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Friday, 21 May 2010

8808: 5 years.

Cliched as it sounds, it surely is a long journey.

Had my viva yesterday, a 40-minute Q&A session based on my portfolio. The portfolio that I rushed till literally the very last minute, forgoing sleep for all of 48 hours prior to submission. I was so burdened by the stress, I can't even imagine how I ever survived staying awake all night just typing away on my laptop. Trust me to procrastinate again, on probably the most important work of my life to date.

And the rut I got myself in surely didn't end there, oh no. Of all the examiners, I got the Coordinator of Surgical Shadowing AND the Dean of Medical School for my viva. Funnily enough, even though I was not really proud of my portfolio (goes without saying it wasn't the best of my work), I wasn't really nervous. I actually felt rather prepared, having spent 2 weeks studying and practising talking about all the things I managed to include in my portfolio.

On the day of my viva, as I walked towards the CSU, I felt like my whole world just centred around me at that moment. My whole medical education has come to this. I wanted to tell myself please don't screw this up, please don't screw this up, but all I could do was .. smile. I was smiling all the way walking to the hospital, down the stairs into CSU, sitting on the chair outside the room, knocking on the door, opening it to greet my examiners.

It just felt so unreal. I couldn't believe this is it.

And as if it was just my luck, the external examiner had to observe MY viva, among the dozens of other students. Not that it would make a difference. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could actually do it. My smile was genuine, and I can't even wipe it off my face, let alone anyone else. I still couldn't believe I have reached the light at the end of the tunnel.

"Did you enjoy doing your portfolio? Because we did enjoy reading it. If you could choose one part of your portfolio, which part are you most proud of?"

And it began. The defining moment of my life as a medical student. My last moment as a medical student, fingers crossed.


What I thought would be the longest 40 minutes of my life, passed me by in an instant. I just remembered talking so fast that my brain couldn't even catch up. The words just came out like I have memorised a script. I was on autopilot mode.

The rest of the day after my viva I couldn't get much rest. I was so excited, so nervous, so worried, that I couldn't get anything done, couldn't concentrate on anything at all. As it stands, the results was going be posted on the board at 9am the next morning, less than 24 hours after my viva.

That night I woke up a few times, not able to get any good sleep. Had to force myself back to sleep because it was not 9am yet, and I can't bear staying up all morning watching every agonising second pass by. Eventually 9am came, and I rushed off to the Medical School Office as fast as I could, with my heart in my throat. Now I know what that expression felt like.

Only to see my other fellow batchmates still waiting for the results as well. It was not released at 9am as stated. Which meant more palpitation-inducing minutes to wait. It was 9.30am when the results eventually went up on the board.

It almost drove me crazy waiting for the results list to be posted, but running through the list of names trying to find mine is even worse, if that's even possible. My eyes could barely focus.

And then I found it.

There's my name. There, buried among all the names of future successful doctors.

5 years of my life have culminated to this point, the point I had only dreamed of. Is this it?

Have I finally finished medical school?

5 years .. took me long enough.

*heaves the biggest sigh of relief in my life*


And I thank all my friends, batchmates, seniors, teachers, tutors, doctors, hospital staff, patients, and every single person who I came across in my life as a medical student. You have all made me who I am today, and I cannot even begin to express my gratitude enough.

Thank you for the most significant 5 years of my life. It has changed my life in so many ways.

I felt like I finally grew up.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

8791: confession

Most people don't know this about me, in fact, most people never noticed at all. I guess I'm good at hiding it, I've tried to keep it a secret for as long as I can remember anyway.

But I have a confession to make.

I'd always thought I was different from others. You know, there's so many things about me that is not 'normal'. This was probably one of the biggest things I noticed about myself. Some close friends found out about it, and they never made me feel any different because of it. I'm really grateful to have these friends around, but it doesn't make me any less shy about it. I don't like people finding out and look at me differently.

So why am I making a confession now?

No particular reason at all. It's not that I'm not ashamed of it anymore, I still don't like people finding out, I didn't want to be 'different'. Then again, it's not something I can hide forever, nor will it go away just because I deny its existence. At the very least, it's comforting to finally find out that there are others like me and I'm not the only one 'different'. Perhaps I should accept myself for being like this, I am born this way after all.

So here it is. I'm telling you my big secret. Biggest one I've told about myself my whole life. Wait, this is not the only secret I've told actually. Haha. And it's not really a secret. But I digress.


So what is this big confession?

*big breath*

I have 'murderer's thumbs'. What's that? You know, my short thumbs.
For the medically inclined, it's called Brachydactyly type D


What? This is such an anti-climax? What'd you expect? :P

But seriously, it's kind of funny to find out that thing 'different' about yourself has a name to it. No, has nameS to it. They were also called 'clubbed thumbs', 'stub thumbs', 'midget's thumbs', 'Potter's thumbs', 'toe thumbs', and 'royal thumbs'. Apparently it's called 'royal thumbs' because they came from inbreeding within the royal family and passed down the generations. Wouldn't you know it, hey I have royal blood in me. Now where's my castle ..

Oh, btw it's called 'murderer's thumbs' by the people who's into palm reading. Not that I believe in these kinds of things, but here's an interesting excerpt which does sound a little true..

    Those with this type of thumb usually display a strong will and a well developed control over emotions. As a result, when continually frustrated or bullied, they build resentment for months or years before exploding. When out of temper those with clubbed thumbs can clear a room in seconds, as others scurry for safety.

    In almost every case of clubbed thumbs I have seen the person has not lost his or her temper more than five or six times in 30 years. In most cases this person knows on a deep level what he or she is capable of doing when out of temper, and is sensible enough to leave the circumstances which triggered the outburst of temper before doing something which will cause regret.

    If a crime such as murder is committed, it is likely to be an unplanned affair after the person has 'snapped,' temporarily losing control over his or her emotions.

So there you have it.

I have the murderer's thumbs!

Monday, 3 May 2010

8790: one thing, many things

If you asked me to name one thing from my childhood which I associate most with being 'home', the above is what it is.

These miles and miles of plantation. All of my fondest childhood memories had been among these stumpy, thorny trees.

Yes, it's kelapa sawit.

I'm a kelapa sawit boy. At least, I was.

I want to be a child again, among the kelapa sawit.


I'm a little more nostalgic these days because we have moved into a new house (well, my family had), into ANOTHER kelapa sawit plantation. But.. it's not the same plantation.

    • There's no durian trees, where we pass by with hope and anticipation everyday during the durian season, looking out of the car as my dad slows down, hoping we'll be the first to spot unclaimed ripe thorny fruits beside the roadpath.
    • There's no banana trees that I walked by every early morning to take the school bus, where I quickened my pace every time I passed them because it's so dark and I think of those banana ghost stories.
    • There's no rambutan trees belonging to our neighbours, where we used to throw sticks at trying to get the bunches of rambutan down.
    • There's no local convenience shop in the kampung nearby, where we always hitch a ride on our dad's motorcycle to in the evening to buy ice cream from.
    • There's no bridge over the river which we cross everyday to get to our house, where once my brother fell over and was saved only by a metal bar halfway down into the river.
    • There's no abandoned dusty warehouses which smelled like no one's been there for decades, where we used to explore and jump on, puffing clouds of dust up under our feet.
    • There's no disused diesel pumps in front of one of these warehouses, which I've always wondered whether still contained any fuel.
    • There's no that warehouse-turned-badminton court with HUGE 5m tall steel doors which we have to push apart to open to get in and play badminton. And watch the badminton competitions which my dad used to join.
    • There's no puddle of mud where we once tried to make clay pots from, which was quite a successful attempt albeit them being so tiny to be of any use.
    • There's no that solitary 2mx1mx1m block of concrete with a locked steel door that I used to think had a monster trapped inside.
    • There's no that piece of roof tile with a mosquito shaped engraving which I found, thought was a fossil, and left in a secret place, but so secret that I forgot where I put it and was never to see it again.
  • I'm just hating this sinking feeling I get because we won't be staying at the home where I spent most of my childhood in anymore. And as time flows by, the memories of that home fades ..

    I want to keep my childhood memories. Time, please don't take them away :(