Saturday, April 28, 2007

will power

His determination is commendable for someone so young.

the boy has been coughing on & off for a few weeks now, & it's gotten worse the last few days. it sounded wet but listening to his chest (with a stethoscope) gave no clue as to the cause of this mild discomfort. he didn't have fever, running nose nor sore throat, & he certainly wasn't sickly.

finally, took him to see my paediatrician colleague, who not surprisingly also drew a blank. nevertheless, he prescribed a bronchodilator (helps lungs breathe better) & an expectorant (aids coughing out phlegm) which he explained sometimes does help in indeterminate cases like this.

i wondered if it's something else. maybe it's the air-con or the iced drinks. i reasoned with him that fast-food (& the iced soda) is off limits till he gets better & that he won't get better till he stayed off the air-con & iced drinks.

last nite, we had dinner at a fusion joint & i asked him if he could just have warm soup with his meal. he replied, almost with indifference, that it's OK. & because it's customary for parents to dote on the kids, we each offered him a little sip of our iced drinks & you know what. nonchalantly, he flatly refused to be tempted.

this 5-year-old kid is really serious about getting better, not to mention that he hasn't asked for the air-con since. or did he desire the burger more??

i wonder, had Adam possessed the same resolve, might we all still be living in Eden??

don't you just love this boy - he takes his own medication, as long as it goes down with ribena! (& yes, he's left-handed)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Alan Ball. R.I.P

Alan who?

Alan Ball, ex-arsenal & england, world cup winner in 1966, who died of a heart attack yesterday, aged 61. (read here & here)

footballers come & go, so what's the deal here? nothing, except that i've been supporting arsenal f.c. only all my life & Alan Ball was the ONE i hero-worshipped. there was "hot-shot" charlie george, "general" frank mclintock & "safe-hands" bob wilson, but Alan's the one for me. his framed pictures, cut out from Goal! & Shoot! magazines, adorned the walls of my room & demonstrated my dedication. during a period of abject reverence to him, i even called myself Alan.

ha ha, talk about impressionable young minds!

for me, football worship was a temporary sojourn en route to adulthood, a rite of passage, to be oh, so cliche. something to keep boys off mischief while bonding with the guys, at a time when the phrase "eat & sleep football" hasn't been coined yet.

so now, at the end of Ball's journey, if i have to drop a line to the bereaved family, it would go something like this :

"may he continue to play in the great football pitch in the sky.
with deepest condolence,
from Dr Alan T"

Arsenal forever!!

**image : source**

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I'm only human,
Of flesh and blood I'm made,
Born to make mistakes.

this is part chorus of the Human League's 1986 US#1 hit, Human. i was reminded of this today at work. i tried to do a procedure on a patient but failed miserably, despite multiple attempts. on a normal day, i could do it with a single shot without much ado, but today is not that normal day.

the irony is that i saw this same patient in 2003 & successfully treated her. how very poignant - what was, or is, may not always be.

but like most things in life, there always has to be a plan B (or even a C & D). so this patient received alternative treatment (isn't life just great when you have options?!) which is just as effective. the choice between treatment A & B is just a matter of the individual physician's personal preference. has it not been said many times over that there's more than 1 way to skin a cat? (err, sorry, i didn't mean to imply that doctors mutiliate their charges, but you know what i meant. remember, like you, i'm only human!)

at the end of the day, it's the well-being & safety of the patient that is of paramount importance, & today i'm glad to say, all is well. the best, or biggest, or wisest may not always be right for us, as much as the self-improvement gurus would have us believe. it's really OK to be an ordinary human - extraordinary would be a bonus, but ordinary is just fine & dandy, really!

oprah winfrey related this little gem : "everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you need is someone who'll take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." i think that someone is possibly just like you & i - human, of flesh & blood, & born to make mistakes.

ok, almost 10.45pm. all said & done, i wonder if the doctors in Grey's Anatomy are playing god in tonite's episode.

**image : source

Saturday, April 21, 2007

exams : no running away

i hate exams! (hands up, those who feel the same way)

i remember the very 1st test result result i received when i was in primary one. it was a maths test & i got 47 marks out of 50. unfortunately, i didn't realise that it just the beginning of what i still perceive to be a long, difficult & twisty journey towards academic achievement.

my parents have always encouraged me to study hard, sometimes with a stern voice & occasionally with a few timely & forceful raps of the ruler on the hand. i recall with trepidation how my mother would make me remember how many eyes, nose, ears & the number of other body parts a human has (was she clairvoyant??) & my father would make sure i knew the times-table & "simpulan bahasa" till i could recite them in my sleep. painful as it was, something must have worked because i did OK (just ok only la!) at school in the years to come. (was it out of fear, sometimes i still wonder, or had i been pre-conditioned from young??)

i counted the number of years between that 1st maths test & the last exam i sat in adult life. would you believe a massive 29 years, attending classes & tutorials & pouring over books & references - i actually had been studying for more than half of my life. but no matter, i figure at any time of the year, there would be students swotting over their books in preparation for an exam or other. i don't envy them 1 bit but i do emphatise with them. they, as i have years before, put everything else in their lives on hold in an attempt to cross a hurdle that will decide if they go to a better class, enter boarding school/varsity, get that scholarship or attain a 1st or 2nd upper class honours.

& because exams will always be an inevitable part of this endeavour we call the rat race, & because the cliche "if you can't beat them, join them!" sometimes holds true, we should just study hard & get them over with. what comes after that is out of our control, but the results will be more readily acceptable if we had put in an honest effort.

so in the coming merry month of may, i know a bunch of medics won't share that sentiment as they will be sitting for their Part 1 M.Med. i especially would like to wish sbanboy (read here & here) all the very best & i'm happy to note that he is relying on God's strength & wisdom.

didn't the Wise Man admonish,"trust the Lord with all your heart, & lean not on your own understanding"? prov 3:5

Saturday, April 14, 2007

brand loyalty

2 very important words, if you are in sales or marketing. the reason why customers come back again & again to buy your products. doesn't matter if it costs more than the competitors or if it does not come with discounts or free gifts.

my brother-in-law should be paid loyalty bonus by toyota. he has only driven toyota cars from the carburettored KE30 to the various models of corolla, to the present fuel-injected altis. he swears by it because none of those cars has ever brought him grief. & why not? they are the biggest non-national car dealers (by volume) & they produce stylish reliable cars.

my uncle only buys sony tvs. when i moved into town 10 years ago & needed to get some electrical appliances, he took me to his friend who owns a shop. i bought a goldstar fridge, a JVC vcr, a hitachi air-con & a philips radio-cd player. but the tv HAD to be a sony, my uncle insisted. & he is vindicated because that 21" tv still works, & so does the subsequent 29" flatscreen. the fridge motor finally gave way last year, the vcr has been replaced by a dvd player, the air-con has seen better days but the 2 sony tvs, aged 10 & 7 years, are still projecting crisp clear images.

me, i have this thing for mitch albom's books (we have to discuss jeffrey archer another day). from his 1st bestseller my colleague recommended i read, "tuesdays with morrie", i knew he was going to be a prolific writer & he doesn't disappoint. "5 people you meet in heaven" was published in 2003 & "for one more day" last year. mind you, mitch, whose current daytime job is a columnist with detroit free press, should be no stranger to m'sian bloggers. one of his articles was allegedly plagiarised by brendan pereira in the new straits times at the height of the publication's shake-up last year (read here).

Tuesdays deals with a real-life professor who is dying from an incurable neurological disease. 5 People tells of a seaside-ride maintenance man who dies saving a child from an accident. in For 1 More Day, a washed-up ex-baseball player tries to kill himself TWICE after his world comes apart in a quick succession of let-downs. so, do i read mitch because he writes about death? or, do i have a dark & twisted mind with a morbid penchant?

here's the deal - with each death, mitch has expertly weaved in refreshing life-giving tales into the fabric that is our family & friends, & how we often take them for granted until it's too late. in fact, the stories could all be construed as cautionary tales for us to take time to appreciate those far & near, those from our past & present, & indeed, those who mold us into who we are today.

the lead character in For 1 More Day spoke to me when he proclaimed these :

"And I realised when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know."

"Sticking with your family is what makes it a family."

i just got my long awaited paperback copy this week & i'm going to take that 2-hour drive to see my parents tomorrow. i hope it's still not too late.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

not an april fool's day post

1st april. i remember this day well, but not for the practical jokes & pranks that surely will be played all the world over.

on this day in 1958, my parents married each other - a happy union that bore 2 sons & a daughter. my father now lives in his twilight years while my mum, God bless her good heart, looks after him in his infirmed state, bearing testimony to the matrimonial vows to do all "in sickness & in health, for better or for worse". my brother is nicely settled in s'pore with his own family while dear little kid sister, God bless her soul, passed on a few months after birth from a hole-in-the-heart ailment deemed incurable in those days when s'pore was still part of m'sia. that leaves big brother here to keep tabs & put things in perspective.

on this day in 1997, i went into private practice, coincidentally with a colleague CC at the same medical centre. we bravely took a route into a world widely known for its dog-eat-dog & winner-takes-all ethics, often cruel to the faint-hearted but rewarding to those that persevere in difficult & sometimes unforgiving circumstances. it's been 10 years now, putting on a facade & pandering to the patients' whims & fancies, while at the same time, unbeknownst to them, actually making them better as well. we ought to give ourselves a pat on the back for making it this far.

& as if to commemorate this feat, our colleagues KC & B8 unwittingly threw a party today. well, it's actually for their children's 5th birthday. again, coincidentally my son & CC's daughter are also 5 this year, & even as we all attend the same church, the children all go to the same kindergarten, art & music classes AND will probably enrol at the same (chinese) primary school. cute, you might say, can car pool. but i beg to differ - i fear there may be unwarranted & intense peer pressure when they all grow up."how many As did you son/daughter score, ah?". but that is fodder for another post.

until that time comes, we live for today & enjoyed ourselves at the party. B8, as ever the veritable host, provided his place & not 1, but 2 inflatable swimming tubs :

trick question : did the kids have a splashing good time??

another trick question: is a birthday party complete without a cake, or 2??

there were presents aplenty & laughter galore. that's how i think children should grow up to be - happy, carefree & most importantly, be loved.

happy birthday, kids!