Monday, July 5, 2010

Murphy Gatecrashes The Party

You are no doubt familiar with Murphy's Law or Sod's law. Well, the eponymous law is gatecrashing our chemo parties by keeping Lin's White Blood Count (WBC) and ANC low.

Yeah, I only learnt this afternoon of ANC and it has nothing to do with Africa. I first heard it when a PRC Chinese at the other end of the phone at NUH gave us the results of the blood test done on Lin this morning. She had said that the WBC had improved but the ANC was too low. However, she could not explain or even tell me what ANC stands for.

So I called the Cancer Hotline and discovered that ANC means Absolute Neutrophil Count! And got the standard advice about: keeping Lin away from crowds, getting him to practise good hygiene, not letting animals near him, not letting him indulge in any gardening, not letting him sustain cuts and thoroughly cooking his food.

What this means is postponing the chemo until Wednesday, July 7 provided his FBC (Full Blood Count) is satisfactory.

There are drugs to stimulate the bone marrow and boost the level of neutrophils, but the good Professor does not believe in "artificially" raising the levels for the period of the chemo and thus recommends against using them. (Please note these are MY interpretation and words) So we are going to wait.

So no painting the town and frequenting the pleasures of the flesh at Singapore's infamous Orchard Towers' nightspots although it is only a stone's throw away from our flat. Instead, it is eat, rest, exercise over and over again.

We also talked about his mysterious gout and the Prof is of the opinion that the chemo has so sensitised Lin's body that the wine he imbibed gave him a touch of gout. So there you have it, no wine for the period of the
chemo -  I had to explain to Lin that this meant from now until after he has completed all his courses. And not only for a week or so between chemo sessions!

Being good and abstemious is going to bore him to death because our cable provider, Starhub lost out in the bidding for some sports channels STAR Sports and ESPN and some football) and I cannot get Singtel MIO here to install their box until July 13.

This should give you the flavour of the urgency, efficiency and competitiveness of some businesses here; in some other places they would have ramped up their operations to meet the anticipated demand. And I only got that date after I'd given up trying to sign up with Singtel via their website - their emailed acknowledgement was that I had to wait 3 working days for a response to my online request!

So I decided that a little after 9:00am on a Sunday might be a good time to call as the mega churches would have called to the religious, leaving less people free to wait on the Singtel hotline! As it turned out, either I was lucky or I was right - I got through very easily.

It would seem that despite our much vaunted edge in technology the best way to do things (if you cannot do it in person) would be to take a tranquilizer or anti-anxiety pill, get onto the phone and work one's way through the maze of prompts. And wait for a customer representative.

Another grouch I have with Singtel is the execrable English on their website and forms. Singlish is acceptable in spoken form because that is part of the charm (or the inescapable inevitability of living here), but ungrammatical English is inexcusable.

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