Sunday, February 7, 2016

dong dong qiang

虽然已经说过了,【明年尽量要回乡拜年】 今年并尊重不了这希望。 还在拼命的在这红毛人国家打工。 可不可说有些后悔呀。 看着朋友们的 newsfeed  充满团圆饭,回乡,和亲人一起度过美好时间的照片,心里有点寂寞。自己父母亲呢都去外国旅行了, 兄弟们都也没特别计划。 就过着普通的一个星期日傍晚。


Since leaving home - I'd celebrated CNY at home when I was in KL/IMU because we had provisions for such festive seasons of course. When I went to the UK, as a student I barely came home but there was a close knit enough group of Malaysians of all races there and we would go out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant of something.

CNY2011 - first year in a white man's land. Dinner with the Malaysian Society then another one with the IMU seniors. Those were good times.

CNY 2012 - smaller scale dinner at a steamboat place - I remember harrying about finding a 'halal' steamboat place because we wanted to included our Malay friends.

CNY 2013 - was exam season but we put together a chap goh meh do with the juniors (because le gasp we were now the 'seniors'!) It was also a time of extreme relief as we were just past med school finals (pre results tho)

CNY 2014 - first CNY of my working life. I was a gen surg FY1 in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. I'd also worked shitloads of nights before and after, and worked Christmas so I could get time off to come back to Kuching.

CNY 2015 - first year in Australia. I was working on the day the IMUians had planned a CNY dinner so had to make do with making my own, and had beg my brother to invite whatever friends he had over so I could have some semblance of atmosphere.

To be fair I did go to a CNY dinner last Sunday with some very new church friends, so yay I suppose. But it looks like I may have to go without a CNY folder this year.

Hmm I wonder if I have chap goh mei off.

Anyhows, happy chinese new year to you reader anons.

Friday, January 15, 2016


Been a while since I've had the snuffles. Called in sick. Don't think I've done that before.

Have some moe Snape enka. 

Good night sweet prince

Thursday, December 31, 2015


I suppose of one of the foolish things I do every year is have an expectation that the moment a year turns over the to the next year will be something special, as though I'd feel some warm fuzzy feeling or sudden burst of joy and optimism. I don't have this expectation with birthdays though. New years are always anti climatic. Always.

So here I am, post seven 12-hour nights -over-Christmas, rather sleep deprived from he nature of the shift more than anything else, thinking of what to type and say. Truth is although I rarely post anymore, I always have a swirl of thoughts in my head that I'd like to pen down, for the unexpected reader to stumble upon one day. I've never been a diary-ist, if there were ever such a word, so these thoughts go unrecorded, to remain fleeting moments of my conciousness, perhaps one day to disappear altogether like the wisps of smoke dissipating from a birthday candle.

I feel bad about this, because somehow I have this feeling that it's maybe a teeny little bit important to record down the person I am today, so my future self can perhaps look back and reflect. Maybe I'll try harder this year.

It's been a year since I settled in Queensland. It's been alright I guess. Not mind-blowingly fantasic or awfully bad. Just alright. Work's work. I got all the sign offs I need for general registration except the last one due soon. After that it's career path bla bla bla.

The number of social media friends getting engaged/married has just exploded exponentially this year. It's as though someone turned on a switch. Everyone gets to that stage I suppose. Meanwhile I'm just doing what I do best - waiting.

To be honest I did kind of expect things to pick up after coming to Australia, which was my aim for so long. Now I'm here things haven't really moved at all, (though it's my own fault for being a homey stick in the mud) sometimes I think I'm sort of in a rut.

The New Year is supposed to be for resolutions but 所谓:江山易改,本性难移。If one could innately stick to their diets and budgets, one would do so at anytime, not just at the start of the year, which is just an excuse. Hence why I never really believed in new year resolutions.

Maybe my eyes just can't see the opportunities in front of me, but at the moment all I can see ahead of me is relatively short sighted. I'm still running away from the future because I don't know what I want and what I'll be and it scares me. If you ask me, I think I peaked about 10 years too early. Even at my heyday I never gave much thought to the future because someone I always took it for granted that by the time I reached the bridge I'd have a plan to cross it. Choices are only of value to those who know what they want to achieve.

Anyway, have a good year ahead, whoever you are.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Because all you 5 readers of this blog are still here, you get first peek.

Enjoy >:3

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Today was a rough day.

It was one of those days in A&E where there were nearly as many patients in the corridors as they were patients in cubicles, where the list of waiting to be seen patients was long and never ending, where worktops started to get really messy, where colleague fuses tend to run short.

I think I have a sort of love-hate opinion about A&E (not shaking off the UK terminology not sorry). I love the range and variety of presentations and how I get to do a bit of everything. I've done speculums and slit lamps and sutured and plastered and jabbed more kiddies throats with fake ice creams sticks than I've ever done before. It's great. I love the generalist-ness of it all.

The hate part comes not just from the crazies that come but from colleagues whose fuses are short probably in part when the workload gets harder. Then there's the colleagues whom I just barely manage to get along with at work. Me being the ok-with-anyone type personality can usually get along with most people. Perhaps that's what they can't stand about me. That I'm too wishy washy and don't stand for anything. In loud and proud Australia, being overly humble and meek and pandering is not a prized attribute. Nothing gets me down more than the disdain of a senior colleague and this can spiral badly.

A colleague snapped at me in front of some patients. I'd already had a less than stellar run with doing a backslab wrong and wasn't feeling too great. Another colleague comforted me in an amazing way by just letting me get off the floor for a few minutes to get some air and have a good cry. It's times like this when I wonder why can't I be this kind and compassionate to others.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm truly cut out to be a doctor, emotionally. I feel like I don't have empathy, especially with psych(o) patients. There are too many examples when I have thought dully to myself it would be better if they didn't exist. Everytime a registrar is caught up in resus with some repeat teenage overdose, or the multiple presentations alcoholic who uses his benefits money to buy more booze, the homeless druggies who end up intubated on a $4000 a night ICU bed-  I catch myself thinking why do we try so hard to save these people who are trying to kill themselves? Why can't we just let them be?

Is it wrong for me to think this way? Probably.

And then sometimes, someone just shows me so much compassion I wonder what I would have done without it. My heart overflowed with gratitude at his kindness but the only and best way I knew to repay it was to pay it forward.

But also, in times of stress and hardship, will I be like the colleague who snapped or the colleague who comforted? It is much easier to be nice when you are not under duress.

God grant me love and compassion in difficult times, towards people that are hard to love.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Flight of ideas, birthday edition

Hello everyone, from the newly-turned-26-me.

I remember my 25th birthday post where I was doing ALS in Stornaway on the other side of the world. I said that if I got my wish, which at the time was to move to Australia, that would be the best present.

And here I am.

I may have hit a dearth or aims in my life though. It'd been relatively easy to have an aim all this while. In school it was just passing one exam after another. Same thing in Uni. Then it was getting signed off for every job, passing FY1, getting GMC registration, looking for Aussie jobs and relocating myself there.

I guess my life was planned till young adulthood in Australia, and it seems I've more or less reached the end point. Where to go from here? That's all I seem to be lamenting these days. I know, I'm in that so-called dreaded comfort zone that should be abhorred. I suppose the next logical thing is to decide on which path my career is to head to, find a nice young man, get married, buy a house, procreate.

Of course, it's not that simple.

Career and life partner are just two unfathomably big decisions and not one I would take lightly. To a certain extent one has some degree of control over career, in that you can always get a glimpse into different specialties by talking to people or attending courses and maybe even working as a junior in the job. Life partner is a bit less...straightforward?

Basically, I'm a skeptic, not a romantic. What 'The One' means to me, is not the fluffy good times we will have or the initial butterflies and 'honeymoon stage' of dating, but rather the question of 'am I willing to put up with this person's shit for the rest of my life?' We all have shitty aspects of ourselves and our personalities. Usually we hide it from fresh relationships - it's only when you know someone for a while and had a few spats with them, will you know their true colours.

And that's what I'm talking about. It is no mean feat putting up with someone else's shit or expecting anyone to put up with my shit for the rest of our lives. 'Shit' can mean anything from annoying but benign habits like snuffling or not taking out the trash, to full blown differences on the big things, baggage, family dramas, anything that makes you wish you were single again.

It's fine and all fun and games when we're fit and employed 20-somethings with our lives ahead of us. But curveballs and shit happens, and I will be lying if I said I wholeheartedly vow to love you in sickness and in health, in the good times and in the bad. And this selfish part of me is what makes me believe I am not deserving of or ready for this life partner thing. I enjoy freedom and not having to put up with anyone's shit, far too much.

If you're asking what I want - well, here goes. Whilst I'm still young and single and prevocational I want to live in Japan, even if just temporarily. A 3 month language course, a 2 month au pair type thing, a few weeks trawling the islands with a JR pass and couchsurfing account, anything like that. Assuming I get an SHO job in Brisbane for 2016, I'd take it up just for the added years in experience, then maybe in 2017 I'd locum an SHO job for half a year and be an overpaid glorified secretary in some rural hole of a hospital, then take 6 months to hopefully get the JP novelty out of my system so I can resume life as a normal human being. There's nothing with being  30 year old first-year PHO or a 40 year old primip, ey?

It's just a thought. It may or may not happen. I've not made any inroads yet (well apart from signing up for N4 end of this year). But I think I will regret it if I never did this.

At the moment that's the only goal that actually gets me excited, instead of the possibility of ending up a med reg or living in RA2-5 areas for the next 10 years.

Elderly wisdom is best wisdom though, so if any oldie thinks I am wasting my life and talking a load of rubbish please feel free to give me a virtual clout on the head. At the moment I am just thankful I have my health, a job, family and friends, right of stay in a politically stable country, and am not wanting for anything at the bottom rung of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Happy birthday me.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Speaking of camels

Just a few things I learnt in Gympie: 

Newborns can and will pee and poop on you as you are checking their groins
Bogans will be bogans and there's nothing you can do
GP anaesthetists are totally rad
There are camels native to Australia

So in Gympie one lives the country life. And you can be a hospital boss and live on a self sufficient 200 hectare land and care for camels and horses.

They were shy. All running away from me

The let-down for milk is like 90 seconds so yield is much lower to that of cows. You'll get 2 litres between 5 or 6 camels if you're lucky. 


Basically why hipsters in Melbourne will pay $50/Litre for the stuff (yes that's market price)
Camels headin home

Also, freakin horses.

 I was the horse mad kid. I also grew up reading Enid Blyton stories detailing life on farms/the country/the circus. Naturally this was the stuff of my dreams.

The first and only time I rode a horse was during a family holiday in New Zealand. I was 11.

Not pictured: the chicken coop, industrial size water tanks, wild kangaroos hopping in the 'garden'.

Don't get any more country than a real log fire. And trading cows and horses and camels amongst your hospital staff colleagues.

Absoluely brilliant.  

Unrelated - Noosa National Park on a day off, in the dead of winter. It was a nippy 26 degrees.

No regrets.

Oh you naive little what I'll think one day when I read through all these quarter life crisis blog posts

So it's that time of the year where the UK docs change jobs. Only with my peers, it's the Big Career Step forward. Some are CMT or CST or GPST. Some got into paeds or obgyn, a few in opthalmology, some genuis in neurosurgery run through and even one in anatomical pathology.

I'm somewhat envious and curious. Envious that I am nowhere close to knowing what to do for the rest of my life, unlike these peers of mine. Curious to know what's I'd be doing now if I'd stayed on in the UK. Probs something broad based and relatively uncompetitive, like CMT.

I know it's just Social Media Syndrome. It's the endless posts of new CT1 Trainee badges and moving to new cities on timelines. But I'll be lying if I said this didn't get to me at all. I knew I'd be taking a step back moving to Australia, career wise. I still don't regret making the move. I still am constantly finding out what I want and how I may get it.

One of my biggest flaws is I give too many fucks about what people think of me. I want to be universally liked, or at least not disliked, or have anyone have negative perceptions of me. This applies to my professional and social life. Superficially I get along with most people fine.

Maybe that's why I don't seem to have too many deep relationships.

Professionally I know I can't stay like this forever. No Consultant is ever 100% good with everyone. Even the best consultants I've worked with, there will always be some badmouthing here and there to varying degrees. This is universal, not just in the medical field. No top honcho regardless of profession, goes completely unscathed behind their backs.

People will disagree with my clinical opinion and I will just have to stand up for my actions or at least be able to justify them. And this comes with knowledge (post graduate exams) and experience (seniority). At the moment I am nothing. At the moment I can still hide behind 'I'll ask my boss', but time's already ticking and the higher up I go the more I'll be expected to make independant decisions. It's a tricky balance between maintaining some autonomy appropriate for my level and experience, and not being a completely useless fuckwit of a PGY2 doctor.

This year is my transition year. Next year, it will be expected of me that I start making decisions.  

Here's another thing I noticed. My peers are all raring to the top career wise, trying to get the edge over any little thing that will pad their CV a little. Every doctor gathering I go to, someone will always have a wittier, more interesting anecdote or more harrowing experience than I have, or the time they made the right diagnosis that baffled consultants or when they got the cannula when the anaesthetist couldn't. This leaves me feeling somewhat inadequate at times.

The more senior doctors I've encountered however, seem to think it's perfectly fine that I haven't made up my mind yet. Old wisdom seems to dictate that young people should not just focus on work and money but rather family, relationships, experiences etc, because what good are money and assets at the graveyard? (Apart from being able to choose the type of funeral and burial spot you wish for, of course) This is of some comfort to me. I trust oldie wisdom.

My 10 weeks in Gympie as a jack of some trades master of none resident is coming to a close. Despite the on-paper immense duties I have, it actually isn't that bad. Sure I do paeds and general surgery and all that jazz but the patient load is nothing compared to that of secondary hospitals and nothings been too overwhelming. I can undress babies and change diapers now and am at least of some use in general surgical clinics and closed a Caesarian beautifully (if I may say so myself) and seen a camel being milked and overall am better off for the Gympie experience.

I am twenty five, going on twenty six. I am also working night ED shifts on my birthday.

Life will eventually sort itself out. Right?

Friday, July 3, 2015

And then I realized...

Why I'm nearly two years out and still undecided
What's that saying again?

'If you don't stand for anything you will fall for everything.'

Wednesday, July 1, 2015



I often have dreams at night. They're usually very vivid and I can remember vaguely what it was, but can't describe it was about. Sometimes they're to do with what happened in the day. They are not bad dreams or scary or nightmare-ish, they're just there.

I'm aware of scientific sleep/dream theories about REM, but sometimes what I like to think there are actually alternate realities out there, and these dreams are the only connection to them. I've heard of wormholes, perhaps it's all somehow related?

There could be hundred of alternate realities out there, hundreds of me or perceived mes doing things and living lives in other....dimensions? Timelines? It all sounds very New Age and I'm the last person to jump on that bandwagon, but I can't help but to wonder.

Monday, June 22, 2015

I'm still not getting any better at this writing thing

A little plug here - An old uni acquantaince has this niftylittle tumblr where she rants about the NHS. I periodically read it from time to time – it’s extremely well written, fully expressing all the frustrations I and many other doctors in the NHS have experienced at some point or other. It’s well worth a read for some insight into what the NHS is like these days.

Indeed, one of the things I had to get used to when first working in Australia was not needing to fear making referrals or admitting patients. It sounds silly – what good’s a hospital if you’re not going to be admitting sick people, right? But the issue was that due to a dearth of community services and nursing home places due to funding cuts, there were too many admissions we did that either were inappropriate admissions, or admissions we knew were going to be a one way ticket for the usually elderly patient.  There would be a negative air of ‘oh no not another one’ and this became conditioned into me.

There just seems to be less of a bed-blocking issue in Australia. Social, allied health and community services are well funded and extremely functional – there is just much less of these long term medically stable chronic illness patients waiting for Package of Care or nursing homes on acute medical wards. Between the USA's awful maldistribution of expensive healthcare and the UK's free but unsustainable NHS, I think Australia has struck a relatively happy balance between government subsidised and private health services. 

(I also think that in order to get out of the mess its in the NHS really can't afford to make everything 100% free for every Tom Dick and Krzysztof. Something's gotta give, someone's gotta pay. Even getting patients to pay 10pounds per GP visit or A&E attendance, for which they will get 8 pounds back at a later time, will surely cut down the number of time wasters.)

Another thing I had to get used to was not scrambling to finalize discharge letters just before patient discharges. In Australia it is preferable but still optional to finish summaries before the patient walks out the door. That was a major source of stress during my UK days. The patient had to have the letter no matter what, and ambulance transport were being held up by my tardiness/ineffectiveness, etc etc.

Also I don’t have to do every damn little thing. I smiled a little when that uni friend bemoaned having to do ECGs (because nurses ‘weren’t trained to do them’) and print discharge summaries (because nurses didn’t have access to the systems) because that what exactly what I went through as well. Finding a nurse that did bloods or were willing to admit they could do them, was like finding a gold nugget on a beach, let alone cannulas. I’ve only had to do a handful of cannulas and bloods here because nurses seem super capable at doing them. In fact once I stayed back to do a cannula on a patient in A&E and my reg gave me a why-are-you-bothering-with-that funny look. I’ve not performed an ECG in months, only interpreted them – as should be the case.

Communication between primary, secondary and allied health also appears to work much better in Australia. Notes are actually filed properly, not like the kiamchai we used to get in the UK. You could easily see what correspondence had been made with which specialty and GP. Everyone on the ward writes in the same notes, which makes a whole lot of sense – I can see exactly what physio or OT or social work’s opinion is if I need to know. If no one’s documented what the urine dip showed, I can usually find it in the nursing entry just above the medical entry. Back in Aberdeen only the vascular ward did that and it was pretty passive aggressive at times.

Another large difference is attitudes towards General Practice. GP is actually a respected position here – valued rightly for its role as the frontline of healthcare in the community, and admired for its reputation for being a ‘lifestyle career choice’. Which in Australia means you get to go to the beach in your boat on the weekends with your partner and two young children. A&E in Australia does get a slightly negative reputation from high-horse specialty departments as being ‘cowboys’, but is nowhere near the level of pure abuse their NHS counterparts get. There is no rigid do-or-die 4 hour wait, and in the hospital I work in at least, there are special nurses that go around making sure the old crumblies are not just needing extra special nursing care, rather than a hospital admission. Senior med regs are still as busy as ever, but I get the sense they have to deal with far less admin rubbish like playing discharge coordinator and bed manager on top of seeing sick patients. There is a general medical ward where queries and unknowns go, but definitely nothing as bad as endocrine wards filled with homeless young drug users and 90 year old demented bearded ladies refused to be taken in by nursing homes.

Which also brings me to another thought. The acquaintance mentioned how patients ended up staying months on end on acute wards because they had ‘no safe discharge destination’, or the family just didn’t want to take them back. I appreciate that looking after one’s 89 year old demented mother or father is no easy task, especially when you have young kids or teenagers of your own, a stressful job, financial issues and no spare room. But somehow in Malaysia/Asia – people manage. Granted it is easier and cheaper to find 24/7 hired help – plenty of maid agencies cater for care of the elderly population – but even those who don’t, manage as well. 

I remember reading an old blog article on the sad state of Sibu Hospital circa 2011 by a prominent West Malaysian opposition politician - he lamented the lack of air conditioning, soap in toilets, lounge chairs. There were pictures uploaded of ‘native’ relatives sleeping on the floor because the hospital had virtually no lounge chairs. Yet these relatives just made do. Sleeping on the floor, with probably little in the way of basic hygiene like showers and toothpaste, bringing in food for the sick relative. (Of course, pictures of Dayaks sleeping on the floor adds to the sensationalism, but one has to remember traditionally they sleep on the floor anyway, like the Malays or the Japanese.)

 Occasionally I would see an article on the Borneo Post looking for the relative of some unidentified, probably demented patient, but from my limited view stance as an outsider who’s never worked in the Malaysian health system, relatives generally see it as their responsibility to take care of their elderly relative, and not the health system’s. Indeed what I do miss a lot after all my years living and studying overseas is certain Asian values.

It’s this insight as well that makes I hard for me to sympathize with the picture of the young, easily distressed, demanding and manipulative, usually white female patient that I encounter every now and then. They would usually have a permutation of ‘functional’ and chronic pain disorders, a high analgesic requirement, lots of drug ‘allergies’, and a ‘bad experience’ at some other hospital or GP.

Quote from a friend’s FB post:
Country A- STEMI- Pays RM1 for thrombolytic agent. SYUKUR!
Country B- STEMI- Pays Nothing for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention. Still criticises health system

Angmos have so much yet complain a great deal. Maybe Malaysia’s headed that direction as well with all the new-age anti vaxxers and pro home birth-ers. Increasing affluence is really a double edged sword. People think money and rights suddenly think that makes them clever when in actual fact sometimes you’re still just an idiot.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Flight of Ideas 2 ( and then some)

Hello world.

I'm not dead, just AWOL/lazy. Very often in daily life a thought or opinion props up and I'm like, hey I should write about this', then I'm like, 'lol nope'. Hence the virtual cobwebs.

So there I was, just chilling at home post 7 day ICU stretch (I've decided I'm really not an outdoor person) when I got my Gympie rota roster....
and a your-role doc which looks like this

And now I'm like fuckity fuck fuck fuck

So after staring at it for a good 15 minutes I've come to the conclusion that
a) I still have no idea how I'm expected to weave in and out of three very distinct specialties
b) words like 'expected to', 'often', 'potentially alternate weeks', 'variable' are not helpful at all
c) I need to learn how2kagebunshinnojutsu

Notwithstanding the fact that I haven't touched a speculum since 2011 and now I'm 'first port of call for antenatal reviews of complicated antenates that need medical review'. 

Gotta love (!sarcasm) that about medicine - being a 'doctor' - even if you're a first day intern - somehow puts you on a higher level compared to nurses with 20 years of experience. I've had nurses ask me to 'talk to the patient' about something or other that the nurse tried to explain but they were having none of. I walk up and say the exact same thing - clueless, 'Im-just-a-junior-doc' me - and because I'm wearing the Stethoscope of All Knowledge, the patient suddenly understands/is reassured/etc.  

Anyway. I'm sure I'll work things out somehow. Gympie is always being shat on by the doctors here and it really reminds me of Wick.

Also, ICU is ending soon, which makes me a little sad. I do love all the fiddly wires and lines, but the real job of intensivists is not just adjusting ventilator settings and weaning inotropes, but rather having difficult conversations with families with complicated dynamics. There never seems to be any 'normal' families in the ICU relatives room. It's always the estranged wife who doesn't want some offspring to be involved, or a brother who thinks the EPOA sister is mad and shouldn't be allowed to make the decisions, etc etc, Also, you'd have to be a damn genius to pass the professional exams. 

On a random note, Haruki Murakami's 1Q84, which is my current bedtime reading, really reads like a manga. It's all the phrases he uses, like 'in a pinch' and 'that's correct' as an affirmative, and 'in other words...' and '[statement], right?' that lets in all the nuances of a translated Japanese text. (I did a  >.0 at the dohta/maza obvious katakana part) The story itself is so manga-logic, with the two worlds and moons and vague descriptions. In my head I can actually visualize the panels. I wish there'd be more official professional translations for all the niche light novels I want to read, but I guess that's the whole point of learning Japanese.

Alrighty, time to buck up. 

Flight of Ideas

Hello from an airport.

So, let's get down to it. The long due so-how's-it-been-in-Australia post.

In a nutshell, it's much the same, just better. It is a developed white country after all. The main difference is its health system - I like to think of it as a nice balance between the NHS's free but unsustainable decades old health plan, and America's insurance-only health cover that seems to benefit only the cushy upper middle class. Medicare is a subsidy rather than a free ticket, and Aussies are more willing to pay for private health insurance and private health services eg allied health, pathology, nursing homes etc. There isn't the same level of strain that there is on the NHS. It seems to be working pretty well for them.

In terms of the small things as a still-somewhat-kuli NHS refugee, I have observed several small differences. Like how much more willing nurses are to do bloods and cannulas etc (I actually worry I'm de-skilling) (heck I was doing my own flippin ECGs as an FY1) which I guess lets me step back and look at the big picture rather than obsess about where the tape is kept. The UQ medical course has been post grad for ages so it seems like all the interns and residents are in their 30s with kids and houses. I'm always assumed to be the intern, at best. Everyone keeps their watches and rings on, so Bare Below The Elbows isn't quite in vogue like it is in the UK.

It's 10 terms of 10 weeks as opposed to 3 rotations of 4 months in a year in the UK, which I suppose is pretty good as there is more chance to dip into various specialties, especially for a still undecided person like me. (Please don't look at me like I'm an alien) And we get 5 weeks of paid leave a year, much to the envy of every single person who's asked me this. You split them into 2 and 3 weeks and are meant to allocate your preferences before the start of the year, so admin can organize cover during your planned absence. It's ingenious. Back in the UK people are still having to desperately clamour for time off to yknow, get married and stuff.

Hence the existence of a relieving term, in which for 10 weeks you pretty much cover whichever department is rostered to be on leave. That was my first term, so I dabbled in paeds, rehab med, A&E (ok fine Aussies called it ED or DEM), gen surg, gastro and haem, which is actually a pretty good mix. Back in the UK you had to apply for 'taster weeks' if you wanted to try out a specialty you weren't working in, and it would be a bit of a hassle. It seems I had a course of taster weeks handed on a silver platter. The downside is you're in a different department every 2 weeks and have to get used to everything over and over again but it's not thatt bad I suppose.

Pay is....good. I'm actually saving lots and having a social life for once,

Ah yes, social life. Nice to have you back. Brisbane boasts probably the largest amount of IMU alumni in any single city owing to the large-ish BMedSci cohort, and well I guess it is nice having old KL friends to hang out with again. I crash at my brother's place whenever I'm in Brisbane (which is virtually every week) and it is certainly working out nicely so far. Nothing beats the hour long drive to Brisbane after a long stretch of days or nights, with my Jpop plugged in, knowing I'll get to jostle with the aunties in Sunnybank asian shops, cook dinner and watch Koufuku Graffiti over dinner with onii-chama.

And well I'm back because durr cincai allocated the AL dates. Was back in Kuching for a week, and there is still no place like home. Most of my friends have started work and I am rather oddly interested in learning about working environments in Malaysia, particularly as a junior meddie, and understanding the issues that lead to this environment. The cycle of abuse is real. Then there's the usual stuff like 50sen kuih (give me rice flour snacks over kolo mee any day) (I am a disappointing child), the uncle/auntie eye-sweep (more on that later) and the sweltering heat and humidity I know all too well. My increasing appreciation of how good Brisbane roads are and how crap Kuching roads are.

It's getting a bit cliche, but Sarawak really is the true embodiment of 1Malaysia if I may borrow that glorified PR ploy. The State paper publishes and brings attention equally to church, temple or mosque related events and people. The halal food hawker is next to the kolo mee stall and there is no furore. The Indian uncle selling curry paste at the market speaks better Hokkien than I do. Just simple things like that.

Ok the uncle/auntie sweep. So you've come back from overseas, this strapping young lad/lass with the world ahead of you, meeting uncle/auntie for the first time in ages. They would be your legit relatives, or parents' friends, church people etc. The uncle/auntie sweep is the half a second visual scan literally sizing you up, the next half second is them deciding whether you've put on weight or not (very important), and the next half second is them deciding whether to tell you what they think. I've been tossed between being to skinny and having added a few kilos - the latter is true; I've definitely fleshed out a bit since starting working and eating at odd hours. I don't really mind or care, but the uncle/auntie sweep is definitely a part of coming home.

(If anyone wants to loose weight fast, I can recommend the Malaysian House Officer Weight Loss Programme - it works! Main side effect: clinical depression.)

I'm 26 this year - where did my early 20s go? I have absolutely no idea. As my dad puts it, I'm no spring chicken anymore. (Gotta love stoic asian dads) At least I have a better idea of what I'd be looking for in a life partner (thanks WaitbutWhy) - if I ever get one. If not I suppose I can prop up my shrivelling ovaries by marathoning Free!

(Retrospectively published - post written during airport transit like 5 weeks ago)

Stay classy, KLIA2

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hello there. This is a quick shoutout to say I'm still alive, and well have not entirely abandoned this blog completely.

It's been nearly 3 months since I landed in Australia. I knew the settling in would take at least a few months - quarter of a year later I'm still thinking I need more time. I would have compiled a list of how different things are here (esp working as a doctor) compared to the UK, but that's a post for later, hopefully.

Right now I'm just trucking along, going through the motions and having a few short term plans in my head but not exactly mapped out my entire life yet. It can be disheartening sometimes watching peers make progress with their careers, getting engaged etc, when I'm still asking interns to teach me how to write scripts and spending my nights self learning Japanese alone. Sometimes I feel just pressured to have everything sorted out in my 20s - but somehow I know deep down as well, that's it's ok if I don't.

And that sits well with my soul.