Monday, July 31, 2017

Mini culture shock

In my 1st job in the UK, I was waiting for the hospital transport to get me to another hospital. As the van stopped in front of the lobby, a middle-aged gentleman in a full suit, coat, tie & all, disembarked from the vehicle. Trying to be friendly, I approached him.....

Me: Hi, is this the van to the WH hospital?

Him : Yes, indeed it is.

Me : By the way, I am Dr T & I am the new SHO. And you are Dr........?

Him : I am Ray & I am the hospital porter.

Lesson #1 : in the UK, most men in the service industry, from top down, wear full suits.

Lesson #2 : Introduction is commonly by 1st names.

Therein, began my memorable 4-year sojourn in a foreign country.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Looks are deceptive

My friend's daughter is having her wedding reception dinner tonite. I am going to be late. I am thinking about the peer pressures of the modern day matching of life long mates.

I sensed that my friend was a bit disappointed. You see, the bride is a dentist and it would be expected by some quarters that she would pick someone with a similar honorific, e.g. Dr. Whether she wouldn't or couldn't doesn't matter, at least to me. I played table tennis with the guy last week and from that brief encounter, I was impressed with his soft spoken manners & politeness.

Doesn't matter if he's just plain looking or just an architect. He's in for the long haul. A successful marriage goes beyond looks & vocations. They both love God & that counts for everything.

And love is all they need.

Congrats, Ivan & Yen.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Am I losing him ?

I've always thought that I have fostered a blood-is-thicker-than-water bond with both my kids.

It's our (the boy's & mine) ritual to have breakfast on Saturdays when we have no commitments - he, to the school and extra-curricular activities, & I, to the hospital. Usually we'd have either the chicken briyani or tosai/canai.  Yes, we're that set in our ways. So when I asked him today if we are OK for breakfast at 9.30am tomorrow, he said it depends if he could wake up on time.

His response rankled me a bit; if he really enjoy having breakfast with me, he'd make every attempt to get up by that time, as I would. Besides, 9.30am is not that early by any measure.

I know when kids grow up, they often have their own circle of friends which they would want to hang out & chill out with, at the expense of the family

But I'd rather hope he'd choose dad over sleep. We'll see.....

Sunday, July 23, 2017

glutton for punishment

The hospital requires all doctors to undergo basic training for resuscitation to maintain its quality control status. Actually, it's already part & parcel of what we were trained to do, except that most of us have lost touch with the actual practice & may not have kept up with recent advances.
What's required is the attendance at the one-day in-house training & testing, again to satisfy the quality control status. All will naturally pass the tests, although some may need a 2nd attempt to pass. Basic stuff really. Once every two years routine.

However, what I did to fulfil the title of this post, is to take the advance course run by the Health Ministry. Not necessary to do this but I did it anyway. One full day of training and another half for the testing.

The price to pay : hefty course fees, unpaid leave on a Sat, 2 sleepless nites, and (to my colleagues and I) unnecessary self-inflicted stress.

The reward : a refresher on the theory & practice of giving life a second chance.

The course wins hands down.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Reminder to self

Made this decision in 1979 & never looked back since.

Through thick & thin, sleepless nites in the four seasons, forgoing social activities & staying beyond appointed working hours (what's that?), in life & in death, the Lord sustained me.

I have found my calling.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Learning from others

Many years ago, in the 80s, when I rode on the MRT in Singapore, I was so impressed by the almost seemless connectivity between North-South and East-West lines, that when I rode on the LRT in KL, the contrast couldn't be more glaring as I had to exit one station, walked to another in the vicinity, buy another ticket to ride on another line.
Years later, our transport minister finally realised his & his predecessors' folly at the disconnect of the whole system.
Too many crooks....err.....I mean cooks, spoil the soup, I guess, but we all end up slurping the unpalatable stuff.

New world hotel

I was staying at this downtown hotel & had a look at the snack tray. And guess what's in it?
Aphrodisiac and prophylactic.
Are we a progressive society or what?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


This is a malignant growth of the ducts that connect the liver and gallbladder to the small bowel. These ducts deliver bile to aid digestion of fatty food. Diagnosis is often late & the downward course is often rapid.

My colleague's brother had it & he just passed away today. This condition struck a resonant chord with me because the very 1st patient I had as a medical student in the surgical ward (circa 1982) was this cheerful and obese middle-aged gentleman who was admitted for jaundice.

Mah Hung was his name & how I can still remember that, I don't know  ...... maybe it was because he was my 1st surgical patient & I saw him every weekday till he finally passed away.

But I will never forget his kind words to me during one of our meetings. He advised me to work hard to be a good doctor and hoped that I will be a specialist one day.

Dear Uncle Mah, you are long gone but your kind wish did come true. I was touched then, just as I am today. Thanks for being my patient & my  teacher, for who you were, what you had & what you went through. May your soul rest in peace.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Extended invitation

Yesterday, the drug rep invited the 6 of us out for dinner. 3 of us couldn't make it, so the senior colleague, on his own accord,  invited a few nurses to take the place of the absent doctors.

In the end, 5 nurses turned up & 1 even brought her grown-up daughter. Even though the dinner came under company expenses, I felt it was highly inappropriate for my colleague to invite the nurses for what was clearly an invitation for doctors only. And to bring your daughter for a department function spoke volumes of the lack of etiquette & common sense.

I felt sorry for the rep. I wonder how she is going to explain to her boss about the extra (non-medical) heads for dinner, at RM85 net per pax?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mt Kinabalu

This is the Big Event of my year so far. Last August, my walking buddy told me of a vacancy in his group going up to Mt K in April this year. Having been mulling about doing the climb for some years, I jumped at the opportunity to realise this dream.

We started training by climbing the local hill (vertical ascent 140m) & despite carrying backpacks of 7kgs, it was far short of the 8km trail & 3200m vertical ascent of the real thing. But it was better than not hike training.

There were 6 of us in this group. They had originally planned for 2015 but the earthquake put paid to that. So, after a 2-hour bus ride from Kota Kinabalu, we finally arrived at the park HQ in Ranau, which is already 1800m above sea level. We will spend a nite here & the adventure starts the next day.....

Should I start blogging again?

It's been 2 years since my last entry. This morning I had a brief chat (read: 2 sentences each) with an ex-classmate from 6th Form & she persuaded me to reconsider blogging. So here I am.

I think I was more diligent previously because there were stuff I wanted to share.

And  rave.....

.....and vent.

But I stopped because I felt it was time consuming, to fire up the laptop, to draft & rewrite the narrative, so that it sounded credible, with punctuation in the right places & tenses correctly emphasised.

But mostly because the smartphone was a gadget from Mars & I hadn't subscribed to a data plan yet. That all changed now, & I can literally blog anywhere, anytime.

So here I am. Feel free to welcome me back.