Sunday, January 21, 2018

2017 Reflections and Welcoming 2018

Yea, another year or 365 days just flew past us and we are now in Jan 2018.....!!!

My reflections for the year 2017 :

1) We did not travel overseas other than my regular visits to Penang to see my Mum and elder sister.

Though I was keen to visit Bhutan but due to my blackouts in 2016 and also, my left knee playing up..... we did not plan for any travels in 2017.

Celebrating Sue's birthday during our visit to Pg in late Jun 2017.  Rosie is our live-in maid to help look after my Mum.

All the children were home to have a family reunion with Mum in late Sep 2017 and also celebrated my 60th birthday too. The woman in green blouse  ( standing on the extreme left ) is our cousin, Ling.

2) My left knee was hurting quite badly in the early part of the year and I almost wanted to go for my knee replacement surgery. 

One last resort was to consult my trusted Physiotherapist before I go back to my Orthopaedic to have the surgery. Much to my surprise, the Physiotherapist found that my hamstring and calf muscles could be causing the knee pain and after massaging it and teaching me a few exercises to strengthen the muscles, it improved a lot and I did not have to use the walking stick anymore. Therefore, I will postpone the knee surgery as long as I can since I can only do it twice in my lifetime and its lifespan is about 10+ years only.

One of my 2017 goals was to go to the Tree Top Walk in MacRitchie Reservoir, by my 60th birthday in Oct but I did it in Nov instead, after I have strengthen my knees.

The Tree Top Walk itself was not a problem but hiking in MacRitchie Reservior track to get there was indeed a challenge. Not sure if I want to do it again...ha....ha.....

On hindsight, while I was diligent in exercising and kept my knees in good shape for the Sydney Bridge climb in Jul 2016 but I did not maintain the exercise regime upon returning home. I then climbed up part of the Great Wall of China in Sep 2016 during the Silk Road tour. These 2 climbs must have hurt my knees badly but I did not realise it and did not rest enough and resume the physio exercises........ sigh 

I know it did not make sense esp when my knees are hurting but I was so caught up with my daily activities that I was not thinking straight and thought it was the same old problem and eventually, it would recover with time.

Lesson learned......!!!

3) I did not have any blackouts or syncope episodes in 2017, Hurray......!!! 

4) Surprisingly, I am still playing Pokémon Go as I thought I would stop when I reached level 30 in early 2017. The developer changed the game strategies and released more Pokemons and that kept my interest going.

I am at Level 38 now and also playing Jason's account and he is at Level 35. My wife is at Level 39. 

This game gives a common interest to the family so it is a good bonding session for us though Jas hardly plays it. But HE got the 1st invitation to catch Mewtwo and he caught it with the first throw of the ball too......!!!

4) Using the Skills Future Credit Fund, I attended the Electrical & Plumbing - Home Maintenances short courses at ITE, in Aug and Nov 2017 respectively. I enjoyed them and learned something new besides reinforcing what I know already.

There was some hands-on lab work in the Electrical course, the set-up as shown in the background. My confidence level in doing some electrical maintenance work at home has increased; eg. replaced the old fluorescent light with LED tube in the store room under the stairs, consuming lesser electricity and not so hot too if I forgot to switch it off, which happened once while I was away in Penang for 3 days.

My instructor and classmates in the Plumbing course. This class was more fun and we have even more hands-on lab work. Very informative and I learned a lot.

I would definitely recommend that you go for it esp when you are entitled to claim from your Skills Future Credit Fund and if you are a senior citizen too. I did not have to pay for the 2 courses as they were fully subsidised. 

5) It was most unfortunate that Jason broke his right knee ACL again during his soccer game in Nov 2017. Though statistically, the chances of it happening is very slim since he has fully recovered from this 1st ACL reconstruction surgery 6 years ago.

This revision ACL surgery was done using an ipsilateral patellar tendon graft and supplemented with an anterolateral ligament tenodesis using the tibial band, in medical terms.
I will be updating my other blog on his 1st ACL Reconstruction Surgery to share this 2nd ACL surgery experience. 

He is no longer using his crutches now ( ie Jan 2018) and will continue to undergo physiotherapy for a year before he is considered fully recovered and back to sports again.....?

6) Jason graduated in James Cook University with a degree in Bachelor of Psychological Science, in Dec 2017.

A proud moment indeed and another major milestone achieved.

It looks like I have a very busy 2nd half year in 2017 indeed. I did not manage to find a Macro Photography class to attend and have not started scanning photos of Jason in his growing years and Jack, our beloved Beagle, to make a Photobook.

However, I managed to do some housekeeping and thrown away my collection of VCDs, music CDs ( after converting them to digital format into my PC ) and obsolete DVD movies too. I have yet to throw my LDs as I still have a player for it but I think they have to go in 2018 as they are occupying storage space......sob...sob.... 

I have also thrown away the negatives of all my hardcopy photos as they have disintegrated and gave a foul smell from the chemicals in it. I have to continue scanning the photos into digital format but it is going to be a very tedious task as I have already started on them and stopped after a short period....!!!

So what are my goals for the year 2018...???

Improve and maintain my exercise regime for my overall health, esp for my bad knees as I am not ready for any knee replacement surgery yet.

It would be good to reduce weight by a few kg..... target 75Kg by year end.

Improve my cholesterol blood test results by having all the measurements within healthy range.

Reached level 40 in Pokémon Go by year-end.

Resume scanning all the photo prints into digital format.

I have not planned any overseas trips other than my regular trips to Penang to visit my Mum. We were suppose to go to Kyushu with Jason after his graduation but he started his 4th Year or Postgraduate course immediately so play by ear .....

Let me complete this post by wishing all of you good health and an exciting year in 2018.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016 Reflections & Welcoming 2017

Time flies indeed and another year has just passed ........!

My reflections for year 2016 :

1) We did not plan to do any travelling as we did not feel safe to travel to places like Europe or US ....

Then we received Jon & Winnie wedding invitation and we decided to visit Sydney and then to Melbourne to attend their wedding in July 2016. Luckily, Jas was having his semester break so he joined us.

The main highlight was the family climbing the Sydney Bridge. Initially, I offered to pay for Jas climbing to the peak of the bridge alone but he counter-proposed that we climbed mid-way as a family instead. I was a bit concerned whether I could make it with my OA left knee but with some training and mind power, we did it.

Then we were invited to make up a tour group to go to China - Silk Road in Sept 2016.

The main highlights were seeing the Terracotta Warriors and climbing part of the 45 degrees inclined Great Wall of China. Also, it was an eye opener when we visited Xinjiang which has so many tribes and mixture of people and cultures, though Muslim dominated but their practices seem a bit different; eg. no issue with having dogs and not having more than 1 wife.

Of course, we made multiples trips back to Penang to visit my Mum and elder sister too.

2) I consulted a Physiotherapist to work on strengthening my knees and lower back, in particular at the beginning of the year and I was doing pretty good. As a result, I managed to climb the Sydney Bridge and Great Wall of China, though was very tired after it.

However, with my intense exercises... I wonder whether this has contributed to my blackouts ( 3 of them in 1st half of the year ) before I sought medical help and they reduced my BP medication and we are still monitoring the status now as I blackout again in Nov, after a break of 4 months.

My cardiologist could not find anything wrong with my heart or blocked arteries after some tests. He suspects it to be postural syncope; a sudden drop of BP due to change in body posture from sitting to standing.

I continue to exercise so as to not lose too much muscle mass as I turn 60 in 2017 and for health reasons, of course.

3) I did not manage to start scanning photos of Jason in his younger days and Jack last year. I was not able to find the Macro Photography class to attend in PSS too.

4) I too my shingles vaccination in Mar 2016, this is for life so I should be safe from it. Finally, bought Jas a new ASUS notebook  for his varsity study. 

I also decided to buy this Andriod TV box ( after monitoring the products available in the market for the past year ) to watch Korean dramas n movies instead of using Jas old Poly notebook to stream online and connect it to the TV, in Dec 2016. A pressie for the family and we have been enjoying the use of this gadget. Portable too as I can easily bring it to Toa Payoh flat and watch it with my in-laws.

Jason told us that he started dating a girl in his varsity.

5) 5th aunt passed away while recovering from her fall in the nursing home, in early Dec 2016. 

6) Pokemon Go was released in Spore in August 2016. As I played this game with Jas years ago, and with the big fuss worldwide and this new technology, Augmented Reality, I wanted to play too and see what it is all about.

Jas helped me download on the 1st day of release and he got me started. Eventually, the 3 of us in the family were playing too but Jas dropped out due to his varsity study and I took over his account too.

This game has given one more common interest within the family. My wife & I now enjoy our bus ride more as we can collect balls as we pass by the pokestops and even catch a few Pokemons too. 

I am already at level 29 and once I hit level 30 soon, I have reached my goal even if my Pokedex is not full yet.

Well, what are my targets or wishes for 2017......?

I will continue to exercise and eat wisely in this new year again. Ideally, lose a couple of Kg in the process. To hike the Tree Top Walk in MacRitchie Reservoir by the time I turn 60 in Oct 2017.

Initially, I wanted to tour Bhutan but with my blackout and BP not stabilised yet, it will have to be put on hold. We have no other specific plans for any overseas holidays other than our regular Penang trips.

I will start scanning the photos of Jason in his younger days and that of Jack too, to make them into a Photobook.

If PSS offer the Macro Photography class again, I wish to attend it.

Other than these that come to my mind, I wish for good health for all of us.

So have a fantastic year in 2017......!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

My Blackouts - Vasovagal Syncope

After walking around the PC Show in Expo Halls for 1 hour+ in early June , I sudden felt I was going to faint or blackout.... I held onto the salesperson shoulder and suddenly went down BUT was standing up again in a matter of seconds. I felt nothing other than I knew I blackout momentarily.

No cold sweat, blur vision, headache or fast heart beating.......!

I took some water from my own bottle and sat on a chair for a while and then left with my friend who was with me. He happens to be my neighbour too so we took the bus home together.

Looking back, I have 2 similar blackout episodes but did not pay any attention as it was very momentarily and no other symptoms.

The 1st occurrence (in 1Q) was when I was seated on a small stool and loading the washing machine with our laundry. I just blackout but before my body hit the floor, my right hand pushed me up upon consciousness. While I was a bit shocked but I felt alright so no action taken.

The 2nd occurrence (in 2Q) was after my lunch at Bedok Mall and my wife & I were at Uniqlo browsing the shelves but we got separated. I suddenly stumbled backwards a few steps and held onto the shelf to steady myself, during the momentarily blackout, and again recovery was very fast and we just ignored it.

The 3rd occurrence in the PC Show gave me a wake-up call and after discussing it with my wife, we decided to consult our family GP the following morning.

After discussing the options with our GP, we decided that I should go to SGH A&E since I am already a patient with their National Heart Centre (NHC).

I was admitted for a night for monitoring and a consulting Cardiologist discharged me since I have a coming appointment with my own Cardiologist at NHC in a couple of weeks. All the monitoring and blood tests were not conclusive  but they suspected it to be vasovagal syncope. 

"Vasovagal syncope (vay-zoh-VAY-gul SING-kuh-pee) occurs when you faint because your body overreacts to certain triggers, such as the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress. It may also be called neurocardiogenic syncope.
The vasovagal syncope trigger causes your heart rate and blood pressure to drop suddenly. That leads to reduced blood flow to your brain, causing you to briefly lose consciousness.
Vasovagal syncope is usually harmless and requires no treatment."
I saw my own Cardiologist soon and he immediately reduced my BP medication a bit and scheduled a blood test and Dobutamine Stress Echocardiography test too but in 4 months time. He said I could travel so I actually went to Sydney-Melbourne in July and toured the beginning of the Silk Route-China in Sept. I even climbed up the Sydney Bridge and  part of the Great Wall of China too...!
In Nov, about 4 months after the last episode, while walking home from the bus stop, I felt faint again and my right hand automatically held onto a huge potted plant along the road ( there are a few nurseries  there ) and my upper body landed in-between the big pot and a sawn-off trunk.....OMG...!!!

Can u imagine if my head has hit either the trunk or the pot? My chest hit the edge of the pot and it was a bit bruised and my right hand was scratched by the branches. My wife witnessed this episode and it freaked her out.... Me too, as this is the worse situation, so far!
My Cardiologist said that my tests results are good and no blockages of the arteries or heart problem. The thorough blood results are ok too! But because of my recent blackout in front of the nursery, he reduced my BP medication further and he suspects that it could be due to postural syncope ( ie. change in position ; eg sitting to standing up as I was taking a long bus ride  before i walked home ). I have to monitor my BP and review the status again in Feb 2107.
The Cardiologist taught me to clench my fists and push my stomach muscles out to push up my BP if I feel faint in future. Ideally, sit or lie down even if in public as the danger is the fall and injuring myself esp the HEAD....!!!
Well, I hope no more blackouts in future and if I do fall momentarily, it is not a serious one.....
 In the meantime, I hope my BP will be stabilised with the change in the dosage.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Penang - 23 to 25 Oct 2016

Jason has his semester break so we flew back to Pg to visit my Mum and sister, Susan.

We love the Pg food ..... Char Koay Teow and Hokkien Prawn Noodle soup...

Came across this Muay Chee stall too.....

Finally, High Tea in the afternoon at Hotel Jen  before we left for the airport.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

China Silk Road - Sept 2016

The Silk Road tour was an eye opener and different from our earlier Kumning and Sichuan tours. 

China is really a very big country with different tribes and cultures. 

We just saw the beginning of the Silk Road, starting from Xian to Urumqi.

Of course, we saw the famous Terracotta Warriors... really amazing....!!!

One of those huge defensive City Wall, their design and strategy to trap the enemies if the front wall or entrance have fallen is amazing.

We climbed part of the Great Wall of China, inclined at 45 degrees on the mountain, right to the tower near the peak of the mountain.  No proper steps so I cannot imagine how the soldiers climb up and down or move along the wall swiftly to fight the intruders.

We also took a bullet train and it was very fast and comfortable especially when we were in 1st class, where the seats are broader and more leg room.

To view more photos in my album in Facebook, go to this link :

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Penang - 28 to 30 Aug 2016

Visited Mum again and brought along a few photos of Jon & Winnie wedding in Melbourne.

Helped Susan to buy a new printer and set it up for her, as requested.

Also, tied up  the dust bin to the tree in front of the house else it could fall into the drain.

We ate at a hawker stall in front of Prangin Mall upon arrival the first evening. Cheap n good.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sydney - Melbourne in July 2016

We decided to visit Sydney on the way to attend Jonathan & Winnie wedding in Melbourne.

Free & Easy in Sydney and we caught up with our ex-colleague and friend, Diana Wan, who took us out for a day,  visiting Centennial Park, Bondi Beach & Watson Bay.

One of the highlights was the family climbing up the Sydney Bridge... We did it....!!!

Not forgetting to mention the Opera House and the Koala too.

Of course, we could not skip the Blue Mountains.

We stayed with the Cosbys in Pearcedale while in Victoria to attend Jon & Winnie wedding.

We met and fell in love with Poppy, Eleisha's dog.

Friday, March 25, 2016

My Father's 1st Death Anniversary

Times flies and my father has passed away for a year by 31 Mar 2016.

I flew back to Penang over the last weekend to join in the anniversary prayer at the temple.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Visit Penang 28 Feb - 1 Mar 2016

Since it was Jason's school holidays, we decided to visit my mother and elder sister in Penang again.

With Mum and 5th aunt .....

My cousin, Ling, took us to this 'Tree Restaurant', which has relocated from the Jetty, for some seafood dinner.

This is the Cheah Kongsi that was near the restaurant.

Caught this artist painting on the wall near the bus interchange behind our hotel, Penang is well known for its Street Art.

We have a very successful shopping trip at 1st Avenue Mall too and I myself bought this original MU jersey, as it worked out to be about S$20 cheaper due to our strong exchange rate.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Visit Penang 6-8 Jan 2016

My wife & I visited my Mum in Penang again and also met up with my younger sister, Wei, and her husband who were in town too.

Jason was in school so could not join us.

As usual, we also went hunting for the local food that we miss so much.



Dinner .....