10 minutes before 12

A few days ago, I was hanging around Brightsparks forum when a noticed that people had already been given an offer to study Medicine in NUS. I was so anxious (and excited) at the same time thinking that my results would have been released as well.

I headed over to the Joint Acceptance Portal and log in.

Nothing, no offers.

I then start to feel sad and worried that my dream of studying Medicine in NUS is going to be crushed. Again and badly.

I was hanging out with my friends til late at night until one of my friends came to check on me. Curious, I asked why that sudden concern. It was later revealed that another friend had been accepted and because one of my friends did not hear back from me, the assumption was made to be a negative one.

I headed over to the forum and checked the board again.

Turns out, I was supposed to check it from myaces portal instead of the Joint Acceptance Portal given that transfer applications would be notified differently. Knowing this, I immediately reset my password to myaces portal (because I have forgotten about it) and logged in.

After clicking the “Application Status” button, my anxiety and nervousness were greeted with a huge dismay. The page was seemingly the same as what I had a few days ago. I headed back to the forum and one of the transfer students asked me about my application status. He asked if my status was changed to “has been processed” and I told him that it had always been that.

His reply threw me off.

Mine was processing but changed to processed around 6 I think! No results though as the myaces page is not update yet >< let’s hope for the best 🙂

Oh! No wonder mine looked a bit different when I logged in.

Turns out, my application status when I checked that time was “HAS BEEN PROCESSED” and it had been changed from “Is processing”.

Further digging and information provided by this transfer student made me realized that the portal will update at 12 midnight and the results would be out.

Turns out, application status does indicate something. “HAS BEEN PROCESSED” tells you that either you have been accepted or rejected. However, you would need to wait til 12 midnight for the myaces portal to be updated to view.

Thankfully for me, I didn’t have to wait very long. The time was 11.50pm when I made this surprising discovery.

Let me tell you.

That 10 minutes wait was surely not the most pleasant feeling. I knew the outcome was either an acceptance or rejection. No in between.

Multiple thoughts flooded through my mind, recalling the days of my interview.

Did I do so badly that I got rejected? But I remembered the interviewers being quite impressed? Maybe it was that few stations which had little impact?

For some reason, I already knew at the back of my head that I would be accepted. However, I don’t want to hold onto this thought, only to be smashed in the face with a rejection. This was my form of protection.

5 minutes left.

My breathing was going insane. If you were to take my vitals, I think my heart rate would hit above 100, blood pressure exceeding 140/90, respiratory rate above 20. Maybe it was high. But I know my heart was going to come out and I felt difficult to breathe.

Nonetheless, I managed to calm myself a bit just before I go into shock.

When the clock struck 12, I quickly alighted from my bus stop and logged in.

Initially, I thought I the application status would be changed to “Outcome has been released”. However, seeing that the “application has been processed” made me kind of sad.

But, I noticed that application status page was slightly longer than usual.

Guess what?

I GOT ACCEPTED INTO MEDICINE!

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After 4 long years, 14 rejections, thousands of dollars spent on various entry examinations and applications, days of being so sad and depressed; I finally got in!

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I think Jeremy Renner’s gif definitely described how I felt that day.

I wanted to accept my application immediately. However, to play safe, I headed back home to do it.

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Oh boy. This was one intense night. I had to spend 30 minutes logging in and out to check, taking screenshots sending to my friends, making sure that I did not read it wrongly.

I FINALLY GOT ACCEPTED!!!! AND I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT IT 😀

With both feet into Medicine, now it’s time to focus on being the best doctors I can ever be and achieve the many goals I’ve set!

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Lost sleep for the entire night form the excitement, but I guess all is worth it :)!

 

Removing the dust that settled a month ago

Hello everybody! It has been almost what, a month since I’ve updated this blog. This month definitely felt a lot longer, and I’m sure the dust that accumulates in this blog is almost a year’s worth. Regardless, this one month has been a hell of a ride for me in my journey as a student and an applicant for my Medicine studies!

Previously, I was shortlisted for Southampton’s Medicine and Birmingham’s Medicine and I was jumping around in joy! Finally, 2 opportunities for me to showcase my passions and qualities that I have to become a doctor!

However, those firmed dates that fell on my Anatomy and Physiology II Common Assessment worth 40% of my grades (Birmingham’s interview) and one week worth of school (Southampton’s interview) meant that I would need to make decisions. To make the right choice and find a balance between skipping school (without affecting my grades) and grabbing onto those opportunities.

With my end goal of Medicine in mind, I applied for leave from the school and seek approval. Approval was tough to get because I had to go through a few rounds of consultation with my module coordinators as well as the school’s curriculum professor for discussion. Thankfully, the leave was approved. But, the 40% worth of grades for my Anatomy’s exam would be awarded a nice fat zero.

Nonetheless, I went for Birmingham’s interview.

Prior that, I had bought air tickets over to the UK (for Southampton) and paid for my accommodation as well. It wasn’t until a few days later that Queen Belfast sent me a shortlisting email. Since the interview for Queen’s is located in Singapore, and that I will not be missing important lessons (which are tied to several consequences), I decided to cancel my flight to the UK. I know, silly me, maybe that was not a good decision, or maybe it was. Whoever that took over my slot for Southampton, I sincerely hope you would get it! 

Belfast’s interview came first and it was an MMI format. First station definitely gave me the confident boost I needed. However, when I was at the 2nd station, I felt completely trashed. By the time I was at my third (and last station), I felt terrible. As I was looking at the theme of station’s 3 question, I was elated! I knew I could slay the last station and make up for the loss I faced in station 2. Guess what?

Station 3 completely slew me. I ended up stumbling my words and thought process, which cost me my “average” grading to a “below average” for one of the marking component. Sigh. This interview definitely made me reconsider a lot of factors and boy was I glad that I went through Belfast interview. Without this, I would not have developed the resolution to further train and prepare myself for Birmingham’s interview.

2 weeks later, on my time slot for my Birmingham’s interview, I was hoping that standardized questions such as “Why do you want to study medicine” and all did not become the main heading for the interview. When I was escorted into the preparation room, two sheets of case study greeted me.

I WAS SO DAMN THANKFUL THAT THEY WERE CASE STUDIES, AND THEY DEFINITELY HELPED ME TO PREPARE MY ANSWERS A LOT MORE, AND BETTER.

By the end of the interview, excitement was filling in quickly than quicksand swallowing a struggling animal. I hopped my way back to my rented apartment, cheering myself and letting that excitement and sense of fulfillment pour out.

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Subconsciously, I knew I did well.

Less than a month later…

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OH MY GOD! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!

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I DID IT! Finally, my first offer to study Medicine!

Currently, I am still waiting for the school to send in their official offer via snail mail as well as UCAS. Hopefully, I should be hearing back from them soon!

Good news aside, this is also the crucial period for NUS Medicine. Their interviews are held on the 30, 31st March and the first week of April. However, even up to today, I have not heard back from the school.

Despite my friends trying to help me, or my writing in to the Prime Minister’s Office, I heard nothing. I really do hope I can hear back from the school soon! 3 years of rejection definitely has not made things any easier.

Otherwise, I might spend one whole day crying for the loss of this wonderful opportunity to study in NUS Medicine. Nonetheless, Birmingham is one school that I really really want to go! Still, so long as the official letter does not reach me, there is a chance that my application might not turn out to be as expected.

Still keeping my hopes up! Otherwise, I am going to spam the school with my questions should my acceptance for Birmingham doesn’t reach me. *cross fingers*

Throughout this one month, what I have really learned when it comes to Medicine interview is that:

  • Always prepare yourself for the interviews (Be it standardized questions or thinking questions).
  • Reaching early and giving yourself 5 minutes to calm down and be confident.
  • Talk to the other candidates or staff if possible, it helps to relax you down and be more confident when you are tackling the questions posed.
  • Always THINK through what you wanted to say. I remembered blurting out “why is this question being asked” instead of “can I ask what is the rationale being this question”. I guess I got kind of marked down for that.
  • Subconsciously, our minds know how we fare. Generally, the feeling you experience post-interview tells you about your performance. (I am not sure how true is this, but for me, I guess that’s true).

These are pretty cliche tips, but are very useful! For those who have been through interviews and have more tips to share, feel free to comment them here!

Moving away from my interviews and medicine status, school has been hectic for me since I came back. Examinations take place week after week (and I have one more skill assessment to go this coming Friday) and every day is like a study day.

Regardless, I felt that I had done well for my Pathophysiology and Pharmacology module and I did (Grade: A)! But today’s skill assessment was horrendous.

I was supposed to interview and conduct a physical assessment on my standardized patient with burning abdominal pain. For those who have the prior knowledge, the first thing you would be more likely to suspect is gastric related (because burning sensation tends to link with gastric juice problems). Instead, such an important clue got thrown to the depths of the Forgotten abyss in my mind and I started performing examinations related to intestinal obstruction or infection of the GI system. Oh god. Why.

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Worse still, I was made known that the patient had not been eating and that could be an obvious cause of his gastric pain. A link so obvious that I was oblivious to. 

Also, I have been so task oriented that I left out the feelings of my patient. Oh well.

I guess this is a good learning opportunity that I should keep in mind. Always engage with the patients and use my brain properly (and not missed out on any important clues).

With one more skill assessment to go this Friday, I hope whatever I have learned from today will be brought into great use.

With that, I shall end my update here and start indulging myself in the new books that I’ve bought on impulse from the cheap book sales! Otherwise, the number of new books would pile up into a Mountain taller than Everest (just kidding).

Hopefully, I would be able to hear good news from myself on Friday, as well as from NUS (soon) and receive my official letter from Birmingham too!

 

DukeNUS Open House

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Hey everybody!

I think my inspiration for writing is back! Today I will be sharing more about Duke-NUS, Singapore’s only postgraduate medical school, based on what I have learned from today’s open house.

Prior that, Justin came to fetch me from home and we had Collin’s for lunch. Subsequently, after a short catch up, we headed over to Duke-NUS. Duke-NUS is located within SGH itself, at Blk 2. I am not too sure about directions in apart from the road we drove into. Carpark H is the nearest carpark and the school is about 3 minutes walk away. If you are familiar with the area, and you are driving your way into Duke-NUS, I suggest you turn in along Outram Road (the split point before another road that has the sign “SGH this direction”). This small road, about 100 meters or so away from the old Zhangde Primary School, leads straight into the vast carpark H.

Since we were there early, and that was part of the plan, Justin and I got the chance to try out the laparoscopic trainer, which essentially is a simulation that allowed us to perform a simple task using tools, much like what a surgeon using a key-hole method would do. At first, I tried to pick up the sugar cubes using the gripping forceps on my right hand. Then, I noticed that the forceps was in an awkward position (so much for being a left hander) and decided to use the scissors for picking up the sugar cubes instead.

The scissors worked well, but I was not utilizing the correct tools properly.

Justin, on the other hand, managed to stack the 8 sugar cubes on top of one another without dropping them. Not bad!

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The laparoscopic trainer ft. Justin’s stable hands.

Thankfully, we were given another opportunity to try this trainer out after the talks by the Professors from both the MD and the PhD track. That was the time when I had enough time to play with this interesting toy! To be honest, practice makes perfect and I can never agree more that hands-on skills require consistent practice. Otherwise, you may lose the muscle tone and memory which tags along the acquisition of the skill.

One limitation I noticed was that the whole field of vision is very two dimensional. Meaning to say, depth perception was affected and honestly, I have quite a bit of trouble stacking the cubes because of poor depth judgment. Reflecting back on it now, I realized I could have readjusted the camera to provide another view of the “operating site” I was on and improve my odds of stacking the sugar cubes up.

Moving on.

Instead of covering everything that could possibly be found on Duke-NUS’s website, I decided to summarize these information and also cover aspects which are not found on the website. However, do take this information with a pinch of salt and confirm with the school’s admissions team for more information.

Dual tracks

The school offers both MD (Doctor of Medicine) and PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) as well as a 7-year MD-PhD program for students.

Essentially, the MD track is a 4-year degree course which allows students to gain skills and knowledge needed to be future doctors.

Here are some things you need to know before applying to the MD course:

  • You will need a bachelor
  • You can be from any faculty (e.g. finance, arts, law)
  • Age is not a deciding factor as to who gets to be selected
  • MCAT score is needed for applying to Duke-NUS, who’s application period opens in June the preceding year.
  • MCAT scores are valid up to 4 years (check the school’s website!)
  • The earlier you apply, the higher your chances. Offers will be given out to students who have submitted their application first and the first batch of early birds application closes in September.
  • GAMSAT is now accepted as of November 2016
  • GAMSAT results are valid for 1-2 years (check the school’s website!)
  • Fees are fixed for the following 4 years
  • Finance should not be an issue, the school will never deny anyone from pursuing their passion in Medicine simply because of the lack of finance (which is good news for poorer students like me!)
  • 3 recommendation letters are required
  • According to the Panel session with the students, MD candidates have to go through a total of 2 interviews (one medical segment, and the other about research).
  • Also, there are a total of 4 essays that needs to be written for submission (i.e. Personal statement, Ethics, Teamwork, etc… Topics might vary from year to year)
  • The school is looking for candidates who are passionate and have the mental fortitude to last the entire course. Medicine is not just the 4 years of studies, but more than just that.
  • Do note that in YLLSoM and LKCSoM in both NUS and NTU teaches normal body functions and pathology over the span of two years. In Duke-NUS, those are condensed into less than a year.
  • Years 2 and 4 are mainly clinical rotations.
  • Year 3 is dedicated fully for a research program.

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This is one of the slides the Professor used while telling us what type of candidates they are looking out for.

Also, be warned that Specialty training requires 5-8 years of studies, exclusive of 2-year fellowship before you can be a consultant! Do factor aging into your equation if you have yet to!

For the 4-year PhD program:

  • There are 5 different areas of interest you can apply into for the Integrated Biology and Medicine (IBM) track.
  • There is a new Bioinformatics & Biostatistics track students can apply to.
  • School fees are paid fully by the school, however, you need to publish at least one paper by the end of your school years.
  • If you are choosing the IBM track, you can try 3 different areas of interest (out of 5) during your first year before you start preparing for your thesis.
  • There will be modules you will need to take as well.

I need to apologize for the sparsity of information provided for the PhD program since my interest was not as developed as I have for the MD track. Kind of switched off a bit here and there during the talk.

For the MD-PhD track:

  • You will need to go through 4-5 interviews, and you will need to meet the criteria for both MD (2 interviews) and PhD (2-3 interviews).
  • MD fees for 1st 2 years need to be paid by yourself before they are refunded at a later stage.
  • You will be studying MD for 2 years, before you break into 4 years of PhD program.
  • You will conclude your studies in the 7th year with a final year MD rotation to prepare you for actual practice.

According to the students, and the tour…

Age is not an issue. There are people going as young as 20, 21, and those as old as 35, 37. What is important is that the passion and motivation are there.

Duke-NUS runs on a house system (they call it college instead of house) where juniors will be grouped into different colleges with seniors. This system serves to build a strong support system among the juniors and the seniors and help make life easier.

Work-life balance depends from individual to individual. Some are able to cope well, others may not. What is more important is that students help each another.

Learning session includes 3-4 tests each week, sometimes with teamLEAD exercises. This is one of the core areas in which Duke-NUS encourages learning. Lectures will be pre-recorded and students will have to view them before school. Following which, they will go to school and sit for a test.

Once the time is up, the will convene as a group to discuss the answers to those questions they have attempted, debating on the best answer to the questions posed.

Sometimes, they will have clinical case studies or applications questions where students get to debate on the particular approaches and defend them against the other groups!

TeamLEAD sessions are held in this semicircular classroom where all students would be able to participate actively in its discussion!

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I have taken a snap on how magnificent this place looks!

Overall,

I think Duke-NUS is a good medical school in Singapore and really helps students who are really passionate about Medicine.

Should I fail to secure any slots into undergraduate medicine, I would definitely apply into Duke-NUS MD track! But first, I need to wait for news from the three other UK schools, the application period for NUS transfer, as well as the shortlisting date for Southampton Medicine.

Hopefully I do not need to wait 4 more years before I can get into Medicine school :|!

Clinical Attachment – Community Hospital

I dreaded this 2 week period of attachment in the community hospital – as a nurse. Being a nurse was not part of my detailed plan of becoming a physician in the future. That was why I hated wearing the neatly pressed white uniform and walk around the hospital, sending a subconscious message that I was a nurse.

I do not despise the role of nurses, but I can never see myself being one for the long run. However, my perception of nursing changed quite a fair bit throughout my 2 weeks posting. Yes, I understand nursing more now, and I admire all those who decided to join this field, but I grew more determined to be part of the medical team of doctors. As much as doctors should be respected, I think nurses deserves more recognition and respect, especially after going through what nurses have been though.

My first day in attachment was more of orientation and briefings rather than the actual posting. Thinking back now, made me realized how quickly time flies.

My first shift started out in the afternoon and ends at night. During those times, I was quite scared and timid. For someone who gets thrown into a completely new environment, such feelings are inevitable. I was not as proactive as I am when comfort kicks in, so tension definitely arises and I am less participative of the happenings. My first shift was basically trying to understand what was basically going around and learn the basic skills. As we have certain objectives to achieve, my buddy and I had to plan out which skills we need to satisfy before we break off for the first week.

On the first day, I did not do much except getting to know my patients.

One of the first patients I met was an elderly man who had dementia. He was not agnostic or had aphasia and had a good command of English. Despite his poorer hearing abilities, he was able to communicate well. I really liked him a lot because of his cheerfulness and his smile is really contagious.

The second patient I met was one that had glioblastoma (a type of brain tumor) as well as an intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) due to a fall. He was not responsive and always seems to be very tired. Occasionally, he would talk about things people don’t understand. However, when I was caring for him, I noticed that he had this habit of inserting his fingers up his rectum, pulling stools out.

After cleaning the mess and him up, we applied mittens on his hand to prevent that from happening again. Then again, he would try all means to untie the mittens and insert his hands to pull out the stools.

Initially, I do not understand why he was doing that, and that putting mittens on him was not solving the issue. However, a few days of observation and analysis, he had compacted stools that gave him a lot of discomforts which he cannot verbalize. Only after given laxatives to help soften his stool and increase motility did he stop pulling out stools from his rectum.

This incident became another reason why I wanted to do medicine. This patient taught me how things always happen for a reason. Even though we encountered a bizarre behavior, we did not provide interventions to help solve his root problem. What we did was to prevent the patient from self-intervening. Also, as nurses, providing non-pharmacological comfort and care is what we can do to relieve symptoms. However, symptom-relieving is not sufficient. This is why I wanted to be a doctor. To be a doctor so that I would be able to collect pieces of information and putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle to identify root problems and tackle them instead of relieving symptoms which play absolutely no change to removing the malady.

Another patient I met had a 4 piece transverse intertrochanteric fracture of the femur due to age-associated osteoporosis. He is a very nice guy and shares a lot of information about his life with me. Sometimes, when he is bored, I would entertain him and learn a bit more about his history. Sadly, I was working on the PM shift when he was discharged so I could not get to say my final goodbye.

One more patient who had impacted me a lot was this uncle with COPD. He was on oxygen therapy and he is a very mischievous patient. As much as he tries to ”disturb” us for fun and laughter, he would always teach us a thing or two and constantly engage us.

In fact, the final two patients mentioned above have this trait which I do hope to see in many of my patients to come – they look after the safety of other patients as well. For those patients on high fall risk, they will notify us that these group of patients are going to the toilet and made sure we supervise them. This is the kind of kinship that you don’t really see elsewhere.

These patients have been wonderful to me and they provided a lot of learning experiences. From the execution of skills to perfecting the art of communication. I will never forget how they allowed us to perform certain procedures because we needed to practice them. I would really miss them a lot and do hope that they recover, while I fight my battle into medicine.

Besides the patients, the nurses in the ward have been super accommodating and nice (Except for one or two who were extremely rude [I understand they are busy, but isn’t there a nicer way to inform us rather than to brush us of like that]). They gave us plenty of opportunities to try out skills we have not performed before to clear objectives stipulated by the school.

Also, without my awesome classmates that are in this together with me, I am sure my experience here would not be as fantastic as it would be now.

Besides the people around me, I have learned a lot about myself (and also thanks to the thoughtCatalog article and an Instagram post by one of my friends).

It all started out with me doing a procedure and then having comments being thrown at me for questioning my techniques. Instead of going together with the flow, I protected myself and justify my actions. This incident happened a few times and I did not give much thought about it until I was scrolling through Instagram one day and saw this.

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I used to be an extremely agreeable person, probably a deeper level of me wanted acceptance by going with the flow. I knew I had this problem of not being opinionated enough and I wanted to do something about it. I tried, I failed and never give up. I am still facing the same problem, but I think I am trying my best to over this shortcoming. Improvements definitely can be seen, but more still needs to be done. Nonetheless, I am sharing this to you readers to convey the deeper message behind this paragraph of epiphany.

Essentially, everybody is different and we have characteristics that others do not like. And that is okay. You do not need to shape the way you behave, talk, and interact, to fit into the society to gain acceptance. Gaining acceptance is not important, and ironically, it is a hindrance to the development of your character, the development of the authentic you.

When you go with the flow too much, you tend to lose a sense of self and eventually, your identity would be lost.

This really made me ponder over a lot of things about how I should be more confident of my own personality and embrace my own flaws. Nobody is perfect and that is what make us unique. No point trying to make others happy if happiness does not start from you.

However, I came across this article on thoughtCatalog:

10 Things You Don’t Realize People Are Doing Because They’re Ridiculously Insecure

I guess I still have certain aspects of insecurity being displayed by how I justify my actions, which I really need to work on. This is a really interesting article (and a short one) that I recommend you to read.

Despite having a short 2 weeks attachment, I really enjoyed myself a lot over here. I do hope that this experience will help me with my future experiences as a doctor, and as a person.

I shall conclude here with photos of us on the last day!

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Before we left, one of them suggested to make a Christmas tree out of Kisses chocolate! And this is the end product!

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A selfie with the same shift of friends who we grew closer to each day!

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Here’s a sneak preview of a photo I will be uploading to Instagram! Look at how cute the snowmen are!

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And lastly, here’s to the best group!

Refocus

Examinations just ended officially!

After a long break from writing and diverting the time to the books, I am finally done with semester 1! Well, not really. I still have 2 weeks worth of attachment to go! Hopefully, everything would be well!

Since the major tests have been concluded today, it is high time for me to refocus on a new goal. I currently have two areas of interest which I hope to be able to delve and dedicate time for its development before my second semester kicks in.

The first is to continue with my medical horror story, one that I had laid the plot, not the meaty details. And the second is to create a YouTube channel and teach people about Anatomy and Physiology. I would have preferred to do both, but, I guess it would be good to accomplish one first, then another, than to get into a string of untangle-able mess and have zero accomplishments.

I hope you still remembered about the Youtube video I was talking about the other time! The link is up here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts4h714sdvw&feature=youtu.be

Regardless, I think I will take awhile to consider, and the story seems probable for now. At least all I have to do is to type furiously away on my keyboard, letting every ounce of imagination ooze onto the electronic screen.

Apart from my upcoming attachment and refocus. Here’s an update to my medical school progress:

  • University of Tasmania has yet to get back to me with my application
  • First rejection from University of Birmingham without interviews, and with no apparent reason (I guess my academics didn’t meet their cut?)
  • Awaiting for the other 3 UK schools to process my application
  • Lastly, waiting for NUS transfer application period to open and send my application

I really do hope my efforts for trying to apply for a transfer to NUS YLLSoM will work next year! As much as I hate to say, I really dislike the defeated feeling of rejection without a chance at the interviews. I am sure I deserve a chance to showcase myself, and proof to the admissions committee I have what it takes to be part of the Medicine family.

Feeling emotional is not going to help, but I am going to put a lot more effort in pulling strings and make things happen.

Anyway, I have completed my basic sign language class and aced the sign language examination with a score of 99.5/110! That was really a surprising and amazing score given the fact that I spend 2 days to read through the lessons.

Now that most academic work has been settled, it is time to allocate time for my committee roles for the activities I have signed up for – the Healthcare Outreach Program as well as the Wheel, Walk, Run 2017. HOP2016 will be commencing in less than a month’s time and I do want to say the things will eventually go correctly. Unlike any other event I have been to and participated in, there is hardly any camaraderie and work have been completed through online updates.

Besides HOP2016 nad WWJ2017, I signed up as a supervisor for PHS as well and boy am I glad that PHS has come to an end. HOP2016 is going to end before I know it and WWJ2017 and Basic Sign Language instructor would be what’s left for commitment for semester 2.

Looking back at from the first day of school, I have definitely grown to be a better communicator, gained new skills with video editing, made close friends apart from those of nursing, become more confident with public speaking and speech presentations, become more knowledgeable in the human body and improving clinical and practical skills!

I would definitely not trade anything for what I have gained in this semester, but I do hope this would set a good foundation for my medical studies as a medical student, a doctor and an A&E physician someday in the future.

Say hi to Meddy bae and my new stethoscope :)!

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Til next time!

Public Health Screening’ 16

5.05am

My phone’s light illuminated the darkness of the early morning and my eye was definitely not thankful for that. However, knowing I still had 45 minutes worth of precious sleep was extremely comforting.

I thought I would have slept well until the annoying sounds of the alarm clock broke the midnight silence, but being engulfed by the realms of nightmare woke me up. To my horror, the nightmare involved today’s public health screening (PHS) event. Nightmares usually signify a deeper layer of stress that my conscious mind was blind to, and honestly, I never knew PHS was ever a stressor in my life.

Turns out it was.

Following the 45 minutes sleep, I woke up to find myself freezing in the cold weather, feeling sluggish and feverish. My infection in my upper respiratory track was spreading rampantly downwards. That was concerning because I did not want my fever skewed mind to be present for the PHS subsequently.

I fight the urge to stay in bed and headed for a shower. A piping hot shower to relieve the coldness and discomfort my body felt.

A couple of panadol later, I picked my bag up and left.

P and I are supervisors for the Phlebotomy team today, and I was surprised when I noticed that we were the only two that reached on time. We were given a quick brief about the actual event before we changed into our red supervisor shirt (which I look super awesome in!) .

After a more detailed brief by D and V, we were all set to start until I realized that my volunteers were completely unsure of where to meet us (oops!). So I had to quickly provide directions for them and thankfully, all of them were on time and we had sufficient time to brief the volunteers!

Surprisingly, P told me that he wanted to treat me a cup of drink for helping him manage our team of volunteers. I kindly rejected him, but his persistence got the better of him and I relent.

Prior the start of the event, I took a couple of photos to commemorate the whole event. What I noticed after a period of time elapsed, was that I missed out two of my precious volunteers (they left to mend another booth) and my two committee attaches. Oh, well.

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Here’s a pre-event selfie!

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And here’s a quick update before we start

Within a couple of minutes, the first resident came into our station. And that was the initiation for the cascade of residences dropping by our station. At the start, P and I were considering the rotation system. P was thinking against it, but I was firm about it. I understood his reasons why, and I was really hoping that we could rotate the volunteers around the various roles to get a full fledged experience. By putting myself into my volunteer’s shoes, I eventually won the debate over with P and we started planning for the rotation.

Time honestly flies so quickly when you are busy and we had one of the toughest slots for the PHS event! I had plenty of interesting stories to share, and to protect the identity of these people, I shall not highlight their names or any important information that could break confidentiality.

One of the most memorable people I met was this lady who was sitting on a portable scooter. As I was assessing her requirements, she casually told me that her blood vessels in the eyes burst before. After finishing her assessment, and waiting by her side, I decided to probe her further. Thankfully, her sight was not affected and she was very healthy. We spoke a bit more about her personal life before she was wheeled up to the side of the phlebotomist.

Another interesting encounter I had was this angsty uncle who had fasted since the day before, and the queue number for the phlebotomy was not jumping fast enough. He started to complain about how bad our systems and arrangement is and thankfully, we were able to calm him down a bit and one of the committee members even managed to convince him to wait a little longer. I remembered his number was the next of the series and he stood up to wait. Turns out, the other series number moved 7 times and his series was not progressing. He started ranting again and I lent him my ears and nodded in silent agreement. Thankfully, he was less agitated and we thanked him for his patience.

There were a few more super nice residences who thanked us from time to time, giving us the smile and it was through those bright beams that made me realized how the day was worth it.

Before our station close for the day, we took another group selfie with the phlebotomist!

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Anyway, as the day progresses, I headed over to NUH to deliver the rest of the blood tubes to the lab. Throughout that period, I was communicating with another committee member of PHS, J, and found the silence quite comforting sometimes. I guess I was a bit too ragged to be enthusiastic and extremely communicative, and I was really fortunate that the conversation was a two-way highway rather than one (like how my conversations with D goes).

When I was back from the hospital, I joined P and decided to hang around the various stations for PHS.

Somewhere along the way, I was bringing and talking to one of the residences when I walked past D. I don’t remember exactly if D was talking to anyone, but when I crossed past him, he whispered:”You can hang on”.

As I was quite focused on the bringing the resident, I kind of ignored D’s words (anyway, I don’t even know for sure he was speaking to me. There is a high chance that he was talking to me though, since it was a whisper, and not a shout to the nearby people [which was quite far given that the resident and I took up quite a big space]) and left.

Just when I thought I was over D, that whisper threw my balances upside down. He caught me totally off guard, and if I was still in the earlier stages of infatuation (I think), I might spazz and collapse.

That was indeed a sweet moment which I will never forget. But I am over with D, not totally, but slowly. It’s really heartbreaking though. My heart seeks closure, and one day I would get it. I really appreciate the times you stood there for me, or even raising the false hopes I harbored. Those were the times. Those will be the ones I will pen down and never forget. The smile, the close proximity, the small chats, that eye contact, and lastly, the heart-warming eyes of yours.

Moving away from the topic about D, when we were all done, V and D threw P and I a surprise! They wrote us cards! Like can you believe it? I am a huge fan of handwritten letters and they actually wrote it for us! I am extremely touched to the core and kept it in safe conditions until I reached home.

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The lovely card they gave! So sweet right?

I was really amazed by the message V left for me, because I never knew I left such an impression. For D, well, it was kind of disappointing from a certain perspective. Still, I really appreciate him for leaving a tangible footprint. At least, there’s something to refer to about him next time when I reminisce about the past!

In my previous post, I mentioned that I will confess to D.

I did not and if given the chance (and today’s circumstances), I doubt I would have that opportunity anyway.

Thanks D, thanks for everything.

And most importantly, thank you for all those who stayed by my side through this D period, as well as my awesome volunteers and P for making today’s PHS a success!

P/S: Looking back, I did not regret signing up for PHS and NHS even when I was quite apprehensive about them at first. I was so glad I did not make the wrong choice 🙂 !

I hated my dad…

I have never been this demoralized before.

Growing up, I must admit I am not really close to my dad. Whenever I have problems, I would run towards my mom and seek solutions from her. My distaste from my dad stemmed from the seeds implanted as I was growing up. In fact, I hated the way he drinks, the way he throws his tantrums when he did not get what he wanted, or the way he was being superstitious.

Being a devout Buddhist, my dad often burns some incense at home to show respect to his religion. As a rebellious kid who favored science more than religion, I hated that act. Especially when the fumes from these incense never fail to suffocate me badly. I raised this issue to my mom, but nothing was done. Hence, in order to bring my message across, I threaten him I will injure myself badly if he doesn’t stop.

The threats didn’t seem to scathe him, and I got injured pretty badly.

I guess that was the turning point in which the seeds grew exponentially, increasing the hatred I had for him. As a child, I was unable to deal with his conflicts so I decided to shut him out.

Eventually, I shut out my mother too.

I don’t recall the reason why my mother was implicated, but I cannot stand how she wanted to always be involved in my life.

I want to have a life of a bird, where I can spread my wings and fly without being tied. Sometimes, I am really glad that my grandparents were not involved in my growing up progress because I have lesser strings to worry about.

However, going through army completely changed my mindset about them. I remembered crying during one of the field camps where we had to reflect on our lives in the jungle because of the nasty things I did to them.

Instead of being sympathetic and be more receptive to them, I build even more walls. Ironic right? I tried to tear down the walls and let them in, but with each attempt, I tried to isolate myself even further.

I guess that tired me out and I stopped trying.

However, only recently in this year, my conscious starts to bite into me. I had been a heartless kid in the past who showed absolutely no concern when my dad had a stroke (and twice) and landed up in the hospital. I ignored him and pretended that everything was fine when he came back home a few days later. You can call me an asshole again if you like.

One day, while I was out with my boys from the army camp for a nights out, I received a text message from my aunt.

“Your dad is in the hospital.”

Honestly speaking, I have no idea why that struck me so hard and my mood was totally ruined – I was dumbfounded and scared. I did not want to lose my dad despite what I have done to him and shutting him out from my life.

That was when I decided to look into his condition and find out more.

I have no idea why I was concerned. My aunt has been telling me over the years that my dad’s heart health is deteriorating and her words keep falling onto my deaf ears. If I could turn back time, I would probably bite the bullet and showed more concern to my dad. Maybe this would have prevented whatever he has gone through now.

Moving back to the topic, I called my aunt and elicited more information. I then called my dad to show some concerns and headed back home to see if he was alright.

Apparently nope. He wasn’t okay.

I took leave for a few days and decided to accompany my dad to his consultation at the doctors. Somehow, I did not realize my dad was scared and afraid about going through this ordeal by himself. Yet, I still showed absolutely no sense of empathy.

I acted like a snobbish little kid and showed off my medical knowledge, leaving his fears hanging in midair.

As time goes by, I understood his condition more and more. Seeing how he transitted from consultation to being sedated for the operation and then recovering from the operation made me realized something – my dad was aging and this was not a reality I was ready for.

I was still shutting him out from my personal world when one day, he came home and started complaining to my sister how he was going to die and how the pain was killing him. I admit I overheard him saying about dying, but I did not probe further nor go and solicit information about it. I feigned ignorance and decided to continue with my studies.

If it wasn’t for my sister, I would not have spoken to my dad to find out his concerns and I would not have realized how afraid he was. And more importantly, how much he had wanted to talk to me.

Minutes ago, he knocked silently on my door and asked if I was free. He handed over a package of Panadol, asking if he could take panadol for his fever.

That was when my morale took a dip down the black hole below. I am not equipped with the knowledge to help him check whether panadol has any drug interaction with the long laundry list of drugs he was consuming. I felt totally useless.

I guessed I missed out some parts here and there, but since the time I accompanied my dad to the specialists, he has been consulting me about his heart conditions. So I took my time to study and help him understand his condition more. I will never forget the day before the operation when the surgeon asked him: “Do you know what is happening to you now?”

And my dad says: “No, they always communicate in English which I cannot understand.”

That moment struck me so badly that my dad has become one of the main reasons why I wanted to pursue medicine so desperately.

I want to use my knowledge to help other people who is suffering the same condition as my dad. I really don’t want anybody to go through what I had saw when my dad suffered and then not knowing what is happening to his body.

I really want to prevent that.

And tonight’s case highlighted one important aspect of why I wanted to become a doctor.

I want to be there for my patients, especially when they need help and have no one else to go to like my dad, who wants to check for drug interactions before he consume that panadol.

I swear I will make my medicine dream a reality.

I will fight this war.