Sunday, April 20, 2008

Goodbye Grandpa!

20.04.2008 - 8.48am

Received an sms from my sister that goes "gor, Ah gong just passed away abt an hr ago. Mum asks if u can come back earlier. Else it's ok."

That woke me up from my 4 hrs of sleep after coming back from Taichung late into the night and brought reality to my worst fear during my trip to Taiwan.I've nothing more to say at this juncture, except tracing my grandpa now in my memories and sobbing/crying alone here in Taipei on a Sunday morning.

My grandpa is a scrawny old man who's 1 head shorter than me. He loves to wear his wafer thin white undershirt n blue pyjamus pants at home. My memories of him could be traced back to 1990 when I first stayed in his place for my entire Primary 1 year.

He took really good care of his 2nd grandson - that's me - and drove me back and forth to my school in his old toyota corolla even though my school was only 200m away. He taught me my first Hokkien dialect words and served as translator to my grandma. I only knew Chinese then while my grandma only knew Hokkien. It's hilarious come to think of it how grandson and grandparents communicated back then. He loved chucking drumsticks into my bowl and made sure I always had more than enough to eat. Never was I hungry.

He brought me to his tailor shop then in old Hougang and tried teaching me how to sell clothes and make some clothes/curtains. I never learnt cos I hated it. I tried to hitch a ride on his red motorcycle whenever he went to work. I never once managed to get my ride cos he felt it was too dangerous. Nonetheless, I had my best freedom then cos he allowed me to do whatever I wanted - gg to longkangs to fish guppies, cycle on the road outside and sneaking to the mama shop behind to buy nutella snacks.

After Pri 1, I moved out to my own house and contact became less frequent. Still, he was there whenever I lost my house keys and whenever I was hungry in school. He always made sure I'm alright and seeing him and grandma always brought a sense of comfort.

*pause, tears are starting to swell and there I go crying again...where's my tissue papers?*

Ok, back. Contact with grandpa dwindled and it was only in the aunual CNY visits that I saw him. Teenage years then. Neither could I be bothered then about the need to visit my grandpa.

It was only till 3 years back when I started noticing something wrong with grandpa. His hands were started to tremor involuntarily, his attention span shortened and his gaze was more fixated. Yup, I was the first to notice he had Parkinson's and indeed he was diagnosed a few months later. His condition deteriorated over the years. I was frequently called by my mother to use my free expertise to check upon his condition by my mum, hearing his heart and lungs, cleaning his sacral pressure sores, changing nappies, forcing a nasogastric tube into his nose and nearly a urinary catheter as well. I hated it back then but took to the tasks since no one else could do it.

There's many regrets now that I'm tracing this mini memory log. But there's nothing I can do now too. Worse, I'm stuck in Taipei w/o being able to help my mum out with funeral stuff. "Am I an unfilial grandson?" I keep pondering that qn today. My mum told me to stay and continue with my electives here cos changing the air tickets will waste more $. Sigh, how I wish I can do something to help but I can't.

I am glad though my grandpa died a seemingly peaceful death, in the bedroom of his beloved house and on the bed he has slept for countless decades. He died w/o his hated nasogastric tube because he yanked it out a few days ago and he died w/o any struggles because it was in his sleep that he passed away. A couple of major worries he left behind but I don't think anything mattered for now.

Grandpa, u'll be sorely missed cos u're the only grandpa I ever had! Please do forgive me that I can't be with you in ur last journey. *sob sob* Please do take care of grandma from above cos u've always been been her pillar of support throughout times and I've no idea what would happen to her now that she is w/o you. And if you do hear me, have a peaceful journey in Heaven and protect all of us here who miss you lots!

Goodbye GRANDPA!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Taroko National Park weekend pictures are finally up!!

BURP! Just back from dinner from Ximending...AGAIN! This time, all 6 of us went to 天外天麻辣火锅 (Ma La Hotpot) for a hot and chilly all-u-can-eat buffet for NTD$350 (S$16) to celebrate Mark's belated birthday. It wasn't as hot as we thought and most of us ate till our stomachs gave way. Not to mention the unlimited Meiji ice-cream and fruits delighted our evening.

Today's a lousy day and weather here sucked for the 1st time as it kept pouring and drizzling whole day long. Went for the morning meeting at 7.30am. It's always a tense environment as the HOD (who is nonetheless very knowledgable) always reviews the case presentations sternly and shoots multiple arrows aka questions in all directions from students all the way to senior consultants. He even recalled back 3 young consultants back from their morning sleep to the meeting and scolded them in front of everyone for being careless and not being punctual. But it's also very funny as an overseas student to see how the whole department always stammer in front of the boss. Nobody ever dares to speak up against him... How sad... If you have watched the Japanese and Taiwanese version of "The White Towers", this is exactly how it is like for General Surgery here. Y? Because the story is written after the General Surgery Department here!! Really!! Otherwise, morning has been ok because my tutorial and lunch lecture were cancelled.

My afternoon was spent with a lecture on how laparoscopic surgery works and the principles behind some basic laparoscopic surgeries. Pratical came after the lecture and it was fun to the max. I've never gotten the chance to play with laparoscopic instruments and I must say it is never as easy as it looks on the screen. The 2D pictures on the tv screen always gave a false impression on where the instruments were and we all could not grasp the targets all the time. It's really difficult and I really admire surgeons now who can finish their laparoscopic surgeries chop chop...

By the way, DPP presidential and vice-presidential candidates were giving a talk in the hospital's premises as we were playing around with laparoscopy. What a strange place to give a rally! I hate the DPP anyway... Ma Ying Jeou, u must win!!

Off to rest my stomach and watch some Taiwanese TV programmes... Haven had this childhood pleasure for such a long time!

The fun and exciting weekend is over and it's time for serious work again. Attended a morning of clinics where I saw a variety of patients from paronychia or embedded nails to gastric cancer follow up cases. Amongst them, 1 of the patient's family touched me the most. The mid 20s guy had multiple seeding of an appendix cancer all over his peritoneum of body cavity. His prognosis did not seem very good and while the guy was trying to be ignorant about his condition, his mother was crying, pleading and begging my consultant to do his best to increase his life expectancy. It suddenly got me thinking about how parents would do anything for their children and how short life is and how we must treasure every moment of our lives.

Afternoon was damn slack. I went into the operating theatre with only 1 thing in mind - the free operation room lunch. The weekend broke my budget and I was trying to save as much $$ as I can. The opertion was pretty scary at the start. The patient was given spinal anesthesia to reduce complications. But, the anesthetic drugs did not take effect and the man cringed in pain when my surgeon made his cut. OUCH! As the anesthetist increased the drug dosage, the patient cringed for a 2nd time when my surgeon, who got the go-ahead from the anesthetist, continue to exten his cut. OUCH OUCH! The local anesthesia operation had to be converted to a general anesthesia operation for patient's safety. Ooo... After 1 operation, my day was over and we were discussing where to eat for dinner to celebrate mark's belated birthday when we realised anson could not make it because he had to attend a 8 hr liver transplant operation!!

So we went to ximending again for dinner. Bought 1 bowl of tang yuan-like stuff, 1 bowl of peanut beancurd, 1 cup of bubble tea, 1 bowl of Ah Chung Mee Sua and 2 Dunkin donuts. So much for saving $$ ah. But the above costs only NTD$200 or S$9 plus. Shucks, I'm still feeling effects of the food churning in my stomach as I write this note.

Had a sudden thought about my stay in Taipei as I took the Metro today. It just dawned upon me that I am living like a rat in Taipei. Why? It seems that I only know how to get around Taipei by underground Metro only. It's my only form of transport I'm confident of getting around by. The minute you put me up on the surface, I'm totally lost with a disoriented sense of navigation and direction! How sad!

Tomorrow's laparoscopy day and I wonder what awaits me on the operating table. Am I finally going to cut up some stuff on my own? Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Initial days in Taipei....

I feel very sad now! Just when I’m about to save my blog entry, EVERYTHING DISAPPEARED!! ARRGGGHHHH!!!!!!! Anyway, I shall try to re-write now before I forget everything, AGAIN!

Finally, I see the sunshine peeking out from the clouds today! Yay, it’s a refreshing and happy feeling, considering it has been overcast skies and chilly drizzles ever since touchdown in Taipei. Looks great for a sunny beach party, but too bad, I’ve lessons in the hospital. Damn!

I am now in National Taiwan University Hospital (台北大学医院 or NTUH) in central Taipei for overseas electives for 2 months. I am currently doing General Surgery for 4 weeks from 10 Mar – 4 Apr before commencing General Medicine from 6 Apr – 2 May. In the 1st month, I have the company of Anson, Meng Chon, Weisheng, Mark Sim and Zhongyang but in the 2nd month, I’ll be alone out here! Hopefully I can find enough local friends here before loneliness creeps in then…

It has been 2 days so far since stepping into hospital grounds but gosh, I felt I’ve learnt way more than my surgery posting in Changi General Hospital (CGH), which was 2 months by the way! Right from the word go, I’ve been given tutorials and seen the operations of liver & renal transplant, breast masectomy and herniotomies (or herniorraphy as they call it here). Their etiquette in Operating Rooms (ORs) here is also way different from Singapore. They leave their OR doors for everyone to walk in and out and I’ve seen more than 10 people in 1 OR! In Singapore, we’ll be screwed upside down for doing so and students will be chased out like flies! Also, the way they scrub up, handle and clean their patients would get a big fat F from Singapore!! I’ll be very afraid as a patient for fear of getting bacterial contamination/infection, although I’ve yet to seen any post-op infection cases (because I’ve yet been in the wards… Haha).

Over here, the people give a lot of respect to doctors and likewise, junior doctors show lots of respect to their senior doctors. So far, I’ve yet to seen patients and relatives complain a single word to the doctors and they wait patiently for the doctors to talk to them. How rare it is to find a sight like this in Singapore! We’ll be sued if we let relatives wait for more than 1 min!!! Over here, I’m known as 陈奕勤医师. How cool is that! They are super pro-teaching here, friendly and would go their way out to solve students’ queries. Thus, the students like to ask questions here, unlike in Singapore when tutors don’t give a damn about us. My tutor’s name is 陈炯年医师. He specialises in gastric cancer and is a super friendly man with very straight and combed hair and big specs. So cute…! I also have a chief resident (senior registrar) by the name of 黄医师, who helps to give us plenty of tutorials. He looks pretty funny too but he is damn brainy! He always give us practical questions to think about and supplies answers whenever we have doubts. Thumbs up to him!

Over here, I admire the students for their quest to learn. They just simply are abl to absorb everything that comes along their way. However, they’re less clinically trained and are less willing to examine their patients. Still, I find it difficult to comprehend how they need to talk to their patients in Hokkien, type and write down notes in English and present in both Chinese and English. Haha, their English is damn cui here. However, as they want to keep up with clinical research and skills with the rest of western world, they’re forcing themselves, even the 80 year old professor, to converse in English for their morning meetings and morbidity & mortality rounds. Still, all of us Singaporeans find it hard to comprehend what they are even mumbling and their deciphering of difficult words keep us laughing all the time!!

Ok, it’s getting late. 12.53am and counting. I shall blog next time about the happening things that we do in Taipei. Shall go and dry my clothes now… Yawnz….

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sunday, February 18, 2007


i finally got the terror question which I hate to be asked over the new year. 'so how come you have no girlfriend? so when are you getting one?' 臭叉烧包... grr ... grr ... as though finding a girlfriend is as easy as finding clothes... damn... i din even bother answering the question when all in my mind now is how to tackle the Pros in 17 days time. yuckz to both!

huffed and puffed for 5km today. my 1st run after 2 weeks. damn, i am super unfit now. i think i shall run more frequently now so i'll die from lack of oxegenation to the brain for the upcoming Pros. omg, that's a terrible thought!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Go Nadal! Kill Federer for me!! Don't let him win! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

running a kk flu bug now. gosh. hate that place cos it makes me sneeze all the time for no reason.

anyway, i'm back in kk hospital for cofm project to survey and collect saliva from house officers. yup. yucks! but actually, i think there's nothing wrong with collecting saliva. it's the only natural thing to collect from humans other than shit and blood right? hey, it's all natural so what's there to be so jittery about in the 1st place?

i always hated surveys because i hate being scolded and cast aside by people for no good reason, even if the reason for survey is for personal gains. but heck, gg back to kk was reminising my days back in paeds posting and as usual, the HOs were generally nice to me, except when it comes to collecting saliva. but that aside, i managed to get to talk to some of them and they were telling me about what they did for their cofm projects and how this used to be their 'holiday' period. haha.

cool, i found my RJ bio teacher, miss wee, during lunch in kk today. wow, the world is really small. together with kok wei, adilah and kenneth, we reminised the old days back in RJ and how mr nah was fondly known as mr 'kenny' nah. haha. those were the days when miss wee gave us nothing but good tips for exams and how we easily passed tests because of her.

went to watch 'the devil wears prada' in kok wei's place after collection time today. his house is great and the dvd's good. so it was a wonderful afternoon doing nothing but slacking. GREAT!

anyway, life is pretty good for now doing nothing. but i think i better start studying real soon or i'll be thrown into deep shit.