Thursday, October 30, 2008

20 Years

20 years since we took the Final Exam.

20 years since we walked up on stage to receive that much-worked for piece of paper that made it official that we were finally doctors.

20 years since the first time I heard myself being addressed as Dr So-and-So; it felt strange & awkward, a bit like a new pair of shoes that needed some time to be worn in & gotten used to.

20 years since the first call, & feeling petrified/exhausted/exhilarated/hungry/thirsty/sticky (no shower for me that day - no time).

20 years.

I am heading back for our reunion this coming week.

It will be interesting.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Random Musings

It's been an incredibly busy past few weeks for me, as we went away for a short break, & I was involved in the planning of an International Day in my kids' school.

It's hard to know what to blog about these days. I started this blog partly as a creative outlet for my right brain, & partly as a vent for my woes as a physician. Now that I am not practicing clinical medicine, I find myself busy & enjoying my busy-ness volunteering in school, helping to organize events, updating websites, creating poster & flyers & endless other tasks. What a difference it is to be busy & not feel miserable about it like in my previous life!

People ask me occasionally whether I miss it (my practice, that is) - & more often than not, the answer is no. Admittedly, I sometimes feel a slight pull to start working again. But then this lasts for perhaps, a nanosecond before I brush it off & immerse myself back into the role of parent volunteer again.

On a different note, I think Chinese drivers are the worst in the world. Yesterday, I was stuck in a gridlock when the Airport Expressway was closed for the arrival of dignitaries into Beijing for the Asia-Europe summit to discuss the horrendous world economic situation.

Drivers here do not understand the concept of giving way. Neither do they pay any attention to the concept of a two-way street. Long line of cars? Never mind, they think, just go onto the opposite lane to create a nearly impossible situation of cars going every which way, that takes an expert in the game of Rush Hour to solve.

The US elections are on the minds of many these days, & not just the Americans. My husband asked my opinion last week on who he should vote for, as it was & is a tough decision. If I could vote, I think I would go for Barack. McCain looks like a good guy, but the thought that if he dies (he IS in his 70's after all) & Sarah Palin taking over doesn't really sit well with me!

I finally watched Mamma Mia last week (on bootleg DVD of course, where else) & throughly enjoyed reliving the music of ABBA. I was rather put off by Pierce Brosnan's singing though & was cringing through the bits when he had to whine his way through duets with Meryl Streep, who had a very pleasant voice. I also caught "The Rocker", a "School of Rock" copycat which held its own with Rainn Wilson being hilariously funny as a has been rocker/drummer from the 80's trying to regain his fame with a teenage rock band. Next up on my list of DVDs To Watch include "Wall-E", "The Adventures of Zohan" (which probably contains mostly juvenile slapstick humor - but in these days of economic doom & gloom, I need the laughs), & season 4 of Gray's Anatomy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Impressions from China - Fairyland

Jiuzhaigou - oftentimes referred to as the "fairyland" of China.

It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site; this is not surprising, having seen for myself the magnificent vistas & extraordinary colors of the rivers & lakes in the region. We were in Sichuan last week visiting Chengdu, Huanglong & Jiuzhaigou. Visitor numbers are down this year because of the earthquake. This made our visit more pleasant as we didn't have to fight with crowds for photo opps, although there were still certain areas which were pretty jammed with people, by Singapore standards!

Huanglong, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is located at an altitude of 3,500 m is known for it's unusual colored multitiered pools which look like craters. With powdery blue colored water, they almost seem as if they are man made. But it is the mineral deposits in the pools that cause the reflection to be that color. Many of us were hit by altitude sickness to varying degrees. Some were merely breathless, while others had headaches & nausea. A few took the Chinese herb Hong Jing Tian (I think the English name for this is Rhodiola Rosea) which is a TCM remedy for altitude sickness. Say what you will about TCM, but those who took this herb seemed to do very well up there!

Jiuzhaigou, the highlight of our trip, lived up to its name. The unusual high mineral content of the area contributes to the colors of the lake & the distinct lack of marine life in the waters there. In fact, if we humans drink that water straight from the rivers, it would probably have the same effect as drinking this.

Pictures do much better than words to describe the beauty of the region. So here are some...(I swear, I did not Photoshop any of the pictures...the colors are all real!)


Going up the mountain roads to Huanglong, you see a lot of these "snow clouds".

Multi-tiered pools that is characteristic in Huanglong. Lovely blue color; some have streaks of golden-brown (right side of picture).

Autumn colors surround the pools

Typical view in Jiuzhaigou

Very good feng shui - mountains & lakes!

The pride of Jiuzhaigou - Sparkle Lake - supposed to contain 5 colors - blue, green, yellow, purple, red.

Lone mallard swimming on Mirror Lake - named such for obvious reasons.

One of many waterfalls in the park

Toilet talk

I want to meet Mr Sim....he sounds like an interesting person with a good sense of humor...


Don't laugh, a successful 'big job' is a big deal

THE National Cancer Centre notes that colon cancer is the most common and fastest growing cancer in Singapore, but experts are still unsure why and how to prevent it.

I want to offer a common-sense approach to the colon question from the toilet viewpoint. Don't laugh.

I suspect the busy lifestyle of Singaporeans has resulted in little to no time for proper toilet visits, as well as higher levels of stress, leading to more cases of constipation. These may be the contributing factors to the high incidence of colon cancer in Singapore.

We commonly eat three meals a day. Our first meal, processed by the digestive system, would arrive in our colon roughly 16 hours later. If we defecate only once a day, that first meal stays in the colon, and possibly gets added to by the processed remains from the other two meals about 12 hours later. This means the excreta from the meals stay in our colon and may contaminate it as it tries to re-absorb the toxic material in our waste.

My tai-chi teacher taught me that even if we defecate twice a day, we are still mildly constipated, because logically, we need to release the processed remains of earlier meals.

I advise all readers to do the "big one" three times a day and stay healthy. Even if you do not think this is a scientific approach, there is common sense to it and there is no harm to your body when you do so.

After it becomes a habit, I assure you that you'll enjoy the routine and become a happier person.

In return for my free advice, may I also request you demand for clean toilets because that is another reason you could be holding back your urge and that is so unfair to your colon.

Jack Sim

Founder, Restroom Association of Singapore, World Toilet Organisation, World Toilet College