Thursday, March 24, 2005


I wrote about milestones too, in my surge of inspiration. 2004 was indeed a year of milestones - I reduced my working hours and changed to part time work instead, then decided to get away from clinical medicine altogether, and made the extremely unorthodox move of joining the civil service instead. Man, did I feel like a dinosaur (still do!) People I met within the Ministry were unsure of what to make of me, with my background of coming in from the private sector, and my "maturity" (ahem) and experience.

This was my "Milestones" entries from 2004:


Milestone #1:

I turned 40 this year. As I approached this milestone, I pondered over my life – its quality, its priorities, and my mortality. Was it worth it to slog on in the clinic, seeing my children & husband only after work in the evenings & partial weekends, usually fatigued & drained? These precious hours were sometimes reduced further by attendance of CME programs in order to accumulate those much needed points for registration.

I made a decision to reduce my working hours, spend quality time with my 2 children, who, after all, will (hopefully) go on to college in 6 to 8 years’ time…not a lot of time left, I reckon. I am fortunate that I am in a situation that enables me to work on a part-time basis. But I wonder about the quality of life of my colleagues, especially those GP’s who have set up their own practice, working 6 to 7 days a week, often doing morning, afternoon & night sessions. Where do they find time to spend with their spouses & kids? They seem to be killing each others’ businesses by keeping their clinics open up to 24 hours a day, trying to compete for the same pool of patients. Getting locums to cover some of their sessions may be difficult at times, especially during “peak periods” like school holidays, or public holidays & weekends – and yet they persist. I admire their tenacity & dedication to the practice of medicine…or is it just a matter of survival in this competitive environment? The Government polyclinics have jumped into the foray by opening night clinics. I wonder if there is a way of working together so that these hard working people can have some semblance of a family life.

Milestone #2:

Our new PM has given a promising speech about what we can expect in the coming years under his leadership. It looks like he is trying to improve the quality of life for Singaporeans. Can we take a break from the rat race & start smelling the roses again? Will it be possible for the “kiasu-ism” prevalent today, to be diminished? Will the “gracious & civilized” society that was wished for by former PM Goh be a reality? I think these are all inter-related – if we can break away from that mindset which makes us give priority to win at all costs, and to chase after the 4 “C’s. Instead, we can do the best we can & enjoy the journey on the way. I believe that this can be achieved. We would start giving way to off-loading passengers first before embarking on the MRT train; we would stop honking impatiently on the roads & stop tailgating; we would stop loading our trays with excess food at the buffet table, but just take what we can eat; we would start having more kids because of the joy they bring us, and not because of the Baby Bonus or the extended maternity leave; we would start bringing used dishes, utensils & trays to the collecing area instead of waiting for the cleaners to do it for us. Wishful thinking? Maybe not.

Milestone #3:

My son turned 12 last December. His hormones seemed to kick in with a bang after that. He is no longer a boy but looks like a young man. He has sprung up 6 inches in 6 months; his voice is starting to sound like a man. And yet, when I see him, I still see my little boy whom I used to hold in my arms & pat to sleep with his baby cheeks against mine as his head lay on my shoulder. Now, his body seems to be too large for his head! Suddenly, he seems like a klutz, tripping over steps, bumping into banisters, knocking over glasses on the dinner table – it is like his brain has not quite come to terms with the new increased length of his limbs!

Physically, he looks like a teenager. Oh, yes, I see the occasional emergence of the adolescent trying to look cool when he is with his friends, and I know that girls are no longer the creatures which make him say “Yuck!” anymore. And yet, inside this rather grown up body still resides the mind of a pre-teen, who still gets excited over seeing his favourite sports car on the road, who still asks 101 questions about things in the world around him that are still mysteries to him, and who still is not too embarrassed about giving his Mom & Dad a hug & kiss before bed every night.

As he matures into a young adult, I hope that his future holds the realization of all his dreams and aspirations. I hope that his youthful fervour for new knowledge will never fade. I hope that as he grows into adulthood in this new, exciting, shrinking, frightening and competitive world, he will never lose sight of the beauty that still surrounds us, in spite of us.



val said...

your son turned 13 last year, not 12! :o

aliendoc said...

wrote this last year, lah!!! (Refer intro)