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Rough patch

Life has been really quite hard for me this August.

Things are not going smoothly and my stress levels are WAY up.

The Ikea furniture we attempted to buy for my room in July has been ordered and delivered all wrong. We told the salesperson we wanted a 3 door wardrobe with one of the doors being a mirrored door. He made a mistake and ordered 3 oak doors for us instead. Admittedly, we were also at some fault for not double-checking the order. I have tried to get on to Ikea’s case about resolving this mistake but they are not really responsive… I guess you can kind of see why…

Just started a new job which has been fine so far but it’s been challenging having to manage new colleagues and relationships with competitive people. There is also an expectation for me to do a ton of this and that “because you are a fellow now!” I have a lot on my mind and on my plate at the moment so I am really struggling with keeping up with the enthusiasm that other fellows are displaying.

Mum ended up in hospital for what sounded like a vasovagal after her procedure. I was so worried about her. And now we await the results… which is majorly anxiety-inducing– to the point of tears! I don’t actually want to talk about this cos it is seriously stressing me out… all I can say is that I really want to be home with them all now. I wish I wasn’t so far from my family… perhaps it really is time to return to the motherland for good.

I put on weight. After a nice streak of going down on the kilos, the weight is coming back again. Maybe part of it is muscle bulk, but I also clearly know the times when I have lost control. Take last night for example. I had 1000 calories left to eat at 8pm. I was 900 calories down by 10pm cos I could not stop my mouth craving more and more and more. My self discipline is abysmal.

I had my ALS recertification today, and believe it or not you can still fail your CAStest even when you are a post CCT anaesthetic fellow and resuscitation is the bread and butter of your everyday job. I actually had to resit the damned thing when the (clearly incompetent) nurse in my group passed it. Oh, and to add fuel to flame- 2 of my colleagues were the instructors who tested and failed me. I have also been denied instructor status. From the sound of it, that was largely because I gave some negative feedback to the above-mentioned nurse who completely balls’d up her scenario. They wanted me to provide more “balanced feedback”– but how the heck do you give good feedback when literally everything was done wrong? Am I expected to lie? In my opinion I was gentle in the way I gave the negative feedback, especially when she could hardly even get the words “PEA” out of her mouth and wanted to deliver a shock for this non-shockable rhythm. I am pretty upset, seeing as I was offered IP the last time and even went as far as completing the GIC. Now I have nothing.

There are more stressful stuff coming up: Monday for mum’s results, then the EDRA and the oral presentation, and completing the RPL before the end of October!

I really need strength! Dear Lord please be my fortress through these trials. Please give me peace. Please help me not to worry. Please lift me out of the pit. Please help this rough patch to pass as quickly as possible. Please help me to trust you.

Moving forward into a new era

I really resent myself for not writing for ages and then having to catch up on a load of updates… Here we go anyway…

Great set of nights

  • Experienced one of my best sets of nights on 4th-8th June. Lovely CT1 (good looking, competent, teachable, easy to talk to). Friendly and highly competent ODPs. Great scrub nurses.
  • We had food every night! I brought in some blondies on the 1st night shift. The consultant who was in on the 2nd night bought us pizzas. My SHO brought sweeties in the 3rd night. And we had a massive party on the final night– one of the ODPs specially went to get a load of cakes/ cupcakes for me (to say thank you for the blondies), one of the scrub nurses brought in home-cooked Chicken Adobo for the team on my cheeky request, and I brought in some home-made cinnamon rolls!
  • The nights were not too busy… just enough work to keep us busy but not bogged down.

Last shifts

  • My last accompanied list was with A. Houston. A good ol’ elective open AAA to be more precise! Managed to get the thoracic epidural in and it worked a treat for the patient! It was a lovely last list to be on…. I’ve always enjoyed working with A. Houston. He’s really relaxed, very cautious, easy to chat to, and looks pretty too!
  • My last night shift ended on the morning of 6th July 2018. It had been quite a lot busier earlier on in the week (think: 3 consecutive renal transplants on 1 night!), but that last shift was sweet. Slept most of the night and managed to have a normal Friday day time!
  • My very last shift was on 12th July 2018. Not an amazing on call long day to be fair. I can’t really remember too much, except that my very last patient was a severe COPD patient who had fallen and sustained a flail segment of fractured ribs and some bleeding. I waited 2 hours for the “blue light” ambulance to come and take us (anaesthetic escort) to the major trauma centre… only to have the paramedics arrive at 1920h… 10 minutes before the shift changeover… thankfully, they were happy to wait 10 minutes so I could handover and not need to make the trip out way past my finish time!

Resigning

  • So, as I approach the end of my specialist training, I have to send a letter of resignation to my employers… I have to admit that it was one of the strangest and scariest things I have had to do in a while. Resigning from a job and a programme that I have comfortably settled into for the last 7 years! I procrastinated and procrastinated but eventually penned something down. I have no idea how to write a letter of resignation, so this was my short and sweet email to the employer:

Applying to be entered on the specialist register

  • So, I did that today. Applied to the GMC to be entered onto the specialist register. Once on the register I can work as a consultant anaesthetist. Eeks! Paid £420 for this privilege.

I got published!

  • In the college bulletin this month. It felt great! Most of the messages have been congratulatory. Very pleased.

Brush lettering

  • I’ve been going a little over the top with my brush lettering expenses recently. I just want all the colours! My wallet sustained some serious damage when I went back to Singapore recently… especially since discovering a shop called Overjoyed on Short Street (right next to Rochor MRT station).
  • So far, I’ve purchased a couple of sets of Tombow dual brush pens (and other assorted pens from various brands), a range of embossing equipment (heat gun, embossing fluid and embossing powder), a light box, and all manner of smooth paper! I also purchased a bottle of masking fluid to experiment with… can’t wait to break into that and have a go too!
  • I’ve been practicing a lot recently whilst on holiday, and even started an instagram account to document my brush lettering journey. Quite honestly, I’ve accumulated so much paper that I really need to stop being a garang guni and start throwing things out. The social media account should hopefully allow me to keep digital records and also engage with other creators online!
  • I have in fact developed a bit of a curriculum for myself:
    • Basic word form drills (Kaitlin style, Modern style, flowy style…)
    • Lettering connections
    • Blending
    • Bouncy lettering
    • Flourishing
    • Learn to draw watercolour floral wreaths
    • Play: Masking fluid, embossing, foiling
    • More word forms/ font types (e.g. Spencerian, copperplate… traditional types)
  • At present, I am concurrently practicing bouncing and flourishing… It has been a lot of fun and I can’t wait to have more time and motivation to progress even more! The aim is hopefully to be able to open an Etsy shop selling my pieces online in the future.

Visiting Singapore

  • Really physically and emotionally burnt out recently, so this recent trip home was a necessity, despite the fact that I could only be home for about 9 days (because I needed to be back for my visa appointment, before the start of the new job with the new employer).
  • Managed to see KX for the first time in years! He needed me to return the army jacket that he gave to me about 14 years ago. It was nice to see him– the guy that had been the centre of my few real-life idol-drama moments (think rushing from the army camp, hopping on the sky train and running across the airport terminal to find me, hug me and say goodbye before I left for the UK. Also think: signing a “contract” that we would get married if we both remained single at age 32). Well, the contract is void now as KX is a happily married man who recently welcomed his third son. He’s knee-deep into being a family doctor and happy working in the polyclinics. It was really lovely to meet up with him again- so many years have past and so much has changed. Yet, he seems to be still exactly the same.
  • The newly renovated house is so nice! Some things didn’t turn out as good as it could have been but I would say it was an overall success and I’m very pleased with it! The house is so much brighter and cleaner, and despite the persistent presence of many boxes the house doesn’t look so cramped with crap. I love the new kitchen and the new rain shower in the bathroom! We went shopping for furniture and curtains when I was at home– it was stressful but necessary.
  • Bought a load of skin care. Totally obsessing over K-beauty recently… especially the brand COSRX. Now, I have a healthy stock of cleansers, toners, scrubs, masks, essences and creams. And I only have one face. Here’s trusting that I’ll be able to use up the products before they go past their expiry dates!
  • Spiculated nodule. Fuck you. Please be gone. Please. Dear Lord, please take it away. Please help me to trust you. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Visa

  • After coming back from Singapore, I have since attended my visa appointment on 27/7/18 at the premium service centre in Solihull (heck, these appointments are so hard to come by. There is a centre in my city but there were NO appointments FOR EVER). For £2999, I managed to get my visa application approved on the same day. Freaking expensive, but I guess it was worth it not having to surrender my passport and freedom to travel for 6 months! Just glad that these visa application sagas are now over and done with…

Neville

  • Sorry Neville, but I managed to scratch your butt (side actually) at the multi-storey car-park again. I hate multi-storey car parks! That was where you sustained your first and only other injury as well! I was trying to make a tight turn around the ramps and didn’t give myself enough space to turn (also, I was going in the opposite direction so I felt hurried to complete the turn before other cars came along). My heart aches for you Neville! Sorry!

Trump-Kim Summit

This is a historic moment. A handshake that the world never thought we would ever see. A meeting that may see the denuclearisation of North Korea and a promise of peace.

A few months ago, these 2 men were trading insults over twitter. One calling the other a “Dotard”, and the other name-calling his Korean counterpart “Rocketman.” North Korea was furiously testing their nuclear missiles, promising to reach North American shores with their nuclear weapons. The threat of a nuclear world war 3 was so real that even I got scared.

Yet somehow, something seems to have changed. Kim Jung Un is suddenly interested in negotiating peace. In a short space of time, he has announced the completion of his country’s nuclear testing. He dismantled one of NK’s major nuclear test sites. He met with South Korea’s president Moon Jae-In and even invited the latter to cross over the threshold into his country. He agreed to meet with his arch enemy Donald Trump.

This cruel dictator who surely has an endless list of humanitarian crimes under his name is suddenly becoming human. I don’t know why. I can only trust that this is my God at work in his heart.

God is surely at work. Perhaps it is for this moment in history– the meeting of the NK chairman and US president, that “the worst thing ever happened” 2 Novembers ago. Perhaps this is the reason God allowed Donald Trump to win the United States presidential race. It takes a mad man to subdue another mad man… perhaps this is God’s purpose in it all. After all, my God is the master at using the most awful of situations to his glory.

May this handshake truly mark the beginning of  the promise of peace… and perhaps even liberation and progress in the hermit state of North Korea.

P.s. This was set in sunny Singapore, at the Capella hotel in Sentosa. I am so pleased that our little country was able to play a part in setting the scene for this meeting. Admittedly, I was worried… “why did they have to choose us?” did cross my mind. I fretted over the security and safety of my family and fellow citizens. These 2 men are volatile, powerful, and surely have no lack of potential assassins. Will their combined presence disturb the peace in our placid little island? I should never have worried… Singapore did a wonderful job hosting. Our military and police men and women stepped up. We spent 20 million SGD as the price for peace, and in the process have gained so much more back in media exposure that will surely blow up our tourism trade. Well done, I am so proud of our sunny island.

The path of wickedness

Travelling along the path of the wicked is like riding a bike through a muddy path. It creates a track that makes it easier and easier for you to go along that path again and again.

The Holy Spirit infiltrates our hearts

So apparently, 阿姨 has sunk deeper and deeper into the depths of Buddhism. I mean, she has always taken a keen interest in the religion since I’ve known her- she spends incredible amounts of time at the temple, talks a lot about her work evangelising Buddhism, and has even made pilgrimages to India. However, she has taken her devotion to a different level this time– she has left her family home, shaved her head and become a nun.

To me, all these seem to be a form of escapism. To escape from the hurting that is her husband having another girlfriend, to escape from the grief that her eldest son has achieved very little in life, to escape from the pain of abandonment from her (now married) youngest son who has a child that she has to make “appointments” to see…

Buddhism teaches that there is value in detachment after all? If she detaches herself from these broken relationships and forsakes all her worldly cares, perhaps she will find some calm amidst the chaos? Life as it is now is too burdensome, so why not abandon it all and start over?

It grieves me to hear her story, and I know that it hurts my mum to see her sister on this road. However, I know that there is NO ONE so far from God that God cannot reach, or cannot love. He is bigger and better than we can ever imagine. God can reach even the most sinful of men- you only have to look at the wonderful story of Paul– the persecutor of Christians turned Apostle! I myself am sinful and desperately depraved– yet the Lord reached down to me and saved me too. No one is beyond reach, no heart is out-of-bounds to my God. And that includes my 阿姨. The Lord is more than able to touch her and heal her, to offer her a fount of living water so that she will never thirst again.

My God promises a wonderful marriage- one between Him and His people. A relationship that will satisfy all our human needs completely. A union in which He the groom is forever faithful. He will never leave us or forsake us. His promises are true and everlasting, and so mighty that they completely eclipse the sorrows of a broken marriage or the pain of abandonment that my aunt is suffering.

Oftentimes, we try so hard to protect our hearts from hurting. We put plasters on where the painful wounds are. Then we put layers of bandages over it. Knowing how fragile the heart is, we wrap it in bubble wrap thereafter. We cover it with newspaper, even nice wrapping paper to make it look better. Oh, and just in case anyone comes to steal it and stab it, let’s put it in a cage and lock it up as well. We cover our hearts with so many layers of “protection” that it seems hardened and impenetrable. Yet, my God is above all that. His light penetrates down to the deepest, darkest crevices in our hearts where the sun doesn’t shine. He peels off every single layer of the “fortress” that we have erected around our hearts. His spirit infiltrates to places in ourselves that we do not even know exists.

Psalm 139: 7-10

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

My God is omnipresent and omipotent.

I trust that He can and will one day turn my aunt’s heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

A quick catch-up

In the wink of an eye, it is now April.

Where has all the time gone since I last blogged?

There are a few things I want to tell you, so here we go with catching up…

27th February 2017. GD finally enlisted into the army. After all the agonising, he is finally gone. In the weeks and months leading up to his enlistment, I have found it crazy how disproportionate his fans’ grief is as they lament and bemoan the fact that they will lose their idol for the next 2 years. They weep and bid farewell as if this man is dying, never to return again. The negativity and sadness from the entertainment news were really weighing me down, which actually made me wish that he would just go quickly. Go quickly and return quickly- that’s my policy. In the meantime, while GD is gone, I am motivated to use these 2 years as a time target for my own health and fitness journey. When he is discharged on 27th Nov 2019, I want to be a new me. A beautiful girl unashamed to go and see my favourite artist in real life. If I have reached my own goals when he returns, I will go to his comeback concert. New GD, be prepared to meet the new me (in 2 years).

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Speaking of my health and fitness journey…. So, after Christmas and New Year, I bloated up SO BAD.  Despite being convinced that I did not overindulge over the holidays, the weighing scales did not lie. I had piled on the pounds. All my hard work had gone down the drain… and I was back to square one yet again. I saw a picture of myself on Chinese New Years day (when eating Hotpot with Laura) and was *shook* (pardon the grammar… this is a new young generation term). My face was so round… my arms so thick. I hated that picture, and hated myself for it. I was starting to feel really despondent. 2 years of exercise hasn’t done anything, 2 rounds of BBG hasn’t done anything, slimming world worked for all of 2 weeks, reducing my chocolate/ coke/ cake/ cookie intake hasn’t done anything, healthy-eating/ meal prep hasn’t done anything… nothing has worked! One day at work, I was randomly chatting to one of my juniors about my (lack of) weight loss… which was when she suggested using myfitnesspal to help me track calories. Now, I have never tried calorie counting before so this is a brand new adventure for me. I was initially worried about the math and work that this was going to involve… now, I am 6 weeks in and the app has worked a treat! The ability to add calories to your daily count simply by scanning the barcode of the food you eat has made this seemingly tedious chore much more of a breeze than you would expect! I think I am starting to see some result… I have certainly had at least 2 people come up to me in the last week commenting that I have lost weight. Some days I am immensely motivated to keep within my calorie budget, other days I really just want to give up. Yet, I have to keep reminding myself that “Rome wasn’t built in a day. You didn’t get fat overnight” and “good things are worth waiting for.” Let’s see what happens in the coming weeks and months! I am excited to see what changes my body will undergo! In the mean time, God please keep my food cravings at bay!

Badminton and body pump. After 2 rounds of BBG, I gave up BBG on week 7 round 3. Why? Because it was getting really really boring. The exercises still hurt, but it was so boring and my body was starting to resent going to the gym in anticipation of the pain. And so, as a way to spice up my exercise life, I engaged SH to play badminton with me every Saturday morning. We bought some cheap rackets and shuttlecocks on amazon and starting playing at the university sports hall. We are amateurs, so we play without any rules or boundaries. Our aim is to keep a rally going for as long as is possible. So far, it has been a tonne of fun. The cardiovascular exercise of running around chasing a shuttlecock has been awesome. The times when we manage to really keep a rally going has been exhilarating. It has been so much fun being able to play with a friend and our friendship has certainly deepened as a result. SH and I have actually made these Saturday mornings into “Play and Pray” sessions. We play badminton, catch-up a bit on life, and then pray for each other for the coming week. I love both bits of this P&P and look forward to it every week! On top of spicing up my cardiovascular exercise with badminton, I have also started going to body pump classes to help me with my strength training. After 2 years in the gym feeling too scared to step into a class (there is a constant worry about not being able to keep up, feeling embarrassed, and not being to escape!), I finally bit the bullet and went on 27th January. Bodypump has been great! It is nice to exercise with 20+ other people, led by an instructor who knows how to train and motivate, and to lift to some really good groovey music! Admittedly, these low load high rep exercises really kill my muscles… but when I have overcome them and as I walk away with jelly legs, I am filled with a sense of pride that “I did it!”

Best registrar. I went to a MET call the other day with one of my SHOs. The patient had a low GCS and needed to be intubated on the ward and then transferred to CT scan before going to ITU. On arrival, I took charge of the situation and quickly made decisions as to what needed to be done for the patient. As usual, I asked for the names of the people I worked with and assigned jobs to them on a first name named-person basis. I tried to be methodical and calm, aiming to take control of what would otherwise be a chaotic situation. We vocalised our thoughts and plans and verbally went through our pre-intubation check-lists. The patient was eventually stabilised, secured and packaged before we set off on a little adventure around the various departments of the hospital. The patient took up a good part of 2 to 3 hours of my time. When I eventually returned to the theatre coffee room, I found my SHO was there having her lunch as well. This was when she said some really precious words to me, to the effect of “I just want to let you know that I think you are the best registrar that I have ever worked with. I really admire the way you handled the situation. You were so clear, and I could totally follow what your thought processes are– something that I struggle with some other registrars when I just don’t understand what they are thinking! I want to be just like you in the future.” It was such precious feedback! These words are something that I hold closely to my heart– to think that I am a role model to one of my juniors! All too often, I beat myself up over the things that I could have done better/ should have done/ shouldn’t have done… so much so that I forget that I can be quite good sometimes! Obviously, I am not going to let this get to my head… but I want this to stay in my head, to remain as a precious reminder that I am still deemed to be “fit-for-purpose” and to stop doubting myself and my competence so much!

I am done with being the organiser of the PFMs. After a year of really hard work at overhauling the format of the meetings, after multiple frustrating emails to and from the associate head of school, after being on the receiving end of non-stop moaning from the registrars, the PFMs have become a precious baby for me and V. And so, it was actually really hard to give it up…. to trust other people to carry on the good work that we have done. But it was necessary, since I finish training this summer and V will be off on maternity leave in February. Our last meeting was a roaring success. One of the speakers from London even sent an email to SM to commend me for my good work- what a wonderful way to end off this term of being PFM organiser!

It is Easter Sunday today! On a day like this, this song shouts out to me…

As my saviour hung nailed onto the tree, his love was poured out to set us free.

Man of sorrows Lamb of God
By His own betrayed
The sin of man and wrath of God
Has been on Jesus laid

Silent as He stood accused
Beaten mocked and scorned
Bowing to the Father’s will
He took a crown of thorns

Oh that rugged cross
My salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out
Hallelujah
Praise and honour unto Thee

Sent of heaven God’s own Son
To purchase and redeem
And reconcile the very ones
Who nailed Him to that tree

Oh that rugged cross
My salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out
Hallelujah
Praise and honour unto Thee

Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled

Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed

Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled

Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed

Oh that rugged cross
My salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out
Hallelujah
Praise and honour unto Thee

See the stone is rolled away
Behold the empty tomb
Hallelujah God be praised
He’s risen from the grave

Oh that rugged cross
My salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out
Hallelujah
Praise and honour unto Thee

Praise and honour unto Thee