Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jewels Of Changi

More of the wonderful and relaxing outing Wifey and I had over at Changi Point Coastal Walk with photos I took along the way.

Without ever leaving the wooden-stripped floor board walk, one can find jewels of Changi beach along its path, just waiting to be discovered.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Beach Or Bust

That was what I told Wifey I wanted to do during our long weekend.

Since Deepavali holiday fell on Monday, we had the long weekend to ourselves... well, almost.

The long weekend had great potential to be a fun one, but prior engagements and obligations made it not possible to plan a camping at the beach.

We already were invited to our cousin's wedding and Niece's birthday on Sunday. The public holiday on Monday was to be a long drawn-out appointment with our financial adviser reassessing our portfolios that were last done a couple of years ago.

So it was becoming more important to do so now due to the changing times and financial circumstances the world is currently experiencing. If I had my way, Monday would have been a perfect bike day for us at the beach.

Friday's Gift...

Met Wifey after work for dinner outside. Sonny was out with his friends celebrating their freedom after the final year exams with dinner and movie.

Wifey thought of a brilliant gift for our Niece who was celebrating her 3rd birthday on Sunday. A custom "bling-bling" bracelet with her name spelled with studded crystals on a black leather strap bought at Isetan Department Store. Perfect!

Tailed Wifey around for more shopping at Tampines Mall. We got our Niece two more presents. Oshkosh dresses which we custom wrapped it when we got home and placed in a nice teddy bear paper gift bag. Perfect and happy!

Saturday's Stroll...

Sonny attended his friend's birthday party at Sengkang. He was out for the whole day. I convinced Wifey for an outing to the beach, just the two of us. Changi Beach Park to be exact.

Wifey wanted to get some exercise and I wanted the beach, so we went for a walk on the boardwalk. Perfect combination, perfect weather.

Eat our usual favourite dish, Tom Yam Seafood Noodle for lunch at Changi Hawker Centre. Gather some snacks and bottled drinks... then off to Changi Point Coastal Walk.

We started our stroll at Beach Walk where Changi Point Ferry Terminal is located. Serene surroundings and manicured landscape with flowering plants blooming to complementing the scenic sea view.

Except for a few anglers and small groups of people fishing, there were very few people around and along the entire course of the board walk that afternoon.

The busiest part of the board walk was along Sailing Point Walk. The natural and soothing sounds of the birds and waves crashing on the beach were broken by the laughters of children swimming and frolicking at the pool by the sea at the Changi Sailing Club.

Model yachts dominated the sea in front of the club, remote controlled by a group of hobbyists from the beach. Dwarfed by the real live-sized versions dotting near the shoreline at the background... owners on board, sun bathing on their yachts.

We came to the rocky part of the beach... from little pebbles popping out from the sand to huge chucks of rock that broke the coming waves at Cliff Walk. We went up the stairs and into the shades of the tall trees.

There, the sound of the waves was overpowered by the distinct sounds of the parakeets in the trees. I could not see them clearly to take photos unfortunately, but these birds were definitely loud. It reminded me of being in a pet shop.

The straight and shaded board walk was like a tunnel with a light at the far end.

Climbing down a few steps, the shade of the trees opened up to reveal the winding board walk that stretches out far into the water. The Kelong Walk has two lookout points surrounded by water underneath. The lookout points were right in front of the Changi Beach Club restaurant and chalets.

Two large Malay families made these their homes for the day.

With well-stocked food and drinks, safari beds and the radio playing in the background, the ladies obviously enjoying themselves chatting away and laughing while the guys were concentrating much on fishing and throwing crab nets into the water along the kelong.

Once passed the chalets, we were on Sunset Walk. The name befitting it, we were there just in time to witness the sun setting as it was already quite late into the afternoon.

It would have been a romantic setting for this couple if not for a group of youngsters already making themselves comfortable at the last lookout point. A large dark-red bolder protruded out from the seabed, crested with an embedded lone tree marked the end of the board walk.

We stood there for a bid and watched the amber skies being reflected on the shimmering golden sea. We left before the sun touched the horizon... doubled right back to where we started at the ferry terminal.

There were people coming back from their island tours and offshore fishing trips. Wifey was hooked and curious at a group of teenage fishing enthusiasts who caught two large fish that were about 2 feet long.

Apparently thrilled and still looking fresh even with their sun-burnt complexion after spending the day in the bum-boats out in the open sea... taking turns as each of them took pictures of each each other, posing proudly with their catch.

We bought our dinner-to-go at the hawker centre and went home to meet Sonny for dinner together. Apparently, he was still not home until about 10:00PM. The latest he had ever been out with friends so far.

He brought back and proudly showed his winnings at the party... three photo albums of different sizes and a bottle of cologne from the games they played there.

Sunday was slated to be a busy people-day with family while Monday was confined to indoors dealing with real issues to plan for the future.

So Saturday outing made up for all the things we could not otherwise do on a perfect long weekend. Beach or Burst? Brilliant!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Deepavali Wishes

Wishing all
Hindu Friends & Their Families
A Very Happy & Triumphant

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brave, Old Dad!

"I don't think it was bad at all..." Dad muttered once he was brought over to sit at the waiting area beside me, where I was waiting for him.

"They say that I will feel warm all over my body or some pain when the solution gets in," Dad explained with those tired old eyes looking at me, "but I don't feel anything strange at all."

"That's good, Dad." I replied, "They were just being cautious. That happens only in extreme cases."

Dad just nodded, his eyes looking straight at the counter where Staff Nurse Samantha Chua was seated. I was not sure whether it made him nervous knowing the worst that could happen or he would rather not know anything at all.

Yes. Anticipation is the worst kind.

That is Dad. Always putting up a brave front. Always tolerating what is being dished out onto him... a mindset most probably hard-wired during the Japanese Occupation. Not many questions, just lots of trust... in me and with my decisions, it seems.

Though I am honoured, I however, sometimes feel that I betray his trust by not letting him know about the cancerous growth he had removed 3 years ago. Then again, it was our collective decision and I still think it is the right one.

I'm Off...

I left work half an hour early with permission from my boss. Took the MRT to Outram Station and walked to SGH... the third day in a row.

I arrived about an hour before the 7:00 PM appointment. Had time for my dinner and a cup of coffee to keep me alert for the evening, just in case.

While sipping my coffee, messages after messages bombarded my iPhone. I shot back each one of them replying my siblings. Like a celebrity, several of them vied for the opportunity to fetch Dad back home after the CT Scan procedure.

My niece eventually won the honour of having dinner with both her favourite "people" and sending them back home.

The Arrival...

My Sis and her husband came half an hour early with Dad and Mom at the back seat. We arrived at the Radiology Centre at Block 4 Level 1 and registered Dad at the reception.

The fee was S$160.00 after a 63% government subsidy of S$440.00 in total bill. After payment, I accompanied Dad into the waiting area where Staff Nurse Samantha Chua greeted us with a warm smile and attended to Dad straight away.

I could not help but felt a sense of rendezvous when I was in the changing room to help Dad get into his Kimono scrub. Past occasions with Dad and also with Mom seemed like fresh and were like yesterday to me. I hated it.

I hated that they had to go through all these unpleasant experiences. Each time I felt helpless, unable to ease their pain or worries but to only be there for them, while keeping my composure tight.

Dad was then asked to go into the other room for a private talk with the doctor. I was asked in to translate for him.

Waiting for the doctor to come in, I was worried sick for what was to come. I noticed that the earlier patients were not called-in after they had changed into their kimonos, but Dad was treated differently.

"Doctor wants to tell you what you should do during the scanning." I told Dad, just assuming the reason we were called in. Dad just nodded and stayed quiet.

Dr. Tan came into the room with Staff Nurse Samantha trailing behind. They exchanged some medical jargon between them before Dr. Tan addressed and introduced himself to us.

He repeated the questions the nurse already asked and checked on the given form. He endorsed it after being satisfied that it was "safe" for Dad to undergo the scanning.

"I'm here because this is your Dad's first time." He explained. "Your Dad is old, so there are a few things we have to take note..." he paused.

"He will experience a little pain and his upper body will feel warm when we inject him with the contrast liquid," he explained further, "he must tell us if it gets too painful for him. We will stop. He only needs to verbally tell us or lift his right hand."

I explained to Dad word-for-word. "Just tell them if it's too painful, OK?"

Dad nodded. I just did not want him to be a hero in there and that it was alright to say he was in pain.

Yes, We're Ready!

"OK then. I think we're ready." Dr. Tan said and left the room.

I finally felt at ease again. Nothing serious, just that Dad was old and that he needed to understand what he was going to go through during the procedure.

Staff Nurse Samantha reiterated to me to remind Dad that he should ask to stop if he felt pain. It was because old folk have weak veins. The pressure while injecting the contrast liquid during the scan could, in extreme case, burst a vein.

She nevertheless assured us that Dad was reacting normally when she injected normal saline into the secured catheter in his arm to test his condition.

Like clock work, Dad was ushered into the scan room at 7:10pm. The procedure took only 10 minutes. Dad was out and his catheter removed. Seated next to me, he had to stay there with his other hand pressed on the injection wound for another 10 minutes before he could change back into his clothes and allowed to leave.

"Pakcik dah boleh makan dan minum air banyak-banyak, OK?" She reminded him in Malay language, petting Dad's shoulder.

"He needs to flush out the contrast liquid with lots of fluid intake tonight, OK?" She reminded me to tell Dad.

Let's Just Celebrate!

We went out, back to the reception where Mom, Sis and her husband, my Niece and her husband, together with their two adorable sons coloring in their activity books, were waiting for Dad.

All done! "Let's have dinner!" My niece suggested...

Then started the debate on the best eating place to go as we left the centre. It was like a little celebration for Dad. An achievement for being brave and being much loved.

A convoy of 2 cars went off into the night for a celebration. I went the other way for home. The next day is a workday. I just needed to hit the pillow. I was mentally tired.

The "verdict" will be out in two weeks time. On 6th November at 2:30 PM, Respiratory Consultant, Dr. Devanand will tell us the result of the CT scan...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Breathe Easy, Dad

I sent text messages to my anxious siblings yesterday, informing them of the good news about the blood test and the doctor's examination... but with caution. Dad is not exactly out of the woods yet.

Last night, I had a good sleep knowing that Dad is going to be alright, even though it was early to tell for sure.

Unlike Sunday night. After being told by the family doctor, I kept waking up from my sleep every two hours or so. Woken-up by weird and senseless dreams of bad things that happened to Dad.

Another day off work attending to Dad for his appointment with a Respiratory Specialist, Dr. Devanand in the morning.

Today, Mom stayed home alone while Wifey and I picked Dad up from their home to SGH. We took the MRT from Woodlands to Outram station which caused less than S$2.00 each. A cab ride yesterday cost S$36.00 including the 35% peak hour surcharge and ERP charges in the morning.

After registration, Dad's with queue number was 1147. The last number being called was 1120.

Dad had his weight and height checked. He is 1.6 metres or 5.2 foot and at 59.6 Kg or 131.4 pounds. A kilogram above his ideal weight with a BMI of about 23.

Wifey sped-up the waiting by checking with the doctor at the Consultation Room 6. Dr. Devanand was expecting the "forced-in" consultation made for Dad. He was served next.

The doctor was warm and polite. He explained slowly and comprehensively of what is to come and the route that would have to be taken depending on the results. He urged not to delay with taking another X-ray, but straight to CT scan instead.

"He's good... breathing fine and not in any pain," said the doctor, "but I worry for your father until I get the CT scans and if needed a biopsy."

No delays for Dad. Whatever that is needed to be done should be done as quickly for everybody's sake. Anticipation is always the worst feeling to have for me.

As advised by the appointment clerk, we made for an immediate appointment for a CT scan directly at the Radiology Centre, a floor above the clinic.

The normal request for an slot during office hour would be a month away at the earliest, but with the urgent request from the doctor, we got it the next day but in the evening. 7:00pm to be exact.

We took it.

We came back to the appointment clerk with the needed CT scan date and an appointment to see Dr. Devanand another time a week after, after he analyzed the results.

"I am going to take care of you, Uncle!" Dr. Devandand said to Dad while shaking his hand before leaving his room, "We are going to see each other until you get better. So don't worry, OK?"

Dad just smiled and nodded. "Thank you, thank you, doctor." He knows a little English but is hard of hearing in one ear. I guess the doctor's smile and warm treatment made him feel much at ease.

We had lunch at the hospital canteen. I was busy updating everyone with SMSs and getting beeping responses back from my siblings.

Sis and my brother-in-law came to fetch Dad back home after lunch. We parted ways after arranging transportation for Dad for tomorrow night.

"Dad, you will have to fast 4 hours prior to the procedure." I explained to Dad one more time. "That means by 3:00pm... NO FOOD. You can only drink plain water until after the scan. OK?"

"You will be here too right?" Dad asked me before he got into Sis' car.

"Of course Dad," I replied firmly and smiled at him, "I'll be waiting for you here, at the drop-off point when you arrive tomorrow."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Please... Not Dad

"So the doctor found something in his left lung," my youngest brother told me over the phone last Sunday, "do you want to speak to the doctor?"

My brain was still trying to make sense of what was said when it got interrupted by the doctor.

"Hello Imran, I am with your brother here about your father's X-ray." My Dad's family doctor said over the phone.

Without pausing for a moment he continued, "There is a 3.2 cm growth on his left lung."

"Is this normal for someone who had been coughing for over a month now?" I asked, expecting a firm "Yes."

"No. This is a growth that is not normal, and because of his past medical history, it is something that has to be further looked at quickly."

My heart sank. Wifey said my face was pale with the look of disbelief.

"I recommend that he gets checked at the hospital." The doctor replied firmly, "I'll write a referral letter for you to bring your father for further examination."

Dad, oh my poor Dad...

Over a month ago, just before the fasting month, Dad had a mild cough going. It went untreated for several weeks. Mom kept telling Dad to see the doctor for his cough but he refused.

Mom called me to informed and after a little coercing, Dad agreed to go to the doctor with my youngest brother who leaves not far from my parents in Woodlands.

He was given antibiotics and pills for his cough instead of the usual cough syrup. Dad hated the pills but took them religiously. He finished the whole course and his cough subsided significantly, but never really recovered.

The doctor told my youngest brother that Dad had to be looked at by a Respiratory Specialist and probably a biopsy done instead of continuing medication from him.

He was being cautious but recommended that it be done promptly.

I took off work on Monday to bring Dad to Singapore General Hospital A&E department in the morning. Youngest Sister-in-law was there too since Dad wanted Mom to come along as usual for moral support. Dad always feels better when Mom is by his side during trying moments. Mom in turn would need someone to help her if she wanted to visit the toilet.

We were there at 10:10AM. Dad's queue number was 0015 after going through about 15 minutes at Registration and then the Triage section.

The waiting room was full of walk-in emergency patients, yet Dad's queue number flashed for Consultation Room A5 after waiting for about half an hour. It was really nice to have the patients not having to wait for too long to see a doctor.

A lady doctor, Dr. Wee was lively and warm. Asking Dad many questions while looking at the referral letter and X-ray from the family doctor. She drew blood from Dad for blood samples and explained to us the necessary steps that may follow from then onwards. She kept the "cancer" word off as requested during registration.

Waiting for the blood test results to come back, we were asked to take some breakfast of branch about an hour's time.

The result came quicker than we could finish our Delifrance meal. The text message asked us to come back to Room A5 for the doctor's prognosis.

When we entered, Dr. Wee was with her Professor who wanted to examine Dad once more. He was saying that everything looked fine.

The blood test was free of any infection to the lungs, but because of Dad's previous medical records in the hospital computers, they have special arranged for the Respiratory Specialist, Dr. Devanand to take over Dad's case.

The good news was that Dad was not needed to be warded for a night to do all the various tests, since he was well and not in any pain.

The bad news was that we had to come back the next day as an urgent case to be looked at by the Respiratory Specialist, thus the "forced-in" remark written on Dad's appointment letter.

We were to go to their Specialist Clinic A at Block 4 Basement 1 in the morning before noon.

I was not feeling too good about the fuss with the urgent appointments... I worry for Dad who until this day, together with Mom who only know that the growth Dad had surgically removed from his large intestine 3 years ago was benign. In fact it was cancerous and at stage 3.

Dad did exceptionally well after recovering from the surgery and passed every colonoscopy for the past 3 years... taking care of his health and eating right.

I kept my calm outside but my inside was crying for dear old, Dad. While we were outside the doctor's room, I silently prayed for him while I sat beside him when we waiting for the plastic needle in his arm to be removed.

He looked at me and smiled... "Praise The Almighty for this good news!" As he shook his head, "I'm OK."

I smiled back and put my had around his shoulders, "Alhamdulillah."

Tomorrow is another day...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Admiralty Park Walk

Mangrove Park: Bridge across mouth of Sungei Cina

Sunday ended with a perfect note... from the birds.

After spending the whole of Saturday from morning till midnight visiting and feasting, Sunday was a reprieve to slow down and take a breather.

With no Raya visits from anyone to our home, the first part of the day was spent recuperating from the "hang-over" from gluttony. No regrets, the home-cooked food spread from all the homes were scrumptious!

Urban Park: South Entrance at Republic Polytechnic

I know I will regret it if I did not have a bite... I had second helpings instead. There goes that lean body I attained as a bonus from the month of fasting during Ramadan. My faintly visible six-packs will not be showing themselves for too long with the amount of food I stuffed myself. My bad.

Anyway, seemed like many families stayed home last weekend, most definitely in support of their children's education for final preparations before sitting for their final exams.

Wifey was just too exhausted to even think of leaving the house while Sonny gave in to all his cravings he missed of several months because of his exams... Spore got his eyes and mind focused onto the computer screen.

So I went out, leaving Wifey and Sonny alone and not worrying if I would miss anyone coming to our home, to go to my parents' place in Woodlands.

Almost middle of the month, and I had not given them their monthly spending money as I do in the early start of each month, but not without arming myself with my trusted Panasonic Lumiz FZ10 camera... to shoot nature at its best.

Urban Park: Amphitheater overlooking lotus pond

Not taking more Hari Raya pictures, but pictures of the newly opened Admiralty Park which just had its phase 2 completed. The announcement was first published in the papers while the Sunday Times did a 2 full-page cover of it boasting nature and wild life that one would find at the park.

It was like killing two birds with one stone. I got to visit my dear parents and take a first look at the park!

To make time for the nature walk, I did the house chores at my parents' in record time! I was amazed at myself too.

I cleaned the top portion of the kitchen cabinets that they were not able to reach as high... I would not want any of the to climb anyway.

Nature Park: Gravel path flanked by Nipah Palms

I scoured the kitchen sink to reveal the original stony-beige tone once again. Wiped clean the large 6 foot mirror frame the contractor had just put-up for them free in their living room and vacuumed the carpets as well as the whole house. Phew! Done.

Lastly, I bought them dinner at the nearby coffee shop before I finally got to sit down with them and had a chat, while treating myself to the variety of Raya cookies and cakes spread at the dining table. Yes, more food... my six-pack is definitely hiding under again.

When I left their home, I was still unsure which direction I should take. I only knew that it was somewhere near their place... Republic Polytechnic being the landmark.

Urban Park: South Entrance at Woodlands & Riverside junction

Fortunately, against my "normal self," I asked the provision shop lady for the direct to the park when I bought bottled drink for the walk. The camera hanging from my neck was a dead give-away that I was heading to the hotly talked-about place by the residents there.

Wow! And yes. It was that near from my parents' place.

Two traffic lights away and there was the entrance to the park. Smacked right in front of the polytechnic, no one could ever miss the South Entrance from the junction between Riverside Road and Woodlands Avenue 5.

Urban Park: Large Foodcourt overlooking lotus pond

I used this opportunity to recce the place, especially with the intention to bring parents to the park the next time I visit them with my family. The place needed to be wheelchair accessible for Mom and old-folks-friendly for Dad.

Thank the heavens, the park caters to all ages and abilities!

Urban Park: Manicured fields among lush trees

The Urban Park has all the amenities and convenience for everyone. A large food court and several toilets along the tarmac path, complete with hilly paths for joggers' challenge.

Park benches, exercise corners as well as children's playground scattered among many varieties of trees planted there and trimmed grass.

Nature Park: Sand path leading to open grassland

The Nature Park starts right after the food court overlooking the lotus pond. In front of the food court is an amphitheater has its sandy path cutting through the grassland and open field with clusters of Nipah palm trees bearing fruits at the moment.

I saw lots of birds flying over me most probably going back to roost, but was not able to identify them as the day was getting dark, coupled with my poor unaided eyes.

Mangrove Park: Entrance to mangrove swamp

The Mangrove Park was a little disappointing for me though. Upon entering the secondary forest, the sight of the wet ground ahead with mangrove roots delighted me.

I was expecting a boardwalk just like at Sungei Buluh and Pasir Ris Park, but it was only a short bridge across the mouth of Sungei Cina that leads to the Straits of Johor.

Mangrove Park: First sight of mangrove wetlands

Nonetheless, I could spot plenty of wetland inhabitants in that small place than the other areas in the park. Easily spotted were Giant Mud Skippers... and these were very big ones I had seen as compared to the ones at Pasir Ris Park.

The Rainforest Park was interesting too. Lots of native trees with beautifully-spread canopies and many too were signs to remind people of falling branches and not to feed the monkeys. The many signs along the path gave me the impression that there were lots of monkeys there.

I was really eager to see a few, but none that day. Maybe it was already late and like the birds, they had "turned-in" for the day.

I had to cut short the Rainforest walk halfway as the day was getting just too dark for comfort. The unlit paths became too dark under the shades of the tall trees.

I turned back and gave the other portion of the park that leads to the beach a miss. A another jewel to be discovered next time when I am at Woodlands.

I ended the walk with a high note of satisfaction eagerness to explore further next time and rewarded myself with a self portrait at the over-sized Republic Polytechnic signboard.

Urban Park: Oversize Republic Poly signboard

Nature Park: Tropical Winter in equatorial Singapore

Mangrove Park: Giant Mud Skipper basking at Sungei Cina

Rainforest Park: Sun setting against a darkening purple sky

Nature Park: Nipah Palm fruits used in local "snow cones"

Nature Park: Nature silhouette before dusk