Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bigger than HIV?

I noticed it when I was 2 customers away from the check out counter. There was a dark discolouration at the corner of the cashier's mouth and the lady in front of me was rattling on and on about 'Gerpes' and her male companion made a crude remark that I unfortunately understood. Idiot.

When I got to the cashier, I smiled and told her that I'd be needing 2 plastic bags, please and I realised that in all probability the girl had an exacerbation of HSV. I considered the alternative of a malignised mole (meaning melanoma) but it was more of an ulcer, the location was typical for the HSV infection and given the unpredictable weather and dark rings under her eyes, the girl was probably immunosuppressed - the main reason that HSV flares up again from the latent form. Too medical-ish? :)

My point is, the couple before me should have known better than to throw words like that around, because like all other STDs, it attracts social stigma. If I with my broken Russian could have understood what they had meant, I'm sure the young girl did as well. Will someone say 'idiot' for me? Please?

The crappy thing about herpes is this: once you get it, there's no guarantee that it won't flare up again even with proper medication. It's a ghost that'll follow you around all life long. I'm qouting a lecturer here - sort of!

Herpes is more than an STD. Did you know that the chicken pox virus is a member of the Herpes family too? Yep. Chicken pox and shingles are related to HSVs too. 

EBV infections which look like the common flu/sore throat is also a Herpes virus, causing infectious mononucleosis and nasal carcinoma in susceptible populations.

Kaposi's sarcoma which look a lot like tumours of blood vessels is usually associated with AIDS, but in fact occurs in systemic dysbiosis and  other immunosuppressed states as well.

There is CMV which also looks like the common flu, the highest intrauterine infection to date and ones of the TORCH-ES infections the Ob-Gyns keep harping about.

Then there are the Herpes virus 6 and 7 which are still being studied. Type 6 is sort of connected with diaper rash. Really.

All in all, the 8 Herpes viruses are nothing to snigger about. I read in passing some time ago that in a decade plus Herpes viruses will become a bigger threat than AIDS so it's time people realised that going around cracking 'Gerpes' jokes at the expense of another person's self esteem doesn't make you chaste, it makes you an airhead. 

Sorry bout the vent, think of it as a part of the information parcel ;)

Friday, April 23, 2010

A slice of the past


I've been twisting and turning in a space that's too small
I've been drawing the line and watching it fall
You've been closing me in , closing the space in my heart
Watching us fading and watching us fall apart
Well I can't explain why it's not enough
Coz I gave it all to you
And if you leave me now
Oh just leave me now
It's the better thing to do
It's time to surrender
It's been too long pretending
There's no use in trying
When the pieces don't fit anymore
Oh, don't misunderstand how I feel
Coz I've tried, yes I've tried
Still I don't know why
No I don't know why
Why I can't explain why it's not enough
Coz I gave it all to you
And if you leave me now
Oh just leave me now
It's the better thing to do
It's time to surrender
It's been too long pretending
There's no use in trying
When the pieces don't fit anymore
The pieces don't fit anymore
You pulled me under so I had to give in
Such a beautiful mess that's breaking my 
Well I'll hide all the bruises; I'll hide all the damage that's done
But I show how I'm feeling until all the feeling has gone
Well I can't explain why it's not enough
Coz I gave it all to you
And if you leave me now
Oh just leave me now
It's the better thing to do
It's time to surrender
It's been too long pretending
There's no use in trying
When the pieces don't fit anymore
The pieces don't fit anymore
I came across this over tea, and I had to put it up because this was me some time back. JM needs a haircut though ;)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Curious About 'Jo'

I recently had the opportunity to meet an interesting individual. We meet people day in and day out in my field and I am personally very bad at remembering faces, hence I find it unusual to be blogging about or even recalling this person for that matter. But weirder things have been known to happen, so here I am, trying to figure out this person for only heaven knows what reason.

However, the few minutes I spent with this ‘Jo’ was limited and my analyzing skills hit a brick wall…My proverbial brick wall being the lack of information.

Then I had a brainwave and sought out the Da Vinci in me and decided to draw the person I had seen… You can see for yourself how well that attempt went :I

I’m not big into smiling at strangers, but ‘Jo’ REALLY doesn’t smile. I did some subtle questioning and tactful nose-poking once I got home, interrogating friends and Facebook-stalking and all! Sources of intelligence and counter intelligence confirmed earlier suspicions. ‘Jo’ and smiles are worlds apart, but ‘Joe’ is in no way depressed. Being curious me, I really want to know WHY :S

Yours truly,
Busybody Me

P/s: Facebook stalking can be most informative and fun when done with friends. Me like ;)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


A shot taken just off Cairo. I like the shy sun and single cloud above the home, and the dark silhouettes.

The first rainbow we saw here, on the birthday of R... I don't have this view anymore. My room has an awesome-mer view now with spectacular sunsets, nightskies and green trees! Yep, spring is officially here, folks, and I LOVE it :)

Too tired to blog in words, but will definitely get around to it soon, aite?

Anyone watched 'How to train a dragon' yet? Kinda kiddie, I know, but thoroughly enjoyable... :D

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blub-blub and Blabber Sunday Updates

Creative title, no? ;) The post I'm about to peck out on this keyboard has nothing to do with the first day of the week however... wait, 7th day of the week??

I'm sitting here, two floors below my own room, drinking 3in1 cereal at 1 pm, missing you guys. Why?

1. Our thread on FB is dying a slow death, with some feeble attempts at being resuscitated by us various 8, but the truth is work has caught up with us and we're letting it slide. I want my girls back!
2. I heard S coo for the first time today and the happiness in Ammi's voice was very touching
3. I had dinner last night with N and G and I found myself wondering how dinner at home would have been. It's been so long that I've eaten mangoes after dinner or made teh-O-kosong for a family member. Weird the things one can miss
4. Gargled with salt water this morning all on my own without being nagged about it in my attempt to get rid of this annoying burning at the back of my throat
5. My bed at home would probably give me more than 4 hours of sleep in a stretch
6. Pi has yet to upload pictures of her trip and that's bugging me like hell
7. The boys bought dogs, a white German Shepherd and a British Cocker Spaniel!

So I was gonna make the most of my Sunday, lie in a bit and be a bum. Then life happened, and here I am halfway through my day, with 3 in1 cereal in a mug, courtesy of T, pecking away at a keyboard on a break from my reading and notes compiling. Gotta cook in a while, will probably do that before I hit the books again. The joys of student life, I tell ya! :P

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunday, April 04, 2010

In Search

I find that almost every question or dilemma has a simple solution, but most of us end up asking the wrong questions.

We ask ourselves all too often:
Why are we here? 
Where's the prove that God exists?
Can we create anti-matter?

I think we should be asking:
OK, I'm here. Now what do I do to make my being here worthwhile? 
What have I done to prove that humanity exists? (I mean, why think about God when we lose track of how to be humane?)
What did I do to preserve the Earth? (Antimatter paradoxically creates matter or something like that.  Don't get me wrong, I love science and development, but what's the use of it if the world we live in is being destroyed everyday by a thousand thoughtless acts?

All the hypothetical questions friends keep throwing at me is taking it's toll, so do excuse the occasional philosophical thought, ya?

I'll be back to normal blogging in a while - I hope :)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

26.12.2004 Part I

* ‘Abah’ and ‘Bu’ mean Dad and Mum in Malaysian Malay. ‘Sayang’ is a term of endearment in the same language. Unfortunately the story occurred in Indonesia but am not too sure about these terms in Indonesian Malay… so I settled for terms in a language I am more familiar with :)

Here’s the tale of a family on 26.12.2004.

It had been raining hard for the past two days. Khai looked worriedly at the stack of semi-dried fish in the corner of the kitchen. Mainly mackerel, the stack was higher than it had been in years, a sure sign that something big was happening out there – at least that was what her fisherman husband had said.  When the sea catch increased in such a great fold, it meant the waters were not at peace.

Bu, Rex ran out. She was acting all funny and hissed when I went near her.” It was her eldest, Himo.

Khai smiled at him. “Don’t worry, Rex will be all right. We can’t look for her now, there’s a gale brewing and it’s dark outside.”

“Won’t Rex be afraid? I don’t understand why she was acting all funny.” Himo’s dark eyes were wide.

Khai bent down and looked Himo in the eye. “Animals are smart, she’ll find shelter.  The howling wind probably unnerved her a bit.”

Himo nodded. “Can Ju and I sleep with you and Abah tonight? Ju’s afraid too.”

“Come on, let’s get you two into bed,” Tajir said from the kitchen doorway from where he had been watching this exchange. “Sayang, it’s past midnight, surely your kitchen work is done.” He looked over at his wife.

“Almost. Get the kids to bed? I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

Tajir bent down and scooped up their son into his large sea-weathered hands. “Shall we go and collect Ju? I wonder where she can be.”

“I’m right here, Abah,” said a small voice from right behind him.

“Oh, so you are!” Tajir said in mock surprise, then gave his eldest a broad wink, making the six-year-old giggle. “Well, come along then and give your mother some peace.”

Khai laughed and turned back to the food she had been putting away in the fridge. As she put the day’s leftover soup into the bottom shelf, in her mind’s eye she saw a frightening image. She saw huge foamy waves submerging the humble huts that made up their village, heard fear in the voices of people around her and felt the raging wind tug at her and throw her off balance, and somewhere in that chaos she saw the top of the mountain she and Tajir had climbed years ago that was on the outskirts of the village. The mountain seemed to call to her, compelling her. Then she felt the cold air from the fridge again and her eyes focused once more on the clear fluid in the transparent plastic container in front of her.

Before she knew what she was doing, her legs were carrying her towards the bedroom, and she had flung the bedroom door open. “Sayang, get the girls. We have to get out of here.”

Tajir had been massaging the sole of his right foot. “What?”

“Tajir, trust me. We have to move, quickly.” Her voice was calm but Tajir saw the urgency in her eyes.
“There’s a storm outside,” he objected, standing up. “What’s going on?” His brows knitted together in a frown.

“And it’s going to get a lot worse. I can’t explain. Just trust me on this.” The certainty in Khai’s voice seemed to surprise even herself

“Himo, Ju, come on.” Tajir held out his arms to his children and they clambered into them, a bit confused. Carrying them he stopped in front of his wife and wordlessly handed her their three-year-old.

“We have to go to that mountain beyond the village well,” she told him, glancing down in surprise at her right hand which was gripping a large bottle of drinking water. When had she grabbed the drinking bottle from the kitchen table?

The yellow light from the bulb overhead flickered. “Run,” she whispered softly into her husband’s ear.

The story’s super long. So am breaking it apart into 2 posts…

26.12.2004 Part II


They ran then, and as they ran, the earth shook and rumbled beneath their feet and bewildered voices of fellow villagers could be heard. Khai just kept yelling ‘Run to the mountain!’ at everyone they passed.

Walls were collapsing around them and roofs were being peeled off by the force of the gale.

Khai remembered Tajir yanking her to one side as an uprooted tree suddenly fell across their path, missing her and Ju by mere inches. Then they heard screams from the village they had left behind and the great swoosh of water, but still they kept running. Running and praying. They were almost there.

“Khai, up here,” Tajir yelled over his shoulder, leading the way up the hike-trail.

Khai’s legs were trembling under the weight, tired from the endless run and cut and bruised from the foliage and rough pebbles underfoot. They were halfway up the mountain when Khai sank to the still heaving ground, exhausted. “Tajir, stop,” she managed between the ragged breaths which forced their way out of her chest. She closed her eyes and held her child close to her racing heart. When she opened her eyes again, she saw the sea rush over the beloved wooden structures that they had called home.

Tajir sank down next to her. “Sayang, I don’t get this. You came running in, I thought you had lost it and I don’t know why I just grabbed our kids and followed you.”

Ju was crying and there were tears in Himo’s eyes. “Bu, Rex…”

Khai reached out for her son and kissed his forehead wordlessly. “I don’t know, Tajir. I don’t know.”

He saw the fear in her eyes then and he put a hand over her shoulder as they watched the carnage of the flooding waters. He could feel the silent shudders that wrecked her small body even as she put on a show of courage for their two young ones. He closed his eyes and said a silent prayer for the people they had left behind.

When her silent sobs had subsided, he kissed her cheek. “We have to keep going, Khai. Can you manage?” Even with the overtones of fatigue Khai could hear the concern in his voice.

She nodded and stood up.

They made their way to the mountain top on all fours, slipping and sliding, and with minimal vision in the dark. Two days later they were rescued by air lifts.

The youngest child had been clutching an almost empty bottle of water when the rescue team found them. The four of them were very emotional and the elder child kept insisting that their mother had known, but that was just not possible for no national warning had been issued of the impending disaster. The mother and father were semi comatose from exhaustion and dehydration; they had given most of the water to the children apparently.

When I set up the IV line for rehydration, the elder child asked me if I had seen Rex and I shook my head, wondering how I would tell him that both of his parents might not make it through the night.

“Lie still, little one. Moving will make the line come out, and you have to set an example for your sister, no?” I said in a light tone, knowing that the ragged looking girl was watching from the bed next to his.

Then the rescue workers brought more injured people and I had to move away.

I learned that the child’s name had been Himaran, and that his sister and he had been relocated to a survivors’ camp. There, they had described the mad dash for the mountain. From the bits of information they had overheard from their late parents’ last conversations and stories of their last night in the wooden hut that they had told another rescue worker friend of mine, I pieced this together. It left me wondering if Khai had had a premonition that fateful December night and just how many more stories like this are out there.

The characters and events in this story, like most of the things I write, are real, but the ‘I’ in the story isn’t me. There are some fictitious parts to it – I had to create continuity – but I pretty much based the story on a friend’s retelling (the friend is the aide worker who set up the IV line).

I also changed the names of the people involved.

This story occurred during the massive tsunamis in the Asian region 6+ years ago and is dedicated to everyone who has suffered the devastating effects of a natural disaster before.

May Khai, Tajir and Rex rest in peace and I hope that Himo and Ju have found solace in each other and rediscovered how to fit into society.