Dear readers,

I know it has been awhile since I updated this page, but it’s been extremely busy. I’ve been working hard in the clinic twice a week, looking for electives, working on my research project, assignments, etc. Gosh, I am so looking forward to the summer break.

A few things that I have done so far:

1. I have decided that I want to go to Singapore for my medical elective possibly in paediatrics. The GSM is a rural and regional focused med course, so I figure I probably need a little bit more experience in urban medicine and nowhere is better than Singapore for this. Think about it, good food, good shopping, somewhere I can speak the languages.

2. To complement my elective in Singapore, I am applying for a selective at the Royal Darwin for cardiology. I am crap in cardiology and I’d like a little bit more exposure and practice reading the ECG, picking up murmurs. So that one should be a lot of fun.

3. I’m not going home because my parents decided that they want to visit my sister in the States for the Christmas holiday, so I’ve put in my resume to the local pharmacies to look for a summer job. I have my doubts that I’ll get any call, so I’ve decided to go with Plan B.

4. PLAN B. My plan B entails a study program and a weight loss program. This will be my last summer of no responsibility, i.e. no need to work. I’ll take as much advantage of it as I can before I enter the workforce in early 2013 hopefully.

Study-wise, I probably need to catch up on a few things, possibly get ahead on assignments, etc. It should be good I think. Obviously I’ll still take parts of the break off, but I think 2 weeks of break should be plenty.

Weight loss program-wise, due to the increasing gestation age of my food baby, I’ve decided to pretend like I am training for a triathlon. I’ll get a swimming pass to the local pool, I have just fixed my bicycle this morning, and I just need to invest on running shoes. I’ve even created a ticker for this thing. Wish me luck and if anyone wants to visit me here, more than welcome to…


Week 12

I can’t believe that I am 12 weeks into Phase 3. Since I last posted in July, a few things have happened. GP practice is going very well and the same goes to the ED. I’m having a great time in Leeton and I think I’m getting a lot of good learning opportunities. Joined the choir as a tenor, which is interesting since I’m so used to singing as a bass.

I’m currently in Wollongong, housesitting for a good friend who is getting married in France. This break is going well, with the exception of my ruptured dental abscess. I’m in so much pain right now, but hopefully I can schedule in an appointment with a dentist tomorrow or Tuesday. Will update later on.


And my new life has started…

Hello WORLD, I am back.

After grueling months of exams and the move to my rural placement in Leeton, I have finally gotten my life back. I would rather not talk about the exams just because everyone would probably know how the word HATE does not justify my experience.

Leeton, where I am starting my year-long rural placement, is a town with population of 11,000. So far I think this is the smallest place I have lived at. Another med student and I have been given a heritage cottage to live in courtesy of the council. I must say, I love this little cottage. Two good sized bedrooms, a cozy lounge, a modern kitchen and a large bathroom, oh and some olive trees and rosemary bushes in the yard. I may need to learn how to pickle my own olives. Leeton is pretty much a foodie heaven; yippee me! The largest producer of citrus in the Australia, headquarter for SunRice and Berri Juice, a lavender farm around the corner, what else can I ask for?

Placement-wise, I have had a session of parallel consulting, which has been pretty interesting. I feel like I probably need to have a separate post for this purpose. In the meantime, it is almost bedtime and I have to go.


Macaron God… NOT!


I rediscovered my kitchen creativity and my affection for MS Paint today. I figured I’ll just use the drawing I made since it pretty much summarises my Easter long weekend, which has been splendid if you’re wondering.


I’ll trade you my manic depressive for your schizohrenia

Let me clear the air up first. No, I don’t think I have/want schizophrenia or any diagnosed mental illness for that matter. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

First order of business, apologies for not writing for a while.Gen surg was quite busy in Nowra and the lack of internet was frustrating. That was compounded by my Experia x10, which is supposed to be my WordPress machine, broke. It’s lying on the floor awaiting my parents arrival to take it home to Indo to return to the dealer. My second reason was due to my mental health rotation, which was quite stressful really. That brings me to my second point.

I DO NOT LIKE PSYCHIATRY! I think the main reason why is because it scares me in so many ways. First week in there, I felt like I was the patient. I had no swipe card or key access and had to be let out by the nurses. When a door closed behind me (mind you the doors were big and heavy), it would slam every time. I came home everyday feeling like a clinically depressed person and would continually start existentialistic or nihiistic or pessimistic arguments with my housemates. In the end they would tell me that psych rotation was messing with my mind.

Psych also scares me due to my family predispositions to mental illness. I have had a couple of relatives who have been hospitalised in a mental institution. Suicide attempts are prevalent in my family to the point of mom telling me when I’m home who else in the family has attempted suicide this year. I am pretty sure there are some cases of pro-dromal schizophrenia in the family (albeit covered up by the ultra-religious nature of the persons; i.e. the belief of seeing the devil or hearing the voices of the Holy Spirit). Now, that’s even scarier to me. I mean, my normal mood is slightly manic (a lot of arm movements when I talk, the affinity to doing random things like hopping or mewing), I have flights of ideas and thought blocking sometimes, and I have internal convo with myself; I’m OK with those, but I don’t want a full blown mental illness.

I am now done with my psych rotation thankfully. I’ve returned to my baseline, but honestly I wouldn’t touch REAL psychiatry with even a yardstick. Let’s end this with a lighter note, shall we? I really wouldn’t want to trade my manic characters with even the slightest of schizophrenia. No, thank you.

Write soon,

On travelling

This may seem random, but my mind has been occupied by the thought of travelling especially after watching ‘Into the Wild’ last night. So, here I am after a train ride from Wollongong to Nowra reflecting on my past travel.

I used to be the typical Asian tourist who wouldn’t stop taking pictures on every possible occasion. After all, those pictures are a physical evidence of having been somewhere. That was what I believed until I realised how much I was missing out on my travel.

On a bus ride that was supposedly the best in the world from Rio Bamba to Guaranda looking over Mt. Chimborazo, I bought myself the best seat in the bus for the view. Instead of admiring the majestic Mt. Chimborazo, I was so worried about taking pictures to share with everyone at home. What I failed to realise was that the travel was meant for me to enjoy.

Did I have fun? Yes I did. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time, but it felt like Etch-A-Sketch where it was fun while it lasted. Sitting in my room and looking at the pictures, it doesn’t evoke the sense that I was lucky to have evidenced the grandeur of nature.

I don’t regret taking those pictures, because I know one day I will return to the place that has changed my view of the world. On my train ride from Wollongong to Nowra which is quite ordinary for those who have to travel the distance daily, I looked out my window. The green meadow, the body of water so expansive and blue, the quietness and comfort of little villages. I’m letting those to be etched in my brain.

And here comes the third year…

I can’t believe it that:
1. I only have less than 2 years before I graduate (hopefully if I pass the mid-year exam and OSCE)
2. I’m in my 5th rotation out of 7

For those of you clueless as to what I am up to, I had my renal medicine rotation at the Wollongong Hospital before the Christmas break and now I’m in Nowra doing general surgery. Renal medicine was very exciting to the point that I am also considering renal medicine as a career path in addition to paediatrics.

Renal medicine really taught me to be very well organised and meticulous in my approach. We sure had a lot of patients in the ward and it was hard enough trying to remember when Mrs. A had her last dialysis or if Mr. Q’s creatinine has come back normal. Every morning 0800hr start, we started checking all the patient files for tests or PACE calls or nursing report. It was very administerial, but I had a lot of go’s at interpreting test results. I also ended up getting a lot of practice at doing cannulation and clinical examinations (although I didn’t do any examinations of the nervous system).

I’m starting my week 3 out of 5 for my general surgery rotation and I must say that I think I am getting a lot more comfortable with where I am. I sure need to do a lot more practice with my clinical skills, but who doesn’t? Prior to this surgical rotation, I’ve only had Urology rotation under my belt, which was OK (with the exception that Urology in general seems to be very privatised although medicine shouldn’t be, but that is another spiel altogether). I was expecting short ward rounds and interns or residents running around like headless chooks because the consultants and registrars are never around. I was pleasantly surprised to a very supportive team; consultants who are willing to give their time to give tutes or even just let you scrub in for procedures, registrars who wouldn’t stop bombarding us with questions and tips for the OSCE (I meant ‘bombarding’ in the best way possible, my reg is great, I wish all regs are like him), residents and interns who would put a little bit of their time to go through the med chart or fluid balance chart with us. In this rotation, I’ve taken my niche as the vampire (bloods, cannulation), the scriber (I even got to scribe for a PACE Tier 1 call), and the bedside chart man. GSM, can all my rotation be like this one please?

Random facts:
1. I got a Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 over the break as a present. It’s an android phone and I’ve grown accustomed to checking my email and FB every morning when I sit in the toilet.
2. Yes, I sometimes look at my poo to try to guess what it is in the stool chart.
3. I do wash my hands and disinfect my phone after using the toilet.
4. I also downloaded a WordPress app on my phone, so I should probably start updating my blog more frequently. (Although not my food blog, because it is gross to blog about food while sitting in the toilet…)

On that note, I’m out.


to have it just for it to be taken away

I apologise if this seems abrupt considering that I have not posted for a while, but I felt like this is an appropriate time.

After the afternoon lecture today, I found out that another medical student had passed away in a motorcycle accident. This one has hit me hard today. He was an international medical student in the cohort below mine. I know him after the med revue and due to our random chatting when I was down in Nowra for my rehab rotation and on Facebook. To think that someone so young and mature die, it is heartbreaking. One saying that always stays in my mind is that parents are not supposed to bury their young. I’m not a parent so I don’t know full well how it feels to lose a child. What I can is to empathise with them.

The world is mourning because it has lost someone with so much maturity, positiveness and charm in such a tender age. Looking at him, he was someone who never failed to put a smile in your face. The world has lost a passionate and caring doctor-to-be and the sky is weeping tonight for the loss.

I realise that it is going to be difficult to all who have known him, especially his family and loved ones, not to mention his cohort who will be having exams in 2 weeks. I’m not usually a praying man, but my prayers are with everyone deeply affected by the incident. CLZ, this is for you. You have changed all the lives you’ve crossed paths with and I am glad to have known you. Farewell my friend and see you on the other side.


“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”

Kahlil Gibran – The Prophet

Break, I love you…

Yes, I’m having a week break currently. I feel more relaxed now that I’ve had my first break in a while.

– Housewarming
– Cleaning the house (I had to, the house was a mess after housewarming)
– Cleaning my room (actually, I started cleaning but got caught up in blogging)
– Catching up with sleep (I can only sleep for 7 hours, don’t know why)
– Catching up with Project Runway (I think my fave this season has got to be Mondo, he’s just so creative)
– Taking baths
– Cooking my heart out (I made strawberry balsamic vinaigrette jam, some pork and garlic shoot dumplings, and Vietnamese summer rolls)

To Do:
– Fix my dining chairs (tomorrow may be)
– Planting my backyard (later today?)
– Study (surgery study guide started, will be working on it some more Monday)

Enough blogging for now, will work on the rehab update tomorrow.


Rotation 1: Paediatrics

What can I say… I love kids and paeds was a great experience. Boo to not having any break after the Phase 1 Exam resit though. Exhausted and sleepless, I braved myself through the rotation. Time-wise, paeds was crazy: evening shift until midnight every other day but then we have to be back in the hospital the next morning by 7:30 or 8. I ended up getting only 5-6 hours one night and then play catch-up the next night with 9 hours. Still, I enjoyed paeds immensely.

My dad was right though when he warned me that paediatrics would be tough emotionally. After all, we’re not dealing with kids who are happy and healthy. There was the 18 month-old with stage 3 neuroblastoma. Another with severe case of epidermolysis bullosa who had to plead to his granny to not have his nasogastric tube put in because even a small rub on his skin will make it bleed. The 6 year-old girl with shaken-baby-syndrome who had come invested with lice. The majority of babies in the neonatal ICU with neonatal withdrawal syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome. If you like your rotation like a roller coaster ride, paeds is where it is.

I don’t know what else I should say about it, so I might just tell you what I’ve learnt from it.

1. The temperature of the fever is not as important as what everyone says it to be.
2. Once you can start playing with the kids comfortably, that’s when you start learning.
3. Bubbles. They never fail you.
4. Paediatricians ALWAYS get everything they want.
5. Be empathic, but keep the distance.
6. Time goes so quickly when you’re having fun.
7. Toddlers + ventolin = cuteness x 10
8. Sometimes parents can be as childish as the child. You just have to suck it up and do your best.