12.02.2013

A Rant of a Rant

Sorry guys, I just need to rant. You can read the original post that showed up on my news feed by clicking the screenshots I took. I don't personally know the guy who wrote it, but assume he must be a friend of a friend for it to show up on my Facebook feed.

Reposting what I wrote on Jiahao's timeline here:
The sentiment's there, but the guy has some inherent prejudices and paints people with broad strokes. I especially resent the part about people from southern Taiwan being called dumb hicks. Just because he's lived in several countries for a couple years each doesn't make him an expert in their culture. 

There is also the flip side of the coin, where "foreigners" are still regarded with a bit of awe and fawning by some parts of the Singaporean community. Just because they are foreigners. People falling into this group may also fall into the xenophobic group. Too many intricacies and factors including culture, government, and social norms to consider when it comes to people's reactions and their so-called xenophobic views. You really can't simplify it the way the guy did, and then throw in a bunch of swear words to make a point.



I think the guy who wrote it was quite upset and in the moment, and came across as a condescending little shit. I'm sure he's a nice guy, or else he wouldn't have 890 people on Facebook that call him a friend.

A lot of the examples cited in his rant are merely just glimpses of a bigger picture. I hope that for those who have never been, lived or heard about Taiwan, Denmark, America and Singapore will take the views of the author into consideration but not form an opinion of these countries based purely on the examples given.

Each country will have moments of glory alongside shameful secrets and mistakes. Learning to appreciate the good in one's surroundings whilst trying to minimize the bad is probably a bit more helpful for everyone instead of dissing things one doesn't like. How can you label a country as one that "doesn't work".. what is your criteria? How come America isn't also labelled as a country that "doesn't work" with all the violence we see in the news, the ruckus over Obamacare and the partial government shut-down?

Now, onwards with Denmark. I think that everyone is a little bit racist (thank you, Avenue Q) in one way or another. Just because a city, a town or a country is less diverse than another does not immediately make it the fault of that particular place. There are probably geographical factors, amongst others, that have caused places to feel more "insular" than others. That doesn't make it a good or bad thing. It just is. Some people prefer that, others don't. Drawing the conclusion that a country lacks immigrant culture because the most popular dish is egg with curry powder is frankly bewildering. Isn't that just local preference? Like how a lot of Americans prefer fried rice (or plain) with soy sauce, but a lot of Chinese would be horrified if offered the same dish? Does that mean I can conclude that America is insular because rice with soy sauce is more popular than rice with a more traditional Chinese condiment.. like let's say, salted duck egg?

And then, there's America. Yet another sweeping generalization based on a tertiary-educational experience. I guess I could say the same about Singapore's secondary and junior college experience. Being surrounded by robots who plough through ten-year series and memorize model answers and then generalize that the whole education system in Singapore unfortunately, does not "fucking [work] man. Really."

I think that every country goes through phases where they can be called xenophobic to a certain extent. I think a lot of complicated factors come into play for these sentiments to surface. America went through several of these phases with regards to the Japanese (or any Asian immigrant really) immigrants "stealing" jobs. Americans are still up in arms over immigrants "stealing" jobs, even in 2013.

I find it odd that this wasn't mentioned in the rant. That despite implying that people who go to Ivy League schools are "fucktards" and that the author's like the Sheldon Cooper of Harvard, there is a whiff of reverence or adulation of America and its culture. America apparently is "synonymous with life".. I'm sorry. Not mine. Probably not yours either. Else you would have moved there ages ago. Because everywhere else is worth less. Yes, Singapore too as implied. Yet, ironic that the author declares a fierce pride in being a Singaporean. Very confusing. I must be one of those "fucktards" he was talking about to not understand all this.

Like I said, I hope that people heartily agreeing with the guy have, or will get the chance to experience the countries and cultures mentioned in the Facebook rant for themselves. It would be a shame to form opinions based on the piece, build up national pride as a Singaporean, look down upon other cultures that aren't American and then attempt to accept foreigners with open arms into Singaporean culture.


10.14.2013

I Wish I Had My Megaphone

I wish I had my megaphone
Obviously one I'd share
I'd like to use it now and then
When I start to tear out my hair.

This megaphone, it'd be grand
For the whole world would hear
Whatever sounds are uttered through
To everyone with an ear.

A friend of mine, today he shared
A very infuriating story
It made me yearn for my megaphone
Or unleash some H. pylori.

I know that I'm a little miss
One that knows not much
But sometimes you don't need a lot
Just sense and courtesy and such.

I wish I had my megaphone
So I could teach them so.
Teach them all some common sense
So we can all learn and grow!

9.16.2013

Carrying on like a curmudgeon

I don't really know what's happened between being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and ... well, now. I think I've lived far too little to have turned cynical, yet here I already am. A thirty-something year old curmudgeon.

Facebook really isn't doing my anger issues a lot of good.

Most people contribute to general knowledge or some sort of intellectually-stimulating conversation in earnest, or with sharp wit and sarcasm. Then, there are those who are such sheep, "sharing" inane and irrelevant links that you know they've shared just because they thought it was "cool".

Seriously, the amount of people on Facebook that do things because they think it looks "cool" is ridiculously large. It's like high school again.. a global one.

The things I see on Facebook sometimes..

I do not want to see picture after picture of your ugly kid. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but your kid looks like a bald pug and I don't fancy being scared by it when I load up my Facebook feed every time. Halloween only comes once a year.

Or those colleagues of mine with pictures of them sauntering to work in their theater scrubs. The whole point of changing into scrubs in the changing room at work every time you leave the operating theater is to keep contamination to a minimum and maintain as sterile an environment as possible. For the protection of both the health care professional and the patient. It certainly isn't professional behavior (and frankly, I call it selfish and lazy) to come to work in theater scrubs just to save time in the changing room. Those that dash in and out of theaters without a cover-up aren't any better. Seriously, do you really think that one flimsy piece of cloth that gapes open at the back is going to keep off all those little germs as you flit through in-patient wards full of sickness?!

That's why it's especially irritating to see these so-called professionals be so proud of the fact that they can flaunt their scrubs in public as a subtle, yet obvious hint that they are doctors. Most times, it gets them the girls.. or guys. Basically, it gets the attention of the layman. I think that's just pathetic.

One could argue that I don't have to be on Facebook and one could be right.

But I stay on, not to post or even be active. I stay on because I'm lucky enough to have a group of friends that happen to share similar viewpoints and tastes (or offer refreshingly different ones) and I want to stay in touch with them. Most of them are across oceans and continents, and this is an easier way to stay in touch. And I stay on and try to ignore the outliers whose inane posts and scary pictures show up on my feed, thanks to crazy Facebook algorithms that I'll never understand.

I don't know why I get irritated so easily. It's really none of my business what people wear to work, but then I can't suppress this overwhelming feeling of indignation on behalf of the patients - the same ones who are entrusting their lives to these "don't give a damn" people who call themselves doctors.
And I get mad at "them" in general.

I can't decide whether this sense of righteousness stems from a scarily horrible inherent belief that I'm better than some people, or whether it stems from a bit of jealousy.. that those people can flaunt the rules and still enjoy the fawning. Or whether it's something completely different. Or that I'm just another curmudgeon.. More things to muse..

8.12.2013

Death with Dignity

Reading about the death, and the self-written obituary of Jane Lotter has stirred up some old thoughts.

It's been more than 2 years since my Grandpa died.

And just the other day, I find out yet another piece of information about the last months of his life that I had no idea about. Yet another bit of information that makes my blood boil.

My Grandpa did not deserve such a horrible, painful death. Nobody does. No living thing does.

Yet, why do some doctors and .. well, people in general.. why do they allow it? I really wish that these particular medical professionals, including those that were involved in the care of my Grandpa.. I wish they could all be barred from clinical patient care until they completely understand what medicine, healing and empathy is about. They are an embarrassment to the entire medical profession.

My Grandpa had an unfortunate accident at home, causing him to slip and bump his head. Because he was on warfarin to thin his blood, he bled a lot more than other people. This was another area of contention in my books... placing him on warfarin. Why would you give an 80+ year old with Parkinson's rat poison? His risk of falling and ending up in hospital exactly the way he did was much higher than someone who wasn't restricted in movement and had a lesser falls risk. Again, I told my mom I don't ever want to find out which idiot placed him on it, or which family member recommended the said idiot. It would be an ugly scene and an unnecessary confrontation, now that the harm's been done.

So I get a call from my parents one day, casually mentioning that my Grandpa was in hospital. Eventually, after a lot of angst at not being told sooner, I finally learnt that he bled into his brain (I'm not sure if it was a subdural or intra-cranial hemorrhage with what I was told) and needed emergency decompression and evacuation of the blood.

Apparently, that went well and he returned to the ward. And then he got a respiratory tract infection. And ended up in ICU. For a month. And then they killed him.

Oh. Don't get me wrong. They tried their best to save him. They kept him from the brink of death three times, but lost the fourth round. They thought they were doing him a favor. They thought they were doing family a favor. They thought they were trying to save him.

THEY TORTURED HIM FOR ONE FRICKING MONTH. Morons.

WHY on earth would you even CONSIDER any invasive procedure for anyone in my Grandpa's condition? They stuck a scope of some sort.. A sigmoidoscope, or a colonoscope.. I'm not sure. My parents couldn't tell me enough details for me to figure it out. They stuck a scope in him because they found blood in his stools. THE GUY HAS BEEN NON-RESPONSIVE, AND ON A VENTILATOR IN ICU FOR WEEKS. Which moron decided they had to scope him, and which moron of a family member signed the consent form?!

My mom said they started noticing dark blood trickling out from his orifices shortly after he returned from his scope. He was in multi-organ failure by then, and his kidneys weren't holding up. Again, some moron (or the same one, I'll never know) decided my Grandpa needed dialysis at this stage.

LET THE MAN DIE IN PEACE WITH DIGNITY FFS.

My Grandpa did not deserve this. I suppose that's what brought him all this unneeded pain and suffering in the first place.. He was so well-respected in his community and social circles, with his numerous accolades and accomplishments that included founding a university, having an orchid he developed be designated as a national coin design and a multitude of philanthropic activities, everyone wanted the best for him. Unfortunately, what he got was "the best" for everyone else but him.

It was "the best" for everyone else around to feel like they were doing all they could to "save" him. It was "the best" for him to receive as many treatments as possible as last ditch efforts. It was "the best" for some family members to feel like they were pulling their weight around by getting multiple doctors involved, resulting in a fuckload of miscommunication and management conflicts.

I wish I could have known about all this sooner. I wish I could have been there to stop this madness. My Grandpa died in his own house shortly after being told not to worry, he is home and if things are too unbearable, he shouldn't feel obliged to battle on for his family's sake. Coincidence?

It's been more than 2 years since my Grandpa died. I wish I could stop feeling guilty that I wasn't there to stop his torture. I wish I could stop feeling so angry at those involved with the decisions made with his care during those last awful months of his otherwise humble, dignified life.

As a doctor, what he went through sickens me. I'm already losing faith in the system, and this is another blow. Doctors are supposed to alleviate suffering and pain. That's all. We're not supposed to be miracle workers. Think of us as the mechanics that fix your body. If the body's too damaged, there's only so much that can be done and that usually comes at a price in the form of pain, or death. As a granddaughter, I feel the worst sort of pain, that dull ache over your heart, constricting your chest and making it hard to breathe. Grief and regret. All mixed together.

For anyone that stumbles upon this post of mine, I wish you the courage and empathy to face death in all forms and make decisions that are truly going to be the best for the one death is coming for. I wish you the wisdom to identify your own selfish desires and lock them away, to realize that whilst you might be subconsciously worried or scared of what the future will be like with a loved one missing from it, that in the end, it is not about you right now. It is about them. The ones with the illness or the pain. You need to remember that, and never ever put them through any more torture than what they are already experiencing. For their sake, and yours.

7.17.2013

Catching up

Have you ever been embarrassed at a restaurant dinner before because you were treated too well? Maybe it's the introvert in me talking, but I certainly don't do well under the spotlight. I get the rabbit-caught-in-headlights syndrome and end up smiling awkwardly while making unintelligible squeaks and other general noises. Charming, eh?

My old boss took us out for dinner at a grand old Chinese restaurant the other day. We sat down at the biggest round table I've ever seen.. all 13 of us. Of course, the food was yummy (so says everyone else) and of course, I got the usual tofu and plate of something green ordered just for me. (Frankly, it's because of this that I'm reluctant to tell people I'm vegetarian. I'd rather just order off the menu and pick out the meat.) 

So all the embarrassing stuff happened right at the end. To my left, were three very very hungry boy-men who had just spent all day operating on people. To my right was my very hungry Hubbs and more hungry surgical colleagues. Imagine the chagrin of all of them when the waiter marched up behind me, plonked a takeaway container and started placing all the little dessert cakes and jello into it! The boys were grabbing last handfuls before everything disappeared into the box. I was so busy laughing at them, I didn't realize the box was for me until the waiter snapped the lid shut and pushed it in front of me. Then came the bowl of peanuts from the beginning of the meal that one of the boys had joked about taking home. A takeway box with a smattering of peanuts was also set in front of me. 

I was really quite embarrassed by now because I didn't want the food, but I didn't want to appear rude or ungrateful either. 
So the icing on the cake were the oranges that were dumped into the bag full of packed leftovers in jest, and then the special order of mango pudding that my boss had bought just for me. By this point, I really didn't know whether they were all laughing with me, or at me, for being vegetarian :(

That aside, it was nice to see everyone again. Guess I'll just stick to that memory.

6.15.2013

Everytime someone from Taiwan does something awesome, I get goosebumps purely out of a completely misplaced sense of pride.

THIS just plain gave me the chills.

I can't even express how much awesomeness I'm feeling after finding out about these UK blokes who went to Taiwan and called it a second home. Their Chinese is better than mine..

Enjoy :)


6.14.2013

For those that cannot fathom why I've pulled up my roots, this is why. I did it out of fear. 

I didn't want to be in my mid-forties and want all these things money couldn't buy. Like a healthy relationship, a kid or two, my sanity, good health.

I don't know how others do it, but every colleague, senior and consultant I've met or asked has sacrificed something to get where they are. I'm not prepared to do that, so I backed out and chose my fledging family over my career. Is that so wrong?

5.26.2013

Rant of the Month: Celebrity Cancers

So it's been a while since I've had a rant this long.. but this one keeps surfacing its ugly little head. When I first heard the news, I thought.. "well, good on ya!" and moved on. And then the media kept harping on about it. And then came the facebook and social media story shares. And then a renewed interest in breast cancer... Why the interest only when some high profile person makes it a story, be it their own or someone they know? If public awareness for any sort of cancer is so important (which it is!), then why aren't there more stories in mainstream media about the inspirational stories of non-celebs?

As some of you may have heard, a certain high profile actress wrote a letter to a newspaper detailing a very personal journey and decision a little over a week ago. I'm still undecided about the way the news was announced and the subsequent impact on people. Yes, the extra attention and increased awareness about breast cancer is awesome because there are some really ignorant people out there (I had no idea about the mudslinging and childish responses, or that there was a "team Aniston" until I came across these being mentioned at Hello Giggles. I must be living under a rock.). Despite this positive effect towards increased awareness about breast cancer, this media hoo-haa leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Yes, I agree it was a brave thing to do.Yes, I agree it is a huge decision that makes you choose between your family, your future (and theirs) and you personal ego and image. It tears down your self-confidence and makes you face your fears and insecurities (as if the news of having cancer isn't enough.. you now have to deal with your innermost thoughts about your body image). It makes you fear that your partner will no longer like you, that they'll be disgusted with you after the mastectomy and worst of all, you'll be left alone. Yes, having breast cancer (or any other cancer) is a fricking scary thing to go through and sends you on an emotional roller coaster. I can not imagine how much courage it would have taken this actress to share her story with the public. My mom is a damn strong and stubborn woman with a huge streak of fighting spirit, and she went through all of that. It took her a week after getting diagnosed to find the strength and ability to break the news to me. That was more than 15 years ago. I was 9 years old and I still remember how scared she looked as she tried to put up her bravest face to play down her emotional turmoil. My aunt went through the same thing. They were both 39 when diagnosed with no family history and no breast cancer gene.

This is why I get so pissed off every single time some celebrity comes out and announces that she's been diagnosed with such and such cancer. Forget about the naysayers and the imbeciles that only know how to flame, taunt or ridicule. The rest of the other types of media frenzy that follows is a tad sickening for me. I get the part about the courage and bravery. It's the rest of it that I have a bone to pick.

Facts get twisted. Sometimes, there is mass hysteria. Or the "me too" syndrome like this list, or this one, of celebrities who have had cancer. What was the purpose of compiling that list with little snippets of their story that does not paint the full picture of each person's personal cancer journey? Or in this actress' instance..  Did she even find a lump in her breast at all, or she just decided that the lifetime risk was too great? Did she undergo regular screening as another preventative measure that was also non-invasive prior to surgery? Did she know about the other risk factors for getting breast cancer? Most women with breast cancer do not have a positive family history. Out of all the women diagnosed with breast cancer, around 10% of them have a family history of it. I'm not sure if and how many people realize that you can get breast cancer as a cruel twist of fate.  That undergoing preventative mastectomies can reduce but not eliminate your chances of getting breast cancer. That there are other options depending on the stage of the cancer, and not all women should go rushing out to chop off their breasts. Very few articles mention expert opinion of any sort..

If I had a superficial inkling about breast cancer, reading that published letter would have led me to believe that yes, it's hard to come to that decision of having a preventative mastectomy but it was a positive and correct decision for the actress. She now has reduced her chances of getting cancer drastically and can enjoy the rest of her life with her beautiful family. So, I should also consider doing the same if I get diagnosed with breast cancer. After all, you can end up leading a normal life shortly after surgery. But wait! I don't have breast cancer. I should go get a mammogram then, in case I have it. I wonder if there has been a recent spike at radiology practices of women requesting mammograms. 

Bullshit, I say. Leading a normal life "days after surgery," the letter reads. The surgical wounds take two weeks post-op to heal, on average. You may be in some sort of discomfort from your wounds during this time. You may end up with scars, or keloids when your surgical scars heal that can continue to cause you some emotional trauma like it did for my mom. You may need to undergo further surgery to reconstruct your breasts if you choose that option. Again, there are post-op issues of pain, scars, infection, implant failures and regular monitoring for cancer recurrence afterwards. Trips to the doctor's. Blood tests. Physiotherapy sessions. Trying to find special bras with pockets for breast fillers if you don't get a reconstruction. Being conscious of tops that are too low cut and may reveal your bra and possibly some padding stickin out. Emotional toll as you take off your bra with the fake breast at night and battling self-confidence, fears (justified or not) of partner's reactions and change in relationships. The knowledge that you've gone through all of this to merely reduce your chance of getting breast cancer again but you might get really unlucky and get it again.

Does any of that sound like a "normal" life "days after surgery"? You tell me. 

All these people come out with a press conference or something through the media to announce a cancer or other disease. Then comes the "I/We will stay strong, thank you for your support" messages (What about those who are currently inpatients that are already battling the disease? Do you see any of them announcing that they will stay strong, thank you for your support? They just battle on and get on with it, same as these high profile people should). Then the show of support to others with the same disease, be it in generalized terms or highlighting charities and research efforts towards finding a cure for the disease. Sometimes,  this means more media exposure. Well, that's very good and all but if the cancer was such a huge and important issue to campaign for, why didn't all these people do it before they got the disease? If the risk  of getting breast and ovarian cancer was so huge with this actress, why didn't she do anything about it before she started having a family? After all, didn't she cite her family's future as one of the reasons for undergoing surgery? It's not as if she just suddenly found out her mom had breast cancer.. so again, if the risk was so great for her, why wait until now to do something about it?
So no, it is not a "tremendous public service" that she performed... she did what she had to do under circumstances unique to her. The majority of the population do not carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene (or other less "famous" breast cancer genes), and even if they do, everyone has slightly different chances of the mutations occurring to result in breast cancer. You don't go out and contemplate cutting off a body part because it's got potential to turn foul on you. If that was the case, why don't all you men go and chop out your testicles as a preventative measure for testicular cancer? After all, it's the most common solid cancer in guys between ages 15 - 35.

So yes, praise all these high profile women (and men) for being so "courageous" and "brave" for sharing their personal stories and struggles with the public but for goodness sakes, don't make a fuss over it. They're people too. If they want to use their celebrity status to raise awareness and provide support, go for it but be transparent about it like this actress rather than shroud it in a "I had this, did this and survived so you can too" propaganda. Do the "I had this, did this and survived" bit.. I have no problems with that, but be responsible and advise people to go seek professional opinions from their doctors instead of implying that "you can too" part. Drives me bonkers that people nowadays look up Dr Google more often than not, and if they go see an actual doctor with a medical degree, people still sometimes bring along Dr Google and ignore professional advice! This is aside from the fact that not all  practicing doctors are ethical, or are up to date with their knowledge. Discussing that would open another can of worms.

Anyway, I just feel that if the media, or a celebrity wanted to make a fuss, or a difference... why not go visit/interview any of the patients in the oncology ward at any of the hospitals and share their stories, their struggles, their fears to raise public awareness for such and such cancer? They may not be high profile public figures, but they have families, dreams, talents, fears and a life to fight for too. 

5.19.2013

Never-ending Learning

So, that request to design stationery for someone's wedding was a huge huge lesson for me. Never jump in without knowing what exactly you're in for, and never be afraid to say "No."

It was really hard for me to work without any direction from the buyer. Worse still, they didn't know whether the stationery I would be designing would be used at all! Deep down, I really didn't want to spend all that time and effort coming up with a design, just for them to turn around and say "Awesome design, thank you but we don't need it anymore."

So I was stuck in that awkward place where I had already agreed to take the job but couldn't proceed, yet I couldn't tell the buyers bluntly how I felt. Anyway, it all worked out well and I'm a lot more clear about my stipulations now.

*Sigh*

I'm so glad I have this little space online. My breathing space. Somewhere I can run to when I feel crowded or confused. You know, like Lucy from the Big Bang Theory? Well, this is my bathroom with a window to escape through.

Wonder if I'll ever outgrow this habit of mine.. to think that I've been running here for the past nine years. We'll see if there's any cause for celebration next September at the 10-year mark :)