Thursday, September 9, 2010

Staying focussed

Perhaps we have been lucky or, more likely,  NUH was well planned and executed. Lin and I have nothing but praise for the people we have chanced upon whenever we have gone for his consultations, chemotherapy sessions and other services.

Yesterday, Lin was given the all clear by Dr Teo, his new-found cardiologist. It would appear that despite the calcium deposits (not to be confused with plaque) the old ticker is still going strong - for someone his age. In fact, Dr Teo was pleased that Lin's good cholesterol is nice and high.

So it looks like he only lacks a decent White Blood Count which we hope that dropping Oxaliplatin will help.

This afternoon he goes in to return "the Pump". We are convinced that if  the manufacturer would make it smaller it would have a most beneficial effect on the mood and outlook of chemo patients - lugging that brick around and constantly being reminded of its presence has a depressing effect.

If you gave me one wish, it would be for NUH to improve  (or at least,  stay the same). 

This came to my mind because we were approached to participate in a service survey conducted for the organisation. After answering the questions, some of which I felt could have been better focussed, I wondered if positive comments might lead to complacency.

Will dealing with reality - life and death on a daily basis - keep the organisation soundly grounded? Or will the business and management whiz kids get their way and make it into a glitzy 'destination' spot for medical tourism?

Far from being altruistic in my wish for NUH, I am thinking of our future - especially mine! As sure as death and taxes I shall be needing to visit the hospital as a patient in the foreseeable future; not as a caregiver. And I would not like to see it expensive, overly business-minded and bottom line driven like some private hospitals,  government and government related organisations.

Going by what I have experienced on our buses and trains and reading the grouses of commuters I have no doubt that commuting is every bit as bad as they say. And I travel off peak when it's meant to be less crowded.

Stallkeepers at my favourite wet market say young people feel left out because they find it harder and harder to afford their first homes. 

But we also have our share of spoilt brats. True or not, I heard a that a young man doing his stint in National Service (NS) was given a Bentley by his indulgent father who thought that his son's Ferrari would be too ostentatious to drive to camp!

I have also heard of young people in the financial world who are earning the equivalent of ministers' salaries (highest in the world) in bonuses.

I wonder if this is going to give rise to a society that "knows the price of everything and the value of nothing".

Maybe not if their parents and peer groups have their heads screwed on right. People who are familiar with China say that there are the usual nouveaux riches whose children squander money, but also those who have groomed their children by sending them to the best  private schools and universities in the west and got them work for a living.

Even pre-1997 we were asked to recommend finishing schools in Europe which might be suitable for daughters of the 'establishment'. 

Many Singaporeans just do not realise that we have yet to reach a level of sophistication that the elite PRC Chinese  already had enjoyed pre-Mao (the pre-WW II Chinese ambassador's daughter to the court was a boarder at Cheltenham Ladies' College). So it was hardly surprising to read in the IHT not so long ago of Chinese debutants being presented at the Crillon Ball in Paris.

Continuing as we have done, we always will be the 'overseas Chinese', the rough diamonds. Which is fine because there is a place for everyone. 

But not if we have higher aspirations - or are so blinded by our own hype that we think we have arrived.

What kind of society are we that babies are not permitted to be fed on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains? That do not allow seeing eye dogs into shops, restaurants and offices? That does not have decent handicap access or lifts in all MRT stations. That does not have pedestrian underpasses which are fully accessible to those in wheelchairs or strollers?

Instead, we have Lamborghinis complete with blackout windows and windscreens parked - with total impunity - at the junction of busy roads (Claymore Hill/Claymore Rd behind the Thai Embassy and close to Shaw Centre). Approx 1pm on Tuesday, Sept 7th.

When they are not doing that they seem to be driving around showing off their fancy wheels and making an unholy din. More and more people are grumbling about the quiet of the night being disturbed by the irritating roar of loud (sometimes illegal) exhausts as they drive round and round certain roads.

Never mind exhaust and construction noise pollution, we also pay lip service to recycling and being eco friendly. 

Most of the businesses here use plastic bags, as ever, with gay abandon. Most homes do not recycle. Many homeowners rely on their domestic help, the majority of whom come from countries where recycling (as the developed western countries) know it does not exist.

This would not be so bad if we still had people going round buying old newspapers, bottles, etc  - 'karung guni' men. In HK and China recyclables are often removed from the public bins by scavengers who earn a little pocket money doing this so that there is minimal wastage.

Here, we are somewhere between the countries where people throw aluminium cans and plastic into the ponds, lakes, rivers and seas and the ecologically conscious countries where people break up cartons, bundle magazines and newspapers, separate recyclables from trash and dispose of them in public recycling and trash bins. 

Unfortunately we are closer to the ignorant end. 

According to the MSM (mainstream media) we are going to light up Singapore landmark buildings at night - I wonder how we are going set the city ablaze and still be ecologically responsible citizens of the world? 

Well, at least we can rejoice that our two polar bears are going to be provided quarters more suitable for their type than they have been housed in (hope they have not become too accustomed to the tropical heat).

Even though every country has its everyday travails, those that we seem to be experiencing lead one to wonder if our planning has been less than meticulous and the implementation subject to less than the most rigorous testing? In golf we call it 'taking the eye off the ball'.

Forget the very rich and very influential - they and theirs can live anywhere they please.

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