I cannot believe that it is May 2017 already and I have not posted a single blog since my birthday last year! So much has happened, yet if I really sat down and wrote out the details of the last half a year, I am going to be here typing for the next 6 hours and this post is going to be incredibly long and tedious to read. So here’s what happened in a snapshot…
So, I have somehow developed a keen interest in baking over the last few months. Since about Christmas time, I have been baking like a mad woman. When I am at home alone, in the quiet of the evening or nighttime, enveloped by the cosy warmth emanating from the oven, pottering around the kitchen and concentrating on making something awesome… I find this process extremely therapeutic. When I am baking, I forget about the stresses of the work day- the missed cannulas, the difficult intubations, the failed regional blocks… all these failures are wiped out of my mind as I get into my “flow.” All I can think of is the math calculations as I adjust my ingredient amounts, all I can hear is the whirring of my mixer, all I can feel is the heat from the oven, and all I can smell is the delicious sweetness of the sugar and butter and flour being whipped together into batter. At the end of each baking experiment, I am also presented with the satisfaction and reward of a dozen stunning cupcakes, or a scrumptious tray of cookies. I have truly fallen in love with baking!
Cooking is an art, but baking is a science. Indeed, the process of baking marries up my love for food and for science. I am so curious to find out what chemical reactions are going on as I add water to flour, or sugar to the batter, or what happens when the air bubbles in my batter expand within and escape out of the cake’s gluten structure under heated conditions. I find all of this fascinating, and have gone so far as to purchase a textbook on “how baking works.” So far, I have read about 4 chapters of it and I am being enlightened with each page I turn. I am reading about heat transfer, and the properties of the different materials used in bakeware. I am learning about which ingredients are tenderisers or tougheners, which ones are moisturisers and driers. I am enlightened about what happens to each of the ingredients at the molecular level as you mix them, or heat them, and cool them. I’ll admit that I have not really done much reading outside of medicine… and this (text)book has been a real pleasure to get back into leisurely reading with.
I think my baking escapades have also been made much more pleasurable and successful since using recipes from youtube celebrity baker cupcakejemma. Her recipes are so unbelievably incredible. It also helps that I have a very willing cake/ sweet-treats eater friend who always welcomes my attempts to feed him cake. I now try and find any and every reason to bake him cake, knowing that he will eat it (and I can just have one or two only instead of getting fat from eating all my own baked goods).
So, whilst in one aspect of my life I am baking away with highly calorific butter and sugar and flour, another aspect of my life has been focussed on getting rid of said calories. Oh how life contradicts itself in so many ways! I have been spending a lot of time in the gym with Emma doing squats, deadlifts, chest presses and lunges… all in the hopes of building some muscle that will burn calories even when I rest. I have to say that my progress has been incredibly slow… potentially to the point of being non-existent. I am so frustrated as I have been working so so so hard and yet am hardly seeing any result at all. After all, I have ramped my physical activity up by at least 80% compared to the days before I joined the gym– when all I did was to consume cake, chocolate, cookies and coke… and when the most exercise I ever did was to go shopping for new clothes in the department store.
Perhaps I really do have to work much harder on my diet. Rumour has it that weight loss is 20% exercise and 80% diet, so I may need to rethink my intake! However, this is also part of the reason for my aggravation because my diet has improved by leaps and bounds since my cake and coke days. Now, I definitely give a lot more thought into what I put into my body. I hardly drink any coke at all these days, and I do not buy chocolate bars anymore. I still eat cake and cookies but I am quite a lot more watchful over how much I do actually have. So, with clean(er) eating and a heck of a lot more exercise, why am I still not shaping up nicely as I would really like? Do I really have to go cold turkey and eat bland food that I do not enjoy for the rest of my life? I am so disappointed because even my clothes do not feel any looser than they did before I started this “healthy living” thing a year ago. I am not giving up though… like I said before, Rome was not built in a day, and I did not get fat overnight. I am going to have to keep working at this body… try different activities, different diets… and hopefully someday I will reap the results that I desire. To me, strong is the new skinny. I want to be lean, toned and strong…
J, go and try out a new workout programme, a new gym class, yoga, dance, swimming… it may be scary to go at first, especially when you are on your own and you fear looking like a real clown amidst the experts. But please, just start.
I have been taking fitness inspiration from a celebrity personal trainer on instagram. Her name is Kayla Itsines. She does not advocate the whole “I wish I have your body” mentality- and I agree…. yet, she is SO stunningly beautiful that I cannot help but look at her and think “goals!” I guess you can say she is my fitspiration? Seeing her so beautiful and strong really motivates me to keep working on my own body.
Closer to home, Jamie Teo (Miss Singapore 2001 and former TV personality) has been a real inspiration and motivation to me too. She posts her home workout videos regularly and you can clearly see that her body has been well sculpted by all that exercise! She is so beautiful!
My final other source of inspiration comes from a man. He is none other than the 22 year old Australian Olympic swimmer Cameron McEvoy! This man is really like a machine. Somehow, he has managed to balance being a swimming champion with academia as he pursues his dream of becoming a physicist. I love seeing how he works out so hard both in the gym and at the pool to be in the best physical shape for the swimming championships. Yet, he alternates his posts from the pool with geeky posts of complex mathematical equations, or how he is reading up on the work of physics greats such as Richard Feynman. I love that someone is actually able to be so dedicated BOTH to sport and to science- something that is so difficult to do when both disciplines demand 100% dedication from 100% of you. To see someone being able to achieve/ or at least work to achieve such a feat is a real inspiration to me. And it helps that he looks really cute too.
So, the last time I went to Edinburgh in November, I had actually gone to attend the Patient Safety Conference where I presented a poster on my Ultrasound Screen cover project. I am extremely happy to say that I won the first prize for my poster! When I was there, I was able to explain the ideas behind my project to the other delegates and quite a few consultants from other hospitals around the country were asking me about how they can get hold of one of my screens. I am now desperately trying to get the hospital’s innovation team to help me further develop my product. Hopefully, we will eventually be able to sell the intellectual property to a commercial company so they can manufacture it in bulk in industry (compared to my homemade craft project of a prototype at present). I am excited as to what can possibly become of this little project– after all, the entire idea and concept had come completely from God as an answer to my prayers. I am extremely grateful to what the Lord has blessed me with and I really want to take this forward- to the rest of the UK and even beyond!
Oh by the way, when I was at the conference, I also had a chance to meet and even speak to Princess Anne (daughter of Queen Elizabeth and sister to Prince Charles). She is the patron of our Royal College and was in Scotland for St Andrew’s day anyway. And so, she came to attend our event. It was immensely exciting because I have never ever seen royalty up close and personal before. As trainees with posters to present, we were given the opportunity to speak to the Princess when she came to view our posters. We all had a short briefing before her arrival whereby we were taught to address her as “Your royal highness” at the first instance (and to curtsy as we said it) followed by “mam” (not mOm) thereafter. Frankly, I was so nervous about seeing her and speaking to her. I was worried that I would call her “Your majesty”– which is wrong as it refers to the queen. Also, I had no idea how to curtsy in a pair of trousers and so I just bobbed when I saw her. When I eventually got chatting to her, I actually found that she is very human. And a very nice one too. She was very friendly and seemed to genuinely take interest in what work I had done (though I honestly do not think she really understood what the heck I was doing).
Oh, one interesting thing happened too. After the adrenaline rush of having spoken to the Princess, and after speaking to quite a few other delegates about my work as I stood in front of my poster presenting it, I decided that I was parched. I found an opportune moment when I could leave my poster to get a drink. I had my eyes set on a jug of tea that was on a table about 4 meters away from me. In order for me to get to the tea, I had to walk behind Princess Anne (who was mingling/chatting to some other important people) on one side and a group of female doctors on the other side. I calculated my steps and moved swiftly towards hydration. However, just as I was walking behind the Princess, a female doctor from the other side took a step back towards me, effectively trying to squash me. In my haste to avoid her, I accidentally took a step towards the Princess and basically kicked her heel. Can you imagine the horror on my face as she turned around to find out who her “assailant” was. I was so shocked that all I could manage was “I am so sorry, so so sorry.” Oh man! But what a story for me to tell in the years to come– that I have kicked royalty in the heel in this lifetime!
In February, I took my project to present at the LSA trainee’s prize competition as well. It is something that I have been determined to do for the last few years but never really had anything that was “competition material.” This time, I submitted my entry and was determined to win the beautiful Jackson-Rees medal. I knew that the work was good and that I had worked hard on it. That night was going to be the night for me to present it orally and do it some justice! I practiced my oral presentation over and over again. I needed to sound enthusiastic and convicted by my own work. I needed to to be engaging and charismatic. I needed to keep my words understandable despite the fast pace that I had to go at to get everything I needed to say in. Yet on that night, I was SO nervous. When I walked into the lecture theatre, I saw DG to whom I admitted that I had so many butterflies in my stomach that it felt like I was sitting yet another exam. DG being DG told me not to be silly and to remember the 3Cs! I was 3rd in the line of 4 presenters. I think I eventually did a reasonable job of presenting my project. I was asked a load of questions, some of which I really struggled to piece of coherent answer for. I was desperate for a win. And yet I lost. I was 2nd place- still considered a win to most people especially since there is still an associated cash prize. However, I really really really wanted the shiny medal. I was disappointed. And then I was cross. Why? Because the 1st prize winner (an arrogant junior of mine) came over to me and said “I’m sorry I beat you.” Like, seriously? Anyway, now that the emotions of the night have all settled down, I am ultimately still very grateful to God. 2nd prize is still a prize. God is still good to me. And in the hilarious words of my wise mother “Don’t be disappointed. Sometime 2nd is better than 1st. Like singing competitions, 2nd prize winner always 发展得比冠军还要好 later. Remember it’s just a prize. So be happy that 你榜上有名，还有钱拿。你好强啊。一人之下，万人之上？。恭喜恭喜。”
Now back in the children’s hospital. Loving it most days as the little children are so cute and beautiful. Even with the crying, screaming and protesting, all is forgiven when they are asleep and adorable like little angels. All is forgiven when you can have little cuddles with them in the recovery room. Children are so innocent and beautiful.
Also, who does not love to go to a workplace where there are colourful murals on the walls? Who does not enjoy blowing and popping bubbles as part of the job plan? Who complains about being able to play with toys whilst waiting for their “clients” to arrive?
The children’s hospital has been a really good place to work in… not just because of the children and the toys, but also because of the staff. In my opinion, you have to have a soft and gentle side to be able to work with children. And so paediatric surgeons are really some of the nicest surgeons I have ever worked with. Of course, some of them can still be arrogant and difficult… but compared to the egos and rudeness I have witnessed in adult tertiary centres, they are really quite mild. I love that in this hospital, people value me as part of their teams. I get addressed by surgeons, TCAs, ODPs and scrub nurses by my first name! This is something that does not often happen because people do not usually make an effort to remember the name of a passing anaesthetic registrar, and especially not if you have a name as uncommon as mine!
Nevertheless, I say goodbye to theatres for 6 weeks as I go and join the PICU/transfer team for a bit. I am admittedly very nervous about this as the pathologies in paediatric ICU are very different from that in adult units. The complex cardiac patients terrify me the most as I do not even know how blood is flowing within their congenitally abnormal hearts! Also, I am still unfamiliar with considering infusions in terms of mcg/kg/min… something that we never do in adult practice where everything is usually a standard mixture and adjusted in ml/hr! There is much to see and learn in the coming month and a half. I just want to pray to the Lord for good teaching and learning, and much safety as I go into an environment that I am completely unfamiliar with and uncomfortable in.
A very powerful sermon from Mark 15: 1-15, 25-39. I am completely shaken by this.
You can be the crowd. Jesus is a very compelling figure. People have all sorts of objections to Christianity, yet when it comes to the actual person of Jesus, all sorts of people who hate the church still think that he is the best example of humanity that we have. He has unlimited power, and he uses this to help people– Everytime he does something terribly powerful and scary, we see him next caring for someone, talking to someone, healing someone, forgiving someone. Yet, He is uncompromising in his claims– that everyone who has ever lived should respect his authority, that we have to be fully accountable to Him. He says that we will do nothing more important than deal personally with him. As a result, many feel that “He is awkward for me” and “I do not like him making these claims– I need to get rid of him.”
What crime has he committed? They could not name the crime. Yet they shouted all the louder “crucify him!”
You can’t be Jesus. Barabbas was supposed to be the one crucified. It should have been him- the normal guy, the everyday criminal. However, Jesus died in his place instead. Yet, it was not a straight swap of one peasant for another. Jesus was different. 3 hrs of darkness at noontime on the day of his death– something not normal, and which is a sign of God’s anger. As Jesus hung on the cross, he cried “my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”– a cry of religious heartbreak not likely to be heard from hardened criminals. On the other side of the city, a large thick curtain rips from top to bottom the moment Jesus dies. THERE IS SOMETHING VERY DIFFERENT ABOUT JESUS. The death He died, only He could die. Jesus has terrifyingly limitless power and authority– heck, he controls evil with just His words! Yet, this king over everything chooses death– the one who committed no crime took the anger and separation from God in our place. “He saved others, but he cannot save himself?” What nonsense. He did not save himself, so that he can save others. And so at that moment, the curtain is ripped– from top to bottom, as if God has reached down, so that all the warning signs that remind us of our uncleanness has been ripped down by Him.
You can be Barabbas. The son of God died for you Barabbas! He took your place. Was Barabbas relieved? Was he thankful? How did he respond/ soul search? Did he live a better life afterwards? We do not know anything else about Barabbas. It was unimportant how bad Barabbas had been. It was unimportant if he went on to do something great. The only important thing about him was that Jesus died for him. And there is just one word to describe him: Released.
For the non-believer: Do you feel held back thinking that you can never be good enough to be a Christian? Do you think “I am too different and too distant?” Remember that Jesus never said “earn this.” Jesus’ offer to Barabbas is the same offer to you. “Release.” YOU CAN BE BARABBAS. Having witnessed how horrible a price it is to pay for your sins, do you really want to insist on paying for your own uncleanness? Do you really want to say “Put me back in the cell and punish me please?” YOU CAN BE BARABBAS, so why would you not be? Let Jesus pay for you. The curtain is ripped. You can walk in and begin a life of knowing God and being made clean.
For the Christian: do you judge your friends? Do you think that some people are beyond salvation? Do you doubt that you can invite ANYBODY into this relationship? Even when you have witnessed that the first person to believe is the centurion who hammered the very nails into Jesus? Jesus died to rip the curtain in two. Please stop sewing the curtain back up. Stop holding back Jesus’ offer to people who do not fit the “profile.”