Thursday, November 27, 2008

Talk Is Cheap!

I called home this afternoon to find the ring tone sounding rather strange.

My first thought was that maybe either Wifey or Sonny might have not hang-up the receiver properly. On second thought, the ring tone was totally the first time I have heard.

Then it came to me, that my land-line phone was being switched over from the quarterly chargers from Singtel to the voice modem Starhub Broadband is offering to its customers for free.

Yes, free until December 2010. From today and until two years later, all incoming and outgoing calls within Singapore is free. Wifey's chats with her Mom across the causeway in KL, Malaysia has become insanely cheap. I believe her Mom will be happy to receive her calls more often from now on.

The VoIP modem and installation were given and done for free too. And as a bonus, the current number remains the same! We do not have to do anything at all but to enjoy the freedom of talking.

Talk is cheap literally now... nope, it is free!

I sound like I am endorsing the company, I am not, but if it sounds like it, so be it! I'm saving lots of money each month and one less hassle for Wifey to run errands for payments.

It does pay to be loyal.

Thank you Starhub. You rock!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vivo Last Sunday!

My siblings flocked to our parents' home last weekend to spend time with them. This week is our opportunity to be with them too.

"So, anybody coming over there this Sunday?" I asked Mom over the phone.

"Your Sis is coming over this Saturday," Mom replied, "no one's called to come on Sunday though." Trying to recall.

"Would you like to go out with us then?" I invited Mom and Dad.

A resounding "Yes!" came straight away with a question at the end "Where you're going? We'll go wherever you take us." Mom sounded really excited.

"You pick. Changi Beach, or maybe shopping for your trip this Friday." I suggested and let her choose.

"We've not been there for so long..." Mom trying to recall her last picnic at Changi, "since my stroke."

When we were small, Changi Beach was our family's haunt for picnics and swimming in the sea whenever Dad was able to spare time on the weekends if he was not doing overtime work.

Family's Tanjong spot at Changi Beach Park

We even had our favourite spot on the beach we called "tanjong" or end at the stretch of the beach.Mom and Dad always made the effort to go for family picnic at Changi Beach.

We would come back all blackened from the sun and then recover from the sun burns on our backs, but we would come back again to endure then after effects over again because it was such fun every time.

Since then, all my siblings love picnics and Changi became our haunt for weekend by the beach even thought there are several beaches on this island that are popular among picnickers.

On the North-East Line To VivoCity

I for one, have inherited the spot for my own family. Being close to Changi from Tampines where I live, the beach is our quick getaway from the stress of work and routine chores.

"Oh, it's been so many years since we've been there..." Mom reminisced. "Can the wheelchair go through the sandy beach... I'll be stuck there?"

Indeed it has been so long since my parents were there. The last time they were there, Mom was still able to walk on her own. Now in wheelchair to get around and unable to sit on the ground comfortably, she had some reservations going on a picnic there.

Seashell reflective pool at VivoCity waterfront

Fortunately, the beach park has gone through several transformation to what it is today. Long gone were the water facility building that blocked the beautiful sea view. Gone too were the canoe storage warehouse.

Now, just tall beautiful casurina trees and coconut palms with white sandy beach complimented with amenities like shelters, clean toilets and the many barbecue pitches. Food and drinks are no longer a problem with snack shops selling from barbecue necessities to kites, dotting along the beach.

Parking is no longer a problem with car parks spaced out along the beaches. Public transport is also convenient with stops along the beaches. The beach park is definitely wheelchair friendly.

Mom and Dad were set after that much updates from me.

"The only thing that can stop us now will be the weather," I cautioned Mom, "we'll go shopping instead if it rains."

So Wifey and I packed for the picnic. We planned to have Wifey and Sonny leave for the beach in the morning to claim our spot first while I take the bus to my parents home to fetch them and double back in a cab. We were ready!

Early Sunday morning looked quite promising with the sun shining, but it turned cloudy... I mean dark clouds, hovered over and intermittently letting the sun peeked. The weatherman predicted a thunderstorm in the afternoon.

We had to drop Plan A and called my parents to inform the of Plan B. VivoCity shopping at the waterfront. Yes, at least we still get to be near and soak-up the sea view and salty breeze.

Everything happens for a reason.

True to the saying, Mom and Dad ending-up needing many essential things for their trip this Friday to Kedah, Malaysia.

After our high-tea at the water front, eating our chicken and mushroom puffs and hot coffee, we started our shopping at Giant Hypermart.

Both Mom and Dad bought a zip-up sweater to stay warm in the car with the air-condition on during the long day and night drives and while in several hotels that they will be staying along the journey.

Dad bought a pair of trousers to match his silk batik shirt bought when we were in Bandung, Indonesia last year. He wanted to look good attending the wedding there.

He also bought 2 pairs of track pants just like the one I was wearing, for easy wear during the rest of the trip. Lightweight, no ironing needed and easy to dry.

One of Christmas sales along VivoCity atriums

Come to think of it, I have never seen him in a pair of track pants before. I do not think he owns a pair before these two. Something new for him. That explains the wide grin he displayed while trying them on and the happy mood he was in afterward, because he looked good in them.

Both Mom and Dad bought thick socks for themselves and a thermos to keep hot coffee always available while on the week-long road trip with second Sis and Brother-in-law.

Wifey showed and let Mom hugged a big teddy bear that was on sale. Being a stuffed-toy lover, she liked it so much but refrained so much from buying too because she was on a budget.

I may very well surprise her with one when she gets back from her trip.

Taking a breather in front of Daiso watching fishes in an aquarium

Then, it was just senseless shopping for everyone at Daiso, where everything Japanese are sold for S$2.00 each. We spent a good hour and a half inside.

Dinner on me at Banquet before we sent them home.

Dad surprised us with lots of fruits he bought for us to take home... apples, pears, persimmons, grapes and oranges. It was as if we just got back from the supermarket. Got to love them.

Hope they enjoy their trip and return back safe and sound. Bless their beautiful hearts.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We're Game Enough!

Sonny ready for big Yong Tau Foo breakfast at Giant Foodcourt

Like clothes and shoes, our Son has finally outgrown his desktop PC.

The Acer Pentium 4 PC I bought years ago... my then prized possession was handed over to Sonny when I myself outgrew it. He has been using it from simple programs and excel worksheet for his school projects, growing in capacity and capability through the years to keep up with Sonny's insatiable thirst for computer programming knowledge and well, games.

It finally came to its "computing" end when programs and games that Sonny work on or play are more graphics-intensive. Video editing and photo rendering programs that he uses for his school projects in Secondary One and those of personal ones in his DANamic.ORG website no longer can be done effectively with this old, but so faithful computer.

Even with the last hundred over dollars spent to upgrade his computer to the maximum capability that this computer could take, the latest programs and demand for large chunks of computing power proved too much for its graphics card... after the last one died on him for the third time.

Acer Predator Gaming PC

The start of the school holidays proved to be the last straw for its graphics card when the PC is put through a daily dose of games marathon these past two weeks.

It is time to give this tired old PC a rest and revisit its original purpose when it was first bought. Normal computing use like emails, internet surfing, office works documents... a normal desktop PC for the common man.

Sonny is now needing a much faster, larger capacity and like all PC... the latest one available to cope with the demands of the programs that he uses. It should therefore also be latest enough to last without the need to upgrade in the next few years.

Guess we will have another extra PC in the house when Sonny gets his way.

"I have saved up about a thousand dollars already..." Sonny said to Wifey, pitching his request hoping to go through the final approval authority to spend his money he had saved from his daily school allowances and gifts from Hari Raya.

Dark clouds amid happy-colored Bugis shophouses

Surprisingly, Wifey said "yes" to his request. I have no qualms and trust her judgment because is thrifty and wise with money. Unlike me, I have a built-in soft spot for techno gadgets. A sure "YES!" will entail with recommendations on what is latest!

Then again, asking for an Acer Predator that costs about S$4,000.00 is well, pushing it just a tat too far. No way! Even I know my limits.

So three of us went out to hunt for his PC... with the souped-up hardware we are looking out for, it is just like a Gaming PC. Built to take the abuse, particularly that the internals should stay as cool as possible with all that high intensity computing and graphics.

We set of early to Courts Megastore, hoping to be the 50 people who could exchange a real apple we brought for an Apple iPod. We ended up probably being the 300th person there instead. Tough luck. So we ended having our breakfast at Giant Hypermart's Foodcourt.

Wet and happy children at Bugis Junction fountain

Left for Sim Lim Square at Rochor Road, one of several well known haunts for PC and electronic goods on the island for techno buffs.

The many flyers handed-out on the 3rd to 5th floor whenever one passes the escalator is a very good indication of the best offers available at the time. It is also an indication of what is latest technology out there to fset-up or soup-up a D.I.Y PC.

The prices are competitive, more so during this bad economic times. The offers are good as we moved for quote from one store to another. Sonny knows that this trip is just scouting for the best prices for the latest hardware. We have since reduced to two stores that offer the best prices.

The PC should be able to cater to high computing power and graphics-intensive programs and games for at least 3 to 4 years to come with the least concern of the graphics card to go bust first.

The cost for an Asus SLI-capable motherboard, loaded with Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Processor, Nvidia Q9800 GTX-Plus, 4GB RAM on-board, 500 GB Harddisk and an Nvidia Cooler Master casing with 550W Real power supply, fixed with a 22x Samsung DVD 2-layer writer... added-up to be at S$1,590.00.

Of course, it is only the CPU without the LCD monitor, keyboard and mouse. Sonny will use his present 29" Samsung TV/monitor and his keyboard and mouse.

All looks set. Wifey has given her blessings and that is a good thing and quite rare too.

Sonny is looking forward to having his new souped-up PC. I am looking at forking about S$600.00 for him... strings attached of course. Sonny has agreed to our conditions... work even harder on his studies and keep up his grades. PC game playing is regulated with no negotiations entertained.

Shall we wait for Sitex PC Show next week?

For now, we just eat the apples during our hunt since we could not listen to them...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

School Of Thoughts

Mom called just before 11:00PM. It was kind of late to call even for her. It was unsettling to receive any call late at night. Even more so when the caller ID showed it was Mom.

Think Mom needs some company...

"You're not sleeping yet?" Mom asked. Her voice sounded normal. Thank you!

"No. Wide awake still..." I answered, "tomorrow's Saturday."

Both Mom and Dad are excited about the road trip they will be taking end this month. They have changed some money to Malaysian Ringgit for spending on the trip.

They are going to attend a wedding in Kedah, Malaysia and get the opportunity to meet grandfathers' family from Mom's side of the family. It has been too long since they seen them.

Mom was feeling a little down. One of her hamster had just died late in the afternoon.

"He's very old," Mom explained, "but he was strangely active this afternoon, climbing and dangling down from the top of the cage... something we've not seen for so long."

That hamster fathered the other four that she is now left with. Its mother had died about 3 weeks earlier. Both of the hamsters were more than 3 years old; more than the life expectancy of a Winter White Dwarfs.

My parents really did a great job caring for their pets. Better than us, in fact.

"We'll bring them back here and take care of them." I said, "You just enjoy your trip." I convinced her not to worry about her babies...

"Your father sleeps every time he takes the cough medicine." Mom changed subject, almost sounded like a complaint. "That's the problem with cough mixtures... it makes you sleepy." She continued, rationalizing to herself.

I just agreed with her. I agree that she is lonely when Dad is always asleep because of his medications. There is no one to talk to there.

That was yesterday.

What Mom did not know was that her children will come in droves this weekend and weekends to come to spend more time with them. She and Dad will be so happy.

Think he'll do great...

Sonny left just after we had lunch for his Sudoku challenge.

He was fortunate that the school selected him and four others to represent it at the Sudoku Inter-school Competition for secondary students category.

Held at Funan - IT Mall, it was a closed-door event. Else we both would have been there cheering for his team... then again, it is a challenge that needs concentration, so they need all the quiet time to think minus pesky parents by the side.

Think it's a bargain...

Left with the whole Saturday afternoon to ourselves, Wifey already made plans for us to go to the Bookfest @Singapore 2008 at Suntec City Convention Centre. The fair started on Friday and will last until next Sunday, 23 November 2008.

Though we have been to Suntec City numerous times before, the trip this time was rather interesting. Wifey "discovered" a new and convenient route to go from our home. Something we never gave much thought until the plan to go to Marina Barrage last week triggered our curiosity.

Instead of switching between buses and train, and a long walk underground to reach the place, we can now take bus Express Service 518 from Singapore Polytechnic directly to Suntec City. A mere half-hour express jouney.

The book fair is indeed a big event. I'm not sure about it claiming to be the largest held in Southeast Asia, but I have never seen so many books and stationary in one gigantic hall in my entire life!

There were as many people as there would be at the infamous PC shows. The ones that I have always make a point to go to. Instead of tech geeks, this time there were lots of parents like us. Many with children trailing behind them flocking the two convention halls.

The crowd and snaking queue lines at the cashiers did not look like recession has reached our shores just yet.

Think we've splurged?

Wifey had a field day in there and by the time we exited the doors, we spent about S$100.00 on assessment books and stationary, including art and craft tools in anticipation of Sonny's school projects.

We spent another S$40.00 on Sonny's "all-black" Swiss Polo haversack. A requirement Sonny stated which we found at John Little sale in the atrium of Marina Square.

All that walking finally got us rewarded with a nice, hot latte. With a picturesque view of the Marina Bay, we sat by the waterfront at The Esplanade. We talked until sun down and so happen, had the opportunity to watch a free sponsored performance at the outdoor amphitheater.

Think we enjoyed ourselves...

An group called Punkh from India was playing their original compositions which were a little too young for our blood. We sat through four songs until our stomachs sang along requesting for food.

Dinner was at Makan Sutra, a short walking distance away. No Tom Yam noodle, so we settled for S$5.00 a bowl Noodle Soup instead.

We noticed the Christmas Light-up for this year turned on for the first time today. It was bright and blue, and trailed all the way to its source at Orchard Road.

It was unfortunate that my iPhone camera could not capture the vividness of the decoration properly. Maybe another time, but I will be armed with my Panasonic Lumix FZ10 camera.

We walked back to the bus stop at the convention centre where we came and took the loop Express Service 518 back home to Tampines.

Sonny was already home... with him were lots of goodies in two bags.

His group did not win the competition, but he won the individual mathematical challenges instead with some nice prizes on top of the goodie-bag all competitors received.

He did us proud just by being selected to represent his school. Something good today.

Life must go on...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

These Waking Hours

Actually, there was no crack in the ceiling at all...

I was awake last few nights, unable to get a decent hour of uninterrupted sleep. I would wake up often and stayed awake, laying on my bed and looking directly at the ceiling in my darkened bedroom.

There was no crack on the ceiling, just the shadow cast by the street light on the twigs from a tree outside my bedroom window. The day curtain did its part to trick my tired eyes. It was not a pretty night either. There was nothing to stare at the sky as it has been raining most nights and cloudy these past few days.

The days leading to face the result of the biopsy Dad had gone through about a week ago, was a mentally tiring one.

Thursday, SGH Block 3 Clinic A. Appointment at 3:20PM. Bronchoscopy results...
my iPhone beeped to remind me as I took off work in the afternoon.

"This is not good news." Dr. Devanand looked at me straight in the eye. "Your Dad's cancer has come again..."

What he said after that was incoherent as I drifted to nowhere I had gone before. Then snapped back in to reality and composed myself to focus on what the doctor had to tell.

"It's already in the advance stage..." the doctor continued, "there is no cure..."

I slipped into this temporary zombie state back and forth. I could not believe what I was hearing. Those dreaded words were replayed it in my mind so many times to prepare myself for the real thing. This is real.

Prepare myself?
What about Dad?
He's not prepared.

Would anyone be?!

Then the million questions came the doctor's way. Dr. Devanand was patient to answer them as best he could. At times referring to "statistically, what survival rate do we have here in Singapore?" charts displayed in his monitor after some tapping on his keyboard.

Not good. At stage 4, the survival rate is less than 5 percent. "Most patient survive from 6 months to a year..." he said, "many did not go beyond two."

I had to force it out from him even after he repeated to me that he was not the right person to advice on this matter. "More information and any specific questions" that I threw at him were "best answered by the oncologist" at the National Cancer Centre.

Dad will have his first chemotherapy session on 5th December 2008 on Friday morning.

His earliest session would have been on 28th November in the afternoon, but Dad wanted to attend a wedding in Kedah, Malaysia instead. Given that the 5-day road trip may be his last, I requested a later date after consulting the doctor.

Dad wanted to meet Mom's side of the family there and he loves to sight-see the ancient town of Malacca. A place he had gone by car many times with Mom, 2nd elder Sis and her husband before.

While waiting for the cough medicine at the pharmacy, I made a call to all my siblings, at times breaking-up into tears as I repeated the bad news the doctor had told me.

Both Dad and Mom do not know this, which makes it such much harder and me guilty immediately when I heard Dad told Mom as soon as he came out from the consultation room.

"I still have a growth in my wind-pipe... the doctor wants to shrink it with X-ray." He repeated my "translated words" to him, saying it without a hint of fear or sadness. Like it was just a common cough and what the usual cough medicine cannot cure. Oh Dad!

This weekend and the weekends that follow will be busy days at our parents' place as everybody has decided to spend more time with them during as many waking hours as possible.

While they are away on their road trip, all my siblings will come together to discuss who are able to take them in and whom the parents choose to stay with while Dad recuperates with every chemo session.

It's almost 2:00AM and I still am not able to sleep... I had to write this down as I am wide awake and restless.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

That Calming Waters

"The view is nice..." Wifey said looking up at the skyline as the sun set slowly, hiding itself behind the skyscrapers of Shenton Way.

We sat on the large patch of grass on the rooftop of Marina Barrage. It almost was a romantic scene with the setting sun and being just a couple together... there were hundreds others visiting the newly opened "attraction" in the city.

Since the announcement a few weeks ago culminating to its opening two weekends ago, I have been coercing everyone to have a family outing there on the opening day. There were exhibitions, a fair and goody-bags too.

I intended to bring my parents next once I "recce" the place to be old folks-friendly. It should be anyway.

Unfortunately, Dad was diagnosed with a growth in his lung. We skipped the outing. Everything else became insignificant, as we focus our time on him now. One doctor then to another, one test led to the other, one procedure proceeded with follow-ups... and it has only just began.

Poor Dad. My dear old Dad...

Like all my siblings, I am sure I try to have my spirits not be affected too much too. We all have to stay strong for Dad's sake. I believe he is relying and drawing his strength from Mom and all of us, so we will be of high spirits for him to be too to fight this together.

Responding to Wifey, I just smiled, mesmerized by the slowly changing hues in the sky... orange, blue, green, purple... pink!

I was so glad I was out from the house, kept busy from the nagging thoughts of sadness that Dad had to go through this again. A reason for being old... maybe a reason given to us mortals for Dad's time to leave us?

I hate these thoughts!

"Glad you suggested to come here today." I replied in solace, "Nice."

I felt much better being out from the house, even though it was only for a while. I have never under-estimated the power of open spaces and even more, a large body of water in front of you, can affect you so much therapeutically.

"Do you have the camera stand..." Wifey asked, "to take pictures of us."

I took out my camera from my haversack and set it on the tripod.

"This time we have our pictures taken together." Wifey quipped, "Not just me ending-up in your blog all the time." Telling me she has been too "exposed" in the web too many times.

"Can't help it. I'm the cameraman." I joked. I felt even better then and was back in sync with my zesty-photo-taking self again. I then began to snap photos after photos of us and the new surroundings of this landmark structure in Marina Bay. Wifey patiently waited for me got stuck at one place then another snapping away.

Night soon fell, and the city skyline lit with all amazing colors!

The most prominent was the Singapore Flyer. Its wheel changing colors and almost in sync with the dancing colors of the water fountain in the main atrium on the ground floor of the Marina Barrage.

Intriguing place I recalled from the newspaper article.

For one thing, it is the first an only water catchment area built in the heart of the city for this island. Well, no big deal, I know.

Yet the special thing about it is, the fact that this supposedly freshwater reservoir is actually salt water... which in time will become fresh drinking water. A cheaper method than desalination.

Combined with other reservoirs on this island, this nation intends to become self-sustaining as far as water is concern.

This barrage was built across the narrowest part of the sea in the bay area to form a water catchment area. That will mean the marine life that are now contained within this catchment area will slowly become freshwater dwellers in generations to come. Wow!

On our quiet trip back home last Sunday, I began to realize Wifey's intention.

I thought I was handling it well all along, but Wifey somehow was able to pick up the subtleties of how I really feel inside.

She knows I love outings, she knows I love new places and experiences, and she understands that being close to water helps calm me down. I am an open book to her.

Thank you dear Wifey. I needed that. I am blessed.

Friday, November 07, 2008

What's Up Dad?

So, the urgent leave off work taken on Friday was quite an unnerving one.

Do not know about Dad, but I was totally saddened by the whole thing for him... frail and walking slowly to keep up with us to the Endoscopy Centre at SGH Block 6, but still managed to give us a smile when he saw me looking at him.

Elder Sis, a stay home mom who lives in Woodlands called early in the morning to inform that she was fetching Dad from our parents' home. That gave Wifey and I some time to have breakfast and head straight to meet them up at SGH instead of going across the island to fetch Dad. Mom wished to stay home alone this time.

Everyone had their breakfast, except Dad who had to fast from midnight last night until after his bronchoscopy procedure at 10:55AM.

Arriving early at 10:00AM, seated at Polar cafe, Elder Sis was reading her Wanita magazine, while Dad was busy looking around, most probably for us. He gave a bright smile when he caught sight of us from afar.

We registered 40 minutes early, but Dad was called in exactly on the appointed time anyway. Then it was the wait... the procedure was to take about half an hour, but the recuperating time was expected to be about 3 hours.

So with time to kill and left to our own devices, Wifey and Elder Sis went straight into a conversation... catching-up mostly and intermittently involving me with questions. After a while, the comfy waiting lounge the Endoscopy Centre offered was no longer attractive.

We moved to the hospital canteen and had ourselves a cup of coffee. I left for Friday prayers at Moulana Mohamed Ali Mosque, situated right at the basement in OUB Centre at the heart of the financial district in Raffles Place... two stops away from Outram MRT station.

Gave Mom a call to update her on the goings-on. Then I let the body of water glimmering in the hot afternoon day offered me a quick solace.

I spent some time sitting on the surprisingly cool granite bench under a shady tree, staring at the water while the afternoon lunch crowd of office workers went wild crisscrossing each other behind me.

I can understand how the calming setting can help many fast-paced and high-staking investors and bankers "re-calibrate" themselves back to sanity simply by being close to the Singapore River.

Though temporary, I had a nice feeling... of peace of mind, until I had to go back to the hospital.

Met up with Wifey and Elder Sis at the Endoscopy Centre lounge again. We began to feel a little uncomfortable when Dad was still not out yet after 3:00PM. My second Eldest Sis and her husband came by too to fetch Dad back, but had to wait too until a little after 4:30PM.

By that time, I believe bad thoughts had already ran through everyone's head. I know I felt very uncomfortable... rehearsing my reaction in my head, somewhat mentally preparing myself to face whatever bad news that might come out from the glass doors.

Slowly and with a slight hunch, Dad finally walked out from the glass doors. He managed a smile when he saw a larger reception waiting for him.

Dr. Devanand came out too and gave Dad a pat on the back while reminding me to come back for the results this coming Thursday, 13 November 2008. Dad's appointment at 3:20PM at Clinic A will tell us the next step that we will need to take.

I dread that outcome very much. "I have to tell you bad news" bid from the doctor before this procedure kept running through my mind like a broken record player every time the thought crossed my mind.

"I'm very hungry..." Dad told me while we walked to the elevator, "I took this from the pantry just now." He continued, pulling out and showing me a pack of Jacobs biscuits from his pants pocket.

From his weak smile and course voice, it was evident that he was recovering still from the anesthesia and deprived of food in his system until this late hours of the day.

"We'll eat at the canteen now," I said while putting my hand around his shoulders, "let's break your fast with an early dinner."

"Anything you want to eat, Dad." Brother-in-law offered.

Dad had his request for beef noodle and additional kaya toast bread. His appetite was indeed good.

Apparently the beef noodle is the favourite dish amongst everyone in this family. Everyone was eating the same dish. Something we know, after patronizing the canteen for many days now.

Waving off as the car drove away from the hospital building, Wifey and I went home by train... making arrangements until the next appointment on Thursday.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dad's Not Good

Well, today we got some bad news from Dr. Devanand.

Took half-day off work in the afternoon to be with Dad for the result of his CT scan done about 2 weeks ago.

My younger brother took half-day off too to fetch Dad and Mom to the hospital. I met Wifey and them at SGH Block 3 Respiratory Specialist Clinic A.

"I have to tell you bad news today." Dr. Devanand told me in English while Dad looked-on with those droopy eyes, not really understanding much English... and most probably hard of hearing too.

The CT scan showed that Dad has 2 tumors in his left lung. The small one showed on the X-ray which triggered the investigation from the family doctor to Singapore General Hospital, and another larger one, 3 times more behind his heart... was devastating for me when shown on the monitor.

As expected, Dad will have to go for a bronchoscopy. They need a tissue sample to determine the next course of treatment.

Dr. Devanand informed that if this tumor is cancerous, Dad will need chemotherapy and a combination of other treatments depending on the biopsy result.

The doctor scheduled Dad for bronchoscopy procedure tomorrow morning. Dad had to go through ECG examination first to ensure that he is fit for the procedure.

Dad went for a 20 minutes ECG check and now ready for the invasive procedure tomorrow.

Dad will have to fast from midnight tonight until the procedure is over at noon tomorrow.

We have to at SGH Block 6 Level 2 Endoscopy Centre by 10:30AM for Dad's procedure at 10:55AM. The procedure will take about 40 minutes.

By 4:00PM, I started to receive SMSs from my siblings asking for updates.

I just had to tell everyone what exactly is going to happen next while telling both Dad and Mom something much simpler and less worrying for them... "just a small camera" to check what was wrong and "then we'll know the treatment they want to give."

Dad has kept his weight at 59 kg since the last visit 3 weeks ago, even though he has been having a very good appetite when the nasty cough subsided.

Though a slight persistent cough does not worry my parents that much anymore, it scares the hell out of me of what that really indicates.

Dr. Devanand prescribed two bottles of cough medication that cost me only S$1.40 after subsidy. The whole consultation and ECG was about $39.90.

Since deprived of lunch today, I treated all 5 of us to a Halal Chinese seafood dinner at House Of Tang located at Simpang Bedok.

Yep! Dad really does have a good appetite as Mom has been saying.

He was the last one to finish his meal... well most probably with less teeth, but he finished the leftovers of his favourite Sea-bass in Sweet-Sour Sauce when everyone else was already stuffed and "surrendered."

"Okay. Go Ahead." Was the SMS reply I got from my boss after seeking her approval upon getting the appointment for tomorrow's bronchoscopy at SGH.

So another day of leave off work.

Another day of tests and procedures. Another day of anxiety in my heart but a cool and composed me on the outside... expecting the worst, but praying for the best, the best possible outcome in this trying times... for my old folks.

Appreciate all the kind thoughts and prayers from everyone...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Son's Success Story

Wifey & I in BBQ Chicken. Sonny somehow dodged to having his picture taken

"I like drumsticks... lots of drumsticks." Sonny quipped when asked what he wanted for his lunch treat I was giving.

So, we order family -sized Hot Hot Drum, an eight-piece crispy chicken drumsticks coated in hot and spicy Korean sauce.

We went to BBQ Chicken, a Korean barbecue restaurant at the basement of E!Hub near Downtown East at Pasir Ris for family lunch out. I was treating Sonny lunch for achieving more than Wifey and I expected results on his final year examinations.

It was our first time dining at BBQ Chicken, since the restaurant was awarded the Halal certification... the food, ingredients and preparations used are abiding the Islamic requirements.

Seated in low sofa with legs crossed, a leisurely and comfortable ambience to dine in, the place and food were a good combination for a family dining.

We finished our lunch off with a Korean version of our local Ice Kacang called "Pat Bing Soo." Some parts of the world would call it a snow cone.

A nice desert, but the powered stuff formed part of the topping was a little strange for me... but nice. Well, anything sweet is always nice and sinful at the same time.

Two Weeks Ago...

"So how's the result?" I asked Sonny about his final year examination results over the phone. I was in the bus on my way back home.

"I did OK, but I'd want you to see it for yourself." Sonny replied making me more anxious than I have ever been today... and for the past few weeks.

"I don't want to jinx it, Ayah." Sonny's usual retorts every single time of the exam day whenever I asked him how he did on his exam papers.

I called on Wifey to find out from her instead, but she was out grocery shopping. So I had to stay patient for the length of the bus ride and to find out only after reaching home.

Once home, Sonny's school report book was already on my desk in front of my iMac.

I did in record time changing into my home clothes and waltz smoothly to my desk to find out how Sonny did for his Secondary One final year exams.

1, 2, 3, 4... I counted the letters in the list of 12 subjects.

Wifey came in, almost sneakily, tip-toeing into the gym room.

"Wow!" I exclaimed to her.

"I know, I know!" Wifey replied excitedly and nodding her head in agreement and started crying. I hugged her and held her hand while she cried and started to compose herself.

The PC game songs SPORES emanating from Sonny room drowned her cries. Sonny was not aware of the drama-like scene happening in the next room.

"I can't..." I said but apparently together with Wifey, "believe it." at the same time. She nodded her head again, wiping her tears off her face.

I called my son into the room. He came in, looked at his flushed and teary-eyed mother's face and said "Why, what happened?"

"Congratulations, my son!" I exclaimed.

Sonny gave a wide smile and asked, "Did you see my class position?"

I did not. I was excited enough just counting the first letter in the alphabet that was listed in each row of subject on the page in his report book. Before I could locate the "Class Position" row, Sonny exclaimed "I got first!"

Wifey started to be teary-eye again and said "I knew you can do it..." she paused a second and continued "you only needed someone to push you to achieve your full potential."

For a lack of composure, she summarized Sonny's capability and the lack of it quite completely. She gave Sonny a bear hug and kisses all over his face.

Sonny had attained 9 "As" and 3 "Bs" out of his 12 subjects all Secondary One students in the express stream had to take.

A Promise Is A Promise...

Then it came down to business.

While walking back home from Hari Raya Aidilfitri morning prayers at Darul Ghufran Mosque, I challenged Sonny to do his utmost effort to better his previous exam results.

I promised if he could top his CA2 exam results of 7 "As," I would reward him S$50 for each additional "As" he attains after that. I also promised him that if he was among the top 5 in his class, I would give him another S$50.

Wifey challenged him and promised to give him her S$100 if he was to be among the top 3.

Well, I owe Sonny S$70... S$10 each for his 7 "As." Another S$100 in total for his additional 2 "As" and another S$50 for being first in class. That totaled-up to be S$220.00 from me. With Wifey's S$100 as promised, Sonny is richer by S$320 when he brought back his report book home!

Both Wifey and I are overwhelmed by his achievements.

Prelude To The Finals...

Last Thursday was our proudest moment for Sonny.

The day before, he brought back a plaque for 3rd Best Web Designer award he won for his creating his school's Computer Club website. He is also co-managing the site together with the teacher-in-charge .

It was not so much that he got 3rd, but the fact that the torch was given to him, a Secondary One student instead of the traditional third-year student from the last year student in Secondary Four before they take their GCE "O" Level and leave for their tertiary education.

He made himself the first Secondary One student ever to be given the responsibility, sighting his potential and capability in website designing, the club teacher-in-charge and its members gave him the honor. And won an award for doing what he likes.

The plaque is displayed on the shelve in his room among the other framed certificates he was awarded with throughout his school life to date. He is rather an accomplished student when he puts his mind to achieving something he is passionate about.

Just a few days before this plaque, he came back from school happy to tell his Mom that his group was announced to receive the best award for his Cultural Fusion project amongst the entire cohort in Secondary One.

The special mentions during the assembly was for the group's efforts in executing from conceptualizing and research, right down to the doing-up the classroom to become a 5-star restaurant, complete with correct etiquette of everyone there.

Him being CEO of the restaurant, together with his chef, waiters and front-line staff wowed the teachers who came to appraise the projects by the 8 classes. It was such a hit then, that it became a talk of the day in the teachers' lounge that many other teachers came by to check out his group's restaurant for themselves.

The group apparently had a very busy day attending to their "customers." They were expecting six appraisers, and they got more than a dozen customers dining in their restaurant. All were impressed with the whole experience.

The group had set the bar higher for the secondary one students next year.

To my brilliant Sonny...

I am so proud of you.
You worked hard and did your best.
It's all paying off in the end.

To my sweet Wifey...

Your relentless efforts in supervising
Consistently assisting him in his revisions.
Always guiding him in preparations for his exams
To achieve a fruitful and proud outcome.

It certainly is not the sweet ending to a story, but a beginning of another stage in Sonny's academic life.

May he excel to achieve his dream and stay happy in life.