Plans derailed

Personal August 18th, 2009

You know how people used to say that man proposes while God disposes? The saying happened to me. Again. For the umpteen time.

I don’t hide the fact that I am a quitter (well, at least in SM Goh’s words – of which, a search on google will reveal what that term means) and intend to pursue medicine in Australia. I may come back one day to form part of the “growing pool of overseas trained doctors” but I do hope to be involved in the treatment and curing of patients instead of just being an administrator or another doctor’s runner. Essentially, I’d rather be where I can be most effective.

Nonetheless, the plan was for me to apply for a PR in Australia, take the IELTS and the MCAT/GAMSAT, relocate to Melbourne (because I am state-sponsored) and apply for entry into the MD Program and University of Melbourne while working in the first year. Of course, here’s where the disposal starts.

By some cheer (bad) luck, University of Melbourne changed their entry requirements and now require international students to complete their Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry modules. There was no mentioned with regards to similar modules in overseas universities, but this is probably because the MD Program is still in the planning phase and will not be admitting students until 2011.

Nonetheless, I asked them about it and I was told to dig out NUS/NTU’s modules which I think is equivalent and to email them the curriculum. Clearly, it’s going to be a long walk on a fire bed. Either that, or I have to take their pre-requisite subjects – while on a visitor’s visa.

The alternative, was an MBBS programme at University of Sydney, which is a complete derailment of my initial plans, at least location-wise.

There were some other considerations, like how I am going to finance my entire medical course. At first, I thought of applying as a PR, but I am quite sure that being a new PR, I may probably end up with some restrictions in one form or another. The “safer” choice would be to apply as an international student, which will result in more than twice the amount of school fees required. For the uninitiated, that’s almost S$250,000.

I can’t help but suddenly think of Yu-Mei Balasingamchow’s S$264,000 bond. That is really… A. LOT. OF. MONEY. And if I study really hard, I can get scholarships that will cover about one-sixth of the school fees. There’s still 5 more sixths to go, and living expenses too.

Seems like I will have to go back to my drawing board. Meanwhile, I will be taking the GAMSAT exams next year and perhaps the MCAT after that for Duke-NUS’ MD Program; and work my bum off for the next 1 year. Sometimes, I wish I have 72 hours a day.

Having said that, many people ask me why I’d want to be a doctor. As simple as the question sounds, the answer is always tough because I will receive a whole lot of alternatives that I can do if I just want to “help people”. Trust me. A lot of thought had gone into why I do not want to be a nurse, a paramedic, a social worker or a fund-raiser. All these occupations do help people in one way or another but one big difference is that while people in these noble occupations can treat people, they definitely can’t diagnose and can’t cure. Having said that, I do wish to be a volunteer paramedic in the mean time :)

More usual than not, discussions of what I intend to do will only go one way – the other way. It’s not because people can’t see (imagine) me being a doctor, it’s the high (pardon me, absurd) cost of the process that often led people into thinking of alternatives where I can “help people”. I had, for a moment, thought of giving up everything and do social work. Then, I might need a degree for that or risk just being an administrator. Sometimes, I just wish that I studied harder in the past.

Thankfully, my direction in life is (hopefully) still clear. I want to be able to treat and cure people one day and take on overseas medical missions at least on a yearly basis. Prior to that, it’s going to be a long and arduous road, but I still hope to reach there eventually.

As for school fees… I can only try to plan while preparing for my entrance exams.

Or lack thereof.

I had been trying to lose some weight as far back as 3 months ago. Results had only been satisfactory – to my standards, of course; but perhaps normal to anyone who is serious about losing real weight, and not just water.

For the longest time, I had been procrastinating about watching my diet. The thing about being a life scientist (or a wannabe like myself), I am usually stuck in the lab for long hours with very little or no moving around. We all know that, simplistically, glucose from food gets converted to pyruvate (some intermediate chemical product), which will then take part in the TCA (tricarboxylic acid) cycle (or otherwise known as Krebs Cycle) to produce CO2 (carbon dioxide) and ATP (adenosine triphosphate) at the end. Where there’s too much ATP, which is essentially currency (or simply, money) for energy, then the money gets stored in a fixed deposit.

You know how we complain that banks are not giving enough or any interests at all, and how we try to invest our money in other places that can give us better interests. More usual than not, the money gets locked in, but the interest never seem to come.

Well, that’s what happens when there are too much ATP. Glucose is stored in a fixed deposit (which is glycogen; through a process known as glycogenesis) and once it goes there, it’s very hard to withdraw from it. Just as we spent money that we earn and hardly touch our investments/fixed deposits, the same happens to glucose. Of course, there’s more than just fixed deposits. Sometimes, it goes into investment linked products (ILP), also known as triglycerides. Not only is it hard to withdraw from ILP, money put there is virtually stuck for a long, long time.

Sad to say, it’s the same for triglycerides.

It is only in times of recession that we may sometimes have no choice but to withdraw from our fixed deposits and/or investments and the same happens for the body. Ideally, the body starts to make use of triglycerides and glycogen when we do not have enough glucose in our body. However, just like how we become more thrifty in times of need, the same happens to our body – metabolism decrease and we get more lethargic.

Essentially, people try to go on diet but most do not know about the body becoming more “thrifty”. Oh, did I mention that some of us may resort to selling things on ebay just to get more money? Well, a somewhat similar situation happens in our body; unfortunately.

So, it’s not really easy to lose weight, and what we usually lose are usually water, which is really a bad thing. I don’t usually advocate crash diets because the body may go into “thrifty mode” faster than you can think of it.

When I got hold of PGX Daily, it seemed like a pretty good deal – cutting appetite gradually and increasing metabolism. True enough, I began to lose my appetite – at least a little, but it’s more because I stopped having cravings for food. Of course, the change in bowel movement came 3 weeks after I started on it, but I don’t think I want to dwell too much on that part.

Metabolism seems not to be affected and I did end up staying more awake than usual. I am not sure how PGX reacted with my body, but I’d think it’s rather safe. I can’t remember, but I think it’s vegetarian too? (anyone else can confirm this?)

Consequently, through a somewhat “natural control” of my diet, I lost about 2kg of weight, which does not seem like water loss because it’s 4kg +/- 2kg. I got more greedy. I joined Fitness First (plug: contact Joe at 6732 4111).

I guess it was all good and I eventually got a Personal Trainer. However, disaster struck. On one of my self-training sessions, I ran… and apparently caused too much stress to my ankle. Well, that sort of put my exercise regime to a halt; at least for a while.

Today, I am still quite glad that I have some PGX left, hoping that it can help reduce cravings while I go out of action for a while. Overall, I lost about 5 kg from 3 months ago, while I think is pretty good, considering that I stopped going to gym for almost 3 weeks. A combination of watching my diet, PGX Daily(s) and exercise probably helped keep the weight down but now that I have to stop exercising for another month, I am hoping that PGX Daily will help to maintain it there. The last time I checked, it was retailing for about S$166.00 for 3 bottles of 120 capsules. If I take 4 capsules a day, that works out to be enough for 3 months. That’s about S$1.84 per day. Hmmm…

For now, I can only hope for the best… :) and hope the weight remains status quo.