Looking back to move forward

What a year 2018 has been. So much has happened.

    Both my parents retired in February as they turned 67.
    Following their retirement, they decided to busy themselves with redecorating our old flat. That really needed to be done as the house was really dusty and cluttered full of stuff that we had literally stuffed into every nook and cranny we could find. The paint on the wall was dull and even mouldy in some parts. The built-in furniture was old and creaky. The grout on the toilet walls was black. We had a number of broken tiles on the kitchen walls… the house was on the verge of being unliveable. However, since taking the decision to renovate, months of stress ensued (mostly for them, since I left home after a brief period of packing up my own room)… mum was particularly stressed out by the cost (almost S$60 000 as we had to pretty much change up everything!), the packing, searching for a place to stay for 6 weeks, finding storage space, and sourcing a reliable moving company. I, on the other hand, felt the stress via the phone and the internet, as I was constantly sent pictures of  various bits and bobs to make decisions on… the colour of the room doors, the design of the toilet door, the shape and colour of the door knobs, the type of granite for the kitchen worktop etc etc etc. However, the months of emotional agony was worth it… We have now moved back home and it is beautiful! The walls have a bright, fresh coat of paint, the floor is shining, the kitchen is gorgeous, and we have cleared out a large amount of trash that we never bothered to/ couldn’t bring ourselves to throw out (we are all hoarders in this family). Our house feels so much more like a home now.
    In May, I went for my last ARCP and received an outcome 6!!!! It was lovely to walk into ARCP and receive that handshake from SMercer saying “Congratulations, well done. It was lovely having you on the programme.” It seemed almost a bit of an anticlimax though… to have it all finish like that after 7 tough years of training. It felt like there should have been more of a bang and a fanfare… Nevertheless, it is really nice to be freed from training and all the paperwork/ rules that I had been subject to. Now, I can work wherever I want in whatever sub-specialty I want. I can become a permanent fixture in just 1 particular hospital’s anaesthetic department and start building relationships, trust and teamwork in that one place… free from having to rotate & start anew every 1, 3, or 6 monthly. I can even go home if I want!
    Post CCT, I have since started my new job in paediatric anaesthesia. I now work in a wonderful hospital with lovely colleagues who have been extremely supportive through mum’s illness. I am learning lots daily and getting better at handling little children. I still cannot believe that looking after sick children is now what I do everyday (willingly- given that I chose to apply for this fellowship). Just think back on those first days in 2015 when I was absolutely petrified of having to cannulate a child, and when a 10kg fit & well 1 year old child made me sweaty and scared. Think back on those days when I hated children cos I was terrified of them and all they did was cry whenever they saw me. Today, I actually enjoy looking after these young ‘uns. I love talking to them and their stuffed toys, I enjoy blowing bubbles in the anaesthetic room. I love seeing their angelic sleeping countenances, or their drunken faces when they wake up from the anaesthesia. Of course, I STILL cannot cannulate a neonate (God help me!) and am terrified of sick babies and all those with airway issues… but hopefully these things will get easier with time and experience.
    On 20th August, we received the worst news- mum was diagnosed with biopsy-proven lung cancer. The days that ensued were particularly challenging- I should just describe the latter part of 2018 as being filled with fear and anxiety. Everyone in the household was hurting, yet nobody wanted anybody else to know. It was really hard for me to receive the news whilst overseas, unable to share in their grief or offer any comfort and support to them. I cried a lot during that time. Nevertheless, the whole ordeal led me to fasting for the first time. It made me pray so so so much more than I ever have. I grew closer to SH (one of my best friends in the UK) as she shared in my grief and prayed for me every time I broke down from the burden of it all.
    Amidst all the worry of mum’s diagnosis, I studied for the European Diploma in Regional Anaesthesia. I sat the EDRA part 1 in Dublin on 12th September and surprisingly passed, receiving a score of 74.6%! It was a really tough exam, much harder than I was prepared for having only gone through the Masterpass book once. There were so many questions and topics that I had never even come across before, so there was a fair amount of educated guessing/ blind guessing involved. I am hugely thankful for that little shimmering light of positivity at a time of pretty intense darkness. The EDRA congress was also wonderful in that I gave my first oral presentation at an international conference. I also learnt so much from real regional anaesthesia experts who would hold my hand and say “hold your ultrasound probe this way, angle it that way, look for that structure, aim for this nerve.” It was all in all an intensely satisfying experience.
    I also applied and received my Indefinite Leave to Remain this summer. It was an expensive £2000 to have a premium appointment that gave me an outcome on the same day. Admittedly I had left it a little late to take my Life in the UK test, and then left it even later still before I began the application process. I needed to have a valid visa prior to my new job starting in August, and I obtained my ILR only 2 days before the start of my new job! But oh, what a relief it is to finally hold on to an ILR. Now, I am free to leave this country (for a bit) to experience work perhaps in another environment.
    In November, mum underwent her operation and had the damned dirty thing removed. The pathology results showed that all the cancer was removed and no further adjuvant therapy is needed. PRAISE THE LORD, some light at the end of the tunnel.
    In December, I FINALLY completed and passed my Recognition of Prior Learning essay to convert my medical leadership credits into education credits… which essentially earned me the PGCert in Medical Education! Praise the Lord. The essay had been on my mind for a full year, SH had been praying for me to write it since January! After 12 long months of procrastination, eventually being given a deadline, having the essay returned to me because I had not adequately addressed one of the learning outcomes, and a lot of writing about stuff that I had no interest in, it is done. Welcome to a few more letters after my name!
    Through the year, I have also lost 8 kgs through exercise and mindful eating. Bodypump classes at my local gym helped me with weight training. Badminton sessions with SH every Saturday kept me doing cardio weekly. Myfitnesspal was also a true God-send of an app that helped me keep my calories accounted for.

In addition, I have also improved tremendously in my brush lettering. I can now do bouncy letters, flourish my letters, paint floral wreaths, and have even tried my hand at foiling. My work is by no means wonderful, but the progress is very visible and I am extremely proud,

OK, enough reflecting on the events of the past year. How did I fare with keeping my 2018 resolutions?

  • Joy in the workplace. I want to enjoy my work more and feel less stress, fear and frustration→ Maybe? Not sure. I do enjoy going to work most days, but I think my intrinsic being is just built for stress, especially with neonates and sick kids!
  • Improved brush calligraphy skills→ Pass (as above)
  • Better eating habits and more exercise, hopefully accompanied by noticeable weight loss→ Pass-ish. I have lost 8kg this year and dropped a dress size. However, I am still quite a little way from my weight goal. I am not massive, but I want to be fitter and more toned.
  • More travelling→ Fail. I don’t think I travelled to any new places this year… except Dublin for an exam.
  • More friends and deeper friendship→Pass-ish. I don’t think I have made more friends this year, but my relationship with SH has certainly grown deeper through weekly play and pray sessions (badminton followed by prayer). We share about almost every aspect of our lives with each other and have prayed together in the gym, the library, the garden, by the roadside…
  • Love and relationship→ Major fail. Major fail every single year. I would love to have love, but almost don’t dare to wish for this anymore.
  • Prayerfulness and complete trusting in the Lord Jesus→ Yes. I have prayed so much this year through hard times. Even when the going got tough, I thank God that He has stayed with me throughout and helped me trust him through it all.

What do I hope for in the new year? Well, my motto for next year is to:

BE LIKE WATER.  

Fluid and flexible: Be all things to all people. Receive change with a smile- don’t sweat over it.

Be cool and refreshing: Help others feel alive and inspired simply by being present.

Be strong, powerful and fierce, yet capable of calm stillness

More measurably, next year I hope to:

  • Practice more brush lettering and experiment more. Get so good that I can start a business selling cards and prints.
  • Learn Chinese calligraphy
  • Pass the EDRA part 2
  • Lose more weight, at least another 8 kg!
  • Listen to more music. Be more receptive of more music genres by more artists. Dance to the music.
  • Go to concerts, musicals, theatre performances. Basically, immerse in the performing arts that you love but have neglected for years.
  • Make a plan– am I going to do another fellowship? Get a consultant job? Maybe move back home? Certainly get registered with the SMC.
  • Rejoice and give praise to the Lord through every circumstance. Don’t forget about Him even in happy times.

Here’s to a joyful and fruitful 2019!

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Bye bye 2018

2018 has been a bit… MUCH.

So much has happened in the space of 365 days.

There have been snippets of rejoicing and gladness, but also a great deal of sadness and anxiety.

Let’s say I’ve had enough of the year and am more than happy to ring in a new one!

Whatever lies ahead, I know the Lord holds on to my hand.

He gives me strength, courage and hope for every day to come.

May 2019 be a year of exciting adventures and unadulterated joy.

Being a stray at Christmas

Isn’t Christmas such a wonderful time of the year?

Everyone is being kind to one another. People are being generous in buying and exchanging gifts. Delicious food is served. Houses are beautifully decorated and countless fairy lights are twinkling away against the black canvas that is the night sky. The warm fireplace radiates a cosy warmth that is in stark contrast to the bitter winter cold outside. Families are gathered together and there is love, laughter and happiness all around.

But Christmas can be really difficult when you are a “stray”, like me. One living in a foreign land far away from family during this family-oriented holiday time.

Every year, as Christmas time comes around, I get quite anxious when conversations come to the inevitable “What are you doing for Christmas?” I used to find it SO incredibly hard to say “nothing”… I have too much pride to tell people that I have no one to spend Christmas with, that I will not be enjoying Christmas merriment the way everyone else is. I do not want the asker to pity or feel bad for me, or worse, to feel obliged to invite me to spend Christmas with him/ her (esp if I don’t know them well).

Over the years, with much practice and a thicker skin, it has become a little (just a teeny wee bit) easier to tell people that I will be spending Christmas alone. It seems sad, but I cannot lie. So I just have to put on a brave face and say “nothing, probably watching TV at home alone.” (Cue sad, depressing music). I absolutely hate it.

And so it is always lovely when someone comes to me early in December asking “Do you have plans for Christmas? I’d like to invite you to come and spend it with our family.” Note: it has to be early in December, as this shows a thoughtfulness and genuine desire to have me round, which makes it VERY sweet. Obviously, it is nice for people to extend invitations up to and including Christmas Day- it is good enough to be picked up, whenever that is (and I am very thankful). I just prefer not to be an afterthought, whereby the kind asker is just doing their best to pick up any “leftover strays”.

Being a leftover stray really hurts my pride, and often makes me wonder how much of a social failure I am to not have any friends care about how I am going to spend Christmas. It hurts to be completely forgotten (which has happened a few times). It hurts to be an afterthought, receiving invitations from people I don’t even know well on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day itself.

I guess what I really want to say is: J, I want you to remember how much you hate being a stray at Christmas and how difficult it can be. When you have your own family in future, please be generous, please be kind, please be thoughtful and sensitive. Consider the strays and welcome them into your home (early). Nobody likes spending Christmas alone. Nobody likes being an afterthought. Share your family with the strays, because you have been a stray yourself before.

P.S. I got picked up 2 weeks before Christmas this year, by a couple of friends whom I have known and loved for years… so it really wasn’t bad at all for me this year, thank God!

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!

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

Sweet love?

Found these online.

Very cute illustrations of all the things I have ever hoped to do with someone special.

Made me smile. (:

Loneliness knows me by name

Tonight has been a really difficult night for me.

Randomly, I am awash with a really deep hurting inside.

There is a heaviness weighing down in my heart,

A throbbing ache in my gut,

A desperate sorrow that I cannot even begin to describe.

Somehow, tears of loneliness have found their way out of the sockets of my eyes.

I am terribly missing something that has never been mine.

I am overcome with agonising wanting.

For companionship, for friendship, for relationship.

If ever I knew a lonely girl, I am the one.

My singleness is slowly but surely eating me away.

It is the thorn in my flesh, my cross to bear.

I want to love and be loved.

I want to treasure and be treasured.

I want a hand to hold and another pair of footsteps next to mine as I journey along this road of life.

Yet,

God never promised to fulfil these earthly desires.

So far, His answers have been no, no and no.

The NO refrain is a hard pill to swallow,

Especially when so many other people have been given the yes, the go ahead, the try again.

Why, oh Lord? What do I make of this suffering of singleness?

What can I learn from this hopeless loneliness?

I do not have an answer.

But I know that your will is mysterious and always good.

I know that well in my head.

Yet tonight, my head refuses to speak to my heart.

Rather, this heart refuses to hear reasons from a level-head.

This bitter heart wallows in sorry self-pity.

This broken heart is screaming out its pain.

This wretched heart drowns out the whispers of your love tonight.

Father God, forgive this irrational, grief-stricken heart.

Comfort it and draw it back to you.

Love is nothing, if love is without you.

 

32

Whenever my mum sends me messages like this, my heart feels all warm and fuzzy and I feel a little bashful. I am so thankful for this beautiful and resilient woman who gave birth to me and raised me, and till this day still loves me so unconditionally. On a day like this, my celebrations are now so much more about her and less about me. Thank you mama, I love you to the moon and back.

In these last few years, I have really struggled with conflicting feelings on each birthday. On one hand I feel like “this is SUCH A SPECIAL DAY, I need to cherish every second!” Yet on the other hand, I do not really know how to celebrate anymore. I do not throw parties, or invite friends to dinner, or want to make much of a fuss these days… largely because I don’t really have many close friends left in this city, but also because I am too lazy, and also because I do feel burdened by the weight of every rise in the numbers that indicate my age.

Perhaps on a day of emotional conflict like this, it will be best to spend some time in thoughtful reflection. Here it goes..

Things I am thankful for:

  1. I am finally in my final year of specialist training. This time next year, I will have CCT’d and be eligible for a consultant job. At last, after so many years on the conveyor belt of exams, WPBAs, registrar on-calls and ARCPs, the end is in sight. Imagine me, a consultant, a boss!
  2. I have found a creative outlet/ hobby at last! Since October of this year, I have taken up brush lettering. It is perfect for a person who cannot commit to doing things at fixed times at specific locations like me. I can practice anytime and anywhere. All I need is an ink-filled brush pen and some paper. I am in awe of people who write beautifully. I hope my practice pays off, and I can eventually graduate from brush lettering to modern calligraphy.
  3. I SAW GD IN CONCERT THIS YEAR! I breathed the same air he breathed. I saw his charming, bashful smile in real life. The excitement of seeing GD made me feel alive again.

Things I am prayerful for (short-term):

  1. Smooth sailing redecoration of my parents’ house. It is an exciting time- we are renovating! The 20 year old, yellowed and creaky built-in cupboards, desks and shelves will finally be hacked. The tiny holes on the floor will finally be filled and the tiles polished. We are installing an oven in the kitchen. The greyed walls will finally receive a fresh coat of paint! I am so excited to see our old flat look new again. We have been packing and throwing- that was all I did when I went home in October. It is such a challenge to try and throw out the trash we have hoarded for the last 30 years (I found it particularly hard to throw away stuff from my childhood) and to pack everything into boxes. I was exhausted after only 2 weeks of that… I hope my parents cope better as they have to continue this process till the actual renovation begins next February/ March. I pray that mum will not get too stressed out and that the whole process goes a lot smoother than we ever expected.
  2. What happens next in my career. I have come to yet another point/ cross-road where I have to apply for jobs again. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? What does God want me to do? Where does God want me to work? I am thinking of a post CCT fellowship, potentially at the tertiary paediatric centre in this city… but I am also thinking about Canada, or Australia, or even Singapore? I also want to go and work on Mercyships for a bit. However, if I leave the UK, does this mean an end to this chapter of my life? Moving on after 14 years is not going to be easy.
  3. I need some new friends. New good friends. New best friends.

Things I want to fully trust God for (longer-term):

  1. Health for me and my family. I have started exercising regularly, and have certainly started taking a keen interest in what I put into my body. At present, I STILL haven’t seen much change in my body but I need the Lord to help me persevere. I need to lose weight, and I want to look beautiful for myself. Quite honestly, I would like to have a 6 pack at some point in this life. I hope this point is now.
  2. A husband and children. When I was about 14 or 15 years old, my mum suggested that it was a good time to start praying for my future husband. I took her advice and have done so for years. Yet, I am 32 and STILL single. Cycles of posts have come and gone on my social media. Friends posted about their new boyfriends and girlfriends. Then people started getting engaged. This was followed by a flux of wedding photographs. Baby pictures then flooded my FB feed. And now people are posting about their 2nd, their 3rd or their 4th child. Other friends have gotten divorced and are re-married. Through all of these… my relationship status has remained unchanged. Single, a little desperate, and seemingly unwanted. I’m not entirely sure why men are not interested. Perhaps it is my fierce independence? Or maybe I am just too boring? Now that I am 32, I’m thinking that I may be too old? Whatever it is, I hope these will be overcome and that the Lord blesses me with a single, Christian man. And if possible, a couple of wonderful children.
  3. Contentment. People love to ask the question “If you were to have one superpower, what would it be?” I’ve thought long and hard about this… and whilst most people will tend to suggest “invisibility”, “telekinesis” or “time travelling”, I think I would prefer to be blessed with the power of feeling content. I would like to be content and happy in any and every situation that life throws at me.

Dear Lord, hear my prayers.

Moonbathing

I was invited over to the Tons’ residence for dinner this evening.

It has been a while since I’ve had a dinner invitation of any sort by anyone, so I was very happy to accept their invitation.

We had dinner in their new house, which was beautifully decorated.

N made a really pleasant dinner- roast chicken, mixed salad, egg and couscous, beans… yum.

JH and DW live with them too, so I had the pleasure of enjoying their company for dinner as well.

After our food, we sat out on the steps leading out to their backyard. DW lit a fire in the little ‘cauldron’ outside so as to keep us cosy and warm on this cool summer’s evening. We threw some incense into the fire too, and were quickly enveloped by a magnificent aroma. Soothing music played in the background, and I was thoroughly relaxed.

Under the beautiful full moon, we sat around the crackling fire chatting about anything and everything. From our work, to birthing, musicals, food, dental whitening, superstitions, to Christian attitudes towards gay friends and how to show love to homeless beggars on the streets… we spoke sincerely to each other and laughed a lot.

It was wonderful.

It has been a really long time since I have spent such an amazing time with friends.

Dear Lord, thank you so much.