Rewind

I feel like I am really fortunate to not be able to tell if a year has been a good or a bad year because it will mean that despite my terrible memory, there are certain events big (good or bad) enough that impact me significantly for me to remember. All I can say is that 2016 has been very enlightening.

At the beginning of the year, I  was still in Year 4, which means I was still in a relaxed state of mind. When people tell juniors that Year 4 was a very free year, I would beg to differ because honestly it was one of my busiest years. Yes, there wasn’t any major exams but because of that, we had to compensate with other things. Year 4 meant mainly minor postings that would last for 2-4 weeks tops which meant very intensive learning and taking exams every 2-4 weeks. Year 4 was also the year I joined the most events like first aiding and health screening, just because I could and I didn’t want to leave university feeling like I hadn’t achieved enough. I didn’t want to remember only days and days of me having my head between pages of textbooks the thickness of my thigh (which is frankly very super thick I’m cry). I had a lot of fun preparing for the CNY event with my group mates. I also had to choose location and department for my electives that would be at the end of Year 4. It was both fun and stressful because it was set to be Kuching, Sarawak for the 1st month and either Korea or Australia for the 2nd month. I finally settled for Australia. When I got all the paperwork and emailing done, I could finally heave a sigh of relief because it had been that mentally exhausting. It was truly one of the most fun I had in an academic year because despite the intense schedule, I knew I did not have a major exam awaiting me by the end of the year. It was also the year where I got to go on a family trip as 5 to Singapore for CNY.

After Year 4, I had to leave home for 2 months for electives which frankly wasn’t even that long a period for me to be away from home. It was a norm and that thought made me sad. I had been away from home officially for 5 years, only occasionally going home every 2-3 months. Sorry I digressed. I spent 1 whole month in Kuching, we would take turns to drive and we were very enthusiastic in exploring food and tourist attractions. I also celebrated my birthday there with my friends. I felt like I could live in Kuching, it was just like a bigger Ipoh with much friendlier people. I already loved this place too much by the time I left. I could see myself working here and living here. Sarawak General Hospital was kind to me. The 3 of us were at Medical department for the first 2 weeks but it was quite uneventful. We mainly attended sub-specialty clinics, followed ward rounds and clerked patients followed by discussion after. For the next 2 weeks, I attached to the Surgical department. The surgical team was honestly so much love. First day in and I already felt so loved. Mainly because I was an electives student I guess that I got more attention than the in-house students there. I hypothesised that it was because I was there for electives so I didn’t have other obligations or classes, so I could be there day in day out as long as I wanted to. And I wanted to. Why not, if there was a bunch of really kind and friendly souls who would just about teach me whatever they could? They took the trouble to learn my name, went out of their way to inform me of surgeries and procedures, involved me in every patient’s history and physical examination, pretended that they really needed me as their chaperone when they could actually just call for nurses etc. It was all just so that my electives experience was maximised. It was all things they didn’t have to do but yet they did that touched me.

Next up was Melbourne, Australia. I have never been to an angmoh country in my life prior to this so I was half excited half nervous. It was such an eyeopening experience because everything and everyone was just so nice. Sorry I couldn’t help but to compare. Public transport was top notch. If there was a tram that had broken down, there would be a replacing bus so no one would be caught by surprise and would run late. Coffee everywhere was love. The 7-eleven $1 latte I had every morning was the standard of the coffee in a legitimate cafe in Malaysia. The coffee was more of a hand-warmer than anything, a really delicious cup of hand-warmer at that. I went sightseeing everywhere alone (mostly) but felt really safe. Everyone was exceptionally friendly without a reason and that helped me feel so at home. Hospital was great. Despite the early days, I learned a lot most of the days. I was exposed to how hospitals in a first world country operate. The doctors and nurses had the best attitude. I realised I had so much to learn. The family friend I was living with for that 1 month had been nothing but too kind to me. She would prepare food for me thinking that I was always starving even though I couldn’t possibly. When I arrived home a little later than I should, she would call to make sure I was fine and that I knew my way home. She’s the reason why I didn’t choose Korea in the end. Both places’ hospitals required the same amount of attachment fee but if I chose Korea, I would have to pay for accommodation which wasn’t cheap at all. This was a very special experience that I wouldn’t get anywhere else and for that, I am thankful.

Then came final year. Final year had been really fun despite the stress of a major exam awaiting us. I was really grateful to have a bunch of easygoing group mates. Lecturers had been very kind to us this year for some reason. Maybe excited that we were finally leaving soon (hurhur). I discovered my love for Surgery and realised no matter how much I love kids, I didn’t want to do Paediatrics.

It is now 15 days into 2017 and about 3 months to my final professional exam. I promise to buck up after CNY because I really have no time to lose. If everything goes well, I graduate in August and start work by the end of the year. I am excited because this feels like an adventure and a challenge at the same time. Fingers crossed.

 

 

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Time waits for no man

  1. GP posting in my hometown for an entire week, also going to make full use of that time to enjoy time at home and to prepare for my next 2 bullets on this list
  2. Electives at Sarawak General Hospital for a month at Internal Medicine and Surgical departments, excited to be able to tag along an Infectious Disease medical officer (Correction: Consultant, not sure why I keep assuming he’s a MO) as I’ve been quite interested in it ever since my Primary Care Med 2 posting 
  3. Electives at Royal Melbourne Hospital for the next month at Neurosurgical department, super excited for that because 1) I get to learn under the guidance of the renown Prof Kaye who personally taught so many of the neurosurgeons in Malaysia 2) it’s basically a trip!
  4. 2 weeks of rest after electives (Awesome uni just changed it to only 1 week last minute, great) and I get to spend it just lazying at home before I start…
  5. Final year, gasp!

 

***

Done with everything in italic oh god. That’s really fast. Currently in Melbourne and it’s my 3rd day here.

The sudden urge

20th Jan 2014 

Not sure if it’s the new year or not but I just suddenly feel like doing all the things I’ve never dared or wanted to do. Housemates and I were talking over dinner just now and we started talking about our NS experiences. It was then when I realised that I truly regretted not trying Flying Fox and all the extreme activities because I was scared. Only because of the fear that cannot even be seen. It’s just something that grows within you when you face something out of your comfort zone.

I want to be out of my comfort zone. I don’t want to live the rest of my life sitting on my fat ass facing the goddamn laptop, looking on other people as they live their lives. I want to try activities I’ve never tried before and I want to take up on some form of activity that I know I can do with just a tad more determination. With this, I probably need to get rid of my napping habit because it just takes up a lot of time and makes me lazy.

I don’t want to be regretting not living my life when I’m married and have children. Because that’s when I can’t really do anything I want to anymore. Not forgetting the fact that I’ll be old and diseased (most probably).

***

Apparently, 2 years later, I still have not gotten rid of my napping habit.

 

Up next

  1. GP posting in my hometown for an entire week, also going to make full use of that time to enjoy time at home and to prepare for my next 2 bullets on this list
  2. Electives at Sarawak General Hospital for a month at Internal Medicine and Surgical departments, excited to be able to tag along an Infectious Disease medical officer as I’ve been quite interested in it ever since my Primary Care Med 2 posting
  3. Electives at Royal Melbourne Hospital for the next month at Neurosurgical department, super excited for that because 1) I get to learn under the guidance of the renown Prof Kaye who personally taught so many of the neurosurgeons in Malaysia 2) it’s basically a trip!
  4. 2 weeks of rest after electives and I get to spend it just lazying at home before I start…
  5. Final year, gasp!

Different

Truth be told, as much as I like spending CNY with only my immediate family members, I also miss our usual unconventional CNY routine.

On usual CNY, unlike other families, we don’t wear red, we don’t gamble, we don’t go around visiting etc. On CNY eve, we’ll be down in Seremban in our home clothes, eating homecooked meal by my paternal aunts and chill until midnight as a tradition intending to let our parents live long(er). The next day, we’ll arrive at my paternal grandma’s house in new clothes (usually not red), serve her tea and get angpao from her. We’ll spend some time taking pictures and then have homecooked lunch. We’ll meet again at night at a hotel for CNY dinner. Here, we’ll dress up in nicer clothes (also usually dark colours, my family can’t even). We’ll get family pictures taken and get angpaos from even more relatives. My paternal side is tiny. Most of them overseas but I am glad we still have a few of them here that we can meet who’s kind and helpful whenever I need them.

We’ll usually stay until the 3rd day of CNY before going back home. When I was in secondary school, I could follow my mum if she went back to her hometown but after secondary school, I barely got any holidays (2 days tops) for CNY. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to my mum’s side for CNY.

However fun it had been in Singapore, it’s a bit regretful that we did not get to properly lousang and we did not get to nom on yummy cookies as much as we wanted to.

Sanity

Today’s the first day of clerking (read: interviewing patients) at the Psychiatry ward. Initially, I anticipated seeing patients getting restrained and locked up behind bars. I expected most patients to be acting up and to be aggressive.

What I did not expect to see was patients roaming freely at the common area nor did I expect to see some of them being able to communicate coherently (or probably not really) among themselves.

A few interesting encounters involved patients serenading us, asking us about ourselves and wanting us to grow up to be good doctors to take care of them. It was all very heartwarming. I truly enjoyed being around them because I was very engrossed in observing their interactions with other patients or with the staff there.

One character I really admired was one male who went around being “Batman”. Every time other patients acted up, he would come up and try to stop them and to calm the situation. For example, if a patient took off his shirt and the staff instructed him to put it back on, “Batman” would remove his own shirt to give it to the patient first before returning to the ward to get himself a new shirt. It was just so aww-worthy, I wasn’t really paying attention during bedside teaching.

Sorry not sorry.

5 years ago today,

I would never have thought to ever change my opinionated personality. I would never have any reasons to tone down my temper. I would never not confront anybody who did something I did not approve of. I would never a lot of things.

I had always been a confrontative, opinionated, straightforward person. I didn’t think twice and I just thought that those traits were of course good traits. I hated people who were fake, people who were always trying to be neutral and on-the-fence, and people who beat around the bush. That was why I was so hard-up about trying to be myself as much as possible. Although I sometimes got comments that I was straightforward, I celebrated that comment because I thought it was a compliment. To be fair, sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t.

I figure I wasn’t very socially fluent back then or I just purely wasn’t matured enough to see that I could be myself, but I had to also see who my audience were. Close friends, best friends, then yes of course they’d understand my blunt jokes and sarcastic comments. But if those were directed to people who weren’t on the same wavelength as me, I shouldn’t be surprised that there were plenty of people who’d get offended and angry at me even. I didn’t understand back then that not everybody was the same as me, not everybody could bear the weight of sarcasm.

As I grew, my temper got a lot better, a lot a lot better. I was nicer to a lot of people. I was polite to waiters and waitresses. I said please and thank you a lot. I understood I wasn’t a child anymore, nobody should be obliged to entertain my temper anymore. I should be able to control my own temper, if I ever wanted to be taken seriously like an adult.

My opinions were kept to myself most of the times, although right after seeing my best friends, I would need to spill all my thoughts to them because it was still a chore to keep them to myself and also because I knew my best friends would understand. I used to not be able to handle being misunderstood, I would argue and argue as long as the misunderstanding was cleared. But especially after being in medical school, I realised there wasn’t much point in clearing certain misunderstandings. What was the point of arguing with a lecturer who was so adamant that you were late even though you were actually clerking a patient in the ward? The lecturer would only argue back that you were supposed to be waiting in the seminar room for the class, not wandering around clerking patients. So I bit my tongue that time and just quietly went to my seat.

I finally understand what it takes to be an adult. You have to tone down so much of your personality until you aren’t really yourself anymore but it’s okay. Nobody really wants you to be yourself if you’re annoying. Look at it as survival skills, you need it to survive in the society. You just have to mold yourself nice enough to fit into the society but not too much ’til you don’t recognise yourself when you look into the mirror by the end of the day.

Submerged

I have always thought I am capable of warming up and letting go easily. I am pretty sure I still am capable of that. Okay, more like just the letting go part.

I have never thought that after some 5 years, I will still remember his birthday and still feel that same familiar, dull ache when I read my diary about the littlest details like the time he smiled at me so widely his eyes turned into crescents and that one time he was upset I did not talk to him for a few days. At that time, it did not feel like it was impossible, it felt real. I always thought we would somehow end up together seeing how he would do the oddest dares as long as his friends would leave me alone, like 600 push-ups. When weird guys talked to me, he would suddenly appear right next to me and stare them down. When somebody else asked him if he had feelings for me, he said what was the point if he did but I could not realise that myself?

Recently, I have made a wrong statement. I told someone that I would not miss someone I had never been with. But I realise the truth is that actually I will. I will wonder how it will turn out and how it will end, if it does. Of course the phase of infatuation is long gone but I know he will always be somebody I wish the best for, somebody I want to be the happiest, even without me. Especially without me.

The empty room

I walked into her empty room and tried remembering what it was like being in a group of 4 friends, instead of 3. And I couldn’t remember at all. I couldn’t remember what it was like travelling or going on food adventures together, I couldn’t remember early morning/late night conversations, I couldn’t remember the times we enjoyed each other’s companies. I had never experienced a change this drastic so I didn’t know what to expect. But it was all her choice, her decision. I couldn’t have done anything to stop it if she thought we weren’t worthy of her time.

She moved out of her room like she moved out of our lives. Clean. Nothing. Empty.

Side note: The rainbow bar at the top bar makes me happy. So glad that equality in marriage is finally happening. Love wins today.