Monday, June 13, 2005

My Adventures with Appendicitis: Day 4 (Tues)


Dan Brown time. My temperature just won't come down. It has been hovering in the mid-37s. I'm cursing my luck. Hopefully when they take my reading in the morning it will be back to normal.


37.4! :-(


Doctor says he wants to observe me as my temperature is still high. I have prepared myself mentally that I would probably be in there till Wednesday or Thursday, the last thing I want to do is to be discharged and have complications from home. But it still puts a slight damper in my spirits especially when the nurses told me that there was a possibility of my discharging this afternoon.

What can I do? Try to do some reading and keep myself occupied and distracted I guess. Bless the invention of the handphones and SMSes!


Chatting with the nurse while she takes my temperature and blood pressure. She says maybe, just maybe if my temperature comes down by the time the doctor makes his next rounds at 4 pm, I might get discharged!

SMS parents to let them know.


Whoever told me that hospital food sucks needs to get his/her taste buds examined!


37.6. It's going up! :-(


The pharmacist delivers a big bag of medication -- panadols, fybogel, laxatives.

Me: What are these for?
Pharmacist: Aren't you discharging today?
Me: No, the doctor says he wants to observe me further. Says I still have a low grade fever. (gee, thanks for rubbing it in!)
Pharmacist: Oh, is that so? Let me check. (walks out)
Pharmacist: (Enter stage right) You're right. Anyway, just hang on to these medication. You'll need them when you go home.

I guess it's good to have something to look forward to.


Parents are here.

37.6. Bummer ...


Still 37.6. No sight of the doctor. Tap tap tap.


One of the nurses on the night shift offers me some ice cold water to help bring down my body temperature. That's real nice of her (I think she likes me :-P) and I thank her for the offer. Well, it does feel good to be able to drink cold water!


I ask my parents to head home for dinner. I'm still running a temperature and if the doc keeps his word, I'll still be warded for observations.


The nurses are taking orders for dinner. I ask for rice! With pork and vegetables. Mmmmm...


My doc (read one, no entourage) sticks his head into the ward, gives me a thumbs up and says that I can go.

Yes, that is all he did! He didn't even walk INTO the ward, just gives me the thumbs up from the corridor and says I'm good to go. What the?

I'm not complaining. I give my parents a quick call and have my dinner.

One of the grandfathers was saying that the doc was suay kuan and could have come earlier when my parents were around. I give him a "what to do?" shrug and chuckle.


I've finished dinner and have changed out of my hospital garbs. The nurse has also helped me with complete my paper work and relieved me of my "rolex watch", that's her lingo for the plastic tag containing my personal information that they put around my wrist. My next-bed-neighbor (the guy who's to be warded for another 12 days) jokingly asks her to remove his as well. Nice try!

The others are going to be discharged within the next one or two days so almost all is well.


Parents are here. I make the final payments for my hospital bill and go round wishing my ward mates well and speedy recovery.


I count myself lucky to have survived that scare with my leaky appendix. It could have been much worse had it ruptured but thankfully it didn't.

What made my stay in the hospital so pleasant was the very good attitude and responsiveness of the nurses and hospital staff. I can't say how thankful I am! So to the nurses and staff of AH, Ward 12, here's a BIG THANK YOU to you again!

Oh, and one last thing that I learned, when a doctor gives you a specific appointment time, give him or her a 2 hour buffer just to be safe! :-D

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

My Adventures with Appendicitis: Day 3 (Mon)


Oh boy, what do we have for breakfast today? M-I-L-O! Hurrah! I'm soooo easy to please!


One of the student nurses asks if I would like to go for my shower. Are you kidding? Of course I would! I've not had a shower in 2 days! But I don't think I'm ready to walk yet. No problemo, wheelchair to the rescue!

No, I am not showering in the wheel chair. I managed to get on my feet in the shower. Cold water and soap -- refreshing!


The doctor is supposed to be making his rounds. Tapping my fingers against the hospital bed railings.


The doctor says I'm making good progress. So when can I be discharged? After I move to solid foods? Great! When? I'm still on liquids right now doc. Continues tapping my fingers against the hospital bed.

Oh and Monday morning's doctor brought his entourage with him. I don't see the surgeon, my supposed attending doctor (you know, the guy with his name over my hospital bed) and the junior physician. But I do see Sunday morning's doctor. The Sunday doctor is apparently of a much lower seniority than this morning's doctor; Sunday doc seems to be taking notes as the Monday doc speaks. Talk about pecking order!


Since I'm in much less pain, since I've had my energy drink, and since I've had my shower, I feel so much better today. I'm also more observant. I'm currently sharing the ward with 5 other men -- 3 grandfathers in their 60s and 70s, a guy in his 40s and a guy who is in a very bad state i.e. his limbs are contorted. I think there's a medical name for his condition but I don't know what it is.

Well, 2 of the grandfathers are in here for diabetes treatment. They're pretty much able-bodied and mobile. Going through their paces of eating, strolling around (I'm envious!), resting, taking their medication, having the doctor visit.

The last grandfather apparently had gone through some surgery like me. He gets moody and puts up protests against eating or taking his medication.

It's a good thing he has a filial son who comes by often to help feed him. Lucky chap. Also, when his missus and female relatives visit, you'll always here them coaxing him in Teochew to eat and the implications of not eating! Everyone in the ward knows when they visit!

The guy in his 40s looked pretty ok to me. He is often active and up and about. In a later conversation with him, I found out that he had been in the hospital for close to 30 days! And they wanted to observe him for another 12 days! Horrors! How did he end up there in the first place? Apparently, he had gotten a greedy over the Chinese New Year period and downed 12 mandarin oranges and 2 slices of pineapples in one sitting rather than see it go to waste!

He felt very bloated and had difficulty breathing after his feast and had to be hospitalized. He was throwing up all kinds of funny stuff and they had to drain parts of his lungs and body cavity. The doctors never did figure out what caused it and explained that it was some kind of rare virus!

The last guy, well, he couldn't speak and no one visited. I never knew what he was in the hospital for.


Colleagues are here to visit me! Hurrah! Thanks for the gifts! It's a pity I can't eat the fruits or biscuits ... yet! Doctor's orders you know!

I'm actually standing up and walking around slowly. A female colleague asks me to sit down for fear that I may fall. I think after 2+ days of lying down and sitting, I ought to be standing and walking around to get my muscles pumping again.


Lunch and some more laxatives to help me with my process. Nasty!


Uh-oh, The laxative is kicking in! Gotta go!


And again!


Waiting for the doc. I've learnt to cope with the elasticity of time here.


The doc is here. Oh same chap! What luck! I can move on to solid food now! But they still want to monitor me as my low grade fever hasn't gone away yet.

Yes, I find out later from the great nurses at AH that because I had finally sat on the royal throne, I am allowed to eat solid food. Also, had I not gone through that, the doctor would not even consider letting me go home. Now all I have to do is to beat this low grade fever.


What? Soup only? The doc said I could have solid food?

Oh great, the nurses are getting me some ...... P O R R I D G E ! Yippee!


Porridge is good for health!

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

My Adventures with Appendicitis: Day 2 (Sun)


More readings! Dan Brown! Dan Brown! Well, the night shift nurses seem to have a meaner demeanour (the day nurses are pretty nice). She asked if I felt like ridding my body of its watery by-products.

Weird question. I've not eaten or drank anything for the past 18 hours, I have a big goodness knows how long an opening on my right, I'm bed-ridden, sedated, immobile; sorry, but I have the least inkling of doing that right now thank you very much!


Dan Brown time again and same funny question about my bodily urges. There's a new twist this time round. She tells me that they may be forced to use an aid to help me extract my watery bodily waste matter if I'm unable to do it on my own by the doctor's rounds at 8.

Fine, I'll give it a try. I don't know how that aid worked since I had no access to wikipedia then. I mean technology can't possibly be that bad right?

I huffed and puffed to get up from my bed. Tried ... no luck. Sorry nurse (sorry me as I was to find out later!).


Ah, here comes the good-looking junior physician from yesterday. Great! Oh no, are you giving me the same sermon as the night shift nurse? No doc! You don't look so good now!

Wait a minute. The aid is intrusive, causes a lot of discomfort and may cause infections if not done properly? Now why didn't the nurse say so? Thank you doc! I have the incentive to do something about this by 8!


The nurse helps me up again. No luck! Cursing myself.


Time is running out! I ask for help getting up again. I'm handed the portable human aqueous by-product container to try my luck again. I must be doing it wrong somehow.

Maybe it's because my feet are planted on the floor but my body's leaning against the bed. I need gravity to give me every single bit of help! Ok, let me try doing this standing up ... slowly (and yes, the curtains are drawn in case you're wondering).

Buy 4D!


Doc isn't here yet. Grrrrrrr


Oh, new doc. This isn't my attending physician. Same junior physician though.

Sunday Doc: Good morning.
Me: Good morning doc.
Sunday Doc: So any pain this morning?
Me: Only if I move.
Sunday Doc: Have you passed gas (human gaseous by-products from the nether ends for the politically correct)
Me: Er... no... (dammit what's up with these medical professionals and their morbid interest in my private matters?)
Me: Oh wait, I do have pain. I've been having some gastric pains from the lack of food and water. Any chance of eating a little or drinking something?
Sunday Doc: I'm afraid not. You're still running a temperature and will need to be on an IV drip. No food or water. But we'll give you an injection for the gastric pain.

That's plain evil doctor!


One of the staff assistants says I have to go for an X-ray.

I learn that nearly every single body movement requires the use of one's stomach muscles e.g. tossing in bed, wriggling in bed, sitting up in bed, attempting to stand up from the bed, attempting to sit in a wheelchair from a standing position.

I also learn that there are actually maneuvers to isolate the muscle contractions to one's LEFT stomach muscles, mostly anyway.


I learn that wheelchairs need suspension systems like cars, and they need proper tyres!

I felt every single bump on my way to the X-ray centre!

The radiologist also needs to lighten up.

Radiologist: Are you able to stand up?
Me: Not really.
Radiologist: No problem. We'll take an X-ray with you sitting in your wheel chair.

He makes me sit up a little and pushes the film down between my back and the wheelchair.

Radiologist: Smile ... (no, he didn't say that, just my silly humor).
Radiologist: Great! Now I need you to get onto that (very cold and very hard) bed (plank!). I need another shot.
Me: (protests meekly) (#$#@$&^%$#)


I've been drifting in and out of sleep trying to ignore my hunger pains. The gastric jab is giving me some relief so that's good.

It's also a good thing I picked the B2 ward. With ceiling fan spinning at its max and causing my leg muscles to cramp up, who needs air-conditioning? And I definitely do not have the energy for TV or phone conversations!

Oh yes, and the great nurses at AH explained to me why the medical fraternity had this unusual interest in my bodily functions. General anaesthesia causes these tracts to shut down. If I'm unable to clear my body's by-products, it means my body isn't functioning normally yet and hence, I'm not allowed food or water. See, that was simple. Now why didn't the doc explain that to me?

So you can guess what I was hard at work at the rest of the day!

Relatives came over around lunch time so that was good for the spirit.


Yet another doctor. No sign of doc who has his name tagged over my hospital bed.

Evening Doc: So did you ...
Me: (trying to sound chirpy) Yes, I did doc.
Evening Doc: Great, we'll start you on clear fluids and move you up gradually

I did the silent fist pumps from my hospital bed. Finally!


Dinner time! Clear soup! Sweet! Must remember not to gulp it down too quickly. I don't want to start coughing!

Nurse gives me some panadol to control my fever. I find out later that it's pretty normal to run a slight temperature after an operation. She also hands me a clear liquid -- laxative.

I'm thinking to myself, I haven't had a bite to eat for 2 days. All I had for dinner was clear soup (and I only finished a third of the bowl) and I'm expected to clear my body's solid waste matter? Am I missing something here?

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My Adventures with Appendicitis: Day 1 (Sat) Part 2


All I remember was feeling really groggy and hearing voices around me. Now who on earth is telling me to move a little this-a-way and a little that-a-way. Oh right! The nurses in my ward!

Apparently, I had been in the operating theatre for close to 3 hours.

Someone is explaining (probably the surgeon, but I was too groggy to know for sure) that the procedure took longer than expected as there were complications. My appendix had apparently decided to spill some of its content prematurely and the docs were having a vacuuming practice or something inside of me.

What I did feel was the big bandaid they had around me. It covered my entire right abdomen! Beat that!


Everyone in the ward is having their dinner now. Oh the aroma (yes, even for hospital food)! I can feel the hunger pangs but I'm not supposed to eat! Or drink! Because I just came out of surgery! But I can have that tasty l'il 0.7% saline solution intravenous drip for dinner thank you very much!


Zzzzzz ... I am stirred from my slumber by the nurses. They want to take my readings. I wish I could muster some strength to tell them Dan Brown a while ago but all I could do was croak. Need food ... water... precious...

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My Adventures with Appendicitis: Day 1 (Sat) Part 1


I've been having this odd abodominal pain and mild bouts with fever recently. My family doctor tells me I overstrained my muscles but I said my overstrained stomach muscles never felt strained inside. Anyway, it is back again this morning and the pain has gone a little lower on my right side. It doesn't feel right; I'll head back to the doc after breakfast.


Family Doc: (Spot A) How does this feel?
Me: A little painful
Family Doc: (Spot P) And here?
Me: Owwww! Yes, definitely painful!
Family Doc: (Spot C) Here?
Me: Not there
Family Doc: (Back to Spot P) Here?
Me: Owww! Yes! (hey, didn't you feel that already?!?)
Family Doc: (scribbles something on a memo) You better head on over to the A&E ...

I peeked at the memo - "Possible acute appendicitis". Uh oh!


So here I am at the Alexandra Hospital (AH) A&E. The registration to see the A&E doc is pretty smooth. They actually have an administrative assistant walking around helping the nurses with people traffic direction and registration.

A&E Doc: (Spot A) How does this feel?
Me: A little painful
A&E Doc: (Spot P) And here?
Me: Owwww! Yes, definitely painful!
A&E Doc: (Spot C) Here?
Me: Nope
A&E Doc: (Back to Spot P) Here?
Me: Owww! Yes! (@!()@%(@& are you guys in cahoots or what?)
A&E Doc: Ok, I need to take some blood and run a few tests
Me: (First you prod me where it hurts BAD, now you want to "poke" me?) Ok doc.


The results are back. My white blood cell count is high and I'm to be warded immediately and have my appendicetomy done the very same day. The A&E doc pages for the surgeon and asks that I complete the administrative work to check myself into the hospital as soon as possible.

Oh, and I'm not to eat or drink anything before the surgery. Nothing, zip. Ok!


Decisions, decision, decisions. The staff at the payment counter explains to me the various wards that are available in AH i.e. A1, B1, B2, C (the policy maker must have been inspired by his/her GCE 'O' level results ... obviously someone wasn't very happy about getting A2s).

A1 - I'd hate to be in an isolated ward and the charges are crazy.
B1 - 4 to a ward, air-conditioned, personal TV, personal phone ... sounds good.
Wait, B2 - 6 to a ward and some euphemistic word for non-air-conditioned ward.
So if I had to stay a week, I'd fork out about S$1,000 for a B2 bed; I pay an additional S$2,000 more I get to enjoy air-conditioning, TV and phone! Joy!



The attending doctor (the doctor's name that they put over my hospitable bed), the junior physician (good looking too I must say) and the surgeon are by my bed. They put me through the same pain as their brethren before finally concluding that they have to operate on me later at between 2 to 2:30 pm. Again, I am told not to eat or drink anything. Roger that!

Joy, more paperwork. Some consent form that I've understood the implications yada-yada-yada.


Waiting. I've already changed into my operating gown.


Still waiting.

Note to self - I think doctors have a problem with punctuality.


Finally! I get wheeled off to the operating theatre.


So here I am, lying in the operating theatre, jokingly asking the (also good looking) anaesthetist what they will do with my appendix and if I could take a picture of it when they're done with it. She laughed and said that they'll grind it up and feed it to the dogs ... That was a joke! She said they'll send it to the lab for tests to find out the cause of the infection.


They start giving me injections and wiring me up to the thousands of probes. I feel like Cypher being re-inserted into the Matrix ...

Anaesthesist: Ok, we're going to administer GA (General Anaesthesia). When I put this mask over you, I want you to breathe in deep.
Me: Will do doc.
Anaesthesist: (fixes the breathing apparatus over me) Now breathe
Me: (takes in about 3 breaths) Huff puff huff puff huff puff
Anaesthesist: Are you breathing? Please breathe...
Me: (takes in another 4 breaths ... of course I am breathing! That's what you told me to do!)

I think she got a little "pissed" with my resistance to the "gas" and upped the ante! I could literally smell the "gas" after the initial 7 gulps and was out cold after the next 3! Yes, I counted!

(to be continued)

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Recovering from my Appendicectomy Operation

Appendicitis -- nasty stuff. I had an attack last Saturday, had the operation the same afternoon, and was hospitalised through Tuesday evening. Slowly recovering at home now. So many blogs to read, so many things to write about. Step by step! I feel like a 100 year old right now with my constrained post-op mobility!

Interesting stories about my experience to follow when I have the energy!

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Thursday, June 02, 2005


If you play blogshares like I do, you will know how positively addictive it can get! I actually signed up for a Premium membership for goodness sake! Anyway, it got on my nerves a little when I had to manually cut and paste URLs into blogshares to find out if a certain blog was listed so I came up with a small javascript to automate the process.

Presenting, the Blogshares-let or B$-let.


1) Drag and drop the Blogshares-let or B$-let links onto your web browser bookmarks
2) Browse to the main page of the blog (in my case, yckoh.blogspot.com)
3) Click on the Blogshares-let or B$-let link that is in your bookmarks.
4) The B$-let automatically brings you to the blogshares page of the blog (if it is listed)!


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Spot the "Gahmen" Contest @ Bloggers.SG

I was thinking a T-shirt with "I attended Bloggers.SG 2005" printed on the front and "All I got was this lousy T-shirt" on the back would make a great souvenir for the upcoming convention. But this little PR stunt by Steve in an effort to generate some attention on his blog gave me a new idea. Let's have a "Spot the Gahmen" contest!

This is a parody of the "Spot the Fed" contest at DEFCON (annual geek convention in Las Vegas for hacking) where you try to spot attendees from the federal government like the FBI or wherever.

The rules for the Spot the "Gahmen" contest will be as follows (adapted from "Spot the Fed"):

1. If you see some shady MIW (Men in White) earphone sunglass wearing type lurking about, point him/her out. Just get the attention of the organizers and claim out loud you think you have spotted a gahmen. The people around at the time will then (I bet) start to discuss the possibility of whether or not a real gahmen has been spotted. Once enough people have decided that a gahmen has been spotted, and the Identified Gahmen (I.G.) has had a say, and informal vote takes place, and if enough people think it's a true gahmen, or gahmen wanna-be, or other nefarious style character, you win a "I spotted the gahmen!" shirt, and the I.G. gets an "I am the gahmen!" shirt.

NOTE TO THE GAHMENS: This is all in good fun, and if you survive unmolested and undetected, but would still secretly like an "I am the gahmen!" shirt to wear around the office or when booting in doors, please contact me when no one is looking and the organizers will take your order(s). Just think of all the looks of awe you'll generate at work wearing this shirt while you file away all the paperwork you'll have to produce over this convention. I'm sure the organizers won't turn in any gahmens who contact them, they have to be spotted by others.

Of course, obvious gahmen folks like James, Daryl and people manning the Shine booth (if there's one) do not count. How about it organizers?

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