Friday, March 20, 2009

Dad's Good News

My cell phone rang. I was at my desk at work.

"Dad has seen the doctor..." My Sis H said at the other end of the line, "his blood measured is down to 3 now."

I was happy to hear the news. It was the immediate target set by Cardiologist Dr. Victor Lim for Dad as soon as he was discharged from National Heart Centre a fortnight ago. He was warded due to the tingling and sometimes intense pins-and-needles feeling he had been feeling constantly on his left shoulder region.

The CT Scan that was meant to check for his lung cancer tumor status turned out to show that he had a blood clot in his heart, which explained the tingling feeling he had.

"The doctor said Dad needs to go for another 2 weeks of meds," she continued, "so he needs to be back again early April."

Dad's follow-up appointment has been set on Friday on 3rd April 2009 at 10:45AM, Clinic B at Level 2 of NHC. The doctor needs to see if it can be brought down just below 3 and stabilized.

Last week, his blood coagulation INR was a high 4.8. His blood was too thin and risked internal bleeding, but it was meant to dissolve the blood clot to avoid getting a stroke if it reached the brain.

It was indeed good news on a Friday!

The consultation fee was S$31.50 while 2 weeks supply of Warfarin at 4mg was at S$2.50. In total I was to return Sis H a total of S$34.00 taken from our Parents Fund we established since January 2009 this year.

The idea of setting up this fund for our parents was such a good one, where all my siblings, together with our nephews and nieces contributing at will a little sum they wish every month. The fund has since grew to more than S$1,500.00 to date. And that is great!

I set it in my iPhone calendar... I may have to take Dad to his appointment, but Sis I volunteered to take him together with her husband. That is wonderful thing.

Doing really well, I do hope that Dad stays happy mentally seeing everyone is involved and care so much about him and Mom, fighting on with everyone always by his side.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Point Of View

Today, I finally braved myself to upgrade my camera from a point-and-shoot to a dSLR.

After great whole 8 years with my trusted Panasonic Lumix FZ10, a 4 Megapixel camera which has been my best investment to keep me happy and enthralled all these years, I have chosen Canon EOS 450D with EF-S18-200IS Lens Kit.

Wifey and went to IT Show 2009 at Suntec City late this afternoon, right after scouting for a potential shop we wanted to set-up. With Wifey's blessings, I forked-out S$1,999.00 for my 12.2 Megapixel dSLR.

We expected the convention centre to be crowded, but was totally overwhelmed at the turn-out itself right from the entrance to the exhibition hall. After we entered, the large LCD sign flashed for visitors to come back again in an hour's time. They had to regulate the people entering the hall.

"... most probably half of Singapore is here..." I overheard a group of friends in front of us exclaimed.

From the ground floor and all the way to the 6th floor of the convention centre, there were waves of people making their way to the halls while in the opposite direction, people going back with hands either holding bags of items bought or pulling the trolleys of printers, LCD TVs and iMacs along heading home.

"I thought we're in recession..." a guy who was queuing behind me started a conversation, "it hasn't hit Singapore yet, or what?!" We were queuing for payment at the Canon counters.

With the record number of turn-outs and the news article reporting that people had spent S$12.2 million on its first day alone that started on Thursday, I have to agree with the guy!

Maybe we're answering the call by our Prime Minister and the ASEAN ministers that Asian should change their mindset and spend too. Not just relying solely on the US market to move the world economy along, at least for this part of the region forward and from bottoming out.

As for me, the concept is just too complex to decipher. A simple-minded person like me, with well... complicated needs at times, just wants to take advantage of the promotion price and the normally lofty bundles they offer at the IT Shows than even promotion sales on normal days.

After 8 years of great photos churned out by my trusted Lumix camera... well, at least for me and I know the camera did most of the fantastic job itself, I have now dive into the dSLR realm of photography... the camera is, as for me, I am going to attend the free training sessions to get up to speed with the tool I just bought.

After many opportunities Wifey and I got to manhandle the actual camera at the show, we were shocked to see with our own eyes...

"Thank you. Please proceed to the payment counter... follow the queue there." The sales person pointed to the direction where we saw the line snaking around and onward, all the way to behind the large "Cathay Photo Store" counters!

I wondered there and then if I was, together with the hordes of people queuing, taking that last stretch of "good times" mile before we buckle-down and brace ourselves for the worst journey that has yet to come.

Maybe I was taking that last mile... well, I guess I will have pictures to show.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thick As Blood

"Hello Mom." I wished her over the phone early this morning, "Just to remind Dad to take his medicine starting today."

"Yes he remembers," Mom replied, "but he can't remember taking it before or after meals."

Just like when he was warded for a week in the hospital, he took his medicine before his breakfast. So the same thing here. Being 82, he forgets easily it seems. Then again, I forget often too, me being half his age... is bad... for me!

Today, Dad starts taking his anti-coagulant medicine, Warfarin again after a 3-day rest from this first batch since his discharge from SGH. We went to his first appointment at National Heart Centre on Monday, 9th March 2009...

"Do you have the blood test form with you?" The nurse asked me when my Dad's name was called 5 minutes after I placed the appointment slip into the Reception tray upon our arrival.

"No. I only have the slip given to us at SGH when my Dad was discharged." I replied. The only explanation I had. With me still are 2 more appointment slips given that same day.

"No worries, I'll get you a form and arrange for the blood test before he sees the doctor." The nurse assured me with a smile.

That is the good thing I noticed. The hospitals on this island strive very hard to increase the level of service standard. The staffs are really patient and go about their jobs readily with a smile.

It is very good effort considering the people they are attending to have more grave predicaments than they can imagine. Being further frustrated with sub-standard services or inefficiencies is the least these people want.

The second call for Dad was a little while later. We were ushered to Room 22 for Dad's blood to be drawn. That was the quickest last minute arrangement, I thought.

The nurse who ushered us spoke to Dad in Malay. She was joking with Dad, making the tense, first time visit to become more relaxed and actually a pleasant one.

I waited outside of the room for Dad.

"OK. Your Dad's blood is too thin..." the nurse told me as soon as the door was opened, "the norm is 3, so it's a bit high."

She asked as to wait at the waiting area until Dad's name was called again.

"I'll bring the sample to the lab," She explained, "we'll keep his queue number for him until the result is out."

About 10 minutes later, Dad received his queue number 1405 for Consultation Room 52. Not long after, we were inside the room attended by a young and obviously quite new, Dr. Tay.

The very familiar series of questions were asked over again... the family tree, history of sicknesses and deaths in the family, smokers in the family... on and on.

"Your Dad's blood is too thin... at 4.8... he should stop the 5mg Warfarin immediately." He assessed. Dad last took his pill that morning and was to stop taking the last 5mg Warfarin and none for the next 3 days.

Dr. Tay prescribed a lower dosage for Dad. Starting today, Dad takes take 2 pills - a brown one that is 1mg and a blue on at 3mg. In total he will take 4mg of Warfarin once a day for one week.

The consultation cost was S$25.00 and the 1 week supply of Warfarin cost S$1.70 after government subsidies for seniors.

Dad will have to see him again next week Friday, 20 March 2009. Go for another blood test to see if the coagulant is at 3.

Elder Sis will be taking him to that appointment. She called me a few days ago, 3rd Sis is tagging along them since she is no longer working after being retrenched recently from her work of 5 years.

It is so good to have many siblings in a close knitted family. Worries and happy times are shared together... there is always a shoulder to lean on. Safety in numbers is quite true. We are blessed to have everyone in our family always willing to chip-in as much as they can.

Being brought up to know that family is important and is all that we have even after the elders are long gone. We love our get-togethers and seek opportunities to meet-up with one another as often. This is especially good for Sonny who is our only child, being close to his cousins, aunts and uncles.

Hopefully this will live on with our children and our children's children, long after we are gone too.

We cherish this blessing everyday and will help and be there for one another in a moment's notice through thick and thin.

Monday, March 09, 2009

In A Heartbeat

Off this afternoon to fetch Dad from his home in Woodlands to the National Heart Centre at Outram Road.

After his discharge from SGH last week, this is his first medical appointment with the centre, now that his case is temporarily given to Cardiologist Dr. Victor Lim.

Not sure what to expect from this appointment, except that Dad will most probably have to continue with the blood thinning medication, Warfarin for the months ahead.

A check with Mom, so far Dad has been lethargic; knowingly from the cough medication he is taking to clear his lungs from phlegm and aids his breathing. So far, no side effects from Warfarin... no sign of internal bleeding like blood in the urine or darkened stools.

So far his daily routine of gardening at the corridor and chores in the kitchen helping out Mom has not been impaired. He is indeed happy, given the attention and surrounded by his children and grandchildren. We are especially grateful that he is not in any pain.

Today, Mom will stay home alone, while I take Dad to his appointment. Without Mom who is wheel chaired-bound, we are able to take the train from his home to Ourtram MRT station.

Secretly amongst my siblings, our only worry is chemo treatment that has been put on-hold until his blood and heart are stable.

Oncologist Dr. Lo SK has set an appointment to see Dad in mid April 2009. So as long as Dad's breathing is alright, Dad will undergo taking Warfarin for about 6 months before she takes over the case back from the cardiologist.

It really helps that Dad has ample amount of money in his Medisave account; I think it is also a personal triumph for him to not have to depend on his children's monies for medical treatments as the major costs have been paid for by this account after the heavy government subsidies for old citizens.

Mom does not have that much in her account because she has never worked and received CPF contribution, except from the adhoc top-up Dad did for her from time to time.

Like always, in a hearbeat, all their chidlren and grandchildren come to their aid.

Since January 2009, mooted by Eldest Brother-in-law, we have started contributing to our "Parents Fund." Any of us can contribute any amount monthly we are willing to, to this account.

I am not expecting any surprises today.

We just pray for many more days to be with both Dad and Mom. Prying for their health and happiness, and a longer life surrounded by their children who love them dearly.

We are blessed to have this couple.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

My Addiction Rating

58%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

Brought back a goodie bag from Celeste's My Day & Thoughts blog.

Friday, March 06, 2009


I have come to realize now that my computer is almost useless without its Internet connection!

It has transformed to become an interface tool with the cyberworld from working tool at home... and most part at work too when the server goes down.

For the past several weeks, I had little carbon footprint in the Internet realm. So no updates and no comments left by me.

Our home connection had been frustratingly intermittent. I noticed a drastic reduction of our surfing speeds and it finally came to a halt in the last few days. Totally rendered us cut-off from the world... cyberworld.

The solace I got from listening background music from the Internet radio while I work on my iMac was gone. It became an irritating noise with its frequent streaming stoppages. I turned to my own MP3 music in iTunes instead.

Apart from downloading the many photos I took with my camera and iPhone, I practically had nothing much to do on my iMac since it was without its Internet connection. I turned to the next flat screen panel that streams signals... my LCD TV. So did Sonny.

I am aware that TV has killed conversation somewhat, but PC took its helm immediately when it was brought home, powered-up and successfully connected to the Internet. It is a good thing and a bad thing inter-twined into one moral dilemma.

Anyway, my daily blogging and blog surfing was affected badly with the breakdown. There were frequent "Connection Interrupted" error prompts with the useless "Try Again Later" messages.

Not knowing the cause at first, it even shook my long-standing faith on my iMac; being impenetrable to hackers and computer viruses... or at least not a hot favourite to hackers than Windows OS.

"Ayah! My Internet connection is getting worse by the day!" Sonny hollered in frustration from inside his room. It was affecting his online homework and submission to his school... and yes, it affected his online game as well.

That go me thinking of the many possible suspects...

My first thought was that one of the other 3 computers at home with Windows XP and Vista OS might have been infected with a virus or ad-ware. It might using the PC as a server for spamming thus taking-up the bandwidth.

That set the frantic checks on all PCs for latest updated virus definitions. After several tries to get the updates while there was Internet connection, a thorough scan resulted in no form infection. Hmm...

My next suspect was our 3 year old LinkSys Wireless-G Router. It was our second when the first went bonkers on us the same way it displayed its symptoms now.

Bypassing the router by connecting Wifey's PC directly to the modem alone solved the problem at first. Resetting and reconnecting it several times directly seemed to resolve the connection.

It had me convinced the router was faulty. I had Wifey accompanied me for a quick run to Sim Lim Square to buy ourselves a replacement router that same afternoon, undaunted by the crazy heavy rain. Yes. It now rains everyday... be very careful what you wish for.

The Engenius Wireless-N Gigabit Router set me back S$179.00! We got an upgrade to 3 long-range antennas. That was a good deal.

Setting-up the new wireless router was easy and painless. The Wireless-N speed was fantastic... at first. My heart was cheering "Hip Hip Hurray!" especially when my Facebook loaded in record time... but it was short-lived when the same problem crapped in the morning after.

Connecting Wifey's PC directly back to the modem finally revealed the same failure symptom... after spending S$179.00 excluding cab fares!

Nope. Not the router. I have two routers now! Sigh.

It led me to suspect Starhub's broadband line. There was that far-fetched inkling of a feeling that we might have quietly been shortchanged with our subscription of a 12MB line. I had this ill feeling that our ISP was cramping too many users around my area to the same line that resulted in congested broadband.

After hanging-on to its hotline and listening to my "call is important to us" for over 20 minutes on end, I got through to the technical support after the third call. Fortunately the person assisting was very patient and totally helpful.

It did not resolve the problem after several troubleshooting guides over the phone - "ipconfig/release" and renew, reboot and replacing Ethernet cables. A technician was finally sent to my home 2 days later.

Their prime suspect was my ageing 6-year old Motorola Broadband Modem.

Fortunately, the technician schedule in the late afternoon was the same day I took half-day leave off work to fetch Dad back from the hospital. I made it on time to be at home when the technician arrived.

The bad thing about it was that the old modem worked well while he was here for the whole 40 minutes. Not a glitch was observed, but he just replaced the splitter anyway after finding the "noise to signal ratio" a little higher "but nothing serious."

I as to pay for the new modem that cost S$99.51 if he had replaced it, but he suggested for me to monitor it for another day and replace the modem at Starhub's branch in Tampines Mall, paying the difference after off-setting my accumulated points.

The old modem called it quits 2 hours after he left. I was not pinning high hopes on the splitter anyway, but thank him for replacing a new one and the cost savings he suggested, though. That was last Wednesday.

Today, I met Wifey at Starhub's Tampines Mall branch after work.

We got our 3 week-old dead Cable Digital Set-top box and the Hub Station Remote Control replaced for free; purchased our much needed new modem for S$40.00 after off-setting the cost with redeemable 1,900 points we had.

That was after they tested and found no problem with the modem. Of course not!

Well, at least having a nice dinner with Wifey soothed my aching heart at Long John Silver.

Once at back home, I got the cable TV working again in our bedroom, the remote working properly too in the living room and especially the Internet connection lightning fast, working faster than ever now with the Wifeless-N speed!

All is well again. Phew!

The whole ordeal was as tiring as it is painful for you read this rant. Thanks for reading this far, anyway.

Continuing to post trivial stuff as usual again. Yet I am happy to be able to blog-surf to my favourite friends' once again.

I am back online... working-world-wide again!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Punggol Point Rediscovered

At lunchtime, three of us went off to Punggol to view a friend's new home.

He recently got the keys to his new home from Housing & Development Board office and is planning some renovation works.

He requested me to have a look-see and probably give some ideas on the renovation while another friend who has a knack for fung shui reading to check the house's health, sort to speak.

Had our quick lunch at CompassPoint Mall, then off to his condo-looking 4-roomed flat.

While the excited new owner parked his car, both of us waited for him at the ground floor lift landing. We waited for some time until we had to call him over his cell phone, thinking we had wrongly waited at the wrong block.

"I can't find my house keys..." he replied as he approached us.

After we searched his car inside and out, and confirming with his next door cubicle neighbour over the phone that the keys were no where to be found, we got to see only his locked front door and gate on the 13th floor... seriously, a very nice front door.

Simply because of this, we had all the lunchtime hour to spend. He then drove us around his new neighbourhood.

The best and most interesting spot is Punggol Beach... all three of us believe it is the smallest immigration point on the island. But before getting to the Punggol Jetty, we had to drive deep in to the end of Punggol Road. A beautiful and quiet single-lane, bidirectional road.

An SBS bus Service 82 ply this scenic route until the road ends near the jetty where the immigration office is situated. The bus will make a reverse turn at the dead end and then heads back to Sengkang Bus Interchange where CompassPoint Mall is.

We past by Punggol Marina and clusters of bungalow houses where the rich live, yet I got attracted to the scenic and rustic part of Punggol's end when we drove off from the tarmac and onto the earthen tracks.

Thick casurina trees lined the coastal tracks that look so inviting for dirt biking. Yet the site is a tranquil escape from the neighbourhood for the many men seen fishing and angling at the water's edge.

"It looks like autumn here." Said my friend, reading my mind as I was snapping photos from inside the car.

"I don't feel comfortable here." He muttered suddenly, "This place looks eerie to me." Being most superstitious, and most probably after reading the park's marker.

Erected there as a memorial site where about 400 Chinese people were killed by Japanese soldiers during World War 2, when Singapore was under the Japanese Occupation.

It was a sad historic fact, but for the most part, this place now has a rustic charm and tranquility about it, except for the clusters of developments of food and beverages places along the coast; a trait our island is famous for - where there is land, there will be development. Sigh.

I would love to cycle here from home on the weekends!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

You're Home Dad!

Blessed with prayers from everyone, Dad is safely home again.

Back home to Mom who has been waiting for him ever so anxiously for almost a week... she thought it was only for an overnight observation, two nights at the most, but it dragged to a week instead.

Mom greeted him with wide smiles at the front door of their home, while their two teenage granddaughters by her side. Her children and grandchildren have been keeping her company at her home every day and night since Dad was warded in SGH.

I received a phone call early this morning from Staff Nurse Ria, bearing the good news that Dad was able to be discharged today. It made my day... and I am sure it made everyone's day too when I contacted them telling of the good news.

I took the afternoon leave off work and rushed to be at the ward by 12:30PM. The Oncologist Dr. Lo wanted update me of Dad's condition and the follow-up treatments that he needs before discharging Dad at 1:00PM.

By the time I reached there, Dad had already packed all his belongings... he sat there waiting for me with his clothes he came with already laid down on the bed beside him.

Upon noticing me, he gleamed and stood up.

"I've packed everything," Dad's first words to me as I salam him "I called your mother to inform her that I am going home."

I just nodded and gave a big smile. I was as happy as he was, "We have to wait for Dr. Lo to meet us before we can go..." I explained to Dad, "she will tell us what to do next and get your medications too."

Dad just nodded in agreement and started to pull the curtains around the bed to change his clothes, "I've checked the drawers. Everything is packed. Nothing if left behind."

I guess it was Dad's way of saying "I'd like to go home now!"

Dr. Lo could not come in person to meet us. She was attending to an urgent case and could not make it in time to be there. She called me instead to brief of Dad's condition and any questions that I had.

"The blood thining medication cannot be mixed with his Chemo...." she explained, "being at his age, the quality of life is important. So we concentrate on this heart first while we still monitor his lungs."

From the CT Scan, apart from the immediate his left heart aneurysm and thrombus detected, Dr. Lo had some not so good news to tell. The tumors in Dad's lungs have stayed the same size except for one that has grown slightly in size.

Since Dad is not feeling any pain and is alert and active, the practical thing to do is to just go about his daily life as normal as possible taking the Warfarin medication for the next 6 months.

Staff Nurse Ria came next. With that readily available warm smile, she briefed me the many follow-up appointments Dad has ahead of him.

First to come is next week Monday, 9th March 2009 for ACMO at National Heart Centre. Next, an appointment on 14th April 2009 with Dr. Lo at National Cancer Centre.

The third will be a Cardiac Investigation Test called 2Deho on 5th May at National Heart Centre Lab 2. After that, Dad's Cardiologist, Dr. Victor Lim will see him on 13th May 2009 for the results.

Whatever Dad needs to go through in the days ahead, we are so grateful that our prayers here, along with the prayers of my dearest blog friends all across the globe have been answered now.

I thank The Almighty for the many more opportunities we get to have with both Dad and Mom.

Oh yes, I saw another rainbow just yesterday on my way back from work.