Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mind the gap

Since I have come back from traveling, people have asked me how I enjoyed it - especially India since I hadn't been there before. I have to say that I am really glad to have gone to India. I learned a lot about India and about myself. It was rewarding to see how medicine really works in "charity hospitals" (I didn't get to see much of "real" medicine in Vietnam, since I was working in an international clinic). I am still struck by my experiences and what I saw. I saw shortcuts being taken in patient care, inadequate medical supplies and equipment (and personnel) being stretched beyond their means, and diseases that I had only read about in textbooks. None of this was to the fault of the medical personnel, who were simply doing their jobs the best way they knew how. Looking back, it was a wonderful experience and I don't regret going. However, it was also a stark lesson in the gap between rich and poor in India and helped me reflect on that same gap (albeit smaller) in the United States. An article in the New York Times today brought it to my attention, so I guess that's what led me to writing about it tonight.

So, did I have a good time in India? Sincerely, I don't know. I had some great memories and met some wonderful people. I learned a lot in medicine and grew as an individual. However, I don't know if I can say that I had a good time in India. Do I wish I hadn't gone? Of course not.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Making babies

So, I had my little cousins over the other day and we took my parents' three dogs to the dog park. While we were there, my precious little Jackson (the only male dog) was licking the behind of Princess, our female dog. My little cousins, aged 9 and 11, then asked me why Jackson was licking Princess. In the spur of the moment, I just said, "Oh, he wants to make puppies." Immediately after muttering that, I deeply regretted it, for fear that one of them would ask how puppies are made. Instead, I lucked out and they got all excited at the possibility of another puppy. Then, one of my cousins asked how you know dogs are married and I just sat there without an answer, hoping he would forget that he asked it.

Yeah, definitely not ready to handle kids and difficult conversations.

Friday, May 23, 2008


So, I have been obsessed with Josh Ritter for the last few years, ever since I saw him open for Keane in Boston. He's a singer-songwriter whose songs are incredible and whose performances are a joy to witness. He's got huge rabid fans, but hasn't really hit it big in mainstream music (which is both good and bad). Well, NPR discovered him about a year ago and just yesterday, they did a piece on him and Hilary Hahn, a classical violinist, performing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It's really amazing. You have to check it out.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Good news!

I don't need surgery on my knee! Yeah! However, that doesn't get me out of doing physical therapy so that I can finally conquer stairs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Real Housewives of San Ramon

I occasionally watch trashy reality TV, including The Real Housewives of Orange County. It's basically a show of these middle-aged women who act like they are best friends with their daughter's best friends and who party like it's 1979. Of course, they all have bottle blond hair, inflatable breasts, and fake tanner.

So, right now, I'm sitting at my neighborhood Starbucks in the idyllic suburb of San Ramon and a few of the Orange County housewives' friends just walked in... totally reminded me of the reality TV show. Seriously, don't people have better things to do on a Wednesday afternoon? Perhaps not. Just reminds me how much I despise the suburbs and how scared I am to possibly be moving to one in San Jose.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Strike one, strike two

It's been awhile, so I thought I would update everyone on my knee!

On March 20, I busted my knee (opening a window!) and was diagnosed by the orthopedist in Vietnam as having a contusion to the lateral ligament of my left knee.

On May 14, I went to my orthopedist in Boston and he thought that perhaps I tore my ACL.

On May 15, I had my fourth MRI of my life.

On May 16, I spoke to the radiologist, who diagnosed me as having dislocated my patella (now the popping sensation I felt that day makes complete sense). In the act of dislocating my patella, a piece of bone broke off and is floating in my knee (likely lodged in my lateral ligament). Fortunately, I didn't tear anything because my ligaments are lax (which caused the dislocation in the first place).

Now, I'm trying to get a hold of my orthopedist to see what he recommends. Whether it be surgery or not, I just want to know. However, the prospect of having my third knee surgery before I turn 30 is not a pleasant one at all.


So, I have finally finished med school!

Oh, more pictures are available on my flickr page, and for my family out there - sign up for flickr and you get to see more through the family photo page!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I'm in Boston for graduation and it's actually fun. Yeah, I'm not the biggest fan of Boston, but it's nice to go when I have (almost) no work to do and just get to go out to eat and explore the city.

However, I have been tying up some loose ends, including getting my knee checked out. The orthopedist decided that I should get another MRI, just in case, so this morning, I had my fourth MRI ever. And this time, I'm becoming an expert because I slept through the entire procedure - which is a feat given that being in an MRI machine sounds like being at a construction site. All I can say is my ability to sleep anytime, anywhere will come in handy during residency (and my next MRI).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Is the end approaching?

A cyclone, tornadoes, and an earthquake. What is this world coming to?

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Isn't it the first sign of alcoholism that you are drinking alone at home on a Saturday night? No, of course I'm not drinking alone at home on a Saturday night (I am drinking with Ira Glass for company).

I didn't realize how much I had missed NPR and podcasts!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Just for laughs

So, I have had a lot of time on my hands lately and I've become astonishingly adept at wasting time online. Some jewels that I have found (and I'm not even a huge you-tube-r).

Ken Lee, by Mariah Carey, via Bulgaria:

Quite possibly the cutest ringtone ever:


I have to learn that I need to be more careful about what I wish for. It's darn cold here in California! It's only been in the 60's lately - and windy! And because I've acclimated to the 90's with humidity, I'm close to freezing like a popsicle.

And just to make it more fun, I get to go to Boston all next week - where it barely reaches 60 - with rain!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Brave new world

Since I've been back in the states, I've realized how long it's been since I've done a lot of things.

List of "firsts" (things I have done for the first time since leaving the states in mid-January):
  • Drove a car
  • Walked from a cold outdoors to a warm indoors
  • Drank tap water without fear of diarrhea
  • Took a hot shower without turning on a water heater
  • Listened to a podcast (of course, it had to be "Wait, wait, don't tell me!")
  • Took a walk without fear of getting hit by a car/motorbike/rickshaw/bike
  • Read a newspaper
  • Wore jeans
  • Wore a tank top without fear of being stared at
Can't think of anything else. Oh, I've discovered that I'm terrible at Mario Kart on the Wii... I guess we all can't be good at everything.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mission accomplished!

I have to make a confession: I am endlessly and hopelessly addicted to Spider Solitaire. I couldn't stop playing all morning - until I finally beat it on medium!

Yeah, I need to get a life.

Home, alas

I woke up at 6am this morning, in the comfort of my parents' home. Albeit, it's a little cold (I got more than I wished for), but it still feels good. As I was looking out of the window on the plane, I realized that I forgot that I missed fog. Fog, of all things. It was just beautiful as it was rolling in over the peninsula.

However, I'm also realizing that I will miss Vietnam. This video, courtesy of NoodlePie, was surprisingly comforting, especially viewed on mute.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

On the way home

I'm in Taipei right now, on the way back to San Francisco.  I haven't slept any on the flight over here, which is rather unusual given that once I step into an airport, I'm beyond drowsy.  So, I'm hoping that I won't sleep too much on the flight back to the states because then I'll be jetlagged and no fun at all. 
So, for people wondering what my plans will be for the next few weeks (everyone seems to want to know, for some odd reason), here it is:
  • May 3-May 11: Bay Area, California.
  • May 12-May 18: Boston, MA.
  • May 19-June 23: Bay Area, but with nothing to do, which makes me deliriously happy.
  • June 23: The games (aka residency) begin.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Black and white

People in the states want to be tan and dark.  People in Asia want to be as white as possible.  It's quite a conundrum.  As in the states, skin color in Asia takes on a lot of social significance.  People in higher classes tend to have lighter skin.  Historically, this may have been due to the fact that people in higher classes didn't have to toil in the fields all day and could afford to not get tan.  In modern times, it's helped by the use of scary whitening creams.  This is true in Vietnam and India, where in both countries, I have had people either tell me that I have such dark skin or such fair skin.  Two people see the same thing but think different opinions. 

One story I have happened when I went on the mobile clinic visit to the villages in India.  I was playing with this little baby who was being held by her (presumed) grandmother.  The woman holding the baby kept on pointing to the baby, then to me, and saying something in Tamil that I, obviously, didn't understand.  I just smiled and nodded.  The next day, I ran into the postgraduate (like a medical resident) who was on the visit and we were talking about old wives' tales.  It all started because a pregnant woman asked if it was safe to consume large amounts of saffron, with the belief that it would produce a fair skinned baby.  An expensive old wives'  tale at that; a gram of saffron costs as much as half a days' wage.  The medical resident mentioned that what the woman in the village was trying to ask was how to get her grandchild to be as fair skinned as I.  I didn't believe him at first, but I guess that's all she wondered.  Not anything medical, just pure cosmetics.  But maybe it's not pure cosmetics, as it's a matter of perceived beauty and social stature for her. 

People are beautiful as they are... it's so sad to see that ancient stereotypes are perpetuated through the mass media and consumer markets.  Regardless, I am coming back darker than I left - I wonder if people will say that's good or bad.