Monthly Archives: January 2011


I have got a few minutes to type this before i rush off for my piano lesson.

Internship has been a slow rumble along. I am learning more about drugs and how to be a good administrator and a personal assistant to the higher-ups as compared to learning about medicine.

The first week was pretty rough. It was all about learning to be confident, especially when i started getting paged by nurses, ward clerks and general practitioners, all wanting to know what i should do for this patient or that patient. I was worried of making any mistakes, so every tiniest detail i had to run past the senior doctor to whom i was attached to. The senior doctor is really nice – she was very patient and listened earnestly to my innumerable questions before giving me concise answers.

On the other hand, i was feeling very incompetent and very inefficient. I asked what drugs and their doses should i commit to memory and this is when i discovered that theory varies widely from reality – there is no algorithm. It all boils down to experience, to which i have zilch at the moment. So i can only pick up information from the patients under my wing. And sadly, for some reason, i don’t have a variety of patients. They all come in with exacerbation of COPD and heart failure. We either jack up the frusemide and start empirical iv antibiotics with no idea what we are treating (too often these patients have already seen their local doctors and have been prescribed oral antibiotics so most cultures are negative for growth) or we weigh them compulsively and obsess after their fluid restrictions.

Because i am in a smaller hospital, the workload seemed to be a little lesser (although i did ask friends in larger hospitals, and our doctor to patient ratio is roughly equivalent, so it may all be in my head). This is also my only General Medicine rotation (i have more surgical rotations, my preference), and i am just a tad frantic that i may not be learning as much internal medicine as i should be.

Anyway, i got to go now, more later!


Movie marathon

Recently watched Blue Valentine and Black Swan back to back. They were both deep on different levels. Both highly recommended. Anyway, i saw this on YouTube. Can only say “Wow”…

P/S: I know i have been MIA for a while. I have been busy juggling the first two weeks of internship, the socials (catching up with friends after our break), and re-starting my various extra-curricular stuff. Will update soon. Promise.


Our piano arrived today. The Housemate and I are ecstatic. It looks sleeker and newer than the one we viewed in the gallery. It’s a Steinbach. Beautiful. Tried practicing just now and the sound is sweet.

Now I’m just wondering if I should send my flute for a maintenance service…it’s been two years since I last serviced it. We will see how my first day of work goes tomorrow!


This week, i have noticed that i have been thinking about Japan a lot more than in the immediate days when i left Japan. It happens in the most mundane of moments – when i am resting in bed and suddenly glanced up at my luggage on top of my wardrobe and reminisced the times we had, the bag and i (the times i lugged it through a small Japanese town (Inuyama to Inuyama Yuen) and through half the city of Nagoya), when i hear the train go past and recall the maddeningly crowded carriages that i had to endure when i was in Tokyo, or when i stroll past the snow and skate shop near my place, and i start missing the snowboarding experience i had in Nozawa Onsen. It was all a little bewildering to be honest. It is not a depressing kind of post-holiday blues; more like a gentle mild ache of missing and knowing the good times that have just passed. It is not a shit feeling, just something i have not experienced in a long time. I am glad i went to Japan; i really had a lot of fun and a lot of eye-openers.

In the days i have been back, i have also been working hard for my soccer club. I have been busy finding sponsors for our club and i chose to explore the local neighbourhood. One afternoon spent speaking to small business owners convinced me more than the numerous news articles i have read in the local papers and The Economist that the economy is really not very healthy at the moment. Business owners are tight-fisted and some were downright perplexing. Their shops were empty and they were honestly struggling to survive. I really did not know how to react. That was a tad demoralizing, fortunately i had a friend with me, who normally hated doing such physically-exerting tasks but was a friend enough to provide moral support for a club that he could not belong to by virtue of his gender.

Then i spent the last few days writing emails to companies appealing to their generosity and imploring their financial help for my club. Deep down i know many of these businesses i approached would turn me down, but i also understood unless i keep trying, i will never succeed. Also i reassured myself that even if i had failed to secure some financial assistance, at least i helped in getting the word out that there is a new ladies’ club in town.

After a day in the sweltering heat, my friend deadpanned, “This is probably going to be the toughest thing you ever have to do in your intern year.”

I will be glad if he’s right.

The saddest part of it all is that i have a sneaking suspicion i will not even be able to play for this club that i have grown to love and slog so hard for. And all because i suspect my work schedule is going to clash with my training commitments, and as a committee member, i would have to lead by example, and voluntarily step away from the team. Of course, all these is pure conjecture on my part and i would be ecstatic if i was proven wrong but i understand that some things in life is inevitable. You come to expect it after being grilled in medical school for that many years. But i read in a book recently that i guess is befitting of this situation if i do encounter it – if i love something a lot but don’t have the talent or commitment for it, i can treat it as a hobby. At least i get to contribute to a club in a sport i love.

Scary teacher

I am back in the Workland, been back for about a week, and have been busy doing various stuff.

The first thing i should update is about my needless worrying before arriving home. (Sidetrack: Home, i realized this past Christmas is no longer the Homeland but Workland. This is my 7th year in this country, and i have grown to embrace it. Regardless of where my roots are, my current social network is based in the Workland, and now my professional network is set to develop in this country too. I guess it is better to admit that upfront than to pretend that i am a Homelander when in actual fact, i have no idea what is going on in the Homeland. It also makes me feel less pretentious so that is a relief.)

Before i left the Workland for my trip in a rush, i left a bar of chocolate on the kitchen counter. It was a bar of opened chocolate, for all ants and cockroaches to feast on. Not to mention we are heading right smack into summer. Also i made the decision to leave Lance at home. There were a lot of factors involved, basically everyone from friends to mother to vet all vetoed the idea of me leaving the bird at a boarding kennel – no one knows if the bird can survive the car trip (because it is the same place where i board my dog – a five away drive away) or the board because after all it was an injured bird with a neurological deficit. The vet suggested i put it down if i were to go on a holiday. I was adamant that i not euthanize a perfectly healthy bird, albeit one that cannot fly.

Anyhow, all’s good when i came home. I was actually peering through the blinds of my house from outside to see if the bird was still alive after 4 weeks. It was, and in fact it was chirping merrily. I could hear it from outside. It however, was not very pleased to see me. Ungrateful little twat. After having the house to itself for four whole weeks, it was no longer used to sharing its space with another human. What the hell. It only made a mess on the floor with all the seed kernels, which i easily swept. The chocolate was miraculously untouched. Weird.

Anyway, i was busy getting the cleaners to come in to give the house a spring clean, then it was off to purchase a new vacuum cleaner. We have survived without a vacuum for the past year, pretty amazing huh?

I also started resuming all my language lessons – i think my Japanese teacher was a little appalled that my Japanese did not improve drastically after my Japan trip (not surprising considering how little i attempted to speak!). But she was shocked with my new confidence – i was now stringing phrases into long sentences in more or less the correct grammatical way. Previously, i stuck to short sentences.

I guess the most exciting news would be my first piano lesson. I had researched the teachers i intend to contact before i left for Japan. I contacted one of them who teaches in a pretty good music school (in my opinion). It is also the same school i have been keeping an eye out for since i learnt of its existence in my first year of Medical School. It has been a long time, but better late than never!

For some strange reason, i discovered that i had an expectation of what she should look like after hearing her speak over the phone. I only realized i had an expectation of her appearance when i got a shock after meeting her the first time. I found that odd because i do not usually harbour an expectation of what a person should look like before meeting them. And the reason i got a shock was because she was the exact opposite of what i had been expecting. Sometimes, i can really be moronic.

(On hindsight i realized she sounded like an Anatomy lecturer i had back in my second year of medical school. It also did not help that they have the same first name…) Anyway, this piano teacher turned out to be a well-groomed lady in her fifties. I rocked up to her place and was immediately instructed to sit at the piano and that made me really really nervous. I just thought that we were going a little too fast for my liking.

She was also as strict as she sounded on the phone. Basically her conditions for  me to be one of her students was that i MUST undertake weekly lessons, otherwise she feels it will be too difficult for me to master the piano. Also within the first lesson, she whizzed through six pieces and stated that i must practice them as assignment, before the next lesson. I just stared at her, feeling incredibly scared. You know, it has been a long time since a teacher last struck fear in me and that was way back in high school. And yet at 25 years of age, i am now experiencing the same stressful feeling. I am incredulous. What in the world??

Of course the lesson was not all bad. I like the fact that she took the first 10 minutes of the lesson explaining the theory. It was very structured, compared to my flute lessons, where my flute teacher (he is a superb flute teacher, don’t get me wrong) drops pieces of theory here and there which i can’t seem to grasp because it is all over the place. This teacher on the other hand, went through the theory in a very organized manner, and what’s more, there was no fluffing around. She zoomed through the theory at a pace that i like – fast enough to keep me on my toes without feeling bored and thus drifting off.

I also think perhaps i need a little strict guidance in my life, i am actually curious to note my response to a stern mentor. So i am going to give her a try for the next 2 months at least. Hopefully it works out well. Also according to my friends who used to learn the piano, piano teachers are apparently infamous for being strict and making students cry. Wow.


Tomorrow i will be heading back to the Workland. I have spent eight days in the Homeland and i think so far, this is the most appropriate lenght of stay so far – neither too short to be cut-throat leaving behind a trail of disappointed and appalled friends in my wake, nor too long to make me bored and resent my stay back home. Also i have not yet miss my dog to the extent that i regret taking such a long trip away, so this is good.

Since this is the first time proper in six years that i can catch up with friends without feeling rushed, i naturally started noticing the subtle differences that i may not have otherwise picked up.

One thing i have noticed in the Homeland is that people tend to have a bigger tendency to dismiss me when our opinions clash. Whilst we rarely explode (that only happened once and that was with a cousin who is now hiding away in shame), the dismissive shake of a hand, the haughty shrug of the shoulders or the rude rolling of one’s eyes, shocked me on more than one occasion. I have noticed that it is not easy for Homelanders to agree to disagree amicably. You either agree or you are cut off. Of course i may be generalizing, but i have encountered this on more than one occasion and it is making me cautious whenever someone brings out a controversial topic to “discuss”. The problem is it really cuts deep when the person behaving in such a way, happens to be a trusted friend. Truth be told, i re-consider our friendship as a result.

A similar thing happens in the Workland but it does not affect me as much because it usually occurs with mere acquaintances so i let their behaviour slide.  But sometimes i feel trapped. I understand that there is a chiasm between the liberal Western culture and the more conservative Eastern culture, but no one seems to empathsize about those caught in the middle. I am expected to take a stand. Consequently, there are times where i feel i cannot be myself and i have to conceal my opinions when they do not match up. Fortunately this does not happen often, but sometimes i wonder why we can’t just be a little more tolerant and accepting. Makes me feel a little jaded at times.