Wednesday, March 23, 2016

15 years

The wife and I were talking last night, when our university days came up.
And I started off wanting to say that it wasn't that long ago that I was in university.
Until I actually stopped to count, and realized to my horror:
I have been a doctor for 15 years.

15 years ago, I had those letters M and D added to my professional/academic name. Be it a blessing or a curse, it's been with me since.

Holy cow- did the 15 years just whizzed by. After all, between that day (graduation) and now, I've done clinical teaching at IMU in Bukit Jalil, completed my residency in internal medicine at WFMC, followed by 3 years of fellowship in endocrinology, gotten married (twice- but to the same girl thankfully!)(in the USA and Malaysia, lah!), had 2 kids, and have been in practice for 8 years.

It's true what they say about time flying. But it's also interesting to note how I've changed professionally. Sadly enough. After all, ask any keen medical student, and they'll tell you they're going to change the world and help everyone. But somehow along the way, you get jaded, numbed and burnt out from the harsh realities of medicine in the USA: the complexities of health insurance and the skyrocketing cost of care and medications, the greed you sometimes see from industry, the bureaucracy, the lawyers and administrators. And yes, sometimes the patients too- when they argue and fight or are simply indifferent.

But, life goes on. We do what we can. Perhaps less of a spring in our steps, but we have after all taken that oath, and it's one I intend to keep. And the few guiding principles I try to live by:
  • The needs of the patient come first
  • Primum non nocere
I wonder where I'll be in the next 15 years?

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Disney Cruise, Part 2

Ok, this is a bit of an outdated post, but I've been busy (and lazy).
We got back from our 2nd Disney cruise a couple of weeks ago. Again, we sailed on the magnificent Disney Dream ship. It was no surprise that Cruise Critics awarded the Dream the 2016 Cruisers' Choice award. 
We went on this cruise with family last year. And this year, it was a long-overdue reunion with friends from my medical residency days, including one from Malaysia.
The last time we all met up, there was only 1 child amongst us.
Now, well, the picture speaks for itself.
The last time this group got together, it was 2004!

This time, we took the 5 day/4 night cruise to the Bahamas (we did 3 nights the last time). And like the last time, we had a blast. There is always much to do on the ship- plenty of activities for the children: a huge playroom with free child watch, with enough stuff that I had fun there too (I mean,come on, they had a mock up of the Millenium Falcon!!) and the kids spent hours there. Meals were provided in the playroom if the kids wanted to stay, and adults get a "wave" phone that allowed them to text you if your child wanted to be picked up. But the one thing I was surprised by the first time, was the amount of activities to keep the adults occupied. Sports bars, jazz bars, karaoke, games,gym, adults-only pool. And this time, at last knowing the layout of the better, we were able to explore much more compared to the last time.
The first day was spent sailing from Port Canaveral to Nassau, Bahamas.It was a quick overnight sail, with the ship getting into port in the morning. The kids wanted to stay in the playroom so the wife and I were able to explore the island on our own a bit. We got to sample some pretty good rum cake. And the straw market is an easy 5 minute walk from the port- plenty of nice little souvenirs you can get; and they're always open to haggling (I wish I brought my mom!).
We left port that evening, and sailed towards perhaps what is the most amazing part- Disney's private Bahamian island, Castaway Cay. We arrived at about 8AM the following day. It's a smallish island, only about 4 km2- but large enough to give the cruisers plenty of space to have fun and explore. Pick your activities- the two family beaches including one with water slides, the adults only beach, cabanas for rent, water sports, kids' play areas, snorkelling, biking, character meeting. Of all the activities, my wife had to sign us up for the Castaway Cay 5 km run! I suppose it was a good way to burn calories from the amazing food.

Truth be told, the February waters were a bit too cold for me (though the air temp was comfortable). That didn't stop the hordes of swimmers though. After saying farewell to the island, we sailed off- day 4 was spent a sea- and this was the difference between the 3 and 4 night cruise. This was actually a nice welcome- it turned out to be a relaxing day as you didn't have to rush and get everyone ready to disembark for activities. So we just replenished our Vitamin D, laying on the deck on the bow of the ship, and hung out with the other adults in the group.

We got back to port about 6AM the following day. After an early breakfast, we disembarked early at about 8AM to do some exploring in Orlando. All in all, it was another great cruise, and it was especially nice to see some old friends.
Would I sail Disney again? Hell, yes. Maybe not next year as the budget probably won't allow, but in a couple of years, perhaps.
If you're planning to do Disney, some words of advice:
  • If you want to explore the pool, choose an early boarding time
  • You'll need to pack a daybag, as your luggage will be brought to your room only many hours after you board. Obviously, you'll need swim gear if you intend to use the pool while waiting around- but it's a good idea to actually be wearing your swim suits under your clothes when you board. The last cruise, there was a long line for the ladies' restroom so the girls had to wait to get their suits on
  • You'll have a choice of first or 2nd dining for meals- with younger kids, I'd say the first dining is best- you get to have your dinner and catch the shows after that. And the shows were excellent- don't miss them
  • Consider using travel agency for booking. We used Dreams Unlimited- fares were the same as the Disney website, but very helpful agent, and they give freebies, as well as onboard credit ($100 this time, and $250 the last cruise- so it's really a rebate).
  • Plenty of websites with room suggestions- check it out. Very helpful times. We got a deluxe verandah room with balcony- on the port side of deck 8. I thought this was a great location. Port side is where they dock on Castaway Cay; but if you want a view of the beach from your room, then pick starboard.
  • I think this changes depending on wind conditions- but the two times we sailed with them the fireworks on Pirate Night was towards starboard, so not visible from our room.
  • Alcohol is pricey. Yet, they allow you to hand carry alcohol onboard if you wish- check out the website for limits.
  • If you have young kids, bring their pirate/princess costumes- great photo ops for Christmas cards.
  • Likewise, if you intend to give the girls a treat and send them to the Bibbidy-Bobbity Boutique, dress them up in their princess dress and then take them there- you'll save a huge bundle having them do the hair package only, but yet they'll already be in their dress. They'll feel like real princesses for a few days!