Sunday, June 29, 2003

Sunday morning shift in the resus area, and already there've been quite a number of admissions, both to medical and surgical. All old fogies, with multiple comorbidities, and a variety of problems requiring further evaluation.

We've also got an old lady who speaks Cantonese, with the predominating complaint of "mushrooms in her butt" ( loosely translated :) ). Right now, she's just saying "dong gu" over and over again, which we find quite amusing. Only thing is, she also says her daughter has been ill-treating her, but it's anyone guess how accurate that account is, since she seems to be severely confused.

Speaking of mistreated patients, my night shift on Friday yielded 2 men who suddenly broke down and sobbed in front of me. One had been punched by his wife's friend after an argument, but told me he had a recent operation for a fractured leg, and has been getting bullied by his wife ever since. The other lives by himself despite having siblings, and was suffering from diabetes and peripheral neuropathy, which inevitably led to a pressure ulcer on the foot. So while he was in the toilet, he slipped and fell, hit the ulcerated area and bled profusely. By the time he arrived here, the bleeding had stopped, but a few hours of observation and analgesia later, he still wanted admission, for the main reason of not being able to care for himself. I tried persuading him otherwise, but he too started crying, so in view of his poor social support, my consultant advised admission. ( He was transferred to another hospital, where he was originally warded a week ago, so I managed to spare the upstairs people here an additional admission. :))

Things have slowed down a bit after lunch. ( Thank goodness! ) Just trying to figure out how I can study during my shifts, since it's been confirmed that the Part 2 will proceed locally end-September -- good news for me, but also additional stress because that leaves me with 3 months to prepare. Fortunately, the department I'm posted to is very enthusiastic about helping me, so that's been a welcome source of support ( and motivation to work hard ). I've been told a few times that they have a running tradition, where A&E trainees passing through during the Part 2 period have had 100% pass rates in the past. Errr, I shall try my best not to break that tradition, but please don't hate me if I do. :P

Here's my chance to thank Robin from Raleigh, North Carolina, once again for mailing me Clay Aiken's CD. She even wrote me some birthday greetings! It's an extremely nice gesture, and I appreciate it a lot. The songs sound great in my car, and although there're only 2 pieces -- Bridge Over Troubled Water and This Is The Night -- I've been playing them over and over and they still sound good. :)

Anyone getting just a little annoyed by a recent court case receiving way too much media coverage recently? Yes, I'm talking about the Slim 10 debacle, now being fought out in the legal arena between the victim and the distributors. Andrea de Cruz has been giving her testimonies for the past few days, crying and saying how her life was destroyed, etc. She also "collapsed" earlier this week during cross-examination by the defense lawyers ( a case of impeccable timing? ), and had her tortured face plastered on the front page of The Straits Times.

First of all, I don't know why that episode warranted a picture on Page 1 ( well, actually, if you're talking about The Straits Times, maybe I do :) ). But am I the only person trying to understand how Andrea, who appears at public events regularly and is also seen on television being perky and in the pink of health, can suddenly "turn bad" in court? I couldn't help drawing parallels with the character Winona Ryder played in "Autumn In New York" -- she was supposedly stricken with neuroblastoma that had infiltrated her heart, but was still able to sport rosy cheeks, and engage in marathon sex with Richard Gere ( I mean, he's probably good, but not that good! ). Thought that little bit of total crap existed only the movies, but here it is in real life. If anyone from Hollywood is watching, you've got your potential Best Actress Oscar contender right here in Singapore.

Just admitted another slew of patients. I don't think I've been able to discharge any today, so I apologize to those on call. SARS central may have opened its ER doors, but they're only taking walk-in cases at the moment, and the ambulances have been showing up at our doorstep non-stop. Hope the situation changes soon, so we can have a rest.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Was just informed by the Kinokuniya staff that the issue of Rolling Stone with Clay Aiken on the cover sold out after arriving today! Aaaaaaack! The next batch will arrive next Wednesday, but they don't take reservations, so it's a free-for-all. Guess I'm sabotaging myself with this revelation, but I know local Clay fans wanna know, so good luck everyone. :)

For those of you who don't actively follow the comments section, here's a transcript of what the sole responding "journalist" said of my comments on the local press ( I've decided to leave the grammatical errors intact :) ):

"reply to both, your sound so alike i thought you two the same person. anyway:

it's sad hw so many - in sheep-like fashion - trash the new paper when it's the only english paper willing to tackle the smut, willing to put real ppl on the cover, willing to be labelled trash for telling stories in a simple enough manner for real people, the man on the street.

and it's sad how so many straits times readers find st boring but as part of the establishment, would continue thinking it s'pore's best.

why? because you were told so.

you are criticising local papers' quality and yet you want more tabloids so "smut" can be published??

one of you wrote this: "Gritty, in your face, and quite possibly foolish... but you still have to admire them for being there and trying to get their story - and being aware of the consequences of their decisions, but nonetheless chasing down their "ideal"."

that's what every journalist does on every assignment. and you are belittling them for giving every assignment this due effort. or does a story has to be political for you to think it worthwhile?

sounds like your are the ones who believe in "the system".

another quote: "the climate seems very much to be 'hmm, maybe, but we're too scared, better safe than sorry'."

"seems" is an accurate term. if tt's what the situation seems like to you, well, you are entitled to your own perception.

again, you can explain why you did not accept the st interview but i wonder, why nt defend your opinion. the journos out there put their names to what they write, they are open to every abuse the public may feel like. they don't stay in the safety of the net or pseudonyms.

should a lawsuit occur over a TRUE story, we hv the responsibility to take the heat.

"if you're never going to practise journalism again, it wouldn't make a difference whether you reveal your source, no?"

i don't know if you specialise in anything but if you leave your job, are you going to tell on every patient's confidential detail/ embarassing secret?

if so, you are in the wrong job.

i hope you see the difference.

this is the last time i comment here.

btw, the new paper was the only local paper who sent their own team to iraq."

Note that the inverted commas for the term journalist are used only because this person claims to be one, but didn't provide his/her real name. It isn't meant to belittle his/her views in any way.

Points to ponder about "skye":

1) If you are a real reporter, you are quite obviously from The New Paper. :)
2) You are also very proud of your job, and defend it with heart and soul, a quality I admire. ( And please don't accuse me of sarcasm here, because I'm sincere. )
3) However, you need to repeat an English course -- my mother is happy to oblige with that task. :D
4) It's interesting how you assume ( something you told me and re-minisce NOT to do ) that I declined the interview with the ST out of fear. That is completely off the mark. Writing this blog and putting my real name to every single post I make should be sufficient proof that I stand by what I say. If only YOU would reveal your true identity and join the club.
5) It's also mind-boggling how you managed to extrapolate the scenario of journalists revealing their sources to that of doctors divulging their patients' medical information. We're bound by patient-doctor confidentiality, which is a legal issue. I haven't heard of journalists being thrown in jail or dragged into court over naming their sources. If you have, please let me know.
6) You have sadly decided to give up the good fight and stop commenting on my blog. I'm sorry you feel this way, because some of your perspectives were good eye-openers into the local journalism scene. I only wish you'd take a cue from your fellow colleague, Mr. Helmi Yusof from Life!, who once received a less than friendly email from me regarding his review of the film "Signs", but took it very graciously, and defended his own opinions in an articulate and unaggressive manner. He has my unwavering respect because of that, and is also a very generous and helpful person. We need more people like him in the press.

So we're back to square one. My invitation to journalists to respond to my questions has met with a vacuum of silence, which means if some of us continue to complain, there's no-one left to stand up for their "integrity".

Monday, June 23, 2003

Stumbled across another link to my site. Thanks for adding me to the list, guys! :)

Things are heating up on, so those of you with access, drop by the MaoMao Medly In Love threads for a big laugh. I'm telling you, some of my fellow doctor colleagues beat seasoned local journalists hands down in the writing department. And to think all this talent isn't being tapped to help improve the sad state of comedies and dramas in Singapore. :D

Clay fans, don't forget to set timers for The Oprah Winfrey Show at 1pm on cable's Channel 18 tomorrow. I'm not sure if this is the correct episode yet, but better to be safe than sorry.
Wasn't aware that our idol has hit No. 1 already on the local radio show! Are his CDs on sale yet? I've downloaded Bridge Over Troubled Water from the Rolling Stone website ( link available somewhere below ), and he sounds a lot better on the computer than he does on my car hi-fi. My mom loves the studio recording too. :)

And since it's Monday, let me recommend "Fear Factor" to you. It's on cable AXN Channel 19 at 8pm, and the reason I'm asking you to watch it is 'cos this season's eating-of-yucky-stuff segment is way over-the-top. If you think munching on buffalo scrotums and deer penises was bad enough, this time there're live giant earthworms and (blech!!!) slimy slugs. And watching the contestants chew on them is only half the torture. Just listen to them describe their experiences later and it's guaranteed to make you wince, if not feel like puking. But that's what makes the show fun, and sadistic voyeur that I am, I love it! :D

Has anyone started on Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix yet? Singhealth staff got a nice $10 discount, but my copy is currently being babysat by a friend who helped me collect it last Saturday, and he's only at Book 2 of the series. I'm not too worried about whether it'll be as good as its predecessors, and I get miffed when reviewers and other members of the media try to bring its author, J. K. Rowling, down with their predictions about her having writer's block, not being able to deliver the goods, and so on. I've been irreversibly hooked since the first installment, and was astonished to learn that Rowling wrote the novels during an extremely dark period of her life -- her husband had abandoned her and their infant daughter, she was on social welfare, and jobless most of the time. I can't imagine how she managed to create the Harry Potter series in the midst of all her pain and misery, but she did, and though she had no formal training as a writer, and though numerous publishers rejected her manuscripts, Bloomsbury finally picked it up and signed her on.

I admire Rowling as an excellent author, but her success story is also most inspiring, and she certainly deserves it. A recent article in Time magazine also illustrates how she still remains grounded and humble despite her fame and fortune. Estimated to be worth almost half a billion dollars, she candidly debunks this "myth", saying she's quite sure she doesn't have that much in her bank account. And whenever she's asked how she feels about being the top-selling writer of all time, she always tries to wave it aside, saying there was a predominating element of luck, and that she's just glad to be able to make ends meet doing what she loves most. She supports a number of charities, including one that helps single mothers with financial woes, and even rang a terminally ill Harry Potter fan to read to her over the phone. Instead of bathing in the glory of the paparazzi like some other high-profile writers, she treasures her privacy, and seldom gives interviews. She's my heroine!

Just saw another questionable NS man the other night. The computer screen indicated a complaint of back pain -- very common on Sundays, I notice -- and while I was waiting for him to enter the consultation room, I could hear his slippers as he approached. He was walking fast, and his gait sounded perfectly normal, but the minute he opened the door, he started limping really badly! Hello, if you want to pretend, at least do it with some level of competence so the doctor won't be so fed up. I mean, I try to be sympathetic to army guys -- my mother's friend's colleague's son tried to commit suicide because he couldn't handle the pressures of NS -- but this sort of thing just makes me less willing to help them out.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Thanks to all for your input regarding the "hypothetical problem". Just thought I'd post excerpts from an email I received from a reader -- and now new-found friend -- from Canada:

" This has to do with the culture of bureaucracy, which I suspect is the same in Singapore as in Vancouver. When someone's in charge of an organization ( whether it's a single department of a college, or a whole healthcare system), they resent public embarrassment-- mostly because it looks as if they're bowing to outside pressure rather than following policy, but also
because it looks as if their policies haven't been good ones. (Why else would the Chinese have been so stupid about SARS?)

A smart bureaucracy, however, tries to create a culture in which everyone feels free to complain at least within the organization. This helps to identify real problems and solutions, forestalling public embarrassment. If the troops are alienated and frustrated, they'll take it out on their bosses, even if it means some long-term harm to the organization.

A smart bureaucracy also maintains good media relations as a form of fire insurance. You're not a big fan of the Singapore media, I know, but the media in general are so used to being lied to that they automatically assume the worst when a scandal breaks. Even if you're telling them the truth, they think you're lying because they don't know you --so you're a target."

And here's an interesting article in The Globe And Mail, which dwells on the same topic.

First of all, I'm aware that the problem we're discussing isn't isolated to Singapore, or the type of organization in question. In pro-free-speech-and-asserting-your-rights America, 2002 saw 3 high-profile scandals involving Enron, WorldCom and the FBI, where 3 whistle-blowers ( all women, mind you ) exposed the corrupt inner workings of their departments. Although their memos were meant only for internal circulation, the press got their hands on them, and the 3 ladies became ( albeit reluctantly ) household names.

However, note also that judicial proceedings were immediately set in motion, and the guilty parties punished accordingly. Best of all, Time magazine subsequently put these 3 protagonists on the cover for People Of The Year 2002, and wrote glowing articles praising their immense courage and integrity.

Which brings me to the local situation...
Man, how many of you are shaking your heads here? :)

Okay, I don't have much respect for the local media. But I also try to understand their limitations, given the kind of "environment" they work in. But let's face it, if someone called them and provided a reliable tip on a scandal involving, say, the government, which they could verify, would they print it? Sure, many eons ago, there was a story on some "discounts" given to our top politicians during the purchase of some private property, but I was really young then, and didn't follow up on the outcome. Don't recall any major hoo-hah there. Not surprising.

So with regards to this "hypothetical dilemma" ( and if any reporters read this, perhaps he/she can answer on the media's behalf ):
1) If you have a source who knows the true story, and provides information for an expose, will you print the story? ( compulsory criterion being: it involves politicians )
2) If the article creates an uproar in the political arena, will the media cave and surrender this source to be devoured by the lions?

We can debate the role of journalism all we want, but ultimately, action always speaks louder than words, and this action is almost always directed against those who have little or no power to fight back -- ie. ordinary Singaporean citizens. My opinion is that the media's decision to run a story is mostly governed by its assessment of how powerful the people involved are. If it's a high-ranking official or someone who has wide-reaching connections or pots of money stored away for the explicit purpose of launching lawsuits against reporters, there is no doubt in my mind that no matter how newsworthy that story is, it will not be printed.

This is just my opinion, of course. Detractors are most welcome to dispute that.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Night shift yet again! Well, at least I'm not too tired at the moment. Took a while to get used to the funny hours initially, but I've developed a regimen of afternoon napping before starting this 11-hour marathon, so looks like it's working.

Has anyone heard Clay Aiken's studio recording of Bridge Over Troubled Water on local radio yet? I heard it for the first time last night on Power 98, and it was #3, while Ruben was either not on the chart or somewhere below that number ( I didn't hear the full show ). Strangely, a call to a couple of large CD shops in town revealed that the single hasn't even hit the shelves yet! So here we have Clay zooming up the countdown, before people can even buy the CD. Hmm, sounds a lot like what's been happening in the US lately -- ie. the unbelievable pre-sale orders on Wow!

However -- and I hope I don't get flamed to bits with this comment -- BOTW fell short of my expectations. After Clay's uplifting live rendition on the American Idol finals, this version pales in comparison. The most glaring flaw is the way the song was arranged. The choir is way too loud, drowning out Clay's own powerful voice. I don't know how many takes they had either, 'cos if they picked this one because they considered it the best, then I think they must've rushed through the recording. It's really sad, 'cos it's a rather unflattering reflection of Clay's abilities -- the uninitiated may think he's got weak vocals -- and I definitely expected better from Clive Davis, who after all, once managed Elvis Presley's career. Ruben Studdard's single, Flying Without Wings, on the other hand, was a lot less dramatic, and ironically, much better in terms of production. At least I can hear Ruben's voice loud and clear.

But you know me. Always a Clay fan. :) I'm gonna buy the CD regardless of its quality, basically because he's one of the few artistes whose voice I love so much that I couldn't care less what he sings. ( Others on this list include Josh Groban and Robbie Williams. ) But ultimately, we all know Clay's a fantastic singer, and his performances on American Idol serve him well in that respect, 'cos we know what he's capable of, and well, Clay fans are always enthusiastic about their idol. :D In any case, Robin the nice lady from Raleigh ( Clay's hometown ) will be mailing me his CD, and I will forward the favour by buying a few copies ( once they get here ) for my friends. I heard over the radio that Clay has chalked up 392,000 in sales since its release, beating Ruben by 107,000. Go, Clay! :)

Here's a shortcut to a customer review page on Amazon.
And this is from my favourite Clay Aiken website. Looking good! :D

And not forgetting... a video of the Rolling Stone photo shoot! Plus, a special spread with gorgeous photos to boot!

Excerpts from the Rolling Stone article can be found at this link. You may need to sign in to read it, but it's a pretty simple procedure.

And for those of you who'd like to download the BOTW single for free, you can do it here. Just click on the underlined WMA next to the picture. Somehow, it just sounds a lot better on the computer speakers than on the radio. Hmmmm...

Okay then, I'm done with that piece of news. Are you still with me? ;)

Just wanted to share a few thoughts on a serious issue, and see if any of you can contribute your views. The key words here being: Hypothetically speaking.

A works for a major organization, but ranks lower in the hierarchy due to his youth rather than any measure of incompetence. And like many of his counterparts, he takes his job seriously, and aspires to do the best he can for his customers.
However, this organization is also the kind that puts its seniors and juniors in close proximity for many different purposes. There were a few who garnered A's respect and admiration, but there were also others who made such glaring mistakes and compromised customer care that A was deeply disturbed by it.

Thus, A made the decision to voice his concerns in a public forum. His comments reached a large audience, and a number of its more luminary members even applauded his stand. Those who supported him hoped for a change for the better in terms of how the organization was run.

Unfortunately, A was called up by his superiors, who were not forewarned about his decision. Although they didn't sack or censure him, and even offered him a job in administration, they compelled him to reveal certain details, and "advised" him to inform them the next time he intended to make his complaints in public.

A few weeks later, B wrote to the same forum, this time making a much more impassioned speech about a gross injustice that was committed against a high-ranking member of his organization ( though technically different, it belonged to the same parent company ). Those in the know had already been outraged, and a few other seniors stepped down as well as a show of support for someone whom they respected, trusted and loved. It was widely speculated that their chief had been wronged, and B wanted the story out in the open so others would understand the true circumstances.

Those in charge of the forum were inclined to publish B's article. But after learning of A's experience, they were unsure of how the organization's top leaders would react, not to mention some government figures who were also involved in the incident. A lengthy discussion ensued, and a general concensus not to proceed with the publication was reached, though the decision was a reluctant one. Reasons cited include the danger of getting sued or sanctioned, as well as the sad but likely possibility that printing the article wouldn't result in any improvement or solution. With a heavy heart, the "chairman" of the forum informed B, and the piece never surfaced for public consumption.

C, who also sits on the committee of this forum, is understandably troubled. Though a relatively new and young member, he is grateful to have been involved in the decision process, and was moved by the comments from his fellow comittee members, who felt that, if conditions had been more favourable, B's article deserved to be and would have been printed. Sadly, they live in a country where people like B, as well as those who choose to allow his views to be aired, are considered by certain parties to be "dangerous" and potential "destabilizers of national security" and the like. Never mind that human beings have the basic right to voice their grievances and try to right a terrible wrong. Who cares if a respected and well-loved mentor gets screwed over? You just can't fight the powers that be, full-stop.

I don't think there's any way to get round this problem, but hypothetically speaking, it's a frustrating and demoralizing situation, and needed to be addressed.

Thanks for reading. Any input is appreciated.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

I spoke too soon when I posted earlier! The patient list suddenly exploded, and the resus area had a continuous influx of cases. It took us all till about 4am to clear everything. The other 2 guys I'm on night shift with got little sleep, but they were really nice to let me get about 2 hours of protected rest time. Just woke up, and my eyes are bloodshot, and the ER is freezing, but at least there don't seem to be many patients waiting around. Whew!

Yesterday should've been called Flu & Food Poisoning Day. One young lady was so dehydrated her kidneys were starting to shut down, so I admitted her. But there were many other much milder cases who still came to see us. Can't believe how some people can run to the hospital after puking once. A bit over-dramatic, don't you think?

Regarding an earlier question on my opinion of Gurmit Singh's SARS-vivor rap, I heard it last night, and laughed really hard. Not because it's dumb, mind you, but because it's extremely funny in a very good way. Whoever wrote the lyrics is pretty talented, but only Gurmit could've pulled it off. The only problem is the overtly Singlish / Ah Beng diction, which doesn't bode well for our youngsters' language skills.

Nearing 7am. One more hour to go before we officially finish the shift. :)

Monday, June 16, 2003

Those of you who are fellow Clay fans or interested in seeing the Rolling Stone cover can view it here. I think it looks terrific! :)

Am on night shift. Looking quite manageable at the moment, but I'm told all the isolation and fever ward beds are taken up, so it's gonna be tight. May post again later if I have the time.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

The ER was mad yesterday. MAD! Who would've thought that people would storm the A&E department on a Friday morning? It was just non-stop from 8am onwards, and even the registrars and consultants helped out in the consultation area. At the end of my shift, I was actually panting. There seems to be a major dengue outbreak going on, and I must've admitted at least 3-4 cases, with a couple of others which I decided to manage outpatient. Plus, I was a little concerned about a few patients who got pneumonia and shared a common travel history of recent trips to Johor Bahru. One such case had high spiking fever and chest X-ray changes, but completely normal white cell counts. Haven't heard anything about SARS here so far, so hopefully she's clear.

Just after lunch, there was an unexpected code blue for a jumper who landed in our ambulance bay. I wasn't in the resus room, but a nurse told me he didn't make it. Don't think I'm allowed to reveal further details on that, but it was a pretty sad story.

Ended my day with 2 gratifying cases. :) One was a pretty big finger laceration that I stitched up, and the other was a wound exploration for a foreign body lodged in this poor Thai worker's thumb. Some people may not think much of this, but I've never managed hand cases before, 'cos the last A&E department I was posted to a few years ago had its own hand surgery MOs. The FB case was really fun. The guy's company doctor even did an X-ray to confirm it, but referred him to us for further treatment. I just used a simple digital block, poked around a bit, and voila, got it out in under a minute. ( Digital blocks are my latest favourite procedures :D )

Today, I saw another big group of people with dengue. I think they're all staying in the Eastern part of Singapore, considering the hospital I'm currently working in, so be vigilant! And finally did my first successful reduction of a dislocated shoulder today, woohoo! I haven't seen that many to begin with, and with those that I attempted I used a method that really saps my energy ( ie. Kocher's manoeuvre ). Over here, there's the Spaso method, or if that fails, the Milch manoeuvre. The guy I attended to has one of the lowest pain thresholds ever, and I had to whack him with Entonox, IV Dormicum AND IV Pethidine before he'd even lie still. Good thing the joint popped right back in the first time round. And I didn't pass out from the traction either. :D Fantastic method, especially for small-built females like myself.

Just received word from the editorial assistant of the SMA News that Tania, the late Dr. Ong Hok Su's fiancee, will be featured in Sunday's edition of The New Paper. I may not be able to get my hands on a copy of it, so let me know what is says.

Last night's Amazing Race was quite exciting. I've already picked out 2 teams that I'd like to win -- Jon and Al, who are professional clowns, and Millie and Chuck, who have dated each other for 12 years and are still virgins (!). Millie is very plucky, yet plays a fair game, while Jon and Al are really kind and nice guys -- when Millie had an acute asthmatic attack and needed quite some time to recover, these 2 fellows stayed with her throughout the entire episode, instead of just grabbing their bags and running off like the rest. It's under such stressful circumstances that you see the true characters of people, and these two have got my support! The ones I detest are the married gays -- are gays all jerks, or just the ones on this particular show? Reichen and Chip make my stomach churn with their smart-aleck remarks and bullyish behaviour -- one of them shoved Millie during a mad dash for some horse-drawn carriages, what an ass! The first Amazing Race series also had a gay couple that everyone loved to hate. Must be a trend or something.

And finally, my thoughts on the pilot episode of The Bachelorette: Well, first of all , it's way superior to Joe Millionaire. Trista is very pretty, classy and intelligent, and the guys are of a decent calibre too. I already know the result, but I do have 2 favourites -- Ryan the firefighter, who also looks like David E. Kelley ( though my mom says he reminds her of Josh Hartnett! ), and Rob the ?writer, who reminds me of Brian the lead singer of Backstreet Boys ( albeit a much blonder one ). I'm more partial to Rob, 'cos he's just sooooo sweet and soft-spoken and sincere. But Ryan is also very likeable. Clue: One of them made it to the final 2. :)

Took me a whole 8-hour shift to finish this entry. Time to go home, and meet up with an old pal for dinner at The Tanglin Club. Will be on afternoon shift tomorrow. Bye!

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Clay's CD sales are still going strong at No. 1, woohoo! And now, as announced just a couple of days ago on The Oprah Winfrey Show, which featured Clay, Ruben and Justin Guarini ( the runner-up from the first American Idol ), Clay will be on the cover of the June 20th issue of Rolling Stone magazine!!!. The picture was shown on American TV as well, and people tell me Clay's wearing a black suit, and looks great. Rolling Stone photographers are famous for their original and glamourous shots of celebrities, so I'm calling my favourite bookstore to reserve a copy. Don't think any other American Idol finalist has received this honour before, so congratulations Clay!

And here's a review predicting huge success for Mr. Aiken from none other than Billboard. All right!

Also bumped into a lovely lady from the U.S., who managed to wrangle tickets to Oprah's show, and gave us a rundown of the experience, which was surreal, to say the least! During the commercial break, Clay went around giving hugs to fans in the audience! And this lady was one of the lucky recipients. :) And her exact words were, "Clay gives AWESOME hugs!" The reason she said that is because he gave her a big tight hug that lasted 6 seconds. Aaaaaawwwwww. :D
Anyway, there's a post on the Clay Aiken website here, though it's by another fan. Really funny. :)

The Oprah AI special was screened just 2 days ago, and Singapore cable tends to bring her shows over as soon as just 2 weeks later. Keep your eyes peeled for it, especially on Tuesdays. It comes on everyday at 1pm on Channel 18, with repeats the next day at 9am.

Caught the pilot episode of "Joe Millionaire" last night, and it is tacky beyond imagination. Commentaries are given by the butler (???), and Evan Marriott, who plays the supposed rich guy, is boring. Not to mention a little crazy to let himself be put in such a situation -- deceiving 20 women on international TV. But then, if he was smart, he wouldn't have agreed, though he did get half a million bucks for his efforts.
The only beauty in this show is in the form of the chateau, which is breath-taking and located in the French countryside. The women look ordinary, with some resembling trailer trash. But there's the Asian doctor, and a few pretty ones scattered around. Watch out for Heidi, the banker who's also a b***h. But ultimately, it's embarrassing to watch the women grovelling because they think Evan is worth $50 million, rather than because they sincerely love him for himself. It's a fascinating study of the dark side of human nature, if the guy doesn't put you to sleep first.

And of course, "The Bachelorette" debuts on local television tonight, with Trista the cheerleader being wooed by 25 hunky fellas, after being dumped by The Bachelor last year. ( Alex and Amanda broke up soon after, so Trista must be thanking her lucky stars. ) This will be interesting... Brings back memories of my junior college days, when my GP teacher said I'm "radical", after I said that if men can have more than one wife, women should be allowed to have more than one husband ( hopefully with the husbands supporting her :)). So I'm supporting Trista all the way here. Women doing the choosing and men sweating it out -- best idea anyone's had in a long while. :D

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

A new wave of Claymania should be in full swing right now in America, with the release of his debut singles - Bridge Over Troubled Water and This Is The Night - today. Pre-order sales have exceeded those of Ruben's own CD by 4 times, according to the New York Times, and with the new "Clay It Forward" movement started on (where else?) the Internet, Clay's position at the top will no doubt be cemented for many months to come.

Yep, Clay It Forward is modelled after the novel/film "Pay It Forward", which had Haley Joel Osment as a young boy with an ambitious mission to create a domino effect of good deeds across the country and the world. With Clay It Forward, Clayfans are buying his CDs in multiple copies, and giving them away to others who haven't discovered him yet. It's a great concept, and I'll very likely adopt it myself when the albums get here. But more importantly, I hope this will evolve into a full-fledged effort, in the form of perhaps a charity foundation. Interested parties can go to this website's forum for more details.

Just downloaded a bunch of priceless demos of Clay's, pre-American Idol. You can get them here. So far, I've listened to My Girl, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me and Dream Lover. The second's my favourite, and although the background music is cheesy beyond imagination (think of bad karaoke), Clay manages to rise above it with his amazing vocals. He also sounds remarkably young here, though not without his trademark power. A real treat!

And I can finally pick out the best birthday present I got this year -- a Clay Aiken CD, burned for me by a fantastic lady from Florida, containing MP3s of all his American Idol performances, plus the inspirational piece "Go The Distance" and the ballad "On The Wings Of Love". This is the sort of generosity Clay's capable of inducing. Isn't it great? :)

Finally, let me strongly recommend to you "Finding Nemo", which I caught yesterday after my night shift. The Lido cinema was packed, and the crowd intelligent, so all the witty jokes were duly appreciated. Even the kids were pretty quiet.

From the creators of "Toy Story" and "Monsters, Inc.", their latest offering has surpassed all its predecessors, not just in terms of ingenious script, but also in animation artistry. Reviews have been unanimously excellent, and for good reason. The colours are gorgeous, the characters possess more personality than some humans I know, and the humour -- absolutely delicious! Insider movie jokes abound, with scenes from "Psycho" and "The Shining". The action never stops, so watch out for the sharks, whales, jellyfish, sea turtles, pelicans and really scary seagulls.

But ultimately, it's the characters that make this movie extremely enjoyable. Nemo is adorable, Albert Brooks does a fine job voicing Marlin ( think of Beau Bridges or Winnie The Pooh ), and Ellen DeGeneres is a hoot as Dory, the blue fish with short-term memory loss so severe she should be in the sequel to "Memento". My other favourite is Crush the sea turtle, with his surfer slang -- "Hey dude, not on the shell okay? Just waxed it." -- and suitably spaced-out facial expressions. Keanu Reeves, eat your heart out!

This film had me laughing my guts out, but don't be late, 'cos there's a short piece just before the show starts, which was made in 1989 by the then-unknown Pixar team. Makes you wonder why they didn't get discovered much earlier ( "Toy Story" was released only in 1995 ). But then, better late than never. :)

Monday, June 09, 2003

3am Monday morning, and it's like the calm before the storm. Ssshhhh, mustn't speak too soon. :) There was a spurt of activity earlier, and as expected, loads of NS boys came with complaints of pain here and pain there. There was also a significant number of assault cases, with people getting beaten up by unknown assailants. Heck, just last night, I saw a poor guy who was slashed on the face by some knife-wielding crazies on a rampage, and had a 15cm gash across his right cheek. The paramedics thought his teeth were exposed at first, but a closer check revealed that the cut hadn't gone through and through after all. He was warded for repair under GA, but is going to have to live with a big scar. This occurred in the Pasir Ris area, so be careful if you're there during the weekend.

Saw a couple of other strange cases as well. There was a lady in her early 20s, whose boyfriend ( who may or may not be married ) is in his late 40s. When she first saw me, she was alone, and had made a police report after being assaulted by this boyfriend. He punched, slapped and kicked her, and she looked really dejected. After discharging her, a couple of hours later, I saw her attacker for a totally unrelated complaint -- he fell off his buggy during a round of golf and hit his chest. The only reason I made the connection between the two of them is because the woman accompanied him into the room, and I recognized her. They were holding hands, so I guess they made up. *scratching my head*

Then there's the other lady, who's in her late 30s, and whose husband stepped on her chest while she was sleeping in bed, after an argument earlier that night. I felt really sorry for this patient, and she was trying hard not to cry. I just don't understand how some men can be so violent. Who knows, he may even get away with it, 'cos she hadn't made a police report when we saw her.

And last but not least, my shift yesterday ended with a case of severe pneumonia in a middle-aged man, who returned from Chicago a week ago and has since been having fever and breathlessness. He has no direct contact with anyone with SARS, but then, he stopped over in Frankfurt for 14 hours during transit, and who knows who else was there -- I have no idea how stringent the temperature checks in Frankfurt are. His white cell count was only marginally elevated, and he was subsequently admitted to an isolation room. I haven't had the chance to find out what happened to him as yet, but I admit I couldn't really sleep last night 'cos I was wondering if he could have atypical pneumonia. I didn't have to intubate him, but then, I've already tubed 2 patients in the ER in the past week, one of whom also had pneumonia. I had the space suit on, of course, but blame it on paranoia -- I'm still scared, darn it!

Just admitted yet another pneumonia with a totally normal blood count. There seem to be a lot of these floating around. Or maybe they just gravitate towards me. Oh well, just have to wash my hands as often as possible, and hope my mask fits tight -- it still fogs up on and off, and is wreaking havoc with my breathing, but anything beats gearing up in the C class wards.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

The latest issue of the SMA News is refreshingly candid. Two junior doctors -- one a medical officer, the other a registrar -- offer their insights on the current healthcare system, proposing changes that will benefit those of us who are still in government practice ( especially people on the lower rungs of the hierarchy ).
The articles are "SARS And Shorvon" and "Taking Care Of Ourselves", and I really applaud the authors for taking a stand on our behalf, voicing concerns about issues that many of us discuss among ourselves, but never really bring to the administration's attention.

Dr. Tan Wah Tze, who's currently with the National Healthcare Group ( aka the Western cluster ), and who is a year my senior, was the more vocal of the two, and his frank opinions have already garnered praise from 2 senior consultants, who feedbacked to us and fully agreed with his views. I only hope the authorities involved will use this information to effect the necessary changes, rather than call the author(s) up for "an interview", with no resulting alteration in hospital policies.

And of course, I second another doctor's letter to the SMA News, requesting that part of the Courage Fund -- set up primarily to provide financial relief to healthcare workers affected by SARS -- be used instead to help increase manpower in institutions that are shorthanded. Tributes are appreciated, but what we all sorely need right now is more medical personnel.

And speaking of tributes, I heard over the radio that there's going to be a major celebration in town tomorrow afternoon -- 2 to 6pm at The Heeren -- complete with "balloons, games" and who knows what else. Wonder how much that cost, and whether they used the Courage Fund for it?

Friday, June 06, 2003

Whoa, didn't realize I haven't posted in 3 days -- again. Where does the time go?!

Well, thanks to everyone who posted their philosophies on love, and life. I enjoyed reading them, and although some of it applies to my own experiences, most of it doesn't. Maybe I'm just one of those who don't really belong in any category, or perhaps my life is just really messed up. :P In any case, my birthday has come and gone, and though there weren't any fireworks or hard partying, I must say it's one of my happiest. I'm a step closer to taking my Part 2 exams; I've got a nice winter holiday coming up on the side, with the prospect of meeting some old friends; I've also made a lot of other new friends in the past year, both local and foreign ( a number of whom are from the Clay Aiken chat room :D ), my mom's doing really well after her surgery, and I've never enjoyed writing more than in the past 3 months. Plus, getting baptized is the best thing that ever happened to me, and the people who helped me rediscover my faith know who they are, so thank you!

Anyway, on to a less self-absorbed topic. :)

Was meaning to post on "True Courage" a few days ago, but I didn't get the opportunity till now. If you're not Singaporean, or don't watch local TV much, this is a new 4-part series on real-life stories revolving around the SARS outbreak in our country, and is shown on Channel 5 every Tuesday night at 8:30pm -- clashing with Whose Line Is It Anyway? on cable, but I decided to tune in out of curiosity.
Brought to us by the same people behind "True Files" ( a less-than-gripping series on some of the more infamous crimes / criminals in Singapore ), "True Courage" is actually not too bad. The first episode dwelled on the index case cum super-spreader ( notice how they tactfully changed the tag, which was originally "super-infector", thanks to the insensitive media ), and the later half of the programme featured the life of Dr. Alexandre Chao, with a very heartwrenching appearance by his widow, Dr. Koh Woon Puay.

The acting was below-par, but I never expect anything good from locals, so the main draw for me was definitely the storylines. Sometimes, what you read from the papers or hear from others in the know can never quite compare to watching it depicted on TV, and the super-spreader's ordeal is indeed a very tragic one. However, I'm not sure how long it will take all of us to get over Dr. Chao's death. It seems every time there's another article or interview about him, we find out something new to admire or appreciate, making his passing additionally painful.

My main complaint is, of course, the accuracy of their portrayals of patients in the ICU setting. Call me obsessive, but it really doesn't take much effort to make a scene more believable. For example, who defibrillates a patient without defibrillator pads anyhow? And why weren't any of these "critically ill" cases "intubated" ( which is the norm for any ICU )? Heck, they weren't even on oxygen! The show's producers may think this isn't important, but I find it annoying and laughable. If you want to make it a respectable programme, at least pay some attention to details. The reason I love "Chicago Hope" and "ER" so much is because they really go all out to simluate actual conditions in the hospitals, with real doctors acting as behind-the-scenes consultants. Surely the producers of "True Courage" will be able to find some willing medical professionals who can better advise them on their show, or do they just not care anymore?

Did everyone get their copy of an article from The Globe and Mail recently, on the new SARS epidemic in Toronto? Here's a piece where reporters' comments are scathing, and most obvious in the screaming headline: "New SARS outbreak linked to lax precautions". Makes me thankful for once that the Singapore media isn't given such freedom to criticize, especially when high-ranking politicians are at the helm. :)

The ER remains a heady mix. Just the other night, I saw a drunkard who has a possible history of some psychiatric illness. He was pushed straight into resus after being dropped off by a taxi-driver who found him unconscious, and appeared to be throwing a fit when he first came in -- twirling his head, almost falling off the wheelchair. However, after a few of us tiny females hauled him onto the trolley bed, he suddenly became fully lucid, and whipped out his handphone to call the police, claiming that we're ill-treating him! We were all so dumbstruck we just stood there and gawked at him. Then later, a nurse called in the police post officers, who couldn't pacify him, so he just got off the bed and walked out of the ER. But wait, less than a half hour later, he was back, and this time, one of my other colleagues on night shift got saddled with him ( poor thing! ). For some strange reason, the man was more willing to stay for investigation and treatment this time round, though he was still quite a handful. Glad I didn't have to see him again.

Last night, I had my first case of a child with a scalp laceration, and stitching her up was no easy task. She's a really sweet little girl, and was very compliant with my examination and going through X-rays. But like all kids, the operating theatre freaked her out, and even with her father standing by, she kept screaming and crying and struggling. Man, children nowadays are really strong! Must be all the good food they're getting! Took me 10 minutes to get her to settle down, but the suturing took less than 5, and I was outta there as soon as I could, 'cos I had some more patients waiting. It was rather fun though. I'm not partial to kids in general, but sweet-talking them once in a while is okay. :D

Will be on afternoon again today in the resus area. Hoping for a quiet time, 'cos the hospital keeps running short of beds. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

It's 3am on a Tuesday morning in the ER. I'm currently in the resuscitation room, acting as babysitter, haha! After a spurt of activity earlier at around midnight, with 2 standby cases -- I took the collapsed one -- things have quietened down, and hopefully it'll stay this way till 8am, when the night shift ends.

Witnessed the reduction of a dislocated shoulder yesterday, which is nothing novel, except that it was done without any analgesia whatsoever. Yes! Believe it! The reg in charge relied on what she called "verbal anaesthesia", and I was awestruck! Haven't tried it out for myself, so I'm waiting for the opportunity. Need lots of patience though, and it takes a little bit longer to get the patient to relax sufficiently. It's kinda like hypnotherapy. Really cool.

Here's another nice link for Clay Aiken fans. Looks like he's surpassed Ruben in leaps and bounds. And even today, people in the chat complain about not being able to get through the phone lines during the finals. Well, I don't think it matters anymore. Judging from the response, we all know who the real winner is. :)

I've got the rest of the day off after the shift ends, plus an additional free day tomorrow, yay! Will be using it to spend some time in town and avoid the weekend crowds, especially since The Great Singapore Sale is now in full swing. Orchard Road was swamped with people just last Saturday, and I got a gigantic headache finding a parking lot.
But I'm not a clothes horse, and will be in the city for more practical purposes -- ie. to buy a pair of hardy sneakers, mostly for my posting. Figured these'll give me better traction so I don't slip during an M+R, or if I have to run for whatever reason, and of course, to a prevent my feet from getting splattered by bodily fluids.

But wait, my birthday's also coming up. I'm on afternoon shift on the day itself, but at least I've got Wednesday to enjoy myself. :D I don't believe in big celebrations, and usually just have a quiet dinner or two with family and close friends, and this year will not be any different. Turning 28, and guess what? This is the age I set for myself as the limit for getting married and having kids, 'cos there is no way I'm going to accept the risks associated with pregnancies after 30. And besides, with the way my love life has been progressing ( or regressing rather :) ), I'm a little disillusioned. Haven't met anyone who can restore my faith in relationships yet, but I'd sure love some friendly advice!

Just heard from a nursing officer that female beds are completely filled up at the moment, with cases being transferred to another hospital for admission. Sigh. I do not envy you guys in the wards! But we're trying really hard to manage everyone in observation or as outpatients in general. I've only admitted one case so far, so that's not too bad, right? ;)

Well, gonna catch up on some reading. 5 more hours to go.