Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Wake Up Call On Health Is Wealth

It has been an eventful week of health matters for A, B & me!

A was rushing about hunting me down but just could not grab me by the neck! What to do….since I have loads of work meetings and besides I was feeling poorly too!

By the time A got hold of me, he had jumped into his car to the general practitioner. He had a sudden bout of tearing that could not stop! A’s personal assistant made no sense as she told me A needed an ENT! I told her “no” just tell your boss to go and see Dr Billy Tan.

I know Dr Billy Tan to be a really good doctor, not a fuddy duddy one but a fantastic opthalmic surgeon!

Dr Billy Tan is somewhat cool and keeps a mean collection of antique cars!

A saw Dr Tan and it was an interesting description on how Dr Tan appeared to him – like a construction worker! I laughed. Still A was very happy and pleased with how deftly Dr Billy Tan arrested the “leaking eye”. A said he was suffering so much as apparently an eye lid hair lodged self into the duct and needed an immediate extraction. I was happy nothing untoward happened to A.

As for B, the story is not as nice but instead sad. B Whats App a text to ask if I would be in the office first thing in the morning. I said I would be and B showed up in the boondocks of my office at 6.30am. I had meetings starting at 8am.

B told me of a minor surgical procedure which led to the discovery of a rare form of cancer in the appendix. Biopsy showed it was sadly cancer, stage 3.

I can see the visibly shattered B and asking me who can be her doctor. I had asked for B to remove a cyst but along the way, cancer was discovered. I was stunned. B is a young person, not beyond 35 years old. I was glad B took my surgeon friend as he was an expert and spotted the tumor whilst he was moving to the operation site.

I dashed about getting B second opinions from two sets of doctors; medical oncologist and a general surgeon who does a fair bit of surgical procedures to remove cancerous tumors.

I feel for B and hope all goes well in the decision making process for onco surgeon and onco doctor.

As for myself, my nose bleeds have gotten worst and it is quite a scary sight for my colleagues to see me bleeding from the nose when it is not even Halloween yet!

I will continue to lend support and help B as much as I can. I can only help B make sense of chemotherapy post surgery and guide B on questions to ask.

I wonder why I am always in the position for many to hunt me down for doctor recommendations?

Whilst writing this blog, C called asking for a good cardiologist!

I suppose I found my purpose in life….

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Tranquil Fishing Spot – Roger’s Private Jetty

Jetty At KI

Imagine waking up and dashing off to your private jetty for a dangle on your fishing hand line to see what you land! I had this privilege at Roger’s holiday home in Kangaroo Island.

The property had a 9 hole golf course, its own private koalas (there was a pair in the Gum trees – common genre for Eucalyptus Trees), kangaroos (we call “roos”) and my favourite – its own private jetty with loads of breams or herrings, depending on the seasons you fish in.

I was told when the tide is up, it can rise above jetty levels. This did not happen when we were there as it was mostly at good water level when the tide was in. Inset photo is when the tide is out.

Sometimes it is not about the fishing but the tranquil environment that leaves me to think whilst I am actively supposedly fishing!

Roger’s parents, Marlene and Ken, played the perfect hosts as Marlene baked fresh breads every morning whilst Ken kept us occupied with different activities the property could offer.

It was a nice quiet holiday – as long as I had a jetty to go in the mornings and evenings, I was happy ūüôā

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Adelaide Beach & Why It Suits My Mood Today!

Adelaide Market2

I love the¬† “call of the sea” as it is oft said in novels of mariners! I ain’t an “old salt” and neither am I a sea farer. But I am intrigued with the wonders of the sea, its marine life, bird life and what can be found on the beach.

I can walk on the beach, enjoying the warm sand and crashing of waves in the back ground. The smell of the sea is also a treat as its saltiness in the sea sprays reminds me of the mighty ocean.

Sea gulls would caw above and in this scene depicted, these naughty fellas were waiting like scavengers to steal fish and chips from the nearby Flying Fish Caf√©. They did a great job of stealing off a an elderly couple’s piece of fish! Happily, they took it and shared with the flock!

Pests or scavengers to locals there, but to me, the occasional tourist I did not mind as it added to the sea scape.

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Sharing A Life

Friendships and relationships are a rarity these days.

Why? Do people whom you think you know for decades understand you to the point of what makes you tick, laugh, sad or down to your favorite foods, fruits or beverages?

It would be truly great if you have a soulmate or friend who does that! To be able to know your innermost thoughts, happiness, sadness and your fears.

To be supportive of your endeavours, of course not to the point of setting yourself before a fall!

I often feel people clam up and create a world they want you to see them in. Not exactly honest, but perhaps the keeping up with “Joneses” syndrome is lurking.

This is not helpful as it does not help in relationship building. If the person does not accept you based on your financial background or educational stature then, you are not with a friend.

The handful of people I knew and whom many I have chucked, were more interested in what is in it for them by knowing me. Generosity was big if if I gave big leads or big business deals.

Sometimes people would come to me for personal solutions or a shoulder to cry on. But once their issues have resolved, I hardly saw them till the next problem erupted for them.

Why is sharing a life difficult? It is difficult and a challenge when you thought you knew a person over time. But the sad truth is, the person whom you thought you knew led a second life.

Some can be who you want them to be so as to win your trust and gain a foot hold in your life. But do these last?

If one takes away the financial stature and go back to school days, were there disparities too?

You betcha! I studied in an elite school with elite background classmates that were ferried to school in limos with drivers. I did well in school there but did not go beyond primary 3 there as my parents transfered me to another mission school nearer our home which had normal students, not who’s who is the parent.

It was a good move as I found the environment better and I could relate better.

Sharing a life requires dedicated honesty and trust. It is not founded on arty farty glitzy lives of being dressed in finest but without a heart for anyone else.

It is also not about seeking to put your name in neon lights if you do societal good or chase a PBM for grassroots work.

The want to give must be right before the rites of passage to share begins.

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Dr James Tan Siah Heng – Part 1

Dr James is not an ordinary doctor. He is a neurosurgeon, a devout catholic, a good family man and most importantly ( to him) a Manchester United fan!

I met Dr Tan through Dr Tan Jee Lim, a sports medicine surgeon. They are common friends of Dr Lui Hock Foong.

I remember how I ended up with 3 doctor Tans at one go and had a good laugh whenever I called out to Dr Tan and all 3 would look up ūüôā

Dr James is compassionate and has great EQ skills. EQ skills are sometimes lacking in good surgeons as they can be fantastic at operating on the table but not as personable in person.

I dread the gruff grunts of surgeons and prefer personable approaches as there are no God like personaes.

Dr James is careful and takes great lengths of time to explain medical conditions. He peppers it with a lot of heart, explaining operating strategies or options. He listens and discusses treating the patient as a person, not as an illiterati of medicine.

I remember Dr James always telling me he prays for me without fail in church on Sundays. He is most kind to remember this medically challenging patient.

He makes me laugh by saying if he performs another major surgical feat on me, he will lose another 3 years of his life. Humor at its best but it drives home a point.

He also drives on a point by taking ownership of a situation and be the deliverer of bad news masked by humor.

I admit I am hopeless at days and dates. So when he told me of an appointed date and time which I forgot, he humourously said he thought he was suffering from early dementia.

I find Dr James positive in his doctoring approach, putting patient’s needs first before all else.

He is unafraid of being honest. I also heard his views on the possibility of me ending up with screws and plates in my entire spinal column.

He likens self to be an engineer and how he enjoyed playing with lego bricks as a child.

I am grateful for his friendship and being there for me as my surgeon.

His constant prayers and medical skills distinct him as a kind surgeon who listens as he fixes.

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Communicate & Not Hide

Most situations or issues are created on miscommunications.

Biggest challenge is when all communications break down as each walks away with their own perception of what is communicated regardless of if the right theme of message is distributed or received.

Some believe that given time, the matter may resolve itself immaculately! This assumption is false.

Communications come in a myriad of ways. Actions, body language, speech, written mediums all form a part of communications. The difference is, in its deliverance.

My take on communications is to be brutally frank to the point of being candid if the situation allows.

For close friends, a swot on the head like how Laurel and Hardy the comedians do it, can also sometimes work as it releases tension and add comic relief.

But it takes two to want to communicate. If one party decides to negate all communications and “hide” then leave that person be. Maybe this person needs “space” to recover a bruised ego or to borrow the words of Beng, “flee to fight another day”.

Whilst this analogy may work, sometimes time may not be on your side. Leaving things silent has its inflection point as the cold and negative attitude gets further entrenched.

It is good to do a stock check of where we are in terms of deeds done. I am purporting at a societal level of “Living Graciously & Leaving Triumphantly” for seniors.

Often, there are too many things left unsaid before we pack our bags to exit life’s glory.

Lien Foundation has led the pack on this and I am grateful. Whilst many visited me in hospital during my last major hospitalisation, many did not dare touch on death, except Alvin.

I appreciated Alvin candour and we laughed joked about living and death. Rebecca who visited with him also shared the same mindset.

Yes, communication is important as it dictates how we lived, what we want on dying and what is to be done for those to be left behind.

Beng is different. By now you will know that Beng played an important role in my life. Beng avoids reality and quietly hopes for divine intervention. But truly, this does not work. All the positives such as “time heals all wounds” seldom works and is seen as a tacit give up syndrome.

Alvin will do well in what he does. He wears his heart in the right sleeve and seek ways to champion his NGO’s cause to meet the needs on the ground.

Sometimes hearing what we do not wish to hear is unplatable. But the truth of the matter is, the bitter pill must be swallowed before resolutions set in.

I salute the mysteries of life and as each bite makes me tear, gives me indigestion or an occasional euphoria, I maintain the need to have open communications to resolve conflicts or issues AND choose friends carefully. Not all are friends. Some are false friends. Others befriend you for self gain whilst giving you an impression of genuine trust and friendship.

This makes life unique and interesting and remember whilst positivity is an illusion, quiet hopefulness may suffice.¬† Remain diligent and self reliant always. Save for a rainy day as there are no handouts in life….Economics 101 “no free lunch”!

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All About Stray Dogs

Stray dogs tend to have a distinct element of surviving. Today I saw another stray dog near my work place. I have started naming them and this one, I called Frankie. Not a large dog, Frankie has a clipped tail and short coat. Again, Frankie crossed at the crossing, waiting for the lights to turn to his favour to cross.

I remembered my parents bringing home a stray puppy they got from the owners of a fishing pond in Yishun¬†(in those days, called “Nee Soon”) . The owners of the 3 magnificent fishing ponds in rustic kampong style had strays coming in and they fed them. Whenever the strays had litters of pups, the owners (I cannot remember their names but I remember their son, Bertie, who used to run about with us like wild kids as we went about fishing) whom I shall name Bertie’s mum, came up and offered my dad a pick of the litter.

My dad brought home (he felt was the smartest of the litter) a light brown puppy with the cutest eyes. We promptly named him Husky.

Husky grew up strong and extremely ferocious to strangers. He was a loyal pet and always looked after our property with immense pride and protection.

Husky was not one to play with. He did not like his playthings moved or food touched when he is being fed. We as kids, learnt to respect his boundaries.

Soon after, Husky had a companion. My sister’s tutor had a beagle who delivered a litter of mixed pariah and beagle bred pups. We selected a puppy (he was left over and no one wanted to adopt him and he was to be sent to SPCA) and named it, King.

King was different from Husky. He had patches like a Beagle but his size was larger than a Beagle. He was playful and loved to chew things. he liked being rubbed down whereas Husky was the tough “man” of the household and felt these things were soppy! Further,¬†King loved eating anything whereas Husky was fussier.

But King was terrified of thunder and storms. As a puppy he must have been frightened and so whenever it rained or thundered, King would sit with us as he cowered and trembled. If only there was a pet psychiatrist in those days!

King and Husky left for the heavens in the 1980s. Husky died of a brain haemorrhage – we call it a stroke or that was what the vet said. As for King he developed digestive issues and we suspect it could have been something he ate. Still they passed after having lived closed to 10 years of doggie life each!

Strays have a distinct survival instinct and this was what I saw in my two “strays”. They are fiercely loyal and have no hesitation to attack if they feel that an intruder has come into their space. But underneath all the “toughness”, like any pet, they need love and care – in turn, we had their love, protection, loyalty and care.

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3 Cheers For Medishield To Include ALL!

I am happy that great tweaks are on the way for our nation’s Medishield insurance scheme.

I strongly supported this and gave honest and open feedback to Mr Lim Swee Say and to PM Lee when we met on 22 March 2013 for tea.

I remember in an email I wrote the next day (I promised Mr Lim I would write to explain the plight as he too, could not grasp what his ward was saying at MPS sessions) to Mr Lim and he promptly referred me to Mr Gan Kim Yong. They both listened, so did PM Lee.

I see the plight of elders who were excluded from this scheme as an elder given age and time, will have pre-existing illnesses such that it excludes them from participation in this Medishield scheme. Further, some have aged beyond the expiry dates of Medishield when they have to be dropped out on reaching 80yrs of age. I understood the burden of health care cost and I can assure you, it is not cheap if consumed incorrectly.

By having no capping to age and inclusion for life time coverage, it gives this group of elders a safety net.

Kudos to the government for listening in on our feedback and valuing the contributions of this pioneer group of Singaporeans.

I am but a single digit in Singapore’s population and I am happy my small voice was heard alongside others and made a difference.

One day I will grow old too and I sincerely hope to be continuously covered under Medishield as it re-invents itself to stay relevant to our populations needs for healthcare services.

My sincere thanks to PM Lee, Ministers Lim and Gan for their listening ears!

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My Mum Is Special

My mum had humble beginnings. In their days, they do not have the luxury of education and when the Japanese war broke out, survival was pivotal.

Having a Primary 3 education, my mum was forced to help out with the family business. From what I understand, she went on to work at KKH as a nurse, assisting the mid wives in delivery of babies.

My mum brought us up under a strict regime. We were taught the value of money and how important an education would be in our lives. More importantly, we were taught what is right from wrong and never to do harm to others.

Mum has a very generous heart and I knew that she supported her siblings who were less fortunate than her as their individual families grew.

Mum always have a kind heart and would be out buying meals for an elderly or if people came up to her for assistance. To this day, Mum will always have something for the cleaner or any foreign migrant worker she bumps into and she feels may need her support.

Mum as our parent was fiercely protective of us too. Like any mother of their young. She would stand up to people who she thought was or may be taking advantage of her precious brood.

Dad left the home affairs to Mum and as she juggled between work, business and home chores, she also managed to ensure that we kept up with homework.

I was fortunate to have not broken any rule set by mum. I did well in school always and did my homework on time and chores delegated to do.

I learnt how to manage a home in terms of simple meals and chores. This came in very handy when I was sent overseas to study and then work.

I understand it is not easy being a mother, much less a strict parent.

I am grateful to my mum for giving me a good head on my shoulders and the responsibility of life. Had I been molly coddled or spoilt rotten, despite us having Ah Ma Jies and or maids, I think I may be somewhat lesser in character, gumption or intelligence.

Though I am more fortunate than others in terms of housing and education and meals ready all the time, I have not been treated as a prima donna as Mum will never allow for it. I was always reminded to be respectful to our gardener whom we fondly call “Kebun”and to make refreshments for him each time he came to take care of our garden.

I was also not allowed to ask the maids to help me do things that was not within their purview of work. Maids were never called maids and we treated them like a family member, laughing, sharing and eating with them.

At our house, the help always had the first helping, then our pet dog before us.

I am grateful to my mum for her strict up bringing and inculcating in us the values of being good children and respectful of help.

Today my mum is busily helping more people and it is good as it keeps her mind agile and happy as she is doing what she likes – helping others.

I am blessed to have my mum support and stay by me for all the trials and tribulations I go through in adult life. As a child, I can only try my best to be as good as I can be to return the love and care she has showered me and is still showering on me.

Buddha blessings on my mum and all, keeping them safe and in good care always!

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Is Exercise A Good Or Bad?

Athletes have dropped like flies which brings me to ask, is exercise a good or a bad?

My neighbour told me that her husband collapsed and died whilst jogging. My mentor, Dr Oon Chong Teik¬†(a Thomas Cupper, Iron Man, Triathelete) suffered a¬†vey¬†bad¬†stroke that left him with little mobility and speech; yesterday’s news on the death of a 41 year old¬†state athlete in Silat whilst jogging and the list goes on…

Personally, I walked 2.5 km a day everyday for 3 years and with it, I swam 1-2 km a day everyday too. This caused my back and shoulders to deteriorate. To me, It is not so much just exercising alone that keeps you fit.

If you do not watch what you eat, it brings you back to your original state of poor health. Runners think they can pound the streets to stave off FAT but when they return and down a juice or pop or a doughnut or a plate of char kway teow, it makes it worst. Runners forget that if they had underlying undetected heart ailments, such exercises can cause heart attacks.

I have come to the stage of realising it is the mouth that has to shut. The old adage of “5 minutes on the lips and forever on the hips is true”. We have to watch what we eat. It is tremendously hard in Singapore as we are a food paradise but anything and everything we eat has it consequences on calories and health.

By starving or eating one meal a day, it can effectively lose you your much needed weight loss. Exercising maintains cardio fitness but relying on exercise alone to  lose weight is insufficient. Eat to live and not live to eat should be the motto and you will watch the weight come down rapidly.

Dr Chan is a firm believer of vegetarian meald ie real greens and nut diets without proteins. He explained to me that he occasionally binges but most times he stays fit with his vegan diet. He has trimmed down tremendously and stays alert for surgery.

I am not a proponent of any diet but just to watch what we eat. For myself, I have literally watched what I ate and lost 15.4 kg and counting. It means eating very little and staying within blood profile to ensure no loss of vitamins and nutrients. I call it the small meal a day diet.

It is a tough fight against flab but I am determined to continue on as too much sugar can cause diabetes and too much salt causes hypertension. Based on statistics, practically a lot of people I know have either of the chronic disease or both.

As all my colleagues know, I have lots of stuff in my fridge and a lot of it has expired. Sauces, condiments etc, the smallest bottle still lasts me years and years ūüôā

Moderation is key to everything and I do not believe in popping multi vitamins either as greens have most vitamins, however I only believe in Vitamin C which I take mega doses to fight infection and it works!

So, before you start your kick boxing regime or run another marathon or try to be an Iron Man, stop and think – why not begin by asking yourself how old you are and if the activity befits you? Also what do you eat everyday? Perhaps moderate and go for brisk walks or play Tai Chi and manage that with good health care and diet.

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