Happy Merdeka Day, (what’s left of) my beloved country.
Hopefully someday, we can restore some color and life into you.
31 Aug 2010.
Ah Long (colloquial): Chinese for Illegal Money Lender
For as long as I have been a doctor, patients have often asked me for money. I am beginning to suspect that printed on my forehead are these words, visible only to patients:
GULLIBLE DOCTOR. WILL PART WITH MONEY EASILY
Over the years, I have often been asked, and given small sums of money to patients. Usually it’s with believable excuses such as having no money for bus fares, no money for food, no money for milk powder for the crying hungry baby in the patient’s arms, etc.
Just a few months ago, a lady stopped me as I was rushing back to my office after finishing the ID clinic and feeling terribly hungry (it was past lunch time) and she asked me for money so that she could take a cab home.
I walked away RM 20 poorer.
I’m such a sucker. Sigh.
Which also means I’d probably not do very well in private practice.
I mean, it’s doesn’t make sense that not only do I have to attend to the patient’s medical needs, I might actually end up paying them to see me! Errr.. I don’t think things work this way.
Another time, a patient called me on the phone (I don’t know how he got my phone number) and blatantly asked me for RM 300 so that he could top up the RM 800 that he has, so that he could get a second hand car so that he could start work and earn some money. I said “No” as politely as I could. I never saw him again in my HIV clinic.
I often wondered if it’s his way of retaliating for not getting the money from me. Of course, it’s a stupid way because without his medications, he wouldn’t do very well either.
Just 2 days ago, a patient, using his appointment card from the hospital as a pretense, told the guard in the place where my office is located, that he has an appointment with me! The guard, being new and ignorant of the fact that I do not see patients in my office, allowed him through. He found my office, knocked on the door and because I do not have one of them keyhole glass in the door to peep through, I opened my door and because I recognise him as one of my patients, I allowed him in.
That was a big mistake.
He proceeded to pour upon me a most tragic sob story that would probably fetch an Oscar if it was made into a movie. He said his family berated him for his condition. He said his sister ridiculed him. He said he hasn’t been home for days. He said he will probably spend Hari Raya alone, somewhere, swallowing his ketupat in bitter desolation. He said he has no money for new clothes.
He said he needed RM 100 from me!
I was wondering within me, since when did I become a financier of other people’s festive celebration?!!!
To cut the story short, I became poorer by RM 50 (after getting a 50% discount).
When I posted this on my FB page, someone suggested that I post a ‘Moneylender’ sign outside my clinic.
Maybe I should. At least then, I could get back some returns.
Fri, 270810 @ 0830
Recently I mentioned in my FB page that the French company, Carrefour hypermarket, is pulling its business out of South East Asia (and that includes Malaysia).
This is sad news for me for at least 2 reasons:
1. I enjoy shopping in Carrefour immensely (except for the newly opened branch in Seremban which is small, congested and terrible). I can find most things that I could not easily get from other hypermarkets such as Giant (which is like a glorified sundry shop) and Tesco (a slightly more dignified glorified sundry shop).
2. Carrefour has been a great supporter of the IMU’s CSR project in Batu Pahat for many years, contributing regularly in the form of free mineral water, utensils etc, whenever we hold a project in one of the villages there. The other 2 hypermarts were most unhelpful.
I’m gonna miss Carrefour when it goes away.
Apparently Carrefour wants to invest in the ‘booming market that is India’. Well, I wish it the best.
A word of advice from me though…
A friend tagged me in one of the photo he took of one of the bakery products of Carrefour recently:
The people in Carrefour should be more careful in labeling their products. I doubt the people in India would enjoy eating ‘Asst Whole Cake’!
Thurs, 260810 @ 0745
My kids are a couple of drama queens (king, as in the case of Ryan – if you wannabe gender compliant). A tiny insect bite on the minutest part of their body would quickly turn them into whining, groaning and moaning kids, incessantly complaining about the itch, the pain and the swelling.
You’d think they were shot with Zulu poison darts!
Just the other day, while taking a short break from helping a fellow church mate move house, we were seated around some sandwiches and fried noodles and I related to the group (comprising of other church mates) what a drama-king my son was.
I recalled during a dinner when Ryan (who is 7 now) decided he needed a drink of water mid-way through the dinner (he always have to have a drink mid-way through any meal). He then proceeded to slip off his seat, dropped onto the floor and started to crawl on all fours towards the water dispenser (the distance was but less than 5 feet), with one outstretched arm on the floor, and another holding his throat, all the while declaring in a hoarse voice:
“Water! Water! I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedddd WATER!!!!!”
The group had a good laugh….until one of them turned to me and asked:
“And where do you think he got this theatrical gene from?”
I haven’t thought about it much before that but now that I have, I am certain it wasn’t from my side of the family. I’d scale the highest mountain, plunge to the deepest bowels of the earth, brave the greatest pestilence, cross the driest desert and sail to the ends of the seven seas just to prove it’s true.
Tues, 240810 @ 0800
Plants tend to die under my care, generally speaking; and because of this, I try not to spend on exotic plants which are typically expensive. However, not too long ago, feeling mildly optimistic that I can handle a type of plant that I have been eying for ages, I decided to take the plunge and bought myself a pot of Nephentes.
Locally known as Periuk Kera in Malay (or Monkey Cups/ Pitcher Plant), I’ve been desiring one of these for a long long time. Unfortunately on most occasions that I inquired about the price, it was exorbitant (about RM 40-50 per pot) and so when the guy at the nursery (probably in a moment of insanity) quoted me RM 18 for the last pot of Monkey Cups, I bought it!
And I am proud to announce, that after more than 2 months of being under my potentially fatal care, it not only thrived but went on to sprout even more of those fascinating cups at the end of the long tendrils found at the end of each leaf!
To watch a tiny tendril slowly morph into a cup over a week or two is an amazing experience. I’d like to share the experience with you here:
Mon, 230810 @ 1430
The last time I climbed all the way to the top of Gunung Angsi (825 meters above sea level) was 2 years and 4 months ago! That’s a very long time ago!
I’ve been shying away from climbing this mountain mainly because I find the trail extremely dirty (it’s very obvious the tourism board in Negeri Sembilan hasn’t been doing their work – the entire place is in a state of disrepair).
Anyway, last Saturday, we decided to climb it again and it was quite fun climbing during the month of Ramadhan because we were practically the only people in the entire mountain! The park ranger’s office was closed as well, as were all the stalls in the area.
Because of the heavy downpour the day before, the trail was wet, muddy and slippery (and full of leeches too!)
Here were the statistics:
1. Time taken to summit: 3 hours 15 min
2. Time taken to descend: 2 hours 45 min
3. Water consumed: 1.5 litres
4. Isotonic drink consumed: 1.3 litres
5. Food consumed: 2 Nougats, 1 sweet, 1 packet of fried rice
On the way up the trail, we came across 3 large seeds like the one below:
I am posting the photo here in case any of you could help me identify the species from which this giant seed comes from.
For more photos, visit my FB page.
The next climb will be in 2 weeks time – Mount Kinabalu here I come (again!)
Tues, 170810 @ 1100
Yesterday I lost a very dear friend. I was at her wake service last night but did not have the opportunity to go up to the microphone and say a word or two about this remarkable person. So many people had so many good things to say about her!
So, I thought I would say my piece here.
I got the news from my pastor’s FB update yesterday.
Although I was taken aback, the news was not entirely surprising. Apparently some time after lunch, she experienced breathing difficulty and it was not long after that she lapsed into coma and passed away. She did not suffer, according to those who were with her. She just slipped quietly into a coma and cease breathing after a while.
As one of the few doctors in church, I am privy to many things that church members do not usually tell other church goers. Nita’s history was one of them.
About 2 years ago, Nita came to me and handed me a bunch of paper. They were her lab results. It showed that she has chronic liver disease and eventually she was placed under follow up at the Gastroenterology clinic at the hospital here. Meanwhile she carried on being her usual self - bubbly, ever ready to lend a hand, her ‘expertise’ being the person working ‘behind the scene’ – arranging church furniture, preparing hot water for coffee and tea, cooking food for the after-church-fellowship, cleaning and washing up; stuff that a lot of us took for granted.
I’ve never heard her grumble nor complain even once.
Late last year, Nita came to me again. Apparently an ultrasound abdomen was done for her which showed many lesions in her already shrunken and hardened liver. Her serum alpha-feto-protein (a tumor marker for liver cancer) was markedly elevated. Nita said that she was being referred to the Selayang Hospital for further management. She showed me all her lab results and then asked, “So, what shall I do now?”
One remarkable thing about Nita was that she was brutally frank – no beating around the bush. She would a spade, a spade and quite loudly too! And because of this trait, she expected people to be equally frank with her too.
I remember sitting with her at one corner of the church porch, looked her in the eye and told her, quite frankly, “Nita, the results show you have liver cancer. I doubt there is much that the doctors in Selayang can do. There is no cure because it is very extensive. In the days to come, you may find yourself growing more yellow in color, you will become tired easily and your abdomen may grow in size due to accumulation of fluid inside, your legs may swell up.”
“Are you saying that I am going to die soon?”, she asked me.
“Yes”, I replied, not daring to look her in the eye
“It’s okay, doc. Don’t be sad for me! My conscience is clear, I have no burdens to bear here and I am very ready to go home!!”, she said, almost enthusiastically, with not a tinge of sadness in her eyes.
True enough, the doctors in Selayang Hospital told her that nothing could be done for her. She did not even qualify to be placed on drug trials because of the extensive nature of her condition.
Over the next few months, she carried on doing what she does best – serving others. She did not tell anyone her condition until much later and that too, to very few people. Even her friends and neighbours did not know about her condition – how the disease was slowly poisoning her blood because the liver could not clear away toxins; how her red cells were diminishing by the day.
I noticed her skin becoming more and more yellow and her eyes grew paler and paler by the weeks. Soon, red marks known as ‘spider naevi’ were seen on her arms and small bruises appeared. I noticed her abdomen protruding too. Because all these take place slowly and over a period of time, it was hardly noticed by others (unless they are medically trained).
Once in a while Nita would come aside me and asked whether she could take this or that supplements. More often than not, her concern was more on my well being and that of my family members!
Apparently, yesterday morning, a few hours before she passed away suddenly, she still managed to bring her neighbour, who is an elderly wheel chair bound woman, to the hospital for blood taking!
What an amazing woman!It’s also amazing that she was still up and about until her very last day! I have seen patients with much less extensive disease than her being incapacitated and bed bound long before they pass away.
Yesterday, at the wake service, we cried. My girl cried buckets of tears. Nita has touched her life with so much goodness and my girl must have remembered them. Before we left for home (we left before the service ended as it was getting late), my girl crept up to the open casket again, stood on her toes, saw Nita and bid her good bye for the last time.
I am going to miss Nita.
I will miss the many servings of after-church-fellowship food that she hands over to me with a big smile.
I will miss the small gifts, given discreetly – a key chain, a small tin of cookies, a little toy car for my boy, story books for the kids, etc etc.
I will miss her phone calls – always to ask about medical conditions of those close to her.
I will miss her “Doc! Thank you for leading Praise and Worship in church! When you lead, it’s special! I feel refreshed!”, which never ceased to amaze me and brought cheer to my heart (I didn’t think my P&W leading was all that special).
I will miss her chiding me for not leading P&W more often!
I will miss her care and concern.
And I am going to miss her unwavering faith in God. Nita was faith in action.
If I could be even a tenth of who Nita was, I would be a much better person!
Nita, thank you for everything and thank you for blessing us with your life. I am glad you have finally found your rest in the arms of Jesus and relieved from the cancer stricken body. You have now received your reward which you so richly deserve.
And some day, we shall meet and fellowship again.
I look forward to that day!
Thurs, 120810 @ 1100