M203 Diary

Saturday, July 30, 2005


“Death is the equalizer among all great men. None can escape its harsh grip…”

- Dunno who. Sounds cool though.

And its true I suppose. Just the other day, whilst catching up with my buddies back from overseas (over a game of futsal), I found out that a friend of mine was gone. As in he was never coming back. A computer science student in MSU. On the dean’s list too. Bright and cheerful guy. He loved J-pop and anime. I remember going to BM tuition with him. Our teacher would slap us periodically to keep us awake and alert. I can still remember him being on the receiving end. Yet at the end of class, he would still be smiling anyway.

That is the face I knew. And would never see again.

I find myself surprised, to know that I even remember so much about him. I never thought I’d be affected by his passing. He never even crossed my mind before I saw his story in the paper. The truth is, I hardly knew him. We were only slightly more than acquaintances at the time, sharing a common goal; to score on our BM paper. We were never close.

But it was the way in which it happened that really grabbed me. On a break in Lake Michigan, an unforgiving current pulled him away from the lakeside. Away from that which belonged to him. Away from the things that he deserved. He was so young, and he had so much to look forward to. To see it all taken away from him in such a tragic fashion is truly heart-rending.

He would be the second guy I’ve known to lose his life in the midst of an outing near a large body of water. This is a disturbing trend, compounded by the fact that, not just I, but a whole bunch of us traveled to such areas recently. While it may have been unlikely, M203 could possibly have been one or more short, going into Sem 5.


I’ve learned to cherish my life, and that of those around me. Especially those who I care about. I’ve probably become a little paranoid too, because they say it’s a sign that you’re growing old when you watch your friends go before you. While it’s probably too early to suggest so, I think its best to be safe rather than sorry. Especially when sorrow equates to anguish. Once, after all, is once too many. But death will always be, and life will never be always.


Dedicated to Lim Jiang Wei
My tuition buddy a long time ago,
He was so much more than what I knew him to be,

To his friends and family,
May we keep him in our memory,
Watch him live on in our reverie,
And let his dreams sail across the stars.



Friday, July 29, 2005

"You were in hell, surrounded by honest people."

- Monk

I'm in Miri, surrounded by GPs with integrity.

First, I find out Dr. Jolly doesn't charge patients if they are not able. Today, I find out that Dr. Chong does precisely the same thing! Even if they got the works, in terms of work-ups, eg. echo, treadmill ECG. (Dr. Chong is a cardiologist.)

What are the chances of meeting 2 doctors in less than a week, who are REALLY not in medicine for the money? AND love their job? And these guys have been at their respective practices for years!

All in all, this GP posting has restored my faith in doctors. It is reassuring to know that there ARE still people who think of medicine as more than just a means of making money, but as a real way of contributing to society.

On a stranger note, Dr. Chong take referrals from Miri GH (Yes, the General Hospital refers its patients to private specialists - go figure), as I recently found out. I have to be careful what I wish for... Just as I was delighting in being attached to 2 cardiac specialists in a row, today I was thrown a patient with a heart murmur. I'd barely walked in the door before I was told to take W's history AND perform physical examination.

Interesting findings: He's got a pan-systolic murmur & early diastolic murmur at his aortic area, radiating towards his neck & apex. He has a dinotched carotid pulse, AND an almost-collapsing pulse. Characteristic of mild aortic regurgitation. Plus, he's half-Melanau, and he went to the same school with my uncle. Again, what're the chances?

Friday, clinic day at the hospital. I have a morning round with my cousin tomorrow...

"I read your letter of introduction from IMU, and as I was driving back, I started wondering what you gain from medical school. Only now, I crystallised my thoughts into 2 things: You get some skill. Not all, because graduating is only the beginning of your lifelong course in medicine. And 2nd, a privilege to treat people. As a doctor, when I make housecalls, I am invited to people's house not during Chinese New Year or Hari Raya, but when the house is in chaos. Not only that, I am allowed to enter the inner sanctum, the bedroom, to treat the sick person. How many people have that privilege? Remember, when you graduate, you are given the opportunity to practise your skills. This is a privilege, not a right. If you stop thinking of it as a right, you don't feel so bitter, because once you recognise that treating patients is a privilege, you appreciate them more."

- Dr. Chong

*He actually said the word 'privilege' a lot more times than I was able to quote.

There is no shame in being idealistic. In fact, I feel we should be ashamed if as medical students, we are already more hardened than these long-practising doctors.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sem 5 Day 1 schedule

Hey everyone, i hope this site is as popular as i heard it is (since Ken Jay is back to his typing self...)

Monday, 1st August 2005
8.30am - Welcoming address by Dr Victor Lim
9.15am - Course overview by NKM
MMS, PS, etc
4.00pm - Lectures as normal (in LT1)
6.15pm - end

rough idea of the course:
- pbls are about 11 ppl strength, tuesdays and fridays morning
- csu after lunch, about 4 sessions
- 1 seremban visit each, first group (csu1) is on wednesday, second on thursday, third forth, in week 3
- oh yeah, additional lecture (i mean outside the normal 4-6 lectures) in the afternoon off and on the week. held in audi. (in other words, more packed schedule, what we always wanted!!!)
- in-course assesment (?) / silos assessment occasionally across the system
- lectures end on tuesday, 30th aug (?) , the course-assessment on friday. nothing in between.

anybody knows more details, comment please.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

"During my time, GP was like a dirty word."

- Dr. Jolly

Likewise, I didn't use to have much of an opinion of family medicine.
My heart was in pediatric cardiology.

Then again, I didn't have much of a choice. I was due to have my GP posting this week, starting Monday. The problem was, I didn’t know what time my GP expected me on Monday. Or whether he even knew I was coming in on Monday at all. Whenever I called his clinic, he was either out playing golf or busy with patients. The house number that I had turned out to be a defunct one, and when I tried calling his new number, the line was always engaged. In the end, I left the introduction letter with his wife to pass to him. Not as difficult as it sounds, since they only live 18 houses away from me.

I agree with my INTEC classmates: It’s incredibly frustrating when a person is incommunicado.

Even when he did finally return my call, ON Monday, he didn’t sound all that keen to be an IMU family medicine teacher… But he was willing to make an exception for me. It could’ve been ‘cos I was his neighbour, or ‘cos his family used to come to our house for block rosary, or simply ‘cos he’s also a Melanau. Whatever it was, he took me on. And I'm glad he did, 'cos he did a great job of teaching me about medicine.

On my first night, he didn’t see all that many patients, probably less than 10 in 2 hours. Nevertheless, the patient database that he keeps in his head was mind-blowing. He may have not been sure which non-bacterial, non-viral, non-fungal organism causes non-specific ureteritis, but he knows how many children one young couple have, or that the mother of a teenage patient has divorce problems, or that another older patient likes to go fishing, etc. The rapport between him & his patients is amazing, yet unsurprising, ‘cos he has the gift of the gab AND he’s willing to take the time to really talk to the patients.

Another supremely cool thing about this doctor is that he speaks to the patients in their own language. He’d speak to a Malay family in Sarawak Malay – NOTHING like Bahasa Melayu, or speak to a SESCO worker in Melanau, or to a middle-aged Iban man and his son in Iban. He even threw in a bit of Hokkien when talking to a Chinese optometrist. Now, you don’t see doctors like that everyday in Semenanjung.

Is being multi-lingual primarily a Sarawak thing? Even his 3 nurses, all of whom are Melanau, talk to each other in a mix of Melanau, Sarawak Malay, English and Mandarin (???).

But the best bit was when this couple walked out after having their BP checked.

“This one, I don’t think I’ll charge. You don’t have to charge all patients, you know. Sometimes, some people I don’t charge, especially a likau (Melanau phrase that means “our own”)… You can seelah, some of them tidak mampu. But if they insist on paying, then you better take. Some of them are very proud, and if you don’t take from them, they won’t come back to your clinic.

This is a bit like community servicelah.”

If I become a GP, I want to be a GP just like him!

Of course, key phrase here being, “IF I become a GP.”

In fact, when Dr. Jolly heard I was interested in cardiology, he took the liberty of calling another doctor, a PEDIATRIC CARDIOLOGIST, to ask if he'd be willing to take me on tomorrow.

Ahh! I'm so excited! I can't wait to study my Lilly's tonight, and hopefully, I'll have better luck than Grace...

“ ‘One doctor told me, “When you have treated 4 generations of a family, then you have succeeded in your practice.’ This, for me, is really the definition of family medicine. I haven’t gone that far yet, since I’m not so old. But once I treat someone’s cicit, I can close my eyes and say, Lord, take me home.”

- Dr. Jolly


Monday, July 25, 2005

"This Sh*t Is Bananas, B---A-N-A-N-A-S!"

"This Sh*t Is Bananas, B---A-N-A-N-A-S!"

I watched the video of this song from Gwen Stefani today. That’s my holiday for you; reduced to watching MTV and spending time with my first love; the Playstation 2. Not to mention a trip to Redang. It proved to be educational, as I learned that:

a) It’s somewhere off Terengganu (wherever that is)
b) It’s a beautiful island, with surrounding clusters of islands
c) I’m never going there again without a charter Concorde

Anyway, in line with my policy for absolute unadulterated enjoyment during this holiday season, I’ve avoided any and all lecture notes, pending that familiar sensation of imminent doom. In the meantime, since I didn’t know what a Hollaback Girl was, I turned to:


Web Images Groups News more>>
| Google Search | I’m Feeling Lucky |

© Google 2005

Yet another insignificant mystery revealed.

Something else I don’t get is the allure of snorkeling. It has to be the one of the mostest boringestest experiences I’ve ever had to encounter after suffering an 8-hour bus ride. I’ve never sat in a bus for 8 hours before. I’ve also never sat in a bus in like 8 years. Now I know why. It was boring and it was noisy, and it justifies my avoidance of all regular public transportation if I can help it.

Anyway, I’ve seen fishies before. Dead more often than not. Preferably fried. Steamed, with sauce, comes second. Mmm… The thing is, I don’t get the intrigue. Wading through the clear blue-green water is relaxing and all that, but the stationary corals and the moving dinner just doesn’t grab me the way other people say it should. And I’ve only ever done it once prior to this occasion. Thinking I’d give it another try, I ended up coming to the same conclusion as I did then. Guess I’ve never had appreciation for lower order life. I’m really more of a food-chain guy.

Speaking of food, I found it particularly good for a hotel buffet at times. And while our days were filled with activity, such as *yawn* snorkeling, beach soccer, gambling, and other stuff, I found myself more caught up with the good food and good company, or simply relaxing, whether it was on the comfortable bed or the breezy beach. I think that’s what a holiday should be about. The rest is all filler, in place to maintain a connection to reality, to ensure you don’t lose yourself in the midst of the cooling winds and calming waves. And the 2-piece swimwear. And the jiggling. And the bouncing. No, I’m not talking about the football.

All I’m saying is that it could have been better. I know it was for some people. I think it means so much more when you bring that special someone to a remote, commercialized island in the middle of somewhere. It all counts. Maybe I should’ve just grabbed a random female and invited her to share a night with me under glowing full moon of Redang Island.

That just sounds so wrong. For so many reasons.

KenJ’s MP3 Player
Failed to swim out of the washing machine after I left him in the laundry basket. My bad.


Sunday, July 17, 2005


The end of yet another semester approaches. And with it the end of selectives. I’m relieved, because I felt disappointed with it as a whole. All I ended up doing was a slideshow for a presentation (which I didn’t present anyway) and a 2000 word report, 1900 of which were rearranged sentences from scientific journals. I came up with the other hundred all by my cute, creative self.

“This study provides evidence that short-term sleep deprivation produces global decreases in brain activity…”

“Reduced brain activity is caused by short-term sleep deprivation, as this stupid study, which I need to review for a selective that is ironically losing me sleep, making me brain dead sooner, shows…”

See how easy it is? No, no, it isn’t plagiarism. It’s called a literature review.

Also thrown into the mix was a visit to an old folks home. And with that trip came a startling realization of years past, and of those yet to come (hanging around old people does this to me). In 2 weeks time, I’d have aged another semester. And of course, it’s only a matter of time before I grow old too. Granted, the old folks looked happy enough. But would I be if I were one of them?

Back when I was still a bratty kid, people used to ask me what I would do when I grew up. No doubt most, if not all of you, had to answer this question at some point of your lives. You would say doctor, or lawyer, or char kuay teow seller. I would stay silent, because I had no idea then. Now I know better.

When I grow up I will…

a) Die
b) Get Alzheimer’s disease, then die
c) End up playing the harmonica, get AD, then die
d) Repopulate a war-torn country with a hot vixen from each and every continent, and then I’ll die. Happy.

Ooh. Toughie. Too bad the question here is which is most likely, and not which I’d most like.

What is common between all four possible outcomes is that they all lead to an inevitable oblivion. The difference is whether the life ends with a smile or a bout of confusion. But I can’t imagine being happy, not being able to do what I can do now. Then there’s AD, with a 1 in 20 risk at 65 years, which later becomes a 1 in 3 risk after 90. But looking past the statistics, I'm sure that most suffer from dementia at some level, even if its not caused by Alzheimer's. So at first you forget. Before you forget whether you forgot or just plain never knew. Until you forget what it means to forget anymore.

Perhaps we were never made to last so long. Diseases like AD are the price we pay for our annoying longevity, and may probably be Nature’s way of saying “Die already!”. After all, we have the capacity for continuity imprinted into our most primitive and primal functions. After we make babies and watch as they take flight, what are we still around for?

I feel so old now. I blame Physiology.


Monday, July 11, 2005

Dr. Love


I’m 16 years old, and I’m female. I’ve had 43 boyfriends in the past, but nothing seems to have worked out for me.

This one day, I met X at a bar, and he was so sweet! Until he started drinking. Then he began to hit me. So I ended up making out with his friend instead. We broke up 10 minutes later.

This other time, I hooked up with Y, a wealthy, well mannered and well endowed corporate tycoon. I knew that he was already married. No problem there. Married to 3 other women, and they all stay together. I’ve got nothing against group. Too bad I later found out (s)he wasn’t much of a man. And it was always my dream to have kids! When I was younger I fantasized about having 19 babies of my own!

I don’t actually see the problem here! I’m a working woman with a 7-figure salary. In my spare time I enjoy doing the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, and the cleaning. And I have a PhD! In Housekeeping! And I have NO CHILDREN! I’m going to be 17 soon and, heaven forbid, I don’t want to look like a hag before I find a partner for life. Because my mother, whom I live with, tells me that women start to wrinkle when they reach 18! She also says moisture care products are laced with aging chemicals! It’s a marketing conspiracy!

Also at night, I dream of wild monkeys. And by wild I don’t mean “from the jungle”. What’s wrong with me? Does my dream carry any meaning? Why can’t I keep a relationship going? I feel like killing myself most of the time too! Help me! Please!

Desperate For Some


Dear Desperate For Some,

You’re obviously a beautiful woman. But you have so much anger, because you blame yourself for not being able to find someone who matches your ambition and sex drive. Too bad. Life sucks. By the way, get out of your mom’s house. Find a pad of your own. After that, maybe you could give me a call. Because I could be your wild monkey, baby!


Gotta love Sunday mail. After sports and comics, this section probably carries the most entertainment value. Some of the stuff you get from the papers sounds so far-fetched that it could just be made up. Just like the stuff 'Desperate For Some' sent in.

However, taking some time to actually think about it, I’ve come to realize (if only for the sake of having something to blog about) it’s not exactly impossible. It can be, and usually is, worse. In fact, some of it sounds so far-fetched that it could just be true. And if it is true, it fits in so well. Turbulent relationships, fair-weather friends, and difficult families; caught up in the depths of desperation, who else could they turn to save a complete stranger?

Anyway, the creative correspondence I crafted has proven that I would make:

a) An awful love advice columnist
b) People kill themselves, if I really was one

Another observation I’ve made is that X is a common name for a nice person who later turns out to be a cheap bas3rd that drinks, cheats on his spouse, commits sex crimes and/or migrates to a foreign continent just to get away from someone.


Monday, July 04, 2005

"Tell Me A Story"

“Why are guys such jerks?”

- [Name Withheld]

I hear this one a lot. And I heard it again recently. The only saving grace is that she wasn’t referring to me. She said so. To me.

Anyway, I’m sure I speak for every guy when I say it’s NOT TRUE. But why should you take my word for it? Just ask any guy and they’ll tell you so.

Oh, and by the way, welcome back, me. Yeah, I missed me too. I missed me sooooo much.

Before you ask, this isn’t one of those stereotypical stories, where the guy can’t tell the difference between a ‘No’ with a shy smile and a ‘Get your hands off me! Help! Security!’. Girls almost always say no, whether they mean it or not. As you can see in the examples, there’s no trick involved in telling the difference. The tricky part is when they actually say yes. Directly. Immediately. Without provocation, warning, or a gun to their temple. That’s when you need to worry. Because then (s)he might be:

1) Desperate
2) A crossdresser
3) A desperate crossdresser

OR she might be for real. Now that’s tricky.

Oops. Straying from the main issue again. Typical me. As I was saying, it’s not about that at all. It’s about this girl. She’s [Name Withheld].

Apparently, that’s all I’m allowed to disclose. Actually I’m not even supposed to tell you she was a girl at all, but I’m assuming you would’ve figured that out on your own anyway. I can also tell you that she thinks I’m ugly and shallow. Thank goodness she doesn’t think I’m a jerk. I mean, can you imagine? Ugly, shallow and a jerk?

Darn. Gotta stop getting distracted. Okay. There’s also this guy thrown into the equation. No, he ain’t me. Cause he’s a jerk. Poor guy. Labeled against his will for his role in abandonment.

Just to set things straight, I did not abandon this blog. It’s just that I’ve had other concerns holding my sanity hostage. Expect more from me in the future. Note that I use future because it’s an indefinite period of time yet to come. But don’t worry. After all, I’m no jerk. Take her word for it.

Fun Fact: This would be the first time in three months I’ve actually kept IE open long enough to blog.