Thursday, August 28, 2003

As of this morning, there was word from Clay's mom that he's feeling much better, though he's still on treatment for sinusitis. It's great news, and hopefully, with the American Idol tour coming to an end this Sunday, he'll be able to rest up before taking on further commitments. :)

By the way, there's an excellent link to Clay videos, audio clips and photos. I finally managed to view his Raleigh performance of This Is The Night. They're not joking when they tell you to "grab some Kleenex"! Make sure you also click on the "Invisible" performance from St. Louis. It takes forever to download, and you can't save it to your hard disk, but it's worth the wait!

And speaking of Clay, I dropped by Best Of Books at Great World City today, and found a pewter coin engraved with the words "What Would Jesus Do". Claymates all know this phrase is present on his bracelet, which he wears without fail, so if you want to buy the coin version ( the store doesn't sell bracelets ), this is the place to get it.

Seems I made a mistake when I said The Guardian screens on Wednesday nights. It's actually on Thursdays -- ie. tonight. Blame it on my funny shifts. Once, a nurse said it was Sunday when it was actually Tuesday. But considering the fact that their hours are a lot longer than ours ( 12 hours, without exception ), this slip doesn't surprise me!

I've only got 3 days of leave left! Ack! Time passes quickly when you're working, but it goes by even faster when you're trying to relax. At least I got most of my errands done, and had the chance to watch "S.W.A.T." this afternoon. Here's my review.

Some spoilers included, so take note!

They all say it's a movie remake of the successful TV show, but I've never seen the small screen version, so I can't make any comparisons. All I can say is, I really enjoyed the film, and it's money well-spent. ( I didn't have to pay, though, since I used movie vouchers redeemed from my credit card company. :) )

The basic storyline is simple: SWAT guru ( Samuel L. Jackson ) assembles an elite team of young police officers to wage battles on the streets of LA. Throw in an international terrorist type character ( Olivier Martinez, aka Kylie Minogue's newest beau ), lots of car chases, shootings and explosions, and you've got 2 easy hours to fill.

Thankfully, SWAT also manages to keep you interested through its impressive star power. Jackson isn't a favourite of mine, but you can't really imagine anyone else in his shoes either. After some over-the-top performances in past films ( e.g. The Negotiator ), he turns low-key in this one, letting his juniors take centrestage while maintaining a constant, comforting presence. You just know that, no matter what happens, he'll step in to save the day.

The supporting players are well-cast, especially Michelle Rodriguez, whose strong resemblance to the beautiful and kick-butt Jennifer Lopez was pointed out in the script when someone nicknamed her "J. Lo". Boasting a physique as toned as Angelina Jolie's, offset by an almost angelic face (not to mention exquisite complexion ), she's believable as a no-nonsense SWAT officer and a loving mom. Here's a force to be reckoned with.

Colin Farrell, Hollywood's "it" boy for this year, doesn't disappoint. I predicted great things for him after watching his performance in "Minority Report", and he's made the right choices in his career since then. He's good-looking, fit, well-suited to action roles, and sensible enough not to overact like some of his counterparts. He's no Kevin Spacey, but hey, he still has plenty of time left for Oscar-baiting later in life.

The guy I was most looking forward to seeing, however, is Josh Charles. Josh who? Well, if you're as big a fan of Dead Poets Society as I am, you will recognize him as the fine young actor who played lovelorn preppie Knox Overstreet in that Peter Weir classic. Back then, he was soft and cuddly at best, but in my opinion, his sweet portrayal stole the show from protagonists Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard. As you can imagine, I was delighted to see him buffed up for his role as T.J., looking tan and healthy, and getting the opportunity to flex his acting muscles as well, thanks to a nice plot twist in which he plays an integral part. I've always loved seeing favourite actors from my childhood / teenhood years grow into thud-worthy specimens of masculinity. :D Other examples include:
Chris O'Donnell -- from Scent Of A Woman to Vertical Limit
Ben Affleck -- from School Ties to Armageddon and everything following that
Matt Damon-- from The Rainmaker to The Bourne Identity
John Cusack -- from Say Anything to Con Air
Add Josh Charles to that list!

The next movie I'm going to catch will be "Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl". It looks spectacular, and has Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in it. Need I say more? ;)

72 hours left till Monday. Sigh.......

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

If you're still thinking about whether to attend Michael Buble's concert, perish the thought, especially if you want good seats. As of 10:15 this morning -- ie. 15 minutes after SISTIC opened its ticket sales for the show -- aisle seats were available only from the 8th row onwards. By now, I predict at least 80% of the tickets would've been snapped up. But if you're still game to hear him, then what are you waiting for?!

Sad News About Clay Aiken

The message boards have been going crazy since word got out that Clay's got some serious allergy problems and had to go the hospital for treatment. Seems he ate something containing an ingredient that doesn't agree with him, requiring some allergy shots which later made him feel really terrible. Amazingly, he still performed at that night's concert, though visibly fatigued and not speaking or dancing as much. He left immediately after that, missing the meet-and-greet sessions, and causing many Claymates to worry about his overall health.
I've had allergy shots before, and it knocked me out completely for 2 solid hours. I ate some peanut candy from China, which gave me terrible periorbital swelling and rashes. After the shot, I couldn't even stand up straight! Can you imagine Clay with 25mg of promethazine in his system, fighting drowsiness and all the exhaustion resulting from the gruelling American Idol tour these past 2 months, trying to get through another high-energy concert? I'm surprised he even showed up at all.
Interestingly, I noticed that some fans earlier mistook Clay's allergy problems for arrogance, complaining that he isn't as friendly now because of his new-found fame, etc. How wrong they were.

Clay, millions are praying for your speedy recovery. Have a good rest and get well soon. :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

It's my 2nd day of annual leave, and boy does it feel good. :) Spent yesterday morning at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which was fantastic, thanks to unbelievably good weather. Seems the "Ricky Martin" orchid hasn't been placed in the VIP section of the orchid garden yet. How disappointing! Who wants to see the Margaret Thatcher / Queen Elizabeth / Princess Diana / Princess Masako / Benazir Bhutto orchids when there's a Ricky Martin sitting around somewhere?! (Just kidding, of course. :))

Anyway, my mom's in on the Clay package, and since I was looking for something with a Singaporean motif, the Gardens was a good place to start. I've got the shirt safely tucked away at home -- it's a really nice one -- but the process itself was a little surreal in retrospect.

Me: Is this the large size?
Saleslady: Yes it is.
Me: Is it okay for someone who's a 6-footer?
Saleslady: It should be okay.
My mom: But he's rather skinny. It might be too big for him.
Saleslady: Oh, is he thin?
Me: A bit, yeah.
Saleslady: Then medium would fit him better.

All this while, of course, we don't once mention Clay's name. Imagine telling the saleslady ( who's extremely nice and accomodating ), "Do you think this is the right size for Clay Aiken?" "You mean someone Clay Aiken's size?" "No, I mean Clay Aiken himself!" You get the picture. :)

Doing my part here to help spread the word about a possible Clay CD release party in Singapore sometime in October. Yes, you read correctly. This is the brainchild of an unbelievably resourceful young Claymate ( she's 12 years old ), and we're trying to let as many fans know so we can give her some rough figures to feed back to the record company. Watch this blog for more details in the future.

Anyway, here's a great link to some Clay audio interviews. The first one with Matt and Ramona had me in stitches -- they talk about Clay's shirt "tugs", which later became "yanks", and drove his female fans into a "frenzy". Good stuff! :D

Michael Buble is coming to town! When I saw the news in the papers today, I almost gave my mom a heart attack with my exclamation of "Oh my GOD!" -- she thought our neighbour's dog finally got into our garden and trampled all her flowers or something. Anyway, this jazz singing sensation will perform for 1 night only on September 15th at the SUNTEC Auditorium. It's a horrible place, in my opinion, but considering the rather last-minute arrangement, I think that was the only venue available on such short notice. Tickets go on sale tomorrow. Good thing I'm free, 'cos I'm going to get there early to reserve front-row centre seats! If you're wondering why I'm so excited, all you have to do is listen to "The Way You Look Tonight" from Buble's album. I tell you, if I ever meet a guy who sings like that to me, I'll marry him for sure. ;)

Belated review of Jake Simpson's CD.
This was very kindly sent to me by Jake's publicist, Cheryl, from the William Morris agency ( Thank you so much! ), and since I haven't seen his album anywhere in local stores so far, you can find out more about this remarkably talented young man here. He many not have received as much attention as, for example, Ruben Studdard or Clay Aiken, since he appeared on Star Search rather than the widely watched American Idol, but he's got a powerhouse voice and a personality that would've rivalled the Idols' for sure.

The CD features the 3 songs Jake performed on Star Search, so that's a huge treat. His covers of Stevie Wonder's Isn't She Lovely and Signed, Sealed Delivered I'm Yours are awesome. He sounds so much like Wonder himself it's eerily uncanny. And if you caught him on TV during the live versions, you'll realize how much stage presence he possesses. The other Star Search piece, What's Going On, is also nicely done. I've always liked this song, so I love listening to it over and over again.

The remaining songs are all admirable efforts -- a mixture of pop, rock and roll -- but I enjoy them mainly because Jake varies his tone in each one. He really has a beautiful voice, and my personal favourite in this album, Have A Little Faith, is a lovely, romantic song reminiscent of Kenny Loggins' For The First Time ( from the soundtrack of One Fine Day ). He's got an amazing vocal range, which you will hear on Signed, Sealed, Delivered, and Cheryl tells me he's got more albums coming up, so I'm looking forward to that. Let's hope they'll come to Singapore in the future. :)

I've finished the Dave Barry book -- much appreciation to Mark for lending it to me! :D My mom's taken it for the time being 'cos she wants to know why I've been laughing so much this past week, but I've grabbed it back for a few moments to quote some good parts. Believe me, if you want to read something that's guaranteed to lift your mood or make someone who's sad a lot happier, this will make an ideal present. It's called Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need. Just make sure you're not wearing anything tight!

( I'll split the quotes into different parts for different days, 'cos there're so many good ones and I don't want to use them all up in a single day. :))

From the chapter on Air Travel:

"Turbulence".This is what pilots announce that you have encountered when your plane strikes an object in midair. You'll be flying along, and there will be an enormous, shuddering WHUMP, and clearly the plane has rammed into an airborne object at least the size of a water buffalo, and the pilot will say, "Folks, we're encountering a little turbulence." Meanwhile they're up there in the cockpit trying desperately to clean water-buffalo organs off the windshield.

The Baggage Carousel, where passengers traditionally gather at the end of a flight to spend several relaxing hours watching the arrival of luggage from some other flight, which comes randomly spurting out of a mysterious troll-infested tunnel that is apparently connected to another airport, possibly in a different dimension.

The baby in the seat behind you whose parents are obviously poking it with hat pins because there is no other way that a child could shriek that loudly all the way from New York to Los Angeles.

The barf bag . Early barf bags were large canvas sacks: a severely airsick passenger would be placed inside, and the bag would then be sealed up and, in and act of aviation mercy, shoved out the cargo door at 12,000 feet. Today's passenger doesn't get that kind of personalized service, and must place a small bag over his nose and mouth in hopes of cutting off his oxygen supply.

Time for me to watch Six Feet Under -- is it my imagination, or is this show getting unnecessarily racier with each episode? The more important thing is, The Guardian is back on local TV, screening at 8:30pm every Wednesday on Channel i. Simon Baker is doing good work, but I hope the script will stay interesting.

Before I say goodnight, here's another good quote from the latest episode of "ER":

"Some are good days. Enjoy them when they come." -- Kerry Weaver, ER attending.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Saturday 3pm. The morning shift sucked! Big time! Seems everyone in the eastern part of Singapore made a unanimous decision to swamp our ER today, and I somehow got all the complicated cases -- either pretty sick, or requiring some sort of procedure -- a bizarre wrist fracture in a kid for which we need a manipulation and reduction, a lady with severe suppurative otitis media needing suction and wick insertion, foreign bodies in the eye, a few lacerations that needed stitching. I ran around so much I was starving an hour before my lunch break.
Right now, the pace has slackened, and I'm just crossing my fingers that it won't increase anymore -- at least until I've left the building! :) It was pretty exciting though. Gotta love the variety.

Guess what? There are lots of Clay Aiken fans in this hospital. Wards, clinics, the ER, they're everywhere! I've already gotten a number of group photos, and can't wait to see how they turn out. Sadly, some of my colleagues weren't aware of the Rolling Stone magazine with Clay on the cover. That was a really glamourous shot, so I've got them posing with the mag in the picture. At least 3 different sisters ( ie. senior nursing officers ) sound just like me -- "Oh, I love Clay! He's so talented! And when he sang Bridge Over Troubled Water, I melted!" or something to that effect. Hey, I know exactly what you mean! :D

Interesting conversation to relate from the other day. I saw this young man with a history of schizophrenia and recurrent arrests for glue sniffing ( apparently, I saw him the last time he got nabbed as well -- the police have a policy of sending these guys to the hospital for blood-taking for inhalant abuse ). Here's what went on during the 5 agonizing minutes he was in my consultation room. ( translated from Mandarin )

Him: Hey, it's you again!
Me: ( looking up ) ???
Him: You saw me the last time I was here, remember?
Me: Is it?
Him: I'm 100% sure of it! ( seems to be high on something )
Me: ( checking the computer records ) Oh yes, you're right.
Him: ( jumping up and down in his seat ) See? I told you! ( laughs gleefully )
Me: ( ignoring him ) Okay then, I understand you were arrested again for glue sniffing.
Him: Eh, it wasn't me, okay? It was my friend. I got framed.
Me: We need to take some blood again. Like the last time.
Him: ( looks mortified ) Hah? But you took so much blood the last time I almost fainted! Are you going to take that much again? ( the tube's capacity is a measly 4 mls )
Me: It isn't much what. Give me your arm.
Him: Please be gentle hor.
Me: ( silence )
Him: Ouch. ( watched syringe fill up with blood ) You're actually quite pretty, eh. Can you remove your mask so I can see your face?
Me: No.
Him: C'mon, don't be shy. Just for a short while?
Me: We're not supposed to remove our masks. Hospital policy.
Him: Don't worry. I won't tell anyone! ( all the while, we're surrounded by 3 police officers, who don't do a thing to shut this guy up )
Me: ( stony silence )
Him: ( watching me as I write on some forms ) Your hands are really small.
Me: Mm-hmm.

From this point on, I can't recall much of what transpired. I just got him out of my room as soon as I could. No thanks to the police! Never imagined this N95 mask would come in useful in non-SARS-related encounters.

The Jake Simpson CD and Dave Barry book reviews have to wait. Having another wave of patients. Till next time, wish me luck. ( 2 days left till my 1-week break, YES!)

Note: This isn't meant to scare you off, but I notice that the reader with the email domain of has dropped by yet again. May I make a small request again for you to email me? Would greatly appreciate it! ( )

Thursday, August 21, 2003

An hour to go before my afternoon shift ends officially at 12 midnight. And I'm on morning shift tomorrow!? You know how it is when you get home after covering the ER -- you CANNOT sleep, at least for 30 minutes or so. So I'll probably be up like an owl till 1am, before having to wake up before 7 tomorrow. Sigh.

Am also having a mysterious toothache. Wisdom tooth causing some of it, but most of the pain is from an upper molar. It's one of those mild throbs that don't really cause much problem when you eat, but constantly nags at you like a pesky mosquito. I just hope it goes away by itself. Had this a couple of times before, and the dentist said nothing was wrong. Some nerve problem, perhaps? Ouch...

Anyhow, just thought I'd post this, though I hope my inbox won't get swamped! I've also written on the forum at, with responses from quite a few people, one of whom is in my hospital! Here is the gist of it:

I will be mailing a package over to Clay's home in a couple of weeks' time. It will include gifts for him and his mom, and these will be representative of Singapore. I'm looking for something they can wear, so that if it shows up on TV or in some publicity shot, we'll have confirmation that they got the presents.

Also, I'm collecting greetings from any well-wishers here, in the form of short cards or letters. I would also like to put in photos of the fans. These will, of course, have to come from you guys, but I strongly suggest you grab any fellow Clay fans you know of and take group shots. Be sure to pose with Clay CDs or pictures ( e.g. the Rolling Stone magazine ), or any other Clay paraphernalia you may have.

Due to postage concerns, I can only take 1 card / letter, plus 1-2 photos per person. You can send more if you want, but if the parcel gets too bulky, I'll have to be more discerning.

I will include a birthday card ( a little early, I know, but there's going to be a huge rush nearer the day itself, so I'm trying to avoid that ), signing the names / board nicknames of all the fans who send their wishes.

This package will be relayed to Clay's home in Raleigh, care of a very, very nice lady who lives in the same area, and who knows Clay's friends from the YMCA. She's helped me forward my emails before -- remember the interviews where Clay and his mom mentioned fan mail from Singapore? :D

Some of the respondents who've contacted me want to send cheques to the newly set up Bubel-Aiken Foundation. I will gladly forward these as well.

My email address is, if you don't already know! Inform me early if you want to join in, so I'll keep you updated and wait for your additions before I finally mail the gifts.

Will post a review of Jake Simpson's CD ( he's the guy who won the Star Search competition in February this year ), and talk about a HILARIOUS Dave Barry book a fellow ER MO lent me ( I haven't laughed this hard over a book in eons! ) some other time, when I'm not so busy ( in resus again today -- a steady stream so far ).

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

6am Wednesday morning. Yes, it's another night shift, people! By some freak toss of the dice, I'm doing 2 nights in a row, which is wreaking havoc on my sleep cycle. The upside to all this is: 2 night shifts in 4 days = 22 hours of work, as opposed to 4 days of day shifts = 32 hours of work. But factor in all the extra snoozing to recover and return to a normal human existence, and it works out to be about the same thing. Sigh.

Met another emergency medicine trainee the other night. He's into his 2nd year of traineeship, and taking his Part 1 in a couple of months, but already having second thoughts about continuing in this specialty. Seems a number of my seniors backed out just before their Part 2's, for a variety of reasons. However, the way he puts it, it sounds as if those who left did so mainly because they were disillusioned. Not too sure what they were expecting when they first joined, but they obviously didn't get the fulfillment they were hoping for. Hope they're happy where they are now.

This same trainee asked me a simple question which many others in numerous departments I've rotated through have also thrown at me at some point. Heck, this goes back all the way to the traineeship interview!
"Why do you want to do emergency medicine?"
Other related important questions include: Will you be satisfied with this 10 years down the road, when you're only able to make diagnoses, but are not involved with continuity of care? Do you want to stay in the hospital for the rest of your life, not being able to leave for private practice if you feel like doing so? Do you seriously think you'll still enjoy this when you're a consultant, burning your weekends doing night shifts?

Frankly speaking, I've been hit by the disillusion bug already. This happened about a month ago, when I was all geared up to prepare for the local Part 2 in late September. I'd just joined the A&E department after a way-too-long internal med posting combined with the added stress of SARS, and hadn't had any time to breathe before having to endure the new stress of exam revisions. There came a point where I really contemplated leaving medicine altogether, but I knew that wasn't a viable option considering my circumstances. After much thought, I decided to do the next best thing -- defer my Part 2 till next year, thus buying me some time to recuperate and think clearly, as well as re-evaluate the reasons I loved the ER in the very first place. Luckily, this move has been greatly beneficial, though I still can't find the motivation to study that hard -- blame it on my having 9 months to play with. :)

I've worked with a lot of people these past 3 years, some of whom are so certain what they want to do that they passed their exams in record time and are now full-fledged registrars at my age. Then there are those at the other end of the spectrum, drifting aimlessly from one strange posting to another, not keen on taking exams, perhaps locuming here and there, or even leaving for non-medical careers. At least 2 doctors have joined Singapore Airlines as commercial pilots, something I consider quite a major career switch!

The bottomline, I guess, is that few of us are ever fortunate enough to really know what we want to do with our lives. My choice was made early on when I rotated through the National University Hospital's emergency department, and was inspired by an excellent teacher. But medical school days are often filled with idealism, and I was no different. The real world is always a rude wake-up call, thanks to "the system", which has already alienated many a good doctor, forcing them to leave for private practice or polyclinics.

Ultimately, my first love is still emergency medicine. But like all other disciplines, it'll have its ups and downs, its adrenaline rushes and super-boring/irritating moments. I just try to forget the bad parts and remember the good ones. Heck, that's how I try to live my life in general, after all. :)

I'll leave you with a nice quote from the latest episode of "ER":

Eager medical student: So what's the most interesting case you've ever seen here? Porphyria cutanea tarda?
Dr. Mark Green, aka fatigued ER veteran: Actually, we once had a guy with a live frog stuffed up his ass.

Here's to all the guys with live frogs stuffed up their butts. :D

P.S. Short hello to a reader with the email domain name of If you see this, could you drop me an email at Would just like to ask you something, out of intense curiosity. Thanks! :)

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Here's the review of The Ten Tenors -- official website available here. :)

The evening started off with a little bit of paranoia. My mom and I were greeted at the concert hall entrace by 2 police officers, who stopped anyone carrying a bag for spot checks. They were nice enough to shine a torch instead of asking us to remove items, but the tension was palpable, especially in view of the large number of Caucasians in the audience -- easily 60% or more, from a visual estimate.

However, all thoughts of a possible terror attack dissipated soon after we sat down. The show kickstarted with a crowd favourite, "Funiculi, Funicula", with the tenors looking most impressive as they came out dressed to the nines in black suits, standing in a row at the front of the stage. This was followed by a vocal rendition of the tango from "Scent Of A Woman", which took my breath away!

Following this, memories of American Idol flooded my brain as they launched into a BeeGees medley comprising cool covers of disco hits like "Stayin' Alive", interspersed with the beautiful "How Deep Is Your Love". Of course, none of these songs would've been half as enjoyable without some nifty footwork and hilarious moves, which the tenors were more than happy to provide. Give these guys lots of credit for being the fun-loving bunch they are! They swivelled their hips and twirled their arms, with one tiny fellow even letting his ponytail loose for added effect. The full capacity crowd loved it!

Next came a lovely rendition of "Fly Me To The Moon", as they took turns at the solo, showing off their silky smooth voices. In between, they took time out for some witty banter, telling us how they had learnt, through their extensive travels, how to use the subways in all the major cities of the world. "And today," one of them said in all seriousness, "today, I took the MRT." Loud laughter and appreciative applause filled the hall at that statement! Later, they also mentioned how they picked up various languages along the way, learning, most importantly, how to order beer in 14 different tongues. "Or as you say in Singapore, "Give that man a Tiger!"" More applause. :)

The opera segment, aka "opera without the boring bits", was an absolute hoot. These guys love to play down the "tenor" bit in their act's name, telling us they love what they do only because they can use it to "pick up chicks". They then went on to sing 4 famous pieces, 3 of which, they assured us, were used primarily to ensnare women. These ranged from Verdi to Puccini, ending off with something from "The Barber of Seville" ( if you want to know what it sounds like, just watch the opening scene to "Mrs. Doubtfire", where Robin Williams does a voiceover for a cartoon character ). The Puccini number was especially terrific. One of the tenors, a tall, plumpish blonde with the biggest sense of humour among the lot, has one of the purest voices I've ever heard. When he sang, with only the piano accompanying him, it was absolute heaven. :)

The later part of the show had everything from "Va Pensiero" to Abba's "Dancing Queen" to well-known Australian folk songs ( "Waltzing Matilda", "Clip Goes The Shears" ), some pop ( "Burn For You" by ?Southern Sons ?John Farnham -- sorry, I forget ), and their tour de force, "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. The fellow who did the solo on this one, a stocky older-looking tenor with a moustache, sounded exactly like Freddie Mercury, which was extremely surreal. The 10 voices blended seamlessly in perfect harmony, and the 10-minute song gave me goosebumps. They even adlibbed verses from Abba's "Mamma Mia" during the "mamma mia" bits in "Rhapsody", which wasn't missed by the VERY sharp crowd! When the headbanging bit came, the tenors all complied, and when they finished, the hall erupted in rousing cheers. A lot of us in the audience -- myself included :P -- supplied catcalls, while others whistled. It was a pretty wild crowd! :D

After ending the show with another fantastic song -- ie. the theme from "Rawhide" -- the tenors were called back no less than 3 times for encores. The first was "Nessun Dorma", then "Love Is In The Air" ( which can be heard in "Strictly Ballroom", directed by fellow Australian Baz Lurrhman ). The last piece is something I don't recognize, but it was equally high-energy. Almost everyone was standing by this time, and we tried to get a 4th encore. Understandably, they were tired out, though they assured us they'd be "back next year".

I've left out a few other songs because I don't know their titles, but this concert featured loads of pieces from Russell Watson's latest CD, Reprise. So if you want to know what you missed, listen to that.

Waiting with bated breath for their return! This is a show you mustn't miss! Come back soon, guys!
Backdated post because of some problems with publishing. ( Originally intended for yesterday )

Heads up to No Bonus :)
The SMA junior doctors survey is available online at your fingertips. Log on to their website to participate. And er, no, I haven't entered my 5 cents' worth yet. *ducking objects thrown at me* :D

Having a day off, before going to The Esplanade for The Ten Tenors concert later this evening. Am greatly looking forward to it, because the show was supposed to be in April, and got postponed because of the SARS outbreak. Fortunately, unlike Mariah Carey, Moby and Santana, these guys decided to return and go through with their performance. Will post a review tomorrow if I have the chance.

Nice, rainy day today. One of the best things about doing emergency medicine postings -- besides getting enough sleep, no ward rounds / clinics / night calls that last 30 hours -- is being able to stay at home during daylight hours. This morning, for example, after studying a bit and having lunch, I put aside just 30 minutes to watch "Josh Groban In Concert", a DVD that anyone who loves good music MUST have in his / her collection. It was raining lightly outside, with a cool breeze blowing, and the whole neighbourhood was really quiet. Josh's beautiful voice carried wonderfully through the whole house, and hearing him sing "For Always" (from Artificial Intelligence, written by John Williams, aka the greatest musical genius of our time ), "Broken Vow" ( gets me every time ), "You're Still You" and "To Where You Are" really lifted my mood significantly. Not that I was down to begin with. It's just little things like these that put that skip back in your step. Have been overdosing on American Idol recordings recently as well. I never tire of Clay Aiken. :)

There's a malaria outbreak on Pulau Tekong. NS men and anyone else based there should see a doctor stat if they have fever. Funny how a developed country like Singapore is still susceptible to "3rd World" diseases. No amount of good food and strong bodies can prepare you for an onslaught like this one. Having sickle cell anemia has its advantages.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Post Wednesday night shift. It was a really good one too, except for one case who showed up in the consultation area at 6am today. She was a 35-year-old lady who'd undergone a tonsillectomy 10 days ago, and coughed up a bowl of fresh blood upon waking up this morning. She was otherwise stable, though a little pale. Her throat was full of blood clots, so I sent her to a nurse to do some gargling so I could see better. When she returned, I gently pushed her tongue down with a spatula, after which she suddenly gagged. As a reflex, I moved away from her immediately, which was fortunate, 'cos she projectile-coughed/vomitted a whole fountain of blood, which hit the floor and splattered in all directions. I grabbed a vomit bag and placed it under her mouth while another stream dribbled out, but I had to leave her to call for the nurse outside, and in those few seconds, she vomitted another few cups of blood onto the ground, and became unresponsive.
Thank goodness she was already in a wheelchair, or it would've cost us additional precious time to transfer her to a trolley -- she was a rather large lady. Her blood pressure plunged to a systolic of 70, as my fellow MO in the resus area helped me set IVs on her, running 2 pints fast simultaneously. She later came to, and the ENT MO came down to help. Amazingly, I escaped from this episode with my white gown spotless. How the heck did THAT happen?

Anyway, I'll lay off serious topics for today. Here's a link to an article on Clay Aiken's highly anticipated album, due for release on October 14th. Enjoy. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Okay, the first thing I did when I got home -- screw the fatigue! -- was hook up my laptop and download the mp3s for Clay Aiken's due to be released CD. Granted, only slightly more than 2 minutes of music is available for each song, but it's enough for a review. :)

No More Sad Songs -- Many fans mentioned that it sounds Elton John-ish, and I have to agree. The piano chords are similar to John's distinctive style, and Clay belts his heart out on this one. Has a country rock feel to it as well. Grows on you.

Run To Me -- Power ballad!!! It's always a pleasure to hear Clay singing love songs, but this one's a lot more personal than those he made famous on American Idol. Hearing him hit those high, high notes makes me shake my head in AWE. Yet he's able to soften his tone for the low, introspective verses. A sure winner!

I Will Survive You -- A little bit of pop infused with some rock, but with a twist. This is a breakup song, something I can definitely identify with :D Listen to the lyrics. Anyone who's ever had his or her heart broken will find them very meaningful. "I survived the crash / survived the burn... survived the lies / survived the truth...when you wrote me off like I was doomed / I survived you." Wow.

I Will Carry You -- Interesting sound. A little digital synth, then evolves into pop rock (again). The rather serious melody surprised me, considering the uplifting / romantic title attached to this song. Another piece that grows on you, but may not be a favourite for radio airplay.

Invisible -- I've left the best till last. :) Clay has been making women all over America swoon with his live rendition of this very catchy song, originally done by a UK boy band called D-side. Who knows why the album's producers picked it, but they're geniuses! It suits Clay to a T, letting him show off his vocal range but exhibit some hip rhythm as well. I've heard the concert version, which is a lot better, maybe because the bass is more powerful. But then, there was a lot of screaming in that recording, and add that to some video clips I caught of Clay's shirt-pulling / knee-bending / winking and what else ( let me wipe some drool off the table here ;) ), this song has #1 written all over it. ( By the way, he sings live better than in the studio. )

I let my mom ( also a huge fan ) listen to these, and her exact words were "Clay is going to be rich beyond his wildest dreams"! ( She LOVED Invisible :) )

Everybody say it with me now -- PLATINUM. :D
The step-wise tailing down of SARS isolation guidelines continues. As of next Monday, the 21-day rule for hospital admissions, as well as the zoning criteria for nursing homes all over the island, will be abolished.
Those are the only changes directly affecting the ERs, I think. Protective equipment is still status quo, though screening questionnaires are more succinct now -- can't imagine how many trees we killed during the peak of the epidemic.
The general population has gotten over its fear of hospitals too, as evidenced by jam-packed waiting areas and fully occupied wards. Patients with simple backaches and common colds have begun to clog up the system yet again. Why some people would pay $65 for something that may cost only $20 or even less is beyond me.

Update for Clay Aiken fans

Samples from his upcoming, highly anticipated debut album are available here. I haven't heard them yet, but the bboards are going to crash soon. :D

Alias has officially hit an all-time high in my book. After a particularly gruelling afternoon shift last night, I probably broke a few speed limits on the way home, and made it just in time to catch yet another sterling episode. Sidney and Michael ( if you don't know what I'm talking about, it's a real pity! ) have finally consummated their relationship, while Arvind Sloane's newly formed terrorist group (?name) burst onto the scene with a big bang by blowing up a CIA operative in the middle of a busy Berlin street. Ethan Hawke ( Uma Thurman's very handsome hubby ) made a totally unexpected appearance as a CIA agent whose real identity is a point of contention. This excellent episode had me at the edge of my seat. Little wonder I started my morning shift bleary-eyed today. :P

One of the registrars in my department cut short her trip to Bali after the Jakarta bombings last week. I recall receiving the news only after finishing a night shift, and was shocked beyond belief. Bali itself was frightening enough, but hitting Indonesia a second time left me dumbfounded, considering the fact that it's a Muslim country to begin with. The registrar in question arrived in Bali the same day the attack occurred, and had to fly back the very next morning, due to family anxiety. I had the opportunity to visit Bali 2 years ago, before any of these tragic events occurred. It really is a very beautiful island, populated by very gentle and peaceful people. After attempting to recover from the drastic drop in tourist numbers last year, this latest terrorist act will no doubt plunge them into yet another economic crisis.
Interestingly, some political analysts have put Singapore on a list of high-risk targets. After kicking SARS in the butt, we've now got this to contend with. Living here is getting pretty exciting -- optimistic view, that is. :)

Leaving You With This

One of the funniest articles I've read in a long time :D :D :D ( And I take back what I said about Singaporean drivers being horrible. )

-- thanks to Dave Barry's blog

Sunday, August 10, 2003

National Day Parade 2003

Maybe it's because of the SARS epidemic and the loss of so many innocent lives, but I was extremely moved last night when I watched NDP 2003 on TV. Seeing the National Stadium packed to capacity with enthusiastic crowds, I couldn't help thinking back on those dark, uncertain months, then comparing them to what happened at the parade. The joy was overwhelming, and the segment honouring healthcare workers was poignant and well done. No matter how many times I see Dr. Alex Chao's picture, I can never stop getting that lump in my throat or that sting in my eyes.

It was a good parade this year. Singapore has fought the good fight and emerged victorious. I've never felt more proud of this tiny nation and its resilient people. :)

Saturday, August 09, 2003

The hard copy of the SMA News has been mailed, so everyone should've gotten theirs by now. The survey form for junior docs is enclosed, so take a look at it before throwing anything away. :)

Here's the amended link to the online version ( sorry, I typed it in wrongly in my previous post! ).

Still on a high from the Clay Aiken news. :D

Friday, August 08, 2003

Good news for Clay Aiken fans in Singapore!!!

A few months ago, I mentioned something about sending an email to Clay through a lady whose son was his counsellee at Raleigh's YMCA, who then forwarded it to one of Clay's close friends to get it to him. She was pretty sure Clay got it, but now there's some proof, from none other than Clay's mom!

Share my excitement by going to the link for WRALTV. The video with Clay's mother's interview is at the bottom of the page, under August 5th, titled "Faye on Clay". The one with Clay ( where the lady from Raleigh confirms he ALSO mentions Singapore, but which gets chopped off towards the end when I try to view it), is under August 6th, titled "Clay Visits WRAL: Part 2".

Woohoo!!! :D

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

It's a stormy Tuesday -- perfect for staying home, but I'm on afternoon shift. :( However, numbers in the ER are down because of the rain, so that's good. :)

More From Dave Barry's Blog

I'll try to look out for these when I visit New Zealand later this year.

Who are the real snakes here?

Do not look at this after a meal.

A Milestone For Homosexuality?

Pertaining to a mention on my blog a week or two ago, about appointing gay persons to key official positions in Singapore -- well, Minnesota has broken all the rules, it seems, by electing a gay bishop for its Episcopal churches. Even more interestingly, this motion was passed through a voting process, with a 2:1 majority, no less.

I've previously expressed tolerance towards homosexuality, but I definitely can't picture having a gay pastor or priest, let alone a gay bishop. How will he explain the Bible's teachings?
(1) Yes, it says homosexuality is a sin, so I guess, even though I am a bishop, I'll be going to hell after I die, or
(2) The Bible's obviously wrong. It was written thousands of years ago, and times have changed, or worse,
(3) Homosexuality is not a sin. Don't be afraid to embrace it.

Etc, etc.

Predictably, this move has caused an uproar from both fellow Anglicans as well as The Vatican ( but the latter seems to have an opinion on everything ). I'm wondering how they intend to resolve this problem.

2 days ago, I received a flyer in my church service programme about the local Anglican churches' stand on gays. Basically, it reiterated that, in concordance with Bible teachings, it has been and always will be a religious sin, and as such, homosexuals cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven upon their demise.
However, any form of persecution or discrimination will not be tolerated. Rather, Christians are encouraged to treat homosexuals as they would any normal individual -- with respect, kindness and compassion -- but if possible, we are to try to convert them back to a heterosexual lifestyle so they may be saved. Makes good sense to me.

Caught up with a recording of "ER" last night. Yet another sterling episode, with 2 main plots I'd like to elaborate on.

First, the one involving a sort-of love triangle between ER doctors Luka ( the gorgeous Russian ), John Carter and ER nurse / med student wannabe Abby (played by Maura Tierney, whom you may remember as Jim Carrey's ex-wife in "Liar Liar" ).
She used to be hot and heavy with the former, then broke up with him ( I missed that episode, 'cos a reader emailed to tell me this season actually began a month ago, ack! ), and now she's eyeing Carter.
Speaking as a female, I don't really see anything in Abby that can make her so attractive to 2 handsome young docs. She's nice, but nothing really special, you know?

The other revolves around general surgeon Elizabeth Corday ( newly married to ER veteran Mark Greene ). She's having a bad run -- well, that's putting it rather mildly, 'cos she's basically been hit by a tsunami of bad karma. You name it, she's got it -- a string of patients dying of post-op sepsis, an infectious disease specialist stalking her, taking notes and disrupting her surgeries, a high-ranking official threatening her with legal action after learning one of the deceased may have requested to be euthanized ( which she did not carry out ). To add insult to injury, she has to juggle a fretful newborn at home while having her competence at work questioned. Plus, Mark's daughter from his first marriage is turning into an irresponsible brat who can't be trusted as a babysitter.

She's going through major suffering, and kudos to the show's writers for keeping this storyline true to reality. I know of many doctors who've endured immense emotional trauma yet carried out their duties as per normal. I too have gone through some measure of pain and turmoil and shown up at work without fail.

"ER" highlights the important resources available to doctors in distress:

1) the family network -- Elizabeth has a caring, patient and understanding husband in Mark, who has been a great comfort. Since, for some strange reason, Elizabeth's parents don't play a prominent role in her life, she's lucky to have Mark by her side. Those of you who are married are indeed fortunate.

2) peer support -- this comes into play if you're widely considered to be excellent in what you do, and well-liked. One without the other probably won't get you much sympathy. Elizabeth gets this validation from a few sources -- Peter Benton, a fellow surgeon, tells her (after she's lost yet another patient) that if he ever needed surgery, he'd go straight to her. The pathologist doing the autopsy for the deceased patient also tells her she doesn't believe any of the rumours that are going around, while Elizabeth's demanding and usually critical superior, Robert Romano, practically kicks the earlier mentioned official out of his room once the murder accusations leave his lips. Never underestimate the power of peer support. They can be even more important than your family and non-medical friends.

The next riveting episode of "ER" will return on 17th August -- don't ask me what the delay is about ( probably some football match again ). If you don't want to wait that long, you can visit the official website for more info.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Speak Out

This month's issue of the SMA News is now online, with a section of particular interest. "Voicing Out" is written by my fellow Editorial Board member John Chiam, who, by the way, has one of the highest levels of deep concern for the welfare of junior doctors in Singapore. Joining him is Foo Chuan Kit, who helped me out during a minor scuffle a few months ago ( details shall remain a secret :) ).

If you are a medical or house officer, this article is of great importance! Medical students should also take a look, and keep up with any new developments, which will no doubt be published in future issues. The last junior doctor survey carried out in 1995 brought about major changes that greatly improved the lives of the overworked and underpaid medical professionals of that era. And although we live in better times now, there's still room for further modifications.

My fellow classmates who just got out of National Service a few months ago may have a bone to pick. Clue: It involves a "bonus".

So spread the word, and get as many people as possible to participate in this survey.

News Totally Unrelated To Medicine
You've been warned, 'cos I'm going to ramble here! :D

Clay Aiken's debut full-length CD has been confirmed to be titled "Measure Of A Man", and will be released in mid-September. This is still presumably tentative, since Ruben Studdard's own album has no title or release date as of this moment. Clay's been up in the top 5 in pre-order sales ever since it was made available on He's now still at #3 or #4.

Was recently made aware of a website from a local animal rights group called AnimalWatch. Some of their articles have been most enlightening, albeit in an alarming way. The one that made a big impact on me involved the methods employed in obtaining foie gras ( aka goose liver ). Descriptions are graphic, complete with photos that made my stomach turn. That's it -- I'm never ever going to touch this dish for the rest of my life! ( I think I ate it once before, but hated the taste. )

There's also a link to PETA ( People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ), which is world-famous. Their lists of companies that do or do not conduct inhumane tests on animals had me scrambling to check whether the products I use may have gone through such experiments. Thankfully, none of the brands I favour were blacklisted: Tommy Hilfiger, Estee Lauder, Clinique, The Body Shop, just to name a few.

My support goes out to the many volunteers who make up AnimalWatch. Their projects include attempts to educate Singaporeans about foie gras ( especially since we have annual food festivals with international chefs visiting to conduct gourmet tours, etc ). Did you know that, despite numerous published letters in The Straits Times and The New Paper, organizers of these gastronomical events refused to respond or halt servings of goose liver? I guess profits always take priority over the lives of measly waterfowl. We've got so many French restaurants on this tiny island as it is. Who's going to be brave enough to anger their owners by criticizing their dishes? Sacre bleu!

So it's up to us, the consumers, to do something about it. Some of you may think, "Like it's going to make any difference." Well, the way I see it, some effort is always better than none. There are millions of others out there who take this seriously, and by boycotting products that result from acts of cruelty against innocent animals, we're also addressing our own consciences. Another way we can help is to alert others to these animal rights groups, so they'll be made aware and will hopefully spread the news even further.

* Getting off the podium now * :)

Okay, some last-minute medical stuff. :P

Today was, you guessed it, NS Man Day. The young fellows I saw today were extremely well, with the occasional one being sick enough to warrant medical leave. One guy who complained of ankle pain after a mild sprain had a completely normal gait and no swelling or tenderness of the joint whatsoever. He later wanted a couple of days off. I sweetly asked him why, and he actually answered, "So I can go for a massage at the Chinese sinseh's clinic." It was downhill from there. He begged, I repeatedly refused. A staff nurse who passed by told me some MOs ( probably guys who know how things in NS work ) will ask the patients which camps they are from. This tactic apparently strikes fear into the hearts of all army recruits, because knowing the camp's name will mean the possibility of the camp MO being informed of some "dubious behaviour" from the NS boy, and a black mark on their records. ( Kinda like the "cry wolf" story )
Female A&E MOs who haven't developed a hard shell yet, take note! :)

Less than an hour to the end of my shift. "ER" is on tonight, woohoo!

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Something extra for those with an inquisitive mind. :) ( You learn something new everyday. )

Myiasis, aka "Ai-yi-yi-yi-yiasis!"

Wonder what this guy's day job is?

These people should get in touch with these people. Hilarious! :D

Remember the friend I mentioned before - the one with the Playstation 2? If you read this, try this out.

All taken from Dave Barry's Blog -- he's back from his vacation, and compensating for his absence. By the way, there's a link posted under August 1, which mentions North Korea. I couldn't access the website, so if anyone succeeds, let me know what's on it. Thanks!
( Again FYI, Barry has won a Pulitzer before. It's nice to see that he hasn't lost his sense of humour. :) ) You can read some of his terrific columns here.
Grim News

Reports in the local papers today have various authorities from both Singapore and abroad projecting the next SARS epidemic occurring as soon as 2 months from now. ( It was initially predicted for November / December. )

Reasons given run the gamut from dormant viruses flaring up again, maybe even in mutated ( ie. more virulent ) forms, as well as the usual end-of-year peak in the number of travellers. Hotspots like China, Hong Kong and yes, Singapore, will no doubt be watched very closely, though I'm certain everyone hopes to have a quiet X'mas ahead.

Infection control measures in most hospitals here have been scaled down, but protective equipment remains compulsory in high-risk areas like the ER, where I'm currently based. Just the other day, I saw an elderly gentleman who presented with features of pneumonia, plus a normal white cell count, and was admitted to the fever ward. However, I got a rude shock later when I was informed that the patient was warded at SARS central 3 months ago, for you guessed it, SARS. Considering the fact that all patients are screened at the ER entrance, then further questioned by the doctors who see them, I don't know how this man managed to "forget" to tell us he had SARS. ( Okay, he was in his 70s and a little senile, but his son was very lucid, and still didn't give me this important piece of information! ). Worse, microbiologists have mentioned the possibility that patients who "recovered" from SARS may get the infection again ( sort of like tuberculosis, which can "reactivate" itself given the right conditions ). I'm not too sure what's become of this patient, but bearing this in mind, I'm going to be blunt from now on, and just ask straight off, "Have you had SARS before?". ( P.S. Singaporeans are very unreliable historians. Sigh. )

The Bachelorette

Ah, the show that made me believe true love exists. :) It was a most touching finale to an enjoyable series, and Trista showed good judgement when she said Charlie wasn't in love with her while Ryan was. I can't believe how she managed to pick the latter out from 24 other attention-seeking alpha males, since Ryan is probably the most introverted one, and not the sort to force himself on her the way Russ did.
Anyway, I hear the next Bachelor series will feature Bob, the baby-faced funny guy who didn't make Trista's cut, but won hearts all over America. I read somewhere that it was supposed to be the heir to some tyre company fortune ( he's hunky too ), but hey, I'm happy to watch Bob anyday! Just wonder who they'll pick for the next Bachelorette? Someone who got jilted by Aaron Buerge perhaps? I think Gwen ( the Jennie Garth lookalike ) would be a good choice, although if you want to have some real fun, Christy the clingy basket-case would be a hoot. :D

Is it just me, or is there absolutely nothing worth watching in the cinemas nowadays? Finding Nemo was so good, I haven't been able to see any shows after it, 'cos they can't seem to measure up. FYI, Nemo has beaten The Lion King as the all-time highest grossing animated feature film ever. A great achievement, and well-deserved!