Life (and death)...
My life as a Malaysian doctor in the United States.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Where It All Began
Strolling along the streets of Chinatown I came upon the Greyhound station. And then it hit me; this was kinda where my journey of self discovery began.
11 years ago, after LP and I graduated from medschool, this was the humble start of an incredible journey. We flew into Philadelphia to begin our month-long journey across six states to interview at various locations for residency. We intentionally picked locations that would work for both to allow us to share hotel rooms to cut cost (no wonder one program actually thought we were gay partners!)
One month. On a very limited budget. So we took the Greyhound to most places. I remember flying in to PHI and then waiting a few hours to take a late night bus which then dropped us off in a smallish town at 5 AM, to wait for the next connecting bus. It was my first foray into the USA. And truth be told I was overwhelmed initially. The bleeding man who came into the bus terminal asking for money didn't quite help with first impressions.
By the time we were close to wrapping up our journey we were pretty much broke. At our last stop, we stayed at a budget hostel, sharing room with strangers. I was hungry all the time. We cooked instant noodles using the coffee makers , taking turns to eat right out of the carafe since we had one only coffee pot. Though on the very last night we did treat ourselves to a nice Vietnamese dinner. 11 years ago. Who would have thought where this journey would lead? Then again, the journey is only at the start.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
See you in Philadelphia!
While I'm looking forward to some scholarly activities and to meet up with old buddies from fellowship, this will be my first trip alone, away from Kristin and Alli. Though I joke about my freedom, truth be told, it was difficult putting Alli to sleep tonight and to have to tell her I won't see her for another 4 nights.
But, this will be a great trip nonetheless. And I was especially excited to find out the hotel and convention center will be near to a Malaysian restaurant. Can someone say 'Satay'?
Monday, May 21, 2012
Things You Do As A Parent
2 years ago, if you showed me the following list and asked me to do it, I'd say you were out of your mind. And yet now, being a father, I sometimes catch myself doing stuff that would have otherwise made me retch. Things like:
- Taking partially chewed food out of my mouth and feeding it to my daughter. In public, no less
- Instead of peeking into her diaper to see if she had taken a dump, I'd pick her up to nose level and take a sniff at her butt. Yup, just like the dogs do.
- When she gives me a partially eaten ice cream cone with all her slobber, instead of throwing it in the trash I just eat it up without giving it a thought.
- Using my shirt sleeves to wipe boogers and snot off Alli's face.
- When she finds weeks-old cereal in her car seat and offers it to daddy, I pop it into my mouth without a thought. Never mind that she had been sitting on it.
- Handwashing her clothes that had been stained by her blowouts. Even those very juicy, green ones from her first year.
- Kissing her smelly little toes when she gets a little ouwie from stepping on a rock and wants some TLC
Ah, the joys of fatherhood. It's true they say; it changes you in ways you cannot imagine. And tires the hell out of you, and yet I'm enjoying every moment of it. And I can't wait to see what's in store when number 2 comes.
Friday, May 18, 2012
One Year Later
Has it really been a year?
One year ago, Buddy left us all in this world for a better one in the next. And yet, it seems like it wasn't that long ago, when we had those crazy times as housemates in Minnesota. Those many post-call buffett dinners at Golden Corral, to complain about the stupid admissions the ER was sending up. Or for him to hear of my failed attempts to impress a girl
It doesn't feel like that long ago when we got hooked real bad on Halo, then Halo 2 and Halo 3.
Or when I excitedly told him after his trip to Malaysia that I had met someone special who would later be my wife. How he then became the Best Man at my wedding. Or how I got to return the favor the year later.
It's surreal too, how this wonderful young man, a budding oncologist training at one of the top hospitals in the world, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. How, he one day noticed a lump above his left collarbone, and joked about it being a Virchow's node, a joke that only became prophetic.
It was a battle my gallant friend fought for years, but then lost. One year ago.
Anyone else, especially me, would have spent the final years bitter, angry, lost and hopeless. Not he. In those few years, he showed many the true meaning of strength, and faith, and grace. I never heard him once complain or ask why. He went on living life as much as he could. He completed his training. Married the love of his life. And returned home to Malaysia to begin work.
It's been a year. And though, by the grace of God, we have many more to go before we meet, Buddy, we'll never forget you. You'll remain close to our hearts.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
In Another Life
I'll start off by saying we're happy with life. We consider ourselves blessed, and don't intend to change anything for now.
But don't you ever get that feeling of "What if...?"
In the couple of months, I've received some correspondence.
2 were emails inviting me to submit a manuscript to 2 medical journals.
1 was an invitation to speak at an obesity conference in Asia.
Years ago, when I was an ambitious endocrinology fellow with the mindset of an academician, I'd jump on it. To be invited means your work is being acknowledged, and you are regarded as being knowledgeable in a field of medicine. It's a huge ego boost
(though in this case it was probably the result of a Google search to try to fill up open slots for the conference, as they seemed to be reaching really low in the barrel)
I was tempted. I really was. I thought about the days when I actually enjoyed spending 2-3 hours every day for a month, researching papers and writing a manuscript. Deftly working with Endnote (note to would-be authors: don't try to manually type out the references. When you dealing with 30-50, it's a killer). Having your mind flow to try to present your case, and to put it on paper (well, keyboard). The high you get finally realizing your manuscript it ready, and how it feels to hit the Submit button on the journal websites. And the total euphoria getting that email: "Congratulations, your manuscript XYZ has been accepted for publication..."
But that was another life. That was another me, with different priorities. At that time, the need to be as productive academically as possible. With little other obligations.
Now, it's a whole different world. One that revolves around our princess, and my queen. It's a different kind of work, with no allowances for 'Research Time' or academic trips, as that doesn't pay the rent. It's a different life.
Not that it's better or worse or anything. Like I said, I'm happy. But admittedly I do catch myself sometimes wondering, what if I had gone into academics instead?
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Sunday, May 06, 2012
Happy Nurses' Week
As I rounded this morning, I overhead a conversation between a nurse and a patient.
He was hungry, but too weak and unsteady to feed himself.
Though she had numerous things to attend to, this nurse gently assured the patient that she would help feed him breakfast.
A few floors down, I saw a patient who was doing poorly in the surgical ICU. Her family was close to withdrawing care for her. And in that room was a nurse, who held her daughter's hand, and offered to call the chaplain, and other family members for support.
Thank goodness for nurses. They are such a vital part of any healthcare system, and do so much more than what doctors often give them credit for.
Happy Nurses' Week!