Sunday, November 28, 2004

Wedding Conversation

[ Since my private life has generated more hits lately. :) ]

No two wedding dinners are ever truly alike, despite the monotony of 10-course menus, yam-seng's, video presentations set to mushy songs, and even mushier declarations of love.

I've found that my mood totters between the extremes of immense happiness and a newfound faith in Love, to utter discomfort and lamentations over the Hopelessness Of Ever Finding Love.

Last night was a case example of the latter. Most unfortunately. ( But nobody's fault. Really. )

I can't explain why. It was a rather posh affair celebrating the union between a med school friend and another doctor a few years our junior. My friend's relationship history has been a tumultuous one ( sorry, I refuse to reveal details ), and the strange part is, although we hardly spoke to each other during our university days ( we moved in different social circles, and besides, he was attached in every sense of the word ), we became close during our housemanship stint in general surgery, often discussing the complexities of life during our many night calls together, even "illegally" sneaking out of the hospital for lunch at Eastpoint's Jack's Place during a particularly long, boring Sunday, frantically fielding pages while stuffing steak down our throats. :)

Watching him walk down the aisle with his wife yesterday, I was -- as usual -- filled with a great sense of joy. And when he whipped out a guitar to serenade his bride with a Chinese love song ( causing her to burst into tears ), I too was moved ( after recovering from the initial shock, that is, heh heh ).

So why the melancholy, you ask? I suppose it's because everyone at my table was either married or "with someone", and I realized I'd become the proverbial Odd One Out. As in The One Who Doesn't Belong In The Equation. Or whatever _expression you may prefer.

But more importantly, I began to wonder Why. Why was I still single after all these years? Was there something wrong with me? Was I sabotaging myself on some subconscious level? What?!?!

Thankfully, I caught up with a fellow classmate -- now a paediatric registrar, female and single like myself, and equally perplexed. A sample of our little conversation:

"So are you dating anyone?"
"Nope. You?"
"Nah... Y'know, I sometimes wish I had someone."
"Yeah. But you can't rush these things. Better to be patient than to end up with the wrong guy."
"But it would be nice... to have someone to share things with, y'know?"
"Sure, I feel the same way too. Sometimes . *laughs* Hey, don't think about it so much. Let's meet up on New Year's Eve. Have a blast."
"*smiles* Good idea."

Well-meaning friends and relatives have offered their takes on my singlehood over the years. Am I too picky? Am I restricting myself to doctors? Am I being a bit too stand-offish? Am I frightening prospective suitors off because of my writing / reading / blog-ranting, etc?

Yeesh, how the heck should I know? Ask the guys lah.

Potential suitors... one thing I can say is this: I seem to attract men who are, err, over-enthusiastic. One guy was convinced I was his dream girlfriend/wife after meeting me ONCE. Another made up his mind before we even actually went out, telling me over dinner that "I NEVER ask a girl out unless I'm SERIOUS about her." ( I spent the rest of the evening suspended between a state of paralyzing fear and an overwhelming urge to bolt for the horizon. ) Yet another used to tail me all over the hospital on the pretext that we were MOs in the same team ( Although I must admit he was generous to a fault. Not that I ever took advantage of it. )

Maybe I'm so "scary" that only borderline psychopaths are daring enough to approach me. O-kay, looks like I should just throw in the towel right now.

So this other guy -- another fellow I did general surgery with as a house officer -- drudged up memories from 4 years ago, when his long-drawn-out pursuit of another female doctor stagnated and we sort of developed a liking for each other.

Me: So is it true you're dating someone now? ( I overheard this when someone practically interrogated him earlier. )
Him: Um, yeah.
Me: What does she do?
Him: She's a lawyer. Friend of a friend.
Me: Is it serious? Is the next wedding going to be yours?
Him: NO LAH. I'm not even close! ( pause ) So do you still watch movies? ( He knows I'm a film buff. We both are. )
Me: Yep. Just watched "The Incredibles" recently.
Him: I want to watch "Saw" actually. You interested?
Me: ( reeling but hiding it ) Don't you see movies with your girlfriend?
Him: She doesn't like horror films.
( I can't remember what I said next -- must be all that reeling, heh heh -- but it was probably something to the effect of "No, thank you." Too complicated. )


None other than Sex And The City -- The Novel.

Picked this up from the Tanglin Club library ( ooh yeah, they actually stock books like this! ), and despite the facts that (1) Candace Bushnell is no Jane Austen ( like some crazy reviewer gushed ), (2) the female characters are bitchy sex maniacs, and (3) the male players are horribly caricatured ( one is nicknamed The Bone, another Mr. Big ), I did draw some positive energy from my reading experience, purely because hey, these are successful, single women in their 30s and 40s, yet also suffering from my ailment: Wondering If There Are Any Good Men Left In This World, And If Yes, Where The Hell Are They?

I don't want this blog to turn into some angst-ridden Lonely Hearts Journal -- which it ISN'T. Let's just keep it the way it's always been, shall we: Single Female Doctor With No Social Life Complaining About Idiotic Patients And Waxing Lyrical About Clay Aiken On The Odd Occasion.

( And by the way, Merry Christmas With Love has sold out all over Singapore. BMG is ordering a second batch as we speak. Woohoo. :D )

Quack advice welcomed, except if your name begins with "U" and ends with "h". :)

Current Bedtime Companion

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon.
Beautifully written. Three words for the ( inevitable ) movie adaptation: Haley Joel Osment.

Friday, November 26, 2004

"Just Whack"

Cradling coffees and hot chocolate with college friends a few nights ago, I was given the following advice by a recently married fellow:

"You know ah, (my name), if you are interested in a guy, JUST WHACK LAH."

Laughter all around, then silence. They were waiting for me to say something, but I chose to say nothing. ( Thank goodness another friend arrived a few seconds later, taking the uncomfortable focus off my sorry state. :))

But to be fair, I do realize that men nowadays wouldn't be totally averse to being pursued once in a while. And believe it or not, I've done my share of "mild whacking" on a few occasions, with mixed results. However, at some point in the not-so-recent past ( a year maybe ), I decided to avoid it altogether.


1. It's just too d*** tiring.
2. Certain guys like to play games. I hate that.
3. Being the "whacker" puts you in a strange position and skews relationship dynamics, so to speak. And if the guy has a big mouth ( happened once before, eep ), it's just plain embarrassing. And annoying.

Or maybe I've just made a slew of bad choices on whack-able men. But then, I'm not a smooth operator like some of my contemporaries. I really suck at this, sigh.

So there's my ( delayed ) reply to my friend's comment. He meant well, but I'm a lost cause in that department. :/

To Continue...

Some extra stuff here -- since I'm stuck in the ER and hey, the computer's free! :)

Right then. Apparently, guys I consider whack-able may not be "right" for me.
This should be an interesting discussion point for those who actually know me well.

Male traits I find attractive ( for some reason or another ):

1. Slim / athletic physiques ( no gigantic bulging biceps please )
2. Beautiful hands ( I try to do this subtly, but in truth, it's the one thing I scrutinize closely. I just find doctors' -- especially surgeons' -- hands fascinating. Same goes for those belonging to musicians and artists. :))
3. A sense of humour ( exuberant, but not excessively so )
4. Intellect, without the high-and-mighty attitude ( i.e. the ability to "agree to disagree", and to respect our differences )
5. A level of comfort. Funnily enough, I had this with most - if not all - of the guys I "whacked", with each reciprocating in various friendship-transcending ways. Why it never progressed further is a mystery. Didn't bother to ask them the reason(s) either.

Experience-wise, they've run the gamut from outright playboys to guys who've never been known to have girlfriends. In terms of looks, their features span a wide spectrum ( but none resembles my ex -- a major criterion, heh heh ). Interests include extreme sports, fast-car fetishes, compulsive clubbing, the usual music / books / film / comics.

Although... one guy used to spend time simply blasting MP3 songs over the phone, while our conversation screeched to a halt. It was really funny ( but in a good way ), precisely because of that Level Of Comfort.

The above list isn't exhaustive, of course. Attraction can be immediate, yet its true nature intangible. It's that "certain something" that draws two people together, that tells you: Hey, the possibility is there.

Was I imagining things? Let's just say these guys gave not-so-subtle indications that they were indeed aware of my ( rather feeble ) tactics, and returned fire. But somewhere along the way, the momentum began to wane, and in a couple of cases, I could actually see them battling some internal conflict ( what exactly, I didn't ask ). It was like taking one step forward, then two steps back. Perhaps I wasn't aggressive enough. Maybe I should've just yanked them by the shirt collar and yelled, "Stop pussyfooting around already!" But then... that isn't my style.

My problem? At midnight, after a long day in the wards and the ER, my judgement may be clouded. But I suppose it stems from a combination of a reserved personality which requires time to penetrate, a reluctance to exert force of any kind, a few cases of missed opportunities ( some of which were my fault, I admit ), and -- cheesy, but not entirely without merit ) -- an element of Fate. You know, right timing, favourable conditions, etc.

So, no more whacking for me. Getting too old for all that, and lack intuition on "reading the signs".

In short, I'm the one who needs to be hit on the head.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


A check with the comments box for November 15 showed a post from ( I presume ) a member of Budak Pantai.

It goes:
"sad that you missed our concert, but our 3rd and Live Xmas CD is out @ Esplanade shop, thanks ."

Okay, now I'm obliged to link to them lah. :)

Budak Pantai Website

I haven't been following their careers very closely, but do remember them from a talent competition some time back, and watched them during the Esplanade's open house as well.
By the way, isn't there a doctor and a lawyer among the dudes?
In any case, very very nice a cappella fare. Must sample their album and attend their concerts, haha. :D

That's it for today. Have you bought Clay Aiken's CD yet? No? WHY THE HELL NOT?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

For those of you who don't want to read about Clay Aiken's X'mas album, scroll down till you see the words "End of review" in bold type. Don't accuse me of not giving you fair warning, ahem.

Merry Christmas With Love -- Clay Aiken

THAT CD Shop outlets at Pacific Plaza and Great World City haven't even gotten their stocks yet, and I picked up a copy at... Sembawang Music. At a neighbourhood mall ( well, it's a rather large mall, heh heh ).

I just bought it this afternoon, but have already heard it from beginning to end at least 5-10 times. Get ready for a track-by-track! :)

O Holy Night -- From the first moment I heard his voice, I've waited patiently for him to sing this classic, preferably with a full orchestra and backup choir. With this version, I was far from disappointed! Kicking off the very traditional feel of this CD, Clay's vocals and inborn knack for making even the most beloved songs all his own breathe new life into this cover, with the trademark glory notes, emotional delivery, and perfect diction. Breath-taking!

Sleigh Ride -- Always a fun piece. Clay breezes through effortlessly, giving it a fresh yet romantic tinge. You can easily visualize his gorgeous smile as he sings this. Ahhh. :)

Silent Night -- Another familiar favourite, but goosebump-inducing nonetheless. Give it a listen and let the music speak for itself!

Medley: Hark The Herald Angels Sing / O Come All Ye Faithful -- Have I mentioned his fantastic pronunciation? :D This is a prime example of how Christmas carols SHOULD be arranged and sung. None of that edgy hip-hop / rock / pop-disco nonsense other artistes like experimenting with, yuck. Imagine this track "live". In a gigantic church hall. By the way, I love the piano accompaniment. Wonder how I can get my hands on the score.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas -- Lovely lovely lovely. Enough said.

Mary, Did You Know -- First time I've ever even heard this piece, and what a privilege that it's a Clay Aiken version. :) Absolutely exquisite, with poignant lyrics and a haunting melody, and delivered flawlessly .
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? ...
This child that you delivered would soon deliver you...
The blind will see, the deaf will hear
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the land

A perfect TEN, this one. :)

Joy To The World -- Grand and uplifting.

The Christmas Song -- One of my very favourites, done by everyone from Nat King Cole to New Kids On The Block, 98 Degrees and Michael Buble. Clay sounds good as always, but I felt the tempo could've slowed down a tad to allow more room for his lush vibrato. But still, it's a nice transition to...

Don't Save It All For Christmas -- He first sang this Celine Dion-penned piece on last year's American Idols X'mas Special, knocking all our socks off with his powerful performance. Here, his lower register shines through ( and it's such a pleasure to listen to this through my headphones and on my car stereo -- full blast! :)), then gradually escalates to the higher octaves, before hitting The Glory Note. Bear in mind that he's fully capable of doing this "live", which is exactly what happened during the AI X'mas Special taping. This guy has the most amazing pair of lungs!

Merry X'mas With Love -- Sweet and wistful. Clay captures it all wonderfully.
Now a heart that for years had been silent
Was suddenly filled with the song...
Merry X'mas to all who may dwell here
May the joy of the season surround you
Merry X'mas with love.

Winter Wonderland -- Not one of my favourites, but hey, Clay can sing the phonebook and I'd still love it. :D

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? -- A romantic ballad through and through. Ack, what're you doing to all your female fans?! :P
Maybe it's much too early in the game
Oh but I thought I'd ask you just the same
What're you doing New Year's Eve?
Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
When it's exactly twelve o'clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year's Eve?
Maybe I'm crazy to suppose
I'd ever be the one you chose
Out of the thousand invitations you'd receive
Oh, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance
What're you doing New Year's Eve?

This may be a Christmas CD, but the quality is far superior to that of his commercial album, Measure Of A Man, in terms of production and song choices. Some say it's because he had more time to work on this second offering. Or maybe the pieces are tried and tested, and you can't possibly go wrong there, right? Or perhaps Clay's sales success has given him more clout, and hence, more say in vital aspects. In any case, this is a must-have for anyone who'd like to add an excellent X'mas album to their collection. I'll be bringing this to Tasmania. Can already imagine plugging it into my CD player, then sitting back in the coach seat as the countryside or national park scenery rolls by. Only a month more, and I'll be outta here! :D

*End Of Review*

CD Overload

I'm going to leave the above review here for a while. Partly so it won't get lost 'cos I've asked a few other people to read it. Partly 'cos I need time to get through 6 other albums I bought in the past 2 days, heh heh. :) Couldn't resist -- Westlife's jazz compilation Allow Me To Be Frank ( preliminary assessment: FABULOUS ), Peter Cincotti's On The Moon ( this guy just gets better-looking with each CD cover :)), Jamie Cullum's special edition of Twentysomething ( with bonus tracks Everlasting Love from the Bridget Jones sequel, and Frontin', yow!!! ), the soundtrack to De-Lovely, Russell Watson's latest ( You Raise Me Up exceeds Josh Groban's ), and *pant pant* 1 Giant Leap ( which has been out of stock FOREVER, till I grabbed the one and only copy at Great World, hah! ).

A Good Day

Ever have one of those really exceptional ones? The last time I was this happy was last December, during a quiet afternoon spent at the edge of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, NZ.
But today... today I was in Singapore, and on a major high. :)
Started off with a gorgeous morning sky, then witnessing a Singapore workout session at a basketball court nearby ( blasting Cliff Richard, Elvis Presley and the song That Thing You Do! from the PA system ), then a moving sermon from renowned Armenian missionary Revd Samuel Doctorian, who reduced many to tears ( including myself ) despite a relatively simple story involving his need for a specific amount of funds to rebuild an orphanage in Beirut.
Following that, a trip to the gym ( endorphins overload, haha ), a delicious dinner spent with parents, a hilarious episode of Gilmore Girls ( Luke makes his move on Lorelai! Jesse's back and ready to rekindle with Rory! ), and major catch-up with friends at the Clay Aiken Singapore forum.
Oh yeah, Clay's birthday is 9 days away. Yes yes, re-minisce, I see your eyes rolling all the way to London. :D

In case you're wondering, Friday's call was HORRIBLE, but I've thankfully recovered from it, after 12 straight hours of snoring from 7pm Saturday to 7am this morning. I'll probably write about it on The Lingual Nerve at some point. But not tonight. Can't think straight after hearing Clay's album, heh heh.

Have a good week everyone.
[ freshman: still hunting for reliable info on that plastic surgery question you posed. ]

Friday, November 19, 2004

Boy Does It Sting

The past 3 days were extremely fun, thanks to a well-organized and fascinating HAZMAT course conducted by fellow A&E colleagues. 2 days of lectures ( and a test!? ), followed by Day 3 -- spent at a very ulu location in Western Singapore, involving training in spacesuit-wearing, time spent in a tear gas chamber, and sharing of "state secrets". :)

I dedicate this entry to the tear gas experience because... it HURTS. Don't know why I always had the opinion that it only stung a little, because this couldn't be further from the truth. We sat in the chamber in full PPE gear for about 5-10 minutes before our instructors asked us to take turns removing our masks before walking out of the room. The very moment you take the headgear off, you feel it: the pain, the HORRIBLE PAIN. And your eyes are on fire. You stumble out because the tears cloud your vision. Out in open space, the tears continue to flow unabated, and your face feels as if it was just dunked in a pail of chilli padi. 5 minutes later and you're still suffering. And the guys are faring even worse.

Earlier this year, I remember a Fear Factor episode where the contestants were placed in a similar chamber, but sans protective suits / masks. One guy lasted 5 minutes. I have newfound respect for this person! :)

As for the "state secrets" bit, let's just say some scenarios, no matter how far-fetched, really aren't so at all. I found it very amusing that our manual has the words "Not to be released to the press" printed on the front, heh heh.

Singapore Idol -- The Final Two

Sly made it, woohoo! But honestly speaking, even though I'm a fan, I firmly believe that Taufik deserves the title, and will do Singapore proud at World Idol. Sly has the X factor, but needs to hone his vocal skills a while longer. He sings Mandarin songs well, so maybe he should branch out in that direction.

When it comes down to crunch-time, I'm voting for Taufik. Sly, you've come as far as your fans could've hoped for, and will no doubt carve a successful career for yourself, but Taufik's appeal is a potentially global one. Who knows, perhaps he'll beat all the top dogs and do a Kurt Nilsen by winning the competition. Wouldn't THAT be something! :D


As usual, the local government could care less about what we think. Or they do care, but won't change their minds despite our protestations.

Polls indicate a 50-50 split on this issue, but Minister Vivian Balakrishnan practically scolded Singaporeans in his press statement, saying we should be ready to take responsibility for our actions and face the consequences, etc.

The morning this appeared in the papers, Class 95's Morning Express DJs had an animated discussion, and I was one of the listeners who called in. Basically, I told them my stand: I'm TOTALLY against the idea. Then, I mentioned how I've had close personal experiences with compulsive gamblers, who include highly-educated people who should -- technically -- "know better", but are unable to resist the temptation nonetheless. I told them how gambling not only destroys the person, but his/her family as well. Then The Flying Dutchman asked if Singaporeans are ready to take responsibility for their actions, to which I replied: Some of us are, but there will always be those who will give in, even if they know it's wrong.

And the potentially inflammatory comment I made? "If the government feels we're ready to take charge of our own financial situations, why don't we do away with the CPF?" DJ's response: Whoa...
They didn't comment further on this, however. Not that I'm surprised. :)
And I sound different on radio, hmm.

Busy Lah

On call, and have been running around the whole day. Very tired right now, but at least I had dinner with a fellow ENT MO, and watched the Singapore Idol results show. Just hope for an uneventful ward round tomorrow, then an early departure from the hospital.

The good news, though, is that I removed 2 fishbones from the base of tongue today. Have acquired a tongue-depressing skill which allows me to pick bones using only a Tilley's forceps through the mouth. Cool. :)

Another referral beckons, sigh. Don't tell me I'm going to take a shower at 3am AGAIN.

Monday, November 15, 2004


Yesterday was officially The Best Night Call I've Ever Had. Two A&E referrals around 9pm, then totally nothing thereafter. But I still woke up at 4am for no particular reason. Checked my pager just in case, then dozed till 7. Unbelievable. :)

I usually have really bad luck on-call. Must be my reg who cancelled that out, haha. Got another one with him this Friday. Let's see if the winning streak holds.

The Incredibles

*spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers*

On-the-spur-of-the-moment decision to go catch this after reading re-minisce's glowing review. GV Grand was all sold out, so I settled for the theatre near my home this time round. So bloody crowded. So many ^&%* kids. Somehow, GV Grand doesn't gnaw on my nerves as much.

Good seats notwithstanding -- final row aisle, unobstructed some more thanks to the funny staggered arrangement -- I found it lacking when compared to Finding Nemo, which remains my favourite "modern animated feature" to date. ( This is in contrast to older cartoons, No. 1 being Disney's Sleeping Beauty, No. 2 Cinderella, and No. 3 The Aristocats. Ask me to recite dialogue or sing a few songs and I can probably do so off the cuff. Not that I actually would, of course. :))

Maybe I went into this with too many expectations. Or maybe Finding Nemo is simply the better movie. Or perhaps -- and this may be the clincher -- I don't like humans as much as I do fish / turtles / seagulls / other assorted sea and land creatures.

But there were a few memorable moments. The harrowing plane crash over the ocean; Dash's dramatic escape from pursuers through dense jungle and across a wide vista of water and rock formations; Elastigirl's Mission: Impossible-esque confrontation with enemy guards as she neutralized each man with a separate limb while sandwiched between at least 3 different doors ( if that makes any sense to you ).

The best one, though, involves baby Jack-Jack, whose superpowers are unveiled in the last 5 minutes of the film, and is an absolute riot! Alternating between demonic fire-child, a red-faced devil with horns and, at one point, a vibrating human drill, it had the whole audience in stitches.

However, in terms of humour, I'd give Finding Nemo the ultimate thumbs-up. I laughed a lot harder at that one. But then, that's just me.

Next up, the Bridget Jones sequel. :)

The American Music Awards 2004

Missed the first hour while at the gym, aargh!

Terrific line-up, as usual. And with some wonderful collaborations in true AMA tradition -- remember Alejandro Sanz and Destiny's Child a few years back? Yowzah :)

This year, there was John Mayer -- mesmerizing; Alicia Keys -- gorgeous and edgier than usual; Josh Groban -- so handsome and intense ( and playing the piano, yes! ); Gretchen Wilson -- a relative newcomer who ROCKED with Redneck Woman ( take that, Shania ); and Bon Jovi -- sounding a little off, but scoring high with their overall energy.

Duets: Alicia Keys and Usher ( delish ); Snoop Dogg and Pharrell ( minimalist but very effective ); Rod Stewart with Dave Koz ( can't tahan the former, but love the latter -- too bad he's gay ); and the biggest surprise of the night: Jamie Foxx doing a Sexy Jazz / Soul Man routine. Some of these Hollywood actors are so gifted musically, the acting bit seems a bit of a waste. Kevin Spacey and Kevin Kline have beautiful voices ( and Kline plays the ivories ); Alfred Molina ( Doc Ock in Spiderman 2 ), Jonathan Pryce ( the villain in that Bond film with Michelle Yeoh in it ?title ), Victor Garber ( Jack Bristow in Alias ) and Hugh Jackman ( who can miss Hugh Jackman :D) are Broadway veterans; then there's Glenn Close ( Sunset Boulevard ) and even Antonio Banderas ( not too bad a voice, dances VERY well ). And though I don't like her much, I will admit that Catherine Zeta-Jones is an accomplished performer.

Clay Aiken also made an appearance with Kathy Griffith to present an award. Wearing black-rimmed glasses and looking a little sleep-deprived, he still got Griffith all hot and heavy under her wedding dress ( I kid you not ), and eventually pacified her with a mock proposal.
( Earlier in the evening, the AMA host ( Jimmy Fallon is it? ) also took some liberties with poor Clay, joking that Anna Nicole Smith has stolen his virginity. By force. I thought it was quite funny, but my mom said it's in poor taste. Wah, quite protective eh. :))

Fantasia Barrino sang her new song, which sounded awful. She totally overdid it, blech.

Will be away from the wards for 3 days starting tomorrow. HAZMAT course. Promises to be loads of fun.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

This Is The Life -- Not.

Yeesh, it's been the longest 12 hours ever .

Am on call today. Rounds began at 8am. Took rather long despite the short list -- 13 patients, I believe -- but by 10:30am, everything was done, my reg ( who, in conformity with the department's culture, doesn't stay in-hospital for calls ) bade me farewell and "good luck for the both of us haha", and I've been wandering aimlessly ever since.

Lunch, followed by a couple of hours reading in my room, followed by a trip to the ER to meet up with a good friend ( who just turned reg ) and catch up with a few consultants and nurses, help see patients, take blood, set plugs ( yes, I was that bored :)), then back to the ward for a venepuncture ( 4-year-old kid who needed vanco levels and a plug!!! ), dinner with A&E friends, back upstairs for the peak vanco withdrawal, then at present, since I can't figure out what to do next, a blog entry.

You wish you were in my shoes, you say? How can I complain when I'm earning good money for doing nothing? I suppose this is precisely why I chose to do emergency medicine, with its unearthly working hours ( 5-day work weeks don't apply to us, the only "dang it" in my book ), insanely busy shifts ( especially in this particular institution ), call requirements up to senior consultant level, and low remuneration. ( And funnily enough, the number of traineeship applicants continues to increase with each passing year. )

Suffering comes in many forms. Being idle is one of them. :/ ( This is why my parents always scold me for dragging a book along wherever we go. 5-minute wait for a meal, and I whip out a thick novel, reading maybe 2 pages before I have to put it away again, but feeling pretty darn good about it. :D)

How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days

This was on HBO last night. Have seen it before, but the perfect pairing of Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey is something I just can't pass up. Like Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman in Someone Like You. Great stuff.

But seriously though, it raises an interesting question. How does one lose a guy anyhow? Too clingy, too distant, too dependent, too independent -- you think women are complicated? Men sometimes ask too much of us as well -- although a certain Mr. Wong Hoong Hooi ( aka Singapore's -- or more accurately, The Straits Times Forum Page's -- resident misogynistic anti-feminist-movement chauvinist ) will heatedly disagree. If Mel Gibson's film poses the "What Women Want" dilemma, then I wonder: what do men want? Really?

Never mind that. Sometimes the answer is obvious. The dangerous part is when the man changes his expectations somewhere along the way. You start out in a relationship and slowly enter a "comfort zone". Then one day, the whole arrangement falls apart. He wants somebody who's the total opposite of yourself. He wanted to tell you so many times, but couldn't bring himself to do so, so instead he bought you an engagement ring and told your parents you were going to pick a wedding day, and took you house-hunting... How very interesting.

How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days doesn't address the above issue, of course. It's one of those whimsical romantic comedies with silly storylines and ditzy scenes. The wardrobe is 90% blue-with-black-stripes, the acting occasionally forced, the script a little ludicrous at times. But McConaughey has never looked better ( even better than in EdTV, A Time To Kill and The Wedding Planner ). And I just love that Southern accent.

Something to add to the "What Women Want" list perhaps? ;)

Sex And The City -- Aleksandr Petrovsky

I once said this series is worth following only because of its male characters, and I stand by that statement 100%. :D

Mikhail Baryshnikov. Need I say more?

Well actually, I want to say more, haha! I don't read reviews for plot giveaways, so when he suddenly popped up 2 episodes ago, I was over the moon. He's short, no doubt, but ages beautifully. Late 50s, but with a full head of blond hair, a lean physique, that delicious Russian twang, and an eye-popping scene where he bounded after a taxi for about a hundred metres, leaping over a stack of trash cans in the process. ( He's a famous ballet dancer -- along the lines of the late Rudolph Nureyev -- which explains this deliberately staged sequence. )

How many episodes will he stay for? Maybe Xena can tell me, heh heh. :)

Singapore Idol - The Final 3

So far, my gut instinct has been correct. Sylvester Sim has "something", as the judges so succinctly put it. And now, he's made it to the top 3. To be frank, I agree he isn't the best singer when compared to Taufik and Olinda. But personality draws the crowds, and this applies even to Clay Aiken.

You can win the title like Ruben Studdard and Kelly Clarkson did, but still fail to topple Clay's triple-platinum record sales. Think Fantasia Barrino is also faltering. If Sly plays his cards right, he may walk away from this the biggest winner even if he isn't crowned the Singapore Idol. I know I'll pick up his album if he releases one. Quite a feat, considering the fact that I've never once taken an interest in anyone who looks remotely like him. Weird, ain't it? :)

*looks at watch*
Hmm, think Charlie's Angels is on. Okay then, time to go to the staff lounge for a bit. Only 12 more hours to go. Sigh...

Friday, November 12, 2004

I am exhausted.

Read this to find out why.

A fellow ENT MO told me that earlier today, he'd developed "a bad feeling". It turned out to be "the right feeling".

Fresh Blood

We have a new member to The Lingual Nerve, ie. Maria, who runs a terrifically written blog (her 8 Nov entry is fantastic ).

Still working on the "guest writer" feature. Hopefully that'll be up and running soon, 'cos we've got an exciting line-up. :)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Living Up To Re-minisce's Description Of Me On His Blog -- Yet Again :)

--> xncmksdlwpalqkwmdmcfnvkfkgollljosoidhjnf

O Holy Night was MADE for his gorgeous voice. :)

James Galway's Concert Nov 9 At The Esplanade

A legend if there ever was one. I watched this gentleman play his flute on television even before I started primary school. Memory's a little fuzzy, but didn't he toot the Pink Panther theme or the Baby Elephant Walk at some point?

Anyway, seeing him "live" on Tuesday night was... surreal . Like seeing Michael Jackson, Barry Manilow, Cliff Richard and The Chieftains -- all successful musical artistes with huge followings, and more than 30 years ( each ) in this tough business.

As you know, I'm not a connoiseur of classical music. So yes, I can't recall much of what I heard -- pieces unfamiliar to me, but wonderfully played by the Munich Chamber Orchestra. The opening number -- an Elgar composition -- was especially moving. The closing -- Serenade For Strings by Tchaikovsky -- was exquisite.

I realized halfway through the concert that having only string sections can be quite an advantage. For me at least, I prefer the purity of tone, without the noise ( ie. all those bass and percussion instruments ). A friend told me our local Tang Quartet is pretty decent. Maybe I'll give them a try one day. New hobby. :)

When Sir James Galway stepped onto the stage, I literally got goose pimples. Clad in a golden waistcoat with elaborate embroidery, and an outer long coat ( which looked a little like a robe, haha ) coloured a deep wine red with intricate patterns, he beamed and waved at the audience before conducting the orchestra for their first piece. Then, it was his turn to shine as he performed two Mozart works, then a Cimarosa duet ( with his wife Jeanne -- a very regal blonde ).

Galway, despite his 65 years of age, has remained sprightly and energetic, treating us to his signature style of acrobatics combined with effortless emotive skills. Completely at ease on the concert stage, he even broke tradition by bantering with the audience a few times, cracking subtle jokes in his Irish accent.

Highlights: his stunt with a Chinese flute thingy, the encores ( which included an Irish jig and rendition of Danny Boy ) and -- my absolute favourite -- another duet with his wife, none other than the Turkish March from Mozart's famous Sonata In A ( aka my Grade 8 piano examination piece -- man, lots of late nights practising that one! :)). Everyone around me began to hum the melody on cue, and did the same for Danny Boy later. The lady to my right even knew the entire Tchaikovsky Serenade by heart. Whoa. :)

The autograph session took almost an hour, but Sir James was accomodating till the very end, giving each of us a jolly greeting, then bestowing meticulous signatures, followed by the chuckle "Step inside the studio" whenever someone brandished a camera ( the "studio" being the space behind him and his wife, that is :)). Lady Jeanne was equally lovely and friendly to a fault. Wonderful couple.

Not sure if the Galways will ever perform here again, considering their age. The reception was warm, but for some reason, only a handful of concertgoers obliged with standing ovations. Still, I'm very glad I got to see him in person. It was an unforgettable experience!

Check these out:

Greatest Hits album -- sample of the Pink Panther theme available ( scroll down )

Complete Discography

Return of the King soundtrack -- in particular, tracks 15, 17 and 18

Singapore Idol -- The Final 4 -- awaits. Good luck, Sylvester!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Trying to hotwire my brain back to a normal sleep cycle -- and failing miserably.
Blame it on 18 straight months of shift work.
But to be honest, I really enjoy irregular hours. Lounging in bed when everyone else has to rush to the hospital, strolling around town or having a nice cuppa on a weekday when the shops are quiet and the service outstanding :). Watching a movie in the morning then off to work with a skip in my step. Or a relaxing swim, perhaps a stop at the gym, which keeps me well-energized for the next 8 hours.

Now that it's the usual 8-5 routine, I can tell you with 100% confidence that I am definitely NOT a morning person. Waking up before 8am EVERY SINGLE DAY makes me extremely grouchy. I half-doze through my breakfast, then fight through the inevitable traffic jam on the highway, yuck. Teaching rounds tend to begin at 7:30am, which is a bit of a torture when you're an insomniac who can nod off only after midnight most of the time. I emphasize yet again that the people I work with are absolutely wonderful. BUT no matter what, I can't stand clinics, ward rounds and calls that exceed 12 hours. Sorry.

Oh yeah, that and having to see the same FON patients on a daily basis, as opposed to different FON people whom you can dispose of in various ways in the ER.

11:30pm, and I'm wide awake. Have my trusty David Eddings tome at the bedside -- am re-reading The Diamond Throne to relive some of my best memories from pre-med school days, ahhhh :) Just watched "Road To Fame", a terrific showcase of Hollywood stars pre-celebrity status. Keanu Reeves looking adorable in a cornflakes commercial, John Cusack intense even as a teenager during an audition, Tom Cruise and Heather Locklear trying out for the same play ( she definitely has had plastic surgery ), Kelsey Grammar and Bill Murray with hair (!!!), Drew Carey when he was thin ( double !!! ), Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Carrey doing stand-up in tiny clubs, etc. How far they've all come.

Had an interesting breakfast with a surgical professor this morning. We MOs were asked to "air our grievances", and when it came to my turn, I naturally brought up the issue of how the A&E doctors are required to refer even the most obvious appendicitis cases to the general surgeons for approval prior to admission. On good days, the process is speedily carried out and the patient sent up to the ward pronto, and the appropriate treatment given. Worst case scenario -- which has happened before -- the case is cooked for 2 hours, reviewed only when the surgeon finally gets out of the OT, then the patient waits another 2 hours before a bed is obtained. Seems a nasty complaint letter came out of just one such situation, and for what, I ask? Sheesh, just get one of the senior ER physicians to vet the admissions lah. Imagine a surgical registrar second-guessing an A&E consultant. It's just plain wrong.

Anyway, back to the issue I brought up. The professor -- who has a reputation for being, err, abrasive, but whom I actually like ( and even referred my father to for an operation 3 years ago ) -- gave a vague answer along the lines of "the A&E side needs to work closer with the surgical side", and that was the end of that discussion. Oh well...

The light at the end of the tunnel :)
X'mas in Tasmania is confirmed, yeeha! Hobart and Launceston, Cradle Mountain, Port Arthur, Tamar Valley, Cataract Gorge and Richmond, here we come!

Ahh :)

Aaahhhhh :)

Double Aaaaahhhh :)

Now I'm even more wide awake. Shouldn't have blogged at this late hour. Especially about Tasmania :D
Time for some David Eddings...

Friday, November 05, 2004


Reason #1: President Bush has won a second term. No comment.

Reason #2: My first ENT call is turning into quite the fiasco, because (1) I'm in my 4th day of the rotation, (2) I have NEVER removed a fish bone from anyone's throat on my own before ( and therefore need pratice in order to become successful in the future ), (3) I had, as a nice "induction experience", for my very first A&E FB throat referral, a lady who had a 2.5cm metal wire lodged at the base of her tongue, thanks to a meal at a reputable 5-star hotel. She had minimal gag reflexes, but unfortunately enlarged lingual tonsils, which partially obscured the view, hence requiring the summoning of my registrar, who later used a bronchoscope and stylet to fish it out.

Wait, there're more.

(4) 5 "??FB throats" followed in quick succession thereafter, but these had normal Xrays and negative scopes. Still, the whole group kept me occupied for a good amount of time.

Now, the whammy.

(5)At around 10pm, a man in his 60s was referred to me for -- you guessed it -- ?swallowed fishbone. Lateral neck Xray was positive for an FB base of tongue, confirmed on flexiscope. Problem is, he's got a major gag reflex, precipitated even by nasoendoscopy ( which seldom causes such problems ). So I couldn't attempt removing the bone -- because I couldn't even keep him relaxed enough to stick anything down the back of his throat to grab the **** thing. 45 minutes of coaxing and manoeuvring passed, and I contemplated calling my poor registrar yet again.
Luckily, a visiting consultant rang at that very moment to tell me he was coming down to the A&E to personally attend to a friend with an ENT problem. We spent about 30-45 minutes settling everything, then I asked if he would help with this particularly difficult patient.
The VC, who is unbelievably obliging, immediately agreed. But alas, the Insurmountable Gag held strong, and he too failed, recommending removal under GA.
So right now, at 1:30am, during my very first ENT call, I'm waiting for my registrar to come over ( again ) to give it ONE LAST SHOT, before conceding defeat and resorting to wheeling the guy into OT. I can't believe a 1cm piece of fish bone can be such a pain in the ***. And the patient just told me he's never going to eat fish EVER again for the rest of his life. You and me both, pal. :/

Reason #3: Grand ward round 7:30am. Aargh.

Reason #4: Urgh's persistent whining. Hello, stop reading if you can't handle your emotions lah.

However, there's a silver lining to this dark cloud. I go post-call tomorrow at lunchtime, then it's 2 full days off, HAH! :) Will be spending it... doing a powerpoint presentation for the A&E basic trainee tutorial next Friday. But I don't have to show up at work the whole weekend, which is GREAT. :D

Another silver lining: the A&E's ENT room has Internet access. Broadband some more. :D

And last but not least, I've got tickets to Sting's January concert at the Indoor Stadium. Woohoo!

Can't think straight anymore. Wish me luck for the rest of tonight. Or should I say, this morning.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A New Chapter

After 18 months straight of ER postings, I'm back in the wards, and in a surgical subspecialty, no less.

ENT, to be exact. I had major reservations initially, to be honest. 6 months of General Surgery in 2001-02 was fun, but left me exhausted ( though well-fed, haha ). 3 months of orthopaedics in mid-2002 was action-packed, but I always felt like an intruder, and a lot of the terminology ( I spent my fair share of time in the theatre assisting in loooong spinal ops and the like ) often sailed right over my haze-filled head.

But I still considered those relatively "mainstream" postings. This, however, departed quite a fair bit from that area. Didn't I spend only 3 weeks of my 5 years as a medical student in this department way back when? At least ortho lasted a minimum of 2 months, with an additional short revision posting in final year. Hmm.

Day 2 of the new rotation... and things are looking pretty good. :)

7 MOs, most of whom are surgical trainees ( with one who's passed his Part 2, and another Clinical Associate ). An average of 30 patients at any given period. A 20-strong department comprising all guys ( except myself, imagine that! ). And best of all, extremely nice colleagues at every level.

Yesterday was filled with hospital orientation activities -- the usual sleep-inducing lectures. Today, we eased into part of the usual routine, beginning with a speedy ward / teaching round, followed by changes ( with 5 of us handling bits here and there ), a tea break, a trip to the ER to familiarize ourselves with the equipment, lunch, a clinic visit for a quick rundown of commonly encountered ENT emergencies, more ward work, then home. MO clinics were blocked for our benefit, but this will restart tomorrow, and is always busy, so that'll be a challenge. My first call will take place sometime later this week -- hope it won't be too horrible.

But I guess the greatest relief arises from the fact that I'm officially "the supernumerary MO", which also makes me "the floater", so that I do rounds with the whole group in the morning, then am essentially left to my own devices, being rostered in clinic but also free to hang out elsewhere at my own discretion. AND NO OT TIME!!! Sorry, nothing personal, but I just CAN'T stand in one spot for hours on end, fixed in some uncomfortable position, in a freezing environment, unable to go to the toilet when I desperately need to. Unless I'm on holiday, enjoying a nice winter view. :)

Also, we were informed the department has alternate weekends off. FULL WEEKENDS, including Saturdays ( unless you're the on-call team ). I can't believe it! My first entire weekend free in 18 months! Okay, don't regret choosing A&E, don't regret choosing A&E, don't regret choosing A&E... :D

Another unexpected turn of events: a highly possible first Christmas spent overseas. I initially projected leave for end-January, but a rotation to the Eye Centre during that month prompted my A&E HOD to request that I bring it forward by 30 days. No problemo. I'd be more than happy to get out of this country during the festive season -- I never venture out anyway; mobs grate on my nerves. Especially Singaporean mobs.

Choice of destination? Limited, since I fare badly in cold climates ( HMDP anxiety, aargh ). NZ is out 'cos I went there in 2003, and not many other places can rival its beauty and offer warm temperatures at this time. Was considering the Maldives, but everything's water-related over there -- not an issue for me, but my parents aren't swimming enthusiasts, so I'm obliged to entertain their tastes to some degree.

Right now, Tasmania is a very very strong contender. Missed out on it in 2001 when I visited Melbourne -- holiday was unexpectedly cut short by my then-HOD, who almost drove me out of my mind with his last-minute demands. So now, I just hope I can get a flight yeesh. Hobart Festivals, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Mt. Wellington, the Tasman National Park... my mouth's watering something fierce! :)

In Other News

The US Presidential Elections has begun. My bet is on Kerry-Edwards. Wasn't wrong with Clinton-Gore in 1992. Let's see if I'm right again this time.

Some guy just won a $90,000 Subaru vehicle from Mediacorp, after standing in the sun and rain for 75 hours straight. Without sleep. And only three 5-minute breaks per 24 hours. Eh, someone please offer him some big bucks to join the medical profession. Where he belongs, haha. :P


freshman: I haven't forgotten your earlier question about plastics. Now that I'm better placed with regards to access to surgeons, I'll try to get round to answering your queries.

ann & huh: The giddy-schoolgirl bit comes out only on the blog. Kinda like an alter-ego thing. In person, people tell me I'm "quiet", "reserved", even "mousey". And even more so now that I'm surrounded by a big bunch of high-powered surgeons and surgeons-to-be. My writing's always been thus. Just that not many people knew about this site till the SARS epidemic raised its profile somewhat. It's my outlet. Always has been, always will be. :)

urgh: heh heh :)