Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gender reassignment

I have always been at ease with speaking English. In fact, I think in English too and thus always have to translate my thoughts to Malay when I converse. Please don't get me wrong, my Malay is not bad, I can speak and relay my thoughts in Malay effectively, it is just that the nature of my flow of thoughts, it works better in English.

But my English is not perfect. Now and then my friends would tease me for my improper grammar; I have a lot of friends who do speak almost perfect English *sigh*. However, at work, I am Mr Brown (remember 'Mind Your Language'?). Being doctors, one have no choice but to speak in English. There are so many medical terms and jargons that are not 'translatable'. I must say that many doctors attempt their best in speaking English but sometimes we really do have to get to basics.

It is especially annoying when a person cannot differentiate between male and female. He or she. His or her. Boy or girl. Sometimes it feels like a lucky draw..."and today the lucky word that will be used is 'HE'!!!!". And if it is just during a conversation is not as bad (though my ears were cringing at each mistake).

The worse thing is even in the written notes these mistakes were made. Mind you, I work in an IT hospital, each time you open a patient's record, flashed at the top the patient's name, registration number, age and SEX. And they still can make such mistakes. I had fits of laughter a few times I did medical reports for patients. Either the patients were transvestites and thus confusing my medical officers or the doctors were blind and deaf (lets not state the obvious :))

Therefore beware, you may come to the hospital a full fledged hot blooded male, but due to a value added service offered by the ministry of health, you may come out a lady/lady boy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


A friend of mine used to say “it’s easy for you to do ‘amal jariah’, everyday you go to work part of it is amal jariah”. (Note: amal jariah is a malay term equivalent to charity). Anyway, I do not see it that way, to me, each of us has a role in the universe and if we do our job right that we are doing ‘amal jariah’ in our own way.

Anyway, what I love about being a doctor is the people I get to meet. I know previously I had bitched about irritating patients and families but that itself is an experience. I get to learn about a lot of things I normally would not be exposed to. I listen and get humbled by other peoples experiences. Some may be good and some may be bad. But in the end, I learn. “Yang baik dijadikan tauladan, yang buruk dijadikan sempadan”.

As a specialist, the opportunity to listen to a patient’s thoughts is quite limited. With the bigger responsibility of supervising and monitoring the daily on-goings in the wards and hospital I haven’t had the luxury of sitting down and chit-chatting with each patient. It is usually my medical officers who would alert me to any personal problems that the patient may have. Well, it was during my housemanship and MOship that I learnt the art of listening, I guess my time has passed.

However, today the rare opportunity presented itself. It was in the Operating theatre when I saw one of my ward patients waiting for a minor surgery in the waiting area. He is an elderly Malay man in his late 60s, white hair, an unkempt beard, and a pair of sad beady eyes. His pressure apparently went sky high as he entered the OT (it has that effect on many people, especially with its 16 degrees temperature). Anyway, he looked a bit distressed and so I decided to talk to him and ask how he is doing.

“ I am exhausted” he said. The polished English blew me away. He must be fairly educated, I thought.

I examined him quickly and then proceeded to talk to him. “That’s fairly normal Uncle. You have heart failure and thus you find it a bit difficult to breathe. The oxygen will help you”.

He said “Heart failure…hmmmm… that is how my wife died. She had heart failure, She left me 10 years ago”.

Me “I am so sorry uncle”

“That’s why I am here alone.” He paused for a while. Then he said “ I am so disappointed”.

Me: “Why uncle? Is anything wrong?”

“I have many children but all of them have to work. *sigh* You know, when you are ill, you hope there would always be someone beside you to cheer you up; to give you inspiration but now……”. He then kept quiet.

I was at loss of what to say. I just held his hand and told him that we are going to try and make him better. Deep down I know, physically he may be ok but deep inside he is a crushed man.

Well, it got me thinking. As a human being we need company. At the end of the day, having someone beside you in your time of need is the best feeling of all. It give a person the sense of security, that someone will be there to catch you when you fall.

And at this point of my life if I hope that all that I have done in the past and all that I will do in the future will not keep my family and friends away from me in my time of need.

Ah.... what deep thoughts have my brief 5 minutes conversation provoked. And this is what I like the most about my job, there are always subtle reminders surrounding us to keep us grounded and human. But only if we stop and listen!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Krabi - An Outdoor Person's Haven

Four days in Krabi is definitely not sufficient to try all that Krabi has to offer. It is a wonderful place with a variety of outdoor activities mixed around the traditional things Thailand has to offer.

We stayed at the quiet (and cheaper) Krabi town, a port for those hoping to go the the nearby islands of Phi-Phi and Lanta. Accommodation can range from RM30 to RM 160 depending on what is expected. This is in comparison much cheaper than Aonang Beach and Railey Beach.

Caption: Traffic light at Krabi Town. Statue of a prehistoric man stands above the intersection holding the lights. Krabi is also an archaeological site dated from several eras.

Caption: The quiet river of Krabi Town

Krabi Town was very quiet and clean. A lot of relatively cheap food joint, but beware the drinks cost a bomb, RM 2 for iced tea....hmmmm more expensive than KL. When I said relative it is relative to Aonang, but when compared to other parts of Thailand the place may be a bit dear. Minimum price for a plate or bowl of noodle is 35 baht or about RM3.50. But then, my bench mark for the prices were from my trips to Phuket, Samui, Songkhla, Hatyai and even Krabi 4 years back. Prices may have increased everywhere.

And my favourite thing about eating in Krabi is forty percent of the locals are Muslims. That means I can eat a lot of things - the sweet kuihs were really delicious and my favorite 'kerabu betik' (can't seem to re-call the Thai name). Merman liked the beef spicy soup(plus whatever weird organs) especially after he discovered part of the testis inside it. Euwwwww..... but it tasted damn good, the soup I mean.

On day two, we went kayaking in the mangrove swamp at Bhor Tor.The swamp lies in between limestone caves and passages providing a real excitement. We paddled through darkened passages and emerge into a beautiful secret lagoon on the other side. I felt as if I was on Fantasy Island (hehehehe... that statement really reveals my age). After that we had lunch by the riverside, all you can eat. It was part of the package we took (whole morning of kayaking, lunch and an afternoon dip in one of the rivers) and as usual being me, I ended up eating as much as I can the tempura shrimp and the tomyam soup well till my tummy felt like bursting.

That evening we went for a free massage(courtesy of our trip organiser).

Day Three was spent by the beach in Aonang. It is not the most beautiful beach I have seen but is is OK. The Farangs seem to be enjoying the bloody hot sun (I suffered heatstroke, mind you)sunbathing, swimming, playing weird games by the beach. And there were so many open air massage huts at the beach.

Apart from walking together by the beach (so romantic...hahaha) we also went shopping. Everything is so bloody expensive but only here we get to shop for souvenirs. There were very few souvenir shop in Krabi Town.

Caption: Aonang Beach with Railey in the background

Anyway, our initial plan was to go to Railey Beach which is only accesible via Longtail Boats from Aonang but it was too hot when we arrived. And by the time it was a bit shady, we only had 45 min to catch the 15 minute ride, spend 10 minutes admiring the beach and another 15 minutes to get back. So in the end, scrapped that idea and we just stayed and lounged around Aonang.

There were so many things that we wanted to do but we didn't. We missed going diving but it was ridiculously expensive to dive in Krabi. 3400 baht for 2 dives. Way too expensive. And we missed island hopping, but once you are into diving it is absurd to just go snorkelling and halfway cursing ourselves on why we didn't dive :(.

We missed climbing the cliffs of Railey, a world renown area for rock-climbing. Out arms were aching from the previous day's kayaking and I don't think I can climb up even the easiest route. We missed exploring on our own the natural beauty Krabi district has to offer. Tried renting a Jeep but apparently that weekend all the Jeeps have been rented out. Wanted to see the Emerald waterfall, the numerous forest reserves but alas without a Jeep can't go off the beaten track. Well, renting a bike is cheaper (only 150 Bahts) but neither one of us can ride a bike; the last I rode a bike was in Form 6 - fifteen years ago! And plus the fact that the motorcycle accident rates in Thailand amongst tourist is so high.

But overall it was excellent. I had a good break and I had a wonderful time with my darling Merman. Next time we come we hope to bring an entourage so that we all have fun together. It is an exciting and beautiful place and I would love to come back soon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dreaming of tomorrow

I can't work today. My mind is really not in the hospital, perhaps it is because we do not have surgeries today nor clinics. It is a free day except for some teaching and the weekly grand rounds. Time was passing by SO SLOWLY!!!

Anyway, tomorrow is a holi-holi-holiday for me. Yippie. We are going to Krabi.A nice place which I have passed through in one of my trips to Phi Phi many years ago. We have no idea where we are staying and what we are going to do. It is really go with the flow kind of trip.

Roughly, it is down to three activities; kayaking, rock climbing (oooh my aching legs) and diving. We will decide when we reach there.

Right now I have to pack and also get my 4 kids in the car. Sending them off to the babysitter.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Hasil pukul empat pagi

Slept at four this morning making the above bouquet (aka sirih junjung). Marina's best friend's wedding today and she asked my darling sis to help out with these two items. The tropical garden theme is for the male side and the 2nd the girl's side.

What do I have to do with all this? Well, when my sis 'menyanggup' doing creative stuff she will call me up to back her (actually, I yang kena buat - she sort of by-proxy agrees...hmmmm). But then Ain (Marina's friend) is a nice girl and so I do not really mind.

But damn.... am I sleepy this morning!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Elevators and Escalators Breed Fatties

If we calculate how much time we wait for the elevator we will be surprise at how much precious time is wasted. I am sure it will amount to a reasonable period of a person's life (provided the person stays or work in a building with an elevator). I am sure it would be a necessity if you stay or work at the 14th floor of a 16 storey building.

But waiting for the elevator to go just one floor up really irritates me. If the person is disabled, infirm, old, or simply frail looking I would not mind. This is what we call necessity. And if there is no staircase in sight what can we do, up the escalator we have to go. But then there are people who are generally health young adults and who are simply LAZY. The bloody staircase is just beside the lift. Hello, move that bum of yours and go up the stairs. Exercise!

And if the reason is 'tak larat' then why can't at least they go down the stairs. You do not need much energy for that. Physics taught us that, at a height we have potential energy which is is porpotional to our mass or weight. That will be converted into kinetic energyw as we go down the stairs, so duh, the heavier you are the easier for you to go down.

The Ministry of Health over the years has been campaigning for people to exercise and what better place to start then at the workplace. Yeah, bicycling is a good exercise but it is not feasible in our towns (looking at the horrendous traffic and psychotic road users), one would end up dead if they try to cycle to work.

So MOH should start slow and easy. Encourage the fatties (all those kerani(s) and pegawai tadbir(s)) to start using the stairs, all in all in a day's work they may only use it 2 times.....twice up and twice down (when they come for work, go and come back from lunch and yes, 'punch out' time). This is calculated for those righteous ones who don't take morning break and the 3pm tea. If they do, that then it is much better, more energy spent. Because by the end of the day they would have gone up and down the stairs FOUR times.

And to ensure that this 'Cara Hidup Sihat' is promoted, there should be a Lift Holiday enforced in government offices at least once a week. Perhaps we should have at least one lift operating for the people who REALLY need them, and only those with passes from doctors can use them.

And I am sure by the end of two months of the campaign we would have more healthier and dedicated government staffs. Healthier as they would have by then have a better working heart and leaner body. Dedicated as they would only want to go up and down their offices once a day.... and thus they would spend more time doing their work and not having break now and then.

Well, isn't this a good idea?

p.s. I thought of this when I was climbing 4 flight of stairs. This is my attempt to exorcise the demons that has possessed my thighs making them look bigger than they actually are.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

At Work...

At Work...
Originally uploaded by abdhakamabdah

Saw like his on one of my UM senior flickr. I wish I can take photos like this. I guess I must learn more about photography.