Thursday, September 18, 2014

All you need is.....broadband

When something's good, you just want to share it.

I'd discovered supercell/EGOIST/yanagi nagi etc - just some anime music really (that kinda got me started on Guilty Crown but let's not debate here) - I've been playing their mixes on repeat all day. It just feels great. It's like...what with work, life, stress, applications, paperwork - I just open up a new tab, play some songs, doodle a bit, maybe work on some kanji, do some yoga, make banana souffle.

Here, in the middle of nowhere, in the dreaded Wick, I'm as happy as I could ever be.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Silent night

Nights are oft dreaded because there's a lot of support going round. From 3 regs and a support nurse you're down to one reg covering 5 other wards and specialties and no one to kuli your bloods and cannula. If one patient goes off you'll be kept busy most of the night. If a few patients go off you will forever remember the soul destroying, hellish night in misty-eyed anecdotes to wide-eyed medical students hanging on your every word. If you're a receiving unit the night can vary greatly from no admissions to I-can't-cope-arghhh. A lot of things happen at night. Patients waiting to die will die at night. Patients who are waiting to arrest will arrest at night.

Rule number one. Murphy's Law is king during nights.

Rule number two. Always assume there will be no one to help with ECGs and bloods and ABGs unless you have an F1 to spare. Never assume a nurse will be 'signed off' for taking bloods and never presume they will be willing to do your ECGs. You will minimize your frustrations. When the nurse huffs over saying the patient is Sewsing 8 and then goes back to her cup of tea in the staff room it is obviously your problem now that she's cleared her ass. Just grit your teeth and get on with it.

But people often remember the bad nights and never the cushy ones where you actually get to sleep and get paid to do nothing. These types of nights may be more common for people than some and it really depends on where you're at and luck. As a fifth year medical student on medical assistantship in Mansfield I did a night shift on a surgical receiving ward with an SHO. Things got to a lull at around 4-5am and we both got to nap for about half an hour before getting called again. After the shift he looked at me and said 'this never happens'. Turns out the next night the same thing happened and he said the same thing to the next soon-to-be F1 tagging along.

One of the bright sides of nights is no tortourous ward rounds (unless the surgeon expects you to go on the post nights wr), no shitty half assed referrals to uninterested people and no dementia screens or MMSEs to do, no tedious paperwork, no one hounding you for discharge letters, no family wanting an update. If you need a scan or referral chances are the patient's really unwell and it's a legit so the referee can't say no. Just sickies and admissions. With some luck everyone behaves and you get lulls during 3-5am so there's plenty of time for a cuppa and forty winks. Then it's handover and that's it.

But. You must never presume this is how your night will go. Always expect the worst (see rule no 1), mentally brace yourself, and it will be fine. No matter how bad things go, if it matches your expectations, it's not the Worst Night Ever.

Life is all about managing expectations really. But what I like about nights it how it's a lot more proper medicine, like what it was meant to be. Very little of that admin and logistics bullshit I put up with during the day. (Until the next horrible night shift rolls in and I'll be eating my words....)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gifs are amazing

So much emotion expressed in two seconds!

Friday, September 5, 2014

How I nearly spent the night of my 25th birthday in a tent

Ok I'll not explain it as it's a tedious explaination. Basically the gist is saving wrong contacts in phone. That is all.

Most signs are bilingual - Gaelic is still relatively wide spoken here.

So not a tent, but I spent my birthday in this little place called Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland doing a course. I'm glad to say I passed ALS, as did everyone else. I can now perform perfect CPR in a perfectly controlled environment where there is always clear cut clues and *gasp* there is ROSC in 99% of PEAs! 

If only.

When I first found out I was allocated ulu town for ALS I was a bit miffed, but resigned (as I am with most things these days. Suan le ba.) But coming down to Stornoway was pretty nice in the end - it's a quaint little town plus I get to see a bit more of the nicer side of ulu Scotland. 

I quite envy the Stornoway juniors. It's still nearly as understaffed as Wick, but they don't do nights as it's all GP and nurse led. The oncall system is better and each junior and consultant make up a team and there is actually continuity of care. They also have better community support systems and hence less bullshit GP referrals on the run up of the weekend (84 year old aunt Mabel suddenly can't walk and therefore HAS to be admitted into an acute medical bed. Oh and the carer's off for the next 2 weeks.) 

There are very few things I hate more than social admissions. 

And it's just chilled out, even when on call. None of that flailing around like a headless chicken with admissions, 5 hour ward rounds, jobs, and unsympathetic nurses barking at you for discharge letters on top of it. 

Maybe the grass is just greener on the other side. A colleague of mine in doing trauma and ortho in Elgin currently has her own store of horror stories of just struggling - being oncall for both T&O and Gen Surg, plus ward stuff, and scrubbing in. She's on the same middle grade rota as the senior reg. The rota is grossly understaffed and that's the root of it all. 

Anyway, rant done. Pic dump now (wow I haven't blogged this much since 2008)

It's rather isolated from the mainland and has a passenger and vehicle ferry going quite regularly. Nice port though.

At least the city centre is more than a street!

I swear it was a bright sunny day. UK weather has this ghastly ability to look grey and cloudy in photos even when it's sunny irl.

Had indian on the first night with peers. Also why I will never be able to mix with angmos on anything more than a superficial level. So the deanery are paying for expenses, transport costs etc. Part of the expenses are 20pounds a day for 'sustenance'. So when paying the 16pounds for my lamb tandoori (should've gone for chicken - lamb is always tough when not slow cooked), I state I'm getting a receipt for it to claim expenses. No big deal right? Any Malaysian would've nodded in agreement, thanked me for reminding them, and then asked for an individual receipt as well. 

So my pals basically laughed. At me. What's the word for it? 嘲笑. Could not fathom why I would do it. Wouldn't they want to claim expenses for the meal too? Scoff. No why would I. It's just 15pounds man. Loose pocket change. 

*shrug* To each his own, man. 

 Had lunch with the ALS group after we'd passed the course. Actually there was lunch provided but we went anyway. So I had second lunch, like a hobbit. Even though I was quite full from the lentil soup and sandwiches and sausage rolls.

Layan only lah.

 Food was ok. Nothing to shout about.

 Did some sightseeing as well, since I had a half day to do anything. Would've been a shame if I had this time and didn't go somewhere. Took a bus to Tolsta beach, about 30mins away.

 The route was actually very scenic. Slightly ruined by some very obnoxious teenager sitting behind me talking to his friends loudly and openly about drugs and sex. He looked 14. If I were his mother I would rotan his 屁股 kaokao like, 7 years ago. His mum was probably reading Closer with Jeremy Kyle in the background whilst eating Iceland cheesecakes then.

 Bus dropped me a 10 min walk away from the sandy shore. Coastlines are so rarely sandy that beaches are a big thing in the UK.

 Ooh sheeepppp close range!!

 Have to be careful not to tread well-camouflaged sheep poop on the way.

 Windy as heck as usual.

 Bye bye Mr Sheep~ see you on my plate one day.

 Wonder what it's like living so rural. Better hope you're healthy - sickes have to be airlifted to Glasgow and there's only 4 units of O neg in the whole hospital or something. Best not to pop that aneurysm eh?

 Went into this 'gallery' - a house hosting some nice oil paintings by this artist who divided time between middle-of-nowhere Scotland, France, and Perth WA. Everyone wants to go to WA.

So that was my 25th birthday. No cake, no candles, 6 birthday wishes (2 from parents). In fact on the day itself I was just revising for the written ALS exam, and had cabbage soup for dinner. Just another day.

I did speak to a couple of people - an old friend, and one of the ALS facilitators - in which I revealed more about my aspirations than I normally would, and just received some kind words which were so encouraging. Sometimes I feel so alone in it all, but there's actually people out there who care.

If I achieve what I want to achieve before I turn 26, that will be the only and best present I want. 

Happy birthday me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

x yes

The big vote is coming up, in the middle of this month. The north of Scotland is pirmarily Yes vote, from what I've gleaned from flags on windows and signs stuck in fields in the middle of nowhere. I am eligible to vote, and took time reading up how to register. The deadline to register was yesterday but I didn't sign up. Part of me felt proud and excited to be part of this history-in-the-making, and another part felt that my vote wouldn't be fair as I don't really know enough about both sides to make a solid decision, one that will affect the outcome of this land for time to come.

 I did think the Yes verdict would be an interesting social experiment - after all Scotland and East Malaysia have a few things in common - namely that we are proud of our own language and culture and way of life, and think that because we have oil we can survive on our own without the tiresome south/west. As a well-meaning but rather ignorant teen I fantasized about an independent Sarawak and Sabah (plus minus Singaporean governance) and found out later that this thought was not uncommon in the minds of other Sarawakians. If Scotland broke off from Great Britain this would set and excellent precedent on how a well governed ....secession would look like. The Independent Scotland 'manual' is actually a pretty interesting read if you can sit through all of it.

The Scots are alright. They're definitely rather different from the English and not just in accent and figure of speech and version of a fry up. The Scots immensely proud of their heritage and culture - from their tap water (mucchhh better than England apparently) to tartan to bagpipes and ceilidhs (didn't know how to pronounce ceilidh till a week ago - in my head it's still always 'see-lith'.) If the English were stiff and uppity, the Scots were their own style of stoic. I'm still not used to the way they say 'aye' and 'nae'. But like any angmo I never truly assimilated with them (ie thinking parties and alcohol are a great way of socializing)

Also, I've never watched Braveheart. Maybe I should watch it before the 18th of September.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Double post, because it was Malaya's Independance Day and I did not give it a mention.

No really, I'm just here to speak. I don't like exposing my thoughts on Facebook anymore. Bloggie is still my little sanctuary.

I've reached that stage where my Facebook feed is full of friends getting engaged or married. Actually most of them are acquaintances of the past, from the stages of my life that I've moved on from - the IMU junior, the KL church people, the Green Road band mate etc. People I have on Facebook but actually haven't spoken to in years.

I'm happy for them.

I turn 25 next week and am newly single. Sometimes I get the torn feeling of both despair and calm, but most times it's just clear blue calm. I'm enjoying to solitude, getting back into music and art, cooking, advancing in yoga, working on the nitty gritty of the Australia thing, anime, Japan. Just me. Time - all 24 hours of it - all mine.

Delayed gratification has always something I could do well. I would wait and debate and agonize before doing or buying something I wanted. This time, I feel that waiting is the right thing to do.

Now that I'm actually starting to put my pieces in place for applying to Australia, it's actually really exciting. I am trying my darnest hardest to put up my usual defence mechanism - expecting the worse, expecting the minimum, expecting nothing at all. I may not get a job, or be presented with less than ideal circumstances. It's not working very well, the defence mechanism.

I'm letting myself have fantasies over a job offer by end of the year and having all my pieces sorted, hopping on a plane, and enjoying the life of sun, better pay, free ulu accommodation and salary packaging, and no carrying 5 bleeps (including the registrar's) at a time. I envision myself getting into my hobbies properly like crafting cosplay outfits or taking Japanese lessons - something I've been too stingy to do. I see myself actually going out and having a social circle that's more than superficial, I may start wearing shorts again and stop wearing socks 24/7. I see twice yearly trips back to Kuching. I may even meet someone.

I allow myself these dreams and delusions far more than I should. Then I figuratively slap myself and start focus on the bad stuff, like how expensive everything will be (tbh after Aberdeen I shouldn't be fazed...Nottingham totally spoiled me for rent prices forever), the complexities of superannuation, Aboriginal and bogan problems, drought and flood, deadly animals, The Problems People There Face That I Just Haven't Figured Out Yet.

It's pretty exhausting mentally, really.

After my ALS, I'm finalizing my CV and sending it to every hospital with a HR email plug on the website. Then it's certifying documents, which may be an issue for the next 3 months as there's no notary in Wick. A short trip to Aberdeen or Edinburgh should sort it, but that's just more logistics to settle. Then there's a million other applications and IELTs on top of that.

One step at a time, don't count your chickens. After all the disappointments I've had you'd think I'd know better than to fantasize about the end point before I get there. It's just so....UGH. I've waited so long.

Scenes and thoughts

Have been spending my last few days of annual leave studying for ALS (Advanced Life Support....not that herd mentality ice bucket fad) in the hospital 'library', which is sort of like a large office with some computers and books. At least it's warm. The house gets so cold I've taken out the portable heating.

Sunday was a nice balmy sunny day so I took a stroll down town...although I generally do not care much for 'happening' places and large malls and abundance of weekend leisure activities, Wick is really quite sad la. There's barely a 'high street' and half the shops are closing down. The other half that actually sells things somehow look cheap - sun-faded cards tackily arranged etc. Sort of reminded me of all the 100%-discount-store style shops in Kuching.

One half of the high street....

And then I do a 180 degree turn and snap. That's all folks!

Yep that's two closed down Chinese least the Indian restaurant down the road was still thriving.

For a moment I thought my favourite band were playing somewhere near....then got horribly let down

The Wetherspoon's pub that we're been to like 10 times since coming here.
Took a walk down the mixed stony/sandy shore.

At least it looks pretty from this angle. It was actually quite dirty.

Just reflecting on how ok I am with being alone. Sometimes it's lonely, but often I relish being able to do what I want at my own pace. Besides there's no one who really shares my interests here.

Disturbing amount of animal carcasses...but with all the rubbish I suppose it isn't really surprising

Went to see the Trinkie on Friday - an outdoor pool filled with seawater when the tide comes in. Friend was scouting places for his ice bucket thing but I'd never do it outdoors in the freezing wind. Crazy angmos arr.

Yeah. Mossy. He didn't do it there and then.

So where was I again?

Ah yes, studying for ALS. I'd done all the pre-course required and was going to read up the final bits....but NHS Highland's computers allow Youtube and blogs and all manner of distractifying things Grampian blocked!!!!   oAo''' (I'd say that's a definite plus for this place)

I ended up Youtube-ing anime piano covers and looking at cosplay sites.

I miss being able to talk anime, or fandom things, or obsess about Japan, or jamming, or talking about cooking and baking. The weekend alone was actualy bliss, catching up on anime and listening to OP/EDs in between ALS revision.

Side note - I know I really shouldn't - but every time someone goes to Japan and does not speak the language or understand its pop culture - I feel this stab of envy and you-don't-deserve-it!! feeling. It's completely irrational, seeing I'm no fluent Japanese speaker and am not into idols, but at least I'd be able to decipher a menu. I've dreamt of going to Japan since my mid teens. What I really want is a month WWOOFing on a farm (on preferably southern Honshu) - there rest of the world can have that bland Europe.

I also want to cosplay. In a con. Now I'm actually earning I can afford all the wigs and contraptions, but I ain't going anywhere near a con where I am. Sigh.

I doodled.
Someone on dA remarked in response to 'how do you draw so well' - to practice lots (no surprises here) and fill up 14 sketchbooks. Then you will be good. No idea where the figure came from, but I'm on sketchbook no.2. I tend to prefer traditional but that's only because the tablet can lag sometimes.

There's a keyboard in the oft vacant hospital chapel. Been practicing the Arabesque and random anime tunes over the weekend. It's really one of the pleasures I've got up here. Plus the broadband isn't bad, so I'm quite happy.

And then it's back to work tomorrow...oh dread.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


 Had a wee bitty time off, dinnae want ter stay in Wick fer too long, hoped on a train and made it to Edinburgh. Crashed at old buddy Jade's awesome crib. I seriously cannot wait to get my own little abode and start filling it with Le Creuset pots and John Lewis chopping boards.

Photo dump ahead.

Caught the tail end of the Fringe- watched a show called the Bunker Trilogy. About 20 people in a small room within arms length of the actors, who were fabulous and proper professional actors.

Getting ready to tuck into tea....sandwich and a scone.

The girls ordered takeaway sushi... all that amounted to 20 quid each for 4 people...sorry but that was the most painful 20 pounds I've spent in a long wasn't bad but 20pounds is a lot for takeaway!!

This alone was 20pounds...sigh.

Dimsum fix at a Malaysian restaurant - they played the ambiency 'atas' type Malaysian restaurant. 10 pound rendang/nasi lemak...dim sum was pretty good though. I had a century egg porridge, cuz I just miss the stuff more than curry mee. Better enjoy it while it lasts I guess. No Malaysian restaurants north of the central belt...

Short trek up the Pentland Hills, which was a 30min drive out of Edinburgh and was a fantastic park for walks and hikes.

Also happens to be near a military training facility....

Middle Meadow Walk plastered with Fringe posters...the old hospital is to the right, which is being converted into apartments. I hope they don't turn the morgue into a suite....

Royal Mile. Gotta love those cobblestones - not sure I'd enjoy the steep slopes in the long term though...

Walked down the Royal Mile down to Holyrood place and the Scottish conquer Aurthur's Seat.

Halfway up and the view already wasn't half bad.

You know you've reached the top when you see people milling around with that look of bored satisfaction...

....and when there's a compass thing.

Attempt at selfie of compass + view, because vanity.

See the trailsss

Phone camera does little justice to the actual view as interpreted by my retinas... but it'll do.

Descent - though on the joints.

Jade has a lovely, well equipped kitchen so half my time was spent tinkering around her kitchen with all the utensils, pots and gadgets I just coveted so much.....

Made Mary Berry's carrot cake which  I found to be far superior to my usual carrot cake recipe...shall be using this from now on. Problem is it also calls for ripe bananas which would make it a carrot-banana cake. It adds to the moisture and flavour of the cake but I don't always have spotty banana on hand.

All hail Mary Berry Queen of Cakes!! (Also, GBBO pwns.)

The National Museum again. Last visited in 2008.

Made okonomiyaki. Can never get tired of this.

Chicken rice by friend.

And more cake!! This is Mary Berry's cappucino cake, which is described by Jade as 'eating coffee'. And love the stencils - see what I mean by coveting her kitchen?

Rest of the time was on her keyboard playing anime songs, pop songs, classical songs - bliss. This is my idea of a holiday really. A bit of scenery, good company, a well stocked and well equipped kitchen, lots of cooking and baking for my hosts (who are usually at work during the day), and the music was just the icing on the cake. Beats a stressful solo trip to say Europe, which I'm finding to be increasingly overrated.

And then it's the 06,30 train back to Wick in the morning.