Unfortunately, I'm too small for anyone there and even Sally is at least 3-4 inches taller than me. As a result, I feel like I could fly up each time I belay anyone down. I am still trying to figure out what is the advantage of being a petite person.
After my highly-anticipated and uneventful MRCS 2 exams held in Corus Hotel (a last minute change), I was hanging around in KL for a few lazy days while awaiting for my flight out to KK. So, decided to go to Mid-valley (the Gardens, precisely) and went to the Signature @ Gardens, the flagship cinema belonging to GSC. I paid a reasonable amount of money for a theatre which is practically empty (only 6 ppl in the theatre that Wednesday) and watched 'Escape from Huang Shi', a movie which feels like a docudrama from Hallmark. It was nice,educational and unlike the typical Hollywood fare. Quite thought-provoking but I wonder whether the show will ever be aired in Japan as there were a few graphic killing scenes from World War two.
I don't have a sweet-tooth and I often forget that fact when I look at well-presented food at expensive restaurants. My weakness is for pretty-looking things and the moment I place sweet stuff in my mouth, I will end up feeling a bit nauseated. Ordered this cheese-raspberry-chocolate muffin from Dlish and ended up given more than half of it to Tim. Thank God for Tim!
This is my first time to D'lish and it's kinda unique. They serve gourmet food in a ready-to-go format so that busy people in the rat-race could grab whatever they want and leave in a sec. As for us, we are more interested in the Wi-fi and so, spent quite some time in there.
Sometimes, it's amazing how contrasting my life could be. One week I will be seeing patients from a totally different background and when I am there in TI, it feels like a throwback to a different era where people grow and harvest their own food and walk to work. The moment I take this 2 hour drive down the PLUS highway to the giant metropolis of Kuala Lumpur, I am back in the ultra-chic, cyber-age globalized atmosphere. We have no choice but to drive to most places as the whole conurbation is gigantic and the public transportation is woeful. Not only that, the number of Wi-Fi hotspots are mushrooming so much that we could be connected to the Internet in more than half of the public places. It's like a Dickensian tale..u know,in the veins of 'a Tale of Two Cities'. Just that I am renaming it to a 'tale of a girl in two cities'. A study in contrast, really..
I will be travelling across the ocean to another beautiful city tomorrow. It's my second time to KK this year but this time around, I will not be travelling alone as there are almost 10 other people who will be coming along. However, it's so humbling to realize that this trip has a totally different perspective from how I planned it in the beginning of the year. It took me a lot of courage, inner resolve and prayer to carry on with this trip after the events of last month but I am determined to joyfully cherish each day of my life. Hopefully I can blog from Sabah? Do pray for my safety in travel and hope to share lotsa nice pics from the land below the winds..See ya!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
anyway, I wanna complain about the state of Kuala Lumpur's traffic. I dunno what's wrong with the population but can someone please tell me why a 3-lane highway can have a 30 mins long traffic jam at 1130 pm at night? I mean, it's scary just to think how many ppl are actually out there driving at that unearthly hour but what on earth is happening to KL roads? I think I might have been in TI long but not that long to rationally think : WHY ARE WE HAVING TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN THE MIDNIGHT/EARLY HOURS OF THE MORNING?
Something totally insane must be happening in Klang Valley. Maybe it's a rare white elephant crossing the road or a Mat Rempit bleeding to death while 'concerned' motorists slowed down to copy his bike's number for their next 4D/ lottery number purchases. Or maybe Maria Sharapova is shooting the next Canon commercial by the roadside wearing the skimpiest bikini...
Nope...it was just the closure of one lane to fix the lamp-post. Yup, that caused the entire 1 km long jam along the MRR2. Before long, I think a boy crossing the road will cause a jam from Zoo Negara to Cheras. Preposterous...
Sigh. I guess I'm just getting used to the KL traffic again. After all, on that tiring day, I thought I deserve to complain as I was driving back from a seriously strenuous rock-climbing exertion at the Summit USJ (which is practically the other side of Klang Valley). It was my first experience and my muscles are still screaming in pain as I type. Of course I took plenty of pictures to commemorate my 'reach' for the top. Let's just say that I wish that I am more flexible and that my limbs are longer. It's just so sad to see the way I have to stretch to reach for some of the rocks. How pathetic :-p
i really enjoyed myself and vowed to do more stretching and muscle-building exercises so that I am prepared for the next round. Before long, I sure hope that I can conquer the outdoor rock circuits at Batu Caves, Ipoh, Krabi and who knows, maybe I can do that Tom Cruise mission impossible stunt at the Grand Canyon (now u know why I call this blog 'dreams and changes'..dream first, change later!!)
ok, i know by now that i have officially bored myself and everyone else with so many words so i will cut my story short and hope that I could upload interesting and pretty pics soon. oh..let me see, i think i have one pic after all :
this is how I wish will happen to all cars in KL..that one day in the future, every vehicle owner will have their keys in a centralized storage area and people travelling are assigned to do so based on the fastest route and best coordinated time after a clearance from the city-wide traffic controller system. Yeah, though I am not good at stretching my muscles, I do STRETCH my imagination, A LOT...
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
If you look at the picture below which I took while I was alone in KK, I lost trace of the sheer amount of colours displayed. This kind of beauty is most captivating when there are clouds in the sky, meaning either rain will come or has fallen. It will be less intriguing if it was to be a clear sky. Then it occurred to me that the same goes for human beings. No matter how amazing a person can appear to be, all of us have flaws. Yet that doesn't mean that we are ugly..in fact, the flaws and imperfections in each person can only highlight how special and wonderful each soul is.
Last month, one of my longtime buddies got married. She has this gentle, humble spirit that is so endearing and down-to-earth. I was glad and touched when she broke the news that she was to tie the knot in a church in Kelana Jaya. I made sure that I could attend the wedding. I am always fascinated at how two people are connected together in love. There is just so much of trust, sacrifice, understanding, hope, assurance, long-suffering and many many more things involved in the equation. The thought of finding a soulmate is the most interesting and mysterious thing on earth sometimes. I mean out of the billions of people on earth, how do we know whether God intends that person to be your other half?
Not only that, how about the family we are born into? They always say that we can choose our friends and enemies but we can never choose our family. They are part of our lives, the very fibre of the fabric that forms us as individual. As my father went for an angiogram yesterday, I felt so relieved that everything went smoothly. Although he has to go for another session (because he didn't agree for the definitive, therapeutic procedure), I made sure that I will be in KL when he is in the angioplasty suite the next time round. As we grow up, news of life and death, birth and illness, laughters and tears, would all mingle together, juxtaposed into a giant big picture that we can fondly look upon whenever we become retrospective and philosophical.
Not only that, we were finishing clinic in the afternoon when I started chatting with my colleagues and bosses. We are having a sudden influx of rectal cancer cases diagnosed in the past 2 weeks. The worrying trend is that younger patients are getting cancers..I counselled a 50 year-old Chinese man that he is about to undergo a big operation to remove the tumour in my hospital electively. He was very calm and asked very relevant questions. Despite the busy clinic, I could feel that he wanted to know more. After my lunch, he came back with his daughter and chatted with me for a while longer. Then it dawned upon me that this scenario could happen to you and I..that any of us could be that daughter or that patient.
That's why it is important that we remind all the people that are important to us that they matter most. Material things come and go but relationships and values remain. I try my best to remind the people around me that I value them and love them. Am always so thankful that God gives me the opportunity to live another day to add 'salt' to the earth..
Life is also not always black and white..there are shades of grey in between.
Anyway, a big thanks to those of you who gave comments, either good or bad. Well, mostly good lar...(smile, smile)..I appreciate all your kind gestures. Do drop by regularly as I am a very avid reader and writer. I will definitely update my blog if I could find time. Till we meet again in cyberspace, ciao!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
we are surrounded with bad news daily. life can really sucks. the way we view circumstances will truly determine whether we have a positive mindset and be victorious or remain deeply stuck in a rut. if we do not lift a tyre stuck in the mud and keep on jamming on the accelerator, we will end up deeper into the muddy ground. the same goes for the discouragement in our life. view each day as a new beginning. do not be stubborn about change. that's why i name my blog as dreams and changes. if we lost our dreams and remain resistance to changes, we will be retrogressive. as for now, despite hearing streams of not-so-happy news, I choose to view the cup as half-full.
this morning, i spoke to a very nice lady who has been taking care of her husband,Mr U for the past one year. we know each other very well as his husband has been a familiar face. exactly 1 year ago, he was admitted with abdominal pain and vomiting. Our investigation revealed a disease I have never heard before and our team was quite baffled and challenged with this rare but benign illness. yet our gut feelings told us that there must be something sinister going on with him as despite our best efforts as optimizing his nutrition, he kept on losing weight.
My boss spoke to a senior consultant radiologist to request for a CT scan of this man's abdomen. If you go to private hospital often, you would be getting CT scans even if you are suspected of having something simple like appendicitis because all you need is some cash to pay for it. However, due to the long waiting list in govt hospitals, the radiologist refused my boss' request as the senior radiologist felt that Mr U is having some strange illness. We operated on this patient to allow him a way to eat through a jejunostomy tube and it was just simple, short operation. We continued to follow up on this man diligently as he faithfully comes for each follow-up in the past 1 yr.
Last month, Mr U was admitted with severe jaundice. We were alarmed and suitably felt that this man truly needs thorough scanning in Ipoh. The CT films done early this week confirmed our fears that this man is indeed having cancer of the pancreas which is inoperable. Mr U further weakened and the past few days, our team of doctors spent more and more time with him and his wife, just talking and listening to them. Initially, we broke the bad news and then we counselled the family members. This morning, he was almost at deathbed and his wife politely thanked me with tears streaming down her face as I explained to her gently and softly that he might be going soon.
why do i want to share this story? I am sure that there are plenty of tales from the hospital, good and bad. we could have regretted the fact that we didn't push harder for a CT scan last year. We could have inspected every organs during laporotomy when we did a simple operation on him last yr. We could have investigated again when he keeps on losing weight despite our best efforts. Those are all hypothetical questions as we all know that ultimately, pancreatic cancer carries a bad prognosis no matter what we could do for the patient and we could not turn back time. How can we tell what would have happened?
I work in a small hospital with limited facilities but that should not deter us from the basic tenets of healthcare. death is indeed the debt every man pays. the lessons we learn from this man's story only reminded us that we must strive to give our best to each soul we encounter in own daily life. the sanctity of human lives must be respected. We must never stop honest and respectful communication as human touch can never be replaced with technology.
Although this is a sad story, I could see the silver lining and smile again. This patient was surrounded by his loved ones as he approached the final hours of his life. His dignity was maintained and we ensure that there was open communication and respect for him. That is the best that we could do for now. Again, I am thankful that this vocation that God gave me truly touches life at its very core...
Friday, April 11, 2008
As a result, living in Teluk Intan has been a challenge all along. I have never felt such solitude until I stepped into this hospital. The entire young working adults demographic is missing from this town as most of the young professionals are working in big urban centres. I was grasping at whatever the social circle here could offer and at times, yearned for more active social life.
However, inasmuch as I wish for things to change, I know that I was put here for a difference..to make a difference. For now, I do not know why I am spending friday and saturday nights alone at my desk, reading books and surfing randomly. It sounds pathetic to the old me, the urban chic gal but right now, it feels like home. I found simple pleasure in preparing a meal for myself and in cleaning and arranging my room. Is it a sign of maturity? I can't answer that because deep inside, I still hope for a change in my work-place but I am still floating in uncertainties on a good choice of location to further my career.
My only respite is the occasional escapade to my hometown, KL on weekends. Even then, as my brother has left for university, I would be staying at home with not much of company. Again, the empty nest syndrome strikes. At least in KL, I could wander the shopping malls mindlessly and search up old chums or go watch a movie. Not only that, going home would entails attending Metro tabernacle again and how I miss my church..
i guess that despite my intellectual development, my social maturity has often lag behind. I was attached to KL and home until the age of 26 and had my first boy-girl relationship at the age of 23 yr old after a lifetime of crushes. I am still making baby steps in the complex world of love and relationship and trying my best to survive in this 'world' filled with people infinitely more experienced than greenhorn me.
Why am I suddenly being so candid and open about myself? I guess I am slowly turning my blog page to some sort of open-book journal, a description of my state of mind and my daily life. I don't know how many people are grappling with living on their own without their family members and closed ones around them but I could say that having faith in God truly helps in quenching that thirst for someone close to you at all times, through good and bad times.
Not only that, recent events in my life has altered my world-view considerably. No longer do I feel untouched by failure, nor untainted by big mistakes. I am severely humbled by a series of not-so-good news that almost crushed my spirit. Yet the morning sun has risen and I found that to be able to keep on hoping, believing and praying is the more important than achieving success all the time.
As I push myself to revise for an upcoming exam and to exercise for my trip up to Mount Kinabalu, I realize that there is indeed comfort in solitude. This comfort would slowly descend upon us like a cloud of soft gentle drizzle in the hottest day. This state of mind comes when there is gentle meditation and communication with our Lord. Then calm would surely come.
I don't know how long God wants me to walk this solitary path but I guess that this is part of my growing process...
Thursday, April 10, 2008
First stop, hornbills. Don't be surprised to see these cute, tottering birds here. My first encounter with hornbills in Peninsular was on my way home from work when I see a pair of beaks crossing the road. I blinked and looked again...to my delight, it was a hornbill with oversize beak (esp in comparison to its body) balancing on the ground. Magnificent birds do look adorable and clumsy as on the ground. The next few days, I would see at least 6 or 7 of them lounging outside the ward as I do my ward rounds. You can say that I was a bit distracted by the heart-warming, interesting 'zoo' outside.
Then I had the opportunity of 'saving' a puppy which has fallen into a drain as a group of wild but harmless dogs are roaming the hospital compound as I speak. The puppy ran away eventually but that was an inspiring, 'heroic' moment for me (haha..)
A few weeks ago, during the heights of winter, a huge colony of herons were occupying the flat, marshy grounds facing my room. There was this beautiful moment of the huge flock of herons lifting up in flight as I walked to work during a misty, quiet morning. Awww...really a National Geographic moment. Too bad I don't have a proper camera for times such as these.
Last week, my flatmates and I were shocked to find out that there was a king cobra slithering around the car-shed behind my house. Its diameter was larger than car tyre. I was told that a surgeon once found more than 50 snakes in his bungalow in the late 90s. Scary...
I guess part of the reason why there are so many animals making their habitat on hospital grounds is mainly because of the oil palm estates surrounding the hospital.
Yet most importantly, there was this issue that has been neglected by the health dept for a very long time. For me who deals with fatal accidents, severe head injuries, multiple intra-abdominal traumas, there is a very important role for urgent CT scan facility. However, after 3-4 years of broken promises, there is still no CT scan machine in a big hospital such as this. We have surgeons, anaesthetists, ICU, radiologists and so on, but no CT scan. Some of the smaller hospitals in Perlis or Pahang, has big, hi-tech MRIs (which cost more) but no CT scanner for Teluk Intan.
So instead of obtaining a clear view of the extent of injuries, we have to rely on limited clinical skills and send our relatively unstable patients out to Ipoh with the poor houseman. Each time a houseman goes out with a patient, I worry for them as I remember the story of the girl houseman who accompanied a patient and died in the ambulance crash. The moment I send my house officer out, I pray that the patient and the staff accompanying them will be safe and sound.
Furthermore, the hours needed to transfer the patient, reassessment by another doctor (of same standard of clinical skills) and wait for the scan room would further exacerbate the patient's fragile condition. Obviously some of them do require admission for care in Hospital Ipoh but a significant number of patients were bundled back to Teluk Intan for observation.
Sigh...sometimes I feel that we are fighting a losing battle. Some of my colleagues feel that there were no changes in the previous government and hope for a change after the remarkable political tsunami while some cynical ones feel that things are not going to change much as the same federal govt remained in control, esp in the ministry of health.
Approaching the final year of my compulsory govt service makes me wonder: what can our leaders do to retain all the excellent, dedicated doctors instead of 'shooing' them off to the private healthcare earlier? One of the major reasons why someone who is so driven to serve unselfishly to leave the service is because of unfulfilled dreams and disillusionment.
As for me, I will keep on smiling and giving the best clinical care that I could possibly deliver. After all, each of us must fully utilize and develop the talents and attitude that God has given us and serve the people to the best.
Oh by the way, that picture of me holding the cage on a boat was taken in Sabah during a river cruise and it was highly memorable as I threw the only cage that caught a crab!! If only all the nets that I cast can yield such happy bounty....
Sunday, April 6, 2008
i work in a hospital which is relatively small and the population we serve are mainly oil palm estate workers, lorry drivers, small hawkers, fishermen and elderly people. some of them could not even afford to see private doctor for cough and flu and many of them have not seen the gleaming insides of Suria KLCC, the Gardens, etc with its Chanel, Guess, Prada, LV and whatnots. Many of them has never seen movies in brand-new theatres or drive fast, new BMWs, Hondas, Toyotas.Instead, they grapple with raising up a family of 5 to 10 children (no knowledge or ability to afford family planning) to bring bread to their family and travel around in old second-hand Mazda or beaten-up kap chai motorbikes.
these are the people who have never heard of the latest fashion or movies or gadgets. yet, they are the friendliest, happiest and most polite patients I have ever met. They will bring guavas, mangoes, salted fish, etc from their farm and give to the 'tuan doktor' as they are so grateful for the medical treatment they are receiving. In my years in HKL and Hospital Ipoh, I have not heard so many words of 'thanks' from the well-heeled and well-educated patients. In fact, I have heard of stories of multitudes of complain letters and lawsuits brought against doctors for numerous reasons, some so trivial that we grimace and tremble at the reasons quoted but I do not blame these patients as they have the full rights to do so.
yet, most doctors, including yours truly, have often neglected the noble calling of our profession and seek to work in the wonderful sleek urban enclaves like kuala lumpur, penang, etc. Even more anbitious souls wandered far to foreign lands like UK, US, Singapore, Australia, etc to seek for greener pastures and a better 'quality of life'. however, children in our own land are dying from tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, extreme prematurity and malnutrition due to poverty and maldistribution of healthcare.
last week, my heart bleed as i hear about the story of Dr Tan Gie Hooi as she passed away in a foreign land. She was a very nice, helpful doctor who saved life even in death. Then I received another news that one of my juniors from UM, a young doctor from Seremban, has met a fatal accident on his way to Klang and perished at a young age, just a few weeks ago.
That's how I began to wonder why am I was so self-seeking and so proud of my abilities at times. I began to seek God and ask him, in full humility, that what I could do for Him. I wonder what will people say at my eulogy and what will Jesus tell me at Heaven's gate if I were to meet Him one day. I realized that my problems in life cannot compare to what some unfortunate people go through in their daily life. I began by being so grateful to God and promising that I will change to be a better person and a truly noble, caring doctor. The things that we treasure on Earth will fade away like dewdrops in the desert, but the goodness we sow in people, in relationship, in deeds, will last for generations to come.
As another Sunday comes along, I ask myself..what could I do for my poor, sick and lonely patients in the wards besides dispensing medications and doing operations on them? What can I do for the needy population of neglected corners of this land? What would Jesus do? You could ask yourself the same questions as God gives you and I another week, another month, another year, another decade to walk upon this land. As we are so blessed, let us give in return...
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
But I am sure that I will never get used to so many people on bicycles in the town centre during peak hours. I mean, if these uncles were riding their two-wheels this way in KL, they will surely land up in HKL or their 'final destination'. Scary geezers... Never felt so laidback before till I am immersed in a small-town culture :-)
Not only that, I realized that cooking is not that tough at all. Errmm..i mean taking pictures of people cooking is not tough at all. Hehe.. That's my housemate Fenky and my ex-housemate Alicia busy handling the hot stuff as I sneakily crept up on them and snapped their pics in our dining room. Staying in a relatively big house 3 mins walk from the hospital means that I never have to commute hours to work. Don't be jealous...
And having a well-equipped, roomy kitchen means that I have the responsibility of actually cooking good, decent meals for myself and others. Minus a 'few' experiences with burnt saucepans, salty pasta, mouldy cheese in the fridge, yup, i am so proud of my recently-developed culinary skills. Moreover, my dear housemate has a full-fledged FARM...or u can say a huge plot of actual organic vege that we can consume. When you thought that doctors are busy beyond hell..think again. If one of us in Teluk Intan could grow huge lady's fingers, beans, green vege, chillies, eggplants, herbs, etc, you could imagine what kind of leisure activities we have. Before long, I think I will start knitting and making patchwork quilts. Serious....
This is the rare occassion that we caught cars in the parking lots in the hospital. I mean, a car? As we enter the hospital, we will be surrounded by plants, trees, flowers etc. It's like a park with hospital instead of the other way around. Up next, I will be talking about the various animals we are living with in the hospital compound. As we are surrounded by a myriad of members of the animal kingdom roaming the hospital, I could say that the next time National Geographic decides to shoot about ANIMAL HOSPITAL..they should seriously consider Teluk Intan Hospital. The amount of wildlife here is astounding. So stay tune for my next instalment on the wildlife in a Hospital in Malaysia....