Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, guys! To all the dads, grand-dads and great-grand-dads. To those here, and to those who have left us.
Being a father myself now, I realize more than ever how vital a role dads play. After all, as they say, a dad is a boy's first superhero, and a girl's first love. No matter how we complain about our parents as kids, you realize that your parents are indeed your first role models and the mold into which you grow as you find your place in life.
It's scary during those moments when you utter the words you swore you'd never use, the very words that your mom and dad said. It's scary when you look in the mirror early in the morning when you're half asleep, and realize you're looking at your younger dad.
I'm never going to claim that I'm the best dad in the world- I realize there is much I do wrong and there is much I have yet to learn. But I try, and I understand the roles dads and moms play (not that this cannot be interchanged), and that in our household, I'm the fixer, the problem solver, and also the disciplinarian. The girls know when I'm on scene, they're in trouble. I'm also the worker- which partly saddens me as I hate being away at work- and though mom works just as hard, it seems that I'm the one with more meetings, coming home later and leaving earlier, and working weekends. It reminds me of the sacrifices dad made to provide for our family. And for that I shall forever be indebted to my parents for all that I've achieved.
Happy Father's Day, dad! We love you!
(Disclaimer: I know I should have made a Mother's day post too last month- but I got lazy- this is not meant to say dads do everything. The reality is the moms do more than us. But at least one day a year, I get to feel like a superhero!)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Missing the boat

One of my partners was asked to see a hyperthyroidism consult in the hospital the other day. A 30-something year old woman with Graves' disease, who was admitted with a large left hemispheric stroke.
I was horrified and deeply saddened when I heard about her. Because she was so young. Because her life which was so full of potential, has drastically changed probably forever. She could not walk (perhaps with therapy, might recover some degree of ambulation in the future), could not move her right arm, and had marked aphasia (speech). Mother of 2 young kids. And because the stroke could have been prevented.
Turns out, I had seen her in clinic 6 years ago, and made the diagnosis of Graves' disease. The biochemistry, clinical picture and the I123 scan were classic. I started her on antithyroid therapy. At follow up 2 months later, her labs actually looked worse- she had not been compliant with her medications because like many others, she did not want to gain weight as we corrected her thyroid and slowed her metabolism back to a normal level. I never saw her again- she subsequently no-showed visits and was lost to follow up. And while this was a rare, severe complication of untreated hyperthyroidism, unfortunately it happened.
Was the stroke caused by the hyperthyroidism? Probably- she was young with no other risk factors. She was in a-fib when she presented, with FT4 levels 8 times where it should have been. It was clear this was a causative factor.
She promised to be compliant with treatment this time; but a huge part of me was saddened to think of how things could have been if that was the approach 6 years ago, and while it'll be helpful to be on medications now, the truth is we've already missed the boat and the damage has been done.
I only hope that with her youth, physical therapy is able to help her recover some meaningful use of the right side of her body.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

In a Blink of the Eye

In a blink of the eye, and they gone.
Mom and dad left today after a month-long visit. Can't believe the time just flew by- it didn't seem that long ago when the girls and I picked them up at the airport.
And today, we sent them off. They are somewhere over the Eastern seaboard as we speak, enroute to KLIA and home.
It's been a wonderful month- having my parents around, having mom's homecooked recipes, conversing in Chinese, seeing them interact with my girls. And Kris has been most patient, putting up with our idiosyncrasies and obsession with white rice.
But truth be told, a part of me cried a little, coming to terms with our reality- one that any expatriate Malaysian with children will likely encounter. You realize that you may consider yourself Malaysian, and remember your smalltown boy roots fondly, this will not be the same for your children. Because of the distance, they will never be as attached to your family as you are; that in all likelihood they will be much more attached to their families here, and would have trouble understanding some of the cultures, language and traditions you may share with your parents and siblings.
And so, it was heartwarming to watch the girls interact with their Ah Kong and Ah Ma, I was a bit saddened to see that they were more attached and familiar to/with their maternal grandparents. That they had their moments too especially when they were tired when they just didn't want anything to do with my parents. Like how Alli had to be coaxed to even give a goodbye hug at the airport, because she just woke up from their nap.
My parents being as patient as they are understood. And I'm sure this was something they knew would come- sending their son overseas and having him start a family there. This is to be expected, that despite the phone calls and Skype sessions, that the distance will always be there and so the girls will grow up not having them here all the time. Sending them off had a profound effect on me- and I left the airport feeling somewhat lonely, realizing that the girls were not as saddened as I was, and that there would be no one on this continent that would feel the way I do about my parents.
But yet, another part of me was humbled and in awe too of their sacrifices. Being a father now, I realize how it is really possible to love your child that much. How crushing it is to leave your child. And yet, because they saw a better future for me away from Malaysia, they had the strength and love to encourage and let their kids spread their wings and fly and go to where life takes them. And in my case, half the world away.
Have a good flight, mom and dad. We enjoyed your visit and will miss you...