Thursday, October 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad...

The 22nd of October is one of the most important dates on my calendar, but this year I didn't put it on the calendar (I don't have one) and therefore promptly proceeded to forget its significance. As it is, on the very day fifty-one years ago, a great man came into the world, without whom I would never have walked the face of the earth. I am referring, of course, to my father.

A truly important person in my life, he never failed to be there when I needed him. In fact, I could never finish writing (or in this case typing) about all that he taught me. He literally made me who I am and was a key factor in getting me where I am today.

I remember being proud of him for as long as I could remember... Although there was a stage at which I did not like being seen with him, as a whole, I was proud to have such a father. Although there were things he did which I did not agree with and caused me pain, I would never exchange my father for any other. Never would I wish for a different set of parents.

When I was little, he apparently spent a great deal of time with me. Taking me to see aeroplanes taking off from the airport, singing to me... And he read to me... Which was how my English became what it is now. He told me how I would be attentive and responsive to what he was teaching me, and I could not believe that I was so compliant. Yes, he punished me severely once and only once in my childhood, and I have never received any punishment at home ever since.

As I grew, I loved to please him with what I did. I valued his praise and his opinion. And I loved to talk to him... To hear him speak and to learn from his words. His interests became mine, many of which, especially music, remain with me to this day. And I would cry if I felt he was displeased with what I had done, or if he was absent from home too long and I missed him.

As the eldest, there were many things which I was expected to understand, even though I did not. I was told many things that I did not want to hear, yet I did not contradict him. I could not.

However, there are so many wonderful memories. He is my greatest advisor and my best friend. He made me have faith in my own beliefs and always encouraged me to do what we both believed was best for me. He always knew best, in short, and I agreed with him. He introduced me to the world of music and badminton. He taught me to cook. He encouraged me to sharpen my mind and to love learning. He made sure I ate 3 full meals and slept 8 hours a day. He helped me draw my first mind map and write my first essay. My entire training in badminton was based solely on his one sentence: "Never let your eyes leave the shuttlecock."

He was with me every time I made an important decision. I would never do anything until I was sure that I had his permission/approval. The ASEAN scholarship, JPA scholarship, coming to England, medicine... Half of the decision was mine; the other half, his.

In terms of character and principles, he seemed so perfect. I can hardly find a flaw in his beliefs, which is probably why he is still my greatest role model. Everyone looked up to him, and he was feared at work. Lazy members of staff feared him for they knew he was strict. Yet he was always fair, just and responsible.... too responsible.

I would be counting myself fortunate to become half the character he is, yet I can hear him telling me that I must never take the easy way out, never lose out on a chance to improve myself beyond my own imagination. To only settle for becoming half as good as him would be an insult. He would want his children to realise their full potential, to be a balanced, morally upright individual, to be a lifelong learner just as he had been.

I know, as I write this with tears flowing down my face, I am living his dream, reliving his life, studying in the same country that educated him, savoring the joy of learning and the taste of knowledge. We both know that life is not easy, and we both know that we can make ourselves better than we were before, as long as we want to. We both know the importance of our family, we would both make sacrifices for them. We both know the work that God is doing in us and for us every day of our lives. We can also see all the beautiful things in the world around us and cherish them, things that are small but magnificent, the handiwork of our great Creator, who created all those things and us as well.

A very happy birthday, old man.... I thank you, and God, that I came into this world through you. I am proud to have your blood running through my veins and arteries, and I am proud to call you my father and to say that I love you.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Yeah, anyway, I just did a very rash thing two weeks in a row. I hurt my foot before the first session of CSSA badminton and yet I still played. That resulted in a foot that hurt the whole entire week. Tonight, I went to Jubilee Sports Centre resolved to only socialise but not play. Alas, my plans so backfired. It is just seriously too tempting to sit there and watch people playing my favourite sport. I just couldn't resist and got up to play a few rallies. I paid for it by feeling a renewed pain in my left foot as I walked off. Ouch, I will have to apply more medication to it...

I have no regrets save for one these few weeks. And that one is not really paying attention to my studies. Other than that, when talking about joining badminton, Heartstart, playing the piano at QMC till everyone else is bored, I have no regrets. Only thing is, I'd have to apologise to anyone who has gotten bored of my music over at QMC. I only do it for my own entertainment and for relaxation. Getting to know more people, getting to know people better than before, sharing interests with similar-minded people... It feels relaxing. And to think some of it happened to me just because I wore badminton shoes and carried a badminton racket to the NMS meeting... It's amazing what can happen based on a leap of faith. It really is.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

First GP Visit

Yes, only 3 weeks into the medical course and today I had my first visit to a GP surgery. Needless to say, I was excited. I really wanted to see what it was like to see patients here in the United Kingdom. The sad fact though, was that the practice I was attached to was in Derby, so not only did I have to wake up early to catch my transport from QMC, but I would have less contact time with patients compared to colleagues based in Nottingham.

Nevertheless, I sprang awake at 5.30 this morning eager not to miss my transport to Derby, which would leave QMC at 7.30. The anticipation was not damped by the fact that it happened to be a morning with temperature circa 8 degrees celsius, although I did make a mental note to start carrying my gloves around. I found a number of my colleagues, all of which were posted to the less accessible areas of Nottingham, waiting at the entrance to the medical school. Soon we were on our way, four of us sitting in a van to Derby. If I am not mistaken, ours is the furthest among all destinations.

At 8.35, after dropping off the other three at their respective surgeries (we all had different ones), I finally set eyes on Mickleover surgery, which on first impression seemed to be a neighbourhood surgery. It was a practice of 3 doctors. The staff were friendly enough, welcoming me into the clinic to wait for the doctor to arrive.

At about a quarter past 9, Dr Gayed arrived and invited me into his office. I sat in the corner of the office. He gave me a brief introduction to each patient's condition before the patient entered the office. Fortunately, none of the patients I saw today were against the idea of having a medical student in the same room.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience today and was reluctant to have to leave at ten past 11. I could readily have sat there for 2 more hours absorbing all the information that each patient was introducing to me. However, I had done fairly well today, managing to see 11 patients over the 2 hours i was there. And I had already accumulated a list of items to be researched over the subsequent days.

I had also obtained insight into the primary health care system. And my immediate conclusion was that I would love to be a general practitioner here. Perhaps it was due to the cultural difference, but a visit to the GP here seemed to be far more active than a typical one in Malaysia. And I started to wonder whether beliefs and principles of a doctor who was trained here could hold in a different country, as I would experience after graduation.

My colleagues and I all agreed that we would have loved to attend GP visits more often... And I'm sure we all eagerly anticipate our next visit, which is the last one before Christmas, 2 weeks from now. I know I do.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Settling down

This is what we call the hallway in our flat. The open door is mine, Room E. The thing attached to the wall is the heater, and after passing it you get to one toilet. Picture on the right is what I now consider the greatest discovery of man, the wonderful bed.

Right, now that's my room in its neater moments. As with most students, the table tends to get extremely messy, more so since it's not a desk with drawers and the like. And there are actually books on my bookshelf already.... Errr.... Some of them I took from the Greenfield Medical Library only because I did not want to wait for others to use them first. I can borrow up to 12 books... And right now, I've barely used half of my quota.

Today I visited the annual Nottingham Goose Fair with fellow Malaysians from the Nottingham Malaysian Society.

It was really huge fun fair with countless stalls of games, rides, food and merchandise. I did not go on any of the rides this time, because I was too cowardly and refused to risk vomiting the food I has just taken. However, I tried some of the game stalls... with no luck.

Then as my flatmate was not feeling well, three of us decided to head home by cab first. Near the exit, I spotted a man with a signboard claiming that he could guess a person's age within a +/- 1 year allowance. If his guess was wrong, the person would get a small toy. I recklessly decided to give it a try. After handing him 2 pounds, he looked at my appearance and wrote down a number on his pinboard. It was the number 24. I could not suppress a laugh, and told him my real age. He seemed rather unhappy about his lack of accuracy, and handed me...

This little guy here. My reward for looking older than I really am.