Monday, October 18, 2010

Sigh, no Chemo today

After a brief respite we are back to low WBC and Neutrophil count. Haemoglobin and platelet counts are not that great either.

Lin had his blood tested this morning and then we met with Prof John Wong in the afternoon when he gave us the disappointing news. So we try again on Monday, 25 October. Let's hope that the chemo drugs are wreaking the same havoc on the "bad guys" as they are on the good ones!

Time for some good news!

Since Lin started on the 5FU and Folinic Acid (without Oxaliplatin) his mouth seems to have been more sensitive and painful. But thanks to a tip from our friend, Christina, he's been using Biotene mouthwash and oral gel and they have alleviated some of the discomfort.

The topic of exercise came up again in our session with Prof. Wong and I added my two cents' worth to Lin's plea to be allowed to swing a golf club. The Prof. is not acquainted with golf and was concerned that Lin might slip and fall or hurt a muscle by swinging too hard.

I assured the Prof. that the range is surfaced with a composite floor covering that is quite safe and the golf course is covered in grass. So he cautioned us to be careful as he's had patient's who have fallen, been bitten by a dog, etc., during their courses of chemotherapy!

Another piece of good news is that one of our friends had surgery recently for colorectal cancer and is up and home after six days in Singapore General Hospital.

I first heard the news when I was in Hong Kong and was rather worried because she made the decision of have her operation without getting a second opinion from either National University Hospital (NUH which has a Cancer Center) or Singapore General Hospital (SGH in whose campus our National Cancer Centre is located).

Maybe the threat of my impending return got her moving, but once she met with the doctor at SGH she saw the light. She was admitted last Monday afternoon and had her laparoscopic surgery on Wednesday.

I visited on Thursday and she was a little tired but pain free and already raring to go home. Saturday saw the removal of her catheter, Sunday the drainage tube from her abdomen and today she got her marching orders from her doctor.

While she was there I had the chance to see how this hospital handled things. 

I attended a presentation for relatives, caregivers and interested people on colon cancer from pre-op to post-op. and it was very interesting especially when we listened to an ex-patient talk about his experience.

I learnt things that I only experienced (without the benefit of prior briefing) during Lin's procedure and hospital stay - and got to understand the whys and wherefores better.

As a result of our friend's illness I got to know a little more about colon cancer and its treatment and am more convinced than ever that the Singapore government hospitals are streets ahead of most - even private hospitals - and I would have no hesitation in being a patient or recommending any relative or friend to take that route when an illness calls for the most up-to-date treatment and care.

While I grumble about some aspects of life in Singapore and will continue to do so, I am appreciative of the public health organisation to which I have contributed as a tax payer.

I wonder if it is because the doctors and nurses are too busy curing patients that they have little time to play at being bureaucrats?

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Traffic Police (TP) could learn from the hospital clusters; as a matter of fact many other government and non-government organisations here would benefit from working rather than pontificating.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) for one agreed with the Management of our estate that the best times to fog for mosquitoes would be at dawn and dusk. And THEN, mindful of the pest control companies' business they also said that any time would be all right!

The Public Transport Commission (PTC) could do with being more in touch with the people who take public transport.

As you can see we are fond of acronyms here in Singapore. In my mind, I imagine a huddle of little gnome-like creatures beavering away at inventing new ones for all the new 'bodies' that spring up every now and again.

We are booming despite warnings that things may not be so rosy in the next two quarters, and we are dealing with new Singaporeans and a tide of foreign workers. So we are not likely to follow the British in their culling of quangos and public services anytime soon. But it is food for thought that growing like Topsy cannot be the formula for all seasons.

There have been enough gaffes that have surfaced in our rather tame newspapers to make anyone wonder if we know what we are doing. Some are called "scholars' moments" (mistakes made by bright scholars 'parachuted' into top posts without experience of the real world or their feet on the ground). Others are truly 'foot in mouth' incidents that do not deserve re-telling.

Rather than rant on, I am going to attempt to include a video that'll amuse you:

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