Saturday, December 26, 2009

Night As Day

I pulled an all-nighter!

It has been so long since I did that. Maybe in my early twenties, out with friends at barbecues by the beach... I had never stayed all night without a wink of a sleep since then, until last night.

All for a good cause, I kept telling myself.

I was up all night doing... get this, a mere 4-minute long video.

Yes, a video to introduce our Dedicated & Supportive Parents group or DSP which I finally started in the afternoon after Friday prayers, all night and all the way till the morning when Wifey and I had to get ready to go to Sonny's school.

Dunman Secondary School was holding its Secondary One Orientation day for the new cohort of 2010. The event that started at 9:00AM lasted only up till about 10:45AM, but the work behind it, as far as Wifey and I are concern was enormous.

There is no one to blame... we were too eager and over-zealous to show the school and especially to new parents about DSP. We wanted the group to have the group's profile raised to the next echelon... more pronounced to all who attended the event.

Yet most of all, we wanted to have new parent volunteers to join the group and make it a better and grander group with enough committed parents and with that, comes their varied talents to inject new ideas and resources into the group.

All in all, to help the school achieve its object of an all-rounded or holistic development of its students... our children.

With that objective in mind, I guess Wifey and I over committed ourselves to do much and better than the year before, when we both first attended the Secondary One Orientation.

Then, we personally felt that much could have been done, and better deliverance to introduce DSP to the parents and as importantly, the school's staff about our assistance, level of commitment and the many talents we have that we can offer the school.

This year's event, we both suggested the improvements we wanted to see and actually did it ourselves...

We decided to improve on the recruitment form that could be downloaded from the school's website. The form is now compatible with its format intact when opened with most document processor a parent may use in their home PC.

Then we created the 6 by 2 feet overhead banner to make our group visible and known to the attending parents.

We also created a vertical info banner about what DSP objectives and our activities we do to achieve those objectives in simple descriptions and pictorials of past events we did.

This husband and wife team also made DSP bookmarks that we gave out to parents that hopefully served as reminders to them to at least visit the website to know more and eventually give a chance by joining the group.

All were done weeks before, including proposals and arrangements made with the school's representative, Mrs Fong... except the last item, that was the DSP group intro video.

It was my bad. I blame myself to end up needing to pull an all-nighter.

Wifey and I completed all the other things we envisioned before she left to visit her Mom in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a week, except the video.

I attempted starting the project several times but was never able to continue because I got stuck as to how I should approach to do the video. I got stuck on the creative was of deliverance for days on end, in between work and visiting Dad at the hospital.

I finally had no time and totally no choice but to start from scratch on Christmas afternoon. With Wifey's inputs and ideas, it triggered me to break that mental block and continued composing it.

I then continued all through the night with a pot of hot coffee as my companion to keep me awake.

At last, when the video was completed, I had my iMac burn the DVD while I bathed to get ready for the school's event that morning. Wifey was surprised to find me still on my iMac when she woke up to get herself ready.

The event went well... the new principle did a power CEO-styled presentation to introduce the school. She was impressive - clear, alive and so professional.

The DSP presentation was a tat monotonous with a very long speech and lots of words but many thought the video was a sweeping success... even with the little confusion with the wrong video player used that created some delays.

It was suppose to be with Apple's Quicktime but the presenter used Microsoft's Media Player instead and made it able to launch and play. Nonetheless, they got it sorted out and the video played to a very good reception.

From the numerous feedback and compliments we received, it was well taken by the teachers, the DSP parents themselves and especially the new parents whom the video was intended for. Wifey's narration throughout the video got he most praises!

Good praises received but the best came from Mrs Fong and the new school's principle. The recruitment forms we received from the new parents affirmed that our efforts and the efforts put in by other DSP parents were worth it!

We received a much higher number of forms as informed by Mrs Fong.

Wifey and I were ecstatic... we are still happy and talking about the event. All is worth every sweat, every panic attackes and the totally one sleepless night.

We are looking forward to help the school again in the year 2010. There so many ideas brewing in both of us wating to working along with new blood with zealous and vigor... all for the betterment of our children.

As the DSP slogan Wifey and I came out with goes... DSP, Your Time For The Children.

Friday, December 25, 2009

iNo She's Happy!

Mom needed a new cell phone. She had been complaining about her Nokia for some weeks now.

Her old cell phone was slowly failing on her. Its ring tone had become softer to the point she started to have miscalls frequently. Setting its volume to its highest level did not help for long before the tone got back to become even softer after a while.

As if that was not already bad, putting it in her handbag when she went out did not help. She had become hard to reach, so her children had to call the sibling who was taking her out for outings or shopping that day in order to talk to her.

That was not a terrible inconvenience.

What is, is the number of possible people that she and Dad may be out with. With eight siblings and several nieces, one has to make a guess which one our parents are with and try calling their cell phones to get them.

Most times, going down the phone list until one gets the right person who would then pass the phone to Mom.

Well, it is not as if we needed to call her urgently all the time or what...

It is just that when Mom or Dad does not hang-up their home land-line handset properly and they become unreachable, we assume the worst.

Two very old folks, adamant to live alone by themselves... something terrible might have happened to them when they do not answer the phone.

It is not a good thought... so we normally, we would call Mom's cell phone to get into contact with her and inform her to place the handset properly.

With her old cell phone acting up on her, it became unnerving for everyone.

Whenever she did pick up the call, it is just irritating for both persons on either end of the line because her cell phone's speaker volume has gotten softer too and made talking, kind of a silly affair... we had to talk louder and at times like shouting into the phone.

It felt and can probably be misconstrued as having a quarrel with Mom over the phone!

So much for an old generation Nokia 1208 I purposely bought for her in January this year, simply because it had large numbers display.

Well, for S$65, I take it that the phone is good only for a year's use.

So on the eve of Christmas, I left at lunch time from work to NTUC Xtra Fairprice supermarket at Hougang Point to buy Mom a new set.

A friend introduced to me a cell phone for designed for the elderly called iNo CP09. Interestingly, the phone was conceived and made in Singapore!

The larger than ever numbers and letters on the LCD display screen and over-sized keypads with big numbers on it make the phone look like a calculator. Yet, are definite convenient features welcomed by the elderly.

Coupled with adjustable louder than usual ring tones and keypad sounds, the hard-of-hearing old folks will find these useful.

A interesting feature is the programmable gender phone-book listing. Two buttons... one with a lady and another, a man's face on each of the keypads. This can be programmed as quick-list buttons for numbers of daughters and sons respectively.

It has a built-in LED flashlight activated with a flick of a button on its side.

The FM radio has a reasonable clear reception without the need for an earphone to be plugged in to double as an antenna.

The most important and definitely useful feature, yet hopefully will never be used at all...

An SOS button on the back of the phone for emergency calls!

With a press of bright orange button, there will be a loud distress sound from the phone to attract passers-by to help, or neighbours if it happens at home.

It simultaneously also sends out emergency SMS up to 4 programmed cell phone numbers to immediately inform of the distress situation.

We presented Mom with the gift while we met at the hospital to visit Dad. Once Mom's SIM card was ported over to her new black iNO, she gave a big smile. Of course, not without some programming of the time, date, ring tones, voice tone done by Sonny first.

I thought it was going to be a long session to teach Mom to use its features at the hospital but elderly nowadays are tech-savvy!

She got the hang of it the first time, since some features are about the same and very familiar to her already. She was using confidently when we did some "trial runs" before we parted for home.

Sweet! Lesser worry for everyone because Mom is now contactable again.

Enjoy your new cell phone, Mom!

Season's Greetings Everyone!

To All My Christian Friends,

May your Christmas
Filled with joy & love,
Celebrating the birth,
Of new hope & peace,
With family & friends.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I Have Company

It has been 3 days since Wifey and Sonny left me home alone for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to be with Wifey's Mom who moved there some 8 years ago.

Tuesday night was terrible as it was the first night I was left alone in the house, dump-founded as to what I wanted to do... watch TV, serve the net, blog, Facebook and many more things, but all seemed so boring without any of my beloved family member around.

The second day was much better. Not because I am "settling down" of being alone, but because I got company.

Alola came by to say hello and stayed the night. Alola is our "part tiime" pet cat, a stray our family has "adopted." He comes and goes anytime he pleases.

We give him food and water and in return he gives us his company and some loving-purrs to show us that he appreciates it.

It was a welcomed sight. Alola was resting at the front door when I came back from work. Automatically he came in when I opened the front gate and door to enter my home.

Routinely, he went to his food bowl when I had to feed him first before I could even put my stuff down and change my clothes. Yet, I was happy that he came by.

Like always, after a good meal, Alola will come by to look for anyone in the home and gave his purr-loving gesture before he settles to take a nap either on the mat or on the Ottoman stool in our master bedroom.

He gave me all the "loving" as I eat my packed dinner. Watched TV with me for a while before he left for the bedroom to sleep.

When it was my time to retire, he was already sound asleep on the Ottoman stool. He would normally head for the door to be let out, but I was happy that he stayed throughout the night instead and kept me company.

I have to be mindful not to step on him when I need to go to the bathroom because he might be sleeping on the mat or somewhere and blends so well in the dark.

By morning, I had my quick breakfast while he had his favourite seafood meal. I was really surprised that when I woke him up to leave the house, he followed me closely and went out the door together with me as I locked it shut, as if he knew no one was home and he had to be let out.

I bid him goodbye as I climbed down the stairs. He just looked at me until I turned the corner.

Unlike other cats, Alola does not meow much.

He is silent most times. It will be a surprise if we could ever hear him meows because I have never heard him meows before. The only sound we can hear is his purring... and the clacking sound he makes when his nails touch the laminated floor as he walks and nothing more.

If he wants something, he will just come to us and look up at us with those big green eyes. We will have to decipher either he wants more food or be let out... the only two thing.

It is kind of simple to care for him because he is a smart and silent "part-time" pet-cat. No climbing or scratching on furniture, no stealing of food off our plates and he goes out for nature calls.

Thanks for being here, Alola.

He just looks up at me now... no meows, just good company.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dad's Free Again!

It has been exactly 2 weeks since Dad was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was quarantined off to the isolation Ward 58.

Today, he is "free man" again after he is moved to the normal 6-bedded Oncology Ward 48 in the afternoon. The non-air conditioned ward he likes. He hates being in the air-conditioned one because he feels the cold make it hard for him to breathe.

He waited for so long to be "let out" so that he could see other people and not feel alone any more. He likes to people watch quietly in his bed.

Early in the week, Dad had lost his patience to stay isolated and wanted out. He told Mom in one of her visits, to ask me to tell the doctor to let him out from the ward to the normal ward.

He was so bored being in there for the past week and hated the medicines given. The food was "terrible... with no taste at all. I cant eat it!"

I had to explain to him again that he was to be there for the length of 2 weeks because he will infect others if not isolated.

He lost track of time and sometimes asked what day it was. We brought him Berita Harian - a Malay language newspaper daily, but because of his medication and his condition, he was unable to read without being nausea.

He has been counting the days for his "release" which made it even tougher to pass through the day.

At one time, Mom and Sis could not make it to visit him. I was on medical leave and was advised strongly by the doctor to not visit him to prevent cross infections between us. So he was left alone without any visitor for that day.

He was saddened and refused to pick up the phone after many call from Mom. The nurse told Mom the next day that he did not touch his food that day. He was so disappointed with us... his feelings seemed to get amplified, very sensitive and dejected when he did not see Mom and us.

"I don't know what's going to happen to me." Dad's remark to Mom when she visited him the next day. He kept quiet the whole time and just closed his eyes.

Mom had to console and "pamper" Dad slowly to get his spirits up again. She rubbed and messaged his back and talked to him as if nothing wrong. He responded positively and started asked her to message his colicky stomach because he was not eating.

Elder Sis messaged his bony calves, especially his left leg he felt slightly painful after the fall at home a few weeks back. He eventually eased back into his old good self and started eating the dinner they served him that night.

Now, Dad will have to undergo what he was initially admitted for... he will go for his radiotherapy to shrink the two tumors on the left and right sides of his lung, and start a blood thinning medication to "melt" away the blood clot they detect in his lower left lung.

Hoping for him to find his strength to go through all these treatments with our unending support and constant prayers for him. We love you, Dad.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm Home Alone!

Wifey queuing for train tickets to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I bid Wifey and Sonny goodbye at the front door early this morning.

They left for the train station at Tanjong Pagar for a 6-hour ride on a Malaysian KTM train to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

It is Wifey's time with her Mom who lives in Selayang, KL to be with her. Wifey last saw her Mom in September 2009 when she came back to Singapore for a few days to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri at her Clementi home.

It has been her home until her late husband's passing a few years before. She bought a home in KL to be with her other 5 out of 8 children who were born there.

As soon as I saw them went into the lift and closed my front door, I felt a part of me left too. I felt lonely as I exercised and got dressed for work. It has always been a strange feeling of emptiness when both of them are not around.

My usual "going-to-work" routine is slightly changed today and for the next several days. I must remember to close all the windows and lock the front door every time I leave home for work. I must remember to switch off the coffee maker... that is very important!

KTM - Malaysian Railway Station Arrival/Departure Hall

I almost forgot to close the bedroom windows this morning when I was already outside, locking the front door to! The laminated floor would have absorbed the rain that came in and pop the floor! Phew!

I must regiment my thoughts, like a checklist to remember all the things I should do before I lock the front door and leave for the day. I also have to water the potted plants in the evening when I come back from work.

Strangely, I came back home in the early afternoon today.

I am still not feeling well after the bout of flu I had a week ago. At midday, I had enough with the pain in my throat and the sudden sharp pain on the left side of my head. I went to the company doctor just before lunch break.

KTM's old building arch ceiling

I intended to ask for more lozenges and some reassurance that nothing seriously wrong with the pain on my head, instead I got an MC for the rest of the day and lots of medications and another round of antibiotics.

I left for the day and enjoyed the 40 minutes bus ride home just looking outside because it was a beautiful, sunny day.

Bought 2 packs of food - one for lunch and the other for dinner to find myself feeling alone at home when I opened my front door. The other half of the day has been a boring one.

I eat, watched TV... nothing good was on, so I played Full Metal Jacket movie for some reason and fell asleep because of the medication.

It is still boring and lonely. I hate this. I love being at home but being home alone really sucks. Sonny called me from KL at night and I got to talk to Wifey for a bit. They are enjoying their time there...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The iPhone Family

It is official, the iMran Family is now iPhone Friendly!

All 3 of us now own an iPhone each after we re-contracted with our long-standing telco, Mobile One or M1 for short for a 2-year plan.

Another island's telco, Starhub also launched its iPhone plans the same time as M1, but alas, M1 plans are still superior to that of Starhub's. It is even far better than the major telco here, Singtel which had sole rights to sell iPhones when the 3G model was released many months back.

Which is why we stick to M1 because it leads the other players with far better and numerous innovative options in its offered plans. A very aggressive and competitive company... and we love it because it makes the other, cheaper options and plans available to the public.

Starhub is great too, I was considering "jumping ship" to sign its iPhone mobile plan if it offered some kind of bundle with its cable TV plans. We are already their customer since cable TV was available in Singapore.

Along with it, after several years later, we also signed up with its home broadband plan from Singtel's dial-up plan. And last year, its land-line VoIP phone. The only thing left was its mobile plan. I waited patiently for its iPhone plans but M1 takes the cake... still.

Since all 3 of us have completed our 2-year plan with M1 months back, we held back the many tempting offers M1 made to lure us to re-contract. We waited patiently for Apple's iPhone to be available and offered in its plan but it never materialised until now!

Wifey and Sonny took the older version 3G 8GB with a S$36 per month plan and paid S$398.00 each for the phone. Sonny gets an extra perk of unlimited free SMS and MMS for being a student.

A very well-received perk for me as teens tend to talk with their friends more with SMS and MMS than just talk like we adults normally talk to one another over the phone.

I took the iPhone 3GS 16GB with a S$56 per month plan and paid S$298.00 for the phone.

In all, I spent S$1,044.00 for all 3 phones for my family and will fork out about S$128.00 per month for the 3 mobile plans.

Several perks makes me happy to not reach too deep into my pocket...

The Multi-line Saver package makes all 3 lines we have into one consolidated plan which earns us a 25% monthly discount on our monthly bill. That will mean I will only need to fork out S$96.00 monthly for the plans, knowing that we will not exceed on the talk time and text messages.

Another good perk is the free-calls to 3 M1 mobile to M1-mobile persons. We just nominate 3 M1 mobile numbers to enjoy the perk. Wifey, Sonny and I nominated each other which leave each of us with another number.

I nominated my Elder Sis' since we talk to each other often, while Wifey nominated her sister. Sonny has yet to nominate a friend or cousin. He is still contemplating.

I am already an iPhone fan when I had my 2G 8GB I bought from a friend who got it from the US. I had been using it for many months now and have never been bored with it even once.

Along with its free-incoming-all-day perk, we can now check our e-mails, online utilities and internet on the go. We can do so much more now, yet each of us pays S$32 per month which is lesser than our previous plans combined.

As I had mentioned before, after experiencing iPhone, I do not care for any other newly launched phones anymore. So far, nothing ever beats the intutitive and ease of use of the iPhone. Software is everything, yet the iPhone is so classic with its stylish, clean-line design.

For this family, combining iPhone and M1 makes a better day, everyday!

Now Sonny and Wifey are enjoying the many free applications they each downloaded from their own PCs while mine is on iMac. iTunes is being used by this whole family now for song plays apart from syncing our iPhones.

Sonny is busy playing Tap-Tap Revolution while Wifey is navigating her 3D RollerCoaster game. Life gets a little more fun now

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm Still Under

I was feeling much better a day after my medical leave off work on Wednesday. I was Under The Weather on Tuesday and stayed home nursing my "wounds."

Managed to complete my work and submitted a day ahead of the dateline, yet by late afternoon, I started to feel ill again, this time with a tender feeling whenever I touch the left side of my head.

It became worse at night as all illnesses seem to manifest or should I say magnified. I had trouble sleeping peacefully that night, waking up almost every hour and feeling the pain on my left head. I had to sleep on my right side for most of the rest of the night.

Came morning, I woke up to a nasty sore throat worse than the first time I visited the doctor the day before. The Trachisan lozenges that were given did some good to relief me of the pain every time I swallow but the Amoxycilin antibiotics has not worked its miracle for me yet, I guess.

The Fenfedrin tablets for my runny nose were a savior. It helped not to complicate my sickness as I had a clear airway and could breathe normally.

With guilt and a little embarrassment, I had to text my boss to inform her of my second MC of the week.

Like Tuesday, I was asleep for most of the morning, only to wake up by Wifey for lunch. Took my meds the second time for the day and fell asleep again for another 2 hours.

I had to call Mom when woke up in the afternoon to catch her before she left for the hospital to visit Dad. She has been visiting him daily since he was warded in the Isolation Ward for TB last Thursday. Dad has been feeling down being isolated and alone in the room all day.

I had to inform her that I was still not able to visit Dad to avoid exchange of infections – Dad getting my flu and I getting his TB with both of our immune system at a low. Dad’s the more critical one with lung cancer in his old age of 83.

“Dad was asking for you yesterday.” Mom just remembered, “I told him before earlier in the week but he has since forgotten.”

I know Dad is like that nowadays, always forgetting. It is sad to know that he feels soothed after his questions are answered but soon forget and start to feel sad again… as if we do not care for him enough to visit him.

Dad has to go through these 2 weeks minimum isolation before the doctor can safely say that he is no longer contagious and a threat to the other patients.

Hopefully he can return to the normal 6-bedded ward where he can talk and where there are people around… he may not talk to them because he is reserved but he likes to people-watch quietly from his bed as he would from his kitchen window at home.

The weekend is so near. I do hope that I can recover very soon to be able to visit him again. I miss him as much as he misses his children.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Under The Weather

Oh No!

I have the sniffles last night after feeling a little more uncomfortable in my throat since in the early afternoon at work.

I had to go to the doctor's this morning because by the time I work up about 4:50AM, the pain in my throat was intense. My joints were all aching and my nose was blocked.

I officially declared myself as sick and texted my boss that I was taking sick leave today. Told my colleague about the job I was doing to inform her that it was almost complete and should be more than ready for submission by Thursday.

The doctor came later to the clinic today. I was patient number 3. There were not many patients when I arrived at 8:30AM when the clinic opened but then the sick zombies like me came in one a time to fill up the clinic by the time my number was called at 9:15AM.

The usual prescription was given but I wanted the antibiotics so badly because I hate being sick. I do not get sick frequently but when I do I am the crybaby in the house... totally flat-out over-sized baby!

Today is such a beautiful day out, yet I will be at home and sleeping most of the time. Sigh.

Thanks to Wifey who have passed some germs to me. She has been having flu for the past week and still refused to see the doctor. She self medicate with the medicines that she has but without the antibiotics.

"After 3 days Mama, it is viral infection," says Sonny "not because of lethargy." He tried to convince his mother to see the doctor.

Wifey and I are total opposites when it comes to being sick. I will make the dash to the doctor's but Wifey will linger and suffer in silence while she still does her daily chores. I, the other hand, will be a moppy-bedridden sick zombie, rendered nonfunctional and useless for the day.

The doctor advised me to stay away from my father who is in the isolation ward in SGH when he was diagnosed as having Tuberculosis after 3 days of being warded for breathlessness and coughing fresh blood out.

Dad will be very disappointed to not see me for several days at the ward... only 4 nominated persons are allowed to see him in there.

I am one of them as I am the administrator, while the other 3 are Mom, 3rd Sis who Mom is staying with for the moment and Brother-in-law has a car as transport for my wheelchair-bound Mom.

Even with the TV and daily newspapers, Dad still felt all alone in the ward. For Mom to be there most days, his loneliness is soothed.

Fortunately, the Room 3 Isolation Ward has a telephone that everyone can call to talk to Dad. Though only for a few minutes of talking, it keeps him occupied and not miss the family that much hopefully.

Dad will be in the ward for a minimum of 2 weeks, then the rest of the symptoms can be treated. I hope to recover fast and can start visiting Dad after work again soon...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Always The Hero

We notice that Dad has frequent medical complications nowadays. The period between him being in and out of hospital is much closer together now.

While at home, his condition is stable most times but far from improving. We do not expect it to. Slowly, but most definitely, his condition is growing worse with time. Dad is holding up well, at least that is what he is trying hard to make everyone believe by hiding his pain very well. Seldom complaining and always putting a macho front for us. I think he does it for Mom.

He tries very hard to look well but at times, his facial expressions show that he is tolerating the pain. That makes a whole lot difficult to know when he really needs medical attention by the professionals. It makes it difficult for Mom to decipher it and in turn inform us.

Just last week, I had to urgently take 2 days off work to rush to my parents’ place. Mom called early in the morning while I was getting ready for work. With a little panicky tone, she informed me that Dad was feeling breathless and coughing fresh instead of stale blood for the first time.

I wanted to call the ambulance immediately but after hearing Dad’s voice in the background and after asking few critical questions through Mom, Dad was all better again after taking the Salbutamol inhaler that is reserved for emergencies like this.

Coincidentally that day, Nurse Chris called to inform he was coming to check on Dad. He came about half an hour later when I told him about the morning’s episode.

His prognosis was not good, but for the bleeding, he gave Dad Tranexamic Acid tablets in the hope to stop the bleeding after he consulted with the HCA doctor over the phone.

They urged that Dad go to the hospital if the medication did not arrest the bleeding and wrote a letter to the A&E for us to bring along too.

Dad stayed home. He was reluctant to go, almost fuming at Mom whenever she brought the matter up. He hates hospitals and he loves to be home with Mom.

A trip to Woodlands Polyclinic on Monday for an appointment to have his H1N1 or Swine Flu vaccine made the difference. It was a means to get the doctor to check on Dad’s condition and get Dad to go to the hospital if he found that Dad really needed to.

It was a swift instruction from the Polyclinic doctor that Dad was to go. He relented and agreed, so Elder Sis and I were there at SGH A&E the next moment.

Unknowingly, that early morning, Dad was already in such a pain that he told Mom he wanted to go to the hospital. The pain must have been excruciating for him to actually want to go. But by the time the pain subsided, he was back to his old self, adamant that everything was alright.

The A&E affair at SGH was a slow and trying one. There were just too many emergencies being attended to. It may sound sick but it was like the place had a year-end sale! Some kind of promotion going on.

Dad was warded into transit Ward 58 after a 3 hour marathon since his arrival at A&E... Resuscitation & Observation Ward and then the ER doctor who explained to us of Dad’s condition.

Dad was transferred to the Oncology Ward at Ward 48 after a class B2 bed was available. There, the doctors did some more tests headed by Dad’s Medical Oncologist, Dr. Lo SK from National Cancer Centre or NCC.

We are waiting for the results and what the doctors intend to do next…

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Our Science Project

We really had fun at the recently ended Enviro Life-Science Event 2009 at Sonny's school a fortnight ago.

The event was a short half day, but the preparations behind it was tremendously intensive, much to Wifey's and my expectations of what it entailed when we volunteered to take charge of designing, making and decorating our DSP or Dedicated & Supportive Parents' booth.

Like previous year, we mooted the idea we already thought of many months back, the theme of learning to care for the environment. We came out with the theme "7th Heaven @ Home, Nation & World."

Unlike last year, we brought the message forward... literally.

We suggested to the parents at the meeting many weeks preceding to the event, that the posters and the handicrafts made from recycled materials be showcased right in front of our booth instead of at the back, exactly like a backdrop and nothing more.

With that, we came out with the 3 towers for Home, Nation and World. Each tower showcased the different ideas, technologies and efforts needed at all these levels to save our environment while we continually live and consume the planet's resources.

The Home tower brought the message of the single acts an individual can do at home to be eco-friendly... The Do's and Don'ts, and promote recycling.

The Nation tower showcased the efforts our country has put in place to develop and yet be green at the same time. From public transport to replacing conventional to renewable energies.

The last but most importantly, the World tower showcased the various different technologies to harness renewable energies to be sustainable without depleting the planet's resources.

Also included for the World tower was a new way of thinking to resolve many technical problems by learning from nature... called Biomimicry from the Biomimicry Institute.

Instead of just learning about nature, we now learn from them to resolve or enhance our technical problems since nature has already resolved them for millions of years.

All these information were intended to let the visiting students, teachers and parents that saving the planet will have to start with each one of us first, however little our contribution is.

To achieve to drive that message effectively, we wanted visitors to get up close to the displays to read and get reminded. To touch the handicrafts and get interested to make their own with the readily recycled materials they can find available in their homes that are normally discarded without a single thought.

With the group's blessings and support, Wifey and I started our work straight away.

We gathered information from sources like Sonny's school text books, environmental magazines and pamphlets, and official eco-friendly websites both local and from various agencies around the world.

The research took a lot of time but the toughest part was to compress the vast information collected into simple, summarized paragraphs to fit each A4 sized paper acting as posters with relevant pictures included.

Each poster needed to have concise information... eye-catching enough to attract attention and appealing enough to be read by all visiting demographics.

Making the props was the most interesting part of the project for me. Though a tough homework was cut out for both Wifey and I... started the project as soon as I reached home from work after having dinner.

We stayed late through each night, finishing little by little until completion. It was worth the effort when we saw the outcome as a result of our labor.

The best solution was when one of the DSP parent gave us rolls of used and discarded national day canvas banners. True to our recycling efforts, we used the white back of the banners as our backing for the posters on the towers and the panel backdrop.

That saved a lot of hassle with the material to use and enabled us more creative freedom and flexibility especially to design the backdrop for our booth. It turned out quite nicely... better than we expected and gave a "pro-like" finish to our project if I might add.

The canvases used had allowed easy installation during the night before the big event. We marked all the posters in place for each of the canvas and pasted the posters there simply. The canvases can be reused again and again for future projects too.

This time around, the props were even larger and more, yet the set-up time took us only about 2 hours, half than what it took last year when we set up our "Saving Gaia" booth for the same event.

We even made trivial quiz based on the posters information with prizes donated by NEA via the school to be won!

And precisely because of that, we were both roped-in by the other few parents that night to make an impromptu skit dedicated to the school's principle. She was leaving the school after 9 years of commendable work there for a higher position as Cluster Superintendent. She will be in charge of the 8 secondary schools in the west zone.

The event on the very next day was another successful one!

More organized and true to my expectation, visitors actually read the posters and touched the handicrafts and got interested to do their own version with the recycled materials provided and guidance from attending parents at our booth.

We have to admit that we had the largest area for our booth with the amount of props and handicraft activities for the visitors. The backdrop and especially the eco-friendly message posters were very much interested by the many teachers.

I kept noticing that they took pictures of the towers and individual posters with their camera and phones. Wifey and the other parents were as usual, busy attending to the crowds with their handicraft making.

We were not disturbed by their act but felt honored instead that those teachers found our work to be worthy of being a teaching material for their school. I was very happy to see more and more of the teacher doing the same exact thing.

At one point, a teacher approached me, interested to know more about us. She thought that we were from a visiting environmental company or agency. She thought that we were from National Environment Authority or NEA!

What an honor!

She said the whole display looked so professional... not "home made" when we told her that we were the school's parent support group. All our efforts and sleep-deprived nights were suddenly justified!

All that commendations were heartening to hear but at the end of the day, we really want the visitors to take home with them the responsibility to start making an effort to save the environment.

It is hoped that they think and act a little more with saving this planet while doing their daily chores, no matter how little a contribution it is to start with.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Congrats To Sonny!

I had not much time to update but I just had to post this one because I am ecstatic about Sonny's achievements.

He scored 7 As in his mid year. I was happy that he had that many As from his 12 subjects that he is taking.

I have been offering him S$10 for every A that he can score. So I owe him S$70 for his mid-year exams. I challenged him to up his ante by telling him that I would give a bonus of S$100 if he could get 10 or more As from the 12 subjects.

He eagerly listened to my promise and... he delivered.

He scored 11 out of 12 subjects with As for his final year exam results. From academics to arts, to social studies... this does not include his yearly Gold that he gets for his NAFSA test or physical fitness test.

The only subject that he could not get even a decent B4 is... unfortunately, mother tongue. Our Malay language. Shameful as it may seem but the 11 other subjects stole the focus off this subject from us. He got a C5.

So, in terms of dollars and cents... I owe him S$110 for the eleven subjects with As and a bonus of S$100 for the ten and above subjects challenge to total to S$270. Adding the mid year money of S$70 that I still have yet to pay him, he is looking at a grand total sum S$340 for his academics effort!

All will be rewarded to him come bonus period in December.

"I love to see my bank account swell up like this." Sonny said surreptitiously, rubbing it in.

I may be set back about 300 bucks but I gain so much more. I can always earn money in life but this one special son of mine is totally priceless.

Congrats Sonny! I am very proud of you.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Welcome Back Sonny!

With all that is going on in my life right now, I have to face the fact that Sonny is already a young man and is going places.

He left for student exchange programme last Tuesday, 27th October 2009. Departed on Garuda Air from Changi International Airport for a week at a school called Santa Laurensia in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Wifey was at a loss without her beloved only child the first night he was not around. Indeed, the house became so quiet... no boom-beat resonance emanating from his room. No little chat-chats with her son, no little "disagreements" heard between them for the past week.

Wifey broke her daily longing for Sonny with long distance calls to his hotel room every night. After 10:00PM Singapore time, the students would have retired to their respective rooms, back from their day's activities. Indonesia is an hour behind us.

Straight after our Dunman Supportive Parents' group or DSP meeting ended at Sonny's school at 4:30PM, Wifey and I left for the Changi T1 airport. There, we met other parents, obviously anxious too and waiting for their beloved children's return.

GA830 was the flight number. It departed Jakarta, Indonesia at 2:55PM and arrived on time at 5:30PM Singapore time.

Sonny was to first to come out from the arrival hall to the baggage claim. Spotting a new black T-shirt and a black military-like shirt over it, he looked so tall and all grown-up when we saw him from afar.

"Look!" Wifey quipped. "He chose and bought his own clothes there..." she continued "He has good taste like me." She said jokingly to me. She is so proud of Sonny. I know I am too.

Eyes searching the outside for us as he waited for his luggage to come out from the conveyor, he waved at us as soon as he spotted us behind the glass wall. Apparently, Wifey was waving frantically at him... so it was hard not to notice her, I guess.

He gave us a big smile, somewhat a relieved one. Most probably he missed us too. That smile made Wifey's longing for past week all worth while.

Spotting dark glasses hung on his T-shirt, Sonny was like a tourist coming back from a seaside resort or a overseas jig. One thing is for sure... he had his PSP portable held in his hand, like always. He never leaves home... in fact anywhere, without it!

Once he came out, Wifey hugged him so tightly and planted numerous kisses on him like he had gone away for years. It made Sonny a little embarrassed but at the same time happy that he was missed.

"5 days is such a long time!" Wifey said.

We went straight home. Sonny has so much things to share with us, especially with his Mom. Wifey will make for lost time with long chats with Sonny since the long school holidays have just started.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dad's Coming Home

A call I received this morning had made my day.

It has been an arduous period for the whole family...the reason I was so preoccupied and not having any time at all to check my blog, let alone surf to others.

Dad is being discharged this evening from Tan Tock Seng Hospital or TTSH for short.

He was admitted last week Wednesday, 21st October 2009 after having much difficulty breathing. He had that problem, only milder, since Monday but kept it from Mom and everyone else until it was at the point of panic!

Mom called me that day, just before lunch time and sounded desperate. Dad was slouching at the sofa, gasping for air.

Elder Sis was immediately there after Mom told her, upon which we decided to call for the ambulance. "Dad's face is pale! He can't even stand up!" She told me, apparently shaken and fearful of Dad's life.

I took leave off work for the other half part of the day and rushed to the hospital. Our request for Dad to be sent to Singapore General Hospital or SGH for short, where Dad has been taken care of and had been warded several times before was turned down.

Understandably, it is their policy to send the patient to the nearest hospital to save life. TTSH was nearest to my parents' place in Woodlands.

Dad was still in Resuscitation at Accident & Emergency when I reached the hospital. Dad's name was not registered in their system when I tried to check at the A&E registry upon my arrival.

I was called a while later to Admission counter and did all the same routine of in-processing as I had done several times before this for Dad at SGH.

Dad came out looking frail, propped on the hospital bed with an oxygen mask on his face... yet he was brave enough to carve a smile for me as if to say "I'm alright now."

I smiled back, squeezed his cold hand as he was wheeled to the isolation ward on the 12th floor. We parted ways at the lift. I had to register myself now before I could enter the ward... a routine screening for Swine Flu or H1N1 Influenza, I had to go through the second time after I had one at the A&E.

Again, a series of checks by the ward nurses to get him settled with his medical history questions I had fill them in... fortunately I had them typed-in and stored in my iPhone's notepad.

And yes, fortunately too, things are much simpler since the two hospitals can share Dad's electronic medical records... TTSH retrieved them from SGH files.

Dad's condition got worse into the night. A warning came true by the attending lady doctor, Dr. Tan.

It was the most unsettling night I had ever encountered! Everyone was there, heeding the doctor's advice that it was the crucial night for Dad to get over. She termed Dad as DIL patient and advised to call family members to keep a bedside vigil.

With his BP still unstable, Dad was already falling in and out of consciousness. Numerous times, he was gasping for air and at times moaned with his hands flailing up into the air. Those moments, we thought we would loose Dad.

Everyone's lips were filled with murmuring prayers for Dad. Everyone's eyes filled with tears not wanting Dad to go.

Mom was the most devastated of all but she was much calmer than she was before, when Dad fell into unconsciousness several times while recovering after his colorectal tumor removed some 4 years ago. She cried the loudest then... "Su, don't leave." I can still remember.

True to the hero Dad is against this disease, he pulled through. Though his BP was still on the low side, he was improving every hour when the nurses checked.

A stark and frightful, most different situation several hours before when the doctors kept coming in and out of his room trying to stablise his vital signs. We felt helpless, just as bystanders then. We could only offer Dad our prayers.

By midnight, Dad's condition had significantly improved. Dad had gone through his ordeal. He was able to breathe even better each time when Ventolin was administered every 4 hours; amongst other medications like antibiotics via IV.

We finally got to see Dad opened his eyes and being alert and aware that we were there in the morning. Everyone was drained-out from last night. Both physically but mostly emotionally. Yet that morning was one of our happiest moments.

Like the sunrise through the bay window, Dad woke up and faintly asked "Where's your mother?"

Mom sad at his bedside and held his hand. They held hands for the longest time... until Dad fell back to sleep. This time a little smile on his face. I saw heaven working for them, for us.

Thank You...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Corner On 4th

Well, I have survived this far...

One week to be exact but I hope I will continue on for as long as they need me.

Since the company's restructuring as a reaction to the world economy's downturn, a long arduous one in fact, everyone that are still standing, has been holding their breath for as long as possible.

Everyone tried their best to hold their ground during the storm of global recession. It has affected many lives here too, in many ways than I can ever articulate to do any justice to their often painful stories.

I am not faulting the company, at the end of the day, it is business as usual. Singapore is not immune to this financial crisis, being one of the financial powerhouse in Southeast Asia and depending on manufacturing as one of many of its services, without natural resource to cushion the impact, many lives were affected... changed.

Everyone here was battered with the sudden "heavy storm" that came with it. Many succumbed and "drowned" but many more persevered and survived.

The many efforts by our government to revive the drowning victims were quite successful if the newspapers were to be trusted. Those that survived have kept their own belts tightened and thread the waters cautiously still.

After enduring pay cuts since early this year to sustain and keep the ship sailing strong, many of my workmates had to be transferred to other facilities either on this island or to plants across the causeway.

Many too left on their own with new or without jobs waiting for them. Yet many too have success stories to tell. They found new jobs that are in fact, with better pay and position.

I am just so happy for them and hope for their success at their new place. It provides hope and a light at the end of a very dark tunnel under a dark sky.

I have been fortunate all this while. Though not totally unscathed, I have been spared from having to make drastic changes to my workplace and job nature. I have been transferred to another department but is manageable and am progressively learning my new job skills to quite a confident level.

The dark and stormy clouds seem to be slowly clearing to reveal brighter days ahead.

I got an apple from the company yesterday. All employees will get their free apples on Thursdays to keep the workplace healthy. It is heeding the government's "An apple a day keeps the doctors away" campaign.

It gives a human feel to an otherwise faceless business entity.

Everyone received an email from HR that our pay will be reinstated to its full amount in November 2009 onwards. That is truly a welcomed news.

Alone and with no familiar friends of more than 15 years from 2nd floor, I have survived for a week at my new cubicle in the corner, on the 4th floor!

I have met a few new neighbors and I had some old friends visited me at my new desk during the week.

Though I envy them still in the same department and with the whole lot moving to a new place and still be together, we are still a phone call away... a Skype click away and most importantly, we are still breakfast and lunch buddies as always.

Life is dynamic... always changing, always evolving. Yet one thing remains true and the same... our friendship bond is still going strong!

Maybe I get a plant for my desk. It will keep me company and will relieve me of any residual stresses I have with the changes that is going on while I adapt to the new environment.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Grand Celebration

I received a call from Auntie Z and it was good news.

It was more like a redemption of sorts and it felt good that I received her call this time around and was available to be around too.

Well, it all started on Sunday evening...

All three of us had our once-a-month family dinner out... "rejoicing the paycheck" I receive every month... a family bonding time I like to do with them.

Sonny came back home to continue his revisions for his final year exams preparations. Wifey and I continued with our monthly grocery shopping at Giant Hypermart in Tampines Retail Park.

We only realized that I had four miss calls from Auntie Z on my cell phone when Sonny told us upon reaching home. She called Wifey's cell phone too, but Wifey left it charging in her study. Putting my cell phone in Wifey's purse was a bad idea.

"We'll do it next time, OK?" was Auntie Z's text message reply to me when I tried calling her after 10:30PM.

Auntie Z was with her family, taking Grandma whom we passionately call "Tok," for Raya visits.

Tok is not our maternal Grandma, a second wife to our late Grandfather from Mom's side of the family. Grandfather remarried when his first wife passed on due to poor health amid a non-existent healthcare system then during the Japanese Occupation in the second world war.

Mom lost her failing health mother at an innocent and tender young age of eight. Mom has a younger brother who lives in Malaysia with his large family but we seldom see him. He spends most of his life on a ship crossing vast oceans somewhere... following his father's footsteps.

Grandfather was a ship's captain, a high ranking position, much admired by many.

Mom recounted that she was so scared to gain a stepmother initially.

Yet Tok was nothing like the nasty and evil stepmothers the movies have long stereotyped them to be. Instead, she was the total opposite.

She was a loving and nurturing mother to Mom and surprisingly during those olden days, Tok was even like a friend to Mom... unheard of in Asian culture those days, I think.

Mom's years of ordeal and "slavery" living with other adoptive families while Grandfather was away in high seas finally ended when Tok became family. The ladies took care of each other since then.

They both love each other and are close even today. Watching them embraced each other when Mom went to visit her at her home was touching and endearing. They longed to see one another it seemed.

The miracle of telecommunication bridges these two wheelchair-bound ladies close that otherwise would not be possible since they are both apart geographically, at each end of the island.

Coming back to my celebration...

I am fortunate to have Tok to visit our home every year because we both live in Tampines. My other siblings would regard themselves blessed if Tok were to visit their home during Hari Raya visits because it is way off her usual route while visiting her siblings and own children.

To miss Tok this year was quite disheartening... until Auntie Z called on Tuesday to inform that she was coming with Tok.

In fact, Tok insisted that they come to my home before Auntie Z sent her back to her home with Auntie A, who like me, does not have our own car.

"Tok insisted that I send her to your home tonight before I can send her back." Auntie Z said over the phone laughing in disbelief that Tok put her foot down, insisting.

I was overjoyed and so honored upon hearing that. My Grandma insisted to make the visit that night instead of next year!

Wifey was thrilled to received them because it showed how much she misses us and likes our company.

Auntie A came along too upon learning Tok's request.

We served Chicken Murtabak... an Indian version of a pizza. We prepared fruit and vegetable salad among the many Raya cakes and cookies for them.

Bridging the year's gap, we chatted, told lots of jokes and enjoyed each others' company for the whole two hours that they were here.

I did not wait long to tell Mom all about it the next day.

It was such an honor, a Grand-ma celebration this Hari Raya.