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Saturday, 8 October 2011

9313: nasi lemak

I cried today.

In my own room, in front of my computer, I cried.

It's something I have not felt in a long, long time. Too long.

As tears filled my eyes, I wondered how long have I been in denial.

I am homesick.


Namewee, I salute you. Just when Malaysia needed someone like you, you appeared and rose up to the occasion. When the media taints your name and society condemned you, you refuse to give up and instead proved yourself to everyone.

Nasi Lemak 2.0 is the best movie I have ever watched, if only for one simple reason. It grabbed me by the shoulders, shook me hard, and reminded me that I have forgotten what Malaysia actually meant to me.


我的好朋友 外面風雨強
My dear friend, even though there's strong winds blowing outside
赤道上 有座五彩繽紛的天堂
There's always a colourful Heaven on the Equator
別四處遊蕩 回到老地方
Stop wandering around, come back to the old place (home)
一個家 一個夢想 一起大聲唱
One home, one dream, let's sing loudly together

The moon overseas may be so round
The girls overseas may be so pretty
The sky overseas may be so blue
所以 外國人都搬來大馬
So the people overseas are all moving to Malaysia.

When you leave your home, you should recognise the way home
要吃最好吃的飯 叫做 “每天團圓飯”
The tastiest meal is a "reunion dinner" everyday.


Negara ini tak seteruk yang kita fikir
Cuma ada pihak yang cakap bukan-bukan dalam akhbar.

It has gone past 3 years now I have been in this foreign land. I came with a bunch of friends and saw them, one by one, leave this country. In a way, I envy them, for having the courage to go home knowing the challenges that await while I sit here being comfortable and taking the easy route. And in that blissful comfort, I have only now realised I had forgotten where my home is.

I have forgotten the way home.

So, thanks for showing me the way.


When I eat my nasi lemak tomorrow, it'll mean so much more to me that just a dish I missed having.

Rest In Peace
Chee Hood Siong
(1945 - 2011)
Malaysian comedian, actor

Monday, 16 May 2011

9168: TMI

Patient: I've been feeling nauseated and getting this pain down in my tummy.

Hungry me: Was there anything else that you experienced?

Patient: *thinks hard* Oh, there was this one time, I farted and got more than I bargained for ..

Not-so-hungry-anymore me: . . .


Some patients just don't want to disappoint..

Monday, 28 March 2011

9119: it's sunny again today

Today I realised.

Being a medical student and a junior doctor can be worlds apart.

I'm not sure if I should be disgusted or bemused that I can stick my finger up any bum without the slightest hint of apprehension anymore.

And being able to tell a patient I'm going to do that with a totally straight face, like I stick my finger up bums everyday.

Wait, that's not right.


That said, I should probably be proud that my finely honed skill of finger-prodding correctly diagnosed an upper gastrointestinal bleed today.

Oh she was an absolutely lovely wee ol' lady as well!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

9087: it's sunny today

I look down at the piece of paper in my hand. It's a form I needed a patient to fill before she go for a clinic.

Glancing through it, I did not even got past the first few lines when something caught my eye.

Bra size: ......

Cup size:.......

What the ef.

Maybe the patient can read the form and fill it up herself, I thought optimistically.

She squinted at the paper I held up in front of her.

No, the words are too small. Said she.

I sighed inside. Here we go then.

I know she is a really lovely wee ol' lady, but she smirked at my embarassment.

The nerve! >:(

Monday, 14 February 2011

9077: hot and cold

It's six in the morning. I've been awake for hours now. Couldn't have been jetlag, it's been 4 days since I got back to Dundee. Going to sleep at 4pm yesterday might have played a part. Maybe.


It wasn't a spontaneous decision that I went home for Chinese New Year. Can't even remember the last time I did, think this was the first since I came to Scotland. I'd thought it's just proper that I spend some time home instead of here in this foreign land all the time. I miss all the celebrations too, all the cookies, the cheery bustling atmosphere during the new year. Oh, and heat, I'm a tropical creature, I needed heat to survive (i had my heating so high that someone even told me it was tropical in my flat hahaa).

Yet, admittedly, it wasn't all I expected it to be. Sure my family and extended relatives all came around, but there was something missing.

Perhaps it's the lack of new year decorations (Dad told Mum not to bother).
The missing new year songs during our car ride (that have been repeated so often we could remember every word to them)?
Or that we didn't stop by Dad's friend's place in Pagoh on our way to Klang.
Notably a few members of the family could not make it to the reunion dinners either.
Was it the missing anticipation and excitement of receiving ang pows, now that I'm an adult earning my own pay?
Or maybe because we didn't go to each other's house to '拜年' anymore like we used to.

I don't know. It just doesn't feel the same now. It felt more like an obligation to celebrate it, than something I used to look forward to. Is this just all part of growing up?


The 8+2+8 hours back to Dundee was depressing, to say the least (delayed for an extra 2 hours in Dubai, no less). All throughout the flights and train journey, I found myself sitting there staring out the window. Watching the world pass me by. There was that tinge of sadness deep inside, that no matter how much I want to deny its existence, it bothered me. Was that homesickness?

A few of the strangers around must have noticed me staring out like that, because I caught them looking at me worriedly out of the corner of my eyes. I quickly closed my eyes and tried to have a nap, was really tired anyway.

Reaching my flat in Dundee and seeing it exactly the same as I had left it, I didn't really get that sense of 'coming home'. This wasn't home, it is just a temporary lodging to me. I wanted a place all to myself because I had wanted to feel like being 'home', a place of my own, but somehow I have now realised this is not it.

Should I just remain here for the years to come, or should I return back to Malaysia? Or perhaps Singapore, or Australia?

This is going to be playing in my mind for the next year, but I absolutely hate big decisions like these and will undoubtedly procrastinate and procrastinate before choosing the easiest way out in the end. Which is (almost certainly) staying here.


I just need to get used to the cold I guess. Brr.

PS - oh and it's Valentine's Day and I'm turning 25 soon. Quarter-life crisis? Anyways happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

9040: saving lives?

It's time to put up some kind of update. I'm blogging less and less these days, yet the thoughts in my mind kept cycling past like slides on a movie reel. How I wish I could go back and capture those deep thinking, those rants at that particular time of my life to put on here.

But that's life. Once it has passed, it's gone, nothing but a fading memory.


Guess a note to my future self of where I am at this point in time is warranted. Just survived my first set of night shifts, 12 hours everyday the past week in the medical receiving unit. It also meant I 'celebrated' the turn of the new year in the hospital, running around poking needles into patients and filling forms after forms after forms. It was a total madhouse with so many of the staff on break and services suspended for the holidays.

Incidentally, I worked over Christmas and Boxing Day in medical receiving too, as a favour to my fellow ex-Ward 22 job monkey :P

I didn't mind working over the holidays really. Unlike most other people here, I don't celebrate Christmas nor do Boxing Day shopping (it's just commercialisation anyway). And unlike last year, there wasn't any new year 'family' trip this time unfortunately as most of us aren't free.

It IS an experience working with a skeletal staff though, how we cope with the workload (try to anyway). Admittedly my first few days/nights were an absolute nightmare. I looked lost half the time and blank the other half haha. Thank god for the loveliest and most helpful colleagues around, wouldn't dare to think how I'd survive without them.

Towards the end of my shift in acute medical receiving, it began to grow on me. Something stirred in me in between interrogating patients and poking them with needles. It's such a different world compared to my parent ward, Medicine for the Elderly (or Geriatric, but we're not supposed to mention the G-word! haha). The head-scratching uncertainty, the heart-racing urgency, the mind-numbing endless torrent of workload.

Amid the chaos, I realised, this has finally cemented my plans on my future career path.

Apply for the Acute Care Common Stem and continue on with training in Anaesthetics. Sometime during my training, I would try to apply to join the Territorial Army again, and hopefully gets some on-field experience somewhere.

Fingers crossed that's where I'll be in 5 years time. Saving lives?

But as agreed by anyone who ever worked in acute medical receiving before, once the patients are transferred to their respective ward that's where your care for them ends. Most of the time, we never do find out what ultimately happen to our patients. Was our diagnosis right? Did our initial plans work? Did they survive?

I suppose it is outwith our professional conduct to grow attached to our patients. There's only so much we are responsible for, and eventually we'd just have to pass the baton along with our trust to the other doctors and nurses.

Ah just the other day I bumped into Scott again, my previous registrar in Renal Ward.

"Hello Chye. Remember this?" *waves a central line kit*

I laughed. Oh how I remember those central lines (haven't get the chance to put one in yet though), the dialysis machines, the patients downstairs.

Yes, the patients. He gave me a little update on some of the patients I knew during my rotation there. Of course, there are still the 'permanent' residents. And yes, undeniably, there are also some of them who slipped away from us to a better place. One particular gentleman, we have all grew to be fond of. In 2 months, I literally watch him grew thinner and thinner till he's just a bag of bones. He who would smile and give me a wave when he sees me, he who showed me the rashes which appeared on his legs, he who complained to me of his unrelenting diarrhea and nausea which eventually stopped him from eating anything.

And that reminded me of the other guy, in his wheelchair racing around the ward. He was a funny guy, lovely sense of humour. Beneath that though, he must have hidden his suffering, the chronic pain, the frustation with his dependence on dialysis. He was re-admitted one day with opiate toxicity from all the painkillers, and when we brought him back he just wasn't the same person anymore. He gave up. Stopped the dialysis.

I almost cried when I came back to the ward after that weekend to see an uncompleted death certificate on top of his medical notes.

Rest in peace.


In some way, I wish we could do more for some of the patients. But no of course we can't, medicine with all its drugs and equipment is just no match for life's unpredictability.

That's life, once it has passed, it's gone, nothing but a fading memory.