Saturday, December 18, 2004

I never thought this day would come. It feels good. :)

Finally finished up 6 weeks of ENT, ending off with a big bang -- aka the Mother Of All My ENT Calls -- last night. Sure, I got roughly 3 hours of sleep, but factor in the crummy 10 hours I had prior to the actual call ( which officially starts at 5pm ), followed by another 10 hours of non-stop activity ( who would've thought an ENT patient would suddenly decide to stroke out, or that the anterior ethmoid artery of another would choose that very precise moment -- 1:15am, just as my head hit the pillow -- to bleed? ), and you've got one half-dead MO trolling the SGH corridors.

I used to HATE internal med clinics, but ENT takes the cake. 50 patients per MO session in the mornings, 30 in the afternoon. With medical patients, you can just talk to them, write prescriptions and order the necessary tests. Not so in ENT. Here, you have to do nasoendoscopic examinations for almost everybody, not to mention lengthy aural toileting, with the odd minor surgical procedure crammed in the middle of the whole mess ( care of a minor OT located at the back of the ENT Centre, hurray ). Another thing I'm not too happy about is how certain consultants have a habit of sending us their cases, even when we're hanging by a thread ourselves. "Language barrier"? What the heck are the nurses for?!

Anyway, why complain any further when freedom beckons? Ahhhh. 10 days of brain-rotting relaxation amidst the tranquil beauty of Tasmania. National parks, vineyards, good food and liquor, trips on the lake... just what I need after a year of absolute hell in the work department.

I've never spent Christmas overseas before, and am greatly looking forward to it. Was contemplating a trip to more temperate climates, but why suffer cold weather when I'll get plenty of that during HMDP? :P

January promises a new set of challenges. Will be posted to the Singapore National Eye Centre, with a few stints at the SGH ER here and there to re-acquaint myself with the new system ( and force me to revise a little, heh heh ). In the past week, my responsibilities have suddenly quadrupled, with assignments for the SMA News, Singhealth, and some webmaster thingy for the local and Asian Emergency Physician chapters. I said yes to all of them, even though in the back of my mind, I realize I may be piling too much on my already small plate. The reason? They're tasks which I know I'll definitely enjoy. One even provides opportunities for doctors to do a lot of good in the community, especially for those much less fortunate than ourselves. Funny thing is, this happened quite by chance. Almost as if by divine intervention, haha. I hope I won't let anyone down.

As 2004 nears its end, I can't help but look back on the past 12 months, and marvel at just how much has occurred. I don't think I've had such an eventful year in quite a while. Passing the Part 2, meeting celebrities ( and shaking their hands :)), being guest editor, writing for The Lingual Nerve, and now these additional responsibilities.

Not too long ago, I wondered if I SHOULD whack some unsuspecting guy on the head and embark on a relationship. But now, I understand that this isn't who I am, and isn't what my life is meant for. One of the lessons I've learnt from Christianity is how God leads you in every aspect, and how, despite the doubts and occasional loneliness, you have to trust in Him and thus discover your purpose.

All through medical school, I had a plan for my future: get married by 26, complete my family before I hit 30, everything else being pretty much secondary. As you know, none of that ever panned out. And only now does it all make perfect sense.

To my well-meaning friends, don't worry about me. And please don't ever try setting me up. :)
To my parents, whose love is infinite, and whom I travel with not because I have to, but because they're the only people I can hang out with constantly and not drive me completely insane, I only wish I could say how much I care for you both. But then, that's not our style is it? :D
To the readers who don't know me personally but who visit regularly, thank you for taking the time to plough through the whiny drivel I produce.

Apologies for long overdue reviews of books and other assorted things ( but I will tell you that National Treasure was DISAPPOINTING ). I can't promise an improvement come 2005. Work commitments will put a damper on the frequency of blog entries, while a growing yearning for anonymity may just prompt me to leave this site dormant, and post my opinions elsewhere ( close friends will of course receive that new address :)).

But that can be left for another day. In the meantime, a very Merry X'mas and Happy New Year to all. I'm off to get some R&R. :D

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Review Of Learning To Sing

... is going to be slightly delayed. No Blogger at the hospital, hence I can't post anything even if I'm sitting around twiddling my toes during a quiet call ( not that I EVER have quiet calls, sigh ). I just love this book, and want to lift quotes, discuss my impressions, etc. Doing this pre-call and post-busy-day-of-clinics is close to impossible.

But here's one I found on the Net. Not the most flattering, but hey, it gives me a chance to rebut it later. :)

Beavers On Idol Review


Monday was horrible -- the ENT registrar actually drove us all out for lunch so I wouldn't be so "moody", haha -- but the evening ( despite my exhaustion ) was therapeutic.

If you read my blog faithfully, you may recall a particular character I mentioned previously -- a guy who reminds me of Jesse from Gilmore Girls, and who drove hospital nurses wild even though he wasn't a flirt or even remotely friendly. This is the same person who had a habit of playing MP3 songs from his PC during phone conversations. Cool fellow, very opinionated, and -- in my personal opinion -- really sweet. :D

Met up for dinner after a 2-year hiatus, and he hasn't changed a bit. Spent 3 hours catching up, gorging on pasta and ice-cream, then took a leisurely stroll down Orchard Road in the light drizzle. He's still moderately grouchy, but I noticed he was making an obvious effort to "chit-chat" ( most unusual ). However, the best part, I think, was how we rarely broached the subject of work, mostly because he absolutely HATES discussing it. It was refreshing to hang out with a fellow doctor and have animated debates about everything from religion to politics to hobbies, without the expected exchanges on work-related issues. He also let me fiddle with his iPod, which holds 10,000 songs, some transferred from his collection of 1000 CDs, others downloaded from the Internet. There was a song by a group called Ass Ponys, heh heh. Didn't listen to it though. :)

Half an hour after we parted ways, he sent me an SMS, which was again very out of character, never mind its contents. :) He's single. No girlfriend for as long as we've known each other. And guess what, I think he's cute, and he's always been extremely accomodating towards me, without the trademark you're-female-and-may-misunderstand-so-no-i'm-not-going-to-be-nice-to-you attitude.

Will this lead anywhere? Let's not dwell on that. :D

The Pleasure Of My Company

Steve Martin's latest novel is my current reading assignment. Aside from being a comedic genius ( ie. The Man With Two Brains, All Of Me, Housesitter, Bowfinger, Roxanne ), he's also a very intelligent writer. Shopgirl -- which I read years ago -- was engaging, but Pleasure is a complete turnaround, and totally hilarious. Think Adrian Monk from that terrific TV series, but with 10 times the neurosis.

More on this later. Learning To Sing will come first. Naturally. :)

Allow Us To Be Frank -- Westlife

Long-overdue review of the album, argh.

In short, it's great, buy it!

As for the longer version of the story, here're my favourite tracks:

Summer Wind
Let There Be Love
I Left My Heart In San Francisco
That's Life

I've basically been alternating this CD with Clay Aiken's Merry Christmas With Love for the past few weeks. Drives my parents crazy ( "Can you play something ELSE already!? ). :)

But I can't get over Westlife's effortless transition from boy-band pop to big-band posh. I can't believe lead singer Shane Filan can sound so smooth and classy -- not to mention almost unrecognizable if not for his famous vibrato. Or how the rest of the group is able to carry classic tunes so competently. Style is a vital component here, 'cos Shane is clearly the only strong vocalist among the 4 ( Brian McFadden has officially gone solo ). A major saving grace is the supporting big band / orchestra, not to mention whoever was in charge of arranging all the music.

Will be blasting this on my Discman when I tour Tasmania. Have to pack my bags soon. Shall also include:

Merry X'mas With Love ( was there ever any doubt? :))
Measure Of A Man ( another Clay Aiken must-have )
Closer - Josh Groban
On The Moon - Peter Cincotti ( as well as his self-titled debut album )
Twentysomething ( special edition ) - Jamie Cullum ( it's got a cover of Frontin', which is just soooo sexy :))
Hopes and Fears - Keane
MTV Unplugged - George Michael ( Star People is one of the best songs EVER )
Ladies & Gentlemen ( a greatest hits compilation ) - George Michael
All This Time ( excellent "live" concert recording ) - Sting
Sing When You're Winning & Swing When You're Winning - Robbie Williams

Wish I could bring Michael Buble along, but a friend of mine is still holding onto it. She reads my blog, so CY, if you see this, please return it soon! :D

I Dream

Just happened to hear Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah's single on Class 95, and boy does it sound good! His voice has a slightly different quality to it when heard through earplugs. More grownup, fuller, richer, and indistinguishable from any other Westerner ( I didn't even realize it was him until the chorus ).

Must pick up a few copies ASAP. Gonna mail them to a few key people overseas -- friends from American radio stations, music industry insiders... :)

On call tomorrow. Better rest up. Long day, long night, crappy luck. :/

Sunday, December 05, 2004


Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science -- by Atul Gawande.

Full review available here.

I just made an entry on The Lingual Nerve as well.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

Finished it a couple of days ago. Easy to read, quite funny in the first half, but got a little tedious towards the end. Still, its novelty is a strong point, and Mark Haddon's writing displays great insight into the autistic mind.

The protagonist, Christopher Boone, is a memorable character who will prove a huge challenge to play on the big screen. To date, only one name comes to mind -- you guessed it: Haley Joel Osment. But Jamie Bell ( from "Billy Elliot" ) may be a surprise choice ( his performance on cable's "Nicholas Nickleby" -- based on a Charles Dickens tale -- was laudable ).

In any case, reading The Curious Incident was enjoyable partly because I was constantly reminded of Clay Aiken, whose lifelong work with special needs children ( in particular, Mike Bubel, who has autism ) has gained significant prominence since his profile shot sky-high on American Idol 2.

And speaking of Clay...

Learning To Sing -- by Clay Aiken

I just got this book from a fellow local Clay fan yesterday ( thanks, M! ). I'm currently halfway through it, but at the rate things are going, I'll probably finish it today, and use up every Kleenex in the house before I'm done.

A proper review will follow soon. So far, I've read chapters where Clay relates experiences from a painful childhood plagued by family conflicts, violence, alcoholism, and cruel schoolmates. It WILL get better, I'm sure, since we all know how the story ends, don't we? :)

The Kleenexes started disappearing last night as I sat in bed, riveted for more than an hour ( had to stop reading at midnight 'cos of church this morning ) by Clay's narrative, which switches easily from the past to the present, alternating between despair and hope, tears and laughter. Some stories have been told before, but others are new -- and heartbreakingly so.

Clay just turned 26 five days ago ( I failed to mention this on my blog, aargh! *smacks forehead* ), but his maturity and strength never fail to amaze me. Here is a young man whose ability to inspire and teach far exceed that of most many years his senior. And his mother, Faye, has indeed done extremely well in inculcating the right values and, more importantly, the conviction to live by them no matter how strong the temptation.

Last I heard, Learning To Sing recently sold out at Borders and Kinokuniya. Pre-order yours ASAP, 'cos it's going to fly off the shelves again, and this is one book no-one should miss out on.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Backdated Entries

It seems SGH computers have banned Blogger from its list of approved websites. How annoying.

In any case, there're a couple of new posts here, so scroll down if you don't want to miss them.

The day after the Singapore Idol finals, breakfast with fellow MOs revealed that one senior ENT trainee actually voted! For Taufik! And you thought only squealing young girls bother. :)

My call yesterday was -- to put it simply -- crappy. Started out with a busy day of clinics, which gave me a throbbing headache by lunchtime, then got worse as the afternoon wore on. Finally finished seeing everyone at 5:45pm, after which I camped out in the call room, unable to sleep and ploughing through Mark Haddon's novel, before venturing out to grab some dinner chow from Delifrance, then disposing of an A&E referral ( from a fellow A&E trainee who's done 6 months of ENT before some more; eh, don't like that lah ). At midnight, I was paged to resite two IV plugs. and by then, I felt ready to lie down and get some shuteye ( my biological clock has been hotwired after 18 months of ER postings, such that I can only doze off after midnight, and wake after 8am. Which, of course, has wreaked havoc on my system this past month, since we routinely start work before 8 and finish after 5. )

So there I was, sighing as I lay on the pillow, when my pager went off. It was my on-call registrar, informing me he was about to perform an elective tracheostomy, and would I like to come into OT to see it? You see, earlier that same morning, I'd told the head of department at a meeting that I very much wanted to see this procedure. True, I was present during an emergency trach last month ( read 210 Minutes on The Lingual Nerve ), but it happened to fast I didn't even catch it. All I remember is: Get me the tracheostomy set! Jab, slash, shove ETT in. The end.

The leisurely version was much more useful ( though I would've preferred that it take place at a less insane hour ). I got to see the neck structures in proper detail, and my reg assured me that should the need for an emergency surgical airway ever arise in the ER, if the patient is already flat, just cut and stick the tube in, and worry about haemostasis later. I feel more confident already. :)

The rest of the call, sadly, was quite eventful. Anaesthetist's spouse admitted for an oesophageal foreign body necessitating rigid scope for removal. A page at 3am for something I can't even recall ( hope I didn't order the wrong drug in the process, haha ). Then another trip out of bed at 5:30am to submit an OT chit via computer for the aforementioned patient. Not a busy call by conventional standards ( those I did in medical departments were the WORST ), but I wasn't feeling too well to begin with, so it felt like Torture. more whining about my love life. For now at least, heh heh. Who would've imagined that a JC mate's innocuous comment would trigger such a major response from readers? Must tell him the next time we meet.

Will now take a long overdue nap. Have the whole weekend off, yay. :)