no one talks

no one talks in my family

there are no goodbyes, no hellos

no empty small talk

definitely no i love yous

just the occasional yell at each other when there’s a miscommunication

or lack thereof

no amount of divine inspiration can save us

i’ve tried and it’s failed

because no one talks in my family

and there sure as hell isn’t anyone who listens

 

occupied

it’s been a long time since i’ve felt the need to unload my thoughts and feelings here on this blog in the hopes to garner sympathy and interaction with the 5 people who still check on me once in awhile.

this is because months of putting myself out there, making an effort to meet new people, try new things, get out of my comfort zone of surfing the net and watching movies with “gang” during my free time has paid off – after 28 years of overcoming self-esteem issues and coming to grips with my deficiencies and acknowledging that only God can give me the capacity to love and accept people without expecting anything in return, after facing the very real possibility that i will go through life without a partner, God decides to bless me with someone who loves me and is there to listen to me say the things i used to put into writing.

it’s a strange experience, mostly because i reached a point where i was content with being single and willing to “rent” that extra space i saved for someone special to anyone else who needs it, in addition to whatever room i’ve already set aside for them. it’s a learning process because i now have another major priority in my life, one that i’ve never had to make a priority before. it was a point of contention between us and i had to work hard to remember that he’s more important than certain things and people i’ve included in my life to fill up that space i mentioned earlier before i met him.

i’m grateful that he understands there are certain things i do not compromise and he respects my beliefs even if he doesn’t share them. i do my best to do the same.

perhaps the greatest lesson i’ve learned from these 2 months is that i’ve been more selfish than i’d like to believe and that it’s stemmed from the acceptance that i’m destined to live my life for myself; that the service i provide is, in the end, a means to validate my choices in career and friendships and nothing more. it’s made me repent again for thinking i’m doing it to glorify God while in reality my intentions have been corrupted to be self-serving instead.

and when there’s someone else in my life, someone who considers me an important part of his world, the motivations that shape my actions need to change and i should question the motivations that have driven me before as well.

it’s ironic that falling in love with someone without a so-called socially acceptable belief system has made me believe and rely on God even more. it goes beyond the hope that he will one day know Christ the way i do or the need for guidance on how to bring the relationship forward .

it’s shaken me out of a rut and challenged me more than i’ve ever been challenged before – to stick to something i believe in, to encourage and love someone i believe in, to understand that i don’t live for myself anymore…and it all requires a strength and courage that comes from a God who has overcome death.

impersonal

technology has made relationships far too easy and impersonal.

you go someplace, you meet someone. you add them on facebook and exchange bloody instant messages over the bad excuse for a chat service called messenger for a couple of days before you finally give up your cellphone number. then, you proceed to send even more text messages with smileys that do very little to convey your actual emotions until someone decides it’s time to meet. and when you do meet, you realise the other person is insufferable without an electronic device to hide behind and the time required to compose a witty sms is crucial in portraying a character that does not really reflect who you are.

you comb the person’s profile, blog, tumblr, instead of utilising actual face time (not of the apple variety) to get to know what he/she is like. you think whatever you’ve put on yours is sufficient to give them an idea of who you are. you assume they’ve looked through your profile. you hope they have.

it’s so convenient isn’t it? to just go by whatever’s virtual and already “out there” and think that it’s enough. it’s such an integral part of relationships in this decade that we have forgotten there is a human aspect to things. what we “like” on social media isn’t representative of what we would spend time on or really love. your views on life and religion and politics and the future are so much more important than the pages you like or the personalities you follow or the photos you take.

technology just makes things so much more superficial. meaningless. an absolute waste of time and effort.

i think i need to stop for awhile, unplug and be a hermit. 2 months without a proper break has taken its toll on me. once the post-elections euphoria and training has died down, once the flattery wears off, once i go back to saying “no” – even at the risk of losing potential new friends and pulling the brakes on the resolution to put myself out there. there’s a momentum that needs to be kept up but seriously, i’m starting to feel it.

on a lighter note, my 3 favourite american boys put together a series called “technology ruins romance” a couple of years ago. here‘s one that’s relevant to this post. enjoy!

never been cheaper

it’s been a couple of disorientating weeks.

after a lifetime of feeling like i’m not good enough, i’m showered with the kind of flattery a fat nerd like me could ever dream of when i was 16. it’s a shame i’m now alot older and possess some insight. if i were 16, i’d have drawn confidence from those words, texts, from the body language. i’d have naively expected the world. instead, i believe maybe half of what’s been said was actually sincere. everything else had motive. everything else was meant to throw me off.

everything else meant nothing.

in a world where inflation is a rule and there’s never enough cash, we can find comfort in the fact that one thing will continually and reliably deflate in value – words. they’ve never been cheaper.

being sociable

it’s rather tempting to say a couple of things about the upcoming elections. everyone has an opinion, even if it’s not originally theirs. being a self-centered blogger myself, it’s only right that i live up to expectations and get my thoughts out.

but i’m not going to, because i have nothing new to contribute. i’ve already decided which candidate party i want to vote for. the forums and ceramahs are purely fyi. the only thing about 5th may i’m not sure of is where i wanna watch the results.

so this is not an omaigawdicannotwaittovote post.

no, instead i’m going to reflect on the last month, or the first installment of “lishun does some socialising”.

it started with an eye-gazing party where i met some people whom i may or may not hang out with again. i know i’ve blogged about it in detail already but i’d just like to add a little more to my account of the experience.

although i expressed my reservations about going for another round, i did go for the third edition last week. it was a different venue with alot more alcohol and better food. there were some returnees and i had gotten a few friends on board so at least i wasn’t all alone.

here’s where it got strange though. i realised that it was far easier for me to talk and be witty with people i don’t know than with those whom i’m already acquainted with. looking into a stranger’s eyes is less intimidating than gazing at someone i’m familiar with.

perhaps it’s a fresh slate thing, i don’t know. it was an interesting revelation.

then there’s all the other stuff in between – music fests and politiko sessons and facilitator training. it was weekend after weekend of meeting people and making small talk and being funny at all the right things and hoping i appear intelligent enough to be a credible “activist” when all i really wanna do is make people care about things outside their still small worlds.

this is new to me. i am usually very comfortable with my circle of bffs and suddenly i’m going to things with friends of friends and i feel like i’ve missed out on 2 years of enlarging my environment because housemanship in ipoh happened. every monday i feel spent because the weekend’s been so overwhelming and i’m 2 years older and more tired than i was before.

but then i remember that the reason i fought hard to be back in the klang valley is to do exactly this – be involved in non-medical stuff, listen to great music, be open to new relationships, be challenged always – and i savour the few hours i have to myself each day before i set off and be sociable once more.

there is so much to be grateful for.

let’s just hope a burnout isn’t on the agenda.

not as simple

two of my long-term patients died this week. one was a young woman who had a stroke and eventually succumbed to complications from her chronically recumbent state. the other was a teenage girl with advanced cancer. i watched them slowly deteriorate despite our very best efforts. they both died malnourished, emaciated and wholly dependent on others for nursing care.

it’s not my place to decide who deserves aggressive resuscitation and who gets to go peacefully. my opinions have nothing to do with the care of the patient. my job is to give them my everything. but i wanted to cry as i gave orders to the resuscitation team to pump one of the patients with drugs and continue chest compressions. i felt like she didn’t deserve to die in pain. i wanted to stop and let her leave us in peace…but it wasn’t my place to do so.

not for the first time in my career, i wanted to ask for a vial of morphine and help her slip away.

so which patient was it? the answer’s not as simple as you think. doctors sometimes do emotionally-driven things. once, a team of neurosurgeons operated on a man with severe brain injury and possibly brain death just because he was young and they felt he deserved a chance. it’s not easy at all.

i don’t think anyone ever gets desensitised to death. every patient means something to me, and if i feel that way i’m sure all my colleagues do too.

raw

there’s this thing i do whenever i’m nervous. the corner of my mouth trembles and i pick the skin on my fingers until they’re raw and bleeding. the stinging pain of compression as i halt the gentle haemorrhage soothes my nerves a little. my manicurist gives me hell about it.

i saw someone else do the same yesterday. he is a young patient of mine, who’s been diagnosed with cancer. i stood by as the surgeon explained his treatment options – different forms of surgery depending on intraoperative findings, possible outcomes and complications, what to expect once the operation ends. diagrams were drawn, figures were thrown at him. he learned that he could have up to 5 scars on his neck, chest and abdomen as well as a tube going into his lungs when he wakes up from surgery. he was also told there was a chance the tumour may be unresectable.

it wasn’t anything new to me. i’ve assisted one of those surgeries and seen quite a number of patients go home without a stomach or part of their oesophagus and small bowel. i’ve watched the lung collapse on command during the operation and touched a still-beating heart. i’ve smiled at the end of the surgery when the collapsed lung expanded, its pink sponginess returning to its former glory.

i watched my patient lock and unlock his fingers, picking at his nails until they bled. he took in the jargon – anastomosis, stapler, thoracoscopy – without much question. he only interrupted the surgeon to ask if there were any restrictions to what he could eat.

in the routine of explaining complex procedures to our patients, it is usually the ill man himself that reminds us of what matters most: quality of life. he wasn’t interested in the surgery itself or the effort we are making in preparation for the operation. i’m sure he only understood 60% (at most) of what we told him about his condition and the options of treatment.

he just wanted to know if he’d ever taste his mother’s meals again.

i thought of the stressors that have compelled me to abuse my fingernails involuntarily. all of them raised my cortisol levels enough for me to lose sleep, look to the skies, head over to my favourite pub and avoid human contact. they were nowhere near the stress of receiving a diagnosis of cancer, yet those mechanisms of coping are a luxury for my patient, a young man who has less than a week to mull over the choices presented to him in that short 20-minute family conference.

if i ever had the illusion that this job will get easier with time, i definitely do not have it anymore.