Monday, August 29, 2011

Our little survivor

Thanks so much everyone for all your good wishes and for sharing our joy at the impending arrival of a wee bundle of joy. I owe everyone a bit of an explanation as to why the announcement was kept so late. Trust me, you weren't the only ones, some of our close relatives didn't find out till almost six months into the pregnancy...

Let me digress a minute on our traditions associated with pregnancy... among them eating jackfruit and brinjals (to ensure abundant milk), not completing the baby clothes before the delivery, not bringing the cot home before the baby, and reciting religious chants (Angulimala piritha) to ensure smooth delivery. In other words, there is no assumption that the birth is a certainty and that all will go well. Life is uncertain... and obviously, someone from my field will have abundant evidence of this uncertainty.

I knew I was pregnant a good couple of weeks before I missed my period. Maybe because I was more aware of the changes in my body... maybe because I just had a sense of not being "alone". So Darling and I waited, all starry eyed until it was time to do the blood test. I can't find the words to explain how I felt when I looked at my HCG report... nothing I have ever done before or since was comparable to this big jolt of joy that ran through my body. Some of you may remember that in the past, my views about kids have changed from ambivalent to negative to "whatevah" to expectant... mostly because (career woman that I am) I had little faith in my parenting skills. Over the last eight months, not a smidgen of a doubt has crossed my mind... even when I tested myself by deliberately thinking "will I be a good mum?" my gut reaction would always be "Good mum? Of course I'm going to be a good mum... I'm going to be the best mum ever, because no one can love my little Bubee more than I do".

One of the first pics... Baby lies between the green and yellow crosses

That said, the last 8 months have not been a bed of roses. Soon after the first scan, a contaminated sandwich gave me Shigella food poisoning. The fever, vomiting and diarrhoea nearly caused a miscarriage... Baby was 1.29cm long... and 1cm of the sac had separated from the protective walls of my womb! I was terrified... but our little survivor kept hanging in there.

After about 3 months, I kept feeling lousy, got odd fevers, swollen lymph nodes and developed a leaky valve in my heart. My blood work was crazy... and I had three consultants (still do actually) scratching their heads and wondering what was wrong. During the next 2 months I was tested for every nasty and obscure disease under the sun, from TB and HIV to toxaplasma and Epstein Barr virus. And throughout it all, Baby continued to thrive and grow in leaps and bounds.

Baby @ 13 weeks

Somehow, I got the ok to travel abroad, and honestly, those 3 weeks in Malaysia were a godsend. Of course the training was hectic... but I had no other responsibilities... I did minimum shopping and spent most evenings and weekends in my room with my feet up, reading Terry Pratchet. Once I got back, my Mum needed cataract surgery and Darling was hospitalised, (food poisoning again - honestly, we seem to attract the worst bugs).

And Baby continued to grow and develop. I felt the very first kicks exactly when I was supposed to... and the growth scans were right there in the midline. The "anormaly scan" is usually done at about 20 weeks and the doctor looks at everything visible... the brain, spine, heart, face, palate and nose, the stomach the kidneys and the bladder. Baby got gold stars in all of them... somehow managing to overcome the limitations of an illness prone mother.

I wish I could be in better health, for Baby's sake, but even as I type this, I am on medical leave, lying on my left side to maximise the blood flow to the placenta. Somehow, during the last few weeks, Baby hasn't grown as expected. I'm just 32 weeks pregnant and hoping against hope that we will not need to go for a pre-mature delivery. The worst thing about being a doctor is knowing full well of all the nasty things that can go wrong and having a dozen worst case scenarios playing through your mind.

Hang in there my little Angel, my Sweetie, my Cutie! You're a fighter and a survivor... You're the best thing that has ever happened to your Mum and Dad... we love you so very much and are rooting for you all the way...

Stay with us...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I can't do a shoe post because... (part I)

I have ugly feetz.

No, seriously. I return from Malaysia, all ready to get pampered and petted by the usual ladies at my regular joint. I call them to get an appointment and I get this heavily accented female voice tersely informing me that they "do not provide services anymore". Hmmm.... I think they have gone bankoloth, though I doubt it had anything to do with my not gracing their premises with my custom.

So here I am, as hairy as big foot... make that big-ugly-foot, since I haven't had a pedi in ages, and the sight of my poor callused feet is not for the faint of heart.

Luckily, DeeCee in her timely and helpful manner has put up a post regarding her waxing experiences... and hopefully her wax-lady will be of help to me as well.

I've been waxing for about 4 years now... and trust me, although it hurts like hell at first, it's totally worth it because the hair grows slower and finer and softer each time and the skin gets nice and soft too. I get my upper lip waxed as well because threading hurts WAY more and the wax takes like 5 seconds.

I really wish my old place was still there though... the place was cosy and comfy, there wasn't much of a crowd, so more attention and the staff was very friendly. They also used this funny green wax imported from Singapore (I think). I found it differnt to the run of the mill hot/cold waxes I've had before. The wax hardens very fast, and the best thing is, it can be peeled off by itself, without the use of wax cloths or papers (less effort, more hygienic).

Oh well, no sense of crying over spilled wax... lets hope I have nice super smooth feet and legs soon!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I quit!!

Image stolen and mutilated from here

So yes. I quit.

My job.

I am no longer attached to the Ministry of Health. And no, it had nothing to do with the previous post.

I know this is not news to some of you guys, but I thought I'll come out of the er.... closet and make an announcement to the world in general. In fact, this whole quitting thing took place some time ago, catalysed by a number of events, and is to blame for the dearth of patient related posts on the bloggie. Also responsible, I think, for the reduced traffic. As one so-called fan put it, "I really liked your angst filled gut wrenching posts more than the twinkly happy ones". Hmmm....

So what does this mean? It means I'm no longer prowling the wards in high heels or lurking inside clinics. In fact, I won't be seeing many patients for the foreseeable future unless I want to (like volunteering at women's health clinics and in health camps). It means I joined a university as a lecturer, for a substantially lower pay, I might add. It means I'm doing a bit of teaching and a lot of research. It means I no longer work weekends, night shifts or casualty rotations. It means I don't have to be on-call and get the jitters every time the phone rings.

I hear you, gentle readers screech out "why???" in tones of outrage.

Like I said, there were a number of reasons. I saw the vacancy advertised in the paper and decided to go for it. It meant having more opportunity to go places and see things, like here and here and here and here. It meant not being stressed like I've described here or having moments of frustration and sadness like here and here.

It may be because I want to spend more time with Darling, just chillaxing, just the two of us. The ability to go pee whenever I want to (note cartoon) is also a great advantage, since I have had patients/relatives diss me when I get up to drink some water or go to the washroom instead of writing out their cards.

I'm really happy at my new job... I work in a nice office, in air conditioned comfort. I work with a great team of like minded people. I have research assistants and a secretary to ease some of the boring work. I don't have to wear saree everyday.

Will I ever go back? May be. It was something I negotiated when I went for the interview... so yes, I may do a clinical degree as well. It's nice to know I still have the choice.

So yes, I think it's all for the best.

Happy weekend all!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Shame on you!! (A tale of irony, failure and blatant discrimination)

And the star player is.... (wait for it ladies and gentlemen) the Ministry of Health!

Image from here

Of course, I need to add a disclaimer that I wasn't a witness to the sordid event, and that I heard it from a number of parties who were present.

Another sunny day in sunny Sri Lanka, a batch of young post-intern doctors, their SLMC registration cards all new and shiny, were attending an orientation programme organised by the Ministry. At one point, an official clambered on to the stage to deliver a lecture on "Communication, public relations and attitudes". Blinking owlishly at the audience, he has proceeded to deliver (very badly) a lecture in Sinhala.

After a short while, the Tamil speaking doctors have requested that he speak in English, as they were unable to follow what he was saying. A reasonable request, one would presume.

At this point, the official has snidely said "if you cannot understand, go outside and wait. You will be given a summary in English as a handout at the end of the lecture".

Stunned and horrified, yet maintaining their dignity, these doctors had walked out, followed by a few of their Sinhala speaking colleagues. Although the majority of the crowd had been outraged, few had the self assurance to join them. However, complaints were made to the organisers, followed by the assurance that this "official" will be pulled from the programme.

However, the drama continued on to the next day, lectures were still delivered in Sinhala, while the Tamil speaking doctors were taken (bussed?) to a different venue, where lectures were in Tamil.

In a time where we all speak of ethnic cohesion and reconciliation, I see this as an insult to all Tamil speaking persons and to all doctors. I see it as a personal insult to myself and my beliefs. I am shocked, disgusted and ashamed... but on further thought, I don't think I'm really surprised.

They talk the talk... but do they really walk the walk?