Friday, March 28, 2014

holy shit its 4 months already???

I've been virtually working 12 hour shifts only for the past 4 weeks, I've nearly forgotten what it's like to have regular meals and exercise. If you think about it, 10 hours of free, non-working time is actually sufficient to get a 7 hour sleep and still have 3 hours for things like cooking or cleaning or even exercising. I know I have it much better than my colleagues in Malaysia/Singapore/the older generation, but sometimes I still marvel at how I can work the equivalent amount of hours an average 9-5er does in a week in less than 3 days.

So my general surgery block is coming to a close, and surprise, surprise, I'm actually a little sad to leave. Just a little. Surgery has been ups and downs and one hell of a learning experience. It's pretty much the 'real world' of medicine and I've been pushed far more than I'd ever been. I'd feel indignant at the vascular SHOs goyang kaki-ing while I stammered referrals down the phone, but at least I can hold my own now when bleeping the cardio reg. I'd gone from never doing a night shift to ringing a consultant at 4am with a severely unwell patient. I've come from flicking through the BNF for dihydrocodeine doses to signing off all the needed PRN prescriptions to stop nurses from bleeping me every 15 minutes. And now that I've actually felt a properly peritonitic abdomen, I'm a little better at sorting  teenager RIF pains from functional bullshit to the real deal. (But only a little. The regs can pretty much look at a RIF pain and tell if it's going to be a watch and wait or a dx lap.)

I'd say I've come off as a little more confident in general, except when it comes to the consultants. Quite frankly, 3 out of 4 of the consultants terrify me and let's just say it doesn't do wonders for my self esteem. I just feel constantly belittled and unworthy everytime I attempt to speak to them, so I don't, unless it's absolutely necessary. The regs nearly make up for it though. Though some came off as bursque and stoic, sometimes it's just the way surgeons are (and sometimes it's just a case of resting bitchy face. It's real.) Some are more approachable than others, but they're generally ok.

There's one reg I like in particular. He smokes like a chimney, swears like a sailor and has the most scathing, crude sense of humour which cracks me up everytime - but he's also the most appreciative, straight talking guy ever. Communication has to be clear cut, black or white, no waffle please. It's made me realize how much ambiguity goes on in our daily communication that only serves to confuse people or lead to non-decisions or non-resolvement of questions. He speaks his mind and doesn't give a shit what other people think. And he'd always say 'thank you' sincerely to the FY1s - the nobodys, the bottom of the food chain - for simple things like chasing bloods. It's the little things.

There was an incident once where I did something and the consultant got really mad, not directly at me but at the fact it had been done and he wasn't told. The reg immediately apologized on my behalf and claimed responsibility even as I was on the verge of tears. In the end there was no harm done and there wasn't even the need for anyone to be held responsible for anything, but I'll never  forget the way he stood up for me.

No matter how bad things seem, there'll always be someone who can make it a little better. It's in the people.

Also one protip: if your SHO is a CST, you're gonna have a bad time. Quite simply because they'd be scuttling off to theatre at any instance and feel nothing about letting you deal with all the ward work and crap. In fact the best SHOs on general surgery are the medic/GP wannabes, because yknow, they're actually around. And care. And help you when you're out of your depth. And have pretty damn good medical knowledge. It is scary being an SHO sometimes though, especially when it comes to presenting patients on the round. I have no idea how they can remember everyone. All the hemicolectomies and lap appendixes blend into one after a few. And consultants do not take kindly to a blank 'ummm..' on a round, or a mix-up. Personal experience. Which is fair enough.

God help me I'm 4 months away from being an SHO. (Which probably won't apply as I'll be my own FY1, SHO and reg in godforsaken Wick. As my favourite demure SHO would say, fuck me in the arse.)

Things to suck less at/to do in the next 4 months:
-talking to family (the dreaded 'patient's family want to speak to a doc')
-talking to angry family members  (kill me please)
-doing the palliative conversation
-dealing with sickies (never forget the ABG!)
-remembering and presenting patients
-get a proper audit going

Two more work days and it's hellooo neurosurgery!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


So this is not the first time an angmo consultant has felt I need a 'communication skills course' because I become utterly withdrawn in their presence. I cannot help it. I've never really been able to shake off the chinese school mentality, where the only right response to praise is verbal self flagellation in retort and putting oneself down, as this is seen as being humble, a prized attribute. And you are never the equal to someone who is your superior. I have never felt comfortable going around broadcasting my talents (I'm not even that good at anything) or how good I am at whatever, but here it seems the subservient-to-seniors attitude is seen as...just not on. And just like how immigrants to a country are expected to pick up the main language of the country, I am expected to suddenly become as confident and have as high a self esteem as the average angmo.

I find these days I enjoy being alone more, I don't make close friends easily anymore, I just like doing things by myself, the way I like it. I would rather watch a movie and travel alone because then I get to do it however I want. Ever tried watching a movie with friends and ending up watching a different movie or in a different place or time because of timing or logistics? I just I got tired of that shit. I hang out with a few Malaysians here but angmo friends? Barely any. Cultural influences, yes. But I'm always in the middle. Here I'm not assertive enough. But if I were in Malaysia I'd be the outspoken, snobby one because I don't openly cower in front of seniors. True story - when I was doing my electives in SGH I struck up conversation with an MO fresh from being a CMT2 in the UK (couldn't get cardiology so came back), who was talking to another senior MO. The 2nd MO looked at me like he couldn't believe I had to audacity to speak to them at all!

So wherever I am, I'll just be the awkward in between. English is supposed to be my first language, but over here, I'm a blubbering, meek nothing.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


So it seems my plans for an end April Japan trip with onii-san are falling through. Timing not good for him. I have 2 weeks off end April- early May. I've been looking up plane tickets and hostel costs. And I know it's Golden Week, but the tickets don't get any cheaper than they are for that time, somehow - 508 pounds return Edinburgh - Tokyo/Osaka, Air France. Any other time it's near 600 at least. I want to take the plunge and go alone, but it's still a lot of money. At least 1200pounds total even if I stay in 15pound hostels and eat end-of-the-day konbini bentos and do free things. I really, really want to do this.But I can't. I won't have onii-san with me.

I sadface.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rubix head

Because my life is so fucking top panel now

So here's the thing - as a twenty-something, there are two forces going on - one that says you need the car career property life partner all ticked before you're 'set for life'; and the opposite end that tells us (in a hippie voice) that you don't need all this to be happy, happiness comes from within/Jesus etc.

And I'm like a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between the two. Is it any wonder the quarter life crisis came about.

7 months into the job and I still don't know what I want to do in medicine. Maybe medicine just wasn't my passion in the first place. Wow, what a surprise!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

As mum would say, time bandits

Sometimes I don't think anyone actually remembers what life what like before social media...I've come to a point where I just don't feel like broadcasting my life out anymore. Because no matter how you disguise it, it's all just a form of attention-seeking narcissism. The only time I really use social media is to harness the power of collective experiences, ie when making travel plans, or legit queries (like asking around who the rota coordinator is, has anyone done CAP etc)

Everyone knows social media has that ability to create envy and 'greener grass syndrome' in us, yet we all willingly succumb to it. I do find myself quite addicted to Facebook, for instance, the main things that draw me are travel photos (especially places I want to visit someday eg Japan), links to thought-provoking or educational articles, and no-brainer time-wasting sites like Buzzfeed (guilty pleasure, fine). But I'm basically sifting through all the other mundane status updates and tiresome opinions to get to the good stuff.

I read something interesting in Dan Ariely's book Predictably Irrational (on behavourial economics - quite a good read). An experiment was done on some lab rats, where he rats had to push a lever, and occasionally, a food pellet (the reward) would come out. For group A of rats, pressing the lever n a set amount of times (ie 10 times) would release the food pellet - constant and predictable. But for group B of rats, there was no set number of times they had to press the lever to release the pellet - it could be 10 times or 100 times. There was no telling when the reward would come, they just had to press and see.

The result? The rats with no fixed lever-to-pellet times pushed far more than the rats who learnt that the pellets came after n times. Instead of being discouraged or frustrated that there was no constant to the number of times they had to press the lever to get the pellets, the opposite happened. And it did make me think because that's exactly my behavour towards social networking sites. Some days the news feed is full of garbage I don't need to know, but occasionally there are clumps of interesting news and pictures, which are my 'food pellets'. And thus I end up spending more time than I should on Facebook. Just like a lab rat.

I used to be the person who posted dSLR pictures of holidays, links to things I thought people would think were interesting (and by extension, think I am an interesting person). Nowadays I hardly bring my camera anywhere (it's heavy, and doesn't take great pictures anymore), and just post less stuff on my newsfeed. I'm just getting tired of this personal PR farce mask everyone puts on social media, and the predictable, irrational emotions that follow.

I wish I could stop succumbing to the herd and checking my newsfeed several times a day, but I know after a long day at work, all I want to do is disengage my brain and read updates of other peoples lives which are (let's face it) -either mundane, or jealousy-inducing.

Really, what was life like before social media?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Let It Go

So I finally watch Frozen last night *coughonlinestreamingcough* and it was not bad. Just a few things to nitpick on (I've become a wee bit pedantic after watching Cinema Sins on Youtube):

-the main 'ice power' thing was never really explained (ice bending? genetics? she some sort of ice alchemist with the whole creation of a castle in 5 minutes and creating life from snow a la homonculus?)

-yes you 'shouldn't marry someone you just met' but Anna did just meet Kristoff as well;

-who took care of running the country (definitely based on Norway cuz trolls and fjords) and raising the girls? I'm sure there was some sort of regeant - I guess kids animations don't bother themselves with such details, only us boring adults do

-the Random Older Important Officials didn't know Hans was a bad guy yet, how did they know to boo him?

-there must be some deadly parasite or bacteria that comes with reindeer saliva..but Kristoff's still alive (either that or he's got worms. Probably the latter)

-timeframes all blurred up - seemed to take a night for Anna/Kristoff to reach Elsa's palace, so...from coronation to resolution took about a day? Feels like it

-what's up with animations nowadays with one-word titles? Brave, Tangled, Frozen. It's not even titular character names like Mulan or Anastasia or Pochahontas. Just random adjectives.

I also know why Let It Go is probably one of the most hyped up Disney movie songs ever - love all the different languages its sung in. The Japanese version tweaks the lyrics a bit more though. Also I spent the afternoon watching covers and learning covers on violin and wishing I were in some recreational quartet or had friends with video/audio skills. I've always wanted to records audio+video covers. Always. Maybe one day.

Friday, February 14, 2014's here

I wrote the list. Sometimes it makes me feel better, sometimes it doesn't.

Love: terms and conditions apply.

My mood's been quite low lately. I put it down to post holiday blues, but even the jet lag's gone (and starting night shifts - way to mess up the body clock again). I just I feel like I couldn't care about things here, stuff, my job. Work's just work. I'd been warned of the medical-to-surgical transition, and maybe it's just that. But in my last job I actually looked forward to waking up and going. I got along with nurses and had no problems getting TABS. Now I think I'm actually going to struggle to get two nurses to do it. I haven't even managed to get my elusive consultant to do my initial supervisor meeting that was meant to be done at in December.

There's just this 'me versus you' aura with the surgical nurses. I know everyone's stressed but there's just so much passive agressiveness going around. I don't enjoy work at all. The past receiving week was slightly shambolic but that's normal and wasn't too bad because I was only doing 8 hours instead of 12 and it was just 4 days instead of 7. It's definitely not the worst week ever, but quite a meh one.

I also think the longer I work the less empathy I have for patients. I remember attempting to cannulate a super obese BMI 60 woman and failing after several attempts, and all I could think was 'if only you weren't such a fat fuck I may not need to poke you with a needle so many times. You fat loser slob.'

I feel like I've lost any passion for life. I don't know what I want out of life, let alone what medical specialty to go into. All I know is I like routine and stability. I want to work 9-5 weekends and evenings off, get a monthly salary, settled down and pay off my mortgage for my home +/- car loan and misc bills, tithe and give my parents money every month and save the rest, buy reduced price groceries and cook every day and bring packed lunches. I want to get better at a sport (probably squash) and pick up a new one, and make it a routine to do these every week. I want a cat and a vegetable garden. I want to learn Japanese and continue doodling anime. I want to return home to Kuching and see my parents as often as I can. I want to have...friends. Close friends. Had some awesome ones in Nottingham, but not much progress in pit-stop Aberdeen.

I'm 25 this year. Biological clock ticking, tick tock.

Well I guess time's just right for that scheduled quarter life crisis. Except it's not a crisis, it's just meh and blergh.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


This made me lol so hard.

After a long tiring +/- shit day on surgery receiving, I can always count on the Med Reg to provide some comic relief. (There's a whole hospital of specialty gags on Facebook, but the Med Reg truimphs all. They've always something good to share.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


No one's online.

What is this funny, empty feeling? It feels unfamiliar...yet so familiar.

I think I'm just lonely.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

CNY 2014

For reference's sake.

Fri 24 Jan
Post nights - feel fucking elated because I'd been waiting for this for frickin agessss. Bags packed, cab booked, currencies and cards sorted - goin home baby!
Aberdeen - Amsterdam. 8 hour transit - wander around weed central for a while. Weather was horrible though. Amsterdam's ok. Won't mind visiting for a couple days but it's not bucket list tier. Ate lots of cheese samples.
KLM sucks urgh.
Crossing time zones, dozing off to sleep with Jpop songs on IFE. Sat next to Penang girl/Sibu boy couple who were working as game designers in Canada how cool is that?

Sat 25 Jan
Arrive in KLIA around midday. Do the usual transfer stuff.
HOME at night - too late for dinner but didn't feel like supper. Unpack the 10kgs of books and shirts and chocolates from the UK.

Sun 26 Jan
Market morning last laksa (popiah for me thanks)
Jet lagged as hell but couldn't sleep.
Make multiple trips to Wan jia for supplies.
Met up with Seph and Caleb at 101 I think.

Mon 27 Jan
Made pinapple tarts (only remember this cuz Facebook pic)
Robocop? Porbably.

Tues 28 Jan
More cookie making. Kuih momo? Fail kuih S? Can't remember. Mama had to SOS  call a friend because of the high protein/gluten flour we used. >.0 Still turned out ok though. Pass by the kuih S connosiouers (ah ngo kuku and unc jhoon)

Wed 29 Jan
Probably more cookie making. It's all a blur.
Carrot cake!

Thurs 30 Jan (Eve)
All day chilling and cooking. These are a few of my favourite thingsss
Reunion dinner - food with fam
Watching the fireworks (and sparklerss)

Fri 31 Jan (Chu Yi)
Visit nguima with cuzzies - take far too many pics
Get grilled by the uncle-iest uncles that ever uncle-d -__-
Had my meesua. Cuzzies visited.
GRSS friends came by to visit
Went to another friends house, happened to meet another friend I'd not seen in over a decade. Proceed to feel old.
Visit Eu cuzzies for a bit for dat legendary aunt's cheesecake.

Sat 1 Feb
Visiting in the Lim side - unc jhoon, headmaster place, politician place
Various people visiting
Robocop? Can't really remember.

Sun 2 Feb
It's all a blurrrr. I think this was chill day.

Mon 3 Feb
Ed leaves for Tassie.
Meet up with Ecchi-sama at the Spring.
Last dins with the cuzzies at Jln Song hawker - average-ish food but it's the company that matters.

Tues 4 Feb
Morning flight to Sg - business class MAS woot but that was only because Economy was sold out. Had a pretty decent lamb and mash.
Picked up at airport, lunched again at chicken rice place with nostalgic value to him. Yee sang #1
Dins - Japanese at gwc because you can't go anywhere in Sg without seeing a Japanese restaurant. Yee sang #2

Wed 5 Feb
Daily morning short workouts at apartment gym becuz UR FAT
Lunch at Kiseki because $20 free flow sashimi and abalone? Damn. Keep it carb free and you're good.
Caught a movie after - American Hustle. HOLY SHIT how does Christian Bale do the weight/body thing. Jan joined us.
Had drinks/la mian at Crystal Jade/one of its branches. Why is Crystal Jade so popular in Sg? It's just a slightly upmarket chinese restaurant.
Din dins at a neighbours place - forever spoilt for Hakkan liu char. That stuff was seriously legendary. I miss leafy greens (looking at you peas-and-broccoli UK)
Jamming session with the olde M206 cool dudes - miss the old days. 'Supper' (tap water for me and him) at Mr Bean's after (not to be confused with the soy bean drink chain)

Thurs 6 Feb
Walk around Bugis, get random knick knacks. Savour cheapy $2 durian which wasn't bad at all.
Haircut that took 2.5hours because MY HAIR. I look like a shogakusei.
Back and chill.
Dins at some poshie Teochew restaurant that was absolutely brimming. Good food, but o_O expensive.

Fri 7 Feb
Brekkie/brunch with Unc Wilson and auntie Ko See at Wild Honey - good stuff but zomg again expensive o_O
Meet up with SC's old sec school/JC friend at Clark Quay - happy hour beer!
Visited SC's neighbour/godma - lovely little old lady
Din dins at Spageddies for jie jie's birthday.
Last minute meet up with Houfu and Sylvia at their place all the way in Yishun, gush over their Final Fantasy artbook and planetarium projector.

Sat 8 Feb
Brekkie/brunch with maternal grandma at food court in can't remember where - took a long bus ride to Katong.
Lunch at home, steamboat and some amazing braised pork rib/ duck dish. First home cooked meal in Sg.
Pack and chill, head to Changi.

So here I am, taking my time to upload piccas on FB and typing this up. I normally save a summary of holidays on my phone, but I've just swapped over to a cheapy china one so it doesn't have Notepad (yet).

In a few hours it'll be back to Aberdeen and work. Absolutely gutting.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

grown up

I know I haven't been blogging much lately. There used to be a time I would document my thoughts for future reflection, but it seems these days even though I do still think, and feel I should be putting it down on (virtual) paper somewhere, it just doesn't happen.

Aberdeen's been a good place. An ok place. It could be a lot worse. But sometimes I just miss the people in Nottingham. There's just no sense of belonging here. I'm just some outsider who happened to land a job here. It's not that the people are unfriendly or elitist or anything like that. It's just that there is a lacking of the deep bonds between people that only time can create.

Give Aberdeen some time and it'll spin those bonds as well. After all, what's six months compared to two and a half years? But sometimes even more so, I find myself yearning for Australia. The place I should have been. The UK - whether it's Nottingham or Aberdeen - is just transit. Temporary. I was not meant to have roots here.

In a way that is affecting my motivations in life - such as learning to drive, sitting for postgraduate exams, collecting cooking utensils, starting a vegetable garden. Why go through all the trouble when I will not be here fro the long term?

I do want to get started on those things, yet it's all the moving (Wick) and uncertainty (won't know where I'll be placed for GP rotation in F2 - could be anywhere from Bachory to Peterhead), things like where to stay, whether I should continue renting my current place for the next year. I've probably said it before, but I'm just fed up of uncertainties.

It's not to say there won't be troubles or uncertainties in Australia, but god I want to get there, like, asap. And I dunno. Settle down.

3 more night shifts left to home. I love hearing airplanes flying overhead - those sounds evoke fond memories of leisure travel and journeys home. I've half a mind to bring back to Kuching quite a few things though. I may need to be able to live out of two suitcases if I decide to take the nomadic pathway. Thinking ahead, as always.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

'If you don't go home on time today, you're fired.' My registrar said with a grin.

Working over Christmas isn't that bad at all - relatively quiet as half the patients were out for the day, all the nurses have lavish cakes and party food stashed behind the stations and in the store rooms, the Christmas trees in the ward corridors, turkey and gravy on patient lunch options, festive pleasantries and that overall sense of camaraderie.

In the end I got let off an hour earlier, so here I am enjoying it while it lasts.

This piece is great btw.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


It's the winter solstice.

If I were in Nottingham we'd probably be having a sort of potluck dinner in someone's house with homemade tang yuen with rice flour and pandan leaves from Fresh Asia...and have all the juniors come along cause everyone lives like 5 minutes away from each other.

In Deen, not really. Maybe because everyone lives like half an hour away and the juniors are all in Rosemount or Berryden. There's definitely no Dukirk Jaya up here. (Which kinda really sucks, btw)

And I've had 2 invitations to Christmas dinners - one with Jade in Edinburgh and one with Amira in Nottingham, but I'm working through Christmas week and there's just no way I can catch a train down, not even to Edinburgh. Kinda regretting not fighting for Christmas off - Christmas dinner at Jade's would be epic (and booze filled), but all I've got is 2 measly days off for the new year, which is pretty much just anticlimatic.

Still, I am looking forward to Christmas despite having no plans, cuz exactly a month from then I'll be going home for the asian Christmas - CNY!! \\\0///

Yes and I'm post receiving nights. May blog about that later. Brb marathoning Airbender, cuz Korra sucks.