Monday, December 22, 2014

First journey to Gerik

As many of you know, I am going to be posted to Hospital Gerik. It is 3 hours away by car. We went to Gerik last Saturday - Dad, Mum and me.

It was a long, long drive. We cut through to Langkap, then highway towards Kuala Kangsar and then towards Gerik town itself. I was so gung-ho about driving all the way to and back, but in the end, I faltered. I slept late the previous night. Dad didn't want me to drive.

I was trying my hardest to memorise the route and landmarks. But everything along the way seemed so similar - I gave up. As we approached Gerik, the roads began to climb steadily. "Are these the roads I am going to drive on from now onwards?" I grew scared.

It was raining the entire Saturday. The rain was relentless. Even as we hit Gerik town, the rain had not stopped - not even once. We drove through the main street of the town. We saw the hospital. It was quite small. One look at the Emergency Department told me that it is a busy hospital nonetheless. One good thing about this place that it is so contained. The hospital is across the street from the bus station. The Store supermarket is just nearby. The town centre is a few streets away. Even TF supermarket is opening soon - just next door. I felt a bit lucky. New shops are springing up everywhere. Most are painted in bright colours - yellow, red and pink. Even the hospital is pink. (Why pink?)

After we had lunch at KFC, we headed back home. I offered to drive. Because the rain did not stop, I really had a tough time driving. Raindrops on the windshield was so distracting. I was fighting sleepiness and fatigue. I realised I couldn't drive all the way from Gerik to TI. I cannot possibly do this every time I want to go home. Dad drove from Kuala Kangsar onwards.

That night Mum received a phone call from our nosy neighbour. We nicknamed her 'Datin Bandar'. Her daughter was posted to Hospital Slim River (a mere 1 hour journey compared to my 3 hours drive). She sounded so 'concerned' that I am going to a place so far away from home.

"Why didn't you appeal?" "Gerik is so far." "Such a remote town!"

Mum was quite pissed off at Datin Bandar's remarks, but she remained civil. She dispelled all our neighbour's 'worries' one by one. Mum and I suspected that DB just wanted to gloat about her daughter's posting and revel in our misery. Too bad... we are not wallowing in misery. Overall, we feel quite positive about things. (Although I am not positive about the long drive and my lack of accommodation at this point in time.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My two cents on methadone

"Why should we spend money on these people? The money could be used to buy medications for cancer patients..."

"I really hate drug users! They are good-for-nothing!" (Said in reference to methadone patients)

These are only few of the many negative comments I have heard in the past year about methadone maintenance therapy (MMT). And these were uttered by healthcare workers - mainly pharmacists and pharmacy assistants.

I just nod my head silently, but inside I am already judging them for judging others. (Hey, I am not perfect.) I know a lot of money has gone into the programme - with the daily dosing of methadone for so many recovering drug users. And out of the many patients, there are many of them who would try to cheat and lie to us. Old habits die hard.

But for every misbehaving patient, there is one who is committed to the programme - one who works an honest job, one who brings his kid in every day with him, one who expresses regret for abusing drugs many years ago. Heck, there are some who don't believe in the efficacy of methadone but choose to continue, because using illicit drugs can be more harmful.

I think that we shouldn't discredit the entire programme just because of the patients' previous faults. As health professionals, we shouldn't judge others. We are not supposed to be a moral or ethics police. We are just here to provide medications to people who need them in a timely and safe manner.

I also truly believe in what I learnt in uni a few years ago. MMT is beneficial because it removes drug users from harmful behaviours such as the usage of dirty needles, overdosing, Hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS. If MMT could reduce the likelihood of Hep C or HIV/AIDS spreading to wider society, why not?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Everyone is a judgmental prick

There, I've said it.

I was on my morning tea break when three of the staff started to talk about C (one of our pharmacist) in the pantry.

"C is so into investing her money. I bet her boyfriend was the one teaching her how to do it," said Madam O innocently.
"You are wrong! O, you are so naive! She is the one who taught her boyfriend - not the other way around!" Kak K piped in.
P, another pharmacist, said: "Madam O, you only know half of the story. Let me tell you..."

Then they proceeded to clue Madam O in about C's 'unrealistic' and singular dream of making big money through direct sales. I just sat there and listened like I always do. Always observing and nodding my head occasionally like I understand. But I don't.

Because I had seen her in tears yesterday when she recounted her boyfriend's tight financial situation. I know that she dreamed of making enough to raise her future children in a secure environment. What they said about C is true. C is realistic to a fault, and seems to place material gains over almost everything else. She even sometimes neglects her pharmacist duties to entertain her clients' calls. I definitely do not agree with her behaviour. I can sympathise with her situation. I will not demonise her because I know her story.

Perhaps I am biased towards her. While I was crying from the stress of working in counter 3 a few months back, she was the one who approached me directly and asked: "What's wrong?" She was the one telling me to just 'do whatever you are supposed to do' and 'ignore the rest'. Other people happily clocked out from the pharmacy while C was helping me to calm down.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I was working at the screening counter this week. Because I am new at this, it was pretty hectic for me.

One day, a middle-aged man came up to me, asking for my help. He had lost his FTK card. FTK means Farmasi Teman Kami. It is a service we provide for patients whose prescriptions contain more than 6 items. We keep their scripts and pack their medications ahead of time, while they keep a card with them to inform them when to come to collect their scripts.

Mind you, even in the age of 21st century technology, almost nothing in my hospital is computerised - FTK system included. We have a large book we use to record the names of the FTK patients, the corresponding card serial numbers and dates to collect their medications.

So I was faced with this problem. I practically had to leaf through book, page by page, just to look for the patient's name. I passed along the patient's name to the PRP on duty at the FTK counter. Let's call her A.

Me: So this man lost his FTK card. Could you please look for the name in the book?
A: How to find? It is not like we have a computerised system here. 

I was groaning inwardly. Of course I bloody hell know nothing is computerised! But that shouldn't stop you from doing your duty! A was just sitting there the entire time, looking on as I sifted through book. I was mad, very mad. But I didn't show it. Instead of sitting on your ass the entire time and chit-chatting with people, why don't you do some work for once! It wasn't even a busy week! I had my own duty waiting for me. Patients waiting to get a number, phone was waiting for me to answer and I had to do A's work just because she thought the task was impossible.

I managed to find the name in a few minutes and retrieved the patient's medication from the storage area. IT WASN'T EVEN THAT TOUGH. BLOODY SUCK IT UP, A!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Seniors at work were talking about badminton. They wanted more people to join their 'team'. This particular guy - let's call him, T - turned to me and asked, "So, do you play badminton?"

I just laughed awkwardly and said no. I hate to see colleagues outside of work. I have seen them enough hours of a day. "I would rather use the time to sleep," I told him. 

Another senior, E, commented: "You are just like B. She likes to sleep too." Frankly, who doesn't like to sleep?!

T jumped in, "You know that you are not like B." 

At that point, I already knew what he was going to say. He has nothing good to say with his mouth, ever. Always sneering and teasing the freshies on the job. I braced myself for the comment. 

"B has very high metabolism. So it is okay for her to always sleep. But you,... you are not going to stay like this if you do that."

WTF, dude? You just commented on my figure, my weight in front of everyone at work! Mentally, I have been giving you the middle finger whenever I see you. Each time I feel that you have some redeeming qualities, you somehow manage to turn my impression of you 180 degrees again. 

It is tough becoming a young woman. We are always being judged by our weight and our size. I have been on both sides of the spectrum. And it is not pretty. 

My BMI reached 19 after my first year in Perth. I came back to people looking absolutely delighted that I lost weight. "You look amazing!" or "You look thin!" were among the numerous comments I received from relatives. In my mind, I was shouting: "So you thought I looked horrible before?!" And people started to look at my body - almost leering - to see where I had lost the extra fat. It was really an uncomfortable experience. 

And now, on the opposite end of the spectrum, I received judgment on my body size from someone I barely know. I do not live in this planet to impress the likes of you, T. I am going to be myself, just the way I am. If I am going to gain weight, so be it. If I am going to lose weight - pay attention - I DON'T DO IT TO IMPRESS YOU. 


Thursday, April 17, 2014

My eldest sister quit her job recently. Everyone made a huge fuss about it. The primary reason is that she made the decision back in February, and we only got to know about it late March.

It was my brother-in-law who dropped the surprising news on us during a dinner with my aunt and her family. The way it was revealed was casual, almost like it didn't even matter.

"She is going to be a housewife and look after me!" my brother-in-law teased. My sister just smiled stiffly - her usual smile, one that I am used to seeing and still don't know how to interpret.

This past month has been a bit confusing for us. Why did she quit her job? When? Why wouldn't she tell us? Aren't they going to be tight on money? 

Everyone has so many questions and not quite as many answers. My parents were taken aback and a bit upset. And I wondered why. Was it because they think that her being a housewife is a waste of talent and education? As I reflect on this, I realise that our society has come a full circle on the idea of women and education.

It is now virtually unheard of for daughters to not receive a higher education. More than 60% of the varsity student population are female. Asian societies, particularly ours, are already becoming more accustomed to the idea of a woman being educated at a higher level and eventually get a high-paying job. And when daughters give up their careers to take care of their husbands or children, people start to question. Why can't you do both? You are already earning so much, why stop now? Your education is wasted. 

While I am not comfortable with the idea of staying at home and not working (although this is very, very tempting), I support my sister wholeheartedly. One, she is my sister. Secondly, we are modern women and that we should be allowed to make our own choices, without being judged by other people. Our choices are valid and should be seen as valid by other people.. Being a high-flying corporate businesswoman is correct. Being a housewife is also correct. There is no right or wrong. And third, education we gained throughout the years will never be wasted. What we learn cannot be taken away from us. Learning comes in different ways too. And who is to say that your education is wasted? Because having a mother who received tertiary education would definitely benefit the children, even more so when she can spend more time with them.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Currently, we are all fixated on the question: "Where is MH370?"

The idea of a commercial airplane simply vanishing is fascinating, and scary. Scary, because it can happen to anyone of us.

No, we are not really disturbed by the various reports of suicide bombers in the Middle East. We are already conditioned to them. They have occurred so many times, in countries so unlike ours. But this - a seemingly ordinary aircraft, departing from our very own shores and just vanished without a trace - is terrifying.

I think the same about 9/11 too. Imagine going to your office as usual, with a cup of coffee in one hand and a briefcase in the other. Just like any other day, except a plane suddenly hits the building you are in.

It is tragedies that occur in day-to-day routines that scare the hell out of me. The world is smaller and stranger than we think.

Friday, February 28, 2014

I want to be 45kg again just to hate myself a little less.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

your words

your words are 
like papercuts 
I don't know existed, 
until much later
when they sting.
the meanings behind them
rise up slowly from my stomach, 
like bile, 
like acid. 
i need to throw them up 
but i can't 
lest anyone else finds out. 
keep it down. keep it down. 
don't let others know 
that i am weak
that your words get to me 
that your words actually 
makes my heart bleed. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Fortune Cookie

I was at my sister's apartment for a housewarming dinner when she handed out fortune cookies to everyone, including me. I knew that I could never hope for good luck. I have never won a lucky draw or anything like that. I don't believe in gambling either. And breaking a cookie to find a 'fortune' is just another form of gambling.

Mine was something along the lines of 'You will come to great accomplishments'. It was written in a tiny slip of paper, encased in a citrus-flavoured pastry. Was I supposed to believe it? Hell, I would like to believe it.

I am going to be twenty-five this year. I am feeling so demotivated. Seeing my sister moving into her own apartment, my brother studying again, my friends still learning in uni... it feels like everyone is doing something worthwhile. For me, it seems like all the fun and good things had ended when uni ended. Everyone is moving forward and I am staying rooted at one spot - physically and mentally.

Is this a quarter-life crisis?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

First Post of 2014

And I am going to talk about Harry Potter.

So earlier this week, our goddess JKR decided to drop a bomb on us. She said that Hermione/Ron might be a mistake and Harry could be a more suitable match for Hermione. My reaction was: "Really, woman? Should you even say this?"

Because to me, the Harry Potter series is already complete. So, Ms. Rowling, please stop this mess already. I know, as a writer, you would always second-guess yourself. Your books are only 'finished' when you decide them to be. When all the books have already been turned into movies and theme parks and whatnot, you should not ponder over you had written in the past. It is all in the past! Get over it! (I know I am being harsh.)

If there is any pairing in the HP canon that needs work, it is Ginny/Harry. I really cannot see the chemistry, neither in the books nor the movies. To tell you the truth, I haven't read the books since the final one came out. So my memory is a bit blur on this one. But I could remember feeling incredulous that Ginny ends up marrying Harry. Ginny didn't make much of an impression on me. I just couldn't feel their love. Who I have in mind for Harry? LUNA LOVEGOOD.

Where can I begin with this character? First, her name! So beautiful, gorgeous. I like how she is written in the books. She has a quirky personality. She believes in conspiracy theories and outlandish stories (all thanks to her equally eccentric father) despite being mocked by other students, and wears weird accessories. And am I the only one who remembers that Harry has a long, meaningful conversation with Luna after Sirius' death in OotP? Both of them having lost their loved ones (Harry, his godfather and Luna, her mother), talking to one another about death and coming to terms with the reality of it. Luna helps Harry through a tough patch in his life. How can Ms. Rowling throw this wonderful development at us in the fifth book and completely forget that it ever happened in the subsequent books?

Okay, all my angst about Luna/Harry aside, I still think that Hermione and Ron should be together. One, Ms. Rowling has already written the books. So, like I said, IT IS FINISHED. GET OVER IT. Two, what is there not to like about a couple who quarrels so much and yet, find their way into each other's lives? They are classmates who can barely tolerate each other at first, then become friends after fighting a troll in the bathroom. They are friends first, lovers later. It is this development that I am interested in. Their relationship grows organically, unlike Harry's infatuation with Cho - which is more like 'Wham! Bam! Kaboom!'.

Many fans doubted that Ron could make Hermione happy. Hermione is a strong-willed young lady. She knows what she wants and she gets it done. I don't think she will marry someone who she thinks is inappropriate for her. She is obsessed with the perfect grades. Why wouldn't she have a love who is perfect for her? Yeah yeah, so they like to quarrel a little bit and sometimes get on each other's nerves. Aren't we all the same? Love is about accepting the person - both the good and the bad. Yes, even if she is an insufferable know-it-all, even if he sometimes can be a clumsy idiot.

So that is my opinion on the whole question of 'who will Hermione end up with?'. In the end, Hermione and Ron have found their perfect story-book ending together. Luna and her random rock god as well. The pertinent question for us all would be: "Have you found your perfect story-book ending?"