Sunday, March 16, 2008

Square 1

DAY 1 again. The last cycle took 28 days. *Sigh* This is getting tedious.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pleasant surprise

Just when I spent the night before tossing and turning, bothered by your apparent lack of common sense of which I've lamented and ranted endlessly on loop in my head , you surprise me the next morning by not only addressing the issue head on but reassuring me that you aren't generally as silly as you sound. Naive as it may be, I still trust you and that short msn exchange really cheered me up quite a bit.

It cannot be just coincidence. Neither do I think you're blessed with telepathic powers. I tend to favour suspicions that you still secretly stalk this grubby blog of mine or you have a very efficient little bird who does so on your behalf and twitters updates in your ear!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


It is difficult when you are all alone, with no one to confide in. Not that loved ones are not near, but I know that there is no use in voicing out my concerns. They will be heard alright, but like a broken record, will also grate on nerves and cause tempers to flare. What is the point then?

So try as I might, I let the issues gnaw away myself. I feel flustered and troubled. Unable to sleep. And yet have nowhere to turn to. No one to draw strength from. No one to soothe and emphatise with me.

As much as I hate to say this, disputes in respect of money matters do hurt a relationship. It isn't like I've known hubby very recently. In fact, even before saying "I do", I was already well aware of his spending habits. Without his knowledge, I've defended him numerous times against my parents' criticism. I've also constantly reassured myself that he is a responsible spender who knows what he is doing and that he has learnt from his past errors.

But honestly, I am really not so sure. Time after time, it happens again. And again. And again. Old habits die hard. And each time it recurs, I find it increasingly difficult to convince myself that it will not happen again. Deeply disappointed each time, I no longer try to mask my emotions anymore as I try to distant myself further and further away from the money draining decision.

I am a relatively cautious spender, eager to keep myself in the black all the time. He on the other hand, seems to be the exact opposite, touting the philosophy of "Money can be earned in the future - spend now and take care of it later"

It is really really frustrating. And I am well aware that he is spending not on himself, but for others. For family. For me. He calls me a stingy kill joy who cringes at spending for the family. "If you don't pamper them now, what makes you think you have many more years in the future to do so?"

However, does this justify spending money you have not yet earned? What about future expenses?

In the latest grand scheme of things:

  • Plans to buy a Clavinova which is twice as expensive as the "basic, inferior model", the latter which we could already hardly afford in the first place
  • A getaway to London with the inlaws for 3 days. Let me assure you that plane tickets and accommodation are not going to come cheap, and that is not counting expenses to be incurred whilst holidaying there.

I want to cry out, "Please don't spend a dime more than necessary. If you want, bring your parents to tour London and the like. I really don't want to go. It would be better for you to just use whatever funds you've budgeted for my portion to extend your holiday in London - at least make the tickets worthwhile."

And yet I bite my tongue and hold back as best as possible. I know you want me to go. To be part of the family. And the last thing I want to do is to ignite another heated argument again. But keeping this resentment within me continues to bug me, leaving me very very unhappy these days indeed.

You keep asking me if I have any issues which I am hiding from you. Truth be said, yes. But what good is voicing them to you only for them to be ignored and worst still, irritate you further? Open communications - humbug!

Most people (including, I suspect your parents) think we are really doing well, to be able to afford the luxuries you splash on (please don't tell me staying at a posh hotel or a weekend getaway to London are not luxuries damnit). But I know our books better. We can ill afford all these. But who am I to voice my own grouses about how your money is to be used? Not only will my whining fall on deaf ears, it is also bound to stir up a hornet's nest. What can I do except to shut up and play dumb? I do wish at times that I were really dumb and ignorant. At least my heart will not ache so.

I hate myself for not being able to accept you as you are. But this is really difficult for me. And I don't think what you are doing is right either.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Day 1 again

Evidently, tracking kind of stopped at Day 2 the previous month. But, what is most important is that I am noting the start of the new month here now:


So, this means that my first cycle lasted 35 days, as opposed to the normal 28 day cycle expected for the average woman. Not surprising as I am used to it coming late.

As usual, commencement was precedented by 2 days of absolute sieness and moodiness, whereby the slightest thing irritated me to bits.

Poor hubby has had to put up with this shit for so many years now, and for many more to come.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Just retired, he quit smoking (went cold turkey just like that) and offered to babysit when his eldest grandchild a.k.a. me was born.

He travelled the world to see the sights and never failed to bring back with him a sling bag for me, representing almost every country he visited. Being the tomboy I was (and still am), I didn't care much for these purchases. But distinctly, I remember my top 3 choices when I had no option but to attend family dinners in a dress - the rubbery red-indian-girl-with-feather-in-her-hair tote, the round faux pas fur bag with a golden chain and the rattan bag of a girl's face with green plaits.

During my kindy days, he would wait for my school bus to drop me off after school. To make sure I was safe, as well as to warn and wave his finger at the bus bully who used to love picking on me then.

When I was six and, substantially rounder than my peers, he was the one who told me to remember that it was inner beauty and personality which mattered more, as opposed to physical looks alone.

In my early primary school days, he used to chop up char-siew and other meat into bitesizes and mix them in my rice with gravy all over - so that I could chew with ease and finish my lunch quickly so as not to miss my school bus which would pick me up at 11:30 every afternoon.

He would help me straighten my tie or bow so that I would look smart in school.

He helped me make all the kites I needed to pass up for my art classes - starting from the basic diamond-shaped one in Standard 1 to an impressive wau bulan in Standard 3. Having assisted to make the frame and glue the rice paper, my task was reduced to decorating and painting the said kites.

He occasionally allowed me to tag along with him to run errands in town. We would take the local green or yellow bus (I used to regard this as great adventure when I was a kid) to Komtar and after ticking off the to-do list, he would take me to the Keat Seng coffeeshop on Penang Road for a durian ice-cream ice-kacang, before we hopped on the bus to return home. We would also stop at the hawker stalls opposite Shang Wu to buy laksa or wanton noodles for grandma on our walk from the bus stop back home.

I remember the annual trips to Singapore with him and grandma to visit my uncle. We would take the train which was not equipped with air conditioning back then. Trips would take an entire day with smelly yucky toilets on board. Grandma would boil eggs and buy char siew paus for the journey. But grandpa would inevitably purchase a cup of coffee and maybe some meehoon from the kitchen cabin during the stop in KL and share it with grandma and me. He took me to places of interest such as the science centre, the zoo, the bird park, sentosa island and many more. Again, ice kacang treats were aplenty during my holidays down south. Later on, when my uncle migrated to Aussie, both him and grandma brought bro and I along for a visit as well.

He used to wake up at 5am for his daily walks and marketing - mostly to Rifle Range, but sometimes trodding all the way to Jelutong on foot! He would buy brekkie for grandma and I - making sure that the menu was suitably varied every day - and he was never back later than 8am so that grandma would not be starving and/or overly worried.

He would take his daily afternoon naps and we had to tread around the house with care so as not to disturb him from his rest.

Every 1st and 15th of the Chinese lunar calander, he would faithfully head to the temple in town to offer his prayers. His prayers were so detailed to the extent that if any of his grandchildren were sitting for exams, he would communicate details of the subject, the date and the time of the paper to the gods for their blessings.

He was strict with his diet in his bid to stay healthy, particularly after his heart bypass 14 years ago.

He would make agar-agar, red bean soup, sweet potato soup and other yummy desserts for the family.

He pottered in the garden, tending to his flowers and mango/ papaya trees, despite the numerous protests from grandma to just cut everything down.

He loved to carry out DIY projects, even if it meant doing it behind grandma's back and risk incurring her wrath. This included constructing the prayer alters at home, painting the house and gates for CNY solo even though he was then already in his sixties/ seventies and putting together the doorbell which has been chiming in the house for the last 15 years. Come January every year, he strung up lights and decorated the house with homemade angpow cum new year card decorations and mobiles . And they were truly works of art indeed, which further heightened the atmosphere of the CNY festivities at home.

He religiously kept track of everyone's birth dates every single year.

He was a true gentleman, who wrote beautiful cursive and speaks the Queen's English the colonial way.

He was a staunch supporter of Dr M and regarded the man with much respect.

He took pride in corresponding via letters - I remember writing on behalf of the family to update him on news in Penang whenever he was away on holiday in Aussie. In return, he would always write back and I would then try as best as possible to translate the letter written in English, into Cantonese for my grandma's benefit.

However, he learnt about the internet in his late seventies and thereafter, kept in touch with us all via e-mail regularly. In fact, when he was still well enough, he used to check my blog to see what I have been up to.

He was strict with punctuality and woe-betide those who are late.

He was absolutely devoted to grandma and loved her to bits even after her death.

He was a well respected man, even within the extended family and many look up to him for valued advice.

He was a strong, fit and mentally alert man, till of late.

Gramps passed away at 4:25am @ 22 January 2008. You are a very special person - very much loved, fondly remembered and sorely missed. Rest in peace.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Babe told me, “You have to be strong this weekend. You must be strong.”

I had decided to leave for home, despite it being merely 6 to 7 weeks since I last saw gramps. Nevermind that my tix were already booked for CNY a fortnight away. Chatting to dad and Uncle YW on MSN, I had mulled over whether I could risk delaying seeing gramps for another fortnight away. And when even mum said, “If she wants to come back, just let her.” I realised that I may not have the chance to if I didn’t this weekend.

Babe made me see that very clearly. He chided me, “I cannot believe it is a consideration at all. He is still alive. And according to Uncle YW, alert enough to complain and scold the nurses. What else are you waiting for? ”

Yet I was concerned. About it affecting my work. About it affecting finances.

Babe reassured me not to worry about money, “Money can be earned in the future. You should just go. I will make the necessary arrangements. You just go.”

I was so strung up at work. I looked absolutely nightmarish, with blood shot eyes and hair which seemed to stick out at all the wrong places. Boss thought it was attributable to stress at work as coincidentally, there was an internal deadline to meet. He kept asking me whether things were going ok. And in the end, I just confided and told him I had a family emergency and that I would need the weekend away.

Boss was really good about it. He said it was a 4-day public holiday anyway, so it was mine to spend as I wished. I could take longer if need be. But I politely said nay, I’ll be back by Tuesday. I don’t think Gramps will die this weekend. So matter-of-factly said. I don’t know why I felt the need to verbalise that. Maybe it was more to reassure myself than to inform him.

Anyway, I left via Qatar Airways back to Malaysia. The trip back was really smooth. Flight connections and all were like clockwork. Minimal amount of waiting. I tried sleeping on the plane, but was rather fitful. But I had to sleep. To synch my time with Malaysian time. I couldn’t afford jet lag. Not when I had so little time.

My family picked me up at the Penang Airport and whisked me off to Lam Wah Ee Hospital. Gramps was on the third floor. Room 363 at the Cardiac Unit.

When I saw him, I was trying so hard to fight off tears and swallow sobs. He was hooked up to tubes and was obviously struggling to breathe, even with an oxygen mask. He opened his eyes occasionally. But his eyes were grey and glassy. Unfocused. I wasn’t even sure whether he could recognize me anymore. And that upset me. I had so desperately hoped that he would be well enough to scold me for wasting money flying back at such a “whim”. I really wish he had.

I held his hand whilst he was restless and in much discomfort. He flails his arms, randomly. And kept shaking his head. We could not phantom what he was trying to say.

His eyes were shrunken and his body thin and shriveled. I was not used to the sight of strong Gramps, fit and robust, reduced to such a sight. I felt really really frightened and yet knew that I must remember to be strong. As strong as I could anyhow. Strong for him. Strong for mum.

According to Uncle YW, he may have suffered some minor stroke. We could not tell as Gramps would not keep still enough for a CT scan. And even if so, what little good would it do to know?

His mouth and teeth was a mess of blood. Uncle YW reassured us that it was due to the blood thinners given to him to prevent blood clots. The downside of which would cause his gums to bleed. It was “normal” in such circumstances.

The unresponsiveness was quite a worry. His vitals were ok. Stable. But not particularly great. The question being, was his mental capacity affected? And if so, what should be done, in the event his organs start to fail? Should he be hooked on to artificial life support? Any active resuscitation?

These were questions which are impossible to answer. For my uncles who are both doctors, I think this is particularly tough. Uncle YK was trembling, hands white as he broke the news to us for discussion.

We all knew Gramps didn’t want to live. Three days ago, when he was still alert, he had summoned mum, uncle YW and uncle YK to his bedside at his hospital at the unearthly hour of 2:30am. And asked to be given an injection to be “put to sleep”. “I am ready to go to heaven”.

My poor uncles. Doctors as they are, how could they do that. And to someone so dear!

And despite all this, I am positive that Gramps can be persuaded to live. As evident last April. He recovered miraculously. It would be audacious to ask for so much, but there was hope. If last April taught me anything, it taught me that willpower is very important. With family support, love, care and rallying, I was adamant that we could make him want to live. And keep on fighting.

But on the other hand, this time was quite a bit more serious than April – physically. As powerful as willpower maybe, there would always be physical constraints. It wasn’t always a case of mind over matter. You just cannot run software without functioning hardware.

Gramps was struggling to breathe. And it was obviously very very uncomfortable for him. Would it still be considered love to sustain him and let him continue to suffer or was it just pure selfishness?

Still, surely we cannot give up. Apparently Aunt L had consulted a “medium” who confirmed it was his time to go. And yet, this is something I cannot accept. We cannot give up. If we do, he definitely will. We cannot stop fighting so easily. Not if we loved him like we do. We really shouldn’t. We are supposed to support. Not to reaffirm the naysayers.

Ah Gong. We all love you very much. And as much as you struggle and wave us away, gesturing us to leave you alone to die. We cannot. We simply cannot. Please don’t make this any more difficult than it is.

Sometimes, it is really god’s will. But please, not yet. Your physical signs are improving. I am confident that we will pull through this together. Be patient. You will get well. Don’t worry about things. About having to be put in a home (if medical care is required). About money. About being a burden. It is not. We love you so much and do not think of it in that way at all. We just want you to continue being a part of our lives. To share our joys and achievements. To be the proud patriarch you are.

Please. Give us a chance. To shower you with love so that you can recover and be strong again.

God, please send a guardian angel to watch over Gramps. Guide him back to us. Please.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 2

On further consideration, I thought I'd warn any unwary visitor who stumbles upon this blog and starts reading. If you're male, you're likely to find the following icky. So please, do yourself a favour and turn back to where you came from. Trust me, you'll thank me for this.


Today is DAY 2 of 28. Well, for most people anyway.

I feel tired, bloated and unattractive. Well, I feel unattractive most of the time anyway, but I feel particularly unattractive today. I was bundled in a warm green turtleneck sweater. I used to look smart in such stuff. But today, I looked like a green apple. People without necks like moi should really refrain from attempts to don turtlenecks. Seriously.

Anyways, back to my new year's resolution. Today I learnt about:

The cycle

Day 1 - 4: Bleed, bleed, bloody bleed.
Day 5 - 11: Have sex, sex, sex.
Day 12 to 14: Ovulation (supposedly) occurs. More sex.
Day 15 to 18: Have sex - just in case ovulation is late. And for fun. Ha!
Day 19 to 28: Moan over zits, irritation mounts, mood swings from hyper happy to god damn depressing. Back to Day 1.

That is the summarised agak-agak version. Now, the real (complicated) deal. Systematic. Discipline required. No pain no gain.

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)

FAM is a collection of practices that help a woman know which days of the month she is most likely to get pregnant. A woman can learn when ovulation is coming by observing her own body and and charting physical changes. She can then use this information to avoid or encourage pregnancy.

a) Technique 1: Calander Charting
  • Start by keeping a written record of your menstrual cycle for 8-12 consecutive months. (So long!!!! Shucks! How am I going to achieve my resolution this year?)
  • Count the first day of menstruation (the first of bleeding) as "Day 1" of your cycle.
    Pick your longest and shortest cycles.
  • Subtract 18 from the length of your shortest cycle and note this as the first fertile day.
  • Subtract 11 from the length of your longest cycle and this is the last fertile day.

b) Technique 2: Cervical Mucus Monitoring

In a "typical" cycle, after 5 days of menstruation there are 3-4 "dry" days, then wetness begins with sticky, cloudy, whitish, or yellowish secretions. The wetness increases to the wettest day when mucus is quite distinctive: abundant, clear, very slippery and very stretchy (like egg whites). Ovulation occurs sometime in the 2 days before or up to 2 days after the peak day of stretchy fertile mucus. This is summarised in the chart below.

c) Basal body temperature (BBT)
  • Temperature is taken every morning immediately upon waking and before any activity.
  • Immediately before ovulation, the temperature drops briefly.
  • Within 12 hours of ovulation the BBT rises several tenths of a degree and remains up until the next menstrual period.
  • When temperature stays high for 3 days in a row, the fertile period is over and the infertile time begins.
  • Keep a chart of your BBT over a period of 8-12 consecutive months to learn the approximate time in your cycle when you usually ovulate.
d) Cervical Observation
  • During and in the first few days after menstruation, the cervix is fairly low and firm like the tip of your nose.
  • When the wet cervical fluid begins to show, the cervix begins to move up, become more soft, wet, and open.
  • During ovulation, the cervix is at its highest and most open. After ovulation, the cervix returns to the firm, low, and closed position.
Huh?? Got difference meh? Don't really know how this works.

Sounds like a lot of work leh.