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Thursday, March 03, 2005

A Reflection of Some Sorts

I’m back. Somewhat. Landed 5 days ago on Friday afternoon to a extremely cold (it is when there’s a temperature difference of about 30 degrees in a span of 13 hours!), gloomy London. I was mentally prepared to be back, knowing the departure date and all. But I was not looking forward to it. Reality kicks in, when you feel the biting cold and see the grey skies of my home for the past 4.5 years. This place holds some of my worst memories to date, yet it also holds memories of another phase of my growth, an independence unknown of to people who have never been alone and away from family (not including those who live in NUS and NTU hostels, coz you know that you’ll have your family within 2 hours reach), another life so different to that of my Singapore one.

You know how people who have gone overseas (and have totally not mixed with Singaporeans or Malaysians, but the locals of that country), they return at summer time and are ecstatic to be back, to be with familiar people, familiar culture? Well, it’s not so much of being different, as to trying to fit in. You know that you have the comfort of your family to fall back on should anything not go smoothly. As the years go past, it gets more and more difficult to maintain the friends which you once knew, very often you don’t meet or talk, except once a year. To some, it is not enough. Fair enough, you might be a novelty of a person who is studying overseas. Very soon, it wears off and people drift away from your life, no matter how hard you try to stay in touch. Then there are some cases where people whom you have lost contact with, you miraculously are in touch with again.

To tell the truth, I have thoroughly enjoyed being at home in Singapore. Took a couple of days to settle into the familiar attitude and lifestyle of the ‘Singapore routine’ (after being away for close to 2 years). It was a great joy to be back, to be at home with my family and my dog, meeting up with friends, doing housework (lots more than the London side, coz it was for 5 people), working in the day in something I love (hospitals, patients and the lots, however much I rant about it), eating a variety of food not found anywhere else on the planet in 1 place at ungodly wee hours of the morning, travelling on public transport which is clean, efficient (esp when I am not running late), being able to exercise at any time, swim at any time, club any time (ladies’ night and free drinks – who can beat that!), walk home at 3am in the morning without fear of being mugged, take cabs which are relatively cheaper (compared to London, of course which I feel the pinch though in Sg as well). Then again, having the car at my disposal (mostly). Driving in Singapore is a breeze compared to London. Being able to tinker on the piano without great trouble is oh-so-convenient (it’s in my house after all).

Sounds good, doesn’t it? One of the MOs I met told me this ‘Sad thing is – it is boring.’ Think about it seriously. I agree. It’s all just a routine. I repeat, routine. Singapore is so familiar that once one is in, it’s so difficult to get yourself out of your comfort zone. Basic physics, inertia. Basic common sense – if I’m so comfortable in this arena, why should I take myself out of that comfort? I wouldn’t.

Moral of this story: It boils down to me, myself and I. What do I want? What do I need? Am I still seeing the world from eyes and views of yesteryears, of 5 years ago? Or have I changed my perspectives? Do I need a kick on the butt to jut me out of my dreamy state? Do I just follow the flow? Shall I just take it one step at a time? Should I start planning now? Am I comfortable? What and where do I see myself in the future? Where to work? Where to build a life and settle down? Do I still have the energy to trapeze the whole world for new experiences?

Studying overseas is different from working overseas, I would imagine. I’m comfortable working in both places which I’ve come to accept as ‘my homes’. Am I comfortable living in both places? I don’t see why not.

The thing is, I think too much at times. I ask many ‘What ifs’. Which is ridiculous, seeing how no one knows. Family will always be there. People will change. Friends will come and go. Places will differ, yet stay the same. Weather can’t be helped. Work is ever-changing. Life is so full of everything, surprises, ordeals. What can we do? Embrace it. Here’s me waxing philosophical now.

Dedicated to JL

It’s a long long journey
Till I know where I’m supposed to be
It’s a long long journey
And I don’t know if I can believe
When shadows fall
And block my eyes
I am lost, alone
But I must hide
It’s a long long journey
Till I find my way
Home to you

Many days I’ve spent
Drifting on through empty shores
Wondering what’s my purpose
Wondering how to make me strong
I know I will falter
I know I will cry
I know you’ll be standing
By my side
It’s a long long journey
And I need to be close to you

Sometimes it feels no one understands
I don’t even know
Why I do the things I do
When pride builds me up
Till I can’t see my soul
Will you break down these walls
And call me through

Coz it’s a long long journey
Till I feel that I’m worth the price
You paid for me on calvary
Beneath those stormy skies
When family mocks
And friends turn to foes
It feels like everything
Is out to make me lose control
Coz it’s a long long journey
Till I find my way
Home to you


AHO postings

I have just started shadows aka AHO postings (something like being a house officer but just not being paid) at St. Richard’s Hospital in Chichester. It’s really nice here, although it is only the third day of the whole attachment (I have 6 weeks of it). People are nice, atmosphere is nice, not too isolated in the countryside (i.e. not in the middle of nowhere), near the town and the gym/sports facilities, the hospital is quite big and spacious, accommodation (so far) is pretty decent. Oh yeah, and the library is awfully fantastic, with good computer access and darn good studying facilities. =)

Being a HO itself is easy peasy. All you need to do is follow orders, though some consultants would ask you ‘so… what would you do for this patient next?’ Half the time is taken up by ward rounds, the other half is taken up by chasing blood results, putting out blood forms/arranging scans/zoning patients back to their teams due to failed discharge etc/writing TTO’s. Monotonous. I think I’ve got the hang of it, with the exception of being lost in the hospital from time to time, coz I still don’t know where various services are. But I’ve got the majority pat down. Yippee for me.

Now I’m trying to do as much procedures as possible. I’ve done some cannulation, more during my elective, and stopped (coz they don’t allow us to do it on my paeds elective), and I’ve started again. Have to get used to different cannulas yet again. Something funny about the Sg cannulas that I have more success with the veins after I ‘bend’ the needle, but not for the UK cannulas (that means I cannulate using an unaltered needle). Oh well, bring it on!

BUT….. I’m not learning anything from this shadows (apart from how to be a HO = glorified medical secretary). Not yet, anyway. Then again, it’s only the third day.

The most interesting I’ve felt, was the take (aka on-call). It’s the only time that you get to practice what you have learnt in medical school not too long ago – clerking, management, investigations, discussion. A&E is still the most interesting so far. =) Who knows, this just applies for general medicine. I might just change my tune when I do my surgical AHO posting.

And I was on take my first day on the attachment. It wasn’t too bad, not being busy, while I was trying to get orientated with the place, the people, the timetable. It was a season of exacerbation of COPD for this one. Thankfully, I had a more interesting case of a 62 year old psychiatrict nurse with persistent vomiting, recurrent episodes. I’m happy that I got to decide the management (of course with the approval of my SHO and consultant. =D)

On another note, I’ve rearranged my room (in Chichester), such that it gives the illusion of more space and more light, and thus I should be able to be motivated to study! Now I’ve got to try and get my brain in gear. Written finals is done, there’s still clinical finals, and that’s the big hurdle.