Wednesday, November 24, 2021

progress #2

Went back to the pharmacy to get the medicine for the earlier appointment. Arrived 5.02pm and the queue no. was 1534 while 1517 was being served. It's definitely not a market place after 5pm. Maybe it's because they have a satellite pharmacy at another site. Maybe it's just that they are better organised now. Either way, I don't expect to wait beyond 30mins.

Syabas, MOH!


I left the house at 6.40am to fetch my mother at the nursing home about 15km away. Picked her at 7.25am - it was raining and cars were queueing near schools. When we reach the hospital at 8.15am, I thought it was going to be one of those days akin to a market place. When the ticket number given was 2018 (auspicious?) and the current number was 2010, I thought perhaps the hospital and/or MOH has got the crowds figured out. 

It's 9.08am now and the queue no. is now 2017. Things sure has changed since the GH I remembered years ago.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Circle of Life

When I was younger, my mum used to bring back food from the office - food meant for her but she often forewent them to give us kids a treat. After more than 50 years, I still remember the cholera outbreak of the late 60s. Her team was tasked with vaccination of incoming visitors ftom Singapore, and she often brought home food provided at the vaccination site. One memorable treat was a bottle of Magnolia chocolate milk.

After I graduated, I was often given pens by medical reps promoting their products. Then came trips to conferences and currently, lunches were similarly provided by the medical reps. And now, I bring them home (lunches, not med reps!!) for my son to savour. Somedays, it's McD, other days it's Subway. Today  it's Nandos.

Call it paying it forward, or one good turn deserves another.

I call it the Circle of Life. And I can hear Elton John singing in my mind.

Friday, October 08, 2021

dashed dreams

He WhatsApped to me while I was at work. I commiserated with him for his failed attempt at plan B.

When I got home, I told him to focus on his strengths, and to return to his 1st love. Engineering.

In the scheme of things, Medicine had been a distraction. An after-thought. A mistress invading a longterm marriage. Just like me decades ago  when I took up the new girlfriend and dumped the incumbent.

Move on and go back, boy, to the original plan A. I wish you a happy and stable career. God bless.

Man proposes but the Lord disposes. Amen.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

little mistake

Sudoku is where a little teeny weeny careless mistake disrupts the whole game.

Story of life.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021


In a cabinet filled with trophies, mostly my kids', there's one of mine that stood out. It was a 3rd place plaque in the state schools chess competition in 1974, and it was the highest position I was ever placed.
But I write this not to wallow in past glory but to reminisce on some of the best friendships I have fostered through the game. It is with much sadness that I remember Foo Howe Seng, the Muar District champ whose sudden and unexpected passing in 1976 shocked us. And especially, Wong Tzu Cheng, my classmate, partner-in-crime and best friend during our chess-playing and 6th Form days. 

You both left too soon. πŸ˜₯

Sunday, September 26, 2021

A ring, the ring

Same people but different designations.
Like fiancΓ© and fiancΓ©e.
Like son-in-law and daughter-in-law.
And father-in-law and mother-in-law.
And so on and so forth.
Some cynically call the in-laws outlaws. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Future career

Checking the place out. It's not exactly what he wants to do but this degree is a prerequisite for his intended career path.

Que sera sera. Whatever he does, I hope he does it well. πŸ™

Ghostbusters 3.0

This is what we put on when handling Covid positive patients. It's called  Powered Air Purifying Respirator. Air is drawn in by a battery-powered pump and is filtered before entering the headgear, ensuring air free from viruses and bacteria is delivered.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Covid-19 #1

Starting to treat my 1st Covid positive patient as part of "national service." Feeling very much like a Star Wars episode, I have a bad feeling about him.

Weighing 130kg aka morbidly obese, panting like a untrained long-distance runner and blood oxygen level hovering at a critical level (SpO2 90% in med-speak) despite full force of oxygen blasting at him.

His best option, for all concerned, is a transfer to a Govt facility. Hopefully I, despite my physical short-sightedness, am not the only one with 20/20 vision.


Saturday, April 24, 2021

vaccinated but not absolute

The plaster
The pose

2nd dose completed but the precautions will be maintained, for there is no certainty that a fully vaccinated person can't get Covid19, although the infection  will be less severe.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021


Money is NOT the root of all kinds of evil but the love of it is.

Today I was tempted by expecting to get something that didn't belong to me. Instead I received something smaller that did belong to me and learned to be content with that.

It is well with my soul. 

back to blogging again. maybe.

My case in OT is scheduled for
9am. I am in OT by 8.50 and by 9.05 my part is complete and ready to go.

The nurses start trickling in at 9am and prepare their instruments, and when I have done my part, they are still fiddling around. More like messing around because the microscope cover doesn't fit and the drill parts don't align. And these are nurses supposedly trained to assist in this type  of surgery.

Another nurse is called in and she's the real trouble-shooter. Changed the microscope cover and fixed the drill bits and we're good to go. 

I didnt measure my blood pressure but i did forewarn the OT sister that if I drop dead today, her OT nurses are to be blamed.

I need to rant and vent. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

living next door to Alice

Just feeling nostalgic.

This was a hit song by pop group Smokie in the 70s about not pouring your feelings to the love of your life till its too late.

I knew of 2 Alices in my younger days. One was a chance meeting with a budding lawyer, whom I read recently had been elevated to a Judicial Commissioner. Congrats!

The other was a student nurse at a hospital I was posted to. We were like Danny and Sandy in Grease... a summer romance but without the songs and dancing.

In the sunset of my life, there's always time for reminiscing. 

Of what it could have been. 😝😝😝

Friday, April 10, 2020

spaceman 2.0

In the midst of Covid pandemic. Hopsital in high alert and staff are in protective gear. No menteris here though.
God save us all.

Thursday, April 09, 2020


I was oncall on Tuesday April 7th, when a 70 yr old patient with a myriad of medical problems developed breathing difficulty. He obviously needed respiratory assistance with a ventilator. He would be the archetypal patient most likely to be afflicted with COVID19. But because his test result would not be available for another 24hrs (a RT-PCR test typically takes 24-48 hrs to respond), I had to assume he was positive and take the necessary precautions for inserting the breathing tube to be connected to the ventilator.

There I was, attired like a spaceman - complete with N95 mask, face shield, head cover, long-sleeved gown, plastic apron and 2 sets of gloves. 

Although the procedure took about 15mins, I was already feeling uncomfortably warm despite the ICU being A/C'd. 

I salute to the frontliners who donned similar spacesuit, and who manned the booths and cubicles, nursing critically ill patients for hours while the rest of the populace remained safe in the confines of their homes.

It was with much relief that the patient was subsequently tested negative. I slept well that night. 

Saturday, April 04, 2020


The Movement Control Order was imposed by the Govt on 18th March to limit the spread of the Covid-19 infection but it was only the last 3 days that I was completely homebound. 

I ended up a couch potato, spending the time I woke up to sleeping time, often past 12mn, watching TV. Watched movies, caught up on Covid news, both locally and worldwide. Also caught up on an old past time, watching Wrestlemania on Astro.

Not having a exercise mill at home, I expect to gain weight by the time this MCO is lifted. I should be awarded a PJK by then - Perut Jalan Kedepan.

Friday, March 27, 2020

sign of the times

This Covid thing is causing havoc at all levels of society and no one is spared. People can't go out to sell their ware, food supply chain gets disrupted and the fear of getting infected and dying is palpable.

Case in point - my friend just bought something for me and as I was taking out my wallet to pay him, he waved and asked me to pay him online.

As if social or spatial distancing is not enough, now there a digital separation as well.

These are challenging times indeed. 

pins and needles

As I was rummaging thru some of my mother's stuff, I came across a familiar brown plastic box. True enough, it contains all sorts of sewing paraphernalia...spools of multicoloured threads, safety pins and even an old bees wax.

Gosh, she taught me how to do minor repairs to my clothes using these before I entered varsity. And she's still doing this.

And I've forgotten how. 😒

cometh the hour...

There were several milestones in my medical career...

The 1st oncall as a houseman... 
Setting the 1st central line and 1st intubation...
The 1st student nurse I dated.... 
(To digress, there I was - a doctor dating a student nurse, when there was a time when I was a medical student trying to date a trained nurse😁) 
The 1st postgrad exam passed... 

I think one of the most difficult responsibilities is to treat your own family member. The emotional attachment often affects the decision you make and that's not always the most professional discourse. 

Anyway, I administered the epidural for the wife's cesarean section, the general anaesthetic for the son's arm surgery, the intensive care management for my late father, and just earlier this week, the spinal anesthetic for my mum's hip surgery. 

Not easy undertakings though because the margin for error just seemed to be narrower in these instances. 

I am just relieved that in all those situations, it all ended well. Phew! 


Thursday, March 26, 2020

feeling good

Yesterday, I managed to secure a box of 60 tablets of Hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug with possible useful effect again COVID19. It was supposedly the last box in stock at that pharmacy. 2 of my colleagues asked if I could spare them some, so I passed to them 15 tabs each, which is probably what each of us need to prevent (not treat, which will require a whole box of 60) infection.

Today another pharmacy offered me another 30 precious tabs. I accepted, not because I need it now but maybe some other colleagues might need it in the event of another shortage.

One good turn always deserve another. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Our last summer

30 years ago today.

8th Aug, 1988 or more auspiciously remembered as 08.08.88.

5 friends, all medical officers at Penang Hospital, decided to spend an evening to commemorate the occasion. Dinner at a hotel restaurant, coconut pudding dessert and a dance at the Casuarina along Ferringhi beach.

It was our 1st and last dance together. Peter, Loga, Kavi and Dolly  - thanks for the memories.

Love you all. πŸ•ΊπŸ’ƒπŸ₯³

Our last summer

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Piano exam

This is it.....the finale.

The boy will be taking his Grade 8 music exam today. He has been religiously & conscientiously practising for weeks now, esp the last few days (& nites).

May he play not for himself, not for us his parents, not for his music teacher but for the glory of God.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Breaching professional limits ?

I seldom get very friendly with my patients, probably because they weren't sure if I were the buddy-buddy type. Most times I am not.

But Rz was a tad different. A 39-year old who came in for abdominal surgery, he speaks English like his mother tongue & with a sense of humour, too, both a rare coincidence these days. What clinched the deal was that he supports Arsenal as well.

Then the floodgates opened. He seemed a little cheery when I do my clinical rounds & we spent a good few minutes dissecting life in general. He seemed keen to cut down some weight (20kg, no less, I advised him!!) so I suggested to him to slow-hike up the neighbourhood hill. We parted on that optimistic mood.

I'll know if he's serious about the hill climb if I meet him on the slopes. Otherwise, all bets are off.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

World Cup Final 2018

Like in 2007, 2010 and 2014, we the ex-EC students managed to get together for a weekend of good food, drinks and camaraderie. We left school in the mid-70s but only in 2007 that decided we would meet at least once every 4 years on the weekend of the World Cup Final.

But this time I am touched beyond words.

I didn't arrange prior accommodation but someone offered to share his twin room.

I didn't have a car and someone else offered to lend me his.

These acts of random kindness overwhelmed me.

Thank guys. See you again in 2022.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

RIP Andrea.

My blogger friend passed away today after a short illness.
Our common ground include reading, supporting Arsenal and being avid fan of StarWars. And also being cynical about life.
She lent me a whole set of  StarWars books & special edition DVDs, and now, I don't know if I should return them to her family or keep them in remembrance of our brief friendship.
Have a good trip home, Andrea, to the great football pitch in the sky.
You will be missed. 

Thursday, July 05, 2018

One good turn deserves another

As a follow-up to the Help!Help! post,  on the following day, it was I who needed help & it was the same colleague who provided assistance and advice during a critical event.
This patient developed a severe allergic reaction near the end of an operation, resulting in a drastic drop in blood pressure & oxygen content in the body. And because we took immediate measures to counter the reaction, the patient recovered without any ill effects.
This truly lent credence to the practice that two heads are better than one and that many hands make light work.
And I forget, no man is an island.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Help! Help!

I was called out of the OT by a nurse who said my colleague needed help in an adjacent OT. When I got over, he was furiously performing CPR & barking orders to the nurses. He told me the patient just had a cardiac arrest. After a few more life-saving injections, the patient miraculously came around - he actually opened his eyes & cough & spluttered.
My colleague thanked me although I didn't contribute much but I guess, sometines, one's mere presence is comfort enough.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good for everyone. (Gal 6: 9,10)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Dealing with people you can't stand

I bought the 1st edition (currently, 3ed) of this book over 20 years ago, hoping to get by some of the difficult relationship with so-called friends & colleagues. And some relatives as well.

I think I still got nowhere & certainly none the wiser after more than halfway thru the book. Yes, right, so up till now, I didn't haven't finished reading it, because relationships are just too complicated.....

Then I realised I could have gotten free advice, concisely in 2 sentences, from Peter the apostle.

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (1 Pet 2:12)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A good samaritan

Commandment : Love your neighbour as yourself.
Question : Who is my neighbour?
Answer : The stranger who changed your flat tyre.

Monday, March 12, 2018

A new dawn

It's so cliche to talk about every day being a new day, or a day to look forward to new experiences.

Given the on-off alternating turbulent and calm times I've had to go through these recent years, I think I have finally turned the corner. A light at the end of the tunnel which I hope  is not that of an approaching train. :P

Incidentally, coinciding with, but not related to, the passing of my dear friend Robert,  I felt there was, in the process, a sense of reconciliation and restoration, that it was the 1st day of the rest of your life.

a new day indeed.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Chap Goh Meh

Finally, it's the last day of the lunar new year celebration.

This year, we made the daring decision to celebrate with the in-laws in Penang, anticipating traffic in grid-lock on the NSE. To our pleasant surprise, we think we have crack the code to avoid the perennial traffic jam.

Travel up 2 days before CNY & return on the 2nd day. traffic was generally smooth & Rest Stops weren't packed like sardines.

We were also pleasantly surprised the food stalls started operating on the 2nd day itself but that came with a premium of RM1 over the regular price (RM5).

Looks like everyone's out to make a quick buck at every possible opportunity. Talk about veg, fish (esp white pomfret) and prawns before CNY.

But I say, live & let live lah - hard times are coming & everyone's going to be affected.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Long arm of the law

I am a pretty law-abiding citizen (ahem). The last fine imposed on me was a summon compounded for speeding. That was 8 years ago when I drove a turbo-charged 2-lit continental. With age rapidly catching up, I have since downsized to a 1.8-lit Japanese. I figure my reaction time would have dampened and parking is easier with a smaller car.

But I had casually more often than not, not placed parking coupons for short-term stay at certain less crowded places. Well, the law finally caught up with me.

The parking outside Jusco requires coupon up to 6pm. At 5.25pm, I thought I could just sneak in for a couple of grocery items. When I came out at 5.30, the misdemeanor had been promptly witnessed & duly slapped with a RM30 fine. The irony was that I could have parked for free within Jusco itself, but was just too lazy to go in & out of the gantry.

Commit the crime, do the time, we have been warned. I think it's only human nature to take risks & hope we can get away with it. Anyway, blaming only myself, I turned up at the payment counter the next morning & was pleasantly surprised when the clerk asked for only RM10. He duly stamped the payment.

Even though the fine is only the price of a set lunch, the impact is considerable. I thought I am a law-abiding citizen but obviously I am suffering from delusions of grandeur.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The Circle Game

This song didn't mean much when I first heard it in my teen years. The cover version sang by Hong Kong star Agnes Chan was popular with my classmates because we all fell in love with her. But now that I've heard Joni Mitchell's original version, I am also thinking of a child......

Yesterday a child came out to wonder....

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

 Next year, in November, with the blessing of God, the circle will be complete and she will walk in the shoes I have walked in for 35 years.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018


The general perception of giving is that, by doing so, you actually lose something, with the exception of unsolicited advice, which people often give freely & generously.  :)  And conversely, that by receiving, you have gained something. 

Giving is integral in the fabric of the Hippocratic oath. What the unwritten understanding is that when a fellow physician seeks your professional service, you are duty-bound not to charge professional fees. Giving, remember?

Yesterday, I spent 6 hours in OT with a patient who is also a fellow doctor but whom I do not know personally or professionally. The surgery was labour intensive, and sometimes energy sapping. At the end of it, to conform with the spirit of professional courtesy, I do not expect any remuneration for this effort. It did feel unsettling initially, given the nature & duration of the surgery, but what did I actually lose? Nah....just exchanged 6 hours of my time for professional social responsibility, a notion I gradually warmed up to.

The good doctor (the patient, I meant :P) survived the surgery, so let's not sweat the small stuff.

Saturday, February 03, 2018


There's no doubt New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and the South Island is where many tourists will spend most of their vacation.

My friends and colleagues are just puzzled why, having been to NZ 5 times, I still have not been to the South. And I keep repeating there's so many sights to behold in the North. Last year, my daughter and I trekked the Mt Taranaki trail at Egmont National Park in the North. It is one of the most symmetrical mountains in the world & because it resembles Mt Fuji, it was used as location shooting for the movie The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise.

And no, I am not ready for the South just yet.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Both sides now.

42 year old gentleman. Had nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) 20 years ago and was treated with radiotherapy.

Last year he developed cancer of the neck, probably as a result of repeated & prolonged exposure to the radiation treatment for the NPC. He has had 3 surgeries to remove the growth on his neck & this has left him with a hoarse voice, unable to swallow properly and partially disfigured.

Today, he needed to have a feeding tube surgically inserted into his stomach to facilitate nutrition.

And then, some one I know well complained about the prices of Chinese New Year cookies.


I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

Both sides now (Joni Mitchell)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

MH 131

That's the malaysia airlines flight to Auckland. Always brings a smile to us when we get to visit the daughter, marking the beginning of a much anticipated family vacation at year's end.
Except when she has to board the same flight on her own, to go back for the new academic term.
She's spent the last 10 days with us at home. She regaled, shopped, feasted and caught up with old friends.
And she lamented she has to go back again and that if only we all could be there with her.
Grow up, girl. There are many solo  journeys in life. Paths on which you thread alone. A rite of passage.
But you are not really alone. Our love  for you abounds wherever you are. Our thoughts of you tarry by your side. On your shoulders, you carry our aspirations. And God's presence is nigh if you open your heart to Him.
Goodbye is painful only when you know you'll never say hello again.
Goodbye for now, Hello in October.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Friend or foe?

Conflicts at work are a norm. Everyone is wired differently, so they think differently over the same issue, and accordingly, act differently. Some problems resolve amicably while others simmer in the background, sometimes ready reignite.
Is there a feeling that is worse than being stabbed in the back? It's so cliche to state that a brave person will face the issue by taking the bull by the horns, and only a low-esteemed low-life coward will stick in the knife when no one's watching.
My colleague seemed to be such a person. Another colleague had attested to that. So sad...going away for meditation.....for spiritual faraway exotic retreats... came to nought.
A skilled pair of hands would do great wonders prompted by a honest mind and compassionate heart, and only a few can claim that honour. But for now, it's a relief to get the uneasiness off the chest. And the knife off the back.
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
So cliche!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

One life

An acquaintance just bought a sports know, the flame-red turbo-charged coupe type. The kind I thought you'd buy if you struck a lottery.
Or when going through a mid-life crisis. :P
Anyway, he said a-matter-of-factly that he has only one life & wants to live it to the fullest. At 60+, that doesn't leave him much time.
On the other hand, I thought a-matter-of-factly, that if you only have one life, you shouldn't be making so many enemies.
Ha, ha. I am just being my cynical self.

The Good Samaritan

This is the oft narrated parable of old. It tells of a Jew who was waylaid by robbers on a quiet road. Battered & bruised, he lay helpless as a fellow Jew and subsequently a lecture priest walked by without so much as lifting a finger to help. Finally, a Samaritan (a native of Samaria whom the Jews regard & detest as a tainted race) came to his rescue. Dressed & clothed him & placed him in the care of an innkeeper & footing his expenses.
Friends helping each other is common practice but for a stranger or an adversary to do likewise is indeed commendable.
Recently, my daughter spent time in hospital with a classmate she hardly knew when the latter's mother was admitted with a critically illness. Truth be told, compassion is an attribute she rarely displays, so this came as a pleasant surprise to me.
Shortly later, she was in some distress waiting for her year-end exam results, having been
unsure of one of the papers she sat for. That got the wife in sixes and sevens, but the boy and I weren't perturbed.
All things worked for good to those that love God and are called according to their purpose. Paul said so, and I held on to the premise, that her act of random kindness at the hospital will provide reassurance she will pull thru.
It does and she did.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

final destination

If you have seen the movie, you'll be convinced you can't escape death. The movie makers & movie-goers alike must also believe it because there were another 4 sequels after that.

I have seen three of my late colleagues in the obituary page - one from a stroke, another from a delibitating disease & the 3rd from a ravaging cancer. Then I look at myself in context & wonder whether mine will be cut short like in the movie.

If my number had been up, it would have happened years ago.

When I was about 12, I tried to mimic a pole vaulter at the home garden. Strung a rope across & used a stick to jump over. Fell awkwardly facedown & felt excruciating pain over the whole abdomen. On hindsight, I could have ruptured the liver or spleen.

When I was 14, I opened the fridge at home during a thunderstorm & felt a sharp slap-like pain at the back of my calf. Was that a teeny-weeny electrocution?

When I was 27, before I could afford a car, I rode the motorbike to do part-time locum at a clinic along Jalan Jelutong, Penang. Many times, I had to stop in the middle of the road while waiting to turn right. If you live in Penang, you will know it's a very busy road & I had to depend on the goodwill of vehicles passing behind me to keep a safe distance.

When I was 29, while driving down from Penang to KL, I drifted off to the left of the main trunk road (before the NSE was opened) & as a reflex, turned the steering wheel excessively to the right & the car jumped up the kerb & veered sharply to the opposite lane. I lived to tell the tale because there was no oncoming traffic.

My personal belief, and I stress personal, is that my time is not yet up because in the grand scheme of things, there must be a role I still need to play, the reason for my very existence, as is for everyone else who is still alive.

It is my wish that all of us do whatever we can, while we still can, for the betterment of mankind.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

student nurses

nurses played a major role in my life.

my mother was one and that may have inspired me to follow a certain career pathway, but there were student nurses in the hospitals that I trained at or worked in that changed my outlook in adult life.

I thought I had found the girl of my dreams before I left for varsity. We went steady for over 3 years despite the long distance relationship & during term time, we kept in contact through public phones & letters.

It all changed when I started going to the wards during the clinical years. There was this student nurse PB in the surgical ward that drove me crazy. Her friendly & bubbly personality gave me crazy ideas. Like if I didn't see her in the morning, I would make it a point to pretend to see the patients during her afternoon or night shift. Her roster was on the notice board, that's how I tracked her movement ....*evil laugh*

my preoccupation with her drove me to break off with the erstwhile girlfriend, who was distraught beyond words. what do you expect, one day it was lovey-dovey...the next, it's adieu. well, not really because our parents knew each other well, so it wasn't really a clean break.

Coming back to PB, the chemistry was definitely there but it somehow just wasn't enough to clinch the deal. The one memorable moment I spent with her wasn't alone with her but at her home with her parents during Chinese New Year. Her mum was truly charming & I was sure PB inherited that attribute from mum. We remained friends to this day.

After that, I got to know CP, a classmate of PB. Like PB, she stayed at the nurses' hostel, so it was easy to meet. CP is from Penang, so we continued where we left off after I graduated & did housemanship in Penang. Just when I thought I will clinch it this time, she married someone else - the son of the landlady she was renting from. I attended her wedding but was a tad disappointed she couldn't or wouldn't or didn't wait for me. I still see her at church when I go back to Penang. Our families have met & we remained friends.

Then came AE...a student nurse at the Penang Hospital. Woo hoo......she really got me eating off her fingers. Bubbly, charming & intelligent....graduated top of the class even. Even met her parents when I spent a weekend at her home. This one was definitely a "done deal" but guess what?

I got cold feet & chickened out. Eventually, she married my colleague - personally & frankly, I think she was better off with him.

Which begs the question : was I really ever ready to commit in the 1st place? Probably not because there was a string of short term relationships after that which never really took lasting sparks.....

But three years later, the stars ignited & planets lined in place. The one I thought will never happen ....the outside bet...the dark horse....actually did. After a 2-year courtship, we married.

Oh yes, she also a nurse.

(did I not allude to this at the beginning?)

Monday, November 06, 2017


The exam starts today. I sat for its predecessor, the HSC, when it was in English.

I didn't feel I had prepared well for it & I remember I had a particularly torrid time with the Biology papers. The results certainly reflected that sentiment.

How I ended up doing Medicine is a rags to riches story.

Just take my word for it - zero to hero.


Sunday, November 05, 2017


The exam starts tomorrow. It used to be called MCE when the language of instruction was still in English. It's a faint memory for me but I remember the 1st and last papers well.

Traditionally, BM is the 1st paper. I remember writing 3-4 pages of karangan. The answer sheet has a hole punched in the upper left corner & a string is used to tie the sheets together. On each, the student was supposed to write the index number & IC number. However I wrote them only on the 1st sheet but forgot to write it on the subsequent ones. If the sheets got separated, unlikely if fastened securely, then only the 1st sheet can be traced to me. Imagine the anxiety I went through for the rest of the exam lasting 3 weeks and another 3 months waiting for the results. 

The last paper was Add Maths & it fell on the day AFTER my birthday. Unfortunately, my best bud came a-calling on my birthday, thinking Add Maths was a walk in the park for me, so we ended up chatting & going out for dinner. Didn't get home till about 9pm, which gave me just a couple of hours to revise. 

I scraped thru with a P7 for BM, still enough to get into 6th Form and got a C3 for Add Maths, which dismissed the notion about the stroll in the park.

All the best, SPM candidates, esp to those in flood-hit Penang.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Specs #2

I didn't stay long in the last class. After a couple of good monthly test results, I got promoted to J class, was made class monitor by midyear, & went on to stay in EC till 6th Form.

I met 2 best buds there - TS in Form 3, a fellow chess & football enthusiast whose sister I had the hots for, and TzC in 6th Form, a fellow delinquent & partner in crime.

I then had 4 other crushes in quick succession, one in Lower Six & THREE in Upper Six. How I got into Medicine despite the bruises is another tale for another day.

I had 4 soon-to-be eminent schoolmates - 2 captains of industry (Liew at Setia/EcoWorld and Jamal at Maxis/Axiata), a chief minister (Khaled) and royalty (HM the Sultan).

Believe me when someone tells you that school days are the best times in one's life.


That was the name the BM teacher called me in Form One. She didn't know my name then & I was the only one in class with glasses.

There were 10 classes of Form One that year, Form I A to F, then J to M. I was in Form 1M, the last class.

That was an anomaly that year. The premier secondary school for boys was EC. Every smart kid wants to get in but admission is by location; you get in if you live in the area. I lived far from that & ended up in the not-so-glamorous neighbourhood school, SAB. As we were gathering to register on the 1st day of school at SAB, after much delay & confusion, we were told to report at EC the next day.

Because we were not the original EC batch, we were temporarily allocated to J-M classes and because they couldn't trace my Secondary School entrance test results, I was arbitrarily banished to the bunch-of-losers last class.

Yes, that's me, Specs, starting secondary school right at the bottom of the pit. But there's one consolation, though - from thereon, there's only only one way to go.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ten ten

Some one took the trouble to create such a day. I wouldn't have known about it had not someone posted on FB.

Not sure how to celebrate it, if at all. For me, all I want is for the patient to leave the operating room alive and healed.

That alone is reward enough.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

some loose ends tied

it was a pretty good week...

the real Unifi guys finally turned up.....I meant not the earlier pretenders who came & checked up the place and yadda.....yadda......yadda......can only do internal wiring....Telekom need to pull the external wires from the router box....RM500 excluding the modem....

a whole month after registering for it, the earlier installers really gave me the run-around.....and finally, Unifi finally sent these fellas who did everything in one go, for just extra RM200.

oh yes, there are more than a few installers out to make a quick buck.

and finally, got the daughter's accommodation sorted out for the next (and last) 2 years of her course. every year at this time, since she has been in varsity, we agonized whether she could secure a place to stay near the varsity and we are glad this predicament is a thing of the past.

hope your week has been good, too.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

a wedding dinner in 2017

My colleague's son is having his wedding dinner at an upmarket hotel.

For the 1st time ever, in addition to the menu, this was placed on the table...

Personally, I didn't think it was a good idea. It's as if the diners don't already have enough of surfing at home, at work or while waiting at the traffic lights. But then it's the sign of the times. Even if the free wifi is not provided, most will already have their own data plans anyway, but with this added service, it will certainly encourage more people to surf in between & during dishes.

So, if you don't mind, just hold the yam seng while I reply to my WhatsApp message.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

10 commandments of marriage

Commandment 1.
Marriages are made in heaven. But then again, so is thunder and lightning.

Commandment 2.
If you want your wife to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say, talk in your sleep.

Commandment 3.
Marriage is grand -- and divorce is at least 100 grand!

Commandment 4.
Married life is very frustrating. In the first year of marriage, the man speaks and the woman listens.
In the second year, the woman speaks and the man listens. In the third year, they both speak and the neighbors listen.

Commandment 5.
When a man opens the door of his car for his wife, you can be sure of one thing:
Either the car is new or the wife is.

Commandment 6.
Marriage is when a man and woman become as one;
The trouble starts when they try to decide which one.

Commandment 7.
Before marriage, a man will lie awake all night thinking about something you say.
After marriage, he will fall asleep before you finish.

Commandment 8.
Every man wants a wife who is beautiful, understanding, economical, and a good cook.
But the law allows only one wife.

Commandment 9.
Marriage and love are purely a matter of chemistry.
That is why sometimes they treat each other like toxic waste.

Commandment 10.
A man is incomplete until he is married.
After that, he is finished.

Bonus Commandment Story.
A long married couple came upon a wishing well. The wife leaned over, made a wish and threw in a penny. The husband decided to make a wish too. But he leaned over too much, fell into the well, and drowned. The wife was stunned for a moment, but then smiled, 'It really works!

** #8 is my personal favourite**

Friday, September 22, 2017

primum non nocere

that, in latin, means 1st, do no harm.

i've not always adhered to that principle - blame it on immaturity, anger, or just plain callousness. i recalled an incident very early in my training when the senior consultant of the department ( aka The Boss) hauled me into his office to give me a mouthful.

on that morning, i had a dispute with a consultant of another department over the management of a child. in anger, i walked out on the child, to whom i had just given some sedation. that consultant rightly complained to my Boss about what i just did (the argument & subsequent abandonment of the child) & that was just 1 of many reprimands for wrongdoing in my career. yeah, i was a serial offender - bad, bad doctor!

however, i learned valuable lessons that day....

1st, my patient becomes my responsibility, no matter what i had for breakfast, how miserable i felt or who i fought with. his well-being is my priority.

2nd, to err is human, to forgive is divine. my Boss censured me in the privacy of his office, thereby sparing me the humiliation of a public flogging. that, IMHO, constituted a pardon in itself, & till this day, i appreciated that magnanimous gesture. therefore, it was with much sadness when i read last year that he had passed away from cancer.

so, it's ok to be human - to resent, to antagonise, to show displeasure. were we not from the fallen beings of eden? paul has this valuable counsel:

"in your anger do not sin. do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." ephesians 4 : 26,27

** this post is a saved draft from 2007. I don't remember why I didn't post it then, but here it is...a reminder to myself that it's OK to start badly but must finish strong **

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trigger happy nurse

No, she didn't use firearms but was certainly quick to the draw.

These are 2 monitoring devices we use for patients in the ICU. One for arterial blood pressure, the other for central venous pressure. Sometimes we use one, sometimes the other and sometimes both, depending on the patient's condition.

This time, I just wanted one but the nurse without thinking, opened both sets. Why, I asked, and she replied she thought I normally use both. Of course, that's just an excuse for her own error, the cost of which the patient will unfortunately bear.

Some days, I do wish they'd stop thinking and listen more instead. I get it, 2 ears but 1 brain and 1 mouth...does that mean to listen more but think & talk less?

Whatever, there will still be an additional (but unnecessary) of RM124 plus GST to the patient's bill.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Double whammy

As if having an allergy is not enough, how about having an allergy to the medication used to treat the initial allergy??
40 year old woman admitted for nose surgery. In the OT, just before commencement, she developed an allergic reaction to the anti-vomiting injection. We treated the severe coughing and breathlessness with alternative medications, for fear of triggering another allergic reaction should the standard anti-allergic injection be used. The surgery was subsequently postponed for safety sake.
The allergic reaction subsided the next day & surgery proceeded with no further untoward incident, with administration of alternative anti-vomiting injection.
We really have no idea what we are allergic to until we develop it. Some  are mild, e.g. to prawns, while other maybe severe or even life-threatening, e.g. to peanuts. As doctors, we were taught how to treat it, but it is safest to avoid the offending food or medication, if we are aware of it. Patients should communicate these previous incidents to their doctors, too.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Good deed for the, nite.

Do you remember the last time you went beyond, maybe even far, far beyond, the call of duty, or in this case, for the sake of friendship, to do a favour for a friend?

My ex-classmate AT rarely calls me; the last time he did, he wanted to find out about schools in S'pore because my daughter went thru that path. This time, at 2am, he called me to ask for the contact of our other ex-classmate (TI) because the latter's son studied in UK. AT is currently in UK, hence the desperate 2am call, to send his son to the same university.

The tricky part is that I myself don't have TI's contact because we communicated only thru FB or Messenger. The truth is that, not being particularly close to AT, I could have just said I don't have TI's contact & go on to sleep (2am, remember?).

But I know I wouldn't be able to, with an unresolved issue in the backburner. Anyway, the happy ending is that I messaged TI, who should be asleep, to inform him that AT is trying to contact him & added AT's contact.

The next morning, I read TI's message that they have contacted each other. But not a word, least of all, one of thanks, from AT.

**if AT had thanked me profusely, or got me a token something from UK, I suppose I wouldn't consider this a good deed. Get it? Heh, heh**

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

26-year memory lane

I met up with an ex-colleague over the weekend after a lapse of 26 ( yes, TWENTY SIX !!) years. And we both concurred that we didn't change much physically, as we immediately recognised each other.

Initially, we feared we had lost much that we had in common before, besides being in the same discipline, but when we took that walk down that decade-old memory lane, the flood gates just opened.

Having pre-dinner drinks at his clubhouse, he ordered 2 glasses of Guinness draught, only to realise that I don't take stout. So, to accommodate me, he ordered a beer. When I asked him about the other glass of stout, he coolly said he'll polish that off as well.

Spoken like a true ex-pubcrawler. Four of us did one crawl back in 1990 during the World Cup Finals. Besides our interest in watching the game, one other thing we shared after that crawl was the drain we all peed into when we didn't feel bothered to look for a washroom.

And yes, we all became (respected??) medical specialists several years after that.
Woo hoo !!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A tale of 3 siblings.

T was my Best Bud in secondary school. We clicked because of our interest in chess and football. I then came to know his family very well.

T is the eldest of 3 siblings. We played chess in school & at our homes, talked and played football at other times. He supported Spurs while his younger brother J supported Liverpool, so we really had a good banter every time we met.

T is in banking in Canada, and I keep saying I will visit but haven't yet did, while J runs an entertainment outlet in our hometown in JB.

M is the little sister, now in Sydney, whom I had the hots for (and their parents didn't mind....woo hoo!!) and sure, many times I have wondered what could have been but that's a story for another post.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

An Act of Random Kindness

My Primary One class teacher, Pn RB, passed away last year. I've only  fond memories of her. You see, I was the proverbial teacher's pet & it helped that my parents were friends with her.
One particular incident endeared her to me in a life-long way. I was 1st in class in the mid-term tests but came in 3rd for the year-end exams. I bawled like a spoilt brat because of the high expectation and failure to maintain top position. However, later in the day, I was told that I was actually 1st because of a calculation error.

I knew that was not the case only years later. I was 7 and naive. I recalled the ink correction to the test marks & came to realise what Pn RB did for me, to make me look good. An undeserved act of random kindness.

I  did feel sorry for my classmates, FM & WW, both of whom remained my FB friends but don't read this blog. One of them should have been 1st & the other, 2nd.

I continued to study hard & work diligently & I write this for closure.
Thank you and rest in peace, Pn RB.

Old timer

This 60+ gentleman has been with the hospital since it started in 1990. He's an operating theatre assistant, preparing the room & helping the surgeons during surgeries. Very likeable chap & adept at his work.

Also very conscientious. Here he is preparing the OT table well over an hour before surgery is due to commence. I state this in contrast to the lackadaisical work attitude of the younger generation.

Preparing the OT is like a pre-flight check. Would you board a plane scheduled to take-off at 2pm when the crew only starts checking at 2pm? Which means the flight can't possibly take off at 2pm. As if there aren't enough delays already!!

That's why I appreciate this guy very much. In this case, indeed old is gold.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

what i learned at the football stadium

I was at the stadium to watch the Malaysia v Hong Kong AFC qualifying game, as I wanted to savour again the "live" experience of a competitive football match.

What a difference it was from watching in the comfort of home!! I never realised there was a section where local fans called ultras congregate and sing patriotic songs to the beat of drums...

...and no, I didn't hear them sing anything offensive to their opponents.

Speaking of patriotism, I am convinced sports is one unifying activity (food being the other) that transcends age, gender, race and religion. In unison, the crowd cheered when we scored the equalising goal & in one voice, boo-ed vociferously at the referee when he unfairly awarded an injury time penalty to the visitors. But just was served when HK missed the penalty. woo hoo!! unfortunately the stadium was less than a quarter filled, so the intense atmosphere was sadly missed.

Because it was windless, the air was a tad stale & reeking of cigarette smoke. I also missed the action replay like on television. I got distracted momentarily & completely missed the 1st goal.

Despite the unique experience at the stadium, I doubt if I would be back any time soon....

.....unless Barcelona or Real Madrid comes to town.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


if Mr Oon had been stopped at a police check point in the wee hours of the nite, how would he explain the axe?
So glad that didn't happen. 

Instead, he was the right person at right place and time with an axe.

He deserves praise.


Monday, September 04, 2017

F1nale - another one bites the dust

I always feel sad when businesses close down, like the shuttered units at the mall, these being challenging times amid global economic slowdown. the Speedy video, aL-ikhsaN and gym equipment shops all closed within the last 3 months.

so also with the Malaysian F1 racing for the last time this month. this after the initial novelty of 1999 has worn off, plus the more attractive night race further south (alcohol on freeflow, city centre location, and entertainment by One Direction, Seal, Chainsmokers & Duran2), it's not surprising that something has to give.

with Proton, Bandar Malaysia, Forest City & Iskandar, amongst others, sold to foreign interests, the signs aren't good.

let's hope the F1nale is only restricted to motorsports racing.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

My orthopaedic colleague in another hospital is ranting.

Every time he sends patients to the Xray department, either
1) the queue is long,
2) the report takes ages to be issued

and worst of all....

3) the report is unreliable, inaccurate or inconclusive.

So, imagine you are the patient. You arrive at the clinic at 9am, see the doctor at 10am, go to the Xray department at 10.30am to see a long queue before you, get the Xray/scan done at 1pm, & wait for the report which is issued only at 4pm, and go back to the clinic only for the doctor to  tell you that the diagnosis remains uncertain.

And you may need another scan.

You spent the whole day & loads of cash only to return to square 1.

You are upset, the doctor is upset and the cycle repeats itself.

No wonder my colleague is ranting.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Saved by the ECG

33yr old male doctor admitted for nose surgery. Overweight 100kg with high cholesterol 8.7 (normal upper limit 5.2). No known medical problem.

On the operating table, it is routine to attach wires to patients for monitoring the heart & respiratory functions. This patient's ECG showed a bizarre pattern, even after adjustments were made to rule out artifacts.

When I asked him what his previous ECGs were like, he said he never had one done, understandably since he is only 33. so, I decided to postpone surgery till the cardiologist has given him the full workout.

In what I do, the patients who enters the OT alive should similarly emerge likewise.
I want to keep it that way.

**contrast this**

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Naughty post

Rojak without prawn paste;
Satay without peanut sauce;
English breakfast without bacon;
Nasi lemak without sambal;
Cendol without gula melaka;
ABC without red beans...

No lah, it's more like sex with a condom on....

Isotonic drink WITHOUT carbonation.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My father's son

I had a bit of a rollercoaster growing up.

My father used to work with the British army in Singapore. We were quite financially well off. Staying in the clan's home, we had 2 rooms & we were the 1st family with a TV. We eventually moved out to our own home.

When the Brits withdrew, he was laid off. We tightened our belts during this difficult period. He then worked for a while with a timber company in Temerloh (Pahang) & then Paka (Trengganu), which means he was away from home a lot. When the company closed down, he came back & became a driving instructor. I still mention with much pride that I was taught by him.

He's always been thrifty in his spending. In fact, when we go to the supermarket, he'll just wait outside because he said he has nothing to buy while we filled our trolley with groceries.

I still retained that DNA. Which is why I was ecstatic when I found this ......

After all, I AM my father's son. I think I'll wear this to church tomorrow.

Friday, August 25, 2017


my son says he wants to be a pilot. either that, or play for Manchester United.

my daughter says she wants to do internal medicine. either that, or cancer research.

i feel it's good to have an ambition. at least, there's something to look forward, and work towards, to. an objective to focus & channel one's energy & time.

but the wise man has this to say....

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (prov 19:21)

i should know. after all i wanted to be a bus conductor, and then an aviation engineer.

see how i turned out.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

1st time on a plane

I was a houseman in the medical ward when this middle-aged Sarawakian gentleman, visiting Pesta Pulau Pinang with his family, suffered a massive heart attack. Although he made good recovery, he was apprehensive about returning home, so his family requested for a doctor to accompany. Guess who was given the free trip responsibility to transfer the patient home? Unrecorded leave, some more, yayy!

The journey (Penang-KL-Kucing-Sibu-Kapit) was largely uneventful. Truth be told, if anything should happen, there's not much besides CPR that I can offer but I suppose my presence was all that is required.

Reached Kapit after a nite in Sibu & a boat ride on the Rejang. Found out that the guy owned a coffee shop. Looking back, they really took care of me throughout the whole trip. Funny thing, I can't remember his name or his shop, but the name of the hotel he checked me into remained in the backburner all these years. Mahligai Kapit.....and I was treated like a king.
Thanks for the memory, Towkay.
Kapit, Jan 1985

PS. I met an old flame on the flight from Kucing to Sibu, but that's a story for another day. :P

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


 16th July 1984

1st day as a houseman, posted to the Paediatrics ward at Penang Hospital. I must confessed that I was disappointed that I didn't get my 1st choice posting to Johor Baru Hosp. Having lived away for 5 years in med school, I thought I 'd rather enjoy staying at home for a change.

As it turned out, Penang was a game changer for me. Chance for me to live fully independent in a place I am not totally unfamiliar with. I spent a week here in 1975 for a national level chess tournament and another 2 weeks in 1983 for a community health survey as part of the medical curriculum.

So, what happened in the 4 years in Penang?

Earned my 1st paycheck, found out I can date Penang girls on a motorbike, owned my 1st car, started post-grad training, spent a memorable 08-08-88 with a few close buddies and met the girl I was to marry.

(And others events I can't mentioned without getting indecent. Heh, heh!)

A game changer.