Friday, 28 May 2010

Pure Nerd

Apparently, I'm a pure nerd (specifically, 83 % Nerd, 22% Geek, 17% Dork).

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

Yeah right... I *wish* I was a nerd.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Run Hon Run

In an exiting interview of the ministry apprenticeship, someone remarked, "Hon hit the ground running". Let's see how far we can go with this metaphor.

The years before college were like a triathlon. A multi-challenge endurance event (Complicated by weather conditions: torrential rain.)

The years at college was like running the Kokoda trail, straight up for 'A Thousand Steps' which got steeper as you ascended. A cardiovascular workout. (With fog and falling rocks.)

The time after college has been a sprint. An adrenaline-fueled burst on a flat and clearly marked circuit, but it's fast and the minutiae matters.

Different types of running. But all that time, I only paused to catch my breath, take a drink or stop off the side of the road (excuse me). The triathlon segued into scaling a mountain, followed by a bolt.

... I don't even really like running, except for the sprints, which are exhilarating. The way I run is very bouncy. I expend a lot of energy which is not really suitable for long-distance running.

Recently, I've noticed some warning signs: twitching eye, broken sleep, return of a nervous cough, persistent muscle tension, negative thinking, nanna naps, bursts of crying, aversion to socialising, loss of enthusiasm about things I'm usually passionate about...

It's time to stop.

Cemetery Comedy

(Forgive me.) The afternoon at the Necropolis yielded some irreverent musings. I refrain from posting the following Facebook statii about the City of the Dead.

  1. Hon sees dead people, all the time.

  2. Hon rested in peace (read: Hon fell asleep at the cemetery)

  3. Hon had a little giggle at the epitaph, "Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away"

Peter Adam would appreciate that.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

MaMa's Recipe for Congee

Wash rice in rice cooker bowl.

Wash big chunks of lean meat and add to rice.

Coat both in oil and rub in some salt. Prepare at least an hour in advance.

Pour in boiling water. Optional: add dried scallops, lotus seeds.

Set rice cooker on congee setting.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Worse than Cancer?

It was a solemn moment when my Gong Gong asked his daughter, two weeks after the event, "Did I almost die?"

"You almost died twice", came the reply. Gong Gong nods his head slowly, as a small explosion set off inside him. It's not just shocking to find out you almost fell off a cliff. It's shocking to find out you were actually standing on a cliff in the first place.

His last admission to hospital lasted 14 days (10 of which were spent intubated in ICU and involved a surgical drain of 1.2L of fluid from his pericardium). But just before to that admission, Gong Gong had gone to the hospital twice wanting treatment. Twice, the doctors turned him away because they couldn't find a cause of his symptoms. They couldn't see how close Gong Gong was to the edge of the cliff.

They had lots of trouble diagnosing him. We longed for a diagnosis. It was obvious that something was wrong, but it's terrible not knowing what that was. No diagnosis meant we were in limbo and couldn't pursue the course of treatment. The enemy is unknown.

Today, only days after being discharged, Gong Gong was readmitted to ICU with different symptoms. Doctors are still unsure what has caused his latest troubles. (Stroke? Pulmonary oedema? Decompensated heart? Malfunctioning heart valve?) Getting a diagnosis is a tricky business. The window to really fix the problem is closing and there's the unpleasant business of dealing with each new presentation. We would really appreciate some prayers.

But this post isn't really about Gong Gong, his treatment or his cardiologist, but about diagnosis.


Imagine the worse disease ever. (Cancer? HIV/AIDS? Flesh eating bacteria?) Now imagine having that disease. What's worse than having that disease?

What's worse than having that disease is not knowing that you have that disease. No diagnosis. This means not being able to seek the right course of treatment. It's not understanding how the disease may develop. It's not knowing you need help. It's not knowing that you are about to fall off the cliff, teetering on the edge.

... I think Christians and non-Christians often have difficulty with "judgment" (here, I mean telling others about sin, about God's "capital-J Judgment" which finally condemns sin like a judge's court final pronouncements and about hell. Perhaps you have read one of the many judgment passages in the Bible, which point out how people don't live God's good way.).

Everyone sins but no one likes that pointed out to them. No one should take pleasure in saying a message of judgment to someone else. And no one enjoys being on the receiving end. It's all an unpleasant business.

But is the "judgment" a bad thing in itself? No, judgment is merely the diagnosis. It identifies the problem. This is the bad thing. Sin is the personal cancer that robs people of life. Sin is the debilitating illness and painful ailment. Sin ends in a horrible death, without fail. It's chronic and terminal. Sin is the worse problem imaginable.

Judgment is the diagnosis; it points out sin. If Christians see the sin and but do not acknowledge it, they are like doctors who withhold the diagnosis. Who sends sick people home with a clean bill of health. Who impedes treatment and healing. Who fails to warn patients of grave danger. This doctor is not only negligent, but contributes to the death of sick people. The silence is not kind but cruel.

Now, sin is the disease and judgment is the diagnosis. But the remedy is grace. In Jesus, people can have grace for free, the full strength and full spectrum remedy. It's the only remedy for sin and death. God's grace is the cure that he freely offers to people who acknowledge their sin. But...

If there is no diagnosis of disease, there is no remedy. Just death.
If there is no judgment of sin, there is no grace. Just death.

Doctors may not like breaking bad news to people. But not telling them is worse. They will miss out on the treatment they need to live.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Book Review: Onion Tears

"Kids, we are halfway through this book. Do you want me to keep reading?" resigned the patient librarian, sensing great boredom. Her fingers kept the place two-thirds of the way into Diana Kidd's "Onion Tears".

"NOOOO!!" replied the emphatic and impatient chorus of 3rd graders. She interpreted their listening body language well - they were bored.

But I desperately wanted her to read on ~ she had been reading so beautifully. I wasn't Vietnamese like the main character, a primary school girl named Nam-Huong, but I was also an Asian migrant in Australia. I never risked a dangerous boat journey without parents to flee my homeland, but my family also had a recent and dramatic migration story. I was the only third grader who bawled in the library when the librarian read about Nam-Huong's grandfather sacrificing what he needed to to help his granddaughter arrive safely. Because mine would have done the same.

A shocking, powerful and heartful children's book with a hint of onions.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Gong Gong is better, but not super

On Sunday night, Gong Gong had 1200ml drained from his pericardium in ICU. Today he got transferred to CCU. This is a step down in the level of care ~ a good sign that he's out of the immediate danger zone. He remains sedated, but was able speak to my Mum when she arrived in the US yesterday to be with him. What. A. Relief.

Doctors are investigating cause of all that fluid. We always knew that he had cardiac problems, but the speed of onset suggests another culprit. Need to rule out cardiac infection (which is hard to treat) and cancer before we can fully breathe out. Those tigers are going to have to wait.

Thank you so much to everyone who prayed for him and our family. Bless you! God has been kind to us by giving us extra time.

Picture of Gong Gong, mid 2009.