Friday, 29 January 2016

What's Happened to This Generation?

Another young life is lost.

A 14-year-old boy jumped from his 14th floor home after he was brought to the police station to be questioned over a molest case.

The crux of the matter that is discussed seems to be whether the course of action by the police had been appropriate and if the boy had jumped because he suffered much shame and humiliation as the police had taken him straight out of school and into the police station.

As a parent, would you not reprimand your boy if he was questioned by the police over a molest case?

As police, would you not bring the alleged suspect for questioning no matter where he was?

As parents and police, these were natural courses of action. I would be more surprised if they didn't carry them out.

But no one would expect the boy to jump to his death.

Most of us have utmost faith in our police, that they only do the necessary when they have substantial evidence. I feel that there is hardly a moment we would deem 'appropriate' to bring someone back to the police station for questioning. They were just doing their job. I would dread the day when even police have to over-consider the feelings and circumstances of the accused/suspect.

I remember a teacher sharing what she had observed when a few of my secondary school mates got into trouble with the police. She said she was surprised that the police were very rough with those boys,'like gangsters'. Surprised as I was, I felt the treatment was justified as the boys were ruffians themselves. Even as a teenager, I was quite convinced that those boys would be frightened into behaving properly in future, and I believe they did because I never heard about them misbehaving again in the remaining years of my secondary school life.

I am not suggesting that the police in this case had treated the boy roughly. In fact, I highly suspect that the police these days are inclined to treat their suspects in highly civil manner because of how our society has evolved.

I am just wondering how the boys in the yesteryear would have reacted if they were brought back by the police for questioning. Despite immense shame and humiliation, would they have jumped? Likely not.

What has happened to this generation?

Friday, 22 January 2016

A Traumatic Treatment II

After the gum disease treatment, I took a train to pick Baby up from school and took her to lunch.

Although my gum was still relatively numb, I could feel that I had a swelling from the inside of my mouth on the left side. I used my tongue to tease it and felt that there was a flap-like thing on the outer side of my gum.

I called the dentist and asked him what it was.

He dismissed it as 'loose gum' since the gum no longer contained germs and bacteria. He said he was surprised that I only felt it on the left side as he would expect me to feel it on all sides and that I should not be afraid to brush my gum though.

I told him I felt like I had a piece of meat stuck on the gum but he did not understand what I was saying.

But he was surprised that I had not gone home to rest 3 hours after the treatment.

When I got home, the 'flap' felt like it had grown. I tried lying down on either side but I did not feel comfortable.

When 4 hours were up, I started to brush my gum.

My toothbrush was all bloodied.

And the flap came off - it was a huge blood clot!

What you see here is just part of the clot

I had the experience of having more gigantic clots falling out of my body after my first Caesarian, so I accepted it being 'normal'.

When the second and third clots continued to form on the same spot in the next 2 and 4 hours respectively, I called up the dentist again to check if it was normal. The dentist confirmed that it was normal and advised me not to rinse my mouth as the act of rinsing would cause more fresh blood to flow.

However, my little ordeal did not end there.

Throughout the night, the clots continued to form in my mouth on the same spot. Each time, I waited for 1.5 hours to 2 hours before I removed them as it got very uncomfortable. It felt as if half a fishball was stuck in my left cheek. 

I also could not sleep as blood continued to flow into my mouth. When I dozed off, I would wake up after being choked on my blood, coughing involuntarily.

Most of the time, I swallowed my bloodied saliva since spitting it out could encourage fresh blood to flow, but I did not dare to drink water as I thought the act would be equivalent to rinsing my mouth, which also encouraged fresh blood to flow.

I decided to revisit the dentist the next morning since 24 hours were up and my condition did not get better.

The dentist felt it was not normal for the blood to flow after a day. He applied some thick grey paste which I later learnt was periodontal dressing, all over my gum to stop the bleeding, after which he proceeded to explain something which I did not hear, because as I got off the dentist chair, I felt weak and collapsed on the floor.

They immediately moved me to another room to rest and fed me some glucose.

After some time, when the other dentist came in to check on me, she saw that the bleeding had started again.

She gave me two jabs to stop the bleeding.

After that, I was wheelchaired to the taxi stand to take a cab to the A&E department at the hospital as the dentist suspected that I might have bleeding disorder which they could not help me with.

At the A&E department, my blood was drawn to have some tests run.

After an hour or so, the tests showed that my blood count, platelets were normal and I had no blood disorder.

So, the hospital sent me to their Dental department to see what their dentist could do for me.

By now, new blood clots were forming in my mouth again.

As I did not have an appointment, I was asked to wait for 3 hours before I could see a dentist!

I explained that I was bleeding and if anyone could do something for me before I saw the dentist.

That helped. After a little wait, a dentist checked on me. However, she said since blood clots were formed, it meant that I had stopped bleeding! I just had to wait for the clots to dislodge themselves.

I was indignant,"But I can't eat, can't drink, can't sleep with these clots in my mouth!"

The dentist was equally exasperated,"But if I remove all these dressings and blood clots, new blood will flow again and you will have to wait for the clots to form and dislodge themselves all over again!"

I explained that these clots grew bigger and bigger until like a fishball and sometimes they burst and all the blood would squirt into my mouth, and I could not possibly swallow so much blood!

After some arguments, the dentist relented. She said if I insisted that the clots would keep growing, then I might want to wait at the recovery room for a few hours and she would check on me periodically to see if the clots grew bigger.

William saw that it was fruitless arguing so he replied that we would wait out.

While at the recovery room, a nurse checked on me and found that my left side of the gum was bleeding.

So the dentist came and asked me to return to her.

This time, she proposed to remove all the clots and dressings for her to check. And I was the one who opposed, using what she had told me earlier on,"But blood will flow and I have to wait for new clots to form and dislodge."

She assured me that if there was bleeding, she would use the dental materials to help me stop the bleeding.

On that count, I allowed her to remove the clots and dressings.

She called in a more experienced doctor to help. It was clear to me that there were at least three spots that were oozing blood. They tried stopping a few spots together but it did not work, so the experienced doctor suggested doing one spot at a time.

The dentist explained that they were using plant cellulose to stuff into the bleeding spots to stop the bleeding. They had to push quite hard onto the spots to apply pressure so that the bleeding would stop.

The dentist had suggested injecting me with anaesthesia so that I would not feel the pain when they pushed hard at the spots but I was too traumatised by the experience to have another jab.

After the bleeding was stopped, the dentist explained to me that gum treatment is a traumatic treatment itself. When I looked surprised, she introduced herself as a gum doctor and so she knew that it is a traumatic treatment on the gum. She felt that I was not prepared for the treatment and thus it was very traumatising for me.

She said that cases like mine do happen, except that my blood clots were huge.

I was just grateful that I did not have a bloodied mouth anymore.

However, when I went to the toilet at the hospital, I fainted again in the cubicle.

When I awoke, I saw myself and my phone on the floor, back against the door.

I heard some voices outside my cubicle discussing,"Did you hear the sound?" so I struggled to open the door, and collapsed again on the floor because I was too weak to stand or sit. The ladies ran out to get a nurse, a trainee doctor and a wheelchair.

They carried me onto the wheelchair and wheeled me to the pharmacy where William was getting a mouthwash for me.

Then William wheeled me to the foodcourt to have some porridge.

I had not drunk or eaten the whole day. Within two days, I had lost 2 stubborn kilograms I had not been able to lose!

The next day when I went back for a review, one of the spots was still bleeding so the dentist had to stuff the cellulose back.

The bleeding only stopped a few days later.

A truly traumatic experience for me.

On hindsight, I should have sought a second opinion and find out more about gum treatment to prepare myself. I was not prepared for what came after the treatment.

The dentist who did the gum treatment sent me a Get Well Soon hamper though.

A Traumatic Treatment I

It all began some time in last November when I felt a pain in my last upper tooth when I took a sip of the free cuppa at Baby's dentist's.

After seeing Baby's good experiences for tooth extraction and cleaning with the dentist and hearing of a friend's account of how she could have dinner at Soup Restaurant the next day after her two wisdom teeth extraction at her dentist's, I decided to visit Baby's dentist to check if I had tooth decay, and hopefully it would be dealt with with some filling.

The x-ray showed that I did not have tooth decay. However, as I have not visited a dentist ever since I left secondary school, I had developed gum disease. It simply means bacteria and germs are hiding in the gums, and the dentist recommended gum disease treatment for my condition.

She explained that each time, only half of the mouth would be treated as it would take an hour, and it would cost $1200 w/o GST for each treatment using laser.

She assured me that it would not be painful and the only pain I would experience would be the one from the anaesthesia injection, which would be over within a few seconds.

Armed with all the good online reviews of the dentist, the assurance of the ease of the treatment, I braved myself for the appointment a month later.

I had a classmate who went for a double-eyelid surgery when she was 18. She said she didn't want to spend too much time to consider about whether she should have the surgery as we tend to stick to the safe side and not have the surgery.

This episode has quite an impact on my life after that as I would often tell myself,"Just do it lah!" if I am offered something supposedly beneficial for me but requires me to go through some inconveniences or pain.

So, on the very morning when I was to go for the treatment, I stood at my wardrobe, hesitated for some moments,"Or maybe I don't go lah? But the dentist said I would lose my teeth if I don't do it. So go lah?"

and in the end, I still decided to go.

The treatment started with not one, or two, or five injections. It was between ten to twelve anaesthesia injections on my upper gum!

The dentist had applied numbing gel prior to the injections, so although some jabs were painful, none was excruciating or eternal.

I went on to have the treatment which required me to swallow pockets of water that the assistant jetted into my mouth throughout the remaining 45 minutes.

After the treatment, the dentist briefed me on how to brush my gums and said that I could eat after four hours.

All seemed good and dandy.

I left the dentist's not knowing what trauma awaited me.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Mother Forgets

Last Wednesday was PSLE Results Release Day.

Ever since I experienced The Day first-hand as a parent three years ago, I always feel very emotional when I see children going up the stage for different reasons. You can be sure my eyes are never dry on this day.

I remember feeling 'meh' when I read on my Facebook that some P6 students were asking if anyone was going to receive the results with their parents.

I thought,"It's just some exam results. What's the big deal? You are not Primary One kid, you know?"

However, when it came my turn, it seemed all-important that I had to go with Coco.

I even taunted William when he expressed disinterest in following us,"We may go jump off a building together after getting the results!"

There are things that you won't understand or won't do until you are a parent.

So, when the students were led to their classrooms to receive their results, I asked a colleague whose daughter went to a top girls' school,"Did you cry when you got your daughter's results?"

She looked a little surprised,"No. I didn't go to school with her."

I was even more surprised,"Why didn't you? Surely your husband was there with her?"

She replied,"He wasn't, either!" after which she reflected a little and said,"I never saw myself as a parent. I always see myself as a teacher. My students are here, so I have to be here. It never occurred to me that I could apply for leave or time-off to go get the results with my daughter."

I don't know if I had crossed the line, but the colleague felt quite guilty over the matter, and did some reflection over her relationship with her only daughter who has gone overseas for further studies that day. The next day, she came to me and told me she apologised to her daughter for not accompanying her to receive her PSLE results and the times when her daughter had experienced loneliness in her life because she was not there with her.

Another colleague tried to assuage the mother-colleague's guilt by assuring her that not all parents accompany their children to receive their results, citing herself as an example, but I felt it was a weak attempt as they would belong to two different generations of daughters.

This little talk between my colleague and me makes me think about how teachers often neglect their children because of the demands of their jobs.

I used to be a guilty mother when Coco was younger. I forgot about the need to get Teachers' Day presents for her teacher when she was in Nursery and a few deadlines from her schools. I could never be a parent volunteer much as she would like me to. Now I try to be more mother-conscious about the girls' stuff nowadays but it's not always possible to remember or do what stay-home mothers could about their children's matters.

Recently, I have applied for leave for next year to focus more on Baby and Coco. I have quoted my health as the main reason. The boss is very displeased about it. In fact, it is not approved yet. I hope I get it though. I am not sure what the next step is if she does not approve it.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Another Hospital Stay

My Facebook newsfeed is flooded with friends who have gone on holidays. One went to Taiwan, another is in Europe, and yet another - a teacher, is in Spain.

As for my colleagues and I, we are not to leave State till next Tuesday evening.

Life's unfair like that.

The last week was an eight-to-five work week, the kind that requires your presence even when nothing is going to be done.

And my father was admitted to the hospital. If I had visited him at the hospital, you can be sure that I would collapse onto the bed by the time I reached home. It was good for a dieting woman who got to skip dinner without too much effort though.

I first received an sms from my brother saying that my father had insisted on going to a Malaysian hospital when I was at work a fortnight ago.

The bags were packed and his passport was already in his pocket.

I called back and persuaded my father to remain in Singapore. It does not take a genius to know that I had no faith in a Malaysian hospital, much less in one that would not know what my father had gone through the previous year.

I had once visited a cousin at a Malaysian hospital and was appalled at the state of it. My cousin's arm was slashed by a love rival in the city area, or so I heard, and was transferred to a government hospital soon after he was admitted to a hospital. His rusty bed was among at least ten or twenty other beds in a huge hall. Some nurses were doing their stuff at the other end of the hall. A few fabric windscreens existed to shield the view from others when they needed to examine a patient. It reminded me of the 1950s to 1970s medical scenes I watched on Channel 8 drama serials. I was shocked that Malaysia was still so backward in their medical advancements.

I managed to persuade my father to visit the GP (General Practitioner) we just visited the day before to get a doctor's letter before setting off for the General Hospital.

My father had been complaining about general discomfort and weakness after his last major surgery and no doctor or physician or temple or church could help him. I had suggested that he do a full body check-up to find out the problem, thus the visit to the GP the previous day. The GP had proposed to get my father to have a full assessment at SGH since he also could not help my father but he needed some time to pen a letter of reference. But my father clearly could not wait anymore.

At the A&E Department, the doctor ran some tests on my father and diagnosed that he had 'dangerously low level of sodium' in his blood and suspected that he had lung infection so he was admitted to the hospital. A four-bedder room.

After 4 days, my father was worried that the bill might snowball over time since there was no sign that the doctor was going to discharge him, so he walked out of the ward and insisted on being discharged.

And he went home on a Friday.

On Sunday, he woke up with a swollen mouth and neck. His tongue was so swollen that he could not even eat! So back to the hospital he did.

Infection of the floor of the mouth, the doctor said.

This time, my father requested us to put him in a C class ward so that he did not have to worry about the bill. 

And by then, that a $200k medical bill was a reality had stuck in our mind. We signed him up for the nine-bedder ward.

So my father stayed in the hospital for another week. In the course of the week, the doctor diagnosed that he also had SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), an autoimmune disease which was very rare for an elderly. But it explains why none of our parents have Hyperthyroidism, another autoimmune condition, but at least three of us do.

The good news is: he was discharged yesterday :)

Another good news is: my biopsy report states that my nodule is benign, meaning not cancerous or malignant. However, that was within expectations. I had read up online and the articles concurred that nodules with thyroid problems are usually non-cancerous.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

After Meet-the-Parent

I feel shameless as a mother. 

I have not taught Baby this year, at least not conscientiously.

I stopped her Math enrichment in the first half of the year when she didn't feel like going.

I stopped her Chinese enrichment in the first half of the year when she vehemently refused to go for lessons.

If you ask me what I have taught her, I can only tell you I have got her to rewrite the Chinese characters at the back of the Chinese textbook and got her to complete a few Math papers.

What have I done with her for English? The only thing I did with her was going to the library with her and reading to her, sometimes.

I have not made her do an English paper, or got her to write a composition - because she didn't want to write.

I have wanted her to enjoy her first year of formal schooling, and I wanted to see how she does without external intervention. I wanted to see if she would do well 'naturally' with just her teacher teaching her.

But when the form teacher gave out the 5 invitation cards for the top performers in class, I actually felt disappointed, shamelessly disappointed.

I knew without parental support, it's almost impossible for a child to be among the top 5 performers in class in this school, but yet, I felt disappointed.

When I came home, I felt bothered. I couldn't sleep. I kept playing my Bejeweled Blitz because I couldn't make peace with myself.

Then I decided to exit the bedroom to watch some TV. I saw her report book on the dining table and flipped it open. And I realised Baby didn't do that bad after all.

You see, the school has printed the result slip such that her Overall results are shown first while her CA2 and SA2 come after that! I had zoomed into the last page because usually that is the page that matters most since it almost always indicates the 'final' score. However, for some reason, this time, I looked at her Overall Percentage and realised that she actually comes very close to the top 5th. The form teacher had revealed to the last few remaining parents that the top 3 performers had at least 92%. I would gather 90.7% wasn't too shabby a score - a score that's without much help.

I actually felt a lot better when I figured that out. I had felt lousy after going to the Meet-the-Parent briefing in which the form teacher met the parents as a class. One of the parents spoke to me and mentioned that her child had 85 for English. I had thought Baby had done really badly as generally the class did badly for their SA2 English because of the sudden increase of weightage for the writing component which they were not adequately prepared for.

When I examined the Overall scores closely, I realised Baby had done better than some of those children who had gone for enrichment classes throughout the year. 

I feel strangely relieved but still feel guilty that I had not helped Baby. 

I realise that as long as my children are studying in a Singapore school, I will not be able to detach grades from their studies, no matter how much I hope they can enjoy their childhood. I am not an enlightened parent who is able to ignore grades as long as my children enjoy learning. I had thought that since I am a 'seasoned' parent, I would not mind when my child is not one of the top 5 performers. 

I am a Singapore mother after all.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

A Nice (and Experienced) Doctor Helps

My neck feels bruised.

The biopsy was done relatively quickly although the soft-spoken doctor spent some time examining me, going through my ultrasound scans and giving me the options of whether I would go ahead with the biopsy. He also addressed my concerns about a possible wrong diagnosis.

An acquaintance had a wrong diagnosis done at a restructured hospital, having the test showing that her nodule in her thyroid was cancerous. She heeded the advice of the doctor and had her thyroid removed just to be informed that it was actually not cancerous! The absence of a thyroid means that she needs medication to help produce thyroid hormones and she has to suffer the consequence of taking pills for hypothyroidism for the rest of her life.

The doctor assured me that the doctors in private practice are more careful and would not hasten to remove a thyroid at the first suspicion, and so he allayed my fears of having a wrong diagnosis and removing my thyroid for his convenience.

The local anaesthesia was injected very quickly with a little bit of pain. Taking a blood test is comparatively longer and more painful.

After that, the doctor did three separate extractions from my nodule.

Each time, I could feel the tugging sensation which reminded me of the caesarean surgery I had when my gynaecologist pulled Baby out of me.

The doctor was very kind. He understood the fear his patients experienced. He explained,"I will tell you before I do something." "I will count to three before I insert the needle. I am not inserting the needle yet ... I am inserting the needle after I count '1, 2, 3'."

He would also explain that he was inserting the needle another time to get the sample, or he was doing it the third time in a different direction to get extra sample for more accurate results.

He would ask if the insertion was painful and which one was more painful.

Only the first jab to inject the local anaesthesia was a quick shallow bite. Other than that, the other three jabs were not. However, it leaves me with a bruised feeling at the neck now. The tiny wound is covered with a little round plaster and I should be able to remove it at the end of the day.

Upon paying the bill, the clinic assistant informed me that the biopsy was not a day surgery. It was just an outpatient treatment, so my wish of having the costs covered could go up in smoke. :(

But at least I can get this biopsy out of the way.