I was going to make a video but I no longer have time 

It has been a month since I last posted anything and significant things have happened-
1. I had my job interview

2. I graduated officially-ceremony and everything

3. My mom fractured her shoulder in a freak accident at home

4. I leave home in 8 days because I have my job posting

So the third thing is the biggest one of all really. It’s been approximately 5 weeks since it happened and it’s been an adjustment for all.
I thought I’d go through the things I’ve learned in during this time in a video but I don’t have the time to sit down and make anything because of the fourth thing. Everything is a rush and a haze because I am juggling work (I am doing my mom’s job because she can’t use her dominant arm) and everything else to get ready.

It’s been a panic for me for a good while now.

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So here’s a list instead of an amateur video-

1. Do not be unappreciative of the ability to be independent with your mobility. The frustration of not being able to use a major joint of your limbs especially for someone so previously self-sufficient can often feel overwhelming

2. Patience is a virtue- a big big big virtue.

“The ability to hold your tongue is a gift. A moment of patience in a moment of anger prevents a thousand moments of regret.” -Ali Ibn Abu Talib

3. While I have a huge appreciation for the design of fondant cakes, it does not taste good. No matter how gorgeous the cake.

4. Family is everything and family are taxing. I love my family more than anything else and they are my number priority but family can exhaust you physically and emotionally. But they’re still your family.

5. Taking time to truly appreciate the big moments in life is important- spend those times with those who matter most and capture them.

6. Always be kind. Choose kindness above all else. Everyone has different levels of damage and being kind helps you live with yourself.

7. I have good friends. I really do.

8. When you ask for a sign from God (or the Universe if that’s what you believe in) He can deliver majorly even if you doubt.

9. Multitasking is a difficult skill- a to do list is highly beneficial in situations like this.

10. You have less time to feel sad when you are preoccupied. Therefore, get more occupied.

Can you believe we are closer to the middle of the year than we are to the beginning of it? Have a good one guys. ♥️

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please give me some direction

Tonight I am an anxious person.

I had vague outlines of a plan for a video for this month: I had clips I wanted to throw together, a text I was going to record. But.. bigger things have happened and I am a ball of nerves.

I found out this evening that internship applications open up on Thursday at 12pm. It’s a crazy first-come-first-serve basis and you have to be quick.

This means I am working in approximately a month’s time. ONE MONTH.

ONE MONTH.

I am beyond terrified.

There is so much I have to get done once my application is in. I have to find a place to live, I have to file paperwork, I have to get a health check-up. I have to figure out a bunch of things in a short period of time. I am scared.

What is worse is that I had a plan and now the plan has been shaken. Not everyone got the green light to apply on Thursday. A good friend of mine, part of my ‘three musketeers’ didn’t get through. He has to wait for the next round. And that throws everything off. He’s thrown by this and so ar we. The three of us were going to get through this together but now…

I had a plan. I love my plans. I hate when my plans get tossed because that means I have no anchor. I don’t like that feeling at all.

It’s a messy system and I cannot get into it here. But it’s a terrible mess of a time.

I’m scared. I’m kinda excited.

But I’m mostly scared.

My heart is galloping like a racehorse whose jockey that sees the finish line. As though reaching it would slow things down.

It doesn’t. That finish line keeps getting pushed and pushed. And while that is the beauty of this career, it’s also what causes my voice to tremble, my knees to shake. I

That finish line keeps getting pushed and pushed. And while that is the beauty of this career, it’s also what causes my voice to tremble, my knees to give way.

I am a shaken bottle of soda with words bubbling out of me though not necessarily in an order to form a coherent sentence.

I am scared. I am not okay.

But I have to be.

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Inner Workings

About two weeks ago, I watched Moana with my parents. It was such a great film and naturally, I teared up a bunch of times. But I’m not here to talk about that; I want to talk about the short before the movie.

While I cannot link the short here, that’s the trailer.

It is a really good short:

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So, SPOILER ALERT, this is going to discuss the whole short. If you don’t want SPOILERS, stop reading. I don’t think spoilers will ruin your experience of watching it but if you want to play it safe, it’s best to stop.

As the trailer showed, the main character is not ‘alone’ per se. His brain and heart are ‘independent’ players in this constant battle. The main character’s heart wants to go out and spend time in the sun, eat food that’s not necessarily good for you, etc etc. The brain says ‘No. We go to work. We gotta do what we have to do. Responsibilities FTW’. So the heart gets bummed out and basically the character becomes ‘depressed’-ish.

He’s at his job. The brain is looking around he sees everyone in the same position, bent over their tables, doing their paperwork, basically robotic. His brain imagines the inevitable future of him being old and miserable, and doing the same job, being a robot all the way to the grave.

His heart’s not in it, in the most literal of senses, presented visually on the screen.

So his brain gives the reins (literally) back to his heart, so his heart can do what it wanted to do. He goes out, he has a ridiculous meal, he buys ridiculous sunglasses, he jumps into the sea.

He’s rejuvenated. He goes back to work. He’s enthusiastic. He finds joy in what he does, he makes it a bit of game. And the other people around him start to notice, and it’s infectious. They’re all out of their slump.

The movie then cuts to the credits where it shows the main character going out with his work friends, going on a date with the girl who sold him the ridiculous sunglasses etc etc. There’s even a gorgeous sunset.

But here’s the kicker.

That bit where his brain lets his heart do ‘whatever’, it’s not at a random time at work. It’s not like he left in the middle of the day. It was during his lunch break. And I love it for that.

The main character did not quit his job because he was unhappy. He did not ‘up and leave’ just because he was feeling like it.

He had fun in his free time. He used his free time for self care.

I thought it was really clever what the creators did. This is an excerpt from an interview they did.

Leo then went on to explain how one of his goals for the short was to reach those who aren’t at a job they’re happy with. “How do those people feel, you know? I really sympathize with them. And I think it’s a way – it’s a love letter for them. For them to have hope, but at the same time we have to be practical too,” he said. “So that’s why I think it’s ‘Inner Workings’, because the world as a whole doesn’t change. The character…because he changed, he ends up kind of – it’s contagious, he ends up kind of influencing the people around.” x

‘We have to be practical too’.

Self care is a phrase that gets thrown around a heck of a lot, especially in the past couple of years. When I first heard of it, I was reminded of Steven’s Covey’s ‘Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’, namely the seventh habit aka ‘Sharpening the Saw’. Steven Covey, the late famous motivational author and speaker, said that the seventh habit is highly important, citing the example of attempting to saw down a tree without taking time to sharpen your instrument- you’d be more successful if you had taken time in between to make sure the blade was in working order.

But he also says that it’s the seventh habit is seventh in line for a reason. It’s important, but it’s not the end all be all. The other habits ie: Being Proactive, Beginning With The End In Mind, Putting First Things First etc, those are very important, too and should not be neglected. The seventh habit is the most fun but you can’t spend all your time taking time off, because that’s no use to anyone, most especially yourself.

Which brings me back to the short:

The main character learned how to find a balance between doing a job that may not be your ‘100% interest in life’ and jumping into other things that you actually want to do, things your heart desires. Most of us do not have the luxury of being spontaneous all the time. It’s an odd concept, but we need to carve out time to be spontaneous, to do things that challenge us, or simply something enjoyable.

I’m not an expert in balance, clearly. But in my time in Melbourne, having a ‘sort of’ job, I learned how to make my week better by planning things for my free time. And that made the week more pleasant because there was something to look forward to. That gave me comfort.

If you have not seen Moana, do go watch it. It is visually appealing, definitely more intriguing and, in my opinion, a better movie than Frozen.

Oh, and watch the short that comes before it and really think about it. It gave me food for thought.

 

RIP

I am crying over the videos from Father Philips Muthu’s funeral and I swear my eyes will be puffy tomorrow.

I keep writing these things, these posts about how important people are in your life and to cherish them because they can make an exit in one way or another. I hate that I keep writing these because it usually means someone I know has passed away, or it’s an anniversary of someone’s death.

The priest I’m writing about was a good man, a good listener, and someone my family trusted enough with our problems. A bunch of years ago when my brother was going through a really dark time, Father Philips was the one person he would talk to. And through the years that I have known him, this priest has always remembered us, and most of all, remembered my brother. I think in some ways, Aaron chose law because Father Philips was a lawyer (and a Canon Law expert, and an exorcist). When they bumped into each other at the BERSIH rally last year, he was so proud of my brother, just so freaking proud.

It’s so sad that my mom could never go through with the promise to have Father Philips over. For years he’s been planning to visit our home, but my mom was too embarassed because we don’t have a ‘real home’. And now that that is coming to fulfillment in the next year or so, we cannot keep our promise. Retrospectively, I am 100% sure that Father Philips would not have cared that we didn’t have a home, nor would he have judged us for it.

It’s little things like that that make me even sadder.

He was such a good man. He always did his best to serve the community he was placed in, no matter where he was, be it in PJ or serving as one of the only (if not the only) prisest in Terengganu.

Again, like it needs saying, hug those you love tightly, remember to tell them that you care. Don’t let something trivial hold you back.

God rest his soul.

Death and all his friends

Let’s talk about death and the dying.

I know, I do this a lot. It’s like death is a ‘favourite’ topic for me.

So, it’s still Friday right now and I’m still in medical oncology. (I’m not sure when this post is going up. It may be today. It may be some time next week) A patient passed away in the ward. I’m hanging out in the library just waiting for my resident to call so I can observe how to ‘certify a body’.

I’m sure you remember my little freak out three weeks ago. But after much reflection, I must face my fears. So when my resident asked if I’ve ‘been around dead bodies’, I said ‘yes’.

We walked in and saw the family briefly earlier. With all the emotions in the room, and the crying members of his family, I couldn’t help but get a little emotional myself. Yes, yes, Grace is a sap. But his daughter could not have been more than 15 years old and she was sitting on her mom’s lap.. it was all very sad.

As with all dead bodies, he was pale, he was still and very quiet. They genuinely look like they’re asleep. During the ‘certification of death’, the doctor has to check for response. That means calling out to the patient, physically trying to wake him/her up, checking for pupils to respond. I don’t know how that’s going to be like. I’m going to wait and see what happens later and update this post.

There are a good number of patients that I’ve seen that have a ‘poor prognosis’. They’re likely to live for a few months or less than that. One of them was told today that he may not live to see Christmas this year, so maybe it would be best to see his family as early as possible and get things sorted out.

That’s like a kick in the teeth, isn’t it?

Death and misery everywhere. Oncology is a serious business. It’s not jolly happy times- it’s people coming in knowing that they’re hanging out with the Grim Reaper all day. That must be a heavy weight to carry.

One of the patients mentioned yesterday that he hopes to be able to go downstairs and have a cup of coffee with his wife today. It’s the little things that matter at this stage.

Once upon a time, I thought I was cut out for hanging out with Death. But maybe I’m not. I’m not as stoic as I wish I was. I’m far too emotional and I get attached to people too easily sometimes.

So, I did the certification with the resident. I will admit that I felt quite a chill doing it. The room was quiet, rather gloomy. The blinds were drawn. It was just the three of us, two living, one gone.

The patient was in his bed, pale like he was before. His eyes were taped shut. We had to remove them. “You can always tell when someone is dead. They look like a wax figure,” my resident says.

We had to put on gloves. I chose the wrong size at first, having to go back and get the right ones. I struggle to put them on- anxiety? clammy heands? I don’t know what it was. It’s not like I have never worn gloves before.

“We have to check for response now, so that’s calling the patient’s name, doing a sternal rub..

He calls the patient’s name. He does the sternal rub, which is when you use your knucles to forcefully rub on the thin skin overlying the breast bone. Try it on yourself. It hurts. That usually elicits a response from someone who’s alive- a moan, movement to try to shove you off.

He had none.

“Now, we have to assess the tone. Once it’s a few hours after death, rigor starts to set in, rigor mortis, you know… try to move his arm.”

I felt like someone was squeezing my heart. I have never touched a dead body before this. I have touched my dead dog’s body, but not a human being’s. I have been for funerals, don’t get me wrong, but those bodies are in their coffins, behind glass and wood, preventing contact. I don’t know if my hands trembled, I don’t know if my resident noticed if they were. I touched his arm, I tried to move it from where his family undoubtedly placed them, fingers almost interlocking.

The joints were rigid. I should not have been surprised.

“Okay, listen for heart sounds, and lung sounds. Place your stethoscope on his chest, we’ll listen together.”

I am ashamed to say that I was a little afraid that I would hear breath sounds, or a heart beat. I am more ashamed to say that I actually thought to myself, “If he wakes up, I won’t scream. It’ll probably be a loud gasp at most.”How selfish and distasteful is that. How disrespectful.

The pupils were the final step. His irises were blue, surrouding the dilated center. No shrinking to light, no flicker of movement.

We discarded our gloves, my resident called time of death.

4.25pm.

I left not long after, there wasn’t any paperwork that I could assist with. There was this feeling, the same one I felt when I was in forensics. That weird ‘uncomfortable’ feeling of seeing someone dead. I don’t know the right words to describe it. It’s not fear. It’s not quite fear, I should say. It’s just a feeling of disconcertion. Just thinking about it now, days after, I can still feel it. I cannot put it to words.

My mother said that evening, “If you’re afraid of dead bodies, you’re in the wrong field.” Well, maybe I am. Maybe these almost-five-years have been a mistake. I don’t know if she’s completely right, but I know she’s not wrong, not 100%. Death is a process of life. And I should not fear it. But boy, am I uncomfortable with it!

Does this require ‘practice’? Can you practice being ‘comfortable’ with loss? Should I immerse myself in an environment that caused me to have a visceral reaction, like those however many minutes in the morgue.

Would I be less of a doctor by being uncomfortable?

I don’t know anyone in my batch who is comfortable. Maybe that is a failing of the way it’s taught in my course. We never dealt with dead bodies in anatomy. They could not ‘weed out the weak ones’ early. I am one of those ‘weak ones’. I am uncomfortable.

Maybe it’s part of the process. And in some ways, maybe it’s good that I still feel something, rather than feeling nothing. I’m sorry that it upsets my parents so much that I have a reaction.

I can’t help it. I may have had my own share of ‘near misses’ with Death in my life, but that does not mean that I am happy in his company. I am not his friend- I thought I could be, but I’m not.

Is that wrong?

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It’s been a week since my lengthy last post. And things have thankfully been ‘okay’since then. I’m coping better at least, so that’s always a good thing. There isn’t much to say about the department I’m in. The patients range from saddening situations to reasonable ones. They aren’t as sad as I expect them to be, but then again, that is me imposing my own feelings and opinions on others.

I wish I could say that I’m ‘happy’now, but I’m pretty sure you figured out that I’m not. And chances are, I won’t be.

But that’s okay. I’m just gonna be here, counting. haha.

I believe that I mentioned that I may move out of the place I’m staying at, in the last post. But that didn’t work out. I did go see the place my friend was staying in, and unfortunately, it’s not exactly “ideal”. It’s pretty run down, the environment isn’t nice and the room was much, much worse than the one I’m in right now. Heck, I don’t even have any complaints about my current room apart from the fact that it’s cold.

So yeah, not moving out. Gonna stick to where I am. Transportation is also far easier in my current position, so yeah.

I think I will start posting pictures of the places I’ve been to. Lots of photographs are taking up a whole bunch of space on my phone but I have not actually found the mood to do anything with them. Here’s the hoping that I find some time to do all that. 🙂

I’m mostly hanging out in the library nowadays. I don’t do much, and I have no motivation to do anything. It’s awful, I know. I’m awful. But my brain isn’t where it’s suppose to be. Maybe I should swipe some antidepressants from that one patient.

I kid (but for real tho’)

Tomorrow a whole group of us, 29 to be exact, are going up some mountain place to play with snow. That should be interesting!

But anyway, I hope things are going well for you, dear reader. May your days be filled with wonderful interesting things and may you be surrounded by awesome people.

May you not need a Xanax.

Non-stop

Y’all musical theatre fans may recognise that title from 11 TIME TONY AWARD WINNING MUSICAL ‘Hamilton’, created by my number one man, Lin-Manuel Miranda. It’s a song about how Alexander Hamilton was ‘non-stop’ with his rise to the top (yay, rhyming). It’s also attributed to Lin himself:

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And while I genuinely adore the guy with the rabid intensity of my pug when it comes to meal times, there is something to be said about slowing down.

I catch myself doing the ‘instant gratification’ thing all the time. I want everything now, and I want to get it quick. I want to DO everything right now and finish everything immediately. And I expect things come to fulfilment directly.

But that’s not how things work in real life.

People are rarely an ‘overnight success’. There is a lot that comes before that. And for some reason, our generation of the dreaded word millennials a few of us don’t seem to comprehend that. No, I’m not saying we don’t work hard, as every Baby Boomer claims we don’t; we work hard, but we get frustrated oh-so-easily when the results aren’t evident in a short period of time.

At least I do.

We look at the lives of  celebrities or YouTubers or famous Instagram accounts and say ‘YES, that is my aesthetic, and I want my whole world to look like that.’ Have we forgotten that all of that never came easily? That it took years to curate a room to look like that? That the lifestyle these people live are on a background of many years of hard work?

Here’s the thing, we are not ‘🎶 running out of time 🎶’. Why in the world do we all think that? I can’t help it either- I look at my age and I think ‘WOW, I’M SO OLD, I should be doing __ and ___ and ___ by now’.

But, wait, no, that’s not true. I need not have travelled in my 20’s. That’s not always possible. I need not own my own place, because, in reality, most of us cannot afford to, especially if you’re still in school like I am.

In reality, we have a lot of time. It just depends on what your goals are. It’s about having the patience and persistence to do the little things for us to reach whatever we want.

Realistically speaking, Lin-Manuel wrote Hamilton over the course of 6 or 7 years. He came up with the concept while on holiday, reading the biography of the Founding Father and deciding that it would be a great idea. On HOLIDAY.

He wasn’t rushing anywhere, he slowed down.

And yes, we admire the fact that he came up with the idea for lyrics while on the way to friend’s birthday party but here’s the thing: he was GOING TO A PARTY. He did not shut himself off in a little room and work non-stop because frankly, that’s not healthy. He had little deadlines set up by the director of the show, Thomas Kail. He had genius ideas, yes, but it took SIX YEARS at the very least.

Yes, that meme of ‘You have the same number of hours as ___’ is motivational. Yes, we should work hard. Yes, there is so much we can do with our time. Yes, if you have a deadline, you work towards it. But in all other aspects of life, even in normal work, there is no need to rush.

Pace yourself. Enjoy your work. Have you a room you want to decorate with all the ideas you have on Pinterest? Take your time. Do a drawer at first. Or one section of the wall. We don’t need to repaint everything, change the furnishings, buy the shelves and put them up immediately. Let the paint have time to dry. Pick out your shelves slowly. Use the ones you have in the meantime.

I’m really working that metaphor

There is no need to speed up life unnecessarily. Slow down. You’re not that old, the world will still be out there. There is no reason to take on everything in the same breath.

Take a break.