Posts tagged ‘Conversations’

Pen to paper

I think I stopped writing because of my exams, really. Before The Draught happened, I was mugging so hard over my damn thesis that I think I simply got tired of writing words. Said thesis was an involuntary work comprising a research project spanning about two years, and, horror of horrors, it HAD to contain a minimum of 10,000 words. Who wants to read 10-freaking-000 words on a half-baked project?! A well-baked project, so to speak, exhausts its consumer by the time it hits about 5,000 words. My half-baked project, therefore, tasted at least twice as bad as it had to. I still feel sorry for whichever examiner ended up with my stuff. Personally, I would have used it as a doorstop.

That wasn’t all there was to the exams. After the thesis came an interview comprising a journal critique and two vignettes. The preparation for these things took months. And when you’ve reached the point for which you’ve been slogging for months, sometimes you get a little silly. I had a superb attack of the sillies during my second vignette, which went something like this:

Examiner: You are the ward consultant and one of your patients has just been found hanging in the toilet. What do you do?

Me: Hanging as in hung himself? Not, like, hanging clothes?

E: Hanging. As in hung himself.

Me: Right. Is he, uh, dead?

E: Yes. He is dead.

Me: OK. I would inform my consultant…

E: You ARE the consultant.

Me: Oh, right. I forgot. Well, in that case, I would… [insert unimportant exam babble here for about three minutes]

E: OK. What, though, might you do in the immediate setting? 

Me: (blinks) The immediate setting?

E: The immediate setting.

Me: (perplexed) Uh, make sure he was really dead? (firmly banishing visions of holy water and a wooden stake)

E: He is really dead. What next?

Me: (hopefully) Get rid of the corpse?

The other three examiners were sniggering openly at this point and I thought I was dead (hur hur) duck. It was only later, when I was swapping war stories with my friends, did I find out that half had also attempted to describe body disposal and one or two others had wanted to perform CPR on a dead man.

Ah well. We all passed, by the way. Good citizens, your psychiatric needs will henceforth be ministered to by a bunch of clowns.

But the real point of this post is to record the fact that I signed my contract with the Buffalo Farm today. My deal with the Fruit Farm will come to its natural end by the beginning of next month. I will still return to the Fruit Farm twice a week for a while, but the remainder of my time will be spent in the more breathable environment of the Buffalo Farm. That is a remarkably refreshing thought. I take it as a divine blessing that I was able to scrounge up the requisite certificates to present at the signing (if you don’t know me so well, let me tell you now that while I have a passably organized mind, I am extraordinarily untidy about my belongings, and possess unsurpassed ability to lose trifles like my birth certificate; I probably have no proof of my own existence), and I think it was meant to be.


October 1, 2010 at 18:22 4 comments

Why the Fruit Farm is bad for my mental health

It has been a day of weird conversations. The first one took place at about 9 a.m. with, not a patient, but the spouse of a patient who made me wonder just whose name truly deserved a place on my ward list. The gist of it went something like this:

Spouse: (launches into diatribe of patient’s evil deeds over the past three decades)

Twenty minutes later…

Me: (interrupts torrent) Thank you, but I can see where the previous two doctors wrote five pages of notes each about the same history which you are now sharing. For the third time.

Spouse: Yes, you must help me. Because… (diatribe resumes)

Me: (interrupts torrent) What we have done is…

Spouse: (interrupts me) The admitting doctor said you will help me. Listen… (diatribe resumes)

Me: (interrupts torrent) So far, we have…

Spouse: (ignores me) (continues diatribe)

Me: Excuse me. I am trying to tell you how we have tried to help.

Spouse: You must help me! You must help me! They said you would help me! You must help me!

Me: I am trying to. Fine. You tell me. How do you want me to help you?

Spouse: I don’t know.

Me: (blinks) You don’t know?

Spouse: You’re not helping me. They said you would help me. Why are you not helping me? You’ll never help me. Why won’t you help me?

Me: (decides that the patient’s diagnosis is Crazy Spouse)

This went on for half an hour more.

The next two conversations, both via telephone, were much shorter. One took place between me and an on-call medical officer.

Me: Do you want me to get you dinner, since you are busy with your on-call duties?

MO: Oh, no, thank you, Dr. Katie, I can get my own.

Me: No need to be so formal, OK? Calling me Katie will do.

MO: Haha, OK, sure, thank you, dear, bye. (hangs up)

Me: (blinks) (pokes ear)

Finally, conversation between me and an unknown member of the hospital staff.

Phone rings.

Me: Hello?

Mystery Staff: Yes?

Me: (thinks: why is SHE saying “yes”?) Yes?

MS: Yes? Yes?

Me: (thinks: I can do this better than you) Yes yes yes?

MS: Who’s this?

Me: You called me. Who are you?

MS: I didn’t call you.

Me: My phone rang! I didn’t call you! YOU called ME!

MS: Oops, sorry. (hangs up)

Ten seconds later. Phone rings.

Me: Hello?

Same MS: Yes?

Me: (screams) (hangs up)

April 30, 2010 at 22:59 7 comments

Common sense

Excerpt from a teaching round with a medical student today:

Me: What is the difference between a hallucination and a delusion?

Student: Er…

Me: OK. Define a hallucination.

Student: A… sensory perception not based in reality…?

Me: O… K… So how many senses can one have hallucinations in?

Student: Er…

Me: (helpfully) There’s auditory, visual… (nods at student to go on)

Student: Er…

Me: (sighs) How many senses do human beings have?

Student: (thinks) Six.

Ward team sniggers.

Me: Oh yeah? Name them.

Student: Hearing, sight, touch, taste… smell… and, er…

Me: (cannot help self) Sixth sense?

Doesn’t matter how many medical schools we have, does it?

February 8, 2010 at 20:27 4 comments

Read this before applying for your Citibank card

Last Friday, I submitted an online application to Citibank because I wanted a credit card from them. Easy-peasy, right? ‘Cos of our being in the hi-tech cyberspace age and all. But nooooooo. This is what happened after.

Phone rings Friday evening.

Citibank officer: Dr. Katie, I understand you have made an online application for a credit card.

Me: Yep. And?

CO: I will be emailing you some documents for you to fill up, ma’am.

Me: Eh why? I already submitted my CPF documents online.

CO: Yes, but we need to see your signature on some forms.

Me: OK, fair enough. I will fill them in after I next check my email.

Methinks: end of story. Wrong. Phone rings Saturday afternoon.

Same CO: Hi Dr. Katie. Have you filled up those forms yet?

Me: Er, no. I got back really late last night. And I’m out now.

CO: Okaaaaay. So you will do it later today?

Me: I don’t think so. I’m spending the night on Sentosa.

CO: So can you get it done by Monday morning?

Me: (starting to get irritated) I do have to work on Monday morning, you know.

CO: So by Monday afternoon?

Me: I will try.

CO: By what time on Monday afternoon?

Me: (minor explosion) What is the rush?! I’ll do it when I have time!

CO: (chuckles condescendingly) You see, we’ll need seven to fourteen days to process your application, ma’am.

Me: Uh-huh. I don’t need it immediately. So I’ll get you the forms when I have time to do so, OK? (hangs up firmly)

So I print out those damn forms, zap my identity card and fax the whole thing over at Monday lunchtime. Like, that should be it, right? Guess what. Wrong again. Phone rings Monday afternoon.

CO: Hello, Dr. Katie!

Me: (tries to refrain from taking the good Lord’s name in vain, and ends up with very tightly clenched teeth) Yessssss?

CO: I got the documents you faxed.

Me: Yesssssssssssss?

CO: But I cannot see your IC details. You should have photocopied it at 200% size, and made it 40 – 80% lighter, you know.

Me: (thinks: how the F would I have known that?) So you need another copy.

CO: That’s right. Could you do it right away, ma’am?

Me: No (if ‘no’ contained sibilants, it would have sounded very different)! I am not in the office now! I can’t do it before tomorrow.

CO: By what time tomorrow?

Me: (hangs up)

Nonetheless, I do get the damn IC enlarged and faxed over by Tuesday morning. Phone rings Tuesday afternoon. No one is surprised anymore.

Me: (rudely cuts off CO’s greeting) I ALREADY FAXED IT TO YOU!!! 

CO: Yes, that’s right.

Me: And???

CO: I would like to introduce to you our link-up with Mastercard. Did you know that Citibank-Mastercard is internationally recognized? You will enjoy many benefits when you travel. And there’s no charge for three years!

Me: I already have Mastercard.

CO: But Citibank-Mastercard is internationally recognized to bring you many benefits! And there’s no charge for three years!

Me: (suppresses a loud scream)

That wasn’t the last time she called me that day. She was really on a roll. 

CO: Dr. Katie, the address on your IC is different from the billing address you wrote on the form (this is true; I never bothered to get it changed when I moved out).

Me: Yes, it is different.

CO: So the billing address you want is <reads out my current address>?

Me: Yes, that’s right.

CO: And can I verify that you want us to send all correspondance to this address?

Me: (can’t help it) Yessssssssss.

CO: Then I will need you to send me billing proof.

Me: Huh?

CO: (slowly and deliberately) Billiiiing prooooooof, ma’am.

Me: What is billing proof?

CO: Proof that your bills get sent there.

Me: (thinks: F this cow) What sort of proof?

CO: Like, your handphone bill, or another credit card bill. You know, to show that your bills get sent to the address that you gave.

Me: You want me to send you my other bills?!

CO: (approvingly) That’s right, ma’am.

Me: I never heard of such a thing before! And I opted for e-statements anyway! That’s supposed to be paperless, isn’t it?!

CO: (cheerfully) But we will still need billing proof!

Grrrrr… if she calls me one more time I’m cancelling the damn application.

November 19, 2009 at 12:53 4 comments

The Boiler Room? No thanks!

I went to St. James Power Station for the first time on Saturday (yeah, yeah, where have I been?) and left with a very bad taste in my mouth. Corona wanted to go to The Boiler Room because of their live band, so there we went.

The best thing about it was the 50% off drinks till nine. No quibbles about that. I liked having my Absolut Vanilla and Don Julio, both on the rocks (which is how I prefer my poison, in case anyone’s buying), at single-digit prices.

It wasn’t the obvious inexperience of the bartenders, who “had to check with the manager” that the advertised happy-hour rates did indeed apply at eight-forty-five pm. The experience-gaining process usually involves much floundering in embarrassment.

No, it was the blatant meanness of the night’s live act that did it for me. The mean bit was preceded by five bum-shaking guys and gals taking turns to sing ballads from the past two decades. They did it moderately well.

And then one of the bum-shaking guys stepped up to become the emcee. He received a request from a hen party to invite the bride-to-be onstage for what I assumed to be a spot of good-natured ribbing. My assumption was wrong. The ribbing was not at all good-natured.

Let me give you an example.

Bride-to-be – let’s dub her Penny – goes onstage. She left home in T-shirt, jeans and sandals, but has acquired a veil and an electric-blue boa, thanks, presumably, to the hen party. Poor girl.

Emcee: Oh wow, look at you!

Emcee’s partner: (trying to be helpful) Isn’t she beautiful?

Emcee: (snorts loudly) Come awwwwnn! Pretty – OK. But beautiful? BULLSHIT!!!

Drummer executes drum roll to cue laughter.

Excuse me?

I tried not to listen as it plodded on painfully. But the next bit got my attention.

Emcee: Penny, tell us – ARE YOU A VIRGIN?

Penny: Uh. Yes.

Emcee: I don’t believe you! I’m gonna test! (Sucks his finger slowly, removes it from his mouth, and sticks it up in the air) If this finger doesn’t go in, you’re telling the truth. If it goes in uninterrupted, you’re lying. And if this can go in (makes a fist)… THEN YOU’RE A SLUT!!!

Drummer executes drum roll to cue laughter.

Right there and then I decided that I had missed absolutely nothing in not coming here before, and that I was never coming back to this sick and sorry place. 

The emcee never seemed to think for a moment that he was anything other than witty and magnetic. He never apologized to Penny for the horrible trash he spewed, and never checked to see if she was happy with how she was being treated. In fact, these were his parting words as she finally left the stage.

Emcee: Oh, and I luuurve your sandals. But next time, girl, make sure that you paint your toenails first, OK?

I fail to understand what my two friends see in this dump. It only made me angry, and possibly slightly deaf. I should have just gone and spent my evening reading my new Terry Pratchett. There ain’t gonna be a next time.

November 16, 2009 at 11:53 5 comments

‘Ere, fishy fishy fishy

Remember Sylar, the suicidal office cichlid?


Well, the name was a pretty recent event; I thought it was appropriate, given his inability to die… oh, well, and Orange says Sylar isn’t actually technically a cichlid but a tilapia… well, what the hey.

I just thought it would be fun to share the fact that he’s learnt this new trick of banging against the rocks in his tank, making a loud rattling sound, whenever he wants food. And since my table is nearest his tank, I get up and chuck in some arowana sticks whenever that happens.

Mr. Manx: So you’ve got him well-trained, eh?

Me: Uh… no… I kinda think it’s the other way around.

Outsmarted by an undead fish. You don’t get much more Fruit Farmian than that.

November 13, 2009 at 13:42 Leave a comment

A doctor by any other name

A friend recently asked on her Facebook account what doctors actually are. You know – for example, cardiologists are plumbers, orthopedic surgeons are butchers, radiologists are photographers, and so forth.

What I actually am seems to be quite clear from what various patients have said to me.

Example #1: “You are my doctor – how come you don’t open clinics on Saturdays and Sundays, so that it will be more convenient for me?”

By saying “doctor”, this patient really means “servant”.

Example #2: “As my doctor, you must write a favourable report saying that I have very serious depression, that’s why I stole things/took drugs/punched people, but it was not my fault.”

Here, “doctor” means “get-out-of-jail-free card”.

Example #3: “Why can’t you give me my Valium/Dormicum/Erimin/cough syrup?! What kind of lousy doctor are you?!”

Drug supplier. And example #3 frequently leads on to…


Punching bag.

Example #5: “If you don’t give me enough sleeping pills I will jump out the window and I will tell the whole world that this idiot doctor is responsible for my death!!!”


And then these lovely folks lodge a complaint, which the Complaints Department will forward to our heads, and then we will have to explain why we were so unprofessional and inept.

Ah well. Life at the Fruit Farm.

October 24, 2009 at 13:56 4 comments

Older Posts

Welcome to my blog!

My blog-name is Katie but I will not respond if you call me that in real life because it's not my real name. Yes, I do practise virtual-world paranoia. No, I do not enjoy stalkers. But I do enjoy writing and having folks reading said writing, so welcome to my world. It's nice to meet you.

Playing in my head over and over again argh

I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song (Jim Croce)

Book(s) of the moment

Hogfather (Terry Pratchett)

Books read in 2010 and 2011

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling) - 'cos the movie's coming out!
Frankenstein: Lost Souls (Dean Koontz) - ah, bugger, it's part of a series! Now I hafta find all the books...
Dismantled (Jennifer McMahon) - oh, good one
Tigerlily's Orchids (Ruth Rendell)
Shutter Island (Dennis LeHane) - reminds me too much of work
Holy Fools (Joanne Harris) - it's official: I prefer her scary books
A Series of Unfortunate Events; The Unauthorized Autobiography; The Beatrice Letters (Lemony Snicket)
The Little Friend (Donna Tartt)
The main books - 11 so far - of the Southern Vampire series; the Aurora Teagarden series except for A Fool & His Honey - that makes it 7; Sweet & Deadly (Charlaine Harris)
The Woman in Black (Susan Hill)
Full Dark, No Stars (Stephen King)
Room: A Novel (Emma Donaghue)
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)
The Bachman Books (Stephen King)
Men At Arms (Terry Pratchett)
Carpe Jugulum (Terry Pratchett)
The Fifth Elephant (Terry Pratchett)
Beauty (Robin McKinley)
The Sandman, Vol 1 (Neil Gaiman)
The Burden (Agatha Christie) - her crime novels are waaay better
Snuff (Terry Pratchett)

Visit my photoblog!

I started my first photoblog on 3 May, 2009. Each post features one picture, with a little story of how it came about. Do take a look by clicking on: Manx Pictures
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Don’t say I didn’t say this…

Disclaimers: 1) I cannot help but bitch about work sometimes, but everything here comes under the realm of personal remarks, and nothing here is said in my professional capacity. Nor does anything here reflect the opinion of the institutions that employ me. This is just me shooting off. 2) Most identities have been anonymized, particularly those of folks I know on a personal basis. Same goes for my workplaces. However, commercial and public places and figures remain named. Otherwise some things just wouldn't make sense. 3) Links and sources have been provided where appropriate and possible. They are not meant to challenge anyone's ownership. If this causes any discomfort or offence, please let me know.


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