M203 Diary

Sunday, February 27, 2005


Firecrackers have been losing me sleep. And with the Champion’s League in full flight, I’m falling into vampire mode again, where I’m asleep most of the day and awake in the early hours of the morning. It’s troubling, but I can’t help but notice that for the past 15 days before Wednesday, it wasn’t my fault. I blame thoughtlessness.

As far as I understand it to be, thoughtlessness is a predisposition of unwarranted selfishness, manifesting in those who were inconsiderate to begin with, and subsequently seeding into the minds of those who view it as acceptable to society. I must have been a dictionary in my previous life. Anyway, from my observations, there are 5 defined stages of thoughtlessness, as classified by a system I recently formulated. Introducing the kenJ staging of Thoughtlessness.

kenJ staging of Thoughtlessness
(Carcinoma of the Abstract Mind type I)

Stage 0: Characterized by thoughtfulness
E.g. Me
Stage I: Made thoughtful by the promise of reward
E.g. People other than me and Mother Teresa
Stage II: Moderately thoughtless
E.g. People who don’t help the odd blind guy cross the street
Stage III: Totally insensitive to the needs of others
E.g. People who fire crackers into the night sky
Stage IV: Complete absence of cognitive function
E.g. A vegetable, a brick, fried chicken

As you can see, this particular malignancy cannot be staged based on its size, nodal involvement, or metastasis (whatever that means). Also of note is the fact that any further categorization in either extreme simply does not exist. Anything higher than stage 4 is undefined for obvious reasons. Anything beneath stage zero is fatal. Because fatally thoughtful people would probably stop breathing to avoid depleting the world’s oxygen levels, or some such. That is to say, even if they did live once, they most definitely do so no longer.

At this point, you might have questions, such as “what the heck is wrong with kenJ?” “Has he fallen into St IV Ca AM I?” “Why the absurd elaboration?” “How is he comparable to Mommy T?” and “Uh, who was she again?”

What you see is likely a consequence of insufficient rest on my part required to display a proper form of coherence. But how can I fall asleep when all I can think of are the reasons I’m awake in the first place? However, from past experience, I’ve found myself at the peak of creativity when staring at the ceiling. So I decided to manipulate the situation to my advantage; by thinking up ways to ensure I’d never have to face such needless torture ever again. Among the devious devices devised, the most enduring was the release of propaganda in an attempt to scare the guilty into submission. (In brackets is the stage at which the corresponding device is most effective)

They say that playing with firecrackers:
1) earns the ire of the sky god” (Stage IV)
2) leads to global warming” (Stage 0)
3) causes cancer” (Stage III)

There is no evidence that directly challenges all the above instances. And whilst at the same time there is no evidence to support these hypothetical excuses, people would still believe it. Because They said so. And if They said so, it has to be true. Then via the beauty of miscommunication, with the aid of specific channels that target superstitious rumormongers, fiction materializes into fact.

Soon, everyone will think that fireworks will destroy humanity, sheep, and all else that is good. Government sanctions will deem them unlawful. Religious beliefs will cast them alongside evil. Children will see them popping away in their nightmares. And then, perhaps most importantly, I would finally get some sleep.

Would you believe that, after so long, there’re still morons littering the sky with noise?

P.S. In another news, (which happens to be an absolutely unrelated event, with not even a remotely suggestive hint of association to the current topic of discussion) our vertically endowed friend JH has been recently ordained as M203’s tallest lamppost. Feel his pain.


Friday, February 25, 2005

Forums for IMU Students

The IMU SRC and a few other students have set up the IMU Campus website over at imucampus.com. There's also a forum there for all IMU students. So, go ahead and join. Support the forum.They have some pretty big and cool plans for. So join already! It'll be fun. :D
Access the forum at http://imucampus.com/forum.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

And I Thought Tiramisú Was Japanese...

An elective report. Inevitable. Like the Sun rises in the East. Like the Sun sets in the West. Like the day the Sun will veer off course in the year 3121 and set in the north, setting all the penguins alight. It’s a shame I won’t be there to see it happen, because it would be quite a show. Like fireworks of the 32nd century, and God knows we can never have enough of those. Especially now, where considerate souls blast rockets into space at 3 in the morning. Because their neighbors would definitely be home to hear it at that time. Because they’re worried that their neighbors would have been unfortunate enough to actually MISS hearing a firecracker go off at this time of the year.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. Never in February.

There is the matter of the elective report to cover, so I’d best get on it, considering it’s one week’s worth of effort. Wait a minute, did I just say one? I meant three! Yes I did…

---First Page---
Internal Medicine
An Extensively Researched Report
Semester 3 Elective
Subang Jaya Medical Centre
(My Name and My ID)

---Second Page---
Day1: ER. Boring…
Day2: Pharmacy. Boring…
Day3: Endoscopy & Imaging. Boring…
Day4: Diagnostics. Boring…
Day5: Laboratory. Boring…

If you observe my extensively researched report carefully, you’ll notice a pattern that appears frequently. The word “boring” efficiently sums up my entire last week where I was attached to SJMC. I’m disappointed as it is because I expected better, but therein lies a much bigger problem that could absolutely definitely would lead to severe consequences should I fail to resolve it.

Because at the end of this elective, I’m supposed to write a report. The good news is that it’s already finished. The bad news (which almost always exclusively runs in tandem with good news) is that it’s up there. Yep. What you saw just moments before, is a completed draft copy. And you know you have a problem when you have a report where the opening title splash page is longer than the second page, which happens to be the last.

At the moment, if I choose to do nothing, the day that I have to hand it in to my tutor will prove to be a largely unpleasant one. Because my tutor couldn’t have been an old woman with thick glasses who would just approve my electives because I asked nicely. No. My tutor is twice my size and adopts the demeanor of a pit bull when aroused, (N.B. Aroused as in “sees red” and not “sees pretty naked female pit bull) and I’m sure if he tried, he could wring my neck with three fingers. Without using his thumb. As long as I him give a reason to.

A two-page report on a three-week elective, that was reduced to one as part of a clandestine operation, would be the equivalent of a maroon cape. Letting him know about it would be like waving it in his face. Reason enough I suppose. As such, the first stage of my plan would be to ensure that he never knows about it by maintaining his anonymity. However, given my love for riddles and lack of gamble this holiday season, I’m gonna give you a clue.

France Is A Chicky

I provide only this sentence. You’ve got to figure out how to make it work for you in order to discern his identity. Yeah, I know it’s hard. Don’t complain. And I meant no offense, if you happen to be French. Je suis vraiment désolé si vous êtes.

Getting back to more important issues, the second and final stage is to make stuff up. I’m good at that. After all, kenJTM is practically a household name where it comes to absurdity and fabrication. I figure ten pages would be enough to satisfy my tutor. So from the material I’ve gathered, I’d have to multiply it by five (to fill a page) and later ten (to fill the remaining pages) somehow. Otherwise I’d have to find a way to fit my opening title splash page across nine pages.

Better get started then.

Site of the Day: Babelfish. A useful translater. Bet you thought that I knew how to speak French for a minute there :p


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Ways to know that you are not young anymore (part 2)

After my lunch I went back to the hospital, and met up with my friend again. We chit chatted for about an hour, talking about past things mostly and plans for the future a little. There were many things that came to pass when I was away in Singapore. Everybody went their separate ways, some still hanging out as a gang. Some were in KL and I didn't even know. Others were all over the country; Johore, Pahang, Malacca...

To my surprise, but somehow expected, some of my friends were even married!!! My neighbour who lives a few houses behind me, married last year. She met her husband while studying in the polytechnic. Another friend joined the navy and married a worker in his mother's shop... I expected this because for girls, it was the right age to marry... and for the guy who entered the navy, it's normal for them to get married early. I mean, this early marriage thing often happens in the malay community anyway.
Indication 3: Your friends are married or getting married.

We also talked about our studies and how many more years to go, etc. He is doing his final year this year, and I still have another 3 years. (and in 3 years, my mother will be retired, Indication 1) There were many of our friends that were already working or going to graduate soon. I know of friends, diploma/degree holders, already getting bonuses and raises, earning close to RM3000; and the new graduates will only be earning like RM1800??
Indication 4: Your friends are already working and earning more than you.

For those who can think of many other indications, please feel free to post them... I got a couple more...


Ways to know that you are not young anymore (part 1)

I just came back from the hospital where I am doing my elective. (thankful I didn't want to do the dissection one...) Well, this was my first day there, due to some people on CNY holidays. Anyway, I finally got to start my elective.

Day 1, I was shown around by the Director himself, Dr. Kamaloo. He brought me to see the 4 active wards; Male, Female, Maternity, Paediatrics. He also brought me to see the A&E wards which all were quite quiet. He introduced me to the various head of wards, as Mr. Wong's son, the just retired teacher... and people do acknowledge that remark and greeted me.
Indication 1: Your father is retired or retiring soon.

I only found out later that it is a great honour to be walking beside the Director and shown around. It's also fun to see the faces of the staff when the Director visits and introduces me like some royalty...

Anyway, I was back at Ward 5, the male ward. I started making maps and copying Missions and Visions, before proceeding to pry at patients' records... nope, no patient interaction yet... scared, i suppose.

Then, barely 2 hours into my attachment, a friend and his family enters the ward. His father was diagnosed with liver cancer... I'm embarassed to say, as a friend and doctor-to-be, I didn't know what to say to him.
Indication 2: Your parents or your friends' parents are dying.

I'm just back to have my lunch and then, i'm going back to the hospital again...


Monday, February 14, 2005

Malaysians is Stupid (2)

I'ts been an interesting 4 day holiday:
road kills encountered: 6
road kills caused: 0
accidents came across: 2
accidents dreamt of: 1
longest drive: 2 hours non stop
longest traffic jam: KL to Bukit Beruntung
road maniacs: countless...

I would like to comment on a good deed that I saw someone did and I think it is worthy to be commented on. This happened along the road coming out from the Ayer Keroh Toll Booths heading towards the town. The road was congested, caused by traffic lights, and so the line of cars extended upto 5km away. As usual, there will be impatient people driving, and soon, the 2 lane road became a three lane road. The emergency lane became host to a number of cars from various places. The monotonous chorus of the line from the "Don't cut queue" advert keep going through my head, and I was frustrated that I am the one being bothered by it and not those impatient drivers.

Then came the 'savior'; a bus. At first I thought that this bus also wanted to go onto the emergency lane, but it didn't try to overtake the car infront of him. I was about to make another comment about how impatient drivers are, but I noticed something wrong. The bus had lots of space on his left, but did not move further than he already was. Then it hit me (the thought, not the bus...). The bus was actually trying to block the other cars behind from using the emergency lane! The hero of the day!

But alas due to the little space on his left, daring drivers still went and overtook him from the left. oh well... Some people just never learn...

Malaysians don't learn, they seek revenge...

note: depending on who you know, the last quote may not apply wholly. It may be overgeneralizing, but it is just an opinion to what I see happening around me


Sunday, February 13, 2005


Only a couple of days separate me from the commencement of posting. This time around I’ll be headed for (surprise, surprise!) SJMC (Subang Jaya Medical Centre) for a dose of Internal Medicine. Though I feel this trip to be nothing more than a revisiting of what I’ve previously seen before, I guess I should be happy to at least have an elective to begin with. From what I hear, many M203 peeps that opted for dissections no longer have an elective, and at the moment they are in a frantic search for a replacement.

Come March, I’m sure most of these (un)fortunate souls will have submitted immensely creative i.e. completely falsified documents to hand in as their report. Just so that you know, topics such as “Advanced Shopping”, “Acquiring Ambidexterity” or “Self Defense: A Brick” will probably not be accepted as legitimate electives. And I’m not sure El Psycho will be particularly lenient, even if did you get screwed by UM.

Speaking of screwed, Monday is a day of significance. Not for me though. Never has been for the past 2 decades, and not much has changed of late. In case you didn't know, it’s St. Valentine’s Day! Named after the greatest purveyor of chocolates and confectionaries, St. Valentine also invested in a franchise of floristry, and was renowned, and possibly canonized, for earning an absurd amount of royalty for his role in one of the biggest marketing conspiracies ever to earn fame by being exposed for the blatant lie that it is.

Only joking of course. I don’t hate the 14th of February for any reason (not even because I feel left out, before you ask :p). It’s just that I never really understood why we needed to have a reason to buy a loved one presents, to remind them of our feelings. Did we really need a day to tell us to love someone even more? Because if we could love someone any more, we don’t love that someone enough. Besides, any vendor would happily sell to you at double the price on any other day anyway.

Out of curiosity, I’ve always wondered if condoms are sold at twice its market value around this time. I’ve no doubt that it’s sales practically fold close to this period though. There’s a first time for everything I suppose, and with so much passion in the air, I can imagine the setting couldn’t be more perfect. But the journey to discovery revolves around Trial. And just because misery loves company, Error happens to be Trial’s best friend. To make things worse, it might seem that Error interjects at every turn, inevitably spoiling an otherwise elegant evening of romance.

There really isn’t any way out of this. No second without a first. And I’m sure it goes without saying that everyone wants a second. Along the way there will be obstacles to hinder progress, so the most one can do is to avoid the fatal pitfalls. Being a person with zero experience, there’s not much I can add as veritable advice. But deducing from sheer wit, of which I have in abundance, I’ve highlighted in my mind patterns (censored where necessary) that are incompatible with the desired environment. Obvious, yet in the state of confusion one is undoubtedly thrust into, easily forgettable. For example, if you had to choose to mention one of the following:

A) ”What the… You mean you’re not really blonde?”
B) ”You looked a lot better with your clothes on…”
C) ”I love you!”

The answer is clear. (If its not, bang your head against the monitor, because there’s probably something wrong with either one of them) But in the heat of the moment, when you supposedly lose yourself with no time to consider, you might not get it right. Maybe not even in 3 attempts. I’m sure it’s not always true, yet if there's still the chance, it would be an unpleasant way to end the day. In an abrupt fashion. On such a sour note. At of all times.

Personally, I've always assumed it to be the night you wish would last forever, one you keep close to your heart, an everlasting memory, shared only with another soul whose life you value almost above your own. Tearing that dream asunder with a simple sentence that subscribes to candor… An unbearable thought.

On the other hand, perhaps it wouldn’t feel real if it was too perfect. If I tasted the world one day and knew I never would once more, I’d probably just kill myself the next.

Pic of the day: (© Square-Enix I guess…)

From Final Fantasy VII and FF7:AC


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I missed my deadline! But who cares...

It’s been a week filled to the brim with endeavor. Last week, I (along with a whole bunch of M203ans) visited Malacca, birthplace of Mr. Para, and the idiot who decided to build the A. Famosa 45 minutes away from town. Most of the other details are a blur to me having it been quite some time ago. To sum up the adventure, there were girls. Oh and there was a water park. You draw the conclusions.

Naturally, as any trip with friends would be, it was fun. Thanks you guys. But after reflecting upon days past, I am certain I could have enjoyed it much more if were able to understand half of what everyone was talking about! So extra thanks has to go out to my part time translator for making the forgettable hour long drives to and from the city much more tolerable.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was really my fault for not initiating conversation in the first place. When I think about it, that’s really always been a problem with me. Guess I’ve never really grasped the concept of talking for no reason at all.

There was a point in my life where I wondered if anyone else felt the same way. Then again, if they did, I would never know. Because then I would never know them, and they would never talk to me in the first place. A bizarre irony. I guess I’m not curious enough. Judging by the number of people I now converse with on a regular basis (which I am proud to announce has exceeded the record 6 people I once achieved back in high school), I assume it to be untrue.

I gave it much thought back then, and came to a conclusion that it was because I don’t flatter too well. If I did ever, it was probably an accident, or I really meant it. I view it as an important skill though, as it can potentially endear you to just about any stranger. Like, to me, most women. Especially women. Tell him/her what (s)he wants to hear and knows you don’t mean. It hardly matters to some people, apparently. I think I’ve picked up a bit somewhere along the line, but more often than not I have to feel it in order to say it. Of all the things I joke about (and you should know it to be a lot by now), beauty is not one of them.

Let’s not kid ourselves; all of us want to be perfect. When it comes to a self-assessment of aesthetic value, there is no greater critic than… absolutely everybody else. Should you successfully impress them, you do the same to yourself by default. People who think it’s not about what everyone else says are either in denial or have unwarranted expectations of themselves.

The bad thing about perception is that it defines a standard for everyone to follow. Whether they choose to accept or repeal its influence is questionable, but then again how often have you wanted to be the center of attention for all the wrong reasons? Standing out is one thing, but standing out and looking like a freak in the eyes of many is going too far to prove a point that has already been proven otherwise.

Fortunately enough, all of us are built with differing variables of criteria. No single person is pretty to everyone else, or we’d all end up going after the same guy/gal. Such a situation would be incompatible with continuity. Even though there are often times when our observations overlap, there is no denying of the clear line between drop-dead gorgeous and below:

There's this girl (not to be discriminatory, but I don’t think it quite achieves the same effect if its a hideous guy. Besides, what’s ugly to me may not exactly apply to everyone. But I’m covering all grounds, just to be safe) and her name is, um… Caryn! Consider that she is as tall as she is wide, wears an eye-patch, has a tattoo that looks like a scar, has a scar that looks like a tattoo, and is missing her four front incisors due to a tragic developmental defect. She, in herself, defines the term obtuse, and sheer mass takes the place of any curves she once, but then again couldn’t possibly have, had. Now that you’ve lost your appetite, imagine her asking you if she’s pretty. At this point, you can:

1) Tell her the truth/how you feel. Expect to lose a few teeth.
2) Lie through the teeth you would have lost had you opted to suggest otherwise.
3) Run. Fast. She can’t catch you without defying the Laws of Physics.

I suppose I’m not really good at lying, so I’ve been all over number 3 my entire life. I'm doomed. And Caryn's gonna kill me twice just to make sure…

(p.s. Happy Chinese New Year everyone!)


Thursday, February 03, 2005

From medical student to junior doctor: an A to Z guide

During this "quite" long holiday my practically only exposures to medical media are watching "Scrubs" episodes and reading some articles from BMJ. This one was particularly interesting. Some may not be relevant to us at this early stage, but it is always good to keep in mind what the future holds for us - what we need to know, what's important and what's not, how we need to act, what we need to look out for, etc. And while you're there, check out some of the other articles - a good way to spend "bored" time while getting ready for the next semester, which is, thankfully, still a good deal of time away from now. Phew!


Yes, I have no life,
aka. I wish the holidays weren't so long

Did you know that consumption of cockles can lead to Hepatitis A?

Did you know that although most hepatitis - What’s the plural of hepatitis, anyway? - are drug or viral-induced, another common form of hepatitis in Malaysia is autoimmune chronic active hepatitis?

Did you know you can experience hepatitis without noticing anything out of the ordinary?

Did you know that by the time most colon cancer patients consult a doctor, they present with stage B2, C1 or C2?

Did you know that laxatives can turn your colon black?

Did you know that a stent can be part of palliative care? A stent looks like a wire pipe, and is inserted into the colon. Apparently, it relieves obstruction, pain and bleeding.

I learned all this when I attended a forum on “Jaundice, Stomach & Colon Cancer” at Sunway Medical Centre, on the 29th of January, 2005.

Yes, it was during our holidays. Yes, I really did attend. Yes, I have no life.

The forum was advertised as a public forum, so ‘lil ol’ 2nd-year medical student me thought that most of the stuff that was going to be covered would probably be too simple for me – after all, I did score an A for my GI exam. But then, since I didn’t have anything better to do on a Saturday afternoon, I decided to drop by.

Yes, it was on a Saturday. Yes, I have no life.

The presenter was a consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist from Sunway itself. After a short introduction, he began his powerpoint presentation.

OK, so everybody uses powerpoint these days.

I started to experience a sense of déjà vu when I noticed the slides looked EXACTLY like our lecture slides. The sense of déjà vu grew stronger when I heard familiar phrases like HBV-DNA, HbsAg, hemolytic anaemia, histologic appearance, sessile vs. pedunculated, etc.

It was like revision. It was like lecture.

I really did have no life.

I looked around me and there were a lot of health-conscious middle-aged men & women. Some of them looked clueless – I couldn’t blame them, since the good doctor was using a lot of jargon. And some of them were trying their best to look not as clueless – which was a pretty hard sell. Come on, I’m a medical student and even I started to get lost when the doctor launched into a detailed evaluation of the effectiveness of certain medication like Ribavirin + IFN, complete with graphs. They could have been graded-dose response curves, but I was too busy trying to suppress traumatic memories of Foundation 2 to really tell.

Or maybe I’m underestimating the crowd. After all, during the Q&A session, one man was heard to ask, “What’s a diverticulum?”
But for the most part, they asked questions like, “Can broccoli prevent cancer?” “Can health supplements prevent cancer?” “Can colon-flushing prevent cancer?”

Answers he gave: Not proven. Not proven. No medical basis.

As I heard the questions, I was struck by the difference in patients here in an urban setting, as opposed to patients in government hospitals & clinics. The patients here are more educated, more knowledgeable… which makes them more likely to question a doctor’s diagnosis and method of treatment. Would I prefer to work with a bunch of know-it-alls? Or would the check-and-balance prompt me to harder as a doctor?

I used to complain to my brother, who is doing pre-law, that there is no such thing as justice, since the rich can buy the verdict they want. Well, likewise in medicine. The rich can afford to surround themselves with attentive doctors, the poor have to put up with whatever treatment that the doctor to whom they were assigned chooses to hand out. More often than not, service WITHOUT a smile.

I broke out of my reverie to ask a question.

“How often do you do a rectal examination? A digital one, I mean?”

The doctor took a good look at me and said, “You sound like a medic. Are you a doctor?”

“Er, no. Just a student.”

Who is supposed to be on holiday. Yes, I have no life.

“I’m sitting here in my boring room. Just another rainy Sunday afternoon.” - Lemon Tree

In this case, it was Saturday afternoon.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Where will we be sleeping, you say?

Elena and I were talking about the coming Chennai trip and somehow, she has some ideas about the sleeping conditions.

Elena: shucks... two weeks... must pack damn alot la.
YP: at most.. pack 1 week worth of stuff.. then send to laundry lor
Elena: they actually have laundry there? WOW!!!!
Elena: wat bout pillows and blankets? and teddy bears?
YP: no laundry then err... we're quite screwed lor and no.. no teddys.. not bringing teddy
YP: we'll be staying in YWCA, btw..
Elena: yup... somehow i'm imagining sleeping on mats on the floor... dunno y.
YP: lol
Elena: seriously, r we? cos if yes, i need to bring pillows.
YP: y?
Elena: cos sleeping on floor very hard ma.
Elena: isnt tat sleeping on the floor?
YP: why will that be sleeping on the floor? it's a hostel..hostels normally come with beds, I think
Elena: its just a big hall right?
YP: no dear...it isn't a big hall
Elena: oh... i tot it was this HUGE hall where all those ppl with no homes gather around. oops. my mistake.

I pasted this here with Elena's permission. In fact, the girl's pretty happy that I'm blogging about this

YP: I'm so going to blog about this. Heehee.
Elena: haha.. good idea
Elena: actually, i don really mind. hahaha....
YP: okiez
Elena: i'm so dunno how to shy, man.
Elena: wen u gonna blog bout it?
Elena: cos wanna read...
Elena: about MYSELF!!!

Now Elena, here's the blog you wanted to read. :) Everyone, please pray for Grace and myself... 2 weeks with Elena in Chennai, mat or no mat.