#219: Restore a man to his health, his purse lies open to thee.

I haven’t updated in a long long time. And I wouldn’t have written this normally. Most of my musings are now confined in my head, popping up randomly in the middle of the day, chewed and pondered on for a couple of minutes before pulling away from said distraction so I can get back to work doing MRs and reviewing medication orders. I do feel stifled in all these, my creative muscles long stiff and achy from underuse. My tablet lies untouched for the past 3 months as my sister slowly learns to stop bothering me about the drawing commission I promised her months back. My little log book of book reviews laying wasted on my side table, obscured by my printed guidelines and patients lists.

But I digress. In any case, I write this post while wrestling on public transport on the way to work (Edit: I was. But I wasn’t done by the time work started so here I am continuing at night), riding escalators and staring at the edematous legs of the person in front of me, varicose veins of the woman diagonally to my left, recalling an incident that just happened earlier than inspired this spew I would’ve usually kept to myself and spend the early morning commute catching up on Reddit instead.

As I was walking up to the MRT entrance, a frail old woman dressed (retrospectively eerily) in all white – a white head cover, white shirt white pants and a carrying a white plastic bag to boot – looking kind of worried and lost. She stood out like a sore thumb despite her stature and her demeanor indicating that that was the opposite of her intentions.

I know she noticed me, she looked up at me, paused, and waited for me to walk closer. I debated on how I should present myself moving forward, as my walk along the side walk brought me closer and closer to her fidgety self. I am a morning person but I still hate people exclusively before 7am. What did she want from me? I can do the basics. Directions, bus numbers, closest [insert common store name]. She looks kind of sad, I could help her.

I kept a neutral face and a steady pace. As expected, she stepped to me as I got closer.

“小姐啊” She said hesitantly.“ 可以帮帮我嘛?”

“什么?”

“我没钱买药,” she started, as she unfurled her palm revealing a purple metered dose inhaler. At least it looked purple in the dim pre-dawn. I think it’s Seretide. I didn’t look at her face. I just looked at the inhaler. I’ve read about it, but I’ve never used one before. I don’t know how much it costs. I don’t think it’s expensive.

“对不起,我有急事。” Then I scurried off, not looking back. (I wasn’t wrong, was just on time in the end). I know people were walking behind me. Maybe she asked them, maybe she asks everyone that passes her. Maybe it’s just another day, and I’m not the special one who she chose to reach out to and I’m not that heartless person to ignore her plea.

People who know me know my unpopular economic / political views. In fact my views are so wildly unpopular I won’t elaborate too much on them in this post. But that aside, I’ve always somewhat trusted how the government allocated funding for medication. Medications get stratified to standard list 1, 2 and non-standard list based on inherent cost as well as cost-benefit analysis for the drug choice. SL1 is dirt cheap (maybe a few cents per tablet), and SL2 is quite cheap as well. Medicine don’t appear out of thin air to cure our silly asses, so expensive medicines can be expensive (NSL), perfectly reasonable. If you’re really poor, get the social worker to apply for financial assistance for you. The needs assessment would ideally reveal the tier of subsidies you qualify for. I’ve seen patients pay next to nothing, and still get the important treatment they need. Isn’t that great!

As with any system, people fall through the cracks. Even with a 99.99% satisfaction rate, you have 0.01% of the people accidentally getting the short end of the stick. But you can’t call it a bad system. Do we overhaul a 99.99% good system to save the 0.01% unlucky individuals?

The PC answer is yes, because all lives are valuable and everyone is entitled to having accessible healthcare. The sensible answer is no, because you can’t please everyone and money and resources and time are limited and we are all human please don’t be unreasonable when our statistics show great successes what more do you want from me.

Little white lady reminded me of the Lepax lady, who cried to me at the dispensing counter when the cost of her antidepressant was made known to her. “I can’t afford this antidepressant. But the doctor says it’s good for me,” Big sigh. “It’s just making me more depressed.”

Little white lady reminded me of a chronic Hepatitis B patient I interviewed just recently. “I don’t take Telbivudine anymore, I just can’t afford it.”

Little white lady reminded me of the countless patients I had to counsel medication compliance for, who were halving or quartering tablets without permission, taking the medicine every other day or “only when I feel really bad” – “Medicine very expensive you know!!”

Do they know the subsidies they can apply (were they ignorant about the systems in place)? Did they try but were rejected (did the system fail them)? Are they just stingy with their money, or put life-saving medication a low priority in their budget? (You’d be surprised)

I could’ve given little white lady some money for her inhaler. One inhaler contains 120 doses, assuming 2 puffs BD that would last her a month. Then what? Heck, I don’t even know if it was a legitimate cry for help or just a scammy money-begging shot, from that half a second interaction. I can’t sit her down for a 30min financial counselling to see if she understands her Medisave/care/shield entitlements or if she’s poor at managing her existing finances. I felt pretty damn useless then, and I’m still feeling damn useless now.

I don’t know. I still wouldn’t have given any money. Am I horrible.

Patients are patients. Patients are not statistics. But when you look at them as a population, that’s what they are eh?

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#218: We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.

How awkward, I haven’t written anything in months. I’m still very much alive and kicking, sometimes wishing I wasn’t. But thankfully, according to the recent lectures on pharmacotherapy of depression, such episodes are within the normal range of human emotions so I’m all good mental health wise.

I initially wanted to write about how March is the hell-month to end all hell-months of schooling, but the more I thought about it the more…trivial it seemed. I’m not trying to be gungho or dismissive about my own problems or by extension dismissive of people who complain about things like deadlines/exams, but everything just seems so trivial now. Everything I can think bad about my situation can be tagged with a “So what?” behind them and I have absolutely nothing to say. Life is going to throw some curveballs at you, so just put on your big girl panties and get the damn thing done.

It’s like I want to complain, but I think its stupid and unnecessary to do so since it doesn’t make any practical sense, and while some people find it a relief I don’t see how whining about my life is going to give me that kind of psychological relief / validation of my experiences. What is there to validate even? I’m a student, I experience student things. Exams and deadlines are just part of being a student, why try to relief yourself of an integral part of your phase in life? If I were to no longer have exams and deadlines, would I still feel like a student at all? But at the same time I find a slightly overwhelming feeling to complain about the situation, despite knowing how ridiculous it is to do so…?? And since I perceive no relief in fulfilling this compulsion, why does this happen and how does this work?

I finished studying for my test coming up in 8h! I am entitled to shitpost nonsense in my own personal blog! Marie stop psychoanalyzing and leave yourself alone!

#217: Another chance for us to get it right.

hapynewyr

2016 has been a terrible year for this blog, because of the abysmal lack of updates. Since I tend to only update when I’m sad (besides the anniversary posts), I’ll call it a win this year. Or perhaps I’ve just found different outlets to vent! But anyway, below are a few of the highlights of my year, and what I’m looking forward to in 2017:

In 2016, I had my PECT II attachment. I went to NUH and experienced the hospital pharmacist life, and realised that I’m not that great at it, even if I do like the work. The in-patient pharmacist life was pretty stressful, especially with all the concoction of drugs the patients are on and you have to be familiar with everything and all the counselling points. I’m sure it comes with practice! Out-patient was closer to my kind of thing, it felt pretty similar to my time in PECT I and you get the recurring patients, their quirks and the hilarity that ensues (Patients coming to stalk their favorite pharmacist and give her chocolates). You get the annoying and stressful buzzing when you make a patient wait more than 15 minutes for their basket of medication, you pack Metformin 500 instead of 850 and get chided by the in-charge…Fun times. When pre-reg rolls around in 2017 I’d get to experience this all over again, but with added responsibilities and workload and stress. Yet I’m so inexplicably excited for it! I’m such a masochist.

In 2016, I joined my first Bodybuilding (Bikini division) Competition. Possibly the best decision of my 2016 life – I love the process, I love the training, the diet, seeing my body change day by day; it just made my love for this lifestyle grow more and more. Though gymming started out years ago on a bad note for me, I’m slowly refining my relationship with it and its only going to get better and better. Can’t wait to see how I’d look and how strong I’d be in 2017 (Hopefully with a distractingly large ass and PRs all around)

In 2016, I had a crazy number of photoshoots, and accepted ad-hoc, paid-for modelling gigs. The money is the least of my concern, I am blessed to live comfortably without requiring additional income, but the whole experience is huge fun, with or without the money! I do not feel ‘natural’ in front of the camera despite what photographers have described, but that’s always something to work towards. It’s pretty amazing to have people appreciate the style I have or the kind of pictures that comes from photographing me. As a fat kid since 2013 (And the additional mess after 2013) I’ve not been used to feeling good about myself. I’d love to see how I can expand on this in 2017.

In 2017, I’d like to pass driving. I’ve been putting off this for a long time, not only because I’m lazy but because I find it extremely useless in my near future. I know there are benefits to having the license earlier and all, but aside from that, I get by most wonderfully without the car using Singapore’s pretty reliable (for me) public transport and Uber in a pinch. But it’s still something I ought to get over and done with (and if that gets Kang off my back about it, why not y’know) Also despite all the dangers of solo-tripping the US, it’s still a lifelong dream of mine and I can’t go anywhere without a car (so I’ve been told)

In 2017, I want to learn how to love. Over five years of a sweet but mellow relationship has honestly made me (us?) quite complacent and taking each other for granted. It seemed like a given that we’d just be together forever and live in a house with a white picket fence and 2.5 kids, and when you start the relationship out barely 18 years old and full of dreams and not much real idea about the future it is a romantic thought. Real life, of course, doesn’t give two hoots about your dreams and very real problems crop up all the time – there’s only so long one can ignore them. I want to learn how to love truly, the good, the bad, the unexpected; to balance the hopefulness of my 18 year old self with the realities of the world.

#216: I remind myself how lucky I am to have someone so special to miss.

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A very eventful summer passed and then some, and suddenly you’re gone again.

Every year I’ll be grateful that you took this path you’ve chosen – you’ve learnt so much and I’m so proud of you and excited for your next years to come! Your absence recedes to the back of my mind, but like always I slide into the routine of scheduling a Skype call instead of popping over to your house, of asking how your beautiful UK weather is instead of circle-jerking over the blistering Singapore sun, of chiding you to eat less nasty British sausages of questionable fillings instead of less greasy pratas. Routine is good to ease the longing. I think I may miss this kind of faraway yearning when this chapter of our relationship ends: it just seems so tragically romantic. And you know we are really unromantic after 5 long years (but you know I love you more and more)

#214: The Choice of the Anti-choice

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(This post is in response to this article I stumbled upon very recently)

Being a Catholic, I do find my pro-life point of view influenced by my religion. I hold pro-life beliefs, definitely, but I definitely do not feel like I have the right to tell anyone else what to believe or what to choose, and neither do I have the right to denigrate those who have come up with their decisions based on their personal circumstances. In that sense, I guess I’d be considered a pro-choice. It feels weird as I’ve always told people that I am ‘pro-life’, when asked.

Can one be both ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ at the same time? If my personal choice against abortion is a morally driven one, and that the right to life is a moral standard I personally defend, doesn’t that mean that I am sitting by and allowing what I feel is immoral to happen? Shouldn’t I feel the moral obligation to stop it? Furthermore, my personal pro-life point of view, however, has always been (and hopefully will forever stay) hypothetical. If I were to experience a problem pregnancy, either out of unfortunate circumstances or life-threatening complications, I wouldn’t truly know what my reaction would be. I suspect with my lack of feelings of moral obligation to defend what I think is right, when faced with difficult circumstances, it could be easily abandoned as well…That makes me feel oddly vulnerable and embarrassed at my lack in resolute.

This article really highlighted the cognitive dissonance experienced when militant pro-life believers are faced with the personal experience of an unwanted pregnancy. It’s so obviously hypocritical when one justifies their own act of abortion to be the exception, and turn right around to picket abortion clinics and accuse other people of being murderers – it astounds me that they are able to do that with a straight face!

At the same time, I feel sorry for these individuals. For the fact that they had to contemplate their situation with the psychological stress of their initial beliefs; that they had to twist their psyche so arduously to disavow their actions. Perhaps it was the fear of judgement from their peers, or the pressures they know they would face should they carry the child to term…I don’t agree with their hypocrisy, but I feel compassion for their circumstances.

So what do you think? What is your personal view on abortion and what is your thought process behind it? Do you struggle similarly, or am I the only one?

 

 

This is a repost from an actual homework submission for a USP class, but I felt like the material was personally interesting enough to warrant more contemplation outside of class.

#213: “What is the purpose of all this?” he asked politely.

purpose

“Everything must have a purpose?” asked God.
“Certainly,” said man.
“Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God.
And He went away.

It’s not easy to find things I’m passionate about. For as long as I can remember I’ve been fickle-minded. When I was young, I changed my future job three times a week. I’ve wanted to do graphic design, translation, veterinary work. I’ve wanted to work in a zoo, or be an astronaut, or even be just a generic office lady doing paperwork. I’ve been interested in many many things, but never really determined or passionate enough about something to pursue it. It was a struggle to choose a course of study for university when I wanted to learn absolutely everything and commit to absolutely nothing. I’m glad that so far I haven’t started regretting my choice to seriously consider changing courses…yet.

So I consider myself really blessed when I find meaning and passion in something, something I can see myself in the foreseeable future always eager to hustle over, to improve and to grow. For someone who is usually pretty ambivalent about everything, I think it’s a very valuable feeling, and I choose to persue that fulfillment. I don’t always make the best choices – scratch that, I sure as hell don’t – but I can honestly say that I’m grateful for the lessons each choice had brought me. Some lessons more painful than others, but each of them my own unique experience all the same.

I’m sorry, but I’m not apologizing for my interest and passion…I’m just sorry to see that it has to be this way. I don’t mind walking down this path with the little support I can get. It’s a useful reminder that at the end of the day you’re the only one whose got your own back. I choose to stay true to myself this time, and all times.

#212: There’s nothing wrong with sobriety in moderation.

winebun
“What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set, ingenious machine for turning with infinite artfulness, the red wine of Shiraz into urine?”

I’ve taken to recreational drinking recently, on the weekends when my friends and I finally have a chance to meet up, commiserate our horrible work weeks and drink to our next week of our sad little lives with only the tinkling of glasses and the miserable company of each other, which really is good enough now I think of it. It’s not always that bad, we do meet up for more joyous / neutral reasons. Drinking is fun when it takes a backseat to a larger purpose of the gathering of people.

Its a bit of a problem when you have one too many drinks and end up vegetative for the whole of the next day, though. When I used to drink in abundance and without care, I was always chastised by my mother for not moderating my intake. I tend to drink it – whatever it is available – like water, especially when water is not available. (Bringing a glass to my lips helps to make awkward silences less awkward.). I’m slowly learning to appreciate moderation in drinking. I am however, regressing in my moderation of staying up to ungodly hours, as exemplified by the time now (2+ AM).

#211: Yeah, they’re invincible, and she’s just in the background.

rabbitpray

“Although the life of a person is in a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”

Happy Lent everyone! Lent started this Wednesday! What a good timing, right after all the Chinese New Year festivities. Despite all the miserable fasting, Lent is a time of renewal and celebration to turn back to God.

For Lent this year, I’ve decided to give up my daily cup (or two, or three, or four…) of trusty kopi-o-kosong that had fueled me through sleepy lectures and lethargic training sessions. I’m not completely dependent on it – its more mental than anything, really – but its a crutch that I’m looking forward to get rid of. So far I’ve survived three days without, not feeling any worse for wear. I didn’t swear off caffeine though, so I’ve replaced it with copious amounts of tea (which is not that potent) and – if I do end up splurging at the Nutrifirst warehouse sale tomorrow – potentially pre-workout (which is…very potent).

Hope I don’t die by the end of 40 days. Not from lack of coffee, but from a paradoxical caffeine overdose from all the pre-workout. With a side-effect of an empty wallet.

I’m missing the spirit of my Lenten abstinence, right…