A Week After The Uneventful Angiogram

Anyone else had an angiogram before and whose arm aches like all buggery even after a week? Mine does.

But apart from that, I’ve rested a few days, gone straight into work at writing the Hossan Leong Show: Flying Solo with Hirzi and Jasmine (the multi-tasking Stage Manager) – got your tickets yet? – and have continued eating healthily without being too Fascist about it, because birthdays do come with cakes, and it’s all about eating a lot less of it rather than saying no food and drink allowed.

Like I mentioned before I’ve had great help staying on the wagon because of Naomi’s meal planning, as well as our champion helper’s initiatives – just check out this lunch I’ve just eaten: Wholemeal tortilla with pea sprouts, tomato and chickpea salsa, avocado and organic smoked cheddar. Stuff you can stuff/wrap and stuff yourself with easily.

An Angiogram To Be Thankful For

So I went for an angiogram this morning to see if I had any blockages in any coronary artery, and if so, how bad it was, and if it was bad, whether to do a balloon angioplasty or place a stent inside.

The procedure involves threading a catheter through a vein in your wrist into your heart, and pumping a contrast dye so that the arteries can be photographed using an x-ray machine.

This was explained to me several times over two visits to the cardiologist’s but I don’t know why I had the impression I was going to be sedated or put under general anesthesia for the procedure. Turns out I had to be awake the whole time, and I was going to see the catheter going from an incision in my wrist into my heart, ‘live’ on the monitor next to me.

What was even weirder than seeing it on screen was to feel a very faint but disturbing ache in the arm and then in the chest as the catheter was being pushed into the heart, a process which took only about ten or so seconds after it was inserted into the wrist. It was a thrill seeing my own heart pumping and even more exciting to see the contrast dye mapping the arteries like some squid squirting ink into my heart. I had to keep reminding myself not to freak out and think of the very slight possibility of something going wrong.

Still, probably the most undignified thing to happen was the radiologist’s technician having to shave my groin because it had to be “put on stand-by” just in case the threading through the wrist didn’t work (in some cases the vein goes into a loop and the catheter can’t go any further). It was a dry shave with a disposable razor and I am still smarting from it, especially after they poured either saline or alcohol to disinfect the area. I wanted to scream but thought I’d better stay calm for the procedure.

The result of this morning’s medical adventure? A kinda sorta clean bill of health. There are no major blockages, only a slight narrowing in two coronary arteries – known as a “waist” – which require no treatment other than to continue on a healthy diet and start an exercise regime. I am relieved and grateful.

Voicing The Beetle

Put a brand new car on public display, get one comic actor and one comic writer in a control room that allows them to talk to the occupants of the car, hilarity ensues. That was the formula the organizers thought of the past fortnight, and they were right. Chua Enlai and myself had so much fun we fought over the microphone on Sunday at Raffles City.

I’m quite certain members of the public who ventured into the 21st Century Beetle to fiddle around with it had fun too – especially the couple who brought their two dogs which barked when the Beetle “barked”.

Check out photos of other people who sat in the Beetle.

I Quit And Stayed Quit

It’s been awhile since I’ve quit smoking, and it never ceases to amaze me how easily I quit and how quickly I quit.

I was lucky though. My wife and I were both heavy smokers, going through roughly a pack a day at the peak. It must have been terrible for non-smoking visitors to come to our apartment (as we were constantly reminded by Naomi’s mum – who’d nag at us the moment she got into our car). When I first started blogging – no, that was not around the time when computers were invented – even my profile picture was one of me holding a cigarette.

I quit quite easily because I had my wife who quit together with me. We have been smoke free since 2008. Now if you think you may not have the luxury of having a support group behind you, you don’t have to look further than the world’s biggest quit smoking support group, put together by the Health Promotion Board.

I strongly encourage you to take a look if you’re trying to quit or thinking of quitting smoking. If you’re an ex-smoker like me, or even someone who has never lit up, join in and offer your support. The Facebook support group is chock full of resources for you to look at, or even send a Quit Pack (known among some smokers as the No-Fun Pack) to a friend or loved one.

I will be contributing my stories of quitting and of when I used to smoke in the coming days. Join me.

Seriously useful links:

I QUIT CLUB
OVER 60K ACTS OF SUPPORT – QUIT SMOKING SUPPORT COMMUNITY

Downtown Line Accident Donation To Close

At 2359hrs on Friday, 27 July, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) will stop collecting donations for the victims of last week’s Downtown Line construction site accident.

If donations marked “Bugis MRT accident” are still received after the deadline, the organization will email the donor asking whether he/she would like a refund or if the donation should be put towards the organization’s general fund. Refunds will be made promptly.

If however the donation is received after the deadline marked “Bugis MRT accident” but without contact information, there will be no way to pose that question, and the donation will be accepted into the organization’s general fund.

The public response to the donation drive has been fantastic, and I’m glad to know that there are people who care enough.

Help The Workers Who Help Build Our Country

It is a tragic day today with two workers dead and several others injured in a scaffolding collapse at an MRT station construction site. It is also a time to spare a thought for the thousands of migrant workers who do these tough, low-paying and sometimes dangerous jobs building our country’s infrastructure.

For as long as Singapore has been around, we’ve been dependent on migrant workers – We founded this country on Indian coolies working on the docks and the Samsui women on our roads and buildings in the 19th to 20th Centuries.

And before K-Pop and Korean movie stars, we imported Korean construction workers, who together with their Thai counterparts, built Raffles City, Marina Square and every other major construction project in the 1980s.

We owe a debt to them because they are doing our national service.

This afternoon some of my friends and I scrambled to arrange for a donation channel for the families of this morning’s accident victims. We spoke to MCYS, MOM and the LTA to see how we could coordinate it so that the public who wish to help out can do so. Then we found that the people already helping migrant/transient workers were most ready, willing and able to help.

The organization is called “Transient Workers Count Too“, and they have offered to take in donations for the victims. The money you donate will go towards the families of the two dead workers, and towards the injured workers while they are unable to work as they recover.

This is how you can donate:

BY CHEQUE:

Make a crossed cheque payable to: ‘Transient Workers Count Too’, write your name and “Bugis MRT Accident” at the back of the cheque and mail it to: 5001 Beach Road, #06-27 Golden Mile Complex, Singapore 199588.
Send an email to info@twc2.org.sg with your name, cheque no., amount and “Bugis MRT Accident”, so that the donation can be properly recorded and a receipt sent to you.

BY SGGIVES (ONLINE)

You can donate using your credit card here. A small commission is charged by this donation collection agency. Under the “Special Occasion / Person” field, type “Bugis MRT Accident”.

BY PAYPAL (ONLINE)

You can use your paypal account or credit card to donate here. However, a commission of 4% or so is charged on every donation. There is no field for you to input the purpose of donation, so it is advisable to drop twc2 an email after you’ve donated by this method.

Kai and Kai Finally Meet

Kai is three plus and so is Kai. But because they live on opposite sides of the world, this past weekend was the first time they’ve met.

You cannot make this shit up: My schoolmate Colin Goh’s kid was born 7:45pm EST on 3 April 2009 in New York. Our son was born 7:15am in Singapore – that’s 1/2 an hour apart. But there’s more. They’re both named Kai – only Colin’s Kai a girl.

At their playmate on Sunday, the two Kais got on like a house on fire, and they quickly figured out how to differentiate their names. Colin’s Kai called herself Kai-Kai, while our Kai was just Kai.

The one thing we forgot to do was to make both Kais pick 4D numbers. Might do that for their next playdate.

Turning A Health Scare Into A New Lifestyle

A month ago now, we went to Bangkok for a complete health check at a hospital famous for their health check packages. There are comparable packages available in Singapore in terms of price, but there’s nothing like the setup they have there. In this Bangkok hospital, batteries of X-ray and other diagnostic machines line luxuriously appointed hallways that look like they belong more in a five star hotel than a hospital. This also means that as crowded as it gets because of its fame, a typical patient could be in and out of the place with their test results within five hours.

So I got my results and a partial explanation of why I had been feeling tired for the past year – hypertension (153/90), a fatty liver (non-alcohol related), a triglyceride level twice the recommended high end figure and a suspected narrowing of one of the coronary arteries, based on the stress ECG which is part of the package.

We left the hospital did some shopping and eating and returned to Singapore to a cardiologist’s appointment and a brand new diet.

I’ve cut out alcohol since 26 June (though the cardiologist did say a glass or two of red was permitted), and have been on a very low carb, very low cholesterol, very low fat, 95% vegetarian diet, allowing myself a stress free bigger meal on the weekend with the family. It was just as well I did. Last week, on my second visit to the cardiologist, I did a sugar tolerance test and failed. I am diabetic, but only slightly.

I’ll be making an appointment for an angiogram and if needed, angioplasty. Till then, I’m not allowed to exercise yet. But I’m really enjoying the new diet that Naomi has jumped into helping me plan – and in fact I’m writing this between my now routine glasses of banana-blueberry-protein-powder-dunnowhat (I’ll get the recipe later) smoothie and fruit (beetroot, celery, yakon) juice for breakfast. Most days, barring a lunch meeting, I pack a lunch box from a Naomi-planned menu containing fruit, vegetables and some protein, usually tofu, and a banana for an energy boost. It gets me through the day without snacking.

I weighed in at 72kg in Bangkok on 17 June. I’m currently at 66.5kg. Some way to go before I get to a safe weight for my frame. But I’m happy with this diet and have been surprisingly disciplined about it but that’s probably because I’ve not had any cravings for carbs or meat that plague many dieters. I think we must be doing something right.

Talking Cock in Parliament II: Malulah Singapura

It was great to be part of Talking Cock in Parliament again, though I was slightly taken aback by the sheer demand of the public. People actually turned up at 2pm to get tickets for the event. Spoil market!

There were very disappointed people who were not part of the 170 allowed in the Old Parliament House’s (or Arts House as it is now known) Playden, including one irate woman who told one of the organizers, “next time can you all please hold this in a bigger venue? We came all the way here from work, you know?”

Lady, sorry hor. This was a free event, budget very small, cannot hold in Suntec Convention Centre. In any case, the video will be out on mrbrown’s blog and on the TalkingCock in Parliament FB page soon as they finish editing.