Thursday, August 18, 2016

This Year Gone

It's crazy how in the blink of an eye, it is August already. 

Where the heck did the last 8 months of 2016 go? 

I recall the days of being a high school student : giggling with Manda about nonsense amidst classes, as with the days of being a carefree college student worrying about what to wear everyday so as not to recycle my wardrobe. I vividly recall the days of medical school and of my F1/F2 days where I was so much more driven and of my bright-eyed enthusiasm. 

In this last year since I commenced residency, I have come to terms with a few things: 

1) Why the previous residents I have met have been so jaded halfway through their career 
- I used to muse aloud as to why these guys would get so jaded halfway through or at the end of their third year and just throw in the ropes and call it quits. 
Sad to say, I now see why. Because I have found myself teetering on the edge of feeling so freaking fed up many times over the last year. 

Looking back now, it is difficult to pin-point down as to what drove those feelings, but I dare say that a big part of it possibly was driven by the culture in this part of the world and how I sometimes just get wronged for everything under the sun - even if it wasn't entirely my fault. If I did something brilliantly, no one ever actually acknowledged it, but the moment I made a mistake, I was given a look like I was dust. 

2) Why some people have just given up pursuing their dreams, because honestly, some things are just not worth it
- Honestly, people who have known me for most of my life will know that I have wanted to be a cardiologist for a good part of the last 5 years of my life at least. It's always been about how I need to be a cardio god: and that's all that matters. 
But truthfully, amidst the days of clerking 30 patients in the middle of the night, to 30 hour on calls that stretch into 33 hour on calls because I leave at 3 pm the next day, to days when I stare at myself in the mirror and wonder just when did I become so haggard: I question myself. 

And truth be told, I have been hesitating this year - ironically - about pushing forward with the cardiology dream. It was all I had wanted before becoming a trainee and all of a sudden, I find myself pausing at the crossroads and wondering whether this is the correct decision. Mainly because I realise that I will truly be ruining my own life in more ways than one and possibly be really museum-bound as a Cardiology reg. 

Heck, is life really worth sacrificing this much energy and my youth over a couple of ECGs and a stupid hospital where everyday I find myself getting more and more angsty with a zillion and one unnecessary things. 

3) How I have changed into someone I don't really get anymore
- Looking back at my blog entries of the past , the Gmail chats / text messages and my pictures, I realise what a different person I have become. It is difficult to put a finger down on it, but it is almost as though the 'me' of the past has faded into someone who just doesn't give a crap. 

I no longer care what people think of me. Neither do I care if I get into trouble for not doing the teeniest of things and if people hate me because I have raised their voice at them. I have ceased to care as much about my outfits and my sense of style daily. And to be honest, it is sad to say that I can no longer recall the last time I really felt happy and contented. 

Perhaps it is because I have managed to perfect the act of putting on a front after years of rigorous training. But it doesn't really matter, because I can tolerate a lot of things but it is difficult to define moments that actually bring joy to my life. Or rather, it has been so long since I have met someone I can truly connect with that I'm not sure what it feels like anymore. 

So almost a whole year of 2016 has gone by. I have yet again achieved nothing much in life. And a whole year of residency has flown past me, with little to add to my medical career besides just jumping through another hurdle. 

I guess to look at the glass as half full, there are a further 4 months to make this remaining bit of time left really count. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015


It seems like just yesterday that it was July 2012 and I had just graduated from Med School, having earned the letters MBBS (London) behind my name after much effort slaving through the years. 

At that point, I had been ecstatic to take a whole year off sitting for exams in F1 and just slacking / being a glorified ward clerk (whatever rocks your boat) without having to use my brain much. 

But those slacker days appeared short-lived because before I knew it, June was here and I was signing my life away to sit for MRCP Part 1. So much for not giving a crap about post-graduate exams. In the end, the pressure from my Consultant Cardiologist trumped everything. 

I still recall passing Part 1 and jumping up and down while doing Surgical On Call, much to the amusement of my Cardiology Registrar who was completely unimpressed and said I had been over-dramatic for nothing when I said I had screwed it up after sitting it. And then Part 2 came and went. And before I knew it, I was signing my life away for PACES. 

The journey through PACES was horrendous. There were many days of people staring at me in disgust like I was the most stupid thing on earth for giving such an answer. Of reading my notes over and over again and reciting presentations in my room. Of staying back till 8 pm to practise examining patients in the hospital. Of wanting to pull my hair out because I never though I could imagine myself passing this exam. Ever. 

And the joy I felt when I received this letter was beyond description. 

Fair enough, as with most things, the euphoria faded pretty quickly and within 1 week my excitement at passing these membership exams had almost completely gone. I was one step closer to hopefully achieving that Cardiology dream, but there were still many many obstacles to go. 

But for now, I was grateful. Grateful for having flown all the way to London and passing these membership exams in my alma mater where I had passed my undergraduate exams. Grateful for everyone who helped me along the way. And grateful for the royal college for making my year such a memorable one! 

And I'm more than happy to be MBBS(London), MRCP(UK)

Now to be a Cardio God...

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Fashion Forward

It seems that no matter how many times I run out of hangers in my closet over and over again, I still face the eternal problem of standing in front of it every morning and scratching my head over the outfit of the day. 

Yes, I admit I have been letting myself go lately, partly because when you have ballooned in size, nothing really looks good anymore...partly also because it's just too damn hot to bother wearing anything besides a pair of shorts and any floaty top in Singapore. 

But with this recent craze, I have never been more desperate to get my hands on a pair of these. 


Yes, I realise they have been around for a while. Yes, I am a tad slow. But it's never too late to start. 

Although, if you pause for a second, are we really going fashion forward....or backward. 

But hey, you gotta admit even back then, these two girls were probably the funkiest of their crowd. They could really pull off that baggy bottomed look. 

And contrary to popular belief, orange is definitely one of my favourite colours when it comes to dressing up...or down. My favourite pair of vermilion skinny minis from GAP are still going strong as a staple in my work wardrobe. Now if only I could get my hands on a pair like these... 

And how incredibly chic are these girls here??? I love how pairing it with a pair of pointy-toed stilettos instantly transforms something casual into something that looks work-worthy. 

And call me a daredevil, but I would wear this to work any day. 

Yes, while most of the world is having a love affair with culottes at the moment, I have managed to scrounge a pair from Zara, after much deliberating - I only wish I had a wider range to choose from that would fall just perfectly below the knee or if only I were that much taller. 

Ah, retail therapy. Looking so forward to dappling in much of it again in London. 

And suddenly, everything is alright again :) 

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Counting one's blessings

I have wanted to be a doctor for as long as I could remember. 

My most distinct memory being at age 13, when I proudly wrote an excerpt on wanting to be a neurosurgeon. Of course, that rapidly changed over time to cardiothoracic surgery and then even more rapidly to cardiology. 

It's strange how life seemed much simpler when one is younger. I had never imagined, 20 years ago, that in my late 20's, my life would be as such: unsettled. 

Whether it was a blessing in disguise or a curse, problems concerning matters of the heart have been completely obsolete. Instead, I had moved from one country where I had spent a good part of my life back to the east, with the hope that by doing so, I would feel more settled and closer to home and family. The only thing I have gained by packing up and moving all these miles to this neighbouring country is numerous withering glares, endless fault-finding, being reprimanded from all angles of the hospital by every single person possible and every single way possible of saying "Are you thick or what? How can you not know this?" 

In an environment where I had loved my job in the UK, despite the NHS and its shortcomings, where I had received many a compliment about being a very good F1 and grown so much to become a reliable SHO a year later, I have to grit my teeth everyday to keep it together and hang on, because I am this close to achieving my childhood dream. 

On bad days, I wonder why I ever put myself through this and why my character is stubborn as such. 

If only I was not as narrow-minded and lacked interest in other things so easily. 

If only I had been open-minded enough to embrace a career besides medicine earlier on in life. 

If only I had not been so adamant about being a cardiologist and settled for something more 'life-friendly' like general practice. 

These days, I not only struggle with the department thinking I am stupid, I struggle with questioning my own stupidity, especially with the PACES exam looming. On top of knowing even less than I did as a medical student - if even possible. 

Perhaps I do not have what it takes to be a medical registrar after all, lest a cardiology registrar. 

And then I came across an entry I wrote when I was a 4th year medical student doing Neurology, and my experience at the neuro rehab centre. I recalled distinctly how inspired I had felt back then, how my heart ached for the patients who did not deserve any of the fate they had suffered. 

And then I check myself right there, in the midst of my laments of being fat, of not having an Oxbridge brain, of being so stupid all the time, of lacking confidence, of not having a soulmate at this point in life, of my cardiology dream being such an intangible thing in the distance. 

Of all my shortcomings and my lack of achievement, I am, at least, healthy and alive. And neurologically intact. 

Nobody said it was ever easy on this long road to achieving that dream, and perhaps I just need to take a longer, more winding road than others, but on this subject of counting one's blessings, I am grateful that I am this point in life. 

And that I maybe a little slower and lack the intellect of some others, but I will give my best shot at these bloody membership exams. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014


It seems hard to imagine that 2014 is drawing to an end and again, my whole year has almost passed by without me achieving much in life. I suppose I imagined myself living in a sort of Wonderland before moving back, and then I took a whole month and more to get used to this job that I had loved so much before. 

Each day when I open up my various pages of social media, besides seeing this person getting married, that person getting engaged and this other person winning some kind of top-notch award, I drag myself on to my feet and realise that I have nothing much to share with the world besides trudging to work before it is barely light.

I suppose I can't complain much. I don't live at the other end of Singapore and am lucky enough to be able to get to and from work easily. I am also lucky that now it has been almost 6 months since I started work, I am less at a loss with the different abbreviations and I know how to get to A&E back to the ward without losing my way. I have also done countless 30 hour on calls now to the point that I know how it feels like to survive without sleep for 2 days. 

However, I do find myself questioning myself over and over again if this is what I really even want. 

How distant those days of bonding with my favourite cardiology registrar over coffee in the echo room or my cardiology consultant heaping praises over my winning the audit award to everyone in the hospital seemed. Here, I am less than dust. Not that it really mattered. I had at least gotten over the fact that if I got through the day without being shouted at, I should count my blessings. 

But I hadn't realised until recently how exhausted I was doing back to back 30 hour on calls until a few days ago and it made me wonder. If this was really what I wanted out of my entire life. Running around the hospital at top speed, getting angsty at stupid A&E referrals and snapping at everyone else. 

I wasn't that kind of person and I wasn't willing to be. 

These days, the thing that makes my days is listening to Taylor Swift and 1989 on repeat, gawking at her amazing outfits and how amazingly skinny she I could never ever be this skinny despite my efforts (sporadic, yes, I know...) at gymming. 

And I think back to this time last year and the days of eyelash-batting at Mr Crook and gossiping about nonsense seem so so far away. 

This year I will spend boxing day on call, NYE post 30 hour on call and the rest of the month slaving through the usual routine of work + running around the wards + getting used to this life. 

It seems that when I was so inspired and so determined to achieve this cardiology dream in the UK, the dream has never seemed to distant to me until now. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

This trophy, his again

Wimbledon 2014: Djokovic d. Federer

And then there were two. Two Wimbledon titles, that is.

If anyone wanted to show an alien from outer space what an exquisite game tennis was, all they should do is play a tape of the first set that went down between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at the Wimbledon Finals 2014. At the end of the first set, although it was Federer's way that the tie break ended up going, I paused and shook my head in disbelief. What a game. What top quality tennis. How beautiful. 

I later told my friend that it must have bee quite amusing to witness the conversation that unfolded between me and my other friend (Federer fan). She, who lost hope in the  beginning after he was 2 sets and 2-5 down, with Djokovic serving for championship point. And then, all of a sudden, he wilted, just a teeny little bit, and it was me who was depressed all over again with an image of the old Djokovic flashing before my eyes - the weak mental game and inability to psych himself back. 
It was even more unbelievable when Djokovic had another chance at match point when Federer's serve was called out. He summoned Hawk's Eye. It wasn't. And he survived in the match long enough to take the 4th and force a 5th set. This was classic Federer. Impeccable tennis. The aces, the calm demeanour, the barely breaking a sweat.

The Novak circa 2008 - 2009 would have buckled under that pressure, having championship point slip through his bare hands. He would have just wilted after sitting at the sidelines and the Federer we knew would have finished him off like a junior. Heck, even I didn't believe in him. I had resorted to giving up all hope after having shouted at the TV screen for almost 4 hours.

But this is 2014, and Novak Djokovic sat quietly at the sidelines, gathered himself to defy it all and found his way back to win the trophy.

It was an emotional end to the day for many. Firstly, for Novak himself who, after eating another blade of grass to continue his tradition, dedicated this win to his future wife and child and his late coach who had told him he was going to be World No.1.

For Federer who wiped away a tear, standing gallantly at the side watching Novak receive the trophy.
"Thank you for letting me win today," he had told the legend. And indeed, it takes two to tango. Without Federer, there would never have been such great tennis at play.

And for many of my friends, die-hard Federer fans...without whom this experience would not be half as fun.

Lynn posted this screenshot of our Whatsapp conversation where we gave ourselves bouts of palpitations during the match. 4 whole of years of enthusing over tennis matches and grand slam results and watching tennis is still as enjoyable with this girl. Federer v Djokovic clashes and Wimbledon would have never been the same if our paths hadn't crossed. 

So as of today, Novak is World No.1 again. The best in the world, they say. And perhaps winning this Wimbledon was just what he needed to end this 18 month drought of not winning any Grand slam titles. But such is the world of tennis, which is why I love this game so much. It is unpredictable and full of surprises and yet when executed brilliantly, so beautiful to watch. And I believe Federer's last day has yet to come. I also believe that there is much more this World No.1 will bring to his game in the near future. 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

May the best man win

It has been 2 whole years since my last visit to Centre Court in 2012 where I watched Rafa Nadal crash out in the first round in front of my very eyes, 4 whole years since our first venture into the grounds of Wimbledon where I very unpleasantly turned 5 shades darker and after that, where the exhilarating experience of the Quarterfinals on Centre Court made everything worth it. 

Wimbledon 2012 

Fast forward 2 years later to 2nd July 2014, where I had just emerged from an amazing 3 hour experience of Transformers on the big screen. 

My  Wimbledon app bleeps a notification and I flick it open. 

WHATTT!!?!? Andy Murray, the defending champion of Wimbledon 2012 - knocked out of the Quarterfinals by an 11th seeder whom I had hardly paid attention to before this?

This had got to be the best day ever. 

"OMG Andy Murray is OUT of the tournament!" 

"Haha, told you it was gonna be another 77 years before he wins it again" 


It's difficult to describe why I feel so strongly against the poor chap. Perhaps because he isn't the most charismatic of tennis players and although he has matured greatly in the game since those early days, his attitude still annoys me on the court. But most importantly, last year, when I had been watching him diligently on the TV screen - the only Wimbledon match I had managed to catch properly amidst work - I had watched my Djoker defeated right in front of my very eyes. It was a devastating experience, if any, and didn't do my distaste for the Scotsman any favours. 

But this year....things were getting real. After watching Novak battle his way inconsistently in and out of being in the lead against Grigor Dimitrov last night to reach his 3rd Wimbledon final in 4 years, I had come to a surprising conclusion - that in fact, Roger Federer was probably more deserving of this championship than Novak this tournament. And that it was obvious yesterday from his breaking Milos Raonic in the first game of the very first set that sometimes, all you need is the spirit of a champion, and in that department, Roger was the clear winner. 

So I have to admit that although I am a Novak fan through and through, a small part of me is contented with Roger winning the championships this year. Mainly because it has been so long since he has last won a Grand Slam and because he has been close to flawless this tournament. Milos never stood a chance and I gave up after a few minutes of watching the youngster wilt against the 32 year old.

But as they say, may the best man win. Either way I look forward to another highly entertaining tennis match to watch.

Good luck, guys.