Monday, December 31, 2007

An arbitrary moment

It's around three hours before 2008 officially begins in Hong Kong. I'm not going out & I don't care that I'm not going out to celebrate. Years ago I would have given a fuss about staying in and people not inviting me out. Now that I've grown up a bit and matured, I don't really care if I'm out or in. New Year's Eve is like Valentine's Day, Fathers' Day and Mothers' Day. They are holidays made up to extract money from dimwits like you and me who are stupid to notice that we should be celebrating our love for our partner, father or mother everyday instead of one designated day. New Year's Eve is just an arbitrary day - we could pick any day to signify the end of the year. The Chinese do that with the Lunar New Year and individuals do that with their birthdays.

I find people who eagerly anticipate celebrating the New Year are the one's who don't create enough excitement in their lives. These are the same people who watch soap operas and reality TV shows, read all the celebrity gossip in entertainment magazines and photograph themselves next to the Christmas lights like it is a phenomenon that only comes around once every millennia when in fact two months later businesses will set up lights for the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Yes, I have officially become a miser.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Deck the halls with bells of biodegradable holly

This year I only sent Christmas e-cards to my closest friends. Everybody else who can't be bothered to stay in touch with me can just shove it. I'm really in the festive mood now.

I only sent e-cards for a variety of reasons - they're free, they can be sent quickly but mainly they are environmentally friendly. If you think about it paper Christmas cards are a great burden on the environment. We chop down trees just so we can say festive greetings to people we don't normally stay in contact with for the rest of the year. By January most of our Christmas cards and wrapping paper is in the bin. So if you do receive the traditional form of festive greetings, make sure you recycle them. The same could be done for wrapping paper or any other stuff that you manage to waste during this Christmas holidays. If you have to put up Christmas lights make sure they're energy efficient lights and don't put them on for the entire night.

I'm not trying to dampen anybody's Christmas cheer, just highlighting what the environmental impact you are making during these holidays.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Still more whining at doctors

I previously mentioned in another blog entry about the deficiencies of doctors and medical students. After much more thinking, I thought of two more areas where doctors are not prolific. I'll probably think of more as time goes on, bare with me...

5. Doctors are not the most organized of people.

With doctors' minds usually focused on important things perhaps it is acceptable for doctors to require people to organize their schedule, such as secretaries or office staff. Yet I find it unacceptable many doctors are late for meetings, teaching sessions and any other scheduled event. They know in advance they have these meetings, including regular events that they know happen at that time. Yet doctors just have a lax attitude, thinking everybody will turn up late and it will not matter if they turn up late. Many doctors develop this attitude in medical school.

The worst evidence of why doctors are so disorganized is their handwriting. Due to our constant time constraints, doctors' handwriting is more of a squiggle than actual legible words. We need to write as little as possible with the maximum information as in little time as possible. It is amazing patients haven't sued against this, with acronyms or abbreviations only the writing doctor can understand. As a medical student, it took a while before understanding the system (or so called 'system') of how a patient's record is constructed. I remember attending a doctors' session regarding medical blunders and it just amazed me after all this time doctors' handwritings have still not improved.

6. Doctors are not environmentally friendly.

Doctors use fifteen paper towels for drying their hands when two will suffice. We throw away tons of paper but don't recycle it because of our constant fear of divulging patients' details, even though we have shredded the information beyond visual recognition. Most doctors own their own car, despite living five minutes away. That includes one of my friends who goes home when she's on call and drives back when the nurses call her.

So even if your doctor looks like Jennifer Morrison or Katherine Heigl, they do may have more flaws they you expect.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Get togethers

In an earlier blog entry, I said if you are not a Christian you shouldn't celebrate Christmas. Perhaps I was being a bit too harsh with that comment. If you use the holidays for getting together and for giving & receiving with friends, then I can find that acceptable. I know you should be doing that all the time but since most of us are working all the time in different places around the world, perhaps time should be allocated each year for this kind of event.

Since I have finished with classes, I have been getting together with people from my previous secondary schools. The first was on Saturday, getting together with the class I would have graduated with if I had stayed at Shatin College. There were a lot of people who I knew but they were a vast majority that I didn't. Some came to Shatin College after I left and even some had been with me at the same time, even back to Shatin Junior School but not being in the same class I was not that close to them.

I thought about not going and perhaps I was right. I knew I was not going to be much of a conversationalist and that I was not familiar with even the people I knew the most. My worst fears came true. I had a good time, meeting people I had seen in fourteen years, but from my point of view I could have done better. I am always too self-conscious about how I act and react in social situations. I was think I should be talking to people otherwise I look like a complete plonker. That is what happened most of the night. I know some people wanted to avoid me and I don't blame them. Perhaps we have nothing in common. Perhaps they were scared off by the way I look - I dress like I'm still thirteen, have grown fatter than an elephant and still have acne despite being in my mid-twenties. I know I have changed and maybe this frightens off people. I have become more pessimistic, more cynical and very heavily sarcastic - something not all people are use to.

I don't like to sound too down-heartening. One good point is nobody asked me where I frittered away four years of my life and I didn't have to reply that my depression was the cause. People treated me as a normal person... I think.


The other get together was with a guy I was with at Brighton College for four years. It is amazing that we talked like we were old friends but without having to mention much about our boarding school days. Just general things were mentioned like what we were doing and idle stuff. Again I am thankful my depression was not mentioned.

It is funny how people remember you. Nearly everybody remembers me as an Arsenal fan and having a photographic memory. If that is the impression I made, then so be it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hippocrates turning in his grave

As somebody who has been in medical school for nearly nine years, I have observed many doctors and numerous medical students. I wish I could say that I am heartened to be in this profession but it is sad to say that I have become more and more despondent over the years towards medical students and doctors.

For those who are not in the medical sector, I would like to highlight numerous traits which I find many medical students and doctors have but don't realize. For those who are in the health profession, maybe it requires another view to see that you are not all that perfect.

1. Doctors are not nice people

It is a startling revelation but the evidence is there. If doctors were nice people, the consultants would say they didn't need to be paid so much so it will help the financial burden of the health sector. Many doctors would be offering their services for free, for example going to Africa or remote parts of China to help those who are really in need. But what do doctors do instead? They buy Mercedes Benzes only because they are expensive and spend half their time jetting to conferences across the world.

I'm sure most medical students enter medical school eager and thinking they can change the world but sooner or later their animal instincts take over. All they want to do is graduate, get a good job, find a beautiful partner and spawn lots of mini-doctors. They will do anything and everything to achieve their goals, no matter what (which is realy quite scary). The degradation of morality starts in medical school, when peers start to hoard reading material which could benefit anybody or take out every single reference book necessary from the library. Startling to hear but I have seen it happen.

When the students enter the clinical years, their immorality affects patients more. They examine patients who have clearly do not want to be examined because a hundred other students had done so before. I know of one former peer, Eric Ng, who woke patients to practise his examination technique. I know it is proposterous to hear but medical students do that. They even insist a digital rectal examination is necessary to perform and never really explain the procedure to the patient (that it might be painful). Medical students even break the law by nicking gum labels of the patient's details and sticking it into the notebook, just because they are too lazy to write out the patient's name and age (which is all they need). They never really think they could lose their notebook, somebody could pick the notebook up and abuse those patient's details.

It gets even worse in the internship. As they are overworked, underpaid and overstressed, interns take out their frustrations on anybody - nurses, patients, etc. Interns just want to get their work done as quickly as possible so they can get back to sleep. This lack of bedside manner sometimes stays forever, as I have seen in two professors (funnily enough both surgeons). Yet this total lack of remorse maybe makes them better doctors, since they don't form an emotional attachment to their patients and do everything in a logical manner. Think Spock from Star Trek and you will understand my reasoning.

2. Doctors are not clever people and are not great conversationalists

I'm not saying doctors are entirely stupid people. They are very clever in terms of medical sciences but when it comes to other areas, we are dimwits. We cannot hold conversation in other fields such as other sciences, culture, arts, food or politics. I know a vast majority of my doctor friends cannot cook... and I'm not just talking about boiling instant noodles. One friend, Arthur, considers the hospital canteen food as the best he has ever eaten. I experience nausea everytime he says that.

It is the fact that we are so dedicated into studying medicine we don't have time for anything else. I had two recent examples of this. We had two lectures recently. One lecturer made a reference to Spain and said "it is not only the rain that falls mainly on the plain in Spain", which only I and another student (an elective from Australia) got. OK, maybe I was being a bit too harsh since it is an old movie which the current generation have never heard of but probably should since it is one of the great classics but another film reference came up, when the same lecturer remarked that normal humans should not be afraid of the X-men since the mutation should die out. Again only myself and the elective student laughed at this reference whilst it went completely over the heads of my fellow peers. It does get even worse in the second lecture, when the professor asked had anybody seen the Godfather and the same two people mentioned before were the only people to raise their hands.

So whatever you do, don't engage doctors in conversation outside their field.

3. Doctors don't have a great sense of humour.

Doctors do have a sense of humour, just one that nobody else understands except doctors since it makes bleak and obscure references to our medical knowledge. I'll use an example I always hear. Whenever somebody is absolutely hungry, you might use the phrase, "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse." Maybe not that funny but it may gain a snigger. Doctors and medical students usually will say, "I'm about to become hypoglycaemic... get me a glucose drip!" That will get most medical students laughing but will leave most people just totally bewildered.

Doctors (as well as other Hong Kong people) just don't understand sarcasm that well so don't bother using that either. In fact any form of sophisticated humour won't work. Doctors will laugh at trivial stuff, such as the toilet humour of the Farrelly brothers or the ridiculous humour seen on local Hong Kong TV. Doctors don't have a wit or a higher level sense of humour.

4. Doctors are not beautiful and have no sense of style or fashion

I'm sorry to disappoint the male population but I have not found a female doctor that is as beautiful as Jennifer Morrison from "House" or Katherine Heigl from "Grey's Anatomy" - not even remotely close. Female doctors do not put on make-up as they can't be bothered, despite the fact patient's will probably stop dying of fright in front of them if they did and will probably get patients, especially the male type, to cooperate with their work.

Also female medical students don't really have a clue what real formal wear is. They think anything they can wear to parties or going out is alright in the wards. I have found two peers who have worn jeans to wards clinics, thinking that if it was obscured by their white coat it will be alright. It just makes me think women have lower morality than men.

I just want to reiterate to the female medical students out there what is not formal wear and what is appropriate for ward and clinic duties. Silver or golden shoes are NOT appropriate - this is a hospital, not a f*cking nightclub. That recent new fad of having black leggings with a skirt/short is NOT appropriate. Wearing a t-shirt with a slogan across the front is NOT appropriate. Wearing boots are NOT appropriate - again this is a hospital, not a f*cking nightclub. Wearing casual clothing underneath a doctor's gown is NOT appropriate.

I have long accepted that ladies can wear anything they want as formal. If I was ever appointed a dean of a faculty of medicine, I would make sure ladies would have to wear dark shoes, dark trousers and a blouse. And before any without a penis complains I'm being sexist, I'm not since I would make sure guys will have to dark shoes, dark trousers and a shirt. In fact guys get it off worse since they have to wear a tie, ensure all circulation is cut off to our face.

Guys don't get it easy either from me. Wearing a tie/shirt combination as though you picked them out in the dark is a fashion no-no. I'll accept khaki pants and non-black leather shoes as formal but I'll draw the line at chequered/striped shirts.


When I consider whether or not I want to go into internship, the stress is one of the considerations I'm thinking about, whether or not it will affect my depression. Yet another is what kind of group of people I'm entering and whether or not I want to be part of it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bah, humbug!

You know it is the festive period when you see buildings putting up their Christmas lights, the shopping centres are playing "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night" over and over again to drive most people mad, especially the store employees, and everybody is starting to think about buying Christmas presents.

I don't like to come across as a Silas Marner or an Ebenezer Scrooge but I particularly don't like how Christmas has become. I abhor how companies and business have commercialized this holiday so they make more money from witless saps like you and me. I don't like how society portray people who don't celebrate Christmas as lonely miserable bastards who order pizza on Christmas Day and spend the day with their dog sitting in front of the TV watching the entire series of '24' in one sitting. It seems you have to put Christmas lights up in front of your house and you have to outdo your neighbour. It seem so competitive when you have to announce to your colleagues how high your Christmas tree is this year. I found it bemusing when people greet the arrival of the festive season as though it is a lifetime experience, photographing every single Christmas display and every single Christmas tree in the malls as though they will never return. Yes I have turned into Ebenezer Scrooge.

I really should come at this from a religious point of view. Christmas is a Christian holiday so it should only be celebrated by Protestants, Catholics and so on. What right do non-religious people have to celebrate this holiday. At least the Jews celebrate Hanukkah and the Muslims have Ramadan at this time of year, so they celebrate their own holiday appropriately. Yet we have a large section of the population who say they are Christian but are really not or they are atheist but still go out to buy presents for other people and put up Christmas decorations. What I am essentially saying is if you are not a Christian, you shouldn't be celebrating Christmas. I don't mind you taking the day off, since it has been decreed a public holiday but you should be doing the stuff associated with the special day. If you are going to celebrate Christmas, I think you have to go to church and remember why we celebrate Christmas. I don't think many people can do that.

My attitude towards how people celebrate Christmas extends to other 'holidays' as well. Why have a Mothers' Day and a Fathers' Day when you should be loving your parents all year round? Why have a Valentine's Day at all. People who celebrate this lovers' day are just saps as they buy ridiculously priced roses which will die in a few days.

I'm quite ambivalent when concerning Remembrance Day (or Memorial Day and Veterans' Day in USA). We should be celebrating those who have fallen every single day of our lives but we don't. Soldiers have a bad rap since they are always portrayed as senseless killing machines. Yet they are like you and me - they do their jobs and are usually directed by senseless superiors who have no idea what they tasks truly entail. I think this is one holiday I want to keep and celebrated more.

So please, if you are not a Christian don't bother sending me presents or Christmas cards. Should you be staying in touch with me all year round?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Dreaming of a White Christmas

It's getting nearer to Christmas, with only twenty four shopping days left! That means the weather is taking a turn towards the cooler side. That would mean more for people in temperate climates such as the Eastern seabord in USA and the whole of UK. These places genuinely become cold, with chilling wind, awful drizzle and hopefully snow.

Yet when it turns slightly cold in Hong Kong, everybody seems to go into a fuss like it was "The Day After Tomorrow". My mum is putting up a fuss of wearing more clothes and dressing up like I'm on Antarctic expedition but the temperature has only dropped below twenty degree Celsius. Don't ask me what that is in Farenheit - I'm guessing mid seventies for some non-mathematical reason. Back to the subject at hand, this is the normal temperature in England. I can easily survive and avoid hypothermia by wearing just an extra piece of clothing. Most of the time I'm indoors so it is not necessary to require a coat. There are some people who think that is necessary.

I'm surprised to hear from two doctor friends (Michele and Lorraine) that it is freezing, despite the fact they have lived in temperate climates before (Vancouver and South East England). I think coming back to Hong Kong has spoilt most people. When it is hot like it is most of the year, everybody goes indoors for airconditioning. When it is cold, like it is for only one day of the year, everybody turns on their heaters when they can easily just put on a sweater and save energy plus money. The same applies to Hong Kong public transport - I think this contributes to how spoilt Hong Kong people are. I would like to comment about it but probably in a latter blog entry.

I always dream of a White Christmas but in Hong Kong that is very unlikely.