Saturday, October 29, 2016

Making Decisions

If I’d listened to the medium at the temple and decided against going for that operation I’d either have killed myself to stop the pain, or lose the use of my right arm due to the nerve root compression (if I could somehow stop the pain from killing me). Between the devil and the deep sea I’d take a jump. It’s a risk but at least I knew I could swim and pray for help.
The doctor advised not to go hiking because I asked. If I’d ask him if I could climb ladders he’d have said no. By the 3rd month, after I’d removed the neck brace I was already getting on the step ladder going around the house cleaning ceiling fans and air condition filters. Of course I took extra precautions, (like saying a prayer before I stepped on it).
If I’d asked the doctor for medical leave, he’d probably have given me 3 months off from work. But I didn’t. I went back to work after one month with my neck in a brace. (Everyone who saw me the first time did a double-take and asked me ‘what happened’?) And I had to keep reminding myself not to lift anything heavy.
Life is all about living and taking certain calculated risks. Life is all about making your own decisions based on advice. Advice is only as good as how well it helps you come to a decision, nothing more.

Friday, October 14, 2016

2015 Taiwan Trip

Taipei, Taiwan.
I was up early because it's already bright at 6 in the morning. While waiting for the rest of the family to get up, I sat in front of the large window and looked down at this rooftop view & decided I might as well do something with the time, while my eldest girl made me a cup of coffee. Aaahhh.... this is the life I always dreamed about. Doing something according to the mood.



Taiwan city folks prefer to move around on these scooters.

Everybody was reading books... I got bored (very rare few English books to be found in Taiwan's book stores) so I got out my sketch book. This was my 1st sketch at Eslite's.



We sat inside the cool interior of this coffee joint. While waiting for our drinks to arrive I looked out the window at this young maple tree and the scooter parked beneath it.


We went for some pineapple drinks. I spied a father & son sitting outside together having ice-cream. They obviously pretended not to notice while I was sketching them. After they finished their ice-cream, both ambled over to find out what I was doing... We chatted (the father & I) and then they went on their way...


This motorbike accessories shop also doubles as a rubber stamp and duplicate key supplier.


An abandoned stainless steel joss burner standing beside the entrance to the narrow lane to our "Fun Apartment"... where we stayed for 2 days while in Tainan.

I was fascinated by some of these scooters. I started sketching the 1st one in the row of them. While I was moving on to the next one, the owner came out and rode it away.... I used the 3rd one as my model until the owner came and got on it. He then noticed I was sketching. He apologized & parked it back in place and told me to continue. I said, 'It's ok. I'm done.'


While the girls shopped I sat outside and made a sketch of this ladies' clothing & accessories store.


Tainan, Taiwan:
We were waiting for a bus. I took out my sketch pad and started working on this. Just then the bus came. In my haste, I forgot to take a snapshot of the scene. When I finally got home, I went into Google Map's Street View and finished the job...


2015 sketches from here & there



















2014 Sketches












Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Ride in an Ambulance

Within a matter of months this year I already had to experience two emergency trips to hospital.

On the morning of Sunday 5th June, I took a Capirox-20 capsule hoping to get rid of the pain in my middle back which had been there for about a week.  (That pain had been existing a day or 2 after I cut off a few branches from my mango tree because those branches were beating against the car porch roof during a thunderstorm the previous night.  After that I sharpened the saw and put it away.)  The pain did not go away.  Instead, that afternoon after I had my nap my head was spinning and I wanted to vomit.  It took a while and a lot of retching and a tube of ‘five-pagoda’ medicinal powder downed with some warm water.  After throwing up a few bits of duck meat and water, I felt better.  By evening everything was back to normal and I thought I was alright.

Wednesday 8th June, I was at the Perodua workshop getting my car serviced.  I felt dizzy and thought I must be hungry since it was almost 11.00am and I had an early breakfast of kuayteow and black coffee.  So I went to the tea-corner and made myself a 2in1 kopi-o and pressed the dispenser for hot water.  Only cold water came out.  I drank that because I needed the sugar to pep me up.  I munched on a biscuit.  A few moments later I found myself spinning. 

I moved to a seat next to the entrance to the workshop.  I tried keeping it under control without alarming anyone by breathing deeply and evenly.  I couldn’t keep it down.  The spinning got worse.  I called out to a lady in the office for help.  She said she could arrange for someone to send me and my car home since I was in no condition to drive.  Somehow my condition worsened as I began retching but couldn’t throw up.  I asked her for a plastic bag so that I could throw up into it.  But after a lot of retching nothing came out.  I thought the whole thing was like a scene from The Exorcist.  I retched so hard I felt I was going to die right there. 

The office lady asked for my home number and who I could call.  I hesitated because I didn’t want to alarm my wife.  But as my condition got worse I called my wife and gave the lady my phone so she could speak to her.  A little later my daughter called me.  She had assessed my situation and started taking her own actions to contain the situation.  She arranged for my nephew to send my car home.  She got a friend who is a dental surgeon in the hospital to check on me later and to call her back to report on my condition.

The office lady called for an ambulance.  It was not available, so she called the St John’s Ambulance Brigade.  These guys were pretty professional.  They checked my vital signs and said I needed to go to hospital.  The office lady finally managed to get an ambulance.  Before the ambulance arrived I started to throw up the coffee I had earlier.  This time I succeeded because I was lying back, almost flat, against the back of the office chair and I tilted my head to my right, like how they’d position a drowning victim.  Later while being jostled in the jalopy ambulance I threw up some more coffee.


At the hospital emergency room a whole gang of people swarmed around me and some asked questions about whether I felt pain and where and if I had any heart problem, diabetes, hypertension, and etc.   They poked needles in the back of both my hands.  I don’t know what they were for.  Then a nurse poked another needle in my arm to draw blood samples.  They stuck electronic pads all over my chest and connected me to a heart monitor.  Later another guy connected a pair of lead cables and clamps on my chest and another pair on both ankles.  I thought they were going to apply shock treatment on me, but they didn’t.  Then they x-rayed my chest and belly.

After the flurry of emergency activity the whole gang went off to one corner and chit-chatted among themselves.  I started to retch again and threw up more coffee.  Someone complained, and then called in a couple of cleaning personnel to clean up my mess.  The atmosphere started getting colder.  They pushed me into an emergency waiting room to wait for the diagnosis.  There were rows of beds and every bed was occupied.  Mine was the only vacant space left.  It was really cold and I pulled the blanket to cover me up to my neck. 

Later my wife and younger brother located me and brought me spare clothes and a large bath towel.  I got my brother to put me onto a wheel-chair and pushed me to the toilet.  I had a full bladder by then.  Later in the afternoon I tried several times to get up and go to the bathroom but I couldn’t get on my feet.  Each time I sat up my head started spinning.  My body felt weak and wouldn’t stay upright.  I gave up and waited for my brother to come back in the evening.  By then a nurse had announced that the doctors had found nothing wrong with me and told me to go home.  I called my brother and told him the news.  


I waited for the nurse to remove the needles in my hands.  She removed the ones on my right hand and said she’d remove the others later.  My right leg started to cramp due to the cold.  I moved it about and raised it a few times to keep it from getting worse.  My bladder kept filling up again.  It was a long while later that she came back and removed the other needles.  She gave me a card and told me to collect my medicines from the pharmacy before leaving.  When my wife and brother came in later we made another wheel-chair trip to the toilet.

As we moved out from the ward, I noticed there were beds filled with patients lined up against the walls of the corridor.

Friday, April 15, 2016

She forgot, but it doesn't matter.

I remember the evening when I was scrolling through my Facebook page.  She came by and saw me reading my birthday greetings.

'Oh, I forgot!'  She exclaimed.

She'd already got all the ingredients to cook me something special.  But she forgot today was the day.

I patted her hand and said, 'It's no big deal.  You've done a lot taking care of me the last few months and helped me deal with the pain.  I'm getting stronger now and I'm happy with my life.'

No, I didn't say exactly those words.  I said far less than that.  But those words came from my heart.  And I was referring to the major painful experience and operation I underwent and the post operation healing process that she bore through with me.

For that I am thankful.

About Toxic People.

Toxic people are indeed worse than poisonous chemicals.

I once worked in a factory making battery separators.  We had to work with Concentrated Sulfuric Acid, Phenol and Formalin.  We dealt with them on a day to day basis.  But none of these chemicals scared me.  I was very careful when handling them.  Sometimes I even did away with wearing protective gear.  And as a direct result, get into minor accidents but none caused me any permanent scars; physically or mentally.

There were toxic fumes when the chemicals were processed in a reactor. After that pulp paper was dipped into the chemical and then had to go through a high temperature dryer.  More toxic fumes were released into the air.

In the next process an adhesive was applied to the pulp paper.  This adhesive contained a solvent called Toluene.  Kids could get a 'high' sniffing this chemical which is also commonly used in glue for patching bicycle tires.  Then a piece of glass-mat is stuck on the pulp paper.

When the glue is dried the product is cut into smaller pieces.  During the cutting, microscopic pieces of glass fiber would fly into the air.

There you are; awful pungent smell of poisonous chemicals, corrosive fluids, and hot, dusty, itchy atmosphere.  But none of these distressed me more than the toxic being that walked on two legs.

And in the end it was his toxicity that caused me to walk away from that job.