Monday, 30 June 2008

Of an RM 3.50 Card, and a Newfound Friend...



Somewhere about 2 years ago, post STPM, I went to Kinta City to just window shop (and look for baby clothes for Chee Keong) and happen to pop into the food court for lunch...


And while I was paying for food, I realised that the cashier did not once look at me, even when I said 'Hello' to her. Being the busybody that I am, I was curious to know why she didn't look at me. It was only when she handed me my change that I realised the cashier had one 'funny looking' eye. It looked like it was made of glass (I could be very wrong), and the skin around it looked like it had been patched on. She couldn't be much older than me...

"Awww...She's worried people might stare or laugh", I thought...




I thought about her during lunch and then I went on with my window-shopping. But I could not stop thinking about the cashier...

My gut instinct told me to do something, but the question was...what? So I do what I always do when I am 'lost' in a mall: I went to the bookstore...


And then I thought: "How about I give her a card?" (People who know me well know I love giving cards).


But, there were still so many 'But's' and 'What if's'. Like 'But I don't know her' or 'What If she thinks I'm crazy?' or 'What if I can't do this properly and I end up embarrasing her?'...


In the end, I thought: "Aiya, who cares la?"




So I got her a tiny card, and I sat down and wrote to this girl I don't even know. I had caught a glimpse of her name-tag so I knew her name. I told her I think she was beautiful and brave because beauty is not measured by how we look, but rather by how we live our lives. I told her I know people at the food counter stare, but it's ok because it's not her fault. I also told her that she should smile at people, because if she does than people would realise she is just like us too, and if she smiled at me, I would smile back. I ended by asking if we could be friends, and left her my number.




I went back to the food court and bought a drink, and went back to the same counter to line up (trying to be as 'at the back' as possible). When it came to my turn, I again smiled at her, said 'Hello', paid for my drink, and as she gave me my change, I slipped the card into her hands. She lifted her head, her mouth open. I whispered 'For You', smiled and disappeared.

Now the ball was in her court. If she responded, good, I had a new friend. If she didn't, then oh well, it's ok. Just another person of the ever-growing list of people who think I'm mad ;)



I got an sms from her later that day. It read: "Hai thanx for your card, thanks for take care about me, you are so friendly, I like you, you are so pretty too".

I tell you, I was so happy I literally ran down the stairs to tell my mum I got an sms from a girl I didn't know. We chatted for a bit, and it turns out we were both of the same age. She also took STPM...


After a while, we lost touch. I did sms her 'Happy New Year', but there was no reply.





And then, just a few days ago, as I was just going to bed, I got this: "Hi Daphne Ling. How are you? Here ******, last time work in Jusco as cashier. U also gave me a memory card and wrote some support words, remember or not? What are you doing now?"



Awww...She remembers me! We made plans to meet up, although I don't know if time is on our side. After all, she is in university and won't be back anytime soon, and I'll be leaving in the very near future.

But I'm keeping my fingers (and toes!) crossed.



So what they say about friendship is true. You never know how or where your next friend might come from, and really, a RM 3.50 card helped me find one...




Sunday, 22 June 2008

Away: On a Short Break...


Yay! I finally got the email to 'surrender' my passport for my visa, so I'm going down to KL tomorrow...Will be away till end of the week...


Till then, take care, and enjoy the antics of my darling dog, Hazel (see below)...=)



Friday, 20 June 2008

Our Special One: Hazel...




Hazel...





Today, I want to tell you about the special member in my family, Hazel. Hazel is a Dachshund (colloquially known as the 'sausage dog' or 'lap-cheong kau'), with pure-breed Doxie parents. The term 'Doxie' is fondly used by Dachshund lovers to refer to the breed.


Although Hazel's parents are certified Doxie's, Hazel, unfortunately, didn't turn out so 'perfect', which is why she ended up staying with us.




It started with my mum's life-long love for the breed. We finally got a lovely Doxie from a pet-shop at the age of 6 weeks. We called her Princess Toi-Toi (It started out as Princess, but dad kept calling her Ah-Toi...Don't ask why)...

Unfortunately, the little darling died at the age of 6 months from a severe infection, the day after Christmas...This, despite the hundreds we had spent at the vet's, and the round-the-clock IV-fluids we had given her...

Heartbroken (we all were), mum declared she was never to get another Doxie ever again...



And then I saw an advertisement at the vet's, about a Dachshund for sale.

And on Mother's Day, we took mum to the house to have a look at the puppy, all of 6 months old.




Mum, of course, said she would only have a look (Dad said: "Yeah, right!")...We walked in, and the little dear was in a cage, whimpering and was very happy to jump into our laps. All her brothers and sisters had been sold off, months ago.

We took one look at her, and knew she was a discard, a dog that no serious breeder (or those who prized perfection) would ever buy. And we also knew, she needed love and care...And we paid good money for a dog that nobody wanted...





And so it was, we ended with Hazel in our home. I remember my dad shaking his head when we came into the car with Hazel in our arms, knowing that once again, we had let our 'kesian her' rule...He adores Hazel, by the way...




Our Hazel is special. She has front legs that are about one-and-a-half inches shorter than her hind legs, which gives her the appearance of a dog who walks with her butt in the air...literally...Her hind legs are also bowed, and she has extra toes on her hind feet...Her jaw is also deformed...






The best shot I can get of her jaw as she hates the camera flash...




Doxie's generally have lower jaws that are somewhat shorter than the top jaw, but in Hazel's case, they are much shorter than the top...In fact, if you turned her upside down, you will see her teeth protruding out! So much so, when we took her to the vet's for a checkup, the vet burst out laughing, while exclaiming: "Oh My! Your Hazel looks more like a mole, upside-down!"...


When we first brought her home, she hid under one of the chairs and refused to come out, despite the calling, and treats offered. My sighed: "Oh dear, do you think she is also a little mentally retarded?"



There were also many worries, like, would Hazel be able to eat properly with such a mouth?

"Not to worry, I'm sure she'll be fine", said the vet.



Boy, was he right! Our Hazel is a champion eater. She will eat anything, and I mean, anything...She has been known to eat durian (she begged for it!), ice cream, manggo, tomatoes, cabbage (yes, we have ourselves a dog who eats vegetables), apples, pears and a whole list of things! Even garlic!

And surprise! With that deformed mouth of hers, our girl has been known to pick up dropped-screws, 5-cent coins, papers (we once found our electricity bill in her cage), pebbles and anything you would think she can't do...



We gave Hazel a cage of her own. One we send her to if she misbehaves (like tearing all the newspapers), if we have visitors or if we're mopping the floor ("Hazel, jie-jie mopping, where should you go?", and she saunters into her cage!). She also uses the cage when she is unhappy with us, and will go there to sulk. She would stick her head through the bars and refuse to look at us! She also uses the cage to sleep (the door open).






I'm a Pro at this: "Don't go out too long, mummy...Promise?"




And her big butt and bowed legs? It helps her to beg, for food and cuddles, something she does everyday without fail...She can 'sit on her butt' for up to 15 minutes in a row, without so much as a wobble! She also greets us by going onto her butt...


What Hazel lacks in aesthetics, she makes up for with loyalty, and obedience. She adores us to bits, and will always follow us around the house, even if she is very tired. If we're washing the plates, she lies at our feet. If we're doing our work in the study downstairs, she lies under the table. If we're scrubing socks in the bathroom downstairs, she lies on the mat outside. Sometimes, we see she is so tired, that we will 'order' her to "Go sleep, Hazel", so she won't keep waking up to follow us from spot-to-spot.



Doxie's are known as obstinate creatures, and are considered hard to train as they can be very stubborn. Hazel, on the other hand, is a dear. You can see she has her Dachshund traits of stubbor-ness (you can actually see it in her eyes she is not in favour of what we command, at times), but out of obedience, she will do as commanded anyway.

"I think she's grateful we took her in", mum reasons...






A Daily Ritual: Checking for insects between her paws...




She is also one patient dog who will allow us to do almost anything to her, including the once (or twice) a day search of her body to see if she picked up any ticks or skin-infections from her roam outside, early in the morning. As her body is so close to the floor (short ma), she is very prone to moisture making her skin itchy, and also to insects that are in the grass or floor...


Hazel once suffered from seperation anxiety. When we come home, we would find the tissue, papers, newspapers, cardbox etc shreaded to bits. Only with gentle reminders we will come home (like spending extra time with her before we leave, and giving her a 'grand' cuddle when we get back), did she finally break the habit.






The Human Lap is the best place to be: A cuddle after checking for insects.




She also has her own set of bedding, which she guards zealously. Hazel has this idea that all little pillows and thin-mattresses belong to her, and because she keeps going on them, we end up giving it to her...A habit, we deduce, she picked up from Baby, our 13-year-old cat who passed away from oral cancer 2 years ago (Baby's Story, another time!)...


She will run after us when we take her bedding out to wash and sun, and if she is in the area when we try and remove it, she would plant her butt firmly on the bedding, and immediately sleep! The picture below is one example. Note that the bedding on the right is not folded properly. Why? Because we were attempting to remove it, and Hazel jumped onto it!






Feigning sleep: "All mine, you hear me?"




We all adore Hazel to bits, and deformed or otherwise, we have no regrets taking her into our home. I guess you could say we have a soft-spot for 'kesian' cases. Like my other dog, dear Sheba, whom we adopted from the shelter.

I'll tell you her story another day, as well as Baby-the-cat who was rescued from the roads, but for now, if you have extra space in your home and your heart, why not go down to one of the shelters and get yourself a dog or cat? There are many animals who need homes, and love.



You'd be doing yourself a favour too, because animals have been known to lower blood pressure, and increase overall happiness! And God knows we all need more happiness in our lives, what with the uncertainties in our cost of living and all the other problems...

Sure, it will cost more to keep a pet, but hey, which is more important? Health and happiness...or money?



Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Medically Speaking: Of Bloggers and Blogs...



You know...

I've been doing some extra reading lately, and I have come to the conclusion that many (not all lar) bloggers and their blogs have got abbreviations that are very medically-inclined...Seriously!



Here, let me show you (following my blogroll):-




1) Bitta's Den = BD = Bipolar Disorder
2) Aphasia-Dysphasia = AD = Autonomic Dysreflexia
3) David Santos = DS = Down Syndrome
4) Elviza Michele = EM = Erythema Multiforme
5) Let's Go Land = LGL = Lown-Ganong-Levine Syndrome
6) Lady Patsy = LP = Lumbar Puncture
7) MarinaM = MM = Multiple Myeloma
8) Mat Salo = MS = Multiple Sclerosis
9) Mott's Island = MI = Myocardial Infarct
10) Pi's Twist = Pt = Patient
11) Rita Ho = Rh = Rhesus Factor
12) Ruby Ahmad = RA = Rheumatoid Arthritis
13) ScreenShots = SS = Sjogren's Syndrome
14) Doc TokAsid = Doc TA = Takayasu's Arteritis




*Lol*


Come to think of it, if Jacqueline Tegjue-Martin (JTM) had been TMJ, hers would stand for Temporomandibular Joint!



Some of these abbreviations I came across reading, while others, I learnt while volunteering in the hospital...After all, in hospitals, people all speak in abbreviated codes! Gave me quite a headache when I first started...

I don't blame them...If the healthcare fraternity were to speak in full, their whole day would only be wasted...just speaking (or writing)!




Let me give you two examples:-



"Patient has CIDP"

vs

"Patient has Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy"


Or...


"She has MELAS"

vs

"She has Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy, Lactic-Acidosis, and Stroke-like Episodes"




Haha...No work would get done man...Next time your child tells you they want to study medicine, send them for tongue-twister classes first! No kidding...


Have a nice day, folks!




PS: I pray none of you will ever get anything mentioned above...=)



Sunday, 15 June 2008

Happy Father's Day!...



My dad and me...



Happy Father's Day to all fathers, everywhere!

I love you, Dad!


Monday, 9 June 2008

Checklist, Checklist, Checklist!...



I just got this coat...Mum approves!



Phew...Who thought it would be alot of work preparing to go over? Ok, alot is a given, but I thought it would be a breeze lar...Hehe...




Checklist to do before going to Canada:


1) Pack bag: Partially checked!

2) Buy a coat that mum approves of: Checked!

3) Clean room: Er, I'll get back to you on this...;)

4) Renew Passport and Get Visa Application Done: Checked!

5) Get Visa Medical Check Done: Checked!

6) Get Visa: Not checked...

Come on, hurry up, please High Commission...

7) Buy Plane Ticket: *Wail*...

The darn visa belum approve lar...Faster! Harga minyak naik giler...I think I'll just buy without waiting adi...

8) Meet up with as many friends as possible: Getting there!

9) Get a backpack: Checked!

10) Throw a party: Nah...Will skip...

11) Get a new pair of loafers: Wait, wait...

12) Buy Malaysian batik for University International Staff: Checked!

13) Learn a full Malaysian dance: Next week!

*I am expected to present something Malaysian at the International Camp, so I am choosing to dance. Mum suggests I actually sing. Question is, what song?*

14) Sort out accommodation in Canada: Checked!

15) Get Winter clothing: Will do in Canada...

16) Get luggage tags: Not yet...

17) Sew Batik Dress: Checked!

18) Sew Baju Kurung and Cheongsam: Not yet, but got the material adi...

19) Learn to tie the saree: Not yet, although I have two sets...

20) Get Immunisations Updated: Checked!

*Done for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Diphteria, Tetanus, Pertussis, and to follow, Meningococcal. Any wonder my arms are sore? ;)*

21) Meet Tun Dr Mahathir: Aiseh...Not yet!

22) Get braces off!!!




Besides that, I think I'm not toooo behind on my list...Anybody got anything else to suggest or add to my list? I could use some help...Alot in fact! Thanks!


Wednesday, 4 June 2008

RDA: To Reach In, You Must First Reach Out...




Entrance to the Equestrian Centre, Perak Turf Club where the RDA sessions take place...





As some of you already know, I've been back in Ipoh for slightly more than a month now. Since then, I've started going back to the hospital to help, although very much less often than before because of my heavy schedule...


I've also started volunteering at the RDA in Ipoh...My 17 year-old brother, Nicholas and one of his close friends also join us...



It's really nice to be able to continue helping out at the RDA, a program I enjoyed tremendously while in Penang...

Although the way things are run are different here in Ipoh compared to Penang, the essential thing is the same: To reach out to these special kids...


In Penang, many of the children had Down Syndrome (with the occasional Cerebral Palsy and Autism), while here in Ipoh, you see more 'balance' between the three.



But, I'm still having fun! Judging from my brother's enthusiasm, he is enjoying it too! Over here in Ipoh, we work with about 6 horses/ponies, opposed to Penang's two (Little Squaw and Landmark). If I got my numbers right, 2 of them are horses, while the remaining 4 are ponies...I can't tell for sure, because I usually stick to one or two particular ponies (Bush-Baby and Mel), and don't really bother counting the rest...





Some of the horses/ponies waiting for their riders...




In the past few weeks, I have been working with *Simon, a 4 year-old with Autism, *Katie, an 18 year-old with intellectual impairment, and *Shahrul, a 14 year-old with Autism. Simon is a sleepy little boy, who never says a word, except to his parents (he has got a lovely mum), and communicates with me by using his hands (like taking my hands and touching his face when he wants his helmet off)...



Katie hugs everybody she meets (I think she gave my bro and his friend quite a shock when she threw her arms around them!) and is extremely shy...



Shahrul, on the other hand, communicates very well! He lacks eye-contact, and has to be constantly reminded to look people in the eye, but he chats with us like old friends...It was about to rain while he was on the horse, so I made a casual remark about the weather, to which he quipped: "Mestilah hujan hari ni. Kan hari ni ada pasar malam", with the straightest face! *Lol*




I might have been helping out for quite a while now, and yet, I find that every week, I still learn something new, whether it is from the horses, or the children, or their families...



You know, I was initially struck by how different the same program can be. After all, both Penang and Ipoh have RDA, but the way it is run differs quite a bit. And yet, they both have the same purpose: To reach out...

And they both are superb in doing just that...




And in this, I remember one of the most important lessons in life, and that is, the only way we can reach into ourselves, is to first reach out to someone else...

Juxtaposition, huh? You bet!




*Note: Names have been changed...