Monthly Archives: July 2010

Doggie comfort

The dog has never been allowed on my couch or my bed or any furniture. I was told sternly by the dog trainer i hired (when the dog was suffering from separation anxiety) that i need to prove my leadership (to the dog). That was almost three years ago.

A few days ago, i decided to break this rule. I commanded the dog to jump up onto the couch with me. This must have been out of the blue because the dog gave me a quizzical look and i had to repeat the command a second time. When she was on the couch, she sat gingerly on her haunches looking at me in puzzlement, on the alert for the next command to get off the couch. When she finally realized i was for real, it did not take long for her to get comfortable.

It was not until the dog was on the couch, resting beside me, that i realized just how much i miss having a dog to snuggle with. It also made me think to myself for the umpteenth time that i really know myself best and sometimes i need to sieve out the advice of others no matter how well-intentioned they are.

On a different note altogether, i have started on El nino con el pijama de rayas (The Boy in Striped Pyjamas) in an attempt to strengthen my grasp of the language. I can only say that my optimism took a sobering hit. I tried reading the first page but only got through the first paragraph. I had to look up the meanings of most words, and hell, i had to highlight a few phrases to consult my tutor because the online dictionary was as clueless as me. At this rate, with both my severe vocabulary deficiency and the punishing hours demanded by Medical school, i think i can only go through half a page a week. Looking on the bright side, i may be able to finish the book in a YEAR, at the very earliest. Sigh.


Mood swings

I have always viewed people with mood swings as those volatile, self-centred personalities; people who were more dangerous and unpredictable than active volcanoes. And i always considered myself as one without mood swings. Now i realized that mood swings aren’t just those with explosive outbursts but include people who lapse into long silences. Increasingly, i have noticed that i am belonging to the latter group. A good friend whom i recently met up with, after almost a year of minimal contact remarked that i have grown either more serious and contemplative, or more cynical. I have noticed that myself. I see how i am always on a high, generally being happy and excited; and when things do not pan out, i really crash all the way down, becoming very sullen as things spiral out of my control. I am not so sure this is healthy, and i am starting to wonder if perhaps i should try to flatten the spikes and troughs of my emotions a bit more.

Today on the drive home after soccer training (there was no training; a grand total of three girls including myself showed up), i was suddenly hit by a wave of nostalgia. An unfamiliar song with a familiar tune was playing on the radio, and a flash of light from passing cars suddenly stirred a dormant memory of my Homeland. These spells of nostalgia hit me at the oddest moments, though i have to admit their frequency has lessened over the years. I suddenly recalled the nights when my dad would ferry me up and down from my various appointments – be it staying back after school for extra-curricular activities, tuition or sporting activities. I remembered staring out the car window watching the passing scenery, which comprised mainly of brightly-lit high rise apartments in contrast to the dark skies, as i was gently lulled to sleep in the car. I distinctly recalled thinking to myself on many occasions what would life be like in a decade; if things would change, where would i be, what will i be doing. And now a decade later; here i was reminiscing these memories on foreign soil. How very strange.

I have been feeling increasingly stressed over the last few days and the main reason is because i am dreading the start of my most intense semester next week. Already i can foresee the severe lack of time i will have, the long hours spent in the hospital, barely enough time for myself, and collapsing in exhaustion on my bed. Partly i suppose it is because my study break has been so short and incomplete. The first week was spent preparing for job interviews and being interviewed. The second was spent attempting to rest yet waiting nervously for both the results of my exams and the results of my job match. The final week was spent getting over my elation and trying desperately to watch the DVDs i rented and read the books i have purchased. So i guess, in effect, i only had a week’s break?

I have been putting in serious effort for my languages and my music lessons, practicing them dutifully and making great strides in progress. I feel sad that all these is going to end because Medicine is going to be a more than a full-time job. I really detest this lack of a balanced lifestyle and the constant need to fight against my profession from taking over my entire life. But i guess i should count my blessings more often.

I can’t help but feel just a little apprehensive as Monday looms ahead.


Two nights ago, the Housemate and I watched Precious the movie. We were having a DVD marathon. On Tuesdays, the DVD rental shop near our place always have an offer where DVDs are rented out cheap. We, erm, sort of went a bit insane and rented eight DVDs. We managed to watch only half over the last two days. We were also starting to regret our mad impulses. We have been keeping late hours just to watch the DVDs (because we have day appointments and i have sports training at night). I have now developed a mild headache that usually only accompanies me when i have a severe lack of sleep during particularly hectic days in the hospital.

Anyway, Precious. I was attempting to multi-task; reading articles from The Lancet and watching the movie. Unfortunately, it was a near impossible task. The vulgarities that were spewed on the show! Every sentence was punctuated by at least two f-bombs. I could barely discern what the character (the main character’s mother) was trying to say; maybe that’s the whole point – she’s incomprehensible? And i was mildly impressed that someone can string more than one f-word into a relatively coherent sentence. I tried and had to pause a few times to get the structure right. It was funny.

But on the more serious side, the Housemate and I were quite shocked by the appalling living conditions. We do not know much about Harlem or the Bronx; is life really like that for these people? We were quite affected by the show, watching in silence at the brutality of the mother, and the fight for survival by Precious. Even after the credits have rolled, we just stared at the TV deep in thought.

HIV positive, two children after rape by her own father. Overweight because of a poor diet from the lack of money. A Down Syndrome child because she was younger than 16 and had no idea about antenatal screening. Injuries from abuse by her mother.

And the mother, behaving as such because her partner likes her daughter more than her.

It was a mess. How do you even begin helping these people? A mere social worker ain’t enough. The whole damn system needs to be overhauled.

It also made me wonder. A General Practitioner will make a greater difference than a General Surgeon in such instances. Maybe my Family Medicine rotation in the next few months may change the specialty i want to go into in the future.

But gosh, the movie was intense.


Top news of the day – i got the hospital of my first choice! I am really thrilled, happy, relieved and grateful. I can breathe a little easier now. All i have to do is pass the exams of the next and final semester, which starts in less than a week.

I spent the most part of the day looking at rental properties. It’s exciting; we are going to move, but probably remain in the same area since this neighbourhood is really safe. Hopefully we are able to rent a townhouse with a courtyard for the dog.

I mentioned before that i was probably going to move inter-state; but towards the end, i decided that staying would be the best decision. I have most of my social networks established here – sports (although i am not sure what’s going to happen to soccer now), volunteer work, language and music teachers. Hell, i can even continue with the dog’s intermediate obedience classes if i wanted to (i have not decided yet. So far the past month has seen us skipping our lessons mostly because i have been too lazy to wake up early. It is too difficult to pass up the temptation to remain in bed when most days i have to be up by 6am).

The Housemate and i are thinking of housing together for at least the next year because i would like to save up to get my own place soon, and she wants to get a boat. She’s matched to a different hospital but our current location is situated comfortably between both our hospitals so it is a good arrangement for both of us. We are thinking of finding a third housemate (from a different hospital) just so it would make things interesting? Imagine the kind of case studies we can pool and discuss. Haha, how nerdy.

Anyway, i was frantically reading up on BJJ techniques. I was appalled at the regression of the skills i have learnt. Need to regain them back as soon as possible. I have also resumed my Japanese and flute lessons. I must say that my rate of learning is so much faster when i do not have to study Medicine at the same time.

My Japanese teacher was rather shocked when she realized that i did not forget most of my Japanese and i was learning at a rate much quicker than the one i usually present with during my semester days. I felt less pressured during the lesson too. I could grasp the new grammatical structures better unlike the blank space i get when i draw up on my brain reserves after a long day during semesters. My flute teacher was as delighted. We were absolutely whizzing through the new pieces and i am hitting the high notes more consistently. So much so, i realized i can actually start trying out the movie music scores that i bought – most notably Titanic (i know, i can be quite cheesy). My teacher was momentarily puzzled before it dawned upon him.

“You have been practicing, haven’t you?” he declared.

I grinned sheepishly.

“I can tell when you practice!” he stated in mock sternness.

The sad part? It will all come crashing down when i start the busiest semester yet, next week.

Anyway, gotta run. BJJ started five minutes ago! Pizza celebration after! Yay!


Today, once again i was reminded of how individualistic the profession of Medicine is. The difference between the me of now, and the me when i first stepped foot on this healthcare path, is that i have more or less reconciled this fact with myself.

I used to be furious and resentful. Now i just accept it with a quiet resignation. This profession is more isolated than i realized. Isolated not in the sense that it is a lonely job, but rather it is very difficult to meet people outside of Medicine.

It could also be because i am starting to see reap some of the fruits of my efforts. It could be because now that i am practicing clinically-relevant stuff; i am happier. But i did think about it and i realized in all the sports i have played in so far; i have never met a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant, or to put it bluntly any of the high-powered ultra-demanding white collar professions. That is just the sad news of it all.

Why am i being so despondent? Well, next time this year, i may find myself not being able to play in a team sport. I can’t commit. How do you commit to any activity if your work schedule can be around a 24-hour clock? Sometimes, you are in the mornings, at times on nights, and hell, occasionally right smack in the afternoon. It is difficult to organize time when it does not follow the conventional 8-5 time window.

The coach dropped a bombshell today. Because of our consistently poor performance, he is going to re-organize the team. That’s good. Unfortunately his stipulation is that if you can’t commit to any of the twice weekly trainings at any point in time; you are not going to play any games. That i feel is kind of high-handed. We, after all, do have full-time jobs to maintain; for those with families, children to see to; partners whose needs must be considered. And we really are not a professional team.

I am disappointed, but i also understand this is how life works. I can bitch about Medicine, and i have to myself, but in the end, i really have nothing to complain about. I am in a noble profession and sometimes sacrifices are required. Anyway, i am just a bit peeved that after years of really wanting to play soccer and finally getting a chance to do so this year; i have to give it up. There will not be a day where i can master dribbling and passing skills and learn all those fanciful tricks that Cristiano Ronaldo pulls off effortlessly all the damn time. I really should count my blessings and enjoy the goodness as the curtain gracefully falls.

I can’t always demand encores of all the good times in Life. That would be boring, wouldn’t it?

Japanese book

Wow, after i told my Japanese tutor that i ordered a few Japanese children books online, she gave me one to keep. Flipping through the book, i think it is meant for 4-5 years old?

Looks simple right? Hah. Looks are deceiving.

I read the first page, and erm, i could read the Hiragana phonetically, but i have no idea what they mean. So i patiently key in groups of characters into an online Japanese dictionary and wait for the dictionary to spit out the meanings. Except…several meanings got thrown back. Which is fine; i just need to utilize contextual clues in the passage.

However, the problem with character-based languages (i.e. Japanese, Chinese, Tamil, Greek etc) is that i need to know which groups of characters belong to one word. Otherwise, the search to understand the meaning would be arduous if not, impossible. It took me half an hour to decipher the first page. Of a children’s book. And even then, i am not confident that i grasp the full meaning of the short passage.

The picture on the corresponding page did not help.

Erm. I don’t know exactly how much time i can spare once my semester starts in a week and half, to continue putting in the seemingly large amount of effort required. And er, i think the Japanese children books i ordered may actually be too difficult for me to comprehend. Great.

Sigh, it is so tough learning a language.

Just an observation

Do you notice something? Hint: Hair colour.

Pardon the large size of this photo; otherwise you will not be able to see what i am trying to point out.

I was simply gazing at this noticeboard without thinking (in other words, i was stoning) when i suddenly went on a thought trajectory. I remembered the days when i was a kid and had to colour all these pictures (and how i did not really like it because damn! it was boring) and then my thoughts jumped onto another trajectory path and i recalled a former classmate relating to me how her brother would colour the trees a different colour and the people a weird colour and that was how they discovered he was colour-blind.

Right, so then i started focusing on the coloured pictures in front of me, trying to see if there were any children who were potentially colour-blind (see, i amuse myself like this). I didn’t notice any but i suddenly discovered that children coloured pictures according to the environment they were exposed to. See how there are three pictures with different hair colours – black, brown and yellow? Asian, brunettes and blondes. Aha. That was interesting. On hindsight, i know that as a kid i always took it for granted that everyone’s hair should be black. Strange i never once questioned that concept.