Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bye 2013!

I can't believe the year ends in a mere 2 hours (well, it's already 2014 for you guys in Malaysia).
It's been a terribly busy year. And I know it only gets worse when the kids get older and into activities. But I'd like to share some of the highlights for us:
Trip to Houston, Texas. When we, or rather I, got to see NASA. Something the astrogeek in me has always wanted to see. Along those lines, I got to snap some celestial pictures including a nice shot of Jupiter that I'm quite proud of.

The Olsen family reunion in Ocean City, NJ. It was fun to see the kids basking in the sun, on the same beach my wife and her sisters went to when they were little.
Of course, the most recent, was the Vagus family reunion. True, it was a wedding per se, but it really was a reunion of sorts. Now that we're firmly settled in the US, while my younger brother in Australia and my other two siblings in Malaysia with my parents, we truly have become a globalized family. Alas, this also means the miles separate us, and so it was a true joy to have everyone together again.
As we bid farewell to 2013, here's hoping that 2014 will be filled with more tears of laughter than of sadness.
Happy New Year, dear readers

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Have been oncall for the last week.
Phew, finally got to hand the pager off this evening and get to enjoy Christmas. But I have to say, I took a moment this morning to reflect.
I saw Mrs. A for rounds. A dear old lady, but who has been in the hospital since October for a catastrophic event. She had been on the ventilator for most of the time, though was extubated a few days ago. She must have felt that she was going to live here forever, so I held her hand and reminded her that though the progress was slow, she has made a lot of headway. And as I left, she weakly said, "Merry Christmas, doctor!",
Perhaps I'm a silly sentimentalist, but I left the room teary-eyed. Especially that my 82-year old patient who likely will not live to see next Christmas was wishing me Merry Christmas.
I took a moment to say a prayer of thanks for something we take for granted all too often- our health. That me, my family are in relatively good health. And then I said a prayer for those who were ill and had to spent the holiday in the hospital. And for a moment, was ashamed that I had been whining about having to work, when at least I was able to come home after rounds.
At home now, we are gearing down for the night. The girls are excited about Santa coming. And so we have our air mattress in our living room. And we have flashlights and the binoculars out- we'll be having a sleepover downstairs, hoping to catch a glimpse of St. Nick. And believe it or not, I'm having a blast with my family, being caught up in their excitement and all.


Dear readers, from my family to yours: Merry Christmas, and may this season bring you happiness, health and love.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Well, if Ah-Jib-kor and Obama can do it, why not me?
Yup, that's not dirt on my face. I'm sporting a new look. It's called the I'm-too-lazy-to-shave-and-it's-cold look.
It's day 8 so far. And somehow I'm not looking macho like the men in the magazines.
And my wife, she has a way with words. Always so encouraging: "You look like you have pubes growing on your face!". And I can't kiss my girls anymore without them laughing hysterically.
Then again, my patient's haven't been very nice either: "Dr. V, you need some fertilizer on your face", said the guy with a full beard
I tell them it's cold. It's winter, after all. And this might prevent facial frostbite. Plus, I'm giving my skin a break from razor burns. And it makes me look distinguished, no?
But the way things are, I imagine I'll eventually shave it off in the next week.
Maybe. What do YOU think?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It's surreal.
Christmas is a week away. There is snow on the ground, and the Christmas lights and trees are up. The presents are under the tree.
Now I understand what my mother-in-law meant when she said their first few years of being a parent was a blur.
It's like we lose track of time. Spring, then summer, then fall, the suddenly it's winter. It's like we were preparing for our Malaysia vacation, and then suddenly it's over and we've been back 3 weeks!
Anyway, we're preparing to end the year. In a few short weeks it'll be 2014. Alli's gonna turn 4, and Ava 2. And I'll (gulp) turn 38 in the summer.
From the blogging standpoint I'm sure you've noticed too I've been slacking off. Indeed, it's easy to lose track and be "too busy" to put something here. But I'll try to keep you readers updated (if indeed I still have any).
Anyway, I got quite a few calls in the last weeks since I got back. Somewhat heartwarming. Patients who were concerned about us, and wanted to check in to make sure we got back OK. They were concerned about the typhoon, and though tragically thousands were killed in the Phillipines, we were lucky in Malaysia; though for many of my patients this part of the world, they had no idea where Malaysia was relative to the former. It's nice to know some people cared enough to check in on you.
That being said, it's easy being so far away to forget about those who are suffering. Hopefully, they are able to get their lives back together and start the healing process soon. So let's take a moment to forget about the presents and Santa and the shopping, to remember what this season is really about; love, brotherhood, faith and peace.

Sunday, December 08, 2013


There's something magical about the first snowfall of the season.
(Ok, it's not really the first, but we were in Malaysia then, so this is our first)
Despite all the complaining I do about the cold, the truth is I love the seasons. And I don't mind the winters as much as I do the KL heat.
Snow is beautiful as it is. But when you get a dump of fresh, white snow a few weeks before the coming Christmas holidays, it really gets you into the mood. Our tree is up, and we have our Christmas lights on, while the radio station is playing holiday tunes all day. It's really beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
We took Ava out into the snow today. While she wasn't quite sure what to make of it, it was clear she had a great time. She was cold, but yet kept saying "more" whenever I stopped pulled her on the sled. And she quickly learnt to catch snowflakes on her tongue.
However, there are other interesting things about the winter months that the Christmas songs aren't likely to tell you about. Things like:
  • How you get huge dry boogers in the winter
  • The dry air causes a lot of static build-up; you see sparks when you're moving around in bed and rubbing your clothes on the sheets
  • Your skin is so dry that you're itching incessantly
  • How it's a weird feeling when your boogers freeze in the cold [I think Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame)] mentioned that once
Yea, something I'd love to hear someone sing these in a Christmas song. I'd probably be able to relate more to it that roasting chestnuts on an open fire (what is a chestnut, anyway?)