Lilypie Third Birthday tickers

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Culture shock #2

I am shocked to realise that:

Singaporeans are surprisingly ignorant about their own medical problems. One would think that, amongst such an affluent and highly educated population, there would be more awareness of health-related matters. But there isn't. My Singaporean patients seem to be quite disinterested in personal health. I feel like grabbing some of my patients and screaming, "Don't you care?! It's your life we're talking about here!!!"

Perhaps my expectations of patients are a little too high. I expect all my patients to be able to tell me or provide me with information regarding the following:

1. What sort of medical conditions they suffer from.
I am used to hearing my patients reel off all their various diagnoses, counting them off one by one on their fingers. In Singapore, patients need alot of prompting and encouragement to get them to reveal their medical history. Just asking them an open question such as, "Do you have any medical problems?" or "Do you have any heart problems?" is not enough. I have to be very specific and condense everything to simple closed questions like "Have you ever had a heart attack?". Even then, I have encountered Singaporeans who deny having serious heart problems but who have already had major heart surgery!

2. What surgical interventions they have undergone and why they took place.
Normally, this is a cue for my patients to tell me gruesome stories about 'going under the knife' and complain about post-operative pain and rehabilitation. Singaporean patients are very reticent about this subject and know very little about what exactly took place during their surgery or why surgery was indicated. Some of them will even outrightly deny that they have had any major surgery, despite having long train-track scars down the centre of the abdomen ("Dunno for what!").

3. What medications they use regularly for their ailments.
Even my most elderly and decrepit patients in the UK would carry a list of prescriptions with them, and if they didn't, they could at least tell me what the medications were for ("A small white pill for my bowels, doctor"). Over here, I'd be lucky if I get a response like "In the morning I take one tablet and in the evening I take five tablets". More often than not, I get no response at all, just a mournful shaking of the head.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Skin to skin

I consider it a great achievement that I managed to get to 35 weeks gestation before finding my very first stretchmark. I shall consider it a battle scar!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Culture Shock #1

I am shocked to realise that:

In this country, people very seldom pay compliments to each other - especially to people who are seen as being 'junior'. A good work or good effort is hardly ever acknowledged - and if it is, it is done in such a begrudging manner that one is never sure if a word of praise has been spoken or not. However, compliments may occasionally be paid behind one's back in a surprisingly expansive manner.

This is called "avoiding obsequious flattery". It is not called "being unencouraging and unsupportive".

The people here are very quick to openly condemn anything that is not to their liking. They will quite happily hurl abuse and revel in making one feel as small as possible. And I am sure that the complaining continues in secret as well. Reprimands, complaints and insults rapidly from mouths that can belabour the same criticisms for over half an hour.

This is called "being candid and honest". It is not called "being cruel and rude".

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Look out for Mr Stork

Hello folks,

Sorry for the long silence! I didn't intend to go AWOL for so long - thank you all for your concern and well-wishes! I am very touched.

The last few months have been rather challenging as MDH and I have made a Very Big Move to a Much Tinier Island, and we are both suffering from culture shock. However, I received some lovely emails over the Christmas season which were very encouraging and made me feel that I should start writing again.

I think the focus of my blog will be changing direction pretty soon, especially with the advent of the package that MDH and I placed an order for last July. We expect the stork to arrive at our doorstep with our little bundle of Stardust within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, I am waiting and watching the skies.
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