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Just gotta push through

Today a teenage patient went through a bad day. She has done some steps forward in her progress. But today, today she was in a rut. Today she didnt feel like she was improving. I told her that she has to push through today. That when she is at her lowest, she has to push even harder through it.

Sometimes you just want to put everything down and wish life will pause itself. No, the stars still shines, all lights flicker out and when you open your eyes, the sun will come out again. And you, you still need to push through it.

And now, I have to echo my own words to her, back to myself. Just gotta push through it. Sleep tight and tomorrow will be another day again.


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Being inspired to learn

Have you ever met people who makes you inspired to learn more? I like teaching and whenever I think of passing knowledge, I think of several people who have made me motivated to learn.

The first is a house officer who took my clinical partner and overall BFF under his wing during our care of elderly stint. He taught us during and after ward rounds. He gave us practical tips on the clinical exam (Just bullshit your way through but with confidence) and as a house officer (as above). The thing is he was not arrogant at all, he was hardworking and so clever. He did get hit by a patient with a stick once – he dealt with that patiently.

The second one is a consultant who probably does not even realise how much impact he had on me. He was not my supervisor and we didnt work that many times. However, he encouraged me to do case presentations and present in the regional meeting. He was just enthusiastic in his specialised interest and all round cool guy. He made me interested in neurology.

The third one was the beloved Dr Hoskyns. I did my clinical exam three times and each time I would go to his bedside teaching. It happens on a weekly basis and even if you’re the only one who turned up, he would still do it – fully prepared, on time and with patients ready to be examined. We would trek between wards (4 wards) and swiftly see a patient, examined, grilled and roasted. With his poker face and old school grilling, it sure did prepare me for the exams. It also tested my nerves – all that time when I answer stupidly (so obviously stupid that I want to facepalm myself) and he would just give me the correct answer afterwards, thankfully without a ‘Dont be so stupid’ look. Not just that though, even observing him talking to parents and doing the ward round, I learnt so much. I miss him, I’m sure I’m not the only one and I hope his family realises how much impact he had on the trainees.

Nowadays work feels more like service provision, and less training and learning from seniors. I quite miss the group ward round and being asked qs along the way.

I think all those who I mentioned above probably never realised how much it meant to me, their encouragement, time and teaching. Which brings me to the point that we never know how our words and actions affect people we pass by. It might just have a big impact in shaping them.

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Does learning the minority language matter?

The other day, I was talking to my colleagues about teaching our languages to our kids. One is British born Asian, who speaks Hindi with her parents and her husband speaks Punjabi growing up. One learnt Cantonese as a child. His wife is English and aside from his mum, he doesnt really speak Cantonese much. Then there is me – I speak Malay with my parents and older generation in my family. I speak a combo of Malay and English (Manglish?) with my siblings, younger gen of family and friends. As for daily life, my kids are only exposed to Malay with me. Like my colleagues – we are essentially the sole speaker of our language to our kids.

Fair to say, they were where I was last year. I always thought the language would just permeate into their lives like osmosis. I’ll just keep talking in malay (though reality is that it was 80% english and 20% malay) and they will just get it.

Except they didnt!

There was also the thought of he’ll get it one day, when we go to Brunei. Except I can see that as they get older, the need for the language dissipates and their comfort in English grows.

Would it matter anyway for him to speak Cantonese? We’re going to stay in the UK and its only his grandma who speaks Cantonese. My colleague muses.

I guess, for someone who is multiracial, only they can answer if being multilingual benefits them. Will it fill a gap in their cultural identity? Or will it not matter because you wouldnt know what you’re missing if you havent had it? Certainly knowing an extra language is always useful (also fun when you can use it as code speak). But does it matter? Will we only know decades down the line whether it is a regret not to teach the language? (I dont think anyone who is bi- or multi-lingual ever said they regretted learning another language)

In my kids case, I want them to speak the language so they can communicate with their grandparents (my parents) better.

We’re far from the goals I’ve created for them (to speak and write like a native of their peers and have a flowing conversation with grandparents) but I can’t give up.

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Books inventory: February & March

February and March have been really slow in terms of reading. I realise now that I’ve partially abandoned the things that makes me happy. I’ve stopped running, doing yoga and only managed to read two books (and a half).

So February and March read includes:

1. It’s All in Your Head

I would thoroughly recommend this book to medics out there. It made me rethink how I perceive those with medically unexplained symptoms. In paeds, I would see girls (it almost always are girls) coming in with suddenly unable to walk or ‘pseudoseizures’. There are also plenty of symptoms that we couldnt find a cause to – chronic abdominal pain or headache or lethargy. We do various tests and even when we’ve done it all and it came back negative, parents want more. There must be something wrong. For medicolegal reasons and also often to appease parents, we carry on investigating. Some of the more experienced, old school consultants will be more firm, enough is enough. There is no organic cause to the symptoms. I get it, the symptoms are distressing, your child is not your child anymore. How do we communicate better though? Without judgement, inwardly eye rolling and to give the same compassion and respect to all patients. Sure, they might seem dramatic but they’re experiencing the pain right? Pain is pain, whether we think it is real or not. One thing I’ve learnt from this book is once we have made peace that we’ve done all the investigations and found no cause to it, we need to communicate well to patients and parents quickly on how to go forwards. It also means truly acknowledging that to them, these symptoms are real. They do feel the pain. They do feel tired. Just because there’s no real medical cause to it, it doesnt mean they dont feel it.

The author has summarised that the more delayed we confirm to patients of it being functional or psychological, the more we medicalize, the more difficult it would be to treat it. The author recommends involving psychiatrist or psychologist early on. Due to the long waiting list of CAMHS and clinical psychologists, perhaps this is  not a bad idea after all.

If illness seems to be helping solve the problem of loneliness, then treat the loneliness and the illness will disappear. Or find out where the gain lies and address that. Or if the problem lies in maladaptive responses to the messages the body sends, that can be relearned.

Picture of book

When we encounter somebody who is severely disabled with purely medically unexplained symptoms we should treat that person with the same respect that we would give to anybody else with any other diagnosis.

2. The Nakano Thrift Shop

Bought this before we boarded flight to Japan. Terminal 2 Heathrow is so nice btw.

Anyway, it starts out slow and the flow of the book is halting. I think it’s supposed to be in Japanese and then translated to English, maybe thats why it has the halting flow of speech. Language is also bit formal, but maybe its just how Japanese people speak? I wouldnt know I guess unless I really learn Japanese.

The story line turned out to be interesting and you grow to adore each main characters. The ending though made me feel like “Huh?? That’s it ??!!” You know … when there is a happy ending but not quite an ending, you kinda just have to imagine what happened next. Boring! This time, I want a hollywood ending please.

3. We are all completely beside ourselves

This is a bit of weird one.  Just couldnt relate to it but totally didnt expect the story to pan out like how it did. Haven’t finished it … Incouldnt quite bring myself to finish it. Kinda forcing myself to keep reading.

Shall I just carry on reading even if it doesnt bring me happiness? Perhaps I will learn something new or at least know how the story ends? Or do I say C’est la vie, life is too short to read books I dont like?

I hate not finishing a book though.

Books to read:

  • The Night Circus
  • Good Immigrant

Over and out,

Hopefully more books in April!

Total books read in 2018 so far = 9

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Japan: Food for the tummy and prayers for the soul

Places to eat

I’m not good at food reviews but bear with me. As per last Tokyo post, this is not in chronological order or ‘most favourite’ order.

1. Shinjuku Gyon Ramen ouka

The good bits: Halal, punchy with flavour, yummy food. M got the wagyu ramen which cost a bomb but was well yummy.

The downside: Pricey and long waiting time. We waited about half hour which to Zayan’s hangry mood is super long time. He did finish everything on his place – the humongous chicken pop stick, ramen noodles, rice, miso soup, boiled egg and even the broccoli and corn. So it must have been worth it.

Also word of warning: there are levels of spiciness. We chose 4 and was SO spicy (she said malaysians usually chose 3, I dont know why we chose above it especially me yang inda tahan panas!). It was burning sampai inda tahan makan – yet we went for more – that I asked to change to non spicy broth. Even M who can taha spicy food found it too much. So next time just choose level less than 3.

2. Hanasakaji-san

The good bits: Fairly quick service. Nice ambience. Ok if you want to try halal shabu shabu style, but guessing it’s standard ‘nyaman’.

The downside: The broth was not as flavoursome as I would like – read: tawar sikit. We finished all the food though HAAA.

3. Asakusa sushi-ken

The good bits: Halal, so can eat the meat yesss. Good sushi. Like mouth watering good sushi. And the meat meal I had – so tender I want to cry (lots of things in Japan that made me want to cry though). Clean and fairly quick service. Even have prayer room above it.

The downside: No downside.

4. Food court at a mall near Ueno Park

The goodside: Standard pasta (tomato and broccoli) and marinara pizza. Cheap.

Downside: Just standard food.

Note: Carry around with you bottled water or buy from 7-11 or family mart. Way cheaper than buying from these food courts.

5. Restaurant at Hakone Onsen

Sat on the floor, so mesti buka kasut. I quite approve this Japanese obsession of taking off shoes. #cleanfloors

Different menu to the usual japanese food. More traditional. Tried yam puree (ech), fish cake and diced tuna (sashimi, you can never go wrong with sashimi).

Kids ate the soba noodles and caned it. Mumtathil had the grilled unagi rice set.

Good bits: Cheaper than most of our meals so far. Noodles and rice were good.

Downside: The fish cake tasted like crabsticks with similar texture – this is not cake! Not a fan of some of the side dishes but at least I can say I’ve gone out of my comfort zone.

6. Tempura Tenfusa, Tsukiji Fish Market

So crispy! Best breakfast/brunch ever.

Zayan being patient and thinking why he has to wait everytime before he can start eating.

Five star reviews for the food!!

Everyone (on tripadvisor and travel blogs) was saying to eat the fresh sushi there but some recommended avoiding the long queue and trying less-sought after establishments. Came across Tempura Tenfusa on tripadvisor and can now join the throngs of good reviews there. There are only 12 seats so we had to wait around 15-20 minutes. There’s only three things in the menu (all seafood) but the two that we tried were so good. Crispy light batter, not greasy at all. Kampung hawker style seating (but inside). Was so good though, we were the only foreigners there so it must be good. And there was never an empty seat and constant people queuing outside.

Downside: Some waiting time but not that long.

7. Fresh sushi and sashimi in Tsukiji Fish Market

Take away saja, cheap sushi. So fresh and tender I want to cry.

8. Gyumon bbq beef

This was fun and the dipping sauce was yummy. Zayan wanted to eat all the meat/chicken. Slightly pricy but maybe because it’s halal meat? Was well worth it though.

9. Couldnt catch the name of this Kyoto resurant because it was all in Japanese.

Not halal so went for the seafood option. For me – Sashimi with rice and along with it the biggest, juciest salmonroe.

Ok I’m bored now. Here’s the list of halal places we also came across:

– Halal Restaurant in Arashiyama – cant remember name but they have kids set too. And there was a lot in kids set! Potato wedges, rice, noodles, fried chix.

– Osaka Ramen – slightly salty ramen but the kids ate chicken rice which was nice.

– Kenny Asia in Osaka – after a week or so of Japanese food, it was heaven sent to see a malaysian restaurant. Its like OMG I MISS YOU SAMBAL AND KARI! I coughed with the spiciness of ikan asam kari but maybe it was because I have gotten used to the more soy and miso based dishes in Japan.

Places to pray

Surpisingly not that difficult to find in Japan. Or maybe Allah made it easy for those who tries to find a way to pray. Anyway there is a place to pray in all the major tourist places, here are the areas in case you are near them (when you have kids, you dont want to walk more/backtrack).

1. Noa Dougenzuka, Shibuya – This looks like an apartment complex and there is a room rented out at 11th floor that has been modified to be a prayer room.

2. Prayer room above the Asakusa sushi ken. Asked the waiter if there is prayer area but he said no (not sure if he really understood). When we went to the toilets upstairs, I saw a guy who looked like he just ambil wudhu and looked Malaysian. Spoke in malay and he showed me the prayer room close to the toilets.

3. Prayer room in Takashimaya Times square complex, Shinjuku

This looked like a posh shopping complex and the room is SO nice. Like I just wanna sit there all day. Plus you can stalk for hours at the food hall at basement.

4. Tokyo Station prayer room

5. Osaka Station prayer room

6. Prayer room in OIOI shopping complex, Kyoto 

Just some more food pics…

Their strawberries are expensive but oh so sweet!

Krispy Kreme

From L-R: Cookies and cream, One with cream cheese filling and the kawaii one with melon filling

Do buy a cute lunch box and make your own meal. Here is the ready made noodle (plain) with some soy dipping sauce. Go to the abundant small supermarket to get such things – its all in Japenese though. So we just had to choose the most plain looking (nada inti inti) one.

Also go to the bigger shopping complex – a lot of the big train/metro stations have a shopping complex attached to it. We came across Daimaru and Toby – Daimaru’s basement have the most mouth watering desserts and bakery. Usually cheaper than the more upmarket cafes.

Breakfast for us consists of food from bakery or buying bakery from the FoodMart (small supermarket). They’re not into brunches/eggs and toast very much here!

Ok thats it from me. Enjoy the pics x

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Pregnant people needs to hustle?

If a pregnant woman asks for leave due to sickness, is she weak?

I find a certain article writing on having pregnancy symptoms and how she used to think these women are weak. I thought she might have changed her thoughts and was motivating. I was approving the article until….  

Don’t be the reason why people don’t like to employ women and don’t be the reason why people say pregnant women are weak. There are so many women in our past who did it all – hustled their way through, pregnant and all. They ain’t got no time for morning sickness. Let’s follow in their footsteps and uphold the good name of strong-willed women. – Vivy Yusof

I am all for women trying to do their best during pregnancy. But yknow what, with each pregnancy, only you know your limitations and sometimes you may not even know it!! Some women may ‘hustle’ their way only to realise it is not good for their pregnant bodies. I did full oncalls which was non stop, on the feet job and started having spotting in my first trimester. That freaked me out and the midwives I was working with even told me that I had to take it easy (which is difficult anyway but I was more militant in taking breaks and knowing that I HAVE to be slower and ask for help). 

Indeed I have ‘hustled’ my way through both my pregnancies, which Alhamdulillah was easy. I didnt have much symptoms at all except for back pain towards the end of the pregnancy. I did my night shifts until I was 32 weeks with Zayan, which I realise later on was so so exhausting… not to mention I did a one hour commute to hospital during that time (no driver ah, I dont have those luxuries). However I wouldnt expect others to be like me. I know of colleagues who are so nauseous and kept vomiting even after first trimester. Carrying a bottle of water and dried fruits and nuts during an oncall because that’s all she could take. 

Having understanding colleagues and bosses make a difference. I have had times when my colleagues took the bleep from me because they were kind enough to realise my 25 week pregnant self cant be running up and down the stairs all the time (when crash called, you run up 2-3 flights of stairs). I have also had to carry the bleep when I was 34 weeks because there was no one else to take it and told to ‘just run slowly, its not that far anyway’ (to be fair, it wasnt that far and I never had to run). 

Each of us are different – we can only try to do our best. 

What I think is needed is for society to realise that if they want to retain women workers (which have their own qualities, compared to men), they need to accept that pregnancy and motherhood can come with it. I will not continue to be a happy, striving doctor mom if I didnt have the benefits UK work force has to offer (comparatively much better compared to Asian countries). I had 6 months full paid maternity leave, did less than full time for a year after Zayan was born (worked 60% of usual hours) and can cut down on oncalls and night shifts when I was pregnant. 

Now there are debates about women and men being equal. I say that we are not equal – men can never be pregnant and will never know how pregnancy and breastfeeding is. Heck, a woman with easy pregnancy wouldnt even know how it feels if you have a hard one. What we can do is to ensure that there is equity. It’s neither easy nor straightforward but we have to start thinking of these policies that provides fairness to all workers, pregnancy, disability and all. 
Love, me

PS I am a secret fan of Vivy and love following her. I just find her paragraph at the end disappointing. Perhaps she meant well and if worded differently, it would give the meaning she wanted it to be (motivating I’m guessing). I wish her pregnancy all the best. 

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Tokyo: Places to go

I have always wanted to blog on my travels and then keep forgetting to do it. I havent even finished writing on Jordan (that was 2 years ago!). And have I even written about Marrakech (December 2017)?

Anyway, so I think I should write differently because writing in chronological order was taking way too long – even though that made the most sense to me. I’ll just write my recommendations and top tips… and ‘meh’ experiences.

Places to go in Tokyo

First up: How can anyone fit in Tokyo with TWO kids in 4 days? Actually, it was more like three days for us as we went on a day trip out to Hakone.

So choose what your preferences are and be aware that there will be lots and lots of walking. Even walking inside a station itself takes 10-15 minutes – basar nyamu stations nya ani. 

Limit to 2-3 areas per day. In fact for maximal enjoyment, make it to 2 places and then somewhere else for dinner/night time. 

1. Samurai museum at Shinjuku

This was a good museum actually, interesting history of the Samurais. It’s not that big and takes about an hour ish. We took the guided tour and the collections made more sense with the guide’s explanation. The kids’ attention span did deteriorate by the end of it and we ended up taking photos with the nearby maekshift studio.

Fun fact: Boys who came from the samurai family were trained from the age of 3-4 years old. Hmm, need to get started on the kids. Also, girls were trained to be samurais too. Especially if they didnt have any boys in the samurai family, so the girls have to be the ‘assistant’ to the fighter… but also means they are involved in the fighting. 

Takashimaya Square, Shinjuku

We went here on our last day. There are a lot of shopping malls here, a lot of it is American/Western top end brands. We went here to go to the prayer room actually before going to nearby park. We ended up spending almost 2 hours at Tokyu Hands! It has six floors and is a bit like a department store but mostly specialises on cute/pretty/quirky items. I can spend a long long time there but had to keep an eye on the clock. Wished I bought some more things there now. 

Bought this cute lunchbox. 

2. Went shopping at Shibuya

So if you’re really into shopping, you can spend a few hours here. We went to Shibuya 109 which had some ridiculous number of floors (8 floors I think) of women’s clothing. However we had a lump to carry around (sleeping Ayman) and boys hate going shopping. So I quickly zoomed around but really I can spend ages there. We went to Uniqlo and I got my trousers fix (I have 5 trousers that I usually wear and 4 of them are from Uniqlo). By then we all got tired and cranky and we just couldnt wait for the evening’s sight of Shibuya crossing. 

3. Harajuku

I expected teenagers in wild outfits and though I did see some ‘less conservative’ outfits, I was didappointed that the Harajuku crowd didnt appear in full force when we went. We actually went to Harajuku twice. The first was to check out the place – as soon as you come out of the station and cross the street, there is a street that is so full of people. We exited after a few minutes and the second time round (to kill time), we browsed around with less of a crowd in the evening. There were some interesting fashion  shops but not my style really. Although tempted to buy the sweatshirt with the bunny hoodie and a lil bob tail to go with it, I held back and decided I couldnt get away with it. 

Hedeghog cafe, Harajuku

The first time, we went to the Hedgehog cafe. There was a bit of a queue (as are a lot of places in Japan it seems!) but didnt have to wait more than 10-15 minutes. It did cost a lot to my stingy disbelief but we were there already, so off we went for some hedgehog experience. Now let me tell you, I hate touching any four legged animals. Actually I hate touching any animals but even more so four legged ones. Gali rasanya and also I have a bit of phobia (I say a bit but its a lot actually). That was the reason why we didnt go to cat cafe. I’ll probably cry in a corner and hyperventilate at the same time. 

So hedgehog seems to be a safer bet… they’re not gonna run around me at least. However, Zayan was also scared of touching so I had to be brave and fight all my senses to throw the hedgehog away. After awhile, I realise it wasnt so bad. #achievementunlocked

PS There is cat cafe in Harajuku and Owl cafe as well in Asakusa. If you know, you’re into those things.

PPS You get a free drink from vending machine but its not really a cafe! The place do have a nice ambience to it.

Yoyogi Park, Shibuya-ku

Actually the maps said this was in Shibuya-ku but we went out of station to find ourselves at Harajuku close to Hedgehog cafe. Hmm. Anyway. HUGE HUGE park. We didnt get to see any greenery area, came across another shrine/temple (sorry ah cant tell which is which at this point) and then the park was closing. So erm, no place for our picnic! There probably is but we couldnt find it despite half an hour of walking. It is pretty cool to have this forest-like park in the middle of city and be completely surrounded by nature, only minutes after escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. However, there are nicer parks to go to IMHO – says the sakura obsessed.
4. Asakusa

I enjoyed this place the most. It was more authentic and even though still jam-packed with tourists, it had a nice feel to it. We went to the Meiji Shrine, checked out the little alleyway shops and found this shop selling really pretty Japanese cloths. Pictures later perhaps on IG because I cant be bothered to find them now. Kids got restless at the shrine and was finally happy when we got them icecream.

5. Ueno Park

Another HUGE park. Lovely area for cherry blossom sightings. Lots of people picnicking – seriously jam packed with rows of people having a picnic under the Sakura tree. 

We went to Ueno Zoo, which the kids love. When you have kids, you will end up going to multipe zoos and aquariums. So this zoo is not the most amazing zoo in the world but it did it make up to the kids, for all those walking and boring shrine-picture taking they have to endure. Plenty of space to run around in and  also the animals didnt look sad (I feel sad for the animals who looks trapped or sad or live in small areas). The tiger did look like it needs some fattening up though. 

Ended the area with street food stalking (grilled squid for M – which he didnt share!, banana dipped in chocolate for Zayan and crepes for me and Ayman). 

And oh some more walking pathways lined with cherry blossom trees. #sopretty

6. Tsukiji Fish Market

Tempura Tenfusa

We didnt go early to see the tuna auction. Or THAT early to get breakfast. We arrived at 10 am and bee-lined to this tempura place. Read through the tripadvisor forums who advised to ditch the sushi places and instead go for the less busy places. Actually this popular sushi place (Sushi Dai – I did my research) didnt have a queue when we arrived but within 10 minutes, the queue did pile up. Anyway, we went to Tempura Tenfusa, which only have 12 seats! So we had to wait probably for 15-20 minutes. It only has 3 items in the menu and one (tuna sashimi) was sold out by 10 am. They only have seafood in it. Nevertheless the tempura was SO good. Crispy batter, not greasy at all, that was a real yums breakfast/brunch. 

The actual fish market

Because we got there a bit late, there was less of a crowd but still plenty to see. Zayan eyed the fresh sushi and sashimi and pestered to eat it. And now that he can read, he saw the sign saying ‘You can buy here and eat at the third floor’ and kept going on about it! Eseh aku ah, actually nya mau jua. The sashimi was SO fresh. It was so fresh and tender I just want to cry (eh labih jua). 

There were also food stalls at the outer fish market but we got so full it was time to ciao.

7. Odaiba

Now this is probably one of the nicer, posher places to go to. Quite a few shopping areas and science museum, so actually worth going if you’re into those things. 

We went only for this thing only…

The kids went CRAZY. I would go crazy too if I was six and into Gundam and the likes. 

It also had a nice picnic area, so it was pretty nice to just chillax and not have crowds and crowds of people invading your space (can you tell I like my space?). 

Look my pink uniqlo seluar!

8. Chiyoda 

My sakura obsession continues as we went sakura sighting at night. It was so so so pretty. The kids though… kept hitting each other, went hyper (hmm it was either the fanta or the sweet bread we fed them). Sikit lagi hilang mood, baik jua teluan lawa nada mood kan marah banar. 

Can you spot the moon in the last picture below? (Hey its a full moon, maybe thats why they went all cray).

Ok that’s all from me. Next post: foor for the tummy, prayers for the soul.


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