Saturday, May 31, 2008
I am working in teluk intan. This is just a small-town population of a less than 20,000 people, besides some illegal foreign workers and a handful of transported townies like me. Crime is mostly petty..other than the fact that three health care personnel including one doctor (a good friend of mine) has lost their cars in the hospital compounds. Yeah, Grand Theft Auto aside, this is a pretty harmless town. The demographics consist of either people grappling with 20-30 types of medical tablets to take per day or schoolchildren hardly out of puberty.
So imagine that out of all the surgical medical officers in my department, I am the only one frequently receiving referrals from the casualty for gun-shot injuries. It's like when I am holding the pager, the people here suddenly goes ballistics and started to shoot one another..you know, like deadwood or unforgiven..like in a wild wild west nightmare. It's not as dramatic as in frontier towns (i bet doctors in Sandakan, etc do receive more exciting gunshot cases) or major cities like downtown Detroit (New York City) or Chicago.
In short, I am still the only one receiving this kind of 'dramatic' cases. For example, I was happily doing my rounds when I was summoned to the casualty to see a guy shot in his buttocks with shot-gun while he was attempting to trespass into a farmer's house. His entire rear end was littered with bullet marks, the last count was about 50 roundish wounds and yet fortunately for him, he didn't lose any part of his body as the bullets has dispersed and it was mostly shattered pellets. The next day, his story appeared in the Star but no mention of the cute doctor that attended. Ahh..never mind.
The next round was slightly more exciting. It was in the middle of the night when I was called to the resuscitation room. A young man was groaning in pain and surrounded by armed officials. I was a bit flustered as everyone looked so big and angry compared to this little thing but as usual, I brushed my fears aside and entered in with as much of 'doctor' air that I could muster.
The young man was involved in a few big burglaries recently and the police was giving him a road chase when they managed to corner his car. His partner and the patient ran out and refused to stop despite the police giving them warnings. Some shots were fired and the man got injured. As usual, I was anticipating some huge injury but again I just found some bullets entering and exiting the man's lower back with no major organs injured. I have to say that the guy was fortunate enough to 'escape' with just minimal debridement from the hands of yours truly. I think he could be still alive and well serving his time.. Again, the story appeared in the papers but the heroine of the day wasn't mention..well, being anonymous can be a good thing after all :-)
The most recent case was during the elections. There was an influential gentleman who was shot outside his house and as I was walking to work, I saw a huge crowd in front of the casualty. As I am a nosy young lady, I poked my face into the resus room and again I saw a patient who was needing my consultation. As I was about to start my call for that day, I saw it fit that I handle this case quickly. I found out that this guy has a few major bullet entry wounds in his abdomen and limbs. Mr A was very alert but in pain. As he is very well-nourished, I cannot comment on whether the bullet remained in the muscle of the abdomen or it has actually penetrated into the deeper organs.
So we immediately rushed the patient into the operating theatre, expecting the worse. Fortunately for him again, he is very well-endowed in the middle torso and the bullets were lodged in the abdominal wall without injuring any internal organs. He recovered well and discharged back home. Last I heard of him was that he is still very active, especially politically.
In short, this GSWD had her fair share of projectiles in a small, supposedly-peaceful town and I still hope for more interesting cases to arrive during my call. IMHO, an adrenaline-driven life is much better than a boring one indeed!!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I have stopped reading newspaper and watching news on tv about 1 year now. One of the reasons is that I am a cheapskate as I know that I can get free news from the Internet at any time I want but most of all, I am disappointed and discouraged by what is reported nowadays.
The printed newspaper is so obviously biased but some people would say that we cannot blame them as they need to renew their printing licence every year. Some of the ‘juicy’ and important issues were brushed aside. I recall some time ago that certain arrogant politicians asked some of us to go back to
Not only that, some states are so clearly blessed with beauty, charm and natural resources and yet some of their people remain to be among the poorest in our country. Certain sources blame the federal government and the long-entrenched ‘kings’ who siphoned away all the finances of these states. It will be very interesting to see how the political drama will unfold in the parliament in the coming few months as more stories emerge about ‘frogs’, ‘mansions’, ‘jumping ships’, 'video recordings', 'murder trials' etc.
What matters most to us ordinary Malaysians not affiliated to any political party is this. We wish that we can live our lives in peace, harmony and with respect to one another. We wish that we are free to choose and practice our own religion and customs. We wish that some of the archaic and obsolete laws created during the Emergency era in the 1960s be abolished or modified so that we need not fear the backlash from the ‘corridors of power’ each time we voice our opinions about the government.
As a person who listens to both side of each story, I tend to think and evaluate about most things in life and usually I choose to be optimistic about life. Yet, it is so sad that we need to create a defense fund for bloggers in this country as we see some of the more prominent and outspoken people being detained for saying things that upset others who are in power. Of course it is very encouraging that we are supporting each other morally and financially and it is a practical move but on a whole, it is still demoralizing for someone to be threatened with incarceration just because they voice out their opinions.
There seem to be some political drama enfolding before our eyes as the major characters continue to dominate the headlines and surprises seem to crop up daily. We do not know what to expect from any of the politicians, especially the senior ones, but the one thing that I am certain of is that no one can hide the truth as truth will always prevail…
By the way, the road to perdition is littered with good intentions so I wonder if I will be investigated for coming out with this almost-neutral article? Hhhmm..only time will tell. Lets just say that I don't quote anyone nor do I imply any names here...
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
However, I shall not speculate on things I know little about but will instead talk about surgeons as I am in the surgical field and although junior, I do observe what is going on around me.
First of all, there is this misconception that a surgeon must be a tall, strong man gifted in anatomy, has a liking for alcoholic beverages and preferably Indian. It is true that a lot of surgeons do fit that description but I beg to differ. Everytime when a patient sees this ah moi, esp those old apek and ah poh in Teluk Intan, they think that they are speaking to the mi si (nurse). Even some of my new-found friends exclaimed disbelief when they encounter this cili padi doctor-creature…they think that I am too small and bubbly for the job of cutting up people. It is true that I find it tiring to hold the Morris retractors for too long or I need to stand on a stool to assist taller surgeons, but I do find fulfillment in doing surgery and I do enjoy the cheek of telling people that I did a hernioplasty or appendicectomy on them
Secondly, everyone assumes that a surgeon comes in, cut and sends the patient home with hardly much care for the patient’s other illnesses, emotions and welfare. It is true that we spend a lot of time in the operating theatre while the patient is ‘sleeping’ but we are the ones who do the most rounds in the hospital. Trust me when I say that we do a lot of rounds and do spend a lot of time with the patients. A typical surgical house officer see their patients more than 9 times a day while for me, around 6 times and for my surgeons, 3 times. You go figure out the mathematics for the number of times the patients see our faces..I think they must be so tired of us swarming around them all the time!
Thirdly, most people think that patients are the ones who seek the doctors but here in my department, we are the ones who seek them. Some people assume that a surgeon hardly talks but oh, we are a bunch of chatterboxes actually. We call up patients to remind them to come for their operations and we even call up those who default their scheduled procedures to ask the reasons and to give them another date. We believe in second chances you see. As we could not do a lot of sub-specialty interventions, we also do call referral centres and then ring up the patients up for their appointments in tertiary centres and to remind them to come for chemotherapy. In short, I chalk up more telephone calls here than all the other hospitals that I’ve been.
Finally, we are all not born to be surgeons. Some super-gifted ones like Harvey Cushing, John Hunter, etc, seemed to be born with the innate ability to cut but others do spend a lot of time and effort in garnering their surgical knowledge and also in honing up their skills. There are a lot of examinations along the process (sigh) and the scary ‘learning curve’ to deal with. We try our best to shorten the learning curve but with the litiginous society, I wonder if patients are going to allow us any learning curves at all…yet here, we do have opportunities to learn safely and with good supervision so I guess that it’s always a balance of both.
In short, there are so many ‘unseen’ and ‘unheard’ things happening in a typical surgical department, in contrary to common myths and misconceptions. Yet the only thing I find in common is that most of these people do care about patients in their own special ways. Here, I thank you to the two sincerely nice and humble surgeons I work with, my group of colleagues who comprises a really ‘muhibbah’ group and the friendly, kind staff at the clinic and wards.
P.S. : Do try to spot the two surgeons busy in action.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Although this church in Teluk Intan comprises only a handful of people (around 10 regular worshippers), there is an out-reach group coming from KL each month to inspire and inject some new vision into the group. We were blessed with this vibrant group driving all the way to minister to us and it was a fun service all the way. I learnt that I could actually understand and appreciate worship songs in Mandarin and was deeply engrossed in a Mandarin sermon. I guess that my grasp of my mother tongue is not as bad as I thought after all.
Then we learnt about bad attitudes and good attitudes in life. As we were talking about the demon-possessed man in Gerasenes and the way the people responded to Jesus after he has driven this ‘legion’ of demons from the man into the pigs, I began to ask myself whether I have the right or wrong attitudes in life. I realized that I have been developing a bad attitude towards a lot of things.
For once, just like the people there, I sometimes pass on news without verifying them. Each juicy piece of information about something else or someone else, I will discuss about it with my colleagues or friends. Although it is not malicious information most of the time, I feel that it’s tantamount to gossiping and that is a sin if we are not careful about how we embellish the truth. I know I must put a stop to this and if I truly wanna help the person involved, I should speak to them directly instead of jumping to conclusion all by myself.
Not only that, we seem to be ‘curious’ about ‘special’ events in other people’s lives, not because we are genuinely interested in them, but because we are so gleeful when we found out someone else has made a mistake or fell out of steps. This is so prevalent in our society as newspapers, magazines, books and Internet has glorified ‘paparazzi’ and certain journalists made their way into mainstream media. No wonder some of the famous names of our generation, people like Britney, Edison, Lindsay,
Then I learnt about the good attitudes in life. The man healed from the legion of demons was denied a chance to follow Jesus not because he is unworthy. On the contrary, Jesus wants to give the people of
On the contrary, many of us servants of God feel so dejected when our plans were frustrated in any ways. We may begin to blame God for not letting us do “His will”. However, our world-view and grasp of time is different from God’s time-line. He sees a much bigger picture than what our human mind can imagine. God will only give us the best in life and it is up to us whether we want to trust Him or not.
Moreover, this man in Mark chapter 5:1-20 was declaring the people about His healing in a joyful and enthusiastic manner. He wasn’t afraid or worried about the response of others. In return, the Lord gave him a receptive audience, a group of people who was fertile soil to the seed of the Gospel. I begin to realize that I was too meek and worried about proclaiming the gospel all the while. I need to give people around me a chance to know God, an opportunity to trust in the eternal Hope, if their hearts are open.
People everywhere are tired of hearing all the bad news in the newspaper every day and nothing seem to satisfy their need. Money, property, fame, power, adulation, pleasure-these are the things that are never seem to be enough. Yet the one thing that never fails, that never fades and never dies..it is always more than enough. Jesus is always more than enough if only we would only give Him a chance to work fully (and not partially) in our lives and hearts so that we are whole-heartedly and holistically transformed into a new, powerful force for the Him.
Guess this message is different from my usual non-threatening, non-partisan, neutral style of blogging but I felt so moved by the Holy Spirit to deliver this piece of writing onto the cyberspace community. May you read this with an open heart, the right attitude and do remember that I am not imposing my believe systems onto others but merely declaring the goodness, hope and peace that I have found through the merciful God. God loves you no matter who you are and where you are from. As this is an interlude and different from the norm, I hope for constructive discussions and comments. Thanx for your patience!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Duh...What? a milestone?..that's how comical my career as a blogger really is. Isn't it funny? Or is it pathetic? I think I am just too enthusiastic. but this blogging do occassionally trigger some kiasu, kiasi streak in me. Maybe I should start inserting some heavy-duty government-bashing articles or some thought-provoking, ground-breaking philosophical thoughts that might win me a Nobel prize one day. Or, I could start putting some 'ahem' pictures of myself in the style of those clubber blogger-extraordinaires from Singapore (if I am deluded enough to think that I have such mind-blowing 'assets')..what do they call it? Cam-whoring pictures? Errr..no thanks lar.
So therefore, I have resigned to the fact that I could only afford putting pictures of inanimate objects taken with my old Canon Ixus 4 megapixel little digital camera (which has followed me faithfully for the past 5 years). For example, this sentimental picture of a nice classic watch reminded me of the time when I was young and unable to own a watch in school. My parents were very strict on me and think that I should not own expensive personal items as a child (afraid I might lose it) so I always sit on the left of someone who has a watch and find an excuse to glance at the time on their 'branded' Mickey Mouse or the Colour Club watch. Maybe that's how I learn to treasure each and every single person and thing in my life..because of my parents' good influences on me.
Ooops, back to my original story. Anyway, I never realized that bloggers have so much fun until I start reading all kinds of blogs. Funny, sad, interesting, cute, informative..you name it, we've got it. And so many doctors blog as well. Although most of them blog about their doctor-patient encounters, life experiences, etc, I find that it's so refreshing to see them being so open about their lives and to list down their trials and tribulations of being a doctor. We could even blog about the quality of the banana down the street (which is scrumptious in Sabah by the way), or the latest toy bear we buy on our vacation (I loaned Timmy from his daddy for my vacation and I think he is the perfect model-Timmy, I mean) or the latest exciting movie in town that everyone has watched except for me (I wonder if anyone wanna catch Iron Man with me?)
Today I found another reason to be happy..I passed my exam (which I paid more than 1 K for) which I sat for 1 month ago. It's quite surprising considering I was in emotional turmoil during that period of time and couldn't really concentrate on revisions. Maybe it's a sign from God telling me to hang on tight to my dream of becoming a surgeon and He will be there for me when I feel the weakest.
However, next comes the 10 K dilemma. I need to consider whether to sit for the final part of this UK exams by end of this week and cough out 10 K for the exams in August in Singapore. To sit or not to sit, that is the question. To me, it's quite a substantial amount of money and I really need to put on my thinking cap and decide....
Some people call all these foreign exams a money-making scheme (for them, not for us). A few friends (fellow doctors) sat for their exams so many times that one day, they collectively sighed and resignedly told me that they could have bought a nice house (just like the picture above??) with that amount of money. No wonder private colleges are mushrooming like mad everywhere..this mad dash for degree and recognition is a real cash cow. And yours truly is contemplating whether to jump into the bandwagon and spend 10 K in exchange for a piece of paper :-)
Guess human beings are all similar. We look for a purpose in life. If not, we will be half hanging in the air, half submerged in the sea..neither here nor there (just like us when we were parasailing) That's why we educate ourselves and seek to improve ourselves so that we don't degenerate and stagnate in life. When we have a definite aim in life, we have something to look forward to and we will not drift about aimlessly.
On a even more sober note, more than 100 K Chinese people may be affected by the recent earthquakes. Please find a way to help out....my heart goes out to all the people involved and do continue to pray for the rescue work in China and also in Myanmar.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
From a backpacker's lodge smack in the centre of Kota Kinabalu, to the busy seafront with drop-dead gorgeous souvenirs, to the bold Crocker mountain range, to the summit of breath-taking Mount Kinabalu, to the cultural display of beauties at the Harvest Festival, to the serene Garama River and the awesome fireflies display, to the wonderful watersport experiences at Manukan Island and beyond to the tip of Borneo..we have tasted the first few sips of the amazing nectars that Sabah has to offer.
The whole experience was very well-organized thanks to Tim, Aunt Betty and the KK tours. We stayed at a friendly lodge with youths from various countries streaming in and out. This paradise attracts people of all ages, creed and colours. We gulped down cooling drinks as we busy ourselves with exchanging stories from various travels.
The summit climb and the descent, as I have described before, was the experience of a lifetime. This mountain is a revered spot and holds ecological treasures unlike others. As we walked down trails of the Botanical Garden, I marvelled at the thousands of plants, both flowering and non-flowering. Sauntering down the paths in the cool, comfortable weather was a good way to unwind just before the climb to the top.
Not only that, I would like to pay tribute to the group of travel partners that made life so much easier for all of us. We found goodness in each challenges and choose to look at the bright side of things. To Chua, Jan, Choon Foong, Khee Fatt, Michelle, Dorcas, Hwa Shun, Jason, Fenky, Vic and Debbie, many many thanks for the wonderful memories that you gave me.
After the climb whereby we supported and encouraged each other all the while, we took a flexible hiatus to nurse our aching joints. The humourous memory of each of us walking side-ways down the staircase will always bring me chuckles. Yet, the next day, we were spotted at Beaufort for the first day of the Kaamatan festival.
Kaamatan, or simply known as Harvest Festival, is an event unlike no other. It's a paramount aspect of the Kadazanduzun culture whereby prayers of thanksgiving were offered for the harvest of the year. Many events were held and we were fortunate enough to attend a beauty pageant even! Unexpected and excited, we were introduced to numerous VIPs and bumped up to the VIP seats right in the front just because we were guests! That's Sabahan hospitality to the core.. Many wonderful people in exquisite native costumes posed for us as our cameras went into overdrive. It was a good timing for us to arrive at Beaufort for an interesting festival not found elsewhere in Malaysia.
By dusk in the tropical rainforests, birds, animals and tourists alike would gather by the riverside for food and to get ready for rest...haha. Feasted my eyes upon the wildlife on display...prosboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaque, kingfisher, egrets, water buffaloes, fireflies and new plants greeted us on each turn of the boat. It was National Geographic channel comes alive before our eyes. Gatecrashing silently on this party in the animal kingdom, we waited for the sun to set before seeing trees lighted entirely by Mother Nature due to the colonies of fireflies found along this Garama river.
Sabahan islands are world-famous and we were fortunate enough to visit one of the most accessible isle in the TAR park, just 15 mins away from KK. The whole group departed via the clean, well-maintained, luxurious Seaquest marina at the Sutera Harbour resort for a day of soaking up the sun, sea-life and most importantly, the beach and BBQ seafood..
After repeatedly being thrown off banana boats, we were lifted up to the skies via para-sails for stupendous view of KK seaside. As the multi-coloured sails fluttered in the wind, I could taste the sprays of sea-water as I floated above the water and soaked up all the wonderful sights. This wonderful island was so fun that I only have a mild twinge of regret as I exchanged my lily-white complexion for a more tanned look now :-)
Before I took my flight home, we also drove up north to the very tip of Borneo, near Kudat. The meandering roads past sleepy villages by paddy fields were so charming in their own rights. Yet I noticed the big family of children crowded into half-finished homes clinging precariously to the hill-side where land is cheapest. Immediately reminded myself that I am truly blessed, and that life can be difficult for a lot of people even in this wonderful land. As we strolled along Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, the amazing stone formations by the very end of Borneo, along with wind-swept, bent trees served to bear testimony of the brunt force of nature.
Even the brief stay at the traditional Rungus longhouse was memorable as we played with children and danced the graceful Rungus dance together with the ladies. Loading up on the beaded souvenirs before we embark on the journey home was not hurtful to my wallet at all as it was all so affordable.
People asked me whether I lost a lot of weight on this trip due to the sudden, excessive burst of exertion (unlike my usual, indoor activities). Actually, I think the wonderful food kept me eating almost at all times. The seafood is so fresh and delicious that I think I am forever spoilt by the juicy, tasty Sabahan fish, crabs and prawns.
As I gaze back at my brief sojourn in Sabah, I began to see that I am guilty of loving another state more than my own. Falling in love with Sabah is so effortless. As I adore the great outdoors, what better place to experience it all than to flock to this state, especially if you are Malaysian. I know being so relaxed on vacations gave me an idealistic, unspoilt view but I know that I am so drawn to this place like bees to honey. The simple, kind people I met there with the relaxed lifestyle fills me with warmth and inner cheer. As I pray for God to open another chapter of my life, I learn now that I have another option waiting for me, another great adventure if I choose to fly east-ward toward the land under the wind.
Until then, back to reality, back to work, back to Diamond Cove...
Thursday, May 8, 2008
After a brief soak at the Poring Hot Springs, we took a very restful sleep for the night at the peaceful Fairy Garden resort and departed for the Timpohon gate for the hike up the magnificent Mount Kinabalu. Standing at 4102m (or so), this beautiful mountain is supposed to be Southeast Asia highest peak (if we don't include Papua New Guinea into Southeast Asia). It's shape is easily recognizable anywhere in Malaysia and is even depicted on the Sabah's flag. This mountain and the surrounding park is Malaysia's first entry into Unesco World Heritage sites.
Geography lesson aside, we really enjoyed the hike up the interesting trail. We took so many pictures along the way and even had a hearty lunch halfway along the 6 km trek. The easy camaraderie among the 12 of us was astonishing considering that 90% of us don't know each other prior to landing at the KKIA Terminal 2.
At Laban Rata, we were greeted by yummylicious buffet dinner followed by the most beautiful sunset above the clouds. It was so surreal to see puffy white clouds floating beneath us as the sky changes colour like a chameleon. Makes us forget that our body was busy acclimatizing to the altitude. Not only that, most of us, including yours truly had no sleep at all despite the wonderful accomodation due to the excitement and altitude. After a few hours of tossing and turning in our sleeping bags, we 'woke' up groggily at 1 am for the final ascent to the summit to catch the astounding sunrise at the highest point in our nation.
I was so humble to say that all 12 of us made it to the summit. Although we couldn't take a picture together as we were rushing for the part 2 of this most amazing journey, I am sure that all of us would remember that our friend Khee Fatt actually proposed to Choon Foong on the summit. How romantic and memorable!
After making a very fast run down to the 7.5 km mark, I was able to join Dorcas and Jason for the descent via Low's Peak Circuit. This is the main attraction on the via ferrata and the fact that it is the world's highest gave me added impetus to fight the panic inside me as I looked down. Although I never had vertigo, the near 90 degree drop could make your knee go faint sometimes as we balance precariously and cling carefully onto the rock-face. After a while, I got adjusted to the height and techniques and enjoyed the descent tremendously.
Truly the experience was unforgettable and the view unrivalled anywhere else in the world. As I marvelled upon the Crocker range beneath us, I could only thank God for the opportunity to go down this mountain along this tough route. Without any of us knowing how time passed by, we were late and needed some form of 'rescue'..another trainer, Roland, had to join us so that we could reach Laban Rata faster as we needed to trek down to Timpohon trail and rain was approaching. I sincerely thank Roland from the bottom of my heart for helping me down this circuit :-)
Indeed, we were late and needless to say, the twelve of us comprises the last group making our way down to the Park Headquarters. By the time nightfall arrived, we were still stuck halfway down the mountain trail. Rain came down fast and the trail became muddy and treacherous. As one of our friends injured both her ankles, she had to be carried down by rangers. The slippery ground was hazardous and many of us slipped along the journey down.
Thankfully, we had our head torches with us and we made our way to the Timpohon Gate after much difficulties. I will never forget the teamwork and encouragement that shone through that day. We never wished for such hard condition as novices, but the little triumph that night will always resonate in our hearts. The selfless help and services offered by our mountain guides, Severinus and Jaldi, showed to us how the human spirit and kindness became the brightest light in the deep darkness in the heart of the jungle.
Friday, May 2, 2008
First stop, the city. As usual, KK is fun and beautiful. Since I have been here last month, not much of changes except that the rain has ceased somehow. Great.
Our main event for this trip is the climb to the top of Mount Kinabalu. We made our way to Laban rata in one piece and stayed in the spectacular Pendant Hut. This is a relatively new hut which is especially created for the people who wants to go on the world's highest via ferrata.
This is me with Timmy in the Pendant Hut pantry. The background shows the stony crags of Mount Kinabalu. The height is about 3500 m above sea level. Made it after 6 hours of uphill trek from Timpohon Gate. We met up with the trainers and they began to make us feel really at home at the alpine style lodge.
We had dinner at the Laban Rata resthouse. Part of the team (Khee Fatt, Dorcas, Fenky, me, Michelle, Chua and Jan Lyn) was seen eating al fresco in the cold weather while enjoying sunset. Awesome views man...
Upon reaching the summit at sunrise, we quickly made it down to 7.5 km mark of the summit trail for the experience of a lifetime..the Low's Peak Circuit. Although there are 12 of us from my team, only 3 of us managed to reach the meeting point at the designated time so we proceeded for the most thrilling descent I have ever seen or encountered.
Up next..stories from the really absolutely tough via ferrata...