Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Staying Ahead & On Track

“If your mind is open, you will never face closed doors” – Larissa Belcher.

I grow a year older as Singapore celebrates her National Day! This year it is even more significant as it is lil red dot’s bicentennial celebration from a fishing village during the Majapahit empire to today’s lil red dot status amongst world’s first!

My mindset has never stagnated as I strive to stay relevant always. If I have a closed mind, I will not stay ahead. I will lose my edge and get left behind.

Info Tech changed leaps and bounds. Games like pin the donkey are almost extinct!

I went through type writers to computers, to laptops and now handheld devices.

Snail mail gave way to emails and soon messengers or what’s app overtook it.

Now we have augmented reality (AR) or artificial intelligence (AI) and soon, if I have my way at current work place, a robot if you will!

Encyclopedias lost to internet. Wikipedia stays in front. Information is ever so fast and fluid, what we learn today may be obsolete by tomorrow is my feel so I take the experience and the knowledge knowing that knowledge will change.

Travel and communication made the world a smaller place. Business costs can be better contained with phone or web conferences or Skype for Business.

Through changes I stayed adept, not forgetting the human element.

People I knew who refused to adapt got left behind as they relied on glorified PAs to pack their schedules and own their lives. Or this old school batch of people wanted to remain aloof.

In today’s world, a personalized approach is much needed as it elevates one businessman from another.

Studying for the sake of studying will not give you an education if it is the paper chase you seek. But the information is what we need and not the paper!

The true value of an education is not obtained purely from e learning modules as it needs some form of interaction amongst peers and mentor to learn. If paper milled degrees and quick graduations are what one seeks in getting ahead, it will not work.

A good school does not make you elite if your mindset is closed. Any school is a good school in Singapore. The difference is in the learner’s attitude and mind set.

Study with open minds to acquire and develop knowledge and not to brag your latest acquired degree.

End game is… I make a difference and do I make my alma mater proud, regardless of it being an elite school or otherwise.


Day #15 Bates Motel – Fever & MRI

My Bates Motel drama continues as I am now battling a fever.

Despite being on antibiotics one day before surgery till now, the fever sneaked in and decided to take over!

Down goes the gullet for 2 paracetemol tablets – that ought to nuke the fever! LOL!

When I am ill, I tend to work so as to divert my brain from focusing on my pain and making it busy to focus on other things.

Mind over matter as they say.

I am organizing a paintball event for marginalized young adults and or adults with special needs (slightly impaired) to have a go at paintball with our team of 24 volunteers.

I know my guys would love to pulverize our good natured Managing Director and Deputy Chairman. It will be a fun day although I will sit by the ring side to observe.

It gives me a great sense of pleasure seeing the youths or adults having good clean fun.

I did an MRI today to confirm or dispel that there are “exciting developments” in my L5, SI and S2 areas of my spine.

I have enough excitement really and I wish the powerful deities will spare me some more pain.

My shoulder pain has not abated despite the 10 injections and I wonder if he shoulder or the wound is causing me this fever.

What I have learnt in hospital setting is that if there is no flurry of activities surrounding me, then I will live.

I remember from past experience, there was such a hive of activity and surgeons were cajoling me to go for immediate surgery.

Aah well if there is not much hoo ha then it means I will live.

I was nice today too – I wished MR EX well and he still wants me around to torture me with his nonsense. I guess I am his valve for release of tensions in his daily life. I serve a useful purpose! Blah!

Mr Docile is unwell and I have told him to stay away from me as I am a germ magnet. I do not need contamination of any sort in this stage of my hospital care now.

Host Mum is worried about me. She lives in Eugene Oregon. I worry about her too as she lives alone.

Life is about worrying this or that isn’t it. I wish I could be more zen, figuratively speaking of course!


Day #13 – Bates Motel, Lucky 13!

My motley crew of specialists now tallies at 8!

1. Dr Lui Hock Foong, gastroenterologist & internal medicine specialist

2. Dr James Tan Siah Heng, neurosurgeon

3. Dr Boey Wah Keong, anaesthesiologist & pain management

4. Dr Andrew See, head & neck

5. Dr Tan Chai Beng, neurologist

6. Dr Tan Jee Lim, orthopaedics

7. Dr Leong Keng Hong, rheumatologist & immunologist

8. Dr Daniel Yeo, cardiologist

8 is auspicious in Chinese numerology and I feel assured as 發發發 (this means “prosper” and is on the face of mahhong tiles.

But my hospitalisation bill will be astronomical! I am complicated as a patient. Sigh! I am tired.

I looked like above kitty when Business Officer of Bates Motel spoke with me on Day 5 when I asked for an estimate of my bill as at Day 5 She droned on and on.

I felt like saying “Woman, let’s get to the main sum…you know mula?!”

Finally I was handed an itemised listing of some 10 pages. Hmm..trees were killed too!

My inanimate furball Garfield just sat all comfy life, watching this charade of mine.

I am in my usual Bates Motel garb..hard to change out of incarceration garb really.

Coffee here is nespresso pods or nescafe instant granules. The kitchen makes the latter so thick that it is undrinkable. I miss my nescafe instant granules. Another sigh.

I laughed when I saw above meme…I need of $$$ and alot of Jesus!

What a hoot!


The Real Day #8 Bates Motel

I hurt.

My surgical wound on my forehead sticks out.

My left ear behind to neck is sliced. Good news is that my facial nerves are intact but my ear to left cheek is heavily swollen and painful.

Tis hard to laugh really!

Swelling has slowly lessened on ear but I cannot gargle as my left cheek is weak and I speak a bit funnily for now.

Dr Andrew See said that it will take 6 to 8 months for full swelling to resolve and for me to regain muscles and nerves to speak or gargle properly.

For now I have a shunt that allows serrous fluids to exit the wound.

Meanwhile, tummy has wreaked havoc and my left foot is swollen for whatever reason…unknown to me.


Day #8 – Bates Motel, Alive & Visit From Piglet & Friends

Piglet is a friend I met on my blogsite and I was very happy to see her today when she visited me.

We chatted and she gave Garfield a carry as she loves my raggedy furball.

She gave me a print out of Garfield get well wishes which I appreciated.

Piglet is another strong person, overcoming medical issues. We encourage each other.

I was especially touched by her kind words to me today.

I am always at odds with God and I have lost wifi connectivity with heaven.

But my surgeon, Dr James, sent me a tweet from the Pope.

Dr James is a very devout Catholic and a great surgeon. He does not give up on this “soul” he says LOL!

I appreciate his tolerance of my nonsense.

I kept asking him WHY? Why ME? Why am I chopped up so much?

I came to know Dr James for my cervical implants, titanium rods and screws – the works!

He later then helped me with Dr Pang BC to put lumbar spinal implants in me.

I could walk. But no rollercoaster rides or bungee jumping!

Instead of WHY, he said my suffering is a vocation to help others.

I told Dr James, let me mull over…….is God speaking through him?

Mr Docile visited me and I will save that for another post.

Ms Feisty, Mr Jaguar, Ms Audit and Ms Legal also visited me.

I feel so loved!


Day #6 – Bates Motel – 1 PM The Witching Hour

I scheduled this to be posted at 1pm my time as I will be in the theatre!

Oh no no…I am not in some grand ol Opry or great cinematic theatre of any sort, but the one with white coats! I am not doing any arias or concertos or any performance of sorts! LOL!

I know it will be hard for me to post for the next few days and so, I decided to write this ahead of time.

I intend to return with all my faculties intact and most definitely with my funny bone still in place.

Someone’s got to laugh and I might as well laugh!

I hope they do not misplace my brain and that Dr James Tan leaves my brain intact. I did not agree to have my skull plate removed and replaced with a metal plate with screws as it requires a cut across my forehead and an indentation of my skull afterwards.

I will look like Ms Frankenstein with a laceration across my forehead and a sunken one at that!

How troll! I will have a permanent Halloween outfit!

My left leg is killing me as it decided to protest now and I have been taking laps around the floor my hospital bed is located.

I wonder why it protests now. I have taken an antiflammatory to nuke it but it is taking its toll on me, making me grumpy before the surgery.

I am also upset that the nurses here have short term memory. I was missed out on doses of meds and I insisted that I was not given although the nurse claims she had.

Thank goodness, it was not a vital medication but an optional one.

I have asked for my breakfast cart to be removed of its cutlery, crockery but it falls on deaf ears. Half has been removed and the other half seems to be protected by a hex as 2 nurses I told, have severe short term memory lapses! Either that, or as I said, the hex protects the life span of the crockery, left over food and what nots!

Have I made you smile or laugh just yet? I hope so.

I need the mighty deities to get me out of the theater, intact and in one piece.


Day #5 Bates Motel – Decision Of Titans

Dr Andrew See (Head Neck Surgeon) and Dr Boey Wah Keong (anaesthesiologist) jointly sat with me to finalise surgical plans for tomorrow, Saturday 27 July 19.

Everything was abuzz as Dr See blocked booked the operating theatre (OT) and sat me down again to remind me of options to watch and see.

I told him, my mind is firmed up.

He assured me that the tumor would be the smallest he would ever excised. 1.4cm x 1.1cm.

It would be relatively easy to remove without accidentally severing nerves. I pray hard that there shall be no nerve severing of any sort.

The excision would be a long one from behind the ear lobe all along the chin to the neck line.

The scar would take 6 months to disappear.

I guess I would look like Mrs Frankenstein! But Dr See assured me no…!

I truly wish for a non eventful surgery tomorrow.

Dr James Tan would remove the first tumor on forehead and that would take 1.5 hours.

Dr See would take over and remove the 2nd tumor in 2.5 hours.

I was told what will happen after, pain and doom and gloom for worst case scenarios.

Haha…I laughed when I saw this meme of the peach!

Gaaarrfield I need a hug!


Tic Tac Toe Or Eeeny Meeny Miny Moe!

Getting 3 giants in their own respective fields in the same room as I, is a huge challenge. It is akin to me trying to find my 3 Lords to be together in one room for any meeting.

Surgery has been tossed between Saturday, to Sunday and now it is back to Saturday!

All this is causing me tension and apprehension as it reminds me of the inevitable. I wish it is over soon and I do not need to mull over it.

I hate mulling over decisions and re-thinking. I make decisions like a man and for better or for worst, once I decide, my mind is made up but the doctors keep giving me different views.

What if the histology report comes back and it is non cancerous, would it not be a waste of a surgery? I know it would not be cancerous as lead time has taught me that if the hospital does not alert me within hours, then the tumor is not cancerous.

I remember once, how quickly the hospital reacted to get me to operate on my cervical spine as failure to do so, would render me paralyzed.

It becomes harder to find when the tumor is deflated.

Blah blah blah and it goes on.

My decision is based on management principles.

If a problem is there, let’s solve it. I do not want it lurking out there, waiting to rear its ugly head anytime soon or in the future.

True, if it was not cancerous, would I regret the surgery asked one surgeon?

Would you beat yourself up if after surgery there is a side effect and the tumor could have remained?

*Eyes rolling here*

I replied him “no” as it seems a Whartin tumor or whatever tumor they label it, exists and I do not want it residing in me. Hmm, they could name it the Garfield Hug tumor LOL!

Decision making is hard but my 2 stalwarts agree with me that it should come out.

So, my team of doctors now comprise, Cardiologist, Dr Daniel Yeo; Anesthesiologist, Dr Boey Wah Keong; Gastroenterlogist Dr Lui Hock Foong: Neurosurgeon Dr James Tan Siah Heng, Head Neck and shoulder surgeon, Dr Andrew See; and Neurologist, Dr Lim Chai Beng.

All except Dr Andrew See is a new comer and unto his hands I will entrust the removal of the more worrying tumor whilst the brain tumor is left to Dr James Tan.

How exciting my life is! Sigh!

I could use lesser excitement and more peace really!

Whatever the outcome, I can only look at the skies and as there is little I can do.

I can just hope for the best and wish for the best outcome.


A Silent Cry

A silent cry I cry,

Tearless no matter how hard I try.

People ask why and pry,

I remain silent no matter how hard they try.

MR EX is trying hard to get back together with me and I have refused.

I told him to let go, to the tune of Disney’s Frozen tune of Let It Go!

Our parting has been acrimonious and he has apologised profusely for his part but I am adamant about parting.

There is no use in keeping this relationship, I told him.

He will not clean up his act and will forever be chasing tons of money, with the notion that more is always better.

Greed is in his veins and this is unhealthy.

He has 2 grown daughters who will not work and he is ok with it. So much for parenting and his marriage that failed.

All I know is hearsay as his words cannot be trusted.

if his marriage is so bad, I told him a long time ago to vote with his feet!

But he is sad to part with the millions amassed by his Bimbo.

His choice I told him to stay in a marriage of wealth. I cannot be bothered as it does not concern me.

I may have turned down his marriage proposal years ago but he chose to marry within 3 months of our breakup and now he compains he made a wrong choice?


Whatever the case, leave it and let it go as I told him squarely on text messaging.

MR EX is an EX – a has been, a once upon a time and never the twain shall we meet!


Remembering SARS In Singapore

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) hit our shores of Lil Red Dot in 2003.

I remember it vividly as I worked then in the healthcare sector.

Though I was in the office support services section of the Institute of Mental Health/Woodbridge Hospital, the hospital had an outbreak of flu like symptoms amongst the patients.

The panic button was hit and the entire hospital was “locked down” in a quarantine!

The army was called in and in the town hall meeting, employees were told that they cannot be released from work and were made to sign an understanding on a “shoot to kill order” if we broke quarantine.

It was a traumatic experience for a lot of my close colleagues and many I remembered, came to me for a good cry.

I forgot how to cry and I was rather calm about it. I have a funny way of looking at things – if it was meant to be, it will be! It not, it won’t be!

I understood the harsh reality as it was about containment of a deadly virus. We had to stay in a contained environment to avoid being a risk to others and risk community spreading.

I felt things would work out – after all this is Singapore. Resilient and with a good government to see us through. I was a typical Singaporean in this instance, heavily reliant on the good government infrastructure. I had faith in our government leaders.

Sadly the same could not be felt for my then incompetent supervisor. We ran low on stocks for the N95 respirators and face masks. She told us to share these protective covers! Sheesh! She must have been out of her cotton picking feline brain I thought! Clearly she did not work in the healthcare sector before and was ignorant of the etiology of diseases! In her defence, she came from a commercial sector with little working experience. But ooh, she was Miss hoity toity  I might add!

The nurses were a resilient lot and went about their clinical duties with the doctors whilst we swotted long hours in the day, before being herded like sheep by army personnel into 40 seater passenger buses to Galllery Hotel. We ate food packed in Styrofoam boxes cooked by the hospital’s kitchen. We ate all our meals there before being sent to our abode.

Our stay at Gallery Hotel was soon short lived as by now the community at large felt we were lepers of a leper colony! We were forced to leave and we ended up in a dingy Chinatown Hotel somewhere.

We were all very happy when the test results came back and that the patients tested positive for Influenza B virus.

This lesson in a contagion situation taught me the need to be careful and maintain hygiene standards always. Surfaces we touch contain a lot of unseen germs and viruses. It was prudent to wash hands and or use anti bacterial wipes to prevent infectious diseases.

Sadly the Singaporean mentality is much against the wearing of masks if they have a flu, cough or cold. The only time Singaporeans wore masks when the Haze situation worsened air quality to a grossly bad PSI range.

Why only protect self but not protect others, when one is the source of a cough, flu or cold? Can it be that we are truly selfish Singaporeans that care only for self and not for others? I believe not, as there have been many instances of good Samaritans of Singapore helping in time of need!

But I have been in situations where meeting participants are coughing like banshees and or sneezing so badly that I wish I could put them in a Ziploc bag 😦

Do wear a mask if you have sniffles. SARS may be snuffed not now but we never know when the next such awful virus can rear its ugly face.

Stay Safe, No Incidents or Accidents is best motto!

I tendered my resignation shortly after on 2 grounds; I could not continue to work with such a boss and Duchess of Yore invited me to work for her firm and not to waste time in that office!

I scaled new heights thereafter and have no regrets leaving the health care sector and learning about SARS.