Monday, September 28, 2015

what ifs

31st October 2015: What if...?

When he noticed the strong wind he was afraid and started to sink. Matthew 14:30 (GNB)
Some doubts are healthy. They show that we recognise our own fallibility and inexperience. As housejobs progress the doubts do not alter in frequency, merely in nature. I no longer worry about how to arrange a special investigation, or whether I shall sleep through my bleep! The doubts which assail me now when I am tired, perhaps after a weekend on call, are far from healthy; rather they disturb my peace of mind and wear down my defences against self-pity. If I succumb to these doubts, they only breed more.
There are the `what its...?' that are always related to my career or capabilities: what if I don't get that rotation? what it I fail this exam? what if I have to go on moving every six months or so? what if I never get married?
Since I have no way of knowing or influencing what the future holds, such worries and doubts are fruitless. At the very least I could adopt a fatalistic point of view. But the Christian serves a Master who is deeply interested in his people, and who has the power to guide and control the lives of men.
Peter did not falter when his thoughts were taken up with Jesus and with the task in hand. But when he noticed the strong wind, his trust in Jesus' ability to sustain what he had begun wavered, and Peter began to sink. Unless worries, the `what ifs' of life, have this characteristic, they assail me when I stop concentrating on the job in hand, my current post for which I have been called and equipped, and start to look around.
Recognising a `what if?' is halfway to dealing with it, and saves expending energy on it. I am learning when to expect them and so am beginning to dismiss them. Anyway, I can seldom remember in the morning what I spent wakeful hours worrying about the previous night. 

received a lovely email this morning. i do love ce so much. its funny how when i first started i was so blur and slow and so depressed that after the night shifts with strict consultants or after being (rightly) rebuked for my slowness that i sort of gave up all thoughts of really specializing in paeds for the first time, in fact i thought if i could pass the posting that would be more than enough. and indeed i survived the posting! 

after that i figured if i could survive ce, i could survive anything. 

fast foward to a wholee new challenge in the wards. sigh. but ANYWAY i'm survivin. kind of. and learning a lot! and i love meeting the ce nurses in the wards when they handover pts to the ward nurses. ce nurse "so this is a x yo boy, coming for... OH! you're here in the wards!! when are you coming back to ce??" 

as time goes by, i'm gradually realizing what God is calling me to do. and i'm gaining experience that will ultimately help me to do that, bit by bit :) hint, it doesnt involve loads of gleaming titles or awards or pandering to private pts with urtis. it involves what i came to med sch to do in the first place (no not paeds neurosurgery...), why i was so willing to give up what seemed like everything and fly on a plane by myself (well with jay) to a faraway land. and also a bookstore which i loved which has now closed forever. God willing, with acceptance of the relevant people and if one day i somehow accquire the skills and capabilities, i know i will go where He calls me. til then, just gotta continue with the urtis & jump thru these neverending hoops of fire. 

"You're Not Alone"
(feat. Britt Nicole)
Some days I barely hold on
When life drags me down
I wanna let go
But when my spirit is weak
You come to my aid
And strengthen my soul

I’m lost without You
I’ll never doubt You
Your grace is beyond compare
And though when it rains, it pours
You know all I have is Yours
You smile when you hear my prayer
You rescued me and I believe
That God is love and He is all I need
From this day forth for all eternity
I’ll never wander on my own

For I am Yours until you call me home
I close my eyes and I can hear You say
You’re not alone!
You’re not alone!

Some days I just can’t go on
I stumble and fall
And I hang my head
But You reach out for my hand
And You lift me up
Again and again
Oh, yes, You do

My fire burns ‘til He returns
And takes me home beyond the galaxy

You’re not
You’re not alone
Never alone...

Sunday, September 27, 2015

to have what it takes/ now the haze has lifted

18th October 2015: To Have what it Takes

It is by grace you have been saved through faith -- and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)
It is 3am and your `bleep' has gone off for the second time in half and hour. You could weep with fatigue, frustration and misery. The human frame is just not designed to cope with the circumstances of a junior hospital doctor. As you mechanically carry out the required task, longing for your bed and sleep, you wonder how you are supposed to survive -- as a person, as a member of a family, and as a Christian.
At times like this, we need to let the living and active word of God speak to our hearts, as it is given to do. This verse can help us. Our salvation does not depend one fraction of 1% on ourselves. It is totally, 100%, the work of God. Planned in eternity by the Father, accomplished completely on the Cross by the Son, who as our representative and substitute died bearing the just punishment for our sins, it is applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Even the faith we exercise is the gift of God; we cannot produce it for ourselves.
So when our spiritual survival seems at stake because we are too tired to pray, too busy to study the scriptures, and too tied to the hospital to attend church meetings and worship, it is good to be reminded that we are saved by grace. Temporary interruptions in our co-operation in God's sanctifying work makes no difference to our justification. That is his work alone, and Christ has done it all for us. A man as well as God, he understands our fatigue and frustration, and says, `My grace is sufficient for you' (2 Cor 12:9). So in the midst of physical and mental exhaustion, let us rest in him and his never failing promises.

post a much too exciting call, not even having time to shake in my boots but having to round STAT, in the middle of gently deflecting the usual harried nurses (thank God for the o&g nurses who made me quite used to being called HO AH HO! from across the ward), the senior nurse suddenly asks me "what church do you go to?" stunned, i answer and ask how she knows im catholic... she pulls out a miraculous mary from under her uniform "same as yours! this always helps me, it never fails"... i nearly slumped to the floor in shock & gratitude.... indeed in the middle of the early morning code, God was there, protecting me.... but of course the round just continued as per normal. i realized that even though the nurse was making us feel a bit harried, whatever she said was probably something i should take seriously cos she was just trying to help us & highlight things we might have missed in the middle of our quick weekend round. and not least that God was speaking through her in some way or other to tell me something. 

after everything settled down, as i stood there feeling very shellshocked, the reg told me "you did the right thing". actually, there was a lot more i could have done better. but i think what he meant is my instantaneous escalation was the right choice. i was thinking abt it the whole of that day... even after all the ce codes, im not immune to it & its my first ever time activating it myself. but thank God for the ce experience that enables me to act fast. 

our salvation does not depend even a fraction of 1% on ourselves, it is 100% the work of God.

thankful also for the people in my life, both new and old. its funny that the first 2 people i told abt this too exciting call were people who i had wondered multiple times why they ever had come into my life in the first place. i guess it only goes to show that people come into your life for a reason. well sometimes they go out of it forever too, but not without leaving an indelible mark on it. no matter how i trace the start of my obssession with this specialty, it always goes back to a winter day walking through the woods & coming out starry eyed after feeling fireworks going off as i walked thru the wards with the bright cartoon festooned walls, after sitting through hours of discussion with the prof. i mean i liked it before (ha childhood dream of being a peds neurosurgeon), but i dont think i ever went to the extent of deciding to dedicate my whole life & youth to pursuing this dream until i felt those fireworks. but feelings are something verY iffy so, just saying, that's where it all started. & for m and d, despite everything, they're still there in my life, & have respectively been there through many of the major life events & have been responsible for my survival til this day. i don't really think i did anything majorly right or great to get to know them in the first place, or to deserve their encouragement and cheering on (save that of being entertaining, but as x showed me clearly, that obviously isnt enough to sustain even the best friendship). so thanks guys for being placed in my life by God, for staying even though time and events have tested our friendship. i promise to be a good friend :) 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

on cake

'I have had enough, Lord' he said. 1 Kings 19:4 (NIV)
He lay down under the tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said, “Wake up and eat.” He looked around and saw a loaf of bread and a jar of water near his head. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The Lord's angel returned and woke him up a second time, saying, “Get up and eat, or the trip will be too much for you.” Elijah got up, ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to walk forty days to Sinai, the holy mountain. There he went into a cave to spend the night.
Suddenly the Lord spoke to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”
10 He answered, “Lord God Almighty, I have always served you—you alone. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed all your prophets. I am the only one left—and they are trying to kill me!”
11 “Go out and stand before me on top of the mountain,” the Lord said to him. Then the Lord passed by and sent a furious wind that split the hills and shattered the rocks—but the Lord was not in the wind. The wind stopped blowing, and then there was an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake there was a fire—but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the soft whisper of a voice.
13 When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”
14 He answered, “Lord God Almighty, I have always served you—you alone. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed all your prophets. I am the only one left—and they are trying to kill me.”
15 The Lord said, “Return to the wilderness near Damascus, then enter the city and anoint Hazael as king of Syria; 16 anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Anyone who escapes being put to death by Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and anyone who escapes Jehu will be killed by Elisha. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand people alive in Israel—all those who are loyal to me and have not bowed to Baal or kissed his idol.”
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, and sat down under it and prayed that he might die. 'I have had enough, Lord', he said, 'Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors'. Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
This was just the culminating event in a life for God that had been physically, mentally and spiritually demanding almost to the limit of human endurance. Elijah had had enough, as he said, and God treated him gently. There were some tasks still to be done, but God's resources were at hand. Food and water strengthened Elijah' body. A vision of the Lord himself renewed his spirit. He learnt that Elisha was to take over his work as prophet. So he was encouraged and enabled to do the rest of what God had for him to do. And he was taken up to heaven in a blaze of glory.
The experience of this great man of God was not unique. It would scarcely be said that his depression was any more than a natural reaction to a prolonged stressful experience. But it did get him down. And God gave him the help that he needed -- just as our Lord found strength from his Father after the temptation in the wilderness and when he agonised in Gethsemane. The same Lord is with us to understand and help when things get us down, when we have had enough.

'... and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:12
Does life ever overwhelm you? So many things can happen -- good things, bad things, all kinds of things -- that they knock you flat. Do you wonder when they will stop -- when the tumult will cease? Can medicine never be the quiet life?
Elijah was one of the great men of God, but things got him down sometimes. When Jezebel put him on her death list he packed up completely. Rather paradoxically he asked God to let him die. God treated him gently and strengthened him. He wandered off, but was obviously still unhappy. He came to Horeb, the mount of God, took refuge in a cave and had another attack of the miseries, pouring out his heart to the Lord in a stream of self-pity.
This time God was not so gentle. Elijah really got the treatment: 'And behold the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake and, after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire...'
God was showing his power. Elijah apparently needed to be made aware of it. The demonstration must have been terrifying, but Elijah had to learn the hard way. The demonstration had, however, been made, and the message was getting through. Elijah was ready for something different, and something different came: 'after the fire a still small voice'. Another translation says: 'a voice of stillness'. And in the stillness he was again able to tell his troubles.
Somehow the atmosphere is now different. Perhaps in the stillness Elijah is now listening, really listening. God shows him the way ahead. Communication is restored. Confidence is restored.
The story is worth pondering. Sometimes we think we have had enough, whether it is sheer physical exhaustion, deadness of heart, discouragement, even a sense of spiritual abandonment. God may then treat us gently, and we at least pretend to take the healing with gratitude. But we may not be really listening. Self-pity can cause severe deafness. And God may have to give us the treatment, as he did to Elijah.
The experience can be rough and tough and tumultuous.
'Where is the god of love?' we then ask, unheeding of the fact that Love is shouting at us. When we are ready to listen, then -- only then -- comes the still small voice, the voice of stillness. And in the stillness God reaches us.

Friday, September 18, 2015

on mulberries

in the past two weeks, a lot of people have given me advice on how to step into the new role of being an mo in the wards. its actually pretty different having to supervise others compared to doing ce where it's a lot about managing your own efficiency so you dont go home hours after the end of your shift. what struck me about the advice is that when i look into these people's eyes, i can see kindness and that they genuinely mean well. that this is really valuable advice that i should listen well to. 

i have done 2 calls, and luckily enough, both times the regs were nice and they well knew how new i was (considering that they actually knew me from when i was a ho/ medical student). the nurses remember me too! they were like "eh, first call as mo ah, what's it like?" 

the difference as an mo is that you dont get called continuously for things like puff reviews and changing paracetamol doses, so you have more time to think of the big picture, go round tracing bloods, think of the differential diagnoses, and stuff.

guess i just want to thank God for helping me survive (however barely) through this new season of responsibilities. and for what i'm learning through all this. i'm also very grateful for the ce training. (as for the three months of blood taking practice and plug setting practice in o&g). i think its very hard to understand the pressures & circumstances of a&e or ce unless you've worked there before, then you'll get a really good idea wahaha. it does make one faster and more efficient, and think really broadly of differentials. although, there are a lot of URTIs and viral fevers as well HAHA, i also saw some really interesting cases as well.

i'm well aware that not only am i still very noob, i have quite a few flaws and areas of lacking, that i'm not sure how will i ever overcome, if ever. many days, i end up monologuing (as God sometimes seems very faaaar away and high up) "God, i think i'm coming to the end of my ropes. i think this is as far as my engines were engineered to go. i dont think i can run this race any longer. this is as much as i go. i should turn back now, before the path leads me somewhere to a wilderness i can no longer turn back from. i should stop before any natural disasters ambush me, or my water & provisions run out"

ok maybe not so eloquently. usually i just think "i think this is as far as i go" but then it's always back to the hamster wheel of things to do, not much time for philosophizing.

maybe let's rewind back to the sunday before my first call. i went to church feeling more than slightly desperate and more jittery than a mouse who had overdosed on a starbucks grande size. asked the priest for his blessings (need all the help i can get). and interestingly enough, his prayers echoed the one which i pray all the time. "help her to do Your will".

as the years go by, my ambition (not very much to begin with) has been waning severely. the first few years, i'll admit that i very strongly believed that even though i did not deserve it, a miracle would occur and that i would get it. yes, i said that i would be ok even if i didn't get it because i would then know that it was God's will, but truth be told, deep down i didn't believe that. deep down i just wanted my happy ending and my trophy for running the race. when i didnt get that, i was really dissappointed. knowing that it's God's will didnt exactly sweeten anything. it was such a bitter pill to swallow.

this time, i really do mean it when i say that i do want to follow God's will. i mean yeah, i've paid for exams and spent so much of my lifetime pursuing this path. but i really am truly am okay any way, as long as it's where God is leading me to. i don't want to go down any path without's God's support. especially when He has helped me so much in the past, the thought of any venture without my main backer to lift me out of trouble and to save me, is thoroughly terrifying.

paths aside, i think that there is very much for me to learn from this season of my life. to thoroughly check through everything, and not to leave any stone unturned. you dont need to be a genius or anything to check through everything (altho maybe some efficiency is required since you cant come at 3am to start looking thru old notes...). first impressions... well to be honest, i think that's not really something i can control per se, i mean i can TRY but impressions are something very transient and not really rooted in reality is what i feel. i can try to improve that and i WILL try, of course. i believe more in running the race well rather than starting out too fast, actually.

but in any case, whatever path God leads me to, i think being thorough, checking everything, thinking broadly as well as thinking through things (as opposed to blindly copying the a&e notes as we do as hos), these are all habits that will serve me well in the future :)

so i will keep on running for as long as i can, hopefully not always on the same spot as alice did in wonderland, but hopefully forward. hopefully on the right paths and not getting tempted to side dirtroads by promises of shortcuts, of brownies & waffles and getting caught in brambles instead.

and on a short note, i may still be a bit slow at procedures but i am MUCH better than i was as a ho. so for tt, i am grateful to God for somehow helping me with the blood taking. honestly i think that alone is the best gift ever.
Your dimensions as a tree in the garden of God may look different from other trees, perhaps conspicuously so. But there are purposes in your dimensions (Romans 8:28). They will have unforeseen benefits, and you will still bear fruit as you trust your gardener (John 15:15). You also will have a unique ability to comfort those who are struggling against their mulberries (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29–31)


day off and then one week of holiday! have been really into notion reccently so just set up my notion dashboard since i have a day off to...