Show / Hide


Saturday, 8 September 2012

9649: bucket list

It would have been your 30th birthday earlier this week. Rest in peace.


I had wondered what would I be thinking if that had been me. If I had been struck by a sudden illness and told I only have weeks to live. Contemplating my own mortality, and how we won't be here in this world for ever is pretty morbid for some. For me, it made me look at my life, or what's left of it.

26 years of existence, and there is still too much I want to do here, too much I want to experience, too much I want to feel. The thing is, if I don't go out and do them, all I would do is just sit at home wishing I had ticked more entries on my bucket list.

That was actually what I was thinking about during my 1-hour 10km run last Sunday at the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow. Missed my target by 2 minutes 22 seconds! Rainbow puking unicorns. Also I figured there wouldn't be a better time than any to start doing things I actually wanted to do.

And thus was born a new tag for my blog posts, aptly named "bucket list". I'll add to it and cross it off as I waste more of my limited time here.

Will start with a short list first as it is a very lovely Saturday morning (you don't know how rare that is in Scotland) and I'm too lazy. First on the list, I'm aiming to combine 2 loves and 1 phobia - a triathlon before my 30th birthday! And other smaller achievements leading up to that:

    Official senaiboy's bucket list

Pedal for Scotland 47-mile cycle 2013
Sleep at least 12 hours a day
Conquer my attention span of a gnat

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

9632: right to die

So is this the ending those of you who denied his right wanted?

I hope you're happy now.

Rest in peace, Tony. Life was not fair to you, but neither were we as fellow human beings. You have been a true fighter and shown great courage when the rest of us would not be able to. Lots of love from a stranger.


I sincerely apologise if anyone is offended but I just have to let it out. Yes, I have very strong feelings regarding this issue.

I have been following Tony Nicklinson's story for the last year or so, and personally I feel it is not right to force him to go through what he has gone through. If by any chance I ever end up in his position, I'd want to know I have the right to end my own misery.

It really broke my heart when I saw the video of him crying after the court decision was announced last week.

I felt that has broken him, as he refused food or treatment for pneumonia after that. He eventually escaped the prison that is his body, but it didn't have to end this way.

There has to be a more dignified way.

Right-to-die petition

Disclaimer: This is my own personal opinion and does not reflect my professional conduct in any way.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

9625: him

He sits in his bed, sleeping most of the time. Other times when he's awake, he usually just stare blankly at the end of his bed. The numerous lines and tubes connected to his body made any movement cumbersome, or maybe it was the pain that's stopping him. The constant beeping of the monitor next to his bed must have been annoying, though I guess he must be used to it by now.

It's been more than a week since he was admitted to Surgical HDU, my current habitat as a slightly less useless FY2 for the next 4 months. I saw him when he came in, and as the days go by, as we put him through more and more investigations and took vials and vials of bloods off him, I noticed it.

The way he avoid looking at us when we come around to his bed. The way he shrugged his shoulders and reply "okay" every time we ask him how he is. The invisible wall he put up around him, as if the very environment of HDU is hostile to his wellbeing. The resignation in his eyes.

Over the last 10 days, I noticed the weight he's losing, the swollen limbs he's getting, the jaundice he is now developing. And yet 10 days on, we are nowhere near the answer to what is going on with him.

Specialists after specialists come and go, each scratching their head and unable to provide a reason for his illness. Tests after tests threw up more questions than answers.

There is often a hushed conversation when we talk about him. Deep inside all of us, we have acknowledged that this is rather likely to be terminal, whatever it is that is causing him all the distress. He is not well, that much we know for sure.

Yet when we speak to him, we try to make it sound positive, be optimistic. We tell him we don't have the answer yet, but we'll keep trying our best. Sometimes I feel as if we are all holding on to the smallest hope that this might be something treatable. That he will get well once we find out what this is.

Other times I feel that we are not letting him in on our suspicions, that he should be made aware of the gravity of his condition to the extent he might not make it out of the hospital. But I know that will only drive him over the edge. It would drive anyone over the edge, I myself struggle to even comprehend the very notion of it happening to me.

Because, nobody expects to not make it past their 30th birthday.

It's not fair.

It's just not fair.

I don't believe in God, but if there is one, please let our suspicions be wrong just this once.

Friday, 17 February 2012

9445: first step

Aaaaand here we go.

There's a first step for everything, and realising I am indeed not getting any younger, I decided this is time I overcome my social anxiety and take the initiative.

I'll see where I get on from here. Hopefully by this time next year, I'll at least be knee-deep in! And see how many from the list I can cross off. If anyone else's interested, get in touch.

To learn/do list:
Mountain biking
Long distance cycling
BMX biking
Wall climbing
Mountain climbing
Scuba diving
Bungee jumping
BASE jumping

Blame this video (and every other one it led me to watch)

We only have one chance at living after all.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

9432: three small glasses of rum

The elderly gentleman glanced at his watch umpteen times while he's in the department.

"Are you in a rush to get home, sir?" I asked, wondering why he is so anxious.

"Well, yes, you see if my wife gets home and couldn't find me she'll panic. I need to get home before she does."

"Ah. You had a nasty bump on your head though, we'll need to look at that first."

"Oh I'll be fine. I don't need anything done. No stitches."

"We can always give your wife a call to let her know you're here?"

"No it's okay I'll be fine. I just need to get home."

Eventually managed to convince him to stay until the wound was stitched, and he ran back home right away, still slightly staggery. Unfortunately for him though, I don't think his wife won't notice all his blood-soaked and dirty clothes. Guessing he must be worried he'll get an earful back home for drinking too much and 'slipping'.

Tsk. Men.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

it's a good day to die

Note: Old draft. Written sometime during my Orthopaedic post, between May and August 2011. While on the train journey from Glasgow back to Dundee, I was suddenly reminded of this patient I came across. Was half-surprised to see this uncompleted draft sitting among my posts. Might not be what I intended to write at the time, but I guess I'll just finish it and publish anyway.


In medicine, it's not good to grow attached to the patients you treat. But sometimes, there is one or two that would make you smile, brighten up your day when everything else is pulling you apart.

But more so, it's the ones that are slowly slipping away that make you want to hold onto them tight for as long as you could.


He stumbled into our busy ward having broken his hip, just like dozens of patients do every week. Broken hips usually mean a death sentence even if they get fixed. These patients are usually elderly, and once they start falling and breaking bones, they lose their confidence, lose their mobility, and eventually lose their independence, ending up bed-bound waiting for the grim reaper. Yes, I sound morbid, but that's the way life is.

Still, much as I am steeled to the cycle of life, it always come as a shock when a patient slips away.

Being cared for by another team, I don't normally see to him and don't know much about him. All I gather from the notes is that he has dementia, and lives with his older brother. The times I actually spoke to him, nothing he says make sense.

I was made aware of him during my week of night shifts as he developed sepsis soon after his hip replacement. We did all we could, which in medical terms meant intravenous antibiotics, supportive treatment, and praying hard.

Sadly, he did not make it through.

It was dead in the night when I had to certify his death. As such, it rests on me to break the news to his next of kin.

"I'm very sorry, but he has just passed away." I said matter-of-factly, betraying no emotion. It was not my first time.
"Thank you so much for taking care of him, doctor," his brother replied through the phone.
"Would there be someone coming to see him?" I enquired.

A pause.

"No, I am his only family and I am too far away to come to the hospital."

I pressed the phone firmer onto my ear reflexively, totally unexpecting the answer I heard.

"It's okay. He's had a good life," said the weary voice on the other side of the phone.


I had to gather myself for a minute after I put down the phone.

I don't know you well, but I hope you did live a good life. And you might not be aware of it, but though your brother could not stay by your side, we the doctors and nurses have been with you as you move on to a better place. I wanted you to know you were not alone.

Dawn broke and my shift came to an end. As the sun shone brightly on a cloudless sky that day on my way home, I heard myself thinking, as if hoping he will hear it;

It is a good day to die.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

9425: Welcome

"Welcome back." He looked at me with a smile as he hands back my passport.

A small gesture, perhaps out of habitual politeness that is so British. Yet it means something to me deep inside, I've just not figured out what. Is it a feeling of being welcomed here?

It's 3.5 years now I've been here in Scotland, and at least another 1.5 years to go. It still doesn't feel like home. Maybe it's not meant to be. This is just where I live and work after all.

I was back in Malaysia the past week, and things has changed so much beyond recognition that the sense of 'home', of belonging somewhere is slowly being eroded.

Just yesterday my dad drove by our old place in Senai. And the first home I grew up in is no longer there, its place being taken over by foliage and trees. In fact I passed it without realising.

Of course, home is where the heart is. With my family is always be where I will feel home. But like a bird that has flew away from its nest it grew up in, I need to find my own home. Somewhere I belong.

"Are you coming back?" seems to be the question every relative pop out now (before the dreaded when are you going to find someone and get married). If I'm being honest, no. Much as I love Malaysia, much as I am pseudo-patriotic, I do not intend to be back anytime soon. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to experience as much as I can. We only have this one life, and it'll be a shame to turn down the chance I've been given to open my eyes and mind.

Perhaps that answers my own question. Maybe I'm not someone who will be content settling down in one place for long. At least, not for now anyway.

At least, until I find a reason to stay behind. Someone.