The Sky never was the Limit...with God

Ramblings and reflections of one growing in stature and wisdom and in his walk with God :)

8:26 PM

Stuck at LCY

Etched by Isaac

Here I am sitting at a table in London City Airport.
It's a foggy day, and every single flight out of the airport has been delayed - mine currently at two hours 20 minutes later than scheduled. It's not a bad thing in itself as I had an early flight - it would be a lot worse if my flight was the last one (as it was the last time I flew, and it was delayed), and I'm not working today, but it still annoying that right now I should have already reached Glasgow.

I know it's been a long time since I last updated my blog, and it's still going to be awhile till I get to properly update it. Unfortunately it takes time to update, and it's not my top priority in life at the moment (it actually ever has been). Seems like time flies! I'm now four months plus into my new job - and am happy to have finished my posting in Surgery (now in Medicine, albeit in the busiest ward in the hospital but I still enjoy it).

Since the last time I have properly posted, the following things have taken place in my life:

- Sat for and passed medical school finals (Praise the Lord!)
- Blessed with a new girlfriend - Esther!
- Went back to Malaysia for a week
- Came over to the UK with family for a pre-graduation holiday trip (also praise the Lord)
- Started working
- Bought a new phone on the first day of the job (Nokia 6)
- Started an audit and presented a poster at a national level conference (also praise the Lord)
- Flown many times to and from Glasgow Airport
- Entered the magical world of RimWorld

I obviously don't have the time to blog like how I used to but I can confirm that God has still and will always be ever-present in my life. His hand is clearly upon my life, protecting me, guarding me, and guiding me. There has been just so much favour which I would not have had otherwise. All glory to God!

There have been many times when I wondered why I'm doing what I'm doing. Medicine is pretty horrible as a career path. It takes a certain breed of tenacious person to want to excel in Medicine. So much time and energy needed to be dedicated to this art/science which is easily capable of stifling every other possible pursuit in life. After all, there's just so much to learn and do in this constantly-expanding field.

The one thing I do know however, is that God placed me here in this time and place for a reason. Surely if He brought me here, kept me going, and sustained me through all these trials, there must be a purpose for all this. Most of the time the questions in my mind revolve around two main issues:

1. Why medicine?
2. Why the UK?

Generally most people back home would have the impression that it's great to work in the UK. From what most international graduates say, and myself, it's a totally different kettle of fish to which the one main upside is that the currency we earn here has pretty good purchasing power. Every country has its own set of troubles of course, and the UK is no different. My personal opinion is that I'd be happier back home - due to proximity to family, fantastic food, and the local cultural values. But for now, I am thankful to have a job - there's still the almost-a-year-long queue back home which I've already kinda entered. Just too easy to rot away at home post-exams.

Christmas and New Year are coming, and I'm the only one in my rotational group to be working all four public holidays (thankfully I get lieu days though). I will get to say that I worked Christmas and Boxing Day nights (and New Year's day and subsequent public holiday). I get horrified looks and responses from nursing staff when I casually mention that I'm working all the public holidays (plus Good Friday) as Christmas and New Year's are big events over here where people generally return to their hometowns. In London, public transport comes to a halt on Christmas Day itself - yes, the drivers get to go home too!).

Back home because we have so many cultural and religious public holidays, I guess the different staff groups take turns to cover each other, which does result in more functionality all year round.

The grass is always greener on the other side, no?

I believe that it's better to water the grass on your own side, than to peer over the fence and say that the grass is greener over there, simply because over the other side, there are plenty of people saying the exact same thing.

Can't wait to be back home.

But it's amazing to be in the same time zone as my beautiful girlfriend!
We'll see how God shapes our paths. He is always good. =)

In general observation, Scottish people are nicer than English people, and Irish people are nicer than Scottish people. I haven't had enough contact with Welsh people to establish their level of niceness, but most people say that Welsh are similar to Scottish in the sense that they have a good sense of humour and are generally nice.

I like Scotland.
The water tastes fantastic (you don't know until you've tasted it, after being stuck with hard water prior to soft water).
The lifestyle is a bit less hectic.
The people are generally nicer.
The cost of living is generally lower.

But the weather is colder and wetter, but so far I've survived (yes, even the recent -8 degrees conditions).

Living here, I can afford to live on my own, so I'm doing just that. For a price slightly higher than what I paid to rent a room in Brighton, I now rent a whole two-bed flat. Yes, a TWO-bed flat.
(two bed because no more one beds la).

I lived on the floor for a period of time before I could get furniture delivered in. It's difficult to synchronise the delivery days/times with my working rota. The moment I completed the construction of my table was crazily memorable - I felt such a sense of happiness. Like YESSSSSS FINALLY I HAVE A TABLE. So much happiness from such a simple thing.

I've been cooking as usual, and have managed to meet people to play badminton when I'm not stuck at work. My everyday aim at work from the get-go is to get out of work on time as there's no allowance for overtime, i.e., overtime reduces my average hourly wage, which is officially about £11.20 after tax (it's okay).

I never thought I'd become a frequent flier, but I have. Visiting Esther is high on my priority list, and oddly enough, flights from my side to hers are as low as half the price of her side to mine (must be London marketing / prices) so I fly more often to see her. God is amazing - He created a significant other who is perfect for me, and led me to her (plenty of circumstances which could not otherwise be engineered).

This is a relatively long post, which I will supplement with photos later on when I'm back etc. Now still in airport, hopefully the time won't delay further - I still need to go grocery shopping, and change my body clock as I just got off a stretch of four night shifts, after three day shifts. I work a rota which rotates between seven days' work + two days off and five days' work + two days off. On a 1.5x banded rota, the official maximum average hours a week is 72 (obviously lower than back home la) but sometimes we work about 80 I guess.

I like night shifts - they're pretty exciting. I get to do stuff I otherwise wouldn't get to do, because the hospital has only four doctors on site at night. The other day I assessed a patient which changed from dyspnoea to possible cardiac arrest to possible stroke. Quite interesting indeed.

Once again, I am thankful that God has kept me going all this time. Sometimes it's extra difficult - something only people living far away from home will understand - and it's also linked to being a foreigner, and being able to see things in a different light from the way locals do. So many problems, so few people implementing solutions, but then again it's not my country, and my country has problems of its own too. The one thing I know is that God always has His best plan for each country - not sure how He works His ways, but I know He always does.

Signing off till I update this post with photos - hopefully soon.
God bless =)

6:48 AM

Just for Esther

Etched by Isaac

To my beautiful girlfriend, if you're reading this, I want you to know that I love you very very very much!

*will update about life later on once I can get most of the other stuff sorted out. Much work but God is always good, as He always has been and will be.*

9:06 AM


Etched by Isaac

I guess I should have saw it coming.
I guess I didn't.

I put myself into this final year of medicine with what seemed to be gusto, but I soon found out that once I tried to rely on my own strength, things got very messy. Dependence on the wrong things led to more problems, and all too quickly, I was stuck in a quagmire of desolation.

-- Presenting my IRP at the BSACI 2016 Annual Meeting at Telford (super nervous). --

Don't get me wrong, on the surface, things seemed okay. Most of my friends would probably say they thought I was doing okay, if not very well - coming off a presentation at a national level conference, consistently taking and uploading photos of daily activities etc, writing what seems to be insightful things into the Christian mindset on an almost-daily-basis. In fact, one of my facilitators gave me a perfect phrase to describe how I was performing for my life support course assessment - "Maybe you're like a swan - paddling like crazy under the surface, but appearing graceful from above." when I said in the debrief that I felt I was quite panicky

-- Not quite a swan, but illustrates the calm. --

And things did seem okay, except for the fact that each day I lost a bit more of my will to live, as I dug myself deeper into this pit which is medicine.

Now you see, medicine (probably like any other career path, but particularly more so) very easily engulfs one's life. The average medical student is surrounded by other brilliant medical students and doctors, who together embody the culture of medicine - excellence, at a high personal price. Simply because there are so many things to know in medicine (although no doctor is expected to know EVERYTHING about medicine), a dedicated student can very easily spend the day in the hospital / clinic / ward, and the rest of the day studying or doing questions, whilst cutting down on time for "housekeeping" (physical / emotional / spiritual).

-- My GP and I. --

Things came together for me during my GP rotation. I had a brilliant GP as my mentor, and I was very quickly adopted into the team at the GP surgery. Seeing patients on my own, and being forced / coached to come up with my own diagnosis and management plans made me think on my feet, and really apply all I had ever learned. I went for everything - clinics, special clinics, home visits, visits to the pharmacy, ending up with an average break of 20-30 mins in a 8.30-6pm day. Adding in the commute time, my 7.10am - 7.30pm was spent. On the commute, I'd do questions, trying to not "waste" my time. Once I was back in the house, I'd come up with the quickest way of feeding myself.

-- My first ever own-made salad. Chicken salad. It actually tasted good! --

I was a fool, burning both ends of the candle, hoping to illuminate the face of the deity named Medicine which I sought.

Where was the stuff I wrote about - about putting my trust and faith and hope in God and God alone?
Where was my sole dependence on my God?
Where was my belief that God was still in control and that I should not worry?

Reluctance to relinquish control is what brought my burnout, I think.

-- Couscous, Spam, pesto, and basil. --

And burnout doesn't go away easily; it persisted through most of my next rotation, till yesterday when I decided to just totally disengage - I took the rest of the afternoon and evening and night off, and then decided to extend that disengagement to the next day (I'd gotten my rotation sign-off on Thursday) so I could have my Friday off if needed. My sub-dean told me I was pretty far ahead of the logbook game so I didn't have to worry about looking for a NG tube placement or male catheter or suturing.

Today morning (Friday), I woke up bang at 7.15am without my alarm. Forced myself to go back to sleep, and woke up again, without the alarm, at 8.50am. Dozed off again, and finally got up at 10.45am.

Sleep is sweet. 
My closer friends will laugh at my saying that. I'm known to function on continual 5.5-6 hours' daily sleep.

I guess I'm growing old. Ironic for someone my age (actually considered young lol). 

My today (actually half a day since I got up so late) has been full of non-medical stuff, which has been amazing.
This blog post has been put off for far too long, so here I am, typing away since midnight.

I've often felt that medicine is sad in the sense that it takes usually pretty creative individuals, and sucks them dry of their creativity because the system discourages it. Everything has to be evidence-based, and proven to be effective.

-- The day I decided I had had enough of eating the same old food again and again, I made a burger! --

Maybe there will be a better culture surrounding medicine one day - I just don't see it at the moment.

-- When David came to my room with batteries for my new flash. --

But I really thank God for putting close friends in my life, who I can bug when I'm feeling down. And for God's presence (which I often ignore because I'm trying to do my own stuff).
And for God's mercy. I would not be here to type this now, if not for God.

Every breath is a gift from God. I need to keep that in my mind at all times. I have a tendency to complain, which is unhealthy.

Plan for the rest of the academic year (not much longer till exams actually):
- clean up my priorities and use time accordingly.
- actually study (not done since like semester 4 IMU).
- do questions (quickest way to learn stuff).
- spend time with good friends (must).
- take photos.
- food eating and cooking.

-- Visited Wee last week! --

-- And Tim and Co too! =D --

SJTs are coming up and I have not prepared at all. Zilch. The thing is, I don't really have to, because the plan is to go back to serve in Malaysia, and the SJTs are for points placement within the housemanship system in the UK. One annoying thing I've found this year is that everything I do is done with the foreshadowing of my leaving the UK - and although it's definitely not the fault of people, every time I get questioned about my plans post-graduation, I sigh in my head as I prepare to explain yet again, why I'm not staying for the foundation years here.

Malaysia will be a challenge, as I have to re-adapt to how things work in the healthcare system. This will be a process of reverse culture shock. I'll have to learn how to survive in a different system, with more languages, and lesser manpower. But God will make a way, I am sure. He sent me here, and He will take care of me.

-- The sun rises again. This was the day I got up to shoot the sunrise. --

I'm not sure how long it will be till my next blog post. Hopefully it will be on something less sombre. I intend to schedule more "me time" and that might mean more blog posts =D And if I learn to put God at the centre of my life, I don't think burnout will come again so easily. Here's to hope =)

7:17 AM

Wider Layout!

Etched by Isaac

Took me about two hours but I finally figured out why the Cbox didn't feel like loading sometimes. Apparently it works only when the blog isn't accessed securely (not https://). But in the process of troubleshooting, I also changed the width of the blog - now it's wider which makes for better viewing of photos (hurrah lol). Unfortunately I don't have the time (currently) to go through the older posts, so some of them have some weirdly-placed photos which I aligned left to fit into the older narrower layout. Aiyah.

I don't have time to blog properly about Year 5 as of now (it's been four weeks since I landed and I'm still tired because I've been doing stuff kinda nonstop). It's been a tiring journey. Am happy I finished my Case In Depth in time. God is still the same - always faithful and good although I'm not always the same.

I will update properly at another time. For tonight (after doing this whole layout thingy and stuff), here is a picture of my white light! It helps combat SAD. Bought a new light bulb because the old one blew. Such a big difference now I don't need to use my spare light bulb which makes everything look jaundiced. Hahaha.

Mini-conference tomorrow; actual conference up in Telford later this week (I don't really want to go but they want me to so I have to aiyah). Have to spend 10 hours travelling over a period of 36 hours or so.

Must keep up the faith.

3:48 PM

Waiting at Heathrow

Etched by Isaac

All too quickly, my summer holidays back in Malaysia have come to an end, yet again, and here I find myself sitting down in Heathrow Airport Terminal 4, waiting for my bus to Brighton to arrive.

Heathrow Terminal 4 Arrivals is not a nice place to wait in - it functions well if you don't have to spend too much time in it, but thank God I found a place to sit in, and here I am, blogging after a few months of intending to blog but not ending up blogging.

Too many things have happened in the span of this year, and even more so in the past two months or so. I won't be able to update my blog completely due to time constraints. I wish I had more time. Part of me likes keeping a record of my state of mind - but I rarely get to do so, so blogging is quite a treat.

Let's see how much I can type in half an hour. I don't even know where to start. =/
Let's begin with the compulsory stuff - I've successfully completed Year 4 at BSMS (Praise the LORD!), without any hitches. It's a big difference from my Year 3 where I failed two CbDs, and had to stay extra long over the summer for the resit, before I could fly back for electives in Selayang. This year, God has been amazingly good, and everything has fallen into place, despite having other circumstances in life that have been taking up time. God is always good la. He has never failed me, and He always carries me, even when I'm not faithful - because it is His nature to be loving and kind and gracious and just.

I think I've updated my blog partially about the IRP and the GP report - both were successes, and took much time researching and writing, but they both paid off. I've never scored so well in a written piece of work in medical school before (first time hurrah). But then again, I've never spent so much time writing reports like this before (about 120 hours for IRP and 80 hours for GP report). As Nat would say, "You learn something new everyday!".

 - IRP! -

The GP theory exam was a paper which I didn't study enough for (in my humble opinion lol), but thank God, God is merciful, I passed with room to spare. Not bragging. There was a lot of prayer involved. This year has been a year of faith and prayer. More studying of the Bible than of medicine theory. I kid you not, I have been spending more time reading the Word of God than pathophysiology and management of diseases. And every day there are new treasures to discover that make my world better and more God-centric.

The summer holidays back in Malaysia were amazing. I managed to eat basically all the food I set out to eat, and more! Also, after counting, I think I had about 35 different meetings with friends, which is amazing in its own right (5.5 weeks = 35 meet-ups?), almost all of whom I had the chance to share the Gospel with (praise the Lord again!). I got to witness the results day of my IMU Seremban friends, and I shared in the joys and the distresses they went through (those who made it and those who needed more time to make it). I had the chance to be comfort in times of need, for which I am truly thankful to God for. God's ways are always higher than our ways, which is why most of the time we probably won't understand why He allows things the way He does.Sometimes I wish I could understand everything, then when I think about the implications, I think I'm better off not understanding everything. My brain would explode! =P

-- Nasi Lemak!! Best of the best. --

-- NAT! --

 -- Feeding myself and the tsum. --

 -- Bak Zhang. Have missed this so much. --

-- Good to see some of the BB boys. Jack Kee hiding lol. --

  -- A hidden scene at Hang Tuah. --

 -- Jack Kee spoilt us silly. Salmon belly sashimi! --

 -- We also visited Saisaki, and were not disappointed at all. --

-- Egg tarts! --

-- Sogo Food Court --

-- Had a good meal and catch up with Lester. It's definitely been a long while. --

 -- Also had a great time with Jasper. Time flies indeed. --

-- Gordon as Assassin's Creed on Cam 2 --

-- The Prefectorial Board decided to gather too! --

-- Yu Lek Wan Tan Mee. Simply amazing. Has MSG though I think. --

-- This sign in Ikea was amusing. --

-- Gordon with his sign hahaha --

 -- I met Shereen and we had banana leaf (again for me haha). --

 -- Also met the (now) doctors! --

-- Was privileged to see my friends become doctors! --

-- Took their informal photo. --

-- Smiles --

-- More smiles --

-- Dennis, Dennis. Hahahahaha :D --

-- Muahahahaha --

-- Random encounter of quite a few MBS guys in Lowyat. --

-- We went to Nando's! Pang Juinn's appearance was good too. --

-- 1st KL BB mini reunion in the control room haha --

-- Have never taken a photo with Uncle Gabriel and family before :D --

-- Badminton! --

-- The guys all looking good :D --

-- Uncle Chong's is still going strong and the food is still as good. --

-- Tan Sri and Abigail and myself. --

-- Kepong Yong Tau Foo. Amazing. Delicious. Best. --

-- Kepong Dim Sum. Thank you Yem for the idea. --

-- More sudden appearances by the BB gang. --

-- I must promote the garlic fried rice sold at Ichizen --

-- We met up =) and it was good. --

 -- More nasi lemak! --

-- Kajang Satay. --

-- Big hoo-ha over phone. Right now I have this as a spare. --

-- Yohini. Always good to catch up. --

-- We still game (very occasionally lol). --

-- Watched the DLCW-Lin Dan match! So much stress. --

 -- Nothing like naan cheese garlic butter and tandoori chicken! --

-- With Pastor Ong (I got Bible-smacked before the picture lol). --

-- We discovered the hot-ness of Sunway Pyramid when the air-conditioning is spoilt. --

-- Packing. Much easy food this time round. Hehe. --

-- Stardew Valley. Great great great game. --

-- The humble chicken rice. Can still be found in Taman Kosas for RM4.50/packet. --

 -- More packing. --

Of course, time spent with family was the best. Time with loved ones is always precious and over too quickly. We went up to Cameron Highlands, and we had a proper holiday, which really felt like a holiday because we had the chance to just sit on the couch and watch TV. Alice in the Wonderland has been a fun drama to watch. I have to take up Mandarin once I'm back, before housemanship otherwise I will die. The problem with having a Chinese-looking face is that everyone in the hospital automatically expects me to be able to converse fluently in Mandarin / Cantonese / Hokkien +/- Hakka and Teochew. Never mind, I can learn this language.

-- Cameron! Way too many strawberries present. --

-- All too soon. --

Time is passing way too fast. I have to say goodbyes every time I leave. Next up, I'll be saying goodbyes to my UK friends, probably for quite a long time. I may never see some of them again, but only God knows, I guess. He has blessed me richly, and I can only thank Him everyday because He is simply so, so good.

I forgot to mention that I was blessed with a free upgrade for my air ticket, from Economy class to Business class. I got stopped at the gate and was told to go to the side counter, which I did, albeit a bit hesitantly (I was wondering what the problem was, like uh oh what did I do?), then the lady cancelled my seat number and wrote a new one and told me I had to go to the upper deck because I'm now in the business class. I was like WOW and thank you so much! So I tried my best to not be too jakun, but I had fun - first time ever getting to sleep properly in an aircraft - the seats go all the way down to become 1.8m long beds! And there was so much food and drink and space. So blessed. Along the way, I got to share the Gospel with the guy next to me, so praise the Lord for that too!

-- So much legroom. Not used to this. --

-- They have satay on the plane. SATAY on the plane. --

-- Had a lamb sirloin steak a few km high in the sky. So blessed. --

-- And Haagen-Dazs! --

-- The chair flattens into a bed. --

-- Pink guava juice and nasi lemak. Seriously. Crazy. --

This upcoming period is going to be hectic. Fifth and final year - the idea is to settle it in one go. No resits and no repeats, Godwilling, and after that, maybe my family will be able to come over for my graduation and we might go sightseeing too! Exams start at the end of March, and results will be out in early May, so by then I'll know whether the elusive degree is finally within my grasp. I'll be staying with David and gang, and this year should be fun la I guess. I doubt I'll be able to take as many photos and cook as much as Year 4, but I'll try to balance my studies with time for hobbies as well. And of course, Bible time will come before everything else. God has to always come first, then everything else falls into place.

I will update this post with pictures once I can. Now I think I should go catch my bus. Maybe visit the toilet before that. It's gonna be awhile till I'm back in my own room. New room! New year, new everything lol.

And to the special superwoman girl, if you ever read this, let me tell you once again that you are super blessed. Hang in there. Don't give up. God is carrying you, and He will never fail.