Friday, December 26, 2008

Full Steam Ahead

Alright. My job here is done.

We got ourselves an all-in-one oven. I have just finished placing it on the kitchen cabinet and successfully operating it with raving reviews... it does what it claims to do.

Warm yet fluffy donuts and banana fritters... from the freezer to the oven, to the table!

A far departure from our previous microwave oven and the times we had to content with lately. Reheated or warmed-up food, all dried and shrank in size, with little flavor or nutrients left.

Well, it was not all bad while our Cornell Microwave Oven was in commission for the past 2 years or so. It did its job like any microwave oven out there. Considering we had it for a bargain of only S$48.00, serving us for the short period has not left me disgruntled.

Only lately though, we had to tolerate its whims as it came and went intermittently... like getting half a plate of our food warmed-up and nice while the other half never left the freezer.

Reheating it again, would sometimes dried or hardened to the point of burning the edges. We pretty much had to depend on our luck whenever it comes to reheating leftover food or those that needed microwave.

Wifey does a good job cooking, but most of the leftovers wound up in the trash bin when our microwave oven acted-up on us.

Well, not any more. All is normal again so far, these few days at least. In fact, better than that. Our newly invested Panasonic Steam Plus NN-GS597MYPQ Inverter Oven has so far exceeded my expectations.

It uses steam to cook so it preserves much of the nutrients and flavor in the food. It uses an inverter technology... beats me what that is all about, but so far the food has been heavenly resurrected from the frost it once laid in the fridge.

I think we most probably compared it to our last few nasty experiences. Maybe too, the novelty has yet to cool down... it is still so shiny and new and all.

But one thing is for sure. For a sale price tag of S$529.00 with an additional S$50.00 NTUC groceries voucher, we grabbed and took it home from Courts MegaTex sale at the Singapore Expo on Christmas holiday.

"I can now bake Betty Croker cakes again." Wifey announced with renewed zest. She was experiencing happy jitters just reminiscing the times she used to bake cakes with our electric built-in oven. It died on her while baking a Pandan Cake... we did not get to eat that desert.

Now she can start again. She was even thinking out loud what type of marinate she should use to grill a chicken with this oven. I am excited for her and equally excited to find what will be on the dinner table with this new found tool she has at her disposal.

All I can say is... Sweet!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Season's Greetings Everyone!

Wishing All My Christian Friends
A Very Merry Christmas

Wishing Everyone The World Over
Season's Greetings
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All Is Well

Since his last consultation with the oncologist at NCC last Friday, I have been in a covert operation, monitoring Dad's condition when he started on his Chemotherapy treatment the following morning.

With my second eldest Sis staying over at our parents' place overnight, my trusted spy has been feeding status to me from day to day.

It has been five days today, and word from the horse's mouth himself is saying he is well...

"I don't have diarrhea like you said." Dad quipped happily, "Everything is pretty much normal the way I'm feeling right now." He said over the phone on the fourth day when I called to check.

That is good news... very good news!

I am so relieved that Dad is not experiencing any of the expected side effects from the medication. The oncologist had asked to look out for these few symptoms even though she said the dosage that Dad is getting is a mild one, considering his age.

Nevertheless, Dad is a strong man, as he has always been physically and spiritually. Attributes that are most admirable about him.

All weekend and week long, my siblings and in-laws have been flocking to their home, bring all kinds of delicious homemade food pampering to satisfy our parents' palates and feeding their soul with good, and cheery company. Got to love them all.

My Niece had planned so many outdoor activities with her grandparents... but with some reluctance lately since the treatment started.

"He refused to go out because he doesn't want to get exposed to the sun," Mom somewhat complained to me over the phone, "he doesn't want to get sun burns."

An avid fan of outings, Mom was upset when Dad turned down his granddaughter's invitations to take them out to the zoo last Tuesday. The doctor was cautioning against too long an exposure to the harsh sun that is from 9AM to 3PM when it is at its strongest.

I had to console Dad that it was definitely good to be cautious, but it should not affect their normal way of life and having fun outside. All he needed to do to have fun and feel safe at the same time was to wear a long-sleeved T-shirt and a cap. Use sun block even... and enjoy The Almighty's creations outdoors as much...

"We'll be taking her car to the parks..." was Dad's much welcomed reply from our last telephone conversation. Phew! No more Dracula syndrome.

With that all cleared-up, my parents are looking at an outing to the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and even the Duck Tours these few weekends. They will surely have lots fun out there... beats being cooped-up in the house all week long.

My Niece however, should get an award for being the "Fun Ambassador" of the family.

She has been taking them out often to practically everywhere on this island conveniently in her new 7-seater car she just bought.

They just went out to the Underwater World at Sentosa Island Resort two weekends ago. They had even drove around Orchard Road feasting on the bright and festive Christmas Light-up along road of the infamous uptown shopping belt.

Mom and Dad are so blessed to have such wonderful children and grandchildren who love them so much. We cannot stay away from these lovely old folks even if we tried.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fussy Messy VoIP

Last Sunday was as boring as thinking about going to work the next day. Not a pleasing thought to start any week considering the negative vibes at the work place with what the management has created as of late.

To rid myself of the unsettling thoughts, I kept myself busy for the day. I took on the pending task of addressing the criss-crossing of wires and cables at the living room. Wifey hated it. I have to agree too.

It had been like that since the switch-over was made from the paid Singtel analog land-lines to Starhub's free digital voice broadband line. Well, at least do not have to be bothered with the monthly phone bills anymore... well, not for two years anyway.

The in-wall analog lines that run across all rooms in the house were rendered useless upon the fix-up of the VoIP modem tapped from the cable outlet at the living room.

Where the modem was fixed, we had to move our bedroom main cordless phone to connect to it. The other two wireless phones in Sonny's and my gym room were able to work properly.

Unfortunately, our fax-phone at the living room became useless as there was no way to connect without running a long cable across the entire living room.

Before I could think of a solution to this mess, we had to live with the inconvenience.

Not all is bad actually. The switch-over had benefited us immediate upon its connection.

We used to pay about S$30 to $40 per month on IDD calls alone to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Wifey now smiles brightly when she saw our first phone bill only at S$1.57 for a 20 minutes overseas call.

Wifey can now talk to her Mom without one eye looking at the clock or rush and cut short her conversation anymore. She can now call her Mom as often as I call my folks locally. The new IDD charges are also so much cheaper than the previous telco. It is indeed a sweet deal.

The worst part of this switch-over was the need to get out of bed to pick up a call. It was even frustrating to run to the phone and picked-up a "sorry, wrong number" call in the middle of the night. Then I had trouble going back to sleep after the 5 metre night sprint.

Nobody wants to receive a call in the wee hours of the morning. It usually means and reserves for emergencies and unpleasant news.

One time, I was rudely awoken from my sleep. I had to get out of bed and ran to the phone thinking something unsettling. Groggily, I found out it was Mom... she just wanted to chat thinking it was only going on 10 o'clock when it was in fact close to midnight.

Profusely she apologized for overlooking and waking me up, but it was better than any bad news to me. Phew!

It turned out to be a simple solution... as all solutions are.

I just had to feed the phone wire from the Modem back to the in-wall outlets. All the lines in the rooms were instantly connected to the new digital line. So too is my fax-phone. All the phones went back to its proper places. Yes!

At least some good came out of my tired mind. I got to check one item from the "things to do" list off my mind... then the SMS from ADT came again.

It requested me to call and perform a check on my Home Security System which I had been ignoring many times before... and come to think of it, since the switch-over.

I returned to call only to find out that the security system was disconnected from its analog phone line and will have to be reconfigured to digital with a fee of S$30 after they waived the S$40 transport fee.

They will have to get access to my home panel for it this Friday. Oops!

Have I compromised my home security for now?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wave Worries Goodbye

I got my brief retreat today and it was a nice one. Alone.

Wifey was busy with strands of crystals and beads making her next necklace masterpiece creation. I did not have the heart to disturb her when the creative juices were flowing freely.

In his room, clacking away on his keyboard, Sonny hooked-up with his new teenage friends from Australia and the USA who are contributing their work to his Games and Forum website Sonny is hosting.

They both were doing things they love. Good for them...

After the continuous rainy days for the past few weeks, today was a totally beautiful day. Sunny and breezy, I could see blue skies again. It would have been a total waste if I had not spent my day outside.

After my afternoon prayers, I grabbed my camera and got on my bike. Cycled off to the nearest "watering hole," Pasir Ris Beach Park.

The beach is really a happening place on Saturday afternoons. All the barbecue pitches were already taken-up, smoke from the charcoal smelt so nice in the breeze. Tents already pitched in clusters near the water's edge.

Families were out having a good time together. Yes, the weekend life.

I got to pick a quiet spot almost towards the end of the coast, near the wharf.

Sat there alone, looking out to the sea. Rhythm of the waves pounding on the beach was hypnotic, while the clean breeze in my face lull me into oblivion... yes, what a weekend life.

I was lost in my thoughts for those few hours alone. I was happy. My worries seemed to have washed out far into the sea... or at least for now.

Yes, the many worries I hold somewhere at the back of my mind...

Between watching people being let go at work day by day and observing Dad going through his chemo treatment with that strong hoping for a good outcome... I just had to switch all the troubles off mind and do nothing.

I have this survival mechanism that tells me to retreat and go for time out.

It always draws me out into wide open spaces and somewhere where a large body of water is near. A watering hole to nourish my soul back to life.

My instinct and legs worked together today to bring me the nearest beach once I left home.

At times though, I feel that I am running away from the problems that I cannot fix, but I know I will always return back with a clearer mind and stronger will to face whatever that I have to face later.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dad Starts Chemo

As if anticipation for the worst case is not heavy enough on my mind for the past 2 weeks, this afternoon's consultation with the oncologist was later than the appointment time of 2:45PM.

Dad, Mom and I made our time waiting at National Cancer Centre or NCC, seated in Clinic C waiting area on the 2nd floor with light conversations and lots of laughs.

Dad made lots of jokes. He has been on a happy mood today. It made waiting for what Dr. Lo Soo Kien had to say that much easier on my mind.

Dad's queue number 1448 finally flashed on the plasma display for Room 7.

"How has your Dad been feeling since the last visit?" Dr. Lo asked me after she greeted Dad in Malay and requested that she spoke to me in English. Dad just nodded after he greeted to her saying "Good morning" at 4:15PM.

She told me about Dad's CT Scan and his blood test results...

All is good with the scan. Dad's liver is looking good and the tumors in his lungs remained the same sizes with the exception of on that has grown slightly larger, "but not to be too concerned about."

His cancer marker, however increased in numbers. From the last blood test done in August 2008 of 22, the latest taken last Friday is at 47.

"I've seen worse... in hundreds" Dr. Lo comforted me somewhat, most probably after looking at my facial expression.

She explained that a normal person should have cancer marker that is less than 5. Dad was at 3 for 3 years after he had his colorectal cancer tumor surgically remove. It was the incessant cough that triggered an investigation by our family doctor which led to his lungs X-ray showing a 3cm growth.

After she examined Dad behind the curtains, she explained to me Dad's course of treatment.

800mg of Capecitabine, chemo pills for the course of 2 weeks with the last week to rest. Taken twice a day together with Pyridoxine, a vitamin pill to cope with the side affects of the chemo pills that may cause sore mouth and aid his immune system.

The cost of one cycle of the chemo pills is at S$330.00. All of which is able to be charged to Dad's Medisave account. I was so relieved when told of the medication cost which was told can reach above S$3,000.00.

Dad will have to come back again to see Dr. Lo on 9 January 2009 at 3:00PM. Before that he will have to do a blood test at Clinic C an hour and a half before consultation. So we will have to be there by 1:30PM.

"If you decide to take the medication at 9 in the morning,"I explained to Dad while Mom and Elder Brother listened intently, "you will need to take the 9 at night too."

Dad has always been very good to follow his routine like clock-work, so this should be a breeze for him.

"Remember, if you forget or miss taking your medication in the morning, you can still take it before 3:00PM, else just skip it..." I explained further, "just take the night dose only." Dad looked on, trying to commit to memory.

A host of other instructions were told to these two elderly loved ones... quite a lot of information to take in, but once it is routine, it will be simpler and like second nature.

"Just call me if you miss taking it... I'll tell you if you can take it or not." I suggested for simplicity. "I'll call you tomorrow to remind you, OK?" Both Dad and Mom nodded with a smile.

The chemo pills are toxic to the skin, so everyone had to be told to remember not to touch them, and to wash the hands with soap if accidentally touched.

"We'll use a spoon to pick it up if it falls." Mom suggested. Good one, Mom!

"Now... let's eat!" Mom retorted. Yes, we all missed lunch and actually taking an early dinner at around 5:00PM. She suggested Spize Restaurant at Simpang Bedok, well known for good seafood with large portions served.

True enough, the food Mom ordered we just too much for all 4 of us to eat, that we had a 3 leftover dishes packed which I got to take home. Mom bought a extra packed of Tom Yam Seafood Soup for Wifey and Sonny. Sweet Mom.

Got to call them tomorrow Dad to start his chemo pills. Hope he is able to cope well with this medication and importantly his body response positively to it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Laughs For Love

Family is a wonderful gift. To me, my family is everything that I am. Without which I find it hard to define myself. I will have no clue as to the purpose of my being here on this earth.

Last Monday was the testament to me, what family is all.

Congregated at our parents' place in Woodlands, the whole horde of us cramped into their 3-room flat. Creating a ruckus there as we met-up, greeted and enjoyed each others' company, honoring our parents for their unconditional love and the sacrifices that they have made for their children.

We were celebration Hari Raya AidilAdha, the festival of sacrifice for the Muslim faith.

Like every year, food has always been in abundance. Pot luck from all the siblings, combined with Mom and Dad's insistence to cook us some dishes, it was definitely the most attractive focus in the room, I thought.

Unlike every year, this time both Mom and Dad were not well enough to cook. They ordered Nasi Beryani instead from the Indian Muslim food stall a block away from their flat.

Everyone was aware that Mom had always been the head chef, guiding Dad through the cooking of the main dishes every festive occasions, ignoring our request for them to just leave the food to us.

"Do you know how happy your Dad and I feel whenever we see our children eat the food we cooked for you all?" Was Mom's redirected question to us for uttering that suggestion.

I guess the food the cooked and provided for us during these special occasion is their way to feel independent, useful and still needed. Yes, Mom and Dad, we need you. We need you for as long as forever.

Unlike previous years, we did not hear a joke from Dad. Instead, we see him dozing off more often than ever, and at one time he felt so groggy he nearly stumbled upon the coffee table while making his way to the bedroom.

"The cough syrup is making me dizzy." Dad muttered as he excused himself to take a nap.

We all know that he took the cough syrup twice a day. Once in the morning and another at 6:ooPM. It was only 5:15PM then.

Everybody was trying their best to keep the conversation light and cheerful. Jokes and loud laughs... almost fake at times to make the day joyful, but it felt like everyone was wearing a happy mask with sad faces hidden inside our hearts.

Guilty as I was stealing a stare at Dad's and Mom's heavenly faces, at times, I noticed my other siblings did the same too... with bleeding hearts, I am sure.

"When I am well again, I want to make dentures for me," Dad quipped at one point "I'm missing lots of good food that I can't chew."

I nodded in agreement, "The sooner the better, Dad" I replied, "we can take you to lots of places with good food to enjoy."

Dad nodded and managed a smile.

Second Sis excused herself graciously and locked herself in the bathroom for a while. She has always been the tough sister and yet the most affected one too. She is the two extremes... like Mom, she is like a dramatist in the family. Like an open book.

Throughout the day, clusters of lively conversations ran from every corner of the the house.

From little grandchildren tumbling and running around everywhere, young ones grouped together engaged in PSP battles, to giggles of teenage nieces comparing earrings and staring through each others' colored contact lenses.

Mom totally engrossed with the mothers, clustered together sharing food recipes and catalogs and talks about the variety magazines.

Dad and the fathers hogged the LCD TV with the soccer match showing provided as the background while the talks about fishing and the ones that got away, the latest updates on the soccer idols and lots of stories of yesteryear while we all were younger and living in our village.

In our right minds, it was not the greatest idea to talk about Dad's upcoming chemo treatment and the things that we should be preparing for without either parents knowing. It was tougher to do it without their presence in the room.

At an opportune time, we got to group together anyway.

While Dad was napping in the room, Mom was having a light meal and busy chatting with her granddaughters at the dining table.

Eldest brother-in-law mooted the idea of setting-up a family emergency fund where each family contributes a small sum of money every month as an aid to fund Dad's impending cost of chemo treatments.

Second eldest brother-in-law suggested opening a bank account for this to make the contribution convenient for everybody by using funds transfer via ATM. Both great ideas which everyone agreed instantaneously.

Eldest brother requested that I be the bearer of the fund which surprised me first before feeling honored for the trust given to me. Everyone agreed and expressed their appreciation to me for being there for our parents when they could not. They also knew that Mom and Dad normally would call upon me to take them to their important appointments.

I accepted the responsibility but we needed to discuss in more detail. The place and time were just not right when Mom suddenly popped in to the room, puzzled as she asked about our covert meeting.

"What are you all talking about?" Mom suddenly popped in to the living room.

"We have decided that we'll get the chalet at Pulau Ubin during the school holiday in March." Eldest brother-in-law replied spontaneously. Quick thinking in fact.

"Yes! I love the place..." My niece replied, "I can ask hubby to book for us quickly."

"It is going to be tough getting it during the school holidays," my second youngest Sis retorted, "we'd better book it now."

The secret meeting abruptly ended and in replacement was a stealth panic to book a chalet for a family barbecue at Pulau Ubin, a rustic island north-east of the main, near Changi Beach.

Mom love the idea that we will be together again for a barbecue, but was not thrilled about going off to an island for it.

"Changi or Pasir Ris is good enough for me," Mom defended, "I don't think I dare step off a rocking boat."

Knowingly, Mom is afraid of deep water. Even so now that she cannot swim, let a lone walk without support.

The chats went on and on and actually become a topic for a real barbecue, tentatively in March next year, most probably the same Tanjung at Changi Beach Park; We will probably be camping out in our tents at Mom's and Dad's favorite spot since we were young.

Secretly, we set this Sunday afternoon to have another meeting at second Sis' place in Punggol 21. This time without our parents' presence, we should be able to discuss and finalize all that we need to do and expect once Dad starts his chemo treatment.

The evening was filled with more chats and loud laughs. At times amused at ourselves with the secrecy to avoid suspicions, but our hearts felt heavy underneath all the smiles and laughter.

We got to celebrate this auspicious occasion with both our parents, with good vibes and happy thoughts, we plan to celebrate next year's Hari Raya with them still. In the meantime, we celebrate everyday with them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recession, Regression, Depression

Now you see them, now you don't...

There were recessions before, but like many fortunate souls, I escaped unscathed. I kept going, building my career to where I am now. Nothing stupendous but I regard myself as blessed.

The recession is here again. It has become real and a crisis. It is not about to led-up anytime soon and also not without dragging many casualties down with it as well.

This time around, I still cannot feel the fear of loosing my job. My livelihood. This time around, I am not so sure if I will be spared like the recessions before this. Time will tell.

The much rumored list from management had been passed down to HR and reality sank in late last week. Execution time was done like clock work.

"Please tell J to go to HR now." One of the managers from my department told me over the phone. I sent my subordinate, J to HR with a very heavy heart. I had difficulty breathing at one point... some thing I had never felt before. The palpitations. It was a horrible feeling. Helpless.

He cried upon seeing me to say goodbye. I cried too. A sole breadwinner to his family. He is having his new home on the way. The timing just was not right for him. For several others too as soon as the "chosen" few emerged from HR.

Senseless, inhumane, everything dirty I felt.

It must be a terrible job for somebody to do the dirty job of telling the unfortunate souls of their fate. It was definitely even harder for these people that were released... ten folds!

What will they be doing? How will they pick up the pieces? Do they have a plan?

Do I have a plan? I am like walking on a wire.

Yes, I do have a plan... but during this recession period, the plan is not exactly ideal. Where there is no demand, it will be pointless to supply.

A plan B?
Nope. Must start to conceive a contingency.

My iPhone tinkered this evening. It was an SMS from an office friend.

"C got the axe today." It read. I was shocked not because the exercise is over, but because she released a long sigh when she told that she was taking over A's job after A got the axe last week.

It was just yesterday that she told me during a meeting. I was happy for her because she has an ailing elderly mother to care for, being the sole breadwinner, they only have themselves. It is painful to think of her fate tonight.

Nothing but bad news this week. One after the other...

Being off work last Friday. I took Dad to National Cancer Centre for his first check-up. I missed seeing and saying good bye to a few close friends when they were let go immediately.

My dear next cubicle neighbor was gone when I came back on Tuesday, after the AidilAdha public holiday. I called her cell phone but it was turned off. I left her a message but have yet to get a reply. I guess she needs time and wants to be left alone for now.

Today, I realize that the office was colder than normal days. There were empty cubicles. The work files were all there, but no traces personal to the previous occupants. Just cold.

It was tough to concentrate on work these past few days with so much unpleasantness going on behind the scene. It was even tougher to put a smiling face with visiting Customers today and throughout the week with them being here.

I do not fear of loosing my job. I am a survivor, my family is too. I have discussed the possibility, God willing, we will be alright. I have Wifey's support. Like my Dad with Mom, I realize I get my strength from Wifey.

Wifey and I both came from not a well-off family. We lived our growing up lives watching our parents made ends meet. We learnt to be tolerant, we learnt to be patient, we learnt to persevere.

We live a much good life now, but it will not be a tough transition to go back to being more prudent with our choices and spending as a family. We got everything we need. The house has already been paid for in full. We have no debts and we saved ample enough for ourselves to hopefully keep dry during this rainy and trying times if it has to come to that.

I am blessed because with my rather extravagant spending especially with the techno gadgets, I have Wifey to fight my urge to splurge. She is the strength that pulls me back to the ground. She is the voice of reason even when I wanted to lavish her with expensive gifts. She is my total opposite.

She is so sane about money, it drives me crazy... crazy jealous of her self-control!

I am blessed regardless. I am wealthy. My family is my fortune.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Father-Son Time

Unlike my Dad who has 8 children, I do not have that many children, I just have a son. Yet, I consider myself very fortunate that Sonny is entrusted by The Almighty to Wifey and I.

Like my Dad, Mom being a housewife and all those children to feed, clothe and provide a roof under our heads, he still found time enough to spend them with me.

I remember the early wake-up calls and those shivering cold showers I had to take before the sun rose to get ready for our morning jogs. I was barely a teenager then.

We would jog as far as our legs would take us and back. Bedok North was just developed then, into a thriving a residential estate it is today.

Imagine my awe when I saw the tall buildings and sculptured landscapes of city life, coming out from the jungle of an area we called our kampong or village.

Dad would chat with me about the goings-on in the area as we passed it. Talks about grown-up stuff... somehow preparing me for the real world ahead of me. Precious things that the school did not teach... the sweet and hard facts of live, about the experiences in his life.

In retrospect, I treasure our time together, in younger and healthier yesteryear. I remember hating to be the "chosen one." to wake up in the wee hours of the morning while it was still very dark out there. I mean really dark where there were no street lights.

Preparing myself while the rest of my siblings were still fast asleep on the weekends! Saw them in good slumber, all cuddled-up under their blankets, warm and oblivious on their thin and flattened sponge mattresses... laid in rows on the living room floor.

Believe it of not, those weekend routines made me good at cross-country running at school. Sprint challenges amongst my village play friends were a breeze.

Those days together made me also realize how important spending father and son time can be, even before I started to have my own family.

Having the only child with Wifey, I am glad I was able to give Sonny my full attention he needed since he was a small.

I still give him my full attention when he needs it today... though lesser as he grows, still I tell myself not to be complacent about spending time with him... the situation may have changed, but the bond remains and even strengthened amid the many distractions between us.

The TV, the computer, the Xbox, his friends, my friends, his school, my work... the list goes on, but I make it a point to make time for a father-and-son time. Just us boys.

So while Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve celebrated its 15th anniversary, we celebrated our father-and-son time there together.

"I have so much chores to do... you guys go ahead and enjoy yourselves." Wifey's graceful withdrawal to let just us both to spend time together.

Though he is not as keen a nature lover as I am, the long walks along its path and in between spotting the elusive inhabitants there, one thing kept us in common ground. We both like photography. Yes, the techno gadget is the key.

A passion I developed when I owned my first camera after I started working, I now know that Sonny likes photography and his excitement tweaking the camera settings to get the best desired outcome while we were there... experimenting in quick time before our subjects disappeared into the mangroves.

It is a new interest I know about him on Saturday, unlike the obvious addiction to the PC games and his flair for computer programming, website design and hosting management.

I am pretty sure in time, he will love nature outings as much as I do.

Knowingly, I was born in the village with nature surrounding me and grew up amongst the flora and fauna the secondary forest had to offer. Sonny was born in an air-conditioned hospital, grew-up in the concrete jungle we call our flat for a home, where the environment is clean, sculptured and manicured... everything is conveniently available and affordable.

Though there are so many man-made distractions out there in our daily lives, there will always be this father who will bring him to get in touch with nature with our outings.

He will appreciate it when he has to serve the army when he reaches 18 or 20 years old.

For now, nothing extreme. Nothing rugged to prove our manhood, just time together as father and son, outdoors in God's creation that is nature.

I told him that the camera will be his when I get my new one that has interchangeable lenses with greater zoom power. Probably a dSLR?

He was excited upon hearing that. We will have more time to spend together while we sharpen our skills at recreational photography.

And yes, Happy 15th Anniversay SBWR!

Thank you for the best nature talks we had. The friendly park rangers. I must mention the newly improved Visitors Centre by leaps and bounds... for once I thought we were at a nature resort. The toilets were modern, beautiful and wow, spotless!

We enjoyed the outdoors so much and even won ourselves 2 tickets to Pink Dolpin Show and Underwater World at Sentosa Resort Island right after the talks. Another outing opportunity.

Wonderful time. Priceless forever.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Salam AidulAdha 2008

To All
A Blessed Day
Sharing The Joy
With Your Loved Ones

Friday, December 05, 2008

Dad Doesn't Know?

"Dad still doesn't know he has cancer?" Elder Sis asked me tonight.

Yes, it is true. Dad must have known he has some form of cancer... after all, we were at the National Cancer Centre this morning.

The whole building states that, and there were many patients in there passing by us while we made our way from one place to another... ladies with scarfs or hats concealing their heads while bald men, both young and old were with faint traces of eyebrows seated amongst us.

Yes, I think he got the good enough hint that he has cancer.

Then again, he recognized the place. He was there once before.

Clinic C where we were waiting for consultation was beside Clinic D. That was where Dad waited while I went in with Mom to help her dress-up in a hospital gown readied for her MRI on her spine.

"That was where Mom got the noisy X-ray to check her back, remember?" I asked Dad.

He nodded, "I slept at the waiting area," looking into blind space and paused a while, "I remember."

"They use this place for all kinds of X-ray procedures," I lied to Dad again... "the reason we're here. The same thing they want to do to you for the growth in your lung..."

Dad nodded again... "To shrink it." He completed my sentence.

While seated in front of Consultation Room 7, Dad started telling me about his road trip to Kedah, Malaysia to attend a distant relative's wedding and toured his favourite state of our neighbor's, Malacca.

Across the long hall, I saw patients as young as 7 waiting for their turn. Their unfortunate stories of pain... I looked at Dad as he talked about the heavy rain, lost their way for over an hour searching for the house once they reached the village...

10 minutes later Dad's queue number 1115 flashed above Dr. Lo Soo Kien's door.

A lady Oncology Specialist in her 40's seated and greeted my Dad with a cheery smile and voice. Trying very much to converse whatever Malay words she knew to make Dad feel at ease. It really made Dad smiled in appreciation on her effort to talk to him in our native language.

"I'll talk in English to your son... and he'll tell you, yes?" Dr. Loo told Dad in much difficulty.

I told Dad that I would translate it to him... our usual routine. Dad nodded with a smile.

"Does your father know what he is having?" Dr. Lo, a cancer specialist from UK asked me.

Like the two specialists before her, I told her that Dad knows of the growth, but never the dreaded "C" word mentioned in either his or Mom's presence. All in the good intent for his focus to getting better instead of worrying on the negatives.

From then onward she replaced "cancer" with "the C word" every time it appeared in her sentences during the course of the consultation.

Since it was our first visit to the centre, with all the medical records Dad had accumulated over the years with SGH, she browsed through again together with the last CT scans and reports done last month, she gave the hard facts about patients with cancer and what to expect in the near future.

She also explained the expensive drugs that will be used and what to expect from this treatment.

The lady officer at the Registration Counter was the most pleasant human being Wifey and I had ever encountered personally.

Continuing after the doctor; also relating through similar experience, she explained the long term costs that we will be faced with and ways to manage these costs across all the siblings once Dad's own MediSave money gets depleted.

Dad will have to go through another CT Scan and blood test next Friday, 12 December 2008 at 4:00PM. Only then will Dr. Lo administers the proper treatment protocol.

The normal chemo Dad will most likely be getting is by oral pills. 2 times a day for two weeks while stopping it for the third week. The cycle then repeats for the next 3 to 6 months.

The cost of medications for each cycle will be expensive, ranging from several hundred dollars to beyond 3 thousand dollars. Something Dr. Lo advised that I should consult my siblings on the long term expenses.

With this treatment, Dad has a survival rate of 20 months to beyond 24 months, but only 8 to 12 months if left untreated. The choice was obvious to me, Dad must have the treatment but I have to discuss it with the rest of my brothers and sisters.

On the low-end of this treatment, 60% of patients will respond positively to this treatment while the other 40% will not. The tumors in Dad's lungs will shrink or at worst remain the same if he is in the 60% group.

Else a higher dosage or more aggressive treatments, or even the combination with radiation may been needed. This, she said will have to be discussed and a tough decision to be made by the family whether to go ahead as the remaining quality of Dad's life will be affected.

All that will be decided once the CT Scan and blood test results are out and we to meet her again a week after, on Friday, 19 December 2008 at 10:45AM.

Another important necessity the officer pointed out was that both Dad and Mom should have an administrator for their monies in their MediSave accounts.

They will need to appoint a beneficiary to perform administrative job should one or the other were to pass on. The money from one account can then be taken out and topped-up to the other surviving spouse.

I discussed with my second eldest brother together with both my parents. They agreed that I should be the one. A task when the unfortunate happened.

We left NCC after making an appointment for Dad's CT Scan and blood test, then after taken Dad's month's supply of cough medications to relief the symptom for him to get a proper night's sleep.

We went to CPF Building in Robinson Road and did the nomination by both parents.

A big feast in the form of a late lunch at Hajah Maimunah Restaurant in Pisang Road took place at about 3:00PM. Dad ordered lots of old Malay Kampong dishes which were totally scrumptous... finger-licking good, scrumptious!

My Brother sent both parents home while Wiefy and I met Sonny at Singapore Expo's John Little mega-sale for fresh sets of wardrobe. Wifey got her sandals, while both Sonny and I got our socks, underwear and cool T-shirts which were all at bargain cost prices.

A nice Tom Yum seafood noodle dinner soon ensued and we left home for the day.

A nice long weekend for Singapore as Monday, 8 December 2008; a public holiday to celebrate Hari Raya EidulAdha for the Muslim faith here.

A mixed reaction for the whole family when we pay a visit and congregate at our parents' home during the holy day.

For now, we have them both. They are with us to love and be loved...