Getting A New Computer During The Coronavirus Season!

Ahh, dad! That might just be too much disinfectant for a computer!

Blog author, Rachel Tan HX, 18
Our new computer being quarantined at a far corner of our house!
Credits: Blog author, Rachel Tan HX
26 April 2020

“List out three things you might want for your reward, for getting 9As in SPM (major exam),” my father announced, “And I’ll either choose from there, or if none are acceptable, I shall get you a physics reference book.”

This came as no surprise to me, as my father had done the same for my younger brother, who had gotten straight As (9As) for his PT3 exam. We both knew our father would never get us reference books for our reward. But we were also well aware that he rarely approved of our requests, even if some of the things we ask for will not cost a cent.

For instance, I can ask for the opportunity to have a part-time job / do volunteer work as my reward, and he may not allow it due to our priorities as a student.

Eventually, my father decided to give me my third choice: a new computer. I had asked for one purely for practicality purposes. “You need one.” He agreed, as we watched my Windows Vista try to load a google page for five minutes now. “I’ll get you one, and you shall use it to start studying for your foundation leading to university.”

So my father went and bought me one online from Dell, as I studied math Chapter 2: Sequences And Series from a form 6 book in the next room, under his strict orders. The only knowledge I had of it was the stomping of his feet as he strode to and fro his and my mother’s room, trying to settle the online payment, and “Rachel! Your computer will arrive in a few days.” while I mmphed and ohhed absentmindedly, as I attempted to expand (5+7x) to the power of 9 using the binomial theorem.

The computer was delivered to our home three days ago on the 23rd of April.

Prior to that, my father had walked out to buy a bottle of disinfectant.

“Now,” dad mused, “where shall I begin?” Once he began, though, he couldn’t stop. Here is a photo of him spraying the CPU:

Credits: Blog author, Rachel Tan HX
23 April 2020

Ahh, dad! That might just be too much disinfectant for a computer!

“Better safe than sorry,” replied my father, in response to our protests. He sprayed the keyboard, then the mouse. “Safe than sorry.” We watched as liquid soap started pooling on the CPU’s surface. He sprayed viciously through the tiny holes where the CPU’s cooling fan and harddrive were supposed to be. Psst. Psst. Psssssssssstttt. Dad stood back.

“I hope there won’t be a short circuit inside.” He admitted.

We lifted the CPU and put it in a far corner of the house.

The next morning, dad said: “I turned the CPU upside down and sprayed the bottom again!” causing me to gasp in worry. “Bad thing is, this disinfectant is not like hand sanitizer, it doesn’t evaporate off. When I lifted it, I saw a puddle of soap underneath.”

I opened my mouth.

“But stay calm. Stay calm,” said dad. “We’ll open everything up and blow it with a hairdryer after five days.”

Utmost suspense. Will the computer kaput or live to see tomorrow?

My Job As A Hospital Patient Care Assistant

Credits: Blog author, Rachel Tan HX, 18

Disclaimer: This blogpost is specifically targeted to help or inform students who are considering or are studying medicine, and is less tailored toward healthcare professionals or the public. This blogpost is NOT written to garner followers or to be made viral, which is why this blog will not be intentionally publicized.

As some of you already know, I spent the past two months working at a hospital as a patient care assistant.Β Being hospital staff, I have learnt so much just through observation and listening. Today, I would like to share with you what is required of my job as a PCA.

First of all is admin work. Contrary to what the position “Patient Care” Assistant suggests, most of the work of a PCA is actually done sitting behind the counter. The admin is known as the person who handles the computer and does all the paperwork. My job is to register patients in the system, trace their old medical records, bill patients, make sure all their details along with their diagnosis, attending doctor, and time visited are recorded into a large patient log book. The paperwork consists of various types of hospital forms, including the prescription form for medicine, x-ray form, lab form, insurance forms, Covid 19 test form, and the various charge forms (billing) for nursing procedures, disposable items, doctor consultation fees and usage of medical equipment. Then there are the phone calls, which could be internal (coming from the cashier next door, general ward, x-ray, lab, HR, marketing or any department within the hospital) or external (from patients, doctors from other hospitals, etc). You have to remember all of the extension numbers from the various departments, so that with one glance you know where the call is coming from before you even pick up the phone. When a patient comes with health insurance or a medical card, we have to call up the insurance company to check if there is coverage, then request for a guarantee letter(GL), which can take from 10 minutes up to 2 hours, by which time we would have to call up yet again to enquire about the GL status.

You might groan in boredom when you listen to all the work I have described, but there’s so much to absorb all at once, you have absolutely no time to be bored. Try it, and you will wonder how admin work can be so difficult to keep up with, especially during your first few weeks!

Secondly, a PCAs job is to do despatch work. If today I am assigned morning shift, I must make the beds or change any bedsheets or pillow cases which are dirty and send them up in a laundry bag. I must record the number of soiled linen sent up and request for new ones. Once in a while, I will also be called up to collect items from purchasing, such as gloves, face masks, small tubes for collecting blood or urine; or to send or collect medical equipment to or from CSSD (Central Sterile Services Department). I also must collect lab and x-ray reports when they are ready.

Thirdly, in light of Covid 19, more demands have been placed on healthcare personnel, namely triaging and assisting the doctor during covid screening. As an unlicensed person, I can only triage. Triaging is, in simple terms, deciding on the order of which patients should be attended to, based on the seriousness of their condition. I will ask every person that wants to enter the hospital a list of questions that checks for Covid 19 symptoms or possible contact, while wearing my complete PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

A fourth requirement is not specific to PCAs, but rather for all staff working in the emergency unit, and that is having 3 shifts. For instance, PCAs working for the specialist clinic work office hours, but I happen to be given a job as a PCA under the emergency unit, so every day I can either be doing morning, evening or night shift, depending on a duty roster that is updated weekly. Once in a while, I will also be asked to do a double shift for 14 hours straight.

Finally, we reach the part you have been waiting for: patient care! I have transfered patients with leg injuries onto a wheelchair, wheeling them from their car into the emergency unit at 2am. I have pushed patients on wheelchairs to get their x-ray done, or on beds to do a supine x-ray (lying face up), both often connected to saline drips. I have lifted a boy’s leg with a hornet sting to place a tenapad underneath; held a crying, struggling little girl’s head as the doctor did stitches on her chin; brought water for an alcoholic suffering from SOB (shortness of breath); made friendly conversation with anxious senior patients; and translated entire doctor consultations as best as I could to many mandarin-spreaking patients (I struggled to translate all the medical jargon to Mandarin, though).

I have also dealt with two particularly serious cases that I will refrain from mentioning from the time being, as those will be left to another post where I must ensure patient confidentiality, while at the same time bringing the story to you.

Those are the main five duties I have as a Patient Care Assistant! If you are a teenager and have tried working in a hospital, or even have any sort of work experience, I would be delighted to hear from you.

After all, I set up this blog for one main reason: to write the informative, or healthcare-related blogposts, from a Malaysian medical student’s perspective starting from her teenage years, that I have always wanted to read but could never find on the Internet. So I went on and did it myself! Now, I hope to bring forth the stories to you. πŸ™‚

Small note: Although this blog is meant for everyone, my main intended audience is for my peers and next generations who are thinking of, planning to or are currently pursuing a career in healthcare, therefore much of my content will be tailored to our understanding.

Med School Intake Delayed!

I have just received an email from my new university. The commencement date for my chosen program, foundation in biological science has been delayed to June!

Naturally, I am not very happy about that, because it will only mean being stuck at home pre-studying for med school! πŸ˜› My contract with the hospital has ended and I am slightly disappointed that I cannot continue. After two months of work experience, I have chosen to put family safety over personal growth, despite the enriching experience, the things I had yet to learn even within my own job scope of a patient care assistant (PCA), and all the people I could have gotten to know more. For now while I am still young, I have conceded to both of my parents, who have made it clear that due to the current coronavirus situation, an extension of contract with the hospital was not an option.

( Do not fear, though: yours truly here may be bored, but I will make sure my readers will never be. I will still share about my experiences working at the hospital, at my previous retail job, and other interesting things!)

With the extended MCO (Movement Control Order) due to the Covid 19 virus, though, I did anticipate a postponed intake date. In between studying two STPM books: one on math and one on biology, I have taken the initiative to seek out certain faculty members through various modes of contact, settling some pre-intake paperwork. My university also has an online portal, which I took the time to do a little bit of exploring.

I am wondering now, with the new coronavirus still on the loose, if our lectures will end up going online on our first day. Online lecturers does feel less plausible for a first day, but the reason why I think this is because I am aiming for foundation in science leading to MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree), and most universities, including mine, have only one intake a year for med school. The foundation intake cannot be pushed too far back, because it fits nicely with the first year of our medical degree, and that fits like a jigsaw puzzle with the next year, and the year after that. A delay in the intake of foundation will affect how smoothly we can transition into med school. Maybe then we will go online.

Mercy, J&J Partner To Evaluate Medical Devices l Pharma Intelligence

How strange will it be, to interact with your coursemates online first, for perhaps a few weeks, before meeting them in the real life!

I am not entirely sure how I feel about that! πŸ˜› You see, it really is not the same as having started college, and being forced suddenly to stay home and attend Zoom classes. We have not even started our first day or seen our classrooms / lecture halls, mind you. For one it can be an amusing and lighthearted experience, starting university in a unique way. For another, it can also be frustrating that you do not get to meet face-to-face with interesting people on your very first day. But whatever happens, I will always choose to look on the bright side.

My younger brother’s teachers, teachers from the secondary school I graduated from, also use the zoom app for online classes. I find it interesting watching the lessons unfold soundlessly on the computer screen, as my brother listens to his teacher on his headphones. Once in a while you will get a glimpse of the teacher’s dog wagging its tail, or hear a whisper of their young son memorising chemistry terms; and then we laugh.

Every so often when we laugh about high-tech things, I will wonder about how anything today might become obsolete for our next generations, and I wonder what the future will look like.

I do not know what the future will be like. How things will turn out for Malaysia as we battle Covid 19, what the world will be like in seventy years, how I will handle my chosen career when the time comes. But I do know one thing: I will see the opportunity in every challenge. I am unlucky to be part of this crisis, yet so fortunate to be part of this lesson.

I wonder what university will be like?

The Choice Between When To Live And When To Remember

Fairy lights and me
17 August 2019
Credits: Blog Author, Rachel Tan HX, 17

When I was younger, I used to have shockingly good memory, the ability to remember unexpected details such as the exact page I read that line or a dream I had in my sleep five years ago. My parents agreed that my two strengths were diligence and memory; I was less adept at thinking out of the box.

As I grew up, I found I remembered less and less, or at least I stopped noticing any impressive memories I had of the past. In fact, I noticed I was forgetting a lot, though that applies more to short-term memory: telling myself not to make that mistake and then making it seconds after, or forgetting a math concept I just learnt yesterday.

I am not sure what causes this phenomenon, or why my memory has “deteriorated” slightly as I grew. Perhaps it is the pressure my father constantly put on me to “learn faster, read faster, absorb faster, be more efficient” until my hastiness has messed with my eye for detail; or perhaps it is simply biological.

Nevertheless, this has posed a bit problem and frustration for me. These days, I can no longer remember things with the crystal-clarityness I used to have.

This has caused me to tighten my grip on my pen, to hold my notebook at bay with the intention of writing down everything remotely interesting I have seen or experienced.

My Diary Notebook
22 February 2020
Credits: Blog Author, Rachel HuiXin, 17

Still, this mild “short-term-memory-loss” has disappointed me a bit, for a big part due to the volume of things I want to remember, and for another my perceived lacking of experiences compared to others around me, at least during my secondary school years. The amount of all the little events I wanted to remember sprained my wrist, and my unrest mind when a pen or notebook wasn’t available; my lacking in enriching experiences made me eager to collect memories to relive during the long periods of time when I have nothing much to experience.

I previously believed that when I wrote in my diary, I was having fun; but after giving it some thought I am not sure “fun” is the best word for it. If you see me scribbling furiously in my diary, it may seem as though I am enjoying myself. The problem is when you consider the situation from a different point of view, I also cannot be at peace until I record the moment.

During my time with my retail colleagues and customers, there was a one hour break in between working, and I could sit on a bench and quickly record down many of the fun things that happened that day. During my time with my healthcare colleagues and patients, however, I was on shift work and there were no breaks in between. There were so many things to learn, catch up with, and make sure everything goes smoothly that it would be inappropriate to start scribbling in your diary at the hospital’s registration counter. Therefore after some struggling with digital recording of some experiences in my phone memo, I stopped doing so and decided to focus on the experience.

The crux of the matter now comes: choosing not to write these experiences down and instead be more in the present is equivalent to choosing to live that moment properly, BUT conceding to the fact that the moment very likely cannot be relived. Focusing on the experience gives you the delusion that you will remember even better, but from my experience at least, that is not true. What you write down is what you will remember the clearest years later, with all the keywords to jog your memory. No matter how much focus you put into an experience that is not written down, it becomes a blurry blanket memory very soon. It may not even take a year, or even a few months, to become that way.

Memory Loss Due Image & Photo (Free Trial) | Bigstock
Credits: BigStock photos

But how can one’s pen keep up with time? The only way would be to selectively pen down memories.

It is your choice, however, how you would like it to be: #1 being always there and in future recalling everything in a blur of equal level, or #2 living some and remembering some (therefore missing some experiences during the periods of time you choose to write). Some people are content with the former and sometimes I envy them, because I cannot be at peace if I leave myself to forget. For me it is a constant war between trying to be present, and ensuring the piece of memory lives on.

I choose #2 all the time. I did #1 out of necessity for my time as a Patient Care Assistant, but until now I find it difficult to be content without at least some records of cool things to remember. I will definitely try to put down as much as I can while the memory is still fresh in my mind, but I know I can never catch up with two months of experience, and more to come.

Free forgetfulness Stock Photos -
Beautiful Blue Forget-Me-Nots
Credits: Stockvault

All I know is that the feeling of obligation to remember will forever be a burden I will carry; but I can learn to enjoy myself in the process, to find a balance between being present and recalling great things. πŸ™‚