Saturday, January 12, 2013

Reuse, reduce, recycle

Going green and helping to save the planet is an excellent cause. Apart from being environmentally correct it also helps us to be more thrifty and avoid unnecessary wastage. However, recycling in Malaysia or at least Hulu Langat is hard work. At home in Batu 14 we try to do the 3Rs as much as we can. Yes, it may be due to the influence of Captain Planet but a bigger factor is because we have no garbage collection services. That is what you get (or should I rephrase that to' what you don't get') when you live in a kampung.

My neighbours either burn their wastes or dump them in the river or an unsuspecting neighbour's land. For us all this while we have been carrying our garbage out and dumping it at the local market which is about 10km away. That is the nearest place with proper dumping facilities. So the decision to recycle is really a matter of necessity. Reducing wastes means reducing several 20km trips weekly.
However, it has not been an easy process. It requires a lot of hard work and space. You will need space to store the items (paper, plastics, glass) for recycling; you will need space to place the compost bin, the kitchen waste compositor, the bottles of citrus peels window cleaner that is waiting to mature (to complete fermentation) etcetera, etcetera. And if you don't do it right and and in a systematic way your home will end up like a hoarders nightmare!

So far, what have we done (we in this sentence refers to my mom and I).
1. Cloth diapers for my son (reduces 6 disposable diaper going to through trash daily)
2. Sort out the papers, plastics and glass wastes. Paper and plastic are sold to the local recycling center which is only a kilometre away. Our only problem is glass... no one buys glass nowadays except some shopping center (but only on Saturdays)
3. Make our own compost from plant based wastes. I am trying several methods from various green websites.
4. Lastly, using the Kitchen Waste Compositor: A kit I bought at the recent MAHA fair which uses some sort of bioenzymes to convert kitchen wastes into safe compost materials.  So far the process has been quite okay except for the part where  I have to put all the 'sludge' and bury them after a week.   This last step have truly cut the amount of  garbage  we throw out to more than half.... hooray!
It is an ongoing effort and I hope we will continue to have the enthusiasm to do this. There are days when I feel jealous of those who live in housing estates with the convenience of the 'garbage collectors'. They truly are the unsung heroes of 'modern living'.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sipadan and Mabul Again!!

Small fish on a Whipcoral
My first dive after the birth of my son was in March this year. That trip was to Redang and I managed to do 5 dives. Recently, I went for a diving holiday to Mabul Island. It is a trip that required good planning as not only Merman and I were going we were bringing along my boy and his babysitters (grandpa and grandma). My mom was happy as she has been hinting to me to take her to Sipadan ever since my first trip there in 2005.

This time we stayed in Borneo Divers Mabul Resort. It was my first time there and I am not dissapointed. The cleanliness and setting was up to my mom's standards hence there was no complaints (phew!).

We did 2 dives on the first day both at Paradise II the house-reef of BDMR. Visibility sucks as it was just about 3-5metres but underwater life was lovely. This was expected as I have dived here so many times before.

Small Cowrie snail seen at one of the dive sites around Mabul

The second day we did 2 dives in Mabul and one in Kapalai. Viz remained the same. However, we still had great dives with many sightings of turtles and sharks. The most memorable moment was watching more than 7 turtles at a rock near Barracuda Point.

I still have not gone through photos taken above water at the resort and in Sipadan Island. Therefore, I am only putting up the underwater photos. Just in case anyone is wondering why there are only macro shots the wide-angle stuff I took sucks; viz was bad but I have never been a great photographer anyway!

Taken at the jetty of BDMR about 2 feet under the water level

Three turtles at Barracuda Point; I wasn't sure if we were witnessing an orgy

Common as this species may be it still makes me happy to get good close ups of them

Saturday, February 25, 2012

30 day 'no-lifts' challenge

It has been 10 months, initially I lost all my pregnancy weight (thanks to breastfeeding) but lately I gained about 3 kgs. This is because I had uncontrolled bouts of eating.... and lack of exercise. Tried to go for jogs during weekends but the crazy call schedule only allows once a month Sunday brisk walking or jogging.

Gym? definitely out of the question. No nearby gym for me to go at night plus my son is at the clingy stage. He will stick to me like a leech once he is back from the sitters.

Early morning exercise? Used to do that last time but even though I now wake up earlier (alarm iis set at 5.45am) I spend my time by getting ready for work, 15 minute pumping (milk for the baby), arranging the diaper bag and sending the small one to the sitter...

So this week I have started a 30 day No Lift (Elevator) challange. It means that I have to walk up and down the stairs if I need to. So far it has been a 4 days success.

Why this challange? I am using the hospital and my working hours as my personal gym. Apart from going upstairs I also make myself walk faster, try to contract my glutes as I walk and 'try' to eat smaller portions. I hope by doing this I am burning more energy than usual hence allow me to 'lose' some weight. As for toning up my abs, I think that is a lost cause so I am just concentrating on the weight and bums first.

I guess I have to keep a tab on my progress to see whether my logical as-you-go exercise works. It is scary to see the measurement on measuring tape but I guess it has to be done. As for the weighing scale it is now at an all-time high of 63.5kgs...dang!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

My breastfeeding experience

When I was pregnant with my boy there were two things that I decided I wanted to do. One is breastfeeding and the second was using cloth diapers. Breastfeeding was not even a choice; it was just the natural thing as I remembered my mom feeding my two younger siblings. We never had formula milk in the house (perhaps my elder brother did have but totally before my time). Anyway, I thought that breastfeeding is cheap, easy (no need to wake up and mix up the formula at night) and it comes naturally.

I was wrong on all counts. Perhaps it is relatively cheaper considering that baby Azry is fairly healthy with no major illness. But breastfeeding is hardwork. It is a commitment. It requires discipline.

Hardwork because I would need to pump to feed him when I am away. People who only need to pump only twice per day makes me envious. I need to pump at least four times to get the ounces that Azry needs. One early morning, twice at work and one at night. With that I had to be committed and disciplined.

And one major thing I realise after 7 months - no breastfeeding experience is the same. Mom's only problem with feeding us was soreness - and I was the number one culprit who likes biting the nipple. She has no issues with supply and my brother fed until he was nearly four. And so when I was fussing over my periods of low supply (as seen with the low volume I pump) my mom was saying I was being paranoid and as she did not take any supplements nor have any special diet to keep up the volume. Demand and supply- that is what she says.

But then, I realise. There was a major difference between me and my mom. I am working and mom was a housewife. I have 11 hours of separation and no sucking every day. That is minus one major stimulant to keeping up the supply. Sucking promotes prolactin release by the brain and this promotes milk formation.

Hence my search and research into milk production and galactogogues. By research I mean google and google scholar search and old wives tale. Clinically proven was metoclopromide or maxalon - a medication used to treat vomiting. The stimulating effect is actually a side effect of the drug which causes hyper prolactinaemia. I haven't tried that though as I am keeping it as a last resort effort.

Another remedy keeps popping up during my research : fenugreek or in Malay, halba. It is usually used in Indian cooking or in 'nasi dagang trengganu'. Apparently, fenugreek helps by stimulating the glands which is a modified sweat gland. It also lower blood sugar level and promotes good cholestrol in milk. Initially I bought a herbal tea remedy with fenugreek and other herbs thrown inside. It was damn expensive and the smell was bad. I smelt like a curry house- really! Anyway, I drank it twice but it gave me severe headache - whether is was due to the hypoglycaemia effect or smell I was not sure.

Then I went to my local pharmacy - fenugreek is available as supplements; I was so happy but my joy was shortlived. It is not available in this country because no one buys it. And then, my pharmacist gave me a good idea "Why don't I make my own fenugreek supplements". So in a Phineas and Ferb manner I instinctively knew what I was going to do that day. Make my own herbal supplements.

Anyway, I after about a month and a half I think it does help. I forgot to eat it for two days last week and my pumping session became a stressful event. Half an ounce to 1 1/2 oz only per session per breast. That was not enough for ever hungry baby Azry: he needs between 18 to 22 oz per day at the sitters. And when I resumed the supplements I managed to get 2 to 3 oz per breast per pumping session - this is after a day of re-starting.

So, I still do hope I can achieve my intermediate target in breastfeeding i.e. Fully breastfeed till 1 year of age (I hope I do not need to buy formula milk at all). It is already 7 1/2 months but I am taking it one day at a time.

Diving Log 2011

For the past 1 year I haven't posted anything on my love of diving. The last diving trip I went was in July 2010 where my precious housing got flooded. Since then, no trips. It is plainly because I was pregnant and later delivered my first child in April this year. There were plans to dive in September when baby boy was about 5 months but was later scrapped as we realise that leaving him a whole day in the hotel with someone who does not look after him often is a bad idea. Bringing a infant to the island at a time when the weather changes and waves may be high was also not very ideal. Hence my abstinence from breathing compressed air in 2011.

Hopefully, I can resume my passion in this coming year. It is possible with some major adjustment.
1. Baby sitter needs to come too (in this case granny)
2. Looks like no backpackers unless they have good rooms and fairly good facilities (for baby and the sitter)
3. The area is fairly accesible with no major transport issues

So I am keeping my fingers crossed. 2012 here I come.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Random thoughts

Remember the times when you were a kid many adults treat you as if you were invisible? The times when you line up at your favourite 'nasi ayam' stall and in the end a 'busy hurrying' adult cuts the line by saying she is in a rush and you ended waiting an extra 10 minutes because the so-called rushing adult had to have 10 packets of rice to go. Or the times when you asked someone whats going on and the answer is "you are a kid, you won't understand". Well, I sort of remembered the feeling when such a thing happened to me and hence I appreciate all those adults that makes me feel like an equal when such situation presented itself. One example of my favourite adult was the Hospital Kuala Lumpur rojak man (link).

Therefore, when my four-year old niece wanted to help out bathing my son and change his diaper I let her. She helped me with squirting the bath foam unto my hands, applying talcum powder all over baby Azry's body, helped to chose his outfit and also apply lotion on his limbs. She was grinning ear to ear when he was all ready and smelling so fresh and nice and proudly announced to everyone 'Kakak Aida tolong Azry mandi'.

Seeing her so happy makes me feel elated. Yes, kids have feelings too and by allowing her to help out makes her feel responsible and is part of the family.

Note: Not all is well as there was a bit of cleaning up to do after that; as although the talcum powder was meant to be on the baby loads ended up on the bed. That's the price I paid to get that cute grin and also cut a bit on the 'sibling-rivalry' (or should I say'cousin-rivalry) that she has been showing to the baby.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Modern Day Fountain of Youth?

The fountain of youth was a legendary spring that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drink its waters. So many aspiring immortals and explorers in history set out to discover the location of this spring. The idea of just drinking a miracle water to keep oneself healthy and young without doing anything else is just too hard to resist. In this modern day such idea is still capturing the minds of many but in a different form. Today, instead of exploring the thick jungle of the Amazon the so-called fountain of youth presents itself at your doorstep in a nice expensive packaging with terms like the 'ultimate anti-oxidants'; 'anti-cancer'; miracle drink etcetera.

Being healthy is not just looking good externally i.e. it is not just being thin- though that is the main aim of many who purchase these expensive dietary drinks or supplements. Being healthy to me is being able to climb five flight of stairs without even breaking a sweat. Being healthy is able to run after your kid in the house without huffing and puffing away. It is the cardiovascular health that is important; the health of the pump that helps to sustain our life from the 4th weeks of life as a foetus till the last beat of our death. No amount of 'miracle water' or supplement can keep the heart healthy if it does not get it fair amount of exercise.

The 20minutes of exercise three times a week is the minimal effort that is needed to keep your heart in top condition. However, the thought of spending your precious time for yourself is so daunting that people rather go in throngs to establishment that advertise " injections, no exercise needed...". To the doctor the standard answer to a suggestion of exercise is " No time la doctor". Uh...duh!

Another aspect of healthy living is eating well. Supplements are only needed if you do not get sufficient amounts from your diet. Knowing your food and its health content is essential aspect of keeping yourself healthy; and knowing your portions and the healthier way of cooking is essential in preventing obesity. All of this requires effort which many are not willing to undertake. Takeout counters are much easier than making your own sandwich.However, I must admit I too love the occasional McDonald drivethru excursions especially after a long day in the operating theatre... I am only human after all.

Lastly, no amount of rejuvenating anti-oxidant drinks could counter the ill effects of smoking and alcohol. So if you are thinking of purchasing the expensive bottles of some miracle berries to offset your nicotine and ethanol intake, don't. It is better to just stop smoking and drinking; and it is cheaper too, it doesn't cost you a cent.

So to those who are thinking of asking me how to keep oneself healthy and vibrant and expects a shortcut way, please don't. Just go and watch the Biggest Loser and exercise with Jillian Micheals/Bob Harper. As they say in the show there are no shortcuts.

(Note: this is written as a response to my non medical friends who keep bugging me for some secret to keep oneself thin and healthy; and then annoying me by not following my advice and then asking me about some miracle drinks or supplements that they spent hundreds purchasing)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Business as usual

Next Monday I will be back at work after 4 months of leave (3 months maternity and one month of my accumulated leaves from last year). It is of mixed feelings going back but I actually miss working and operating. I will miss waking up late with my boy; I will miss the afternoon naps I have while feeding him; I will miss watching all the re-runs on the telly and so much more. It has been a good break after working for 12 years.

However, I am eager to get back into the OT. My fingers and hands have been itching to fix something or more accurately someone who is broken. It has been a long time since I truely operated as an orthopod. It has been a year. Ever since I got pregnant I have been on 'light duty' and I had to stay away from the usual trauma cases. This is because majority of the 'usual' orthopaedic surgeries requires image intensifier (II) which uses radiation, which may be detrimental to a developing foetus. In cases which I had to come in, it became a bit more lengthy as I had to leave the OR when it was time to use the II. And in other cases like hip and knee surgeries which required brute strength, my concerned boss would ask me to just assist as he is worried my gynae Mei Lin would scold him if the exertion causes premature contractions or worst case scenario an abortion. So for the past 1 year I end up supervising the MOs doing local cases; did most of the ward rounds and the paper work; and stayed more in the clinics.

So come Monday, it will be back to the usual business and oh boy... I would have loads of patients in the clinic - so many people have been waiting for me to come back and has been postponing their appointments since 4 months ago.Oh boy!