My 2011

1. Celebrated Chinese New Year for the first time in 7 years

2. Partied at Trafalgar Square in London in celebration of Wills and Kate’s royal wedding.

3. Dedicated 4 months to a life-changing haematology job.

4. Went to pottery classes for the first time.

5. Fell and hurt my left knee (?meniscal tear), ended up being on crutches for a month

6. Started training as an Anaesthetist

7. Voted at Singapore’s presidential elections for the first time (at the embassy in London)

8. Went to the Southport fireworks championships- mighty impressive!

9. Celebrated my birthday in Singapore

10. Sang at a friend’s wedding

 

Advertisements

Sad

On the very last day of 2011, my dear friend has committed spiritual suicide.

In the space of 2 weeks, his facebook profile has gone from “single” to “in a relationship,” and today, it became “engaged.”

I wept, and I am sure all the angels in heaven did too. Here is a wonderful young man who has chosen to give his life over to the devil. Like a seed that has been sown among the thorns, the cares and desires of this world have come up and choked him. Like a prodigal son, he has abandoned his doting Father in order to squander his life away.

Devastated. Confused. Angry. Hurt. Sorrowful. I am overwhelmed with a melange of nasty emotions.

But despite all that has happened, I believe my saviour reigns. God is more powerful than Satan at its best. God still loves him, and I know God can turn him around. God even loves the person who has caused him to stumble and sin. God cares, and God forgives. God can use the worst situations to bring glory to Himself.

Enough crying! Pray instead. Let’s start all over again. I will treat him and love him as a non-believing friend, and hopefully one day his heart of stone will learn to beat again for the Lord. Even if he comes back to God in a mess, I am sure the Lord will give grace for us to pick up the pieces and put him back together again then.

My thoughts this Christmas

Happy belated Christmas!

I spent my Christmas weekend with a young couple from my old church and their 2 toddlers (let’s call them the W family). It was lovely. The 2 little ones are oh-so-adorable. I spent 3 days running after them, playing with them, reading (the same stories over and over) to them, going to playgrounds and parks, and having fun with toys at bathtime. It was exhausting, but who can moan about looking after these children when you see them running around their cots stark naked, giggling heartily, and dashing to cuddle you? The 2 days of pseudo-motherhood made me want to have my own little children, but I have also realised how very unprepared I am to take on this lifelong responsibility at my young age. Motherhood demands so much physical energy, time, wisdom, patience, and love.

God created motherhood such that it is complemented so perfectly by fatherhood- while the mother nurses her children and looks after the house, the father wins the bread, disciplines his children, and supports his wife. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside every time I watched my friend (the father) playing with the boys, teaching them about God, potty-training his young sons, disciplining his children when they were naughty, and taking control when mummy was struggling with a particularly restless child. Observing the Christian parenthood displayed by my friends this Christmas made me desire to emulate the same parenting values in my own family in the future. Bringing up a child is no easy task, but it can be made so much easier and more satisfying by following God’s teachings from the bible.

Whilst I did genuinely enjoy my Christmas with the W family, I hasten to add that this Christmas has been a particularly sombre one. Too many nasty things have happened in the 2nd half of 2011, which has made it difficult for us to be totally joyful or in the mood for a party:

1. R2 is still in hospital receiving intensive chemotherapy. The last I heard, her blood counts have hit rock bottom. Although expected, this makes her particularly susceptible to overwhelming sepsis and severe bleeding. She is currently on multiple antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral therapy as she has been repeatedly spiking temperatures with no positive cultures. Things are looking bleak, and there does not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. The family are tired and sad, but thankfully still hanging onto the Lord for strength.

2. One of the Gastro consultants whom I have respected immensely since my 2nd year in medical school has passed away. He was only 40+ years old when he died of metastatic rectal cancer. He was “riddled with mets,” with brain and bony involvement, and his cancer apparently claimed him in October. I felt really sad when I heard of his passing. He was an excellent consultant who was so passionate about his work. I always remember him getting so excited talking about Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Despite his own disease, he continued to come to work in order to look after the patients under his care. He was a keen teacher too, and always gave gripping lectures that made you want to go away and learn more. It is a shame that I will never learn from him again.

3. My old church is apparently still struggling as a church as a whole. It’s members are finding themselves spiritually starved, and some have become jaded as a result of a long term lack of spiritual feeding and uplifting. The sermons given are poor and “fellowship” is superficial. People who are hurting are not finding comfort from the church, and people who are in crisis do not have a trusted figure of spiritual authority to turn to. The last I heard, one of the deacon’s daughter (whom I know) has become pregnant out of wedlock, one of the member’s autistic son is proving very difficult to manage, a couple that I know from there are struggling in their marriage, and people seem very discouraged in general.

4. The friend, C2, whom I was concerned about previously has entered into a sinful relationship with another man. I am devastated. This has apparently been happening since the summer and C2 has been hiding this secret all this time (until recently, when this has become public on facebook). It hurts to think that C2 has sought this relationship intentionally over the internet, and that the decision to enter into this sin was made without consulting any other Christians. It hurts to think that this friend’s desire for intimacy and relationship was not met by the church, and that it was only satisfied by a man who would ultimately rob my friend of the eternal treasures in heaven. It hurts to think that C2 has chosen to turn away and hurt all the people who really care. It hurts to think that for C2, God’s goodness is suddenly worth nothing, heaven is no longer worth seeking, and eternity is no longer worth grasping. Dear Lord God, please save my friend from this sin. Break him if you must, so that he will turn back to focus his eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

Celebrating celebrity

I was browsing Lee Hom’s microblog earlier on today. He had posted that he had gone filming for a new advertisement in utmost secrecy, but somehow his fans got wind of it and by the end of the day, the number of people who had turned up to 探班 was immense! He described the experience as a “high” comparable to the adrenaline rush he gets from his concert performances, and then posted a video of the crowd that mobbed him.

I could not help but feel a little sad for him.

Here is a man who has spent the last 16 years putting up with this kind of a lifestyle. He is under constant scrutiny. The fans out there who claim to love him undyingly are thirsty to know of his every movement. He is constantly photographed. The media probes unabashedly into his personal life- Where is he NOW? Who is he hanging out with? Who has he kissed? Who is his girlfriend? Is he gay? People gossip about him- how ungroomed he is away from the lights and cameras! Does he shave his underarms? What colour underwear did he wear to that awards show? Which restaurant did he dine in? Who are his friends and family? Can we stalk them too to get even more juicy gossip about this mega-super-star? Everyday, someone somewhere out there is trying to criticise and demean him, to catch him embarrassed, to compare him with some other celebrity…

Imagine living a life like his. You are travelling almost daily. Everyday, you spend hours flying in the air and travelling on the roads. Your life is in your suitcase. You wake up every morning not knowing where in the world you are. You have little control over where you want to be and who you want to see. Your schedule has already been decided upon by your manager and today you will film an advert, go to dance practice, sign autographs at a mall, then fly to another part of the world to perform at a concert…

The fans out there scream your name and proclaim their everlasting love for you. Where you go, they will follow. You cannot be seen walking around in public without some kind of a disguise as you will be mobbed. You go places, but hurry to the safety of your car as fan girls out there grab you and your clothes and attempt to kiss you. When you are in your vehicle, they bang on your car windows and it takes 10 minutes for the chauffeur to manoeuvre the car out of all the madness. And just when you think you are safely moving along on the roads away from the chaos, you look out of your rear windscreen and realise that the fans have packed themselves into mini-buses tailing you.

It must be nice to stand under bright lights basking in thunderous applause as a celebrity. It must be nice to have your fans sing along with you as you perform your latest song. It must be nice to have people telling you how amazing and inspiring you are as a performer. It must be nice to have fan girls screaming out their desire to marry you and have your babies! But at the end of the day, when the concert is over, when the lights are turned down, when the audience has dissipated and when you return to the posh but empty hotel suite, how cavernous a hollow emptiness must fill your heart! At the end of the day, you are lonely, all by yourself.

Being a celebrity brings with it many joys and sorrows. Negativity aside, being a celebrity means that one can indulge in activities that the common person could hardly ever imagine doing-  acting in a Hollywood movie, directing a blockbuster, meeting esteemed musical and theatrical talents from all around the world, travelling to different places on this earth, wining and dining at the poshest restaurants… More importantly, with celebrity comes power and influence. I am glad that Lee Hom has chosen to use his influence so positively. Through the years, he has encouraged people through his music to change the “man in the mirror.” Using his music, he reminds us of the importance of looking after mother earth. He sings of the ridiculousness of war and fighting, and encourages all peoples of the earth to treat each other as “自己人.” He is proud of his Chinese heritage, and attempts to 讓華人音樂發揚光大。 Lee Hom also sets an example to his fans by loving and caring for the poor hungry little African children. How much more amazing it would be if he could use his esteemed celebrity status to proclaim the salvation promised by Christ!

Being a celebrity must be one of the hardest jobs in the world. Rain or shine, healthy or sick, you are basically on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I applaud people like Lee Hom who have chosen to endure what would have definitely counted as suffering to me. And because he has done so, I am blessed with music that I love, music that I can turn on at the end of a difficult and stressful day at work to try and lift my spirits. For that, I am thankful.

Our world in 2011

2011 is finally drawing to a close.

What a year it has been! So many significant events have happened across the world in the last 12 months, where do I even start to list them?

1. Earthquake in New Zealand (22 February)

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake that hit Christchurch in New Zealand, taking a total of 181 human lives.

2. Earthquake/ Tsunami in Japan (11 March)

An earthquake of magnitude 9.0 on the Richter scale hit the east coast of Japan on 11th March, triggering a colossal tsunami that took lives, destroyed buildings, and caused a nuclear meltdown that threatened a nuclear disaster of a scale comparable to the 1985 Chernobyl accident. Images of people running for their lives as the cruel waves washed ashore will always be etched to my mind. Images of people who are homeless, hungry, desperate and bereaved, wandering in the freezing cold and dark– they haunt me. Images of the brave men of the Fukushima 50, laying down their lives to work in areas with dangerously high levels of nuclear radiation, desperately trying to cool the nuclear reactors that were threatening to explode– these will always remind me of the strength of the human spirit; for the love of one’s country and people, these Japanese men sacrificed themselves like matyrs.

3. The Royal Wedding (29 April)

An absolutely beautiful fairytale wedding. The prince finally weds his chosen princess and sealed it with 2 kisses! The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton looked absolutely stunning in her Sarah Burton dress and Prince William was dashing in his bright red officer uniform. The wedding was witnessed by 2 million people across the world, and the best part? I was part of the huge crowd at Trafalgar Square watching the wedding and celebrating the British monarchy at the amazing street parties that bank holiday weekend! The prince that I always wanted to marry may be “off the market” now, but hey, at least he’s married to someone who seems befitting enough to be a princess!

4. Osama Bin Laden killed (2 May)

10 years ago, Osama bin Laden earned himself notoriety across the world for masterminding the September 11 tragedy that saw 2 planes crash into the twin towers of New York. How bloody his hands were from the number of innocent lives he had ruthlessly taken away! The 10 years of fruitless searching thereafter left the world feeling pessimistic about ever being able to capture him. But finally, 10 years on, we can rejoice and breathe a sigh of relief at the words of President Barack Obama who announced the death of this terrorist leader. Osama vs Obama- the latter has won, Osama is no more.

5. WP wins a GRC in the Singapore General Elections (7 May)

The ruling party of Singapore, the PAP, has lost the support of its people. For the first time in many years, the PAP was returned to power only by a marginal victory. To add salt to its wounds, the opposition has claimed the Aljunied GRC. For the first time, Singaporeans are starting to vocalise their discontent at governmental policies that have left the common people hurting. They are starting to realise that blind obedience is no longer a fashionable option in this day and age. They are beginning to use their power, as a people, to inform the ruling party that they have a right to be listened to, that Singaporeans have a right to be looked after (over their foreign counterparts) within their own country. I have never seen my people so angry before, or seen them so vocal about their political ideas before. Political apathy is on its way out. Change seems to be knocking on the doors of Singapore.

6. Steve Jobs died (5 October)

The genius behind Apple loses his fight against pancreatic cancer. RIP Steve, thank you for the Macbook, ipod, ipad, iphone, itunes. Technology is made better because of your ingenuity. 

7. Muammar Gaddaffi died and Libya is freed (20 October)

Muammar Gaddaffi– the corrupted, iron-fisted dictator of Libya. After being overthrown and after months of hiding, this man was finally found in a drain- like a rat. He offered his captors a whole load of cash for his life, but even money wasn’t going to buy him forgiveness from his people. He was shot and kicked and dragged along the ground before finally breathing his last. His corpse was then put on display in a marketplace, so that the people he oppressed could come and witness how he had finally died the gruesome death he deserved.

8. The world population reaches 7 billion (31 Oct)

7 billion people. Now, how many zeros are there exactly?

9. Debt problem in Europe

I don’t really know much about this to be honest, but the issue has been on the news every single day. First it was Greece needing a bail out, then Italy… all I know is that there is a major debt problem that the EU countries are trying to resolve, and the UK isn’t too keen on getting its hands dirty.

10. The USA ended war in Iraq (15 December)

After 9 years of fighting, after capturing and hanging Saddam Hussien, the war is finally over. The last of the US troops have finally left Iraq. Hallelujah.

11. North Korea’s Kim Jung-Il has died (17 December)

The enigmatic North Korean leader is said to have died of a “heart ailment” whilst travelling on a train. I don’t know much about him, except that he ruled the isolated and communist N. Korea with an iron fist. I also know that he channelled his country’s scarce resources to building up his military troops, even when his own people were starving. He had nuclear ambitions that led George Bush to describe his country as part of the “axis of evil.” I don’t know what great good he had done behind the closed doors of his self-alienating country, or perhaps it is all down to propaganda, but I’ve just watched a video of large masses of North Korean people weeping, wailing and mourning the death of their “dear leader.” I have never before seen grieving of such scale for any political figure.

All in all, so much has happened in this past year. The earth has been plagued with natural disasters, some wars have started, but others have ceased, and certain evil men have finally come to meet their end. The world is getting bigger, but it is far from being better. If only every man would be a little less selfish, a little more considerate, a little less greedy, and a little more loving… perhaps we can then finally make that one little step forward towards the “world peace” that we all so desire.

Disclaimer: All photos used in this post have been taken from a random search on google. I do not own any of these pictures

Work related nightmares

I’ve just been startled awake by a work-related nightmare.

In my dream, I had just given a guy a GA for an emergency appendicectomy. He regurgitated- initially I was very thankful that I had placed a cuffed ETT for airway protection as you do for these appendixes, then I panicked cos I could not remember if I had asked for cricoid pressure during my induction. Had this guy aspirated in the short time between induction and ETT insertion? Then, the guy starts to do something funny with his ventilation. The ventilator bellows are moving and his sats are thankfully still maintained, but his airway pressures are through the roof and the capnograph displays a funny trace. Was he not relaxed enough and thus breathing and coughing against his ventilator? I could not find the atracurium in the cupboard (why did I even look there, they are in the fridge!). The man then starts to brady down to about 40bpm and I turned his volatile concentration down, or did I turn it off? The alarms are beeping, the monitors are not showing any readings- is my monitoring equipment faulty? Argh! Help! And then I woke up.

I hate having these nightmares. I think they are a reflection of all the worst case scenarios that I think about and fear daily. I mean, I know this imaginary guy in my dream wasn’t exactly crashing- but I know full well that he could do, and when he does, he will crash within a matter of seconds. SECONDS! My mind has certainly not been trained to problem-solve at such speed, and my inability to do that scares me. I mean, I know that I am not expected to know everything after only 4 months into the job, but hey! This is someone’s life we are talking about here! I know full well that I can always call for help, which I will do if necessary, but my own pride also tells me that I don’t want to handover a mess to my seniors and so I pressurise myself to get up to scratch!

I’ve made so many mistakes in my last 4 months of training. I’ve encountered airway and cardiovascular emergencies that have scared me out of my wits. I’ve been left clueless about what’s happened in the 1-2 minutes that it took my patients to deteriorate and for my seniors to solve the problems. Basically, I have been left shit-scared (pardon the language).

My confidence has been decreasing exponentially on a daily basis and I think I am having a little crisis at the moment. I mean, I have no doubt that this is the career path that God wants me to pursue, but the “getting there” has been plagued with one traumatic moment after another, and one mini-disaster after another. I’m just fed-up now, and want to become super confident and super good at my work. I can’t wait for the day when people will breathe a sigh of relief when I make an appearance at a difficult situation, and I can’t wait for the day when I will also know that their confidence in me is justified.

I want to be unbelievably good at my job.

I want to be proud of my job.

I want to love my job.

Please.

All I want for Christmas, is you

I’ve just spent the last 4hours doing my (last-minute) Christmas shopping on amazon.co.uk.

Internet shopping is totally the way forward! Christmas music in the background, mood lighting turned on, sipping a cup of tea, sitting in the comfort of my lovely warm living room, and most importantly, not having to brave crowds and queue at the tills! Internet shopping has made this potentially stressful experience a lot more tolerable.

I want to share some pretty awesome purchases with you here:

Really cool blood bath mat!
A hilarious toilet bowl mug!
A comforting microwavable wheat toy elephant for the little ones
A book on embroidery to inspire the artistic one
A candle making kit so I can make gift candles
Super cool gloves that keep your hands warm whilst allowing you to touch your iphone screen with precision!

I am very pleased with my purchases! I hope they all arrive in time for Christmas, and that they will put a smile on the faces of their receivers. It’s always so hard for me to buy meaningful gifts for other people… I don’t want to buy things just for the sake of giving them away… I want to give people things that are practical, things that they can use, or things that they can have a laugh about… which is why I am pretty satisfied with my choices this Christmas.

What about me? What do I want for Christmas? A couple of things actually (sorry for being greedy):

1. That my parents, bro and I stay happy and healthy

2. That I start getting really unbelievably good at my job, that I enjoy it more, and that I pass my exams.

3. That my friend will end his sinful relationship and turn back to God.

4. That I will meet the man of my dreams sometime, in God’s own time.

5. Please can I meet Lee Hom too?

Disease

I wanted to post this seperately from my previous post on love, as this topic is a lot more heavy and sad.

A couple from my church have 3 beautiful daughters. Their middle child (lets call her R2) was diagnosed with leukaemia (ALL to be precise) last year. She has been receiving cycles of intravenous and intrathecal chemotherapy for the past year, and has had her share of suffering in her 3 years of life. She has had regular admissions to hospital with neutropenic sepsis, suffered crankiness on her steriod treatment, received nasogastric feeding, and been poked, prodded and scanned in every direction. We were hopeful that R2 would get better as she achieved remission and was kept on maintenance therapy; unfortunately, R2’s disease has relapsed. To relapse on maintenance chemotherapy is a very poor prognostic indicator, and her paediatricians have quoted a 100% mortality figure without a bone marrow transplant. R2 is now back on intensive chemotherapy, and she will receive a homologous bone marrow transplant from her sister once remission is achieved. What is hard to digest though, is that her chances of cure remain at only 15-20% with BMT. The family are struggling, with dad staying in the hospital daily whilst mum looks after the house and 2 other children at home. They must be so emotionally and physically exhausted– it has been a year since R2’s diagnosis, and just as things seemed to be getting better, R2’s condition has taken a turn for the worse again. I pray that the Lord gives them strength through it all, and that He will please preserve R2’s little life. I pray that the people around them (me included) will be supportive both practically and spiritually.

All this news has taken my mind back to the days when I worked on the haematology ward and the bone marrow transplant unit. I remember that it was one of the most emotionally trying times in my career as a doctor. I cried more times during those 4 months as a haematology SHO than I had in my other 20 months as a doctor. At that time when I thought I had over-compartmentalised my emotions towards patients and therefore had come almost to the verge of being stone-hearted, the haematology patients made me human again. I developed strong relationships with my patients then, and every negative turn in their condition made my heart ache for them. I remember writing a reflective diary entry then, which I will share here:

I am not one who would usually let things that I see at work affect me for more than a few hours after its time of occurrence. Whether it is the breaking of bad news, or even the death of a patient, I just deal with it there and then and carry on. That’s what I have learnt to do in the last 20 months of being a doctor—compartmentalise my feelings, almost to the point of being cold and stone-hearted. I mean, how else do you cope with the everyday stresses of work if one was to cry with every weeping patient, or mourn with every grieving family? There is no room for dwelling in emotion.
 
Nevertheless, these last couple of days have really broken me down as a person and as a doctor. As I witness the suffering of my patients on the haematology wards, I am beginning to feel my human emotions hit me like an unexpected tsunami. Young patients—they are the ones who really affect me the most. Patients who are my age—they should be enjoying the vitality of youth and embracing the freedom to live their life to its full. They should be out there frolicking in the sun, trying their hand at dangerous sport, experimenting with fashion, falling in love…
 
Yet here I see them suffering. Young people my age, who spend more time in the hospital than they do at home, whose best friends are the nurses and doctors in the damned institution. They are youths who suffer broken relationships as their disease places immense strain on their boyfriends, girlfriends, and even their familial ties. They are youths who have lines and drips attached to them, infusing toxic medications that cause them to be sick, that makes them bald, that inflict pain, that puts them at risk of life threatening infections. These are young adults who live everyday praying that their disease has not come back. Others are fighting to live one more month, one more week, one more day.
 
Watching these patients suffer this week has really reminded me of how broken and imperfect our world is. As mankind seeks to pleasure himself and as we bathe ourselves in sinfulness, this world is never going to be perfect. Suffering is a reflection of our brokenness. It reminds me of our desperate need for the peace and perfection that God offers through his son Jesus Christ. One day, when he comes again and the heavens and earth are made anew, there will be no more weeping, no more crying, no more suffering. On that day, man and woman, young and old, we will sing to the Lord and bask in his love forever. 

R2, I am praying for you.

Wedding festivities

My dear friend Vicky finally got married yesterday!

It was a really beautiful wedding and Vicky looked absolutely stunning in her gorgeous gown. I stopped breathing for a second as she stepped onto the aisle with her father; I am sure Chris did too.

God was at the centre of the wedding festivities, and prayer and praise was offered up to Him throughout the day. I pray that the couple will reflect a shadow of God’s love for mankind in their marriage, bearing a strong witness for the Lord through their love for each other.

There was a lot of laughter and fun as the speeches were made after dinner. People within their families teased each other even as they expressed their love and support for the newly-weds. Family bliss was definitely lingering in the air.

Vicky also ate chocolate for the first time in 14 years as Chris was made to feed her some wedding cake!

And of course, I did my little bit for the wedding with my partner in crime, Ruth. We performed during the register signing, and thankfully it went pretty smoothly despite the fact that I was so nervous! There were a couple of times when I went a little pitchy, but I am quite satisfied with our performance overall. Various people came up to me after the wedding to say how well I sounded. One lady even said that I had the voice of an angel! She was convinced that I was a singer and could not believe that I have never had any formal voice training. Another one of Vicky’s friends from Swindon also said that all her guy friends were “mesmerised” by my singing! Mesmerised! Oh my, I have never known myself to be capable of mesmerising anyone with any part of my being, so I felt very flattered by the feedback. (:

 

The wedding got me thinking about love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” 1 Cor 13:4-8a

Oh, how much love demands of us! But this is the way God loves, and should be the way we learn to love one another.

God loved us so much, that he sent his only begotten son to die on the cross for sinners such as me. He loved us so much that He chose to sacrifice Himself in order to save us from our self-destructive ways. He loved us so much that He chose to forgive us unconditionally, even when we are hating and hurting him daily. God’s love overflows, it is so excessive that I don’t think I can ever fully “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:18)

God’s love fully satisfies. It will never leave you wanting. It is forever.

When we love as God does, the world would be so much more beautiful. We will stop seeking self-interests, stop letting others down, stop hurting each other. Tears will make way for laughter, cold will make way for warmth, hunger will make way for satisfaction, pain will make way for comfort, fear will make way for peace, desperation will make way for hope, and joy will prevail.

Teach me to love, dear Lord.