Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Superwoman

My Ma is the 'garang' type. I would jokingly tell bro Wan how lucky he is that Ma has mellowed down so much over the years.

There is not a month that passed that we didn't have markings of beatings on our legs. I totally understand her, we were a bunch of (sometimes) naughty kids and she was working till she had Yaya so it was stressful, being a mother at that stage. Though looking back at our childhood, we were practically angels compared to kids nowadays.


You know how when you have people visiting and their kids would be breaking your child's toy, and jumping up and down your sofa and all their parents seem to do is sigh wistfully and say 'Budak-budak......'? Ey, if we were like that, one stare from Ma and we would be reminded of what was in store for us once we got home. Ma did mention though that we were very well mannered when we were visiting other people, never needed prodding to behave; we always knew what was proper and what was not.

Anyway, you mention it, we've been beaten by it: rotans, rubber hose, hangers, rulers - so I think you can probably picture how naughty we were...hehehe.. and how 'garang' Ma was. But, regardless of how bad a beating we got, Ma would always make sure we knew why we were punished. I remember once, after a really bad spanking, I was crying on my bed examining (and actually counting! Hahaha, 'modal' for feeling sorry for oneself) the welts on my legs when Ma came into the room to apply soothing cream on them. She would be telling me what I did wrong and how badly she felt after each beating and I remember how stubbornly silent and angry I was. She would always mention that each beating hurt her more than it hurt us. It sounded ridiculous to me at that time but I'm sure every parent knows exactly what she meant.

It didn't help that I was a very stubborn child. Everytime I got punished, I would retaliate by sulking in my room and refusing to go out to eat and I could be stubborn for a very long time too.

When I was in my teens, something happened and Ma and I ended up not speaking. We were like US and Soviet during the cold war. It was as if I didn't exist in the house. Ma would not leave out any food for me nor did she wash any of my clothes. In the end, Pa was the one who could not bear the hostility and forced me to apologize. To this day, I can't recall what was the silly thing that made me act that way.

Unfortunately, as Abg would gladly admit, the hard headedness have persisted till now.

I digress - presently, I look back to my childhood with absolutely no regrets. Ma and Pa have provided us with everything we wanted and did not leave me wanting for anything. The only reason that I would have a kid, if I could, was so that he/she/they could have the childhood I did, beatings and all.

I may sound like I condone physical punishment, and in a way, I do - but in the sense that IT being only a minor part in bringing up your kid. It MUST come together with love, respect and patience. I think, most importantly, in order to be a decent human being, one must be able to differentiate between good and bad, and have a conscience. Without a conscience, one will not be able to feel bad when he/she has done something wrong, and if you don't feel remorse, what will stop you from repeating your mistakes?

There is one memory that I am sharing here, that Ma will or will not remember.

When we were younger, Ma would make us bring food from home and most of the time it'd be boring stuff like jam sandwiches. Maybe she did give us 'cool' food sometimes, but all I can remember right now are the horrible jam sandwiches. At MGS, we had a really huge canteen, selling iced water (10sen per glass only!) and ice balls to wantan mee and nasi lemak. The nasi lemak booth is right at the end and next to it is the ice cream Auntie. The best thing in the world at that time was having asam boi ice lollies on a hot day. They were only 10sen but it doesn't really matter how much they cost when your mother doesn't give you any spending money.

What I would do (Urgh, I cringe as I am recalling this, such is the idiocy of youth!) was to 'collect' any small change Pa had in his work trousers. Pa would always leave his work trousers on the bed (something he still does now) and whenever no one is looking, I would go through his pockets for coins.

I know! 'Teruk', right! Hahahaha.

and the next day, there I would be, enjoying my asam boi or kopi ice lolly.

This went on for a few weeks and one day I was just swamped with guilt. I decided enough is enough but in order for me to feel better, I just had to come clean to Ma. I can recall exactly what happened: Ma had just finished her prayers and I told her everything. At the end of it, Ma simply told me not to do it again. Was that what happened, Ma? Hahaha, but definitely did not get beaten lah.

I knew that what I did was wrong. I could have easily went on 'collecting' loose change from Pa's work trousers, right? But my parents raised me well enough that I had the ability to feel bad about what I did.

THAT was the only thing I remembered from that snippet of my childhood. Despite the way I am telling this, I am NOT blaming it on my Ma for not giving us spending money (I'm sure she did because I do remember buying nasi lemak and wantan and sarsi but my mind is so befuddled that I can't recall whether it was because Ma gave us money or was it due to my unofficial 'toll'), and I certainly DO NOT remember going through primary school with longing or feeling that I lacked something.

Whatever it is, I hope my parents are comfortable in the fact that the bottom line is, they raised a bunch of decent human beings. It's definitely a bonus if your kids are geniuses or famous or rich but surely it all starts with decency.

I often wonder if my parents have regrets about the way they raised us; I certainly have never asked them this but if she does, then I say don't because to me you surely did one hell of a job.

Happy Mother's Day.

Jumping all over topic

The best oncalls are the ones where no matter how busy you are during the day, you still get uninterrupted sleep later on the night. Even a mere three hours should be okay to get you going the rest of the day.

It was one of those days when you had a whole bunch of stable patients, but they came with weird complaints. Luckily for me, I could always clerk them in for observation. Should nothing is wrong with them in the first place, the MO in charge can always discharge them.

It's just a few minutes after 7 and already the A&E is starting to get patients. It's usually MVA patients this early. I hope that at least the patient's conscious, unlike the ex YB who yesterday was involved in a head on collision.

You can tell how important a patient is in the hierarchy of the society by the size of the crowd that is hanging about the hospital. The last time we had a VIP, a crowd the size of a small kampung (including all four wives, apparently) came to see him.

My sister is getting married this August. Weddings have become really expensive nowadays, don't you think? Maybe it's time we stepped out of the box and do away with wasteful habits such as fancy invitation cards and do a Maya Karin. You do realise that most of them end up in rubbish bins?

The other thing is the door gifts. Remember a few years back when everyone started using those pearly-multisheened ceramic egg holders? Too ugly to use to decorate but too 'sayang' to throw away? When I first got married and moved into Abg's house, I was soooo itching to get rid of them. They were just gathering dust in the old cabinet anyway.

I think a good doorgift should be useful, and if not, at least recyclable. Ma used to save every bunga telur she got whenever she went for weddings and 'cukur jambul's and 'maulud nabi's, that after a while she would have a HUGE bunch of non matching ones displayed right by the phone.

What she did was, when it was time for her to host a maulud of her own, clean up every single one and use them as doorgifts. Jimat, right? and they actually looked nice on the bunga pahar stand, despite being missmatched and all.

I think the problem with our society is that we are too scared of 'losing face' and wanting to please everyone else, BUT ourselves. Relatives are the worst. Especially when it comes to weddings. Everyone wants to give their idea on how much 'hantaran' money the bride should get, where the wedding should be held, how big the event should be and beware should you just brush off any ideas, or you would find yourself being given the cold shoulder come next family gathering.

Talking about recycling, after that three day conference in KK, I've now ended up with about 4-6 bags and a tonne of leaflets. I've decided that from now on, the bags will be coming with us on shopping trips so that we don't end up with plastic bags. The bags that they were giving away at the various booths were the cloth type, and rather sturdy too. We had a trial run at the recent pasar tani, and the bag I had easily carried 4 small papayas, three bags of onions, a bunch of long beans and a few other stuff. One makcik was really impressed when we insisted, no plastic bag please. Besides, they were more comfortable to carry and were less painful on the fingers.

Good eh? I think Ma would be proud. She's always tried to make us reuse things when we were younger, though at that time it was called being frugal rather than recycling.

Now, if only I can locate a paper recycling centre in KB......

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oncall nonsensical ramblings

I've just returned from two trips and I think I need another holiday to wind down from them. It used to be that I could travel on overnight third class trains and still be excited for a weekend trip but I'm beginning to accept that I am no longer that sprightly young thing.

I used to reminisce about my backpacking trip to India and Nepal and often wondered if I could do the same thing nowadays.

I think I know the answer and the answer is I probably can but I will probably end up hating it and can't wait to go home.

and it isn't just holidays, but oncalls too. I remember that we used to do compulsory EOD (every other day) on calls during our O&G attachment and postcall, I still found time and energy to meet Abg.

Get me to do EOD calls now and I'll be bedridden after a week!


Am I getting old?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shall I..?

Shall I write about pakcik in bed 15 who started to have difficulty breathing suddenly at about half seven last night? He who deteriorated and became so blue that we had to intubate (and re intubate) and for whom I spent 3 hours looking for a bed and ventilator for?

or shall I write about sleeping at half three, after eating my cold rice and waking up at half four and then five and then half five to check on the patient with low blood pressure and was told about another supposedly stable patient who became breathless and restless?

or shall I write about the fact that a bunch of us were supposed to sit for an exam this morning and with only 2 hours of sleep, I am in no shape to be answering questions?

Shall I also write about my oncall partner who also only went to sleep at three, and then woken up to resuscitate another patient in the ward and then called to attend another case of shortness of breath at casualty?

Shall I write then about this son whose father passed away unnoticed in the midst of the chaos that is the male medical ward, whose puzzled face when I told him that his father had passed away is still etched in my mind? I hate it when it gets too hectic that I've become such a nasty MO to my staff nurses who are already overworked, that a death is just another number in the statistics that I forget about the grief and the loss.

Shall I write about this particular staff nurse who totally ignored my orders to push the emergency trolley when the above patient stopped breathing - simply because her shift had finished? I was so shocked at her (non) reaction yet too busy to attend to the case that it is only now that I am overwhelmed by my anger.

These are the things that five years of medical school can never teach you and whether it makes you into a better person or otherwise is totally up to you.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why I sometimes hate my job...

It is 1 am and I am just sitting down to eat my dinner. It's mee hoon, so that's a good thing. It's only been three days since my jaunt in Java but it already seems to be in a distant past. Almost like I dreamt it all. Reality sure can give you a hard slap on the face.

But, good thing is, three days, one on call and one PTK exam later, I will be off to KK for the MOA Conference. I've already looked at the programme and made plans during the times that I can skive off. I wonder if boss will notice me missing.

Abg will be joining me on Friday and we'll only be flying home on Sunday so that gives us about 24 hours to go pearl and 'ikan bilis' shopping. I remember having good memories of KK so I hope this trip won't spoil it. I'm already salivating over the mee hun sup ayam in Sinsuran that we had the last time we were there.

Anyway, we had a patient who was complaining that we were late in attending to his son who had bleeding from the nose. He had come this morning and since the bleeding subsided some, I allowed him home and told him to come again should the problem recur.

When he turned up at about 10 thirty just now, all the beds were full. Basically all the lethargic pakciks have run out of 'ok' power (ok - Kelantanese for persevere) and have decided that they will turn up at the casualty that day. One relative of my staff had had bilateral lower limb weakness for 2 weeks and was just now insisting on being admitted. I had just pronounced the death of a 4 year old with malignancy and was still tying up loose ends but then proceeded to deal with the case of the bleeding nose.

Just as we had registered the case to be admitted, then comes the 'oh i am so pandai and so mighty don't you dare play play with me' father who started to boss my staff around telling her that she's doing things wrong.

Suddenly he came puffing and huffing wanting to bring his son to HRPZ II. Apparently we are all idiots here in HTM. Well, good riddance and good luck mister!

Seriously lah...? How obtuse and how selfish and ridiculous can you be? A mother had just lost her 4 year old daughter to cancer and a pakcik is lying on the stretcher fighting for each breath and a kid just broke his thigh because of his stupid parent who couldn't be bothered to strap him with the seat belt (but that's another story) - get some perspective la.

It is people like this that make me hate my job sometimes. Thank god they are far and few between.

Roasted chicken wings, here I come....

Monday, May 04, 2009

Did I not say so..?

I wonder what has kept Abg. He's usually not late. I've just been lazing around surrounded by my kids. Che'Tam looks lethargic. Friends are humoured by the fact that I use medical terms to describe my cats' condition.

Anyway, I fed Che'Tam her deworming medication during the weekend. She hasn't been herself since. She seems to devour my KFC chicken though, so I hope that means that she's not that bad.

Unlike how her master is feeling.

Last night's call was not that bad, considering. A bad call is when more than 2 patients collapse on you. One is acceptable. Two is still not bad but more than 2 means that you really need to 'mandi bunga', as we like to joke.

There was a relative who brought his wife who complaint that she was dizzy. He had just arrived as I left to shower, leaving the casualty to my partner that night. As I turned up about an hour later, he was just leaving. He turned to us, and said in an unusually loud voice, "THANK YOU DOCTOR. HAVE A PLEASANT NIGHT" - it was said in a way that clearly indicated that he meant otherwise.

I've long learnt, in Kelantan, if a malay speaks English with you, he/she is trying to say "I'm educated you know, don't mess with me like you mess with the kampung folk". Urgh. Stupid. What have we become; learn Mandarin to get a job, learn English to intimidate people.

According to my colleague, he had sat at the counter and was babbling away while she was clerking her cases. She wasn't in her friendliest mood as the cases were many and waiting. Was that why Mr Moustache was so sarcastic? You think by loading your sarcasm on us, it will help us improve our service? I don't think so!

Anyway, we ended up resuscitating a patient at about 1am. Despite our efforts for the next couple of hours, he was still hanging on by a thread. He was too ill to be transferred and we both knew that he was there because of the medications that we were pumping into him. Bleurgh. Regardless of how ill or how bad premorbidly my patients are, I still feel bad when they expire. Definitely one for the mortality meeting.

Ah well. Shall deal with it once I return from my long awaited holiday.