Thursday, June 26, 2008


P.E.T.I. is not the Malaysian version of SETI.

P.E.T.I. is also not a super-secret organization formed to fight crimes and rid the world of all evils.

P.E.T.I. is an exciting event coming soon to a town near you, organized by the bored masterminds of Teluk Intan, namely the creative brainpower of a few doctors here. It's to be used for the greater good of mankind.

So, stay tuned for more information on P.E.T.I.

In the meantime, let me whine about the state of internet connection in the past few days. I cannot even upload a foto or any blog entry. I'm not sure whether this is being put up or not so lets cross my fingers and hope for the best. Therefore, no pictures until the state of internet affairs has been mended...sob sob...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Down and out!!

Modem.Gone.Kaput.“Siew Jor”.Habis.Zilch.Nada.

I’ve gone for almost 1 week without a modem in the house. That’s a week of agony. Although I could feed my hunger pangs for Internet at work, it was a mere 15 to 20 mins of public surfing doing the urgent stuff (checking mails, fb, fs and news) before I have to go attend to some work.

Therefore, I am deprived of my major source of entertainment, social life and information. Poured out my energy into a few different outlets…namely new-found physical activities (ran like never before), read a few books (those non medical-related), took pictures of random, mundane stuff in daily life (hey, I’m in a small town that many of you have never visited!), played my guitar/saxophone/comp games & most importantly, spent a lot of quality time in the presence of the Lord.

Being deterred from cyberspace doesn’t mean that I am lost in my own world. Read the recent news including the infamous story on the baby ‘selling’ racket in Johor. We as the public should not pre-judge the accused as the trial has not taken place and we do not know the whole story yet. Sensational reporting is part and parcel of mass media.

Of course the act of selling babies is deplorable in our society but what actually transpired in the minds of the people involved remains uncovered until further details are investigated and revealed in due time. As for the moment, I feel very sad and disappointed as a doctor because the basic tenet of medical care might be breached if a senior healthcare professional is proven to be the mastermind or instrumental in these black-market deals. Even so, any accused is innocent until proven guilty under our laws and therefore, let us wait and see….as we look at the rates of end-stage renal failure patient going up, before long, we might even haf kidneys for sale!! Gasp..

Just before I left for KL, admitted one patient with very badly ulcerated, smelly and bloody breast cancer. The moment we peel off the previous dressing, insects started swarming towards her due to the reek and the bloody discharge took more than 5 minutes of compression to stop the ooze of blood due to the amount of raw tissue seen.

She was just 40 year-old. As she asked me some questions about how to reduce the smell from the tumour, I wondered how is it that people keep their illness to themselves up to such late stage. I mean, either the lady or her husband would have noticed the swelling way before the terminal stage. She told me that it’ll be ok for her family as her husband has a younger second wife. Then it dawned upon me that she is so used to be unwanted, stigmatized, neglected that having a tumour is just part of the daily pain that she is having. She has accepted her ‘lot’ in life and doesn’t want to fight anymore. I see the depths of pain, suffering and embarrassment in her eyes.

Pain.....because of the emotional and physical ailment. Suffering….because of the advanced nature of metastatic illness (cancer cell spread to bones, lung and brain is possible) and embarrassment…because of the sight and smell of her illness.

That’s why it was a respite when I loaded up my stuff and drove to KL, alone but wanting to just ease my mind off the daily drama I face at work. Stuck in a traffic jam after months of living without congestion is a totally different experience. Besides boring and time-energy-consuming, it puzzles me to think how much we still depend on our cars despite the steep price of petrol. It’s so surreal to be back in a place where I grow up in and yet feel so separated from…feels like two worlds’ apart.

Anyway, got a lot of encouraging comments from new and old friends so I vow to update my blog more frequently. Hopefully, the next time I blog about my work will be on a topic much more inspiring and less gory and graphic.

Maybe I should talk about something light-hearted and humourous next? Sigh..I really need to get a funny bone. Seriously, out of the 250 over bones in my body, I think I seriously lack a funny bone. My dream-blog is something is hilarious and witty like the production from kenny or POTS, etc, etc. At least I know that I am regularly getting 150 or more hits per week..which is a far cry from the massive volume of traffic on those well-established sites but hopefully, I am getting there. All out to conquer the cyber-space.. :-)..errr, wait, where's my Crocs sandals and Stila kit again?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lessons learnt from the 'wilderness'

10 lessons learnt from my sojourn in the ‘wilderness’ (a.k.a. Diamond Cove) before I embark on another chapter of my life....

1. There is so much joy to be derived from simple pleasures in life

A simple walk around the green grassy compound in the hospital can be interesting and calming. Even kite-flying can be fun when we see how little children and adults alike try to lift their kites in the sky and work so hard to keep them up.

2. Solitude is not a scary word

There are so many things to be done when we are by ourselves: blogging, playing music, reading, cooking, gardening
. We are never alone when God is with us anyway :-)

3. Long-distance traveling alone is a very reflective and deep time

Each trip brings different memories and experiences that form this kaleidoscope of life.
Although single-person trips will be cut drastically due to the rise in petrol price, I guess it was good while it lasted...

4. Life in a small-town can be difficult initially but we learn to be self-dependent and God-dependent

When we grow up, we have to assume responsibilities for our own lives and with limited resources in a small town, we learn to improvise and provide for ourselves
. Not only that, there is just so much of time in communion with our Lord due to the quietness.

5. Racial lines can be blurred when we are willing to bridge our differences

This is what being Malaysian all about…we appreciate each other’s culture and enjoy our differences and yet respect and continue to practise what our forefather’s taught us

6. Everyone can keep in touch via the Internet, especially with facebook, blogging and chats

This current generation has the most impactful, explosive, life-changing media that knows no boundaries and’s a double-edged sword

7. Walking to work in the morning in the mist before the ray of sunlight burst through the clouds can be the most evocative, dramatic and surprising experience

Being eco-friendly is part of life..if we don’t love the nature, how do we sustain life on earth for long?

8. An easy-going group of working colleagues means life is less complicated and work more efficient and pleasant

This is only applicable if we have understanding and responsible bosses who nurture our growth and trust us when we are capable and trustworthy, which I am glad that it’s found here in the surgical department

9. People come and go very fast

Another reality in life that I begin to accept as farewells became more frequent. We have to say goodbyes in life but that doesn’t mean that the friendship ends.

10. Changes are inevitable

Change is a constant in life. As I surrendered my transfer form and place it in God’s hands, I pray that I am making a worthwhile decision for my future.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Not Your Average Super Hero

The following is a fictional account from the desk of Sammie Hoo, an ambitious but always intimidated young reporter from Marvel Magazines at the big metropolis of Kay-El.

"My first interview with Wonder Woman"

I still remember that eventful day when my editor-in-chief slammed his door shut and stormed towards me. "You, Samantha. Come into my office right now."

As I timidly made my way to the office, I could hear the sniggering and whispering behind my back. It's been two weeks since I last reported on any significant news and I could feel my head on the chopping block. I know that I am not performing well but I think I deserve a final chance.

"Miss Hoo. I don't know what you have done for yourself but Diana Prince herself has asked for you to write an article for her. She will meet you in an hour's time at the coffee shop downstairs!"
"But sir, I am not prepared..." I stammered.

Despite my protestations, I was shooed out of the room and I trembled as I arranged my papers on my desk. My co-workers asked gently about me and I told them what happened. Everyone is shocked that Ms Diana Prince, also known as Wonder Woman' has asked to see me. The next one hour passed by like a bullet train as I tried to compose some questions for my all-important interview that might be my final piece for this magazine. When the time came, I made myself to the Star Been Cafe and waited for the woman who changed Kay-El. I held my breath as I saw an amazonian figure drifted to the entrance.

"Hello. Miss Sammie. How do you do? Thanks for meeting me at such short notice"

I've never met someone so dignified, so royalty-like, so gigantic. Her presence is astounding. As I stood up in attention, she laughed at my discomfort and asked me to sit down while ordering two cups of lattes for us. I began to ask her about her day and she quickly began her story.

"Dear girl. I am going to talk about the worse day of my life!"

And so her story begins. Last week, Wonder Woman received a phone call from a woman called S. S is a young lady at the age of 25 year old and she was staying in one of the northern states. Miss S was forced to marry Encik M as his third wife as her father is falling into debts and Encik M had his eyes on her. She asked for Wonder Woman to help her as she was in love with En T.

Therefore, on that fateful Friday, Wonder Woman made her way to that northern state and changed into her costume in one of the public toilet. The moment she stepped out of the toilet, she stepped onto a pile of bull-shit. She exclaimed some mild expletives and suddenly, two men in white caps appeared. They looked horrified and closed their eyes. One of them called someone and as WW was puzzled, she began to asked them if she could help them. The older man fainted the moment she touched him. Failing to feel for a pulse, she began doing CPR on him in the public and a crowd gathered. A police vehicle arrived.

Initially, she was relieved that help came. To her dismay, she was being arrested. For what? She asked.

"Cik ditahan kerana berpakaian tidak senonoh and melakukan perbuatan melampau di khalayak ramai".

WTF, she was furious. She took out her lasso and began to disarm the officers from all their weapons and clothes even..leaving them with only their underwear. In her fit of anger, she even overthrown their car. Then she took off in flight leaving the entire crowd in so much of amazement that they forgotten all about their prayers.

"So, in short, my dear Sammie. I was so furious," WW summarized.

"I agree with you. Those men were horrendous, " I agreed.

"No, Sammie. It wasn't that. That stupid bull-shit spoiled my Hermes sandals!"

We had a good laugh and I realized that WW is such a sport after all. I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat as I know that I have an article worthy of a Pulitzer prize. I was so relieved that my career is no longer at stake. Thus began a wonderful working relationship between Diana and I as this first joyful encounter marked the beginning of my journey in documenting her many wonderful exploits.


Especially for

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Botani-maniac..God's creations are beautiful!

I regularly jog around the blocks of flats in the hospital compound. although not the most exciting of setting, I do see amazing offerings from the world of plants as I huff and puff my way around the mostly nondescript blocks of buildings. Wait a minute...Jogging in the hospital? I must be joking..

To me, having an opportunity to improve my stamina is like finding tin mine in sungai perak again. not impossible but a hard thing to do. My lifestyle involve a lot of time in the hospital previously but strangely, recently I have been reaching my room before 530 pm when I am not oncall. Yeah, thats the joy of walking to work. Makes me feel very proud when I think of the carbon credits that I am earning. However, it's all back to square one the moment I decide to drive back to KL...imagine the long-distance drive and the consumption of fuel. In the light of the current prices of fuel, I guess I will repent and go green..yup, car-pool is the way to go!

Uhm..I deviated from my point again. Anyway, I find that activating my life could be easily done after all. By 6pm, I will push my lazy butt out of the door for a few minutes of outdoor joy. Raising my heart rate to the optimum level and sustaining it for about 20 minutes and back to my house again. Been trying to do that at least 3 times a week but so far, to be honest, I have been achieving a proper work-out for only once or twice a week. I would rather sit in front of the computer and blog or browse other blogs. I know I know, again the adage, the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak rings so true. So easier said than done. Time to walk the talk, huh? (pun intended)

So, during one of my long-cherished run around the hospital, I decided to snap a few pictures of this area..and i was jumping up and down with joy as I capture this picture of two cili-padi.. yeah, my emblem and moniker in the world of blogspot. Talking about cili padi, just been told by a guy friend that CILI PADI is a column in FHM. As I am obviously not a guy, I don't really read male magazines so I was curious about it. Discovered that it's actually a column on local hotties displaying their luscious goodies to the 'reading' population. Haha..I had a good laugh because seriously, that is the last thing I would do as I know that my level of 'hotness' has little to do with physical attributes but more to do with my character and mind. IMHO, looks come and go but our inner qualities and a good, wholesome well-rounded character is the most attractive feature any girl could have. Well, anyway we are all beautiful in God's eyes.

Then I turned around and saw this majestic tree right outside my humble room. My abode for the past 1 year is located at a serene corner and the yellow flowers are in full bloom. As I breathed in the lightly-scented air and marvelled at the vibrant yellow (thoughts of a DIGI customer) petals, I thought about the book of Ecclesiastes. Yeah, the cynical but sharp book by the wise Teacher : There is a time for everything under the sun..and maybe a time for me to move on.

Suddenly, it dawned upon me. No matter how much I have enjoyed my leisurely and laidback lifestyle in Teluk Intan, I think I have lost my natural edge and hyper-active drive. Of course it's better that I am less 'kan cheong' now and more even-tempered, but I need an outlet to express myself and to pour my restless energy into.

Therefore, I have decided to put in an application for transfer of hospital next week and allow God to work in my life in a whole-new different way. It's time to learn how to trust in Him completely and to embrace life with my own terms, to move on to another battle-ground and see what God wants to do with me. In short, I am learning to embrace the unexpected and wonder at the grace at work. Oh what an exciting time indeed..

Friday, June 6, 2008

Goofing around in my spare time

This habit of blogging is getting kinda addictive lately. It's not like I have a fetish for airing my laundry in the public albeit mostly clean :-P. It's kinda therapeutic having a journal, especially an interactive kind that ppl can respond and comment to. It's like having a dialog with an multitude of people and moreover, displaying my rigid and rudimentary style of writing and basic photography skills to the online community is a way of me accepting comments and learning to improve.

Goofing around used to be the last thing on my mind previously. At times, I take things too seriously, esp when it concerns things that I care about and I found out that it's very stifling, tiresome and constricting to the people involved. I resolved that care should be tempered with moderation. IMHO, I think this is a major liberation on my previously narrow thinking. Nowadays, I am learning daily to enjoy taking things lightly when it comes to non-medical stuff and it works. Smiles and laughters do come on more often :-)

Found out that there are plenty of things to do in one's free time. Having joined nuffnang for the first time in this week, it dawned upon me that there is a whole new world out there. There are just so many blogs to explore, websites to click, beautiful photographs to look at and people to chat with.

There is also a few other past-times that I have completely neglected. My saxophone and guitar lay in the dusty corner, awaiting their lazy mistress to coax music out of them. My books yell out silently to me : "Hey you, finish me up!". My room yelped silently, looking for a consistent order & theme. Ah, time to buck up and do the needful..

One last thing still looking out for a bunch of friendly divers willing to accept a PADI novice like me into their fold. Although the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. Cannot seem to find the right time, group and place to dive at and I am really itching to go into the deep blue sea again and join the wonderful underwater paradise again.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Feeling the pinch...when inflation strikes

Today our country faces the biggest price hike in petrol ever and sooner or later, the price of every goods and services will rise in tandem. Common citizens like you and I feel the hurt even more as we all know that our salary couldn't and wouldn't rise to compensate for the increased cost of living.

I am not sure what will be the extent of public response but judging from the online backlash, the repercussions of this unpopular move will resonate for the next few weeks and shake the foundations of this nation to its core.

Street demonstrations, protests from various NGOs and groups, boycotts, crimes and so on might occur but a thinking person would probably demand more. The question is that for all the money that we might save from fuel subsidy, where is our government channeling all those funds to? Moreover, as an oil-producing country, why do we pay more than any other oil-producing countries for our oil? Furthermore, how are we going to control the sky-rocketing inflation that will sweep across all economical sectors?

I have never studied economics but everyone know that it in a free market, there must be a buyer and seller. Subsidies from our government will end one day. Hitherto, the current scenario. Yet, who is benefiting from the petroleum and gas that we sell? Is there a reason why our toll prices are one of the highest in this region? Can we ensure that the price of public transportation and the fate of the under-privileged are safeguarded? I shudder to think that one day, our country might crumble under inflationary pressures and the middle class will collapse, causing us to have the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

For years, Malaysians have been driving their own cars or motorcycles as a mode of transportation due to the dismal public service. In a middle-class family of 5 people, there might be up to 3-4 cars per working adult. This is not environmental-friendly or the ‘green’ way but the matter of fact is that survival of the fittest matters most and if we don’t drive to work, we might never reach our work-places and schools. However, as much as we try, our little Myvi and Kancils and Saga could never consume as much fuel as the grander, bigger cars if we travel the same distances. I wonder if the owners of those Lamborghinis, Lotuses, Porsches, etc feel the impact as much as we normal citizens do?

Hence, the argument for better public transportation holds valid grounds. The heavy vehicles using diesel should be protected from this massive price hikes as buses carry more people, lorry carry goods, tankers carry crude oil and so on. The moment price hikes affects these crucial modes of transportations, all hell breaks loose on the prices of consumer goods. The petrol and diesel price hike should occur after careful thoughts and planning on a safety-net for the citizens to use alternative modes of transport, not after 4 short hours of ‘intense’ discussion from the Cabinet ministers. Members of the public and stakeholders in the transportation industry should be engaged on constructive discussions before this monumental decision is announced.

As I gazed at the long line of people waiting outside the petrol station to pump in more petrol at the lower price, I sighed inwardly as I survey my own prospects of a social life in the next few months. Although I don’t drive to work as I walk daily, I need to go home to KL to see my parents, loved ones, friends and church purposes on weekends. I wonder how much more I have to pay in order to go home from my work-place, in a place whereby I have no family members to a place where my family and home is. I shudder to think how disconnected I and so many young people will feel as we severely limit our essential traveling. On the other hand, if we take long-distance bus, is our safety guaranteed looking at the accident rates nowadays?

This deeply unpopular move will affect all strata of the society and although there is a rebate given to most car owners, this ‘silent’ gift will not have the same impact as the price hike as we brace ourselves for the upcoming inflationary processes in all other industry. My heart goes to parents and people with family as they need to have bigger cars and to make more trips to bring their children around. May we all find a way to cope with this economical blow.

This picture shows Matthew Declan and Mark Damien, Melanie's two cute little boys, whom I met on one of my trips back home. Will I be able to go home as frequently as before? Only time will tell...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Accidents Do Happen

This is not a public message on road safety. These are stories from my hospital and about cases that I have worked on and each time I carry the pager, in real life, mishaps like these do occur.

I remember that during a fateful Hari Raya holiday not too long ago, Mr C and Mrs C, a couple in their early twenties, were travelling back to Teluk Intan in their trusty old car. Mr C is a local Chinese man who was working in the big city while Mrs C is a young Chinese-Indonesian and she was heavily-pregnant, due to deliver at any time. They have another boy who is 2 year-old but he was already back in Teluk Intan. As traffic was heavy and it was rainy, the road condition was hazardous and without knowing, disaster strikes. Their car skidded and knocked into a tree. The couple was rushed to our hospital.

Initially, Mr C was fine but felt a bit of tummy pain. His vital signs were stable, he regained consciousness and could talk. On the other hand, his wife was unconscious and injured part of her abdomen. Her BP was crashing and we even find it difficult to obtain veins for fluid resuscitation. A big team of doctors was helping Mrs C while Mr C was observed in the casualty. After a while, Mrs C was pushed into the operating theatre with the grim news of possible fetal death due to abruptio placenta and needed immediate Caesarean section. There were some injuries to her other organs but she was stable throughout the operation.

She was admitted to ICU, intubated and heavily sedated. Her newborn baby was already dead upon delivery. One floor below her, Mr C was discharged from casualty, still with abdominal pain but he was able to walk. He made it to ICU and slowly hobbled in to visit his heavily-sedated wife who is still unconscious. That was the last time that he saw her.

The very next day, we heard news that Mr C collapsed at home and died while his family members were rushing him to the hospital. As Mrs C was still intubated, we could only wait for her to recover before we could do anything while Mr C went six feet under. Mrs C slept on peacefully for a few days, not knowing that she lost both her newborn child and her husband on a single day.

After a while, she recovered and we told her the most devastating news that anyone could receive. Death became so was almost palpable. I will always remember the look on her pretty, young face as a more senior doctor told her about her husband gently and with as much grace as possible. After that brief glimpse, I couldn't look her in the eyes as I felt my eyes water and my cheeks were wet were tears as well. I reminded myself that this vocation is not for the faint-hearted or weak-willed as I quietly write down our findings in her notes and left her bedside. I told myself to be grateful that I am given this opportunity to touch lives at the most crucial crossroads of someone's life and also to be careful on the road, especially since I drive long-distance regularly. I tell myself that I should spend more time with my loved ones, not to neglect the most important things in life.

Then last week, another big accident occurred..this time on the road I frequently travel to go back to TI. En M, his wife and 6 other children were sitting in a Proton car and collided with a lorry. The lorry driver, Mr M and another son died on the spot. One of his son reached the hospital in a critical condition and we rushed him to the theatre. The other children and his wife were observed as they had some injuries but nothing life-threatening.

The child that was in the theatre had massive liver injuries as we saw that his liver had almost splitted into half. Despite our best efforts and subsequent further care at Hospital Ipoh, the patient passed away. In short, this accident took 4 lives.

In our line of duty, we faced many accident victims daily. Those working in the casualty department know that sometimes trauma happens without any reason sometimes. Yet, a big percentage of the accidents occur when the driver has been speeding or under the influence of alcohol. At times, danger comes because of slippery road, bad weather or vehicle malfunction. I don't believe in blaming anyone or anything but reducing the risks really play a major role in motor-vehicle accidents.

I have lost count of the number of admissions to my ward for cerebral concussion in young boys or girls below the age of 18 yr old, riding their motorcycle without helmets, thinking that their skull is the helmet. So for those of you out there who refuse to wear your helmets while on the bike or buckle your seatbelts or drink while heavily-intoxicated, please remember that the ward is a very uncomfortable, hot place, the food sucks and blood-taking hurts!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Food nation

Malaysians love to eat. There are plenty of restaurants, hawker stalls, roadside mamaks and eateries at every corner of every streets in this country. We eat at almost all time of the day, especially at night. I know for sure that it's easier to get food here than in european countries as I remembered that I couldn't find cooked food on sale after 9 pm in UK or Ireland. The abundance of foodie-blogs is a testament to the popularity of eating as it is elevated to an art-form and obsession to many in this country.

As for me, I have to admit that my culinary prowess is unheard of. Frankly, its because its never there to begin with. Although I work with knives, I apply it mostly to human beings so unless I have a leaning towards cannibalism, I don't think my cutting skills would really work in the kitchen. Therefore, I always marvel at how some people can cook, bake, boil, grill like they are born to do so. Juicy, glamourous people like Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, etc look good on tv and cook even better. What's even more amazing is how much some people can eat and never seem to put on weight.

My housemate is quite gifted in the art of making good food. She can bake stuff, make nasi kerabu, grilled chicken wings and some foreign dish that I would gladly finish off in minutes. All I can prepare is probably some fried rice, chicken stew, steamed fish and stir-fried vege. Basic survival stuff that all young people learnt in uni in order to survive. And of course, who could forget the all-important, faithful instant noodles that any one could whip up in 2 minutes. It's a perennial favourite dish among many of us youngster, especially if we have to live in a hostel with no kitchen. Ah, those were the days of instant mee goreng and mee-in-my-cup..

I never have a sweet tooth but cakes look gorgeous and I love taking pics of well-presented cakes. This is my first vegetarian cake and it tasted exactly like a normal cake. not to say that vegetarian cakes are abnormal but it is unique enough for me to feature on my blog. Don't the cherries looked yummy? Its practically glistening and sparkling!

This is one of the famous side dish in teluk intan. I mean this is not kajang but we do have a good version of satay here. These skewers of grilled meat is aromatic and scrumptious but it takes a lot of experience and talent to cook satay well. I just found out that the boss of this particularly good satay stall is one of the hospital at least i have faith in his hand-washing skills!

I have mentioned the 'tiny' farm behind my house and this is the proof that it really exist. Look at how well-maintained my fren keeps her farm. There are plenty of edible plants here and I do enjoy eating freshly-harvested, truly organic food grown by a medically-trained person. Haha..hopefully, our nation will learn to be more self-sufficient when it comes to food as our food security is kinda precarious even as shipments of rice arrives from our beloved neighbours. It makes me wonder what will happen if we truly faces a shortage in foodstuff? That's food for thought yeah...