Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Another Try At Conquering 2.5Km

Weather has been extremely dry and hot in my little red dot called Singapore. It is unseemingly too hot this early part of the year and the sun has brazenly scorched the trees and grassland.

Our green lungs are now brown burnt hay lands 😦

My spine has been aching all of this week. It hurts more when I sit. I was exasperated and so I What’s App my primary surgeon, Dr James Tan and said that I could not give up my mobility without a fight! Just a day ago he was tuttering away on my spine, explaining that I do need to rest and that at most 10 minutes on treadmill!

I hate the treadmill as it is in a gym and in an air-conditioned environment. Worst still, when I stop walking, I feel as if it is time to fall down! Ugh! Yes, with vertigo there are lists of things I cannot do and with my 6 screws in the back and 4 screws in the neck, the idea of falling and having both Dr James and Tonto putting me back together was not an inviting thought.

After I Whats App Dr James Tan, I put on my Brook’s ghost walking shoes and off I went. I could hear Tonto’s voice following me as he was droning on about how I must walk. Head up high, straighten the back and scrounge it at the back so that the shoulders are raised. Remember to walk stomach in chest out (I did my qigong breathing technique of breathing through the “tang tian”) and walk as if there is a lumbar roll at the back. Tonto used the example of the airplane pillow that we get and place behind our spine when we travel. He is quite an exercise freak! I like!!

I intend to do my 2.5 km doing my usual routine out on Stevens, up into Evans and going down through Dalvey back home.

As I walked I saw how miserable the gardens have become with loads of dried dead leaves. My poor squirrels must be pretty hot as they scamper in and out under the heaps of dried leaves. The money plants, which are climbers, barely survived on the large trees, leaving little leaves remaining!

Going past Far East Flora, I greeted the same lady whom I would always bid ‘ Hi Aunty’ though she is no relative of mine. Yes, in Singapore we greet everyone older as an aunty or uncle though there is no blood relations!

The basket ball court at NIE had its usual basket ballers playing court. I love the thumping sound of the ball as they shot hoops! Cool! Though it was a scorching hot 😉

Whilst turning into Dalvey, I welcomed the cool breeze as this particular stretch was the most wooded of the path and provided me with welcome shade.

As I walked, I reflected on the guidance given by Dr James on what I can or cannot do. Hmm…actually a whole lot of things I cannot do. Gone are the days of water skiing on Kim Kim River with Harry and the gang! It is a “NOT ever” sigh!

I can only presume I cannot ski at Hoodoo as well in Winter.

I am told that I am fit to fly in May but for Work travel, it has to be in September.

My squid jigging days are numbered and fishing will be a challenge to me as it will take a while. I was pretty sad as this meant changing my lifestyle. The sea is a favorite of mine but Godma being a Buddhist will be happy that my fishing days are numbered! 😉

Strawberry picking will have to wait and I thought I could hike up Spencer’s Butte again. This 649 sq m Butte height has to wait.

I told Dr James, I could picture myself sitting in an old rickety rocking chair, knitting booties and mittens for Garfield or reading a bible (I still do not have the right version but I finished reading Mark! Unfortunately, I am not enlightened just yet) ha ha! Spiritual limbo at its peak.

Dr James voice can be heard in my head as he nags me for my photo to register on the form for RCIA. My reply was I have no baby photos (yup my parents told me that even as a baby In refuse to cooperate with the camera and studio shots were heaven’s forbid occasions!) much less adult photos! Hmm if I ever got married, I think there would be no wedding photos too….yup that is so mour 🙂

I told Dr James that the only photo that I have, was a photo taken by the Straits Times reporter and this photo was what I am going to use when I am oh so dead 🙂

Aha! Dr James had no reply to that…so I think he has given up on this request, knowing it will never happen.

Yup…I always missed photo taking at high school yearbooks. I am versatile in not doing things I do not wish to do! Brilliant right?!

I am but an unknown person with a lot to say on blog LOL!!

When I triumphantly finished my 2.5km walk, I proudly told my two surgeons. I must applaud their patience as I am sure they must be cursing this darn uncooperative patient! Dr James said to wait till tomorrow and see if I hurt and if so, his scolding recorded at 33 rpm will be played 90 times over. Hmm…he is old school so I had to use vinyl records to describe. In modern speak, it would be iPod replayed in a loop, ceaselessly! 🙂

Still, I do appreciate their doctoring care. Yes, which flea brained doctor would give their cell phone numbers to patients right? Ha ha well, except to me!! Maybe because I am sane at the right times on my terms and insane at the right times on their terms! Hee Hee!

Tonto runs to keep fit or maybe he is like me, we just love doing something outdoorsy. In the words of Tonto when Dr James points his complaining finger, “my patients do not even want to do half of the things she does!” Yes, I am plainly mad as a hatter! 😉

As for golf….seriously, I can kiss golf memberships good bye, hock my golf clubs if I had and give away all hope….ah well, back to crossword puzzles, blogging or just plain jigsaw puzzles if my butt decides to behave and sit well!

Sigh it sucks to have an uncooperative spine and to those out there in blogsphere, who suffer from the same discomforts like me, let’s say we get together and drink selves into a drunken stupor! Now wouldn’t that be peachy?! Absolutely sloshed!

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My Humdrum Day

I had another wrestling night with my neck and spine. I wondered if it was because of what my surgeons told me. There are a lot of physical activities I cannot do for now. I remember a fellow blogger asking me if I can ever do cartwheels again? Sigh….impossible.

Golf is out the window. Tonto is as always filled with hope and enthusiasm and he tells me if I can rehab my back well, I may play golf sometime in a period more than 6 months! Sigh…still I would not dare as it means wearing out the other discs and it may cause me new nightmares.

Gawd, I pictured self getting old sitting in my crotchety rocking chair, knitting or crocheting with a cat! Hmm at least Garfield is a soft toy so that ain’t too bad! But the picture stays in my mental mind! Pathetic right?

Gardening is out the window. But hey in truth, I never liked gardening but I love picking fruits off trees eg cherries or squatting on the ground picking strawberries. Yes, I love doing jams! It is a hobby I like and I tend to visit Australia for this purpose alongside jetty fishing!

I wonder if I can ever do squid jigging again at my favorite jetty spots. Will I ever land breams again?

It is strange when a “fruit is forbidden” it tastes so sweet! Meaning, the more I cannot do something, it becomes that much more alluring!

I remember I loved going to Lane County Fair and do the Dodgem cars. Bumping into others seemed so fun and hilarious as we bump into each other. I would then have an elephant’s ear after – a unique croissant like pastry that is served piping hot with dusted fine sugar. After all that energy expensed at the fair, it made a good lunch food! Bad for health but hey it tastes mighty fine on the lips…yes, it will land forever on the hips 😉

I angst over golf! I have organized some 12 golf tournaments for 132 players each time. I have seen how birdies, nearest to the pin or longest drives were won. A hole in one never happened though and the magnificent car sponsors for Mercedes, Jaguars never made it out to the successful player!

I can only drive the golf buggy at most. I doubt I can lug the golf bag on or off the cart and must less swing a drive or tee off!

I will also miss hiking up Spencer’s Butte! I did it during college and once up the butte, I was enthralled by the view. Such moments can never happen again.

Amidst this humdrum day, I had a pleasant door bell ring only to open the door and find Sau Funn’s help sending me lunch. Pineapple fish curry and brown rice! A welcome reprieve for my oh humdrum day 😉

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Nuts & Bolts Gives A Stiff Back

Today I had two meetings with my surgeons. I had roped them in to help me serve the country’s needy elders.

As I handed over my interim X-rays for their review, I was relieved that on second look, Tonto said that the two cage implants and screws in me have not shifted. Initially, he thought it had. But when Dr James reviewed it with Tonto, both mutually agreed that my spine was still screwed together well! Phew!

But….ah there is always the proverbial BUT….why did my back hurt so much to sit and sleep?

I gave a description to both my surgeons…hey, my neck is tightened with implants and screws plus titanium rods. Now my back or I call, my tail is also stacked with two cages XLIF, with screws, rods and titanium. PLUS the two geniuses corrected my crooked spine or what I was born with. This means that the old way of walking cannot be!! Ugh!! I flustered away at them….good grief, you could tell me right?

No wonder my back ached and my feet did not behave as I seemed to veer right! But the fact is, both of them had the heart to straighten my spine. The intent was good. Sigh…I must relearn how to walk.

It is physically challenging for me at this stage as it is month two post surgery and I have to adjust neck, shoulder and spine plus walk baby steps to get going!

No wonder I wrestled with my bed nightly till I now have some resolve to get forty winks and I now have to rise to the occasion by learning how to walk again in new method to suit the newly aligned spine 😉

I hope my two great surgeons have no more new surprises for me. I really want a pain free lifestyle and go back to fishing, jigging for squids 🙂 now that is the moment I am hoping and looking forward to! Clap! Clap!

But those two would not dignify my questions with any answers and so right now I am looking at an abyss wondering when can I climb mountains, play golf or sit on my favorite jetty and fish! Wishful thinking…..

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Ugh! It Is Tax Time!

April must be the suckiest of times as it is time to file my income tax. Yup, the tax man has made it so much easier now, online e filing and my employer uploads the earned income onto this web portal too.

No great forms to fill as it is quite easy as everything is automated and I just have to go in and click ok 😉

So why is it a sucky chore? Well….it means I have to start paying tax on what I earned in 2013. Payment is a breeze too as we get twelve months interest free installments to pay what is due and owing to the tax man.

My friends who live in USA or Australia have it much worst as their tax rates are through the roof. I heard up to 40% or more!

Singapore tax rates for personal earned income is still not too bad in comparison. We pay max 20% for personal taxes and it is with earned reliefs factored in.

Still, whilst it pains me to pay taxes (I would be a saint if I stood up and said, hey I love paying taxes! Or cuckoo!!) monthly, I am proud to pay more taxes as it helps with my credit rating.

Credit rating is important as it allows for easy credit checks and personal standing in society. So, it makes me a better character in terms of the “moolah” department so to speak and that bankers would love to meet with you to discuss purchases of property or car etc.

Being single, I do not get much tax relief than those married with children. So, it seems I am subsidizing those with children. Sigh! But that is our government’s way of saying go get married. Now that is a whole new argument! Marriage is a big big chance!

Hmm…perhaps a marriage of convenience as it seems this bunch of folks get just about every sort of relief and priority. From choice government housings with several bites of the cherry whilst us singletons would slog unceasingly to provide for our own old age sans relief, tax breaks for first for anything and yet we contribute towards Singapore’s economic growth!

Here is to hoping that Singles will be appreciated one fine day to be given some form of assistance when we grow old and crotchety! 😉

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Dr Chua Chee Haow, Dental Surgeon

In my entire life, I have had three dental surgeons. But by far, Dr Chua Chee Haow is to me, the best.

I am atypical in that I see my dental surgeon every 3 months as opposed to those who see dentists every 6 months and some who only see dentists if there is a tooth ache.

I know of someone who refuses to see a dentist and brushes teeth with just water. This person claims there is no need for dentists but I can see the amount of tartar collected on his teeth. I hope this stubborn fool will make it to see the dentist one day or he ends up with no teeth 😉

Dr Chua is great at root planning and is the only surgeon who can eradicate my often moaned gum swellings. He has a nice booming laughter and would tease me as he listens to my history of surgical procedures. He wants to lighten my mind and make me feel less tense too.

He has now joined the Thomson Medical Group and practices at Novena Specialist Center where Ossia Hotel is.

I trust Dr Chua and he has been my surgeon for some 14 years now. I found Dr Chua through my god sister and he previously practiced at Wisma Atria under Atria Pan Group. I remembered going to Dr Chua as the neighborhood dental surgeon had done a poor job of patching my tooth, causing infection which resulted in unexplainable plain.

Further, the hygiene standards at that neighborhood clinic was wanton.

I am happy with Dr Chua as he practices with a heart, always seeking to understand the patient’s fears and putting me at ease before I hear the dreaded sound of the root planning device used.

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Dr Billy Tan, Opthalmic Surgeon

I was introduced to Dr Billy Tan by Dr Lui Hock Foong. Yes, by now you will realise that Dr Lui is like my favorite diligent and mindful doctor who looks after my medical needs.

I remember having an eye infection as a result of dry gritty eyes and was in need of a good ophthalmic surgeon.

When I first met Dr Billy Tan, he looked anything but a surgeon. Tanned and having a huge display of model cars in his doctor’s surgery room, he looked more like a plumber! Ha ha! Sleeves rolled up and in khakis, he was not at all pushy or Lordy like a surgeon. He was down to earth, kind and personalized each patient’s presence by personally calling out to each patient.

When my boss recently had severe eye discomfort, I did not hesitate to send him to see Dr Billy Tan! Ha ha my boss came back to me singing his praises and saying that Dr Billy Tan looked like a marine construction worker. This is hilarious. Maybe it is because he is not wearing stuffy clothes but looked like a bohemian to me. It suited me fine.

Recently I had a dried tear drop that became a hard cyst. He used a dermic needle to literally “hack” it off with no dramas before or after.

I would recommend Dr Billy Tan in a heartbeat as he knows how to interact with young and old, putting patients at great ease.

I sent Hwa Jie to see Dr Billy Tan too as she suffered the same fate as my ex boyfriend, seeking medical eye surgery at Paragon, not at a hospital.

Being old-fashioned or in Singlish, super kiasu, I only see doctors at hospitals and would only allow procedures in proper operating theaters and not make shift clinics turned mini theaters.

Call me spoilt but I am risk averse and wonder in emergencies, how do these small make shift theaters cope?! Hwa Jie told me the silly lady eye surgeon made her sit up after cataract surgery. There was no bed to lie down but just plain chairs!

I remember when my dad had his eye cataract done at Singapore National Eye Center, there was a bed provided as procedure was done as day surgery, followed by a meal as he waited for the a anesthetic to wear off.

It is important to have your care giver valuing your vision and not proposing silly procedures for the sake of dollars.

So if you are in need of a genuine felt good ophthalmic surgeon do check out Dr Billy Tan located at Gleneagles Medical Center!


Wearing The Spectacles Of Life

Having 20/20 vision for all my life thus far makes me feel blessed as myopia is rampant in Singapore. Practically everyone I know or meet, wear spectacles or contacts to correct vision.

I have one fantastic good eye and one weaker eye for distance and the same for reading. Hence mono vision that compensates distance and reading. However, my ophthalmic surgeon prefers I wear corrective eye wear so that I do not weaken the eyes for their respective functions!

Sigh…but it is hard peering through those goggly eye wear and adjusting it to suit driving is a challenge to me. But given the last two back to back major surgeries in six months, my eyes have gone to the dogs literally ;-(

I now can hardly see the facial characteristics of people some distance away. I started realizing this when I asked my colleague who was the chap waving frantically to me at a distance.

I did not return the salutation much to the dismay of my friend and he wondered what got into me to ignore him. I had to apologize profusely after ha ha! I am not cold nor aloof I explained!

I also find self feeling very uncomfortable in the eye following the rows of goods on display at Cold Storage shelves at Great World City! It becomes a dreary challenge for me to suss out groceries or household items I need.

I am trying hard to adjust to wearing the spectacles of life! Yup, I have been wearing them at home and slowly trying to wear them when I drive.

But sometimes, I prefer not to see what is ahead. This is especially so if I saw someone I did not wish to exchange pleasantries with. Yes, the bothersome ex boyfriend or a fiend that I dread.

They say the eyes are windows to the souls. I do not know what this means as for 21 years I looked through the eyes of my ex boyfriend but could not be convinced that he was as kind and or sincere as he claimed. He still maintains his care and love to me but I flushed his words down the toilet 😉

Like a lie detector, I find that wily ones can cover their innermost thoughts or camouflage their souls from peering eyes, just as they can control their blood pressure to beat the lie detector test.

My father loves to quote his MD Anthoniz who quipped that, “the worst thing anyone can do to themselves is to cheat selves.” My ex boyfriend did that when I gave my anti opinion on laser surgery given his age and explained that macular degeneration was real.

He threw my advice to the wind and lied to say he was wearing contact lens! He cheated self and to date he is suffering from floaters and halos in night vision as shortly thereafter he had eye infection and was told of cataracts. Being “rich” when it is for self needs ( HA! He always claims he is broke when he is with me!), he sought the ophthalmic surgeon of TV stars in Camden. I was not convinced of the facilities and true enough he pays heavily for it now – folly by his own doing! Today he still wears spectacles despite paying a bomb for LASIK! Serves him right really!

I have talked to many surgeons and many of them continue to wear spectacles as their livelihood depends on eyes to see, so as to perform the required surgery. Many refused LASIK. Even ophthalmic surgeons diligently wear spectacles! Does that not tell you what we should not do?

Well, I shall grow old reluctantly but gracefully 🙂

It is hard to grow old gracefully as I have so much zest and vigor in my brains. But with recent surgery to my spine, I cannot even carry own groceries or be fully able to do what I will much as I want to.

But hey we should stop complaining as we still have vision. There are people who are visually challenged and have to rely on a walking white cane or guide dogs to move about!

Be blessed for the spectacles of life! It is better than being visually blind!

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Living In Oblivion Is Bliss

The more I know, the more I worry. The lesser I know, the less burdened I am, and so, the happier I am.

I often pondered on the saying that oblivion is bliss! This is true as I tend to fret on things. I get uncomfortable on learning information that can adversely impact anyone. If is within my means to control and manage the situation, I will do my utmost to fix it.

If it was positive, then no issues – no biggie!

I recently offered a friend a ride in my car. My friend liked my car and teased me about disappearing with my car. I told this friend matter of a factly that a car is but a car. Material things like this cannot be taken with me to my grave. Like facts that stick out like a sore thumb, we come into this world with nothing and we will leave with nothing!

I have always dramatized leaving with a smile on my face. Why? I hate good byes. I like a good death. A swift exit without regrets.

Hence my belief that oblivion is bliss. Thoughts can cloud minds. Thoughts can create dramas that were not right to begin with sometimes and this can rob happiness or a chance of any friendships or companionship.

Of course the other party must not take me for a fool of an idiot. I may be crazy but as am not stupid. I may be naive but I am not brainless.

Yes, I have one “hobby” and that is shopping for cars. I wonder how I have managed to walk into car showrooms each time and part with cash to pay for a car regardless of the exorbitant cost of the certificate of entitlement (COE). Come to think of it, I did not bat an eyelid when knowing my last COE was $70,000! OMG right!

But if you have been with me in that horrid AYE accident, you will know the fear of driving a small car and being sandwiched like an accordion.

Defensive driving or otherwise, drivers in Singapore are less giving and tend to speed up knowing you are trying to filter or need a fellow driver to give way.

Having driven in Australia, drivers are a lot more patient there and observant of speed zones. Perhaps here lesser policing or enforcers on the road to put drivers to drive within speed limits, give way or stop tail gating!

I have been in two major road accidents and I do not think I can be lucky a third time….heavens forbid. So I drive following no one nor let anyone follow. I keep several car lengths away and allow braking distance all times 😉

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Why PAIN Is A Four Letter Word!

Pain hits me without remorse. It gives no due notice and rears its ugly head whenever it feels like it!

Pain is the boss of my life! Pain tricks my doctors and my mind. Pain robs me of my due mobility and care free la di da style of go getting attitude.

I have gone through many types of pain. On a scale of the proverbial rating of 10, I have experienced an 11. I have felt pain in every part of my body except for my hair.

Yes, soft tissue pain can rear its ugly head anywhere or everywhere so long as there is soft tissue in my body. Intercostal muscles, ulnar pain, scalp pain, etc.

People say pain is a four letter word and I agree wholeheartedly. I sometimes wonder if I should feel more pain from post surgery or am I numbed to pain?

I did not click on pain killers though my trusty Dr Boey set it up for me to draw down on after surgery. I always had the fear factor of being dependent on drugs! I end up being a warrior of pain, tired and beaten most times.

I learnt last evening that both Dr James and Tonto corrected my spine. In so doing, the usual gait that I was using to compensate my original gait is no longer right! I end up walking funny and in pain.

So my power walks are no longer possible at this stage till I re-calibrate my walking style. I still wish I had a reboot button to reset my neck to my spine such that I automatically know how I should walk or go about my daily activities.

Though I was not told, my body knew something was amiss as the norm was gone and reacted with pain to tell me hey dude, you have been re calibrated. Hence that was why I fought nightly with my bed to find a sleeping posture to cope with! Sigh….Dr James and Tonto please figure this one out for poor me! ;-(

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Why The Need To Pay Forward

Having had many trials and tribulations over my life span thus far, I see the need to pay forward. For every one experience I have encountered, there must be others.

Alvin shared and asked me to fight hard for mobility! Having gone through my neck and spine surgeries with a span of 6 months, I knew the risks involved for each medical decision I undertake to operate. Live or die? Recover of incapacity? The choices are limited. Given that Alvin works with physically challenged individuals, I knew where he was coming from.

I vividly remember Alvin coming by my hospital bed to speak to me before surgery to ensure that I knew the odds stacked against me. I do not forget this kind deed of his.

I further remember Braema asking me of post operative care. By her asking, I knew she cared though I only knew her from past life (working laugh 😉 ha ha) as a colleague and we now volunteer together!

Last evening in chatting (face to face and electronic) with 3 great doctors, I was bemused. Why? The doctor that took care of me for the last 24 years was clearly challenged by my medical condition. There is little he can do for me and his advice was for me to work closely with my surgeons for post operative management care. This was their duty he explained.

The doctors who did my surgeries were cautious; one was as always gung-how whilst the other is more moderate in his views. The gung-ho doctor always gave me hope, conveying message to me that I will get better.

The doctor with a moderate view would suggest I take something to alleviate the pain and discomfort yet quietly assuring me that any NSAID taken will not impede bone union.

Being impatient to get well does not bode well with me as by nature, I am impatient and want to do things chop chop style! I want to go fishing, hike up buttes, travel to USA or go Australia to pick strawberries and make jams. I have blackberries to pick in Oregon!

Paying forward to me is to remember pain and suffering of others. If I feel the person is not accepting a condition prescribed by a doctor and I know of it, I will speak to the person to drive sense such that this person is not clueless. Yes, medical terms and terminology can be baffling to a lay person.

If I see someone exhibiting symptoms I have experienced, I will talk that person into seeing a good doctor by recommending a suitable doctor on grounds of my caveat being “synergies between patient and doctor is dependent on both interacting and is independent of my recommendation. As a patient, one has every right to walk away from any doctor he or she feels uncomfortable with!”

Paying forward is also understanding the medicines prescribed and if I see someone taking a drug without good results, I would advise the person to go back and speak to the doctor and share the results. This is especially true for older folks or folks with less literacy and fearful of disobeying doctor’s orders. What this older folk may not know is that they may be less tolerant of the prescribed drug and was seemingly doing more harm than good in effecting a cure!

Offering cash donation is the last on my totem pole of paying forward. Too many scams and the funds not reaching the ground is my observation. If I choose to donate anything, I will ensure I personally buy the items and have it delivered for consumption. Or I do my due diligence to ensure the cause is genuine and how the donated sums will be used.

There are multitudinous ways to pay forward. There is no single right way as it depends on the personal preference of the donor and the cause they hold near or dear to their heart. My motto is simple – if I have cash, I give cash. If I do not have cash, I give time and make effort to serve committees in an honorary capacity to give back goth society, based on a cause I can support wholeheartedly!

I pay forward as without the grace and help of others, I will not be as matured, knowing of suffering, hurt or pain and most importantly a character that is focused and determined. Now that is key to any object you desire to overcome! 🙂

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