Friday, January 27, 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha (which I think, should have been renamed Memoirs of Bitchy Geishas)

Just caught the above movie tonight. Haven't read the book yet, so maybe that's why at the end of the movie, I didn't quite get the point of the movie. That geishas have hard lives? That love triumphs in the end but you still may not get the guy? That women can be real bitches? (I think the last point stood out the most, with all the catfights & backstabbing shenanigans that was going on throughout the movie).

Zhang Ziyi did a great job, as did the young actress, Suzuka Ohgo, who played the younger version of Chiyo. Felt that Michelle Yeoh's performance was lukewarm, and she sounded rather out of place with her semi-Japanese semi-Singaporean accent. Gong Li as THE bitchy geisha also played her role well. There was also a hodge-podge of other Asian actors (my husband & I call them the recycled Asians, as they take turns appearing in various movies & TV series as the token villian/Asian gangster/gung-fu master/wise old man, such is the sad state of affairs for Asian actors in Hollywood)). Ken Watanabe, as Chiyo's love interest gave a credible performance. What stood out for me, as far as the acting talent was concerned, was that it was understated, which was refreshing; many Chinese/Asian movies tend to have overly done, melodramatic performances by its stars, & this was a nice change.

Was it a good movie? Yeah, I think so - wonderful cinematography, costumes & make-up, which should garner it some Oscar nominations in their respective categories. Didn't think too much of the storyline though. In any case, it was interesting watching an ex-patient star in her first BIG Hollywood production...

Now I need to decide whether the book is worth reading or not...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Patient Safety

Thank you, Dr Kee & Dr Lee for voicing so eloquently, their views about changes that need to happen in order to improve clinical quality. I wish that these letters had been printed in the newspaper, with a greater audience, instead of just on the online forum. It would be one small step towards a greater understanding by the general public that medical errors do happen but a great deal can be done to reduce risk of these errors happening.

It will take a nudge from the people to get The Powers That Be to get things moving in the right direction where this issue is concerned.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I put on a softball glove, & picked up a softball bat today for the first time after a lapse of almost 20 years. I can already feel my muscles protesting & I dread tomorrow morning when I am SURE that I will have trouble crawling out of bed...groan.

In medical school, I played softball for my year (remember the FMS shield? Hmm, I wonder if the annual competition is still being held, with the grand finale of a play which made up a huge chunk of the total score!), & also for the faculty. It was always the same group of people taking part in the various sports. I, myself, not that I am a great athlete, did softball, tennis, squash (go figure) and basketball, in addition to lending a hand in making the props/costumes for the play.

I remember in our final year, everyone was very "boh chap" about taking part in the FMS games because we were all panicking & busy trying to revise for the finals. So not surprisingly, our year was at the bottom of the scoreboard once all the games had been tallied. All that was left was the final play.

24 hours before the day that the plays were supposed to be performed, the "usual" group of us decided, what the h***, this is our final swansong, might as well go for it. A very talented classmate put together a play, inspired by the successful British comedy "'Allo 'Allo", with music & lyrics even. We rehearsed into the wee hours of the night, put together a medley of costumes (some loaned from the Franciscan monks!), & used minimal props for the performance.

Well, guess what? We won the Play section of the competition! Quite unbelievable, eh? I think our juniors must have been pretty pissed off! Unfortunately, because of our "poor" performance in the sporting events, our overall score only managed to get us 2nd place. But we were happy anyway. Nothing beats the euphoria of putting together a successful performance.

Come to think of it, I think the most enjoyable times of med school were actually the extra-curricular activities!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

S, M, L, XL


I hate clothes shopping in the local stores. Talk about a blow to one's self-image. Most of the clothes seem to be made for stick-thin models. Looking for new clothes for Chinese New Year here is an annual nightmare. The "Women's Plus" sections have clothes seemingly designed for the fashion impaired. The "Normal" sections have clothes which would probably fit just one limb on my body.

Not that I am morbidly obese - I shop in the "Regular" sized departments in the US. I guess being born with a genetic disposition to being "big-boned" in Asia is a real detriment as far as trendy clothes are concerned.

Oh well, come summer, Woodbury Commons, here I come!!!

Monday, January 16, 2006

simple pleasures

~ hugs & kisses from your child/children

~ finding life in a rock pool at low tide

~ the smell of a freshly bathed newborn

~ reading a good book while enjoying the ocean breeze & sounds of the waves crashing

~ discovering the first daffodil shoot peeking through the soil in between patches of snow in the waning days of Winter

~ coming home to your own comfortable bed after a vacation

~ laughing till tears roll down your cheeks

~ a girls night out with your best friends in the world, reminiscing about school, teachers & life in general

~ the first snow of Winter

~ the long days of Summer, when you can still enjoy daylight at 8 o' clock in the evening

So romantic, can die

Call me crazy, but I sat through a second viewing of "Pride & Prejudice" today, and liked it even better the second time around. Matthew Macfadyen as the dashing Mr Darcy certainly grows on you, as I had said before. There's just something about the Mr-Darcy-striding-through-the misty-meadow-towards-Elizabeth-Bennet scene that stirs my innards. *YUM*

After the last couple of weeks, I needed a "feel good" movie, and nothing lifts the spirits up like a good old historical romance with a happy ending.

Footnote: They showed the "Coming Soon" trailer of "Casanova" starring Heath Ledger & Sienna Miller- hmm...looks like my cup of tea :).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Hormonal Swings

Well. So much for the life changing event. It’s not going to happen after all. I must admit that I am a bit disappointed. This seemed like the last chance for us after all. Oh well. C’est la vie, as they say. At least I won’t be peri-menopausal, and post-natal at the same time. I am sure that many women out there will agree with me that hormones are powerful things & can produce all kinds of strange emotional reactions/responses/behaviour when they ebb & flow like the tides.

When I saw that second stripe appear on the test kit two weeks ago, my heart truly felt like it sank into the toilet bowl upon which I was sitting at the time while waiting for the result. It was a total shock. Why did I do the test? Well, any self-respecting doctor would tell you that one of the first things one has to test for in a female of child-bearing age who is overdue (no matter which end of the spectrum she happens to fall into!), is for pregnancy. So, as per my own medical know-how, I dutifully went out & bought one of those generic tests, not expecting to see a positive result at all. After all, I have been experiencing what I thought were peri-menopausal symptoms on & off for the last year (although I am rather “young” relatively, but still…) or so I thought. But this particular episode of amenorrhoea had gone on for a bit longer than usual, and hence the saga began.

In my mind, my family is complete. Hopes of having a third child had diminished after a prior blighted ovum & with advancing age. I had given away all the baby stuff, which I had stored & carted all the way from the USA with the intention of re-using them one more time. We have two great kids, had started planning for college for them, & had just gotten rid of the MPV.

So when the positive test came about, it really threw me for a loop, to say the least. It was a conflux (read: conflict + flux) of emotions; I was shocked, petrified, happy, anxious, cautious all at the same time. Thoughts of night feeds, diaper changes, strollers, weaning, toddler tantrums came flying through my mind simultaneously…with the associated flash of panic & depression. I was then cautiously happy but not hopeful, as the symptoms did not feel the same as when I was pregnant with my 2 boys. Much like with the previous failed pregnancy, I didn’t have the hyperemetic feelings, though there were fluctuations of appetite loss & occasional nausea. There was also the strange hypersensitivity to the smell of garlic (!!!).

I think when you, yourself, are the patient, being a doctor is a curse. You know too much. You know & can research into the risks & possibilities & complications of whatever medical condition you have (in this case, being an elderly multip – yeah, sounds awful, but that is the term used for pregnant moms above 35). And true enough, subsequent scans showed a non-viable pregnancy. My gynae said that most commonly at my age, this is caused by a chromosomal abnormality like trisomy 21. It was probably better to lose it now than to have to go through amoniocentesis & find out in the 2nd trimester.

I know it may sound cold to some, but I have tried to remain detached emotionally from what has been happening, in preparation for the ultimate diagnosis. Call it intuition, a “feeling”, a sixth sense, but deep down inside, I just knew that it wasn’t meant to be. So, no, I don’t feel depressed by what is happening. Admittedly, I’m a bit sad for the baby-that-never-was, & for unfulfilled hopes that have been re-awakened. But I know I will get through this. We, women, are resilient creatures!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Eating Wind

To those who have been wondering if I have dropped off the face of the earth, please be assured that I am still around & have not gone over to the Dark Side :). This especially so after my last rather cryptic post.

Reasons why I haven't been around are:

a) Have been chillin' out on a nearby Indonesian island for the last week;
b) Been dealing with a potentially life-changing event which caused
c) Writer's Block

Thankfully, I think I am over (c); (b) I am still dealing with & may write more about in a later post if I feel up to it.

As for (a), I admit that I would have enjoyed it more if I were still working full-time :). I think it is true that we don't appreciate what we have until we don't have it, in this case, leisure time - to just laze by the pool/on the beach/in the spa. Eight months ago, I would have enjoyed this holiday a lot more, eager to leave the hectic deadlines & rat race of work & just doing absolutely nothing. I know that my kids enjoyed themselves just being in the pool as they had worked hard all semester in school. Hubby the workaholic was happy just hanging around the hotel, & having aromatherapy foot massages, and not having to answer phone calls & emails.

Maybe it's time for me to start looking at going back to work....well, at least on a part-time basis...I guess a "tai-tai"s life is not for me.


I taped the 2nd episode of this new series & just watched it tonight. I must say that this was definitely a more uplifting episode than the 1st one. Seeing Meredith Grey turn around from drawing lines between herself & the rest of the world, to drawing people into her circle was refreshing. This episode certainly reminded me that the practice of medicine can do some good after all, especially if we practice medicine for the sake of the patients.