Friday, 24 May 2013

Second Opinion

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time will know that I rarely delve into subjects that are too personal. The focus has always been on the "pwetty things", not the "likkle girl". And that's the way I like it.

Today, however, I feel compelled, mostly due to anger and rage, to share something that some of you might feel is waaaay too personal, in the hope that it will benefit you or another female you know - I'm going to talk about the problems I've had recently with my reproductive system and how a doctor nearly fucked me over by recommending a procedure that I don't need.

My "bits" have always been healthy. My mum who has had a bad history of endometriosis made doubly-sure of that by sending me to her gynaecologist for annual check-ups when I turned twenty. Every year, the gynaecologist examined my breasts for lumps, PAP-smeared me (cervical cancer screening) and prodded me with the cold transducer of the ultrasound machine (assessment of uterus and ovaries). Healthcare in Singapore is top-notch but not exorbitantly-expensive so annual visits to the gynaecologist is like going to your hairdresser every month. At least with most of my gal pals.

When we moved to Sydney in 2004, the annual visits stopped. What I had assumed was standard practice for most females, no matter where they are in the First World, is unheard of here in Australia. I found out that to see a gynaecologist or a specialist of any sort, I first have to get a referral from a GP which is total old-boys'-club- rubbish, if you ask me! I didn't (and still don't) understand why I couldn't call a specialist direct, make an appointment and go in to him/her. Like I could so easily back in Singapore. And even if I could do that here, it's not as affordable as back home in Singapore. So, from annual super-thorough examinations, I had to downgrade to a PAP Smear every two years (another odd thing: In Singapore, we're advised to get the test done every year. In Australia, the doctors say you need a two-year window).

All was good until two years ago when I started getting menstrual cramps. I've never had them the whole of my life! I thought it was a delayed effect of going off the Pill when I turned thirty-five (I had to choose between the Pill and smoking. I picked the latter) which was five or six years prior! I thought nothing of the cramps until they got progressively-worse with each period, like can't-move-have-to-lie-in-bed bad. It was when I had my first bout of severe mid-cycle cramps (cramps when you're not menstruating) in March that I thought something was definitely not right and went to see my GP who sent me for a pelvic ultrasound where they found two fibroids and a polyp in my uterus. Not cancerous but still time to see a gynaecologist!

I was referred to Dr B by my GP. I kind of had another gynaecologist, Prof A, in mind - my cousin's, who did a wonderful job fixing her when she had endometriosis and couldn't conceive - but my GP assured me that Dr B is one of the best in Sydney and is a good pal of his so I thought I was in equally good hands.

I went in to see Dr B, fully-prepared to be told that I would have to have surgery to have the fibroids removed to relieve my monthly cramps but I wasn't expecting, not even remotely, for him to say that the best course of action would be a subtotal hysterectomy! In which the upper portion of my uterus would be removed together with the fibroids, the polyp and endometriosis. And my fallopian tubes too, even though that's not really necessary but "since we're opening you up, we might as well", for ovarian cancer prevention. I would have to be hospitalised for a week after the operation ("It's like having a Caesarean section," he said) and won't be able to work for at least a month. What the fuck?!! Sure, he did offer five other solutions but I could feel that he was really pushing for the subtotal hysterectomy. I've never wanted children and am very sure I never will but still, removing parts of my body when they are still fully-functioning and not diseased seemed a bit too drastic a move just because of a couple of fibroids, right?

Surely, with all the advancements made in the fields of medicine and technology these days, there has to be a less extreme solution for period pains caused by a few lumps growing in my body. Dr B's solution seemed so old-school (and he is old!) and I was not convinced that it's the way that I should go so I spent the rest of the day reading all I could about the pros and cons of the procedure and the risks involved. I also remember reading some time ago that hysterectomy was, centuries ago, the prescribed treatment for "female hysteria" and typing "hysterectomy hysteria" in the search bar of good ol' Google rendered this article and the 100+ very interesting and informative comments on this post. By the end of the day, I was a mini hysterectomy expert and was pretty certain that the procedure (and Dr B) was not only old-school and totally not necessary for my condition but also reeks of misogyny.

I strongly felt that I needed a second opinion on the matter and in I went to see my GP again. For another referral letter. This time, to see Prof A, the gynaecologist I wanted to go to in the first place. He must be good for I couldn't get in until early July! Then two weeks ago, his office called to say that someone had cancelled and I was next on the wait list for an earlier appointment. Woo! I saw him yesterday.

And you know what?! I was right. The subtotal hysterectomy was completely unnecessary!

Prof A is way younger than Dr B and lectures at the university so I'm sure he has to keep abreast of all the latest development in his field. His bedside manner was the total opposite of Dr B's. There was absolutely no fear mongering. In fact, the fears that Dr B had put in me were allayed! The fibroids were not as big as Dr B had me believe they were. Dr B has misdiagnosed my endometriosis - I have none! I do not have to have the fibroids and polyp removed if I choose not to because there are drugs that I can take to curb the monthly pain and cramps! A solution that wasn't even on the list offered by Dr B! We're going to try the drugs for three months and if the period cramps are still unbearable, we'll talk about removing the fibroids and the polyp. And ONLY them. All my body parts will remain intact. And he doesn't even have to open me up! It'll all be done laporoscopically (key-hole surgery). One night stay in the hospital post-surgery and minimal recovery period!

I left Prof A's office yesterday morning feeling a whole lot lighter! But as the day wore on, the rage slowly set in. I thought about how reckless Dr B had been with his advice. About the effect on my body if I had listened to him and had the unnecessary subtotal hysterectomy. About the amount of money I would have spent on a procedure which I didn't need. About the other women who have been to see him with similar condition as mine and did not have the sense to seek a second opinion. About how GPs recommend certain specialists to patients because they are pals (you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours) and not because the specialists are the top dogs in their field. About the state of the healthcare system in Sydney. GRRRRR!

And that is my story. The moral of which is ALWAYS SEEK A SECOND OPINION when it comes to major health/medical issues.

Oh, and if you're in Sydney and happen to need an amazing gynaecologist, let me know.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Cartoon Leopard + Panther Quiff

This vintage rabbit fur gilet was the first ever wild-cat-spotted piece in my wardrobe. Purchased on a road trip in 2008 when I was thirty-eight.

Considering how much I have loved fashion-y things all my life and the number of U-turns that I have witnessed trends make (+ early-adopting some of them), thirty-eight years of age was a little too old to still be a wildcat-print virgin, don't you think? And you know what? The cheetah (I think the spots are more cheetah than leopard) on this Captain Caveman gilet had absolutely nothing to do with my decision to take it home with me on the long car ride. Haha. In fact, the spots had the opposite effect because I've always associated them with skanky 'hos and middle-aged Asian housewives going grocery-shopping in their leopard-print leggings (as pants/trousers!) in the 80s. It was my love for soft and fluffy furry things that won the internal to-buy-or-not-to-buy debate. I wasn't quite sure I could bring myself to wear something wildcat-spotted even when it's just a trim but I've found out since that I could (here and here) and it's become the most-worn and most-loved piece out of all my furs.

In the years between then and now, while girls around me stocked up on everything-leopard and proclaimed the print a "neutral", I never got into the game (Wahahaha! Pun!). I thought the gilet was to be the first and last bit of wildcat to ever prowl through the doors of my wardrobe. And I was very content with that until I saw this...

...this A.P.C. cape-y coat thing late last year (the time of year when it's Winterwear sale time in the Northern Hemisphere = the best time for us Southern Hemispherers to scoop some toasty bargains!). Again, it wasn't the spots that attracted me in the first place. It was the shape of the coat. However, if the print was of the realistic sort, I wouldn't have bought it. Can you imagine? Ewww! But Cartoon Leopard spots that look like falling petals? I can do!

While we're on the subject of wildcat-themed items of clothing (which, by now, you'll know I avoid unless I find a big fat saving grace in them), I might as well throw this in...

A men's grey marle sweatshirt I found in the charity shop with a Man With A Panther(!) Quiff print.

Cutting the sleeves off secondhand oversized (usually men's) sweatshirts is a hobby of mine. I love the boxy-ness of the body but the sleeves are usually too poufy and long for me so I lop them off and roll big cuffs on them. They are fun to wear on cooler days and make good layering pieces when the temperature dips.

This is my first one with a print (the "Drifter", an illustration by Tim Laing on a Das Monk sweatshirt from 2009, I found out via good ol' Google) and again, it wasn't the print that made me buy it but the quality of the sweatshirt - 100% cotton with a flannel-y back. It's also a cheeky finger flip to people who shell out hundreds of dollars for that ubiquitous wildcat sweater. end this long post about my accidental wildcat-loving, I would like to present the Leopard-loving Lady spotted (Wahahahahaha! Pun again!) in the post office queue a couple of months ago on a wet day...

Taking print-matching to the next level with her jacket + rainboots + umbrella! I think she (a middle-aged Asian lady who looked like a cross between Yoko Ono and Joan Chen) has done well! And might have erased that bad image in my head of Asian ladies wearing leopard.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Let's Talk Caramel Corn (Part 12)

The last bag of a new flavour I found was in January. Three months in new-Caramel-Corn-flavour-discovery world is a frustratingly-long time! But all was forgotten when we saw this Lucky Cat bag on the Asian grocer's shelf a few weeks ago. Cherry Blossom flavour! With a slightly tart sherbet-y mouth-feel! Woo! And if you're lucky, you'll find a star-shaped corn puff amongst the regular tube-shaped ones! We had five in our bag! Woo! Woo! Woo! Yeah! And notice how it says "Canael Corn" on the packaging instead of "Caramel Corn"? I love it when Tohato do shit like that. The last time was a year ago! With their special 40th Anniversary "Carakira" Corn.

Another new discovery in my life is a Japanese picture-decorating app, DecoPic. Back in the 90s when I was still living in Singapore, every shopping mall had these Japanese NeoPrint Photo Booths in every corner and all my equally-cutesy-shit-nonsense-mad pals and I have had so many pictures taken in them! Haha. The DecoPic app is my new NeoPrint! Also kind of like next-level emojis! The weekend that I discovered it, I spent hours playing with it and sending pals cutesy-shit'd-up pics. And I can't not give my all-time favourite Japanese snack the kawaii treatment (see picture above), can I?!

It makes Instagram-ing more fun too! I have been there for more than a year now but only really got into putting things up semi-regularly fairly recently. And seeing how I'm there more than I'm here on this blog of late, I've just removed all the naked selfies (my pal Ms Carpet actually believed me when I said that...wahahahaha!) and unlocked the "private" mode so come play and have a chat @likklepictures, if you like.

Friday, 15 March 2013

He's Going To Beat Me At The Connie-Wonnie Game!

GRRR! The boyfriend is now only a pair away from levelling the score in our The Happiest Connie-Wonnie Lover In The World game! With this new pair of Hikers. He's had his eyes on them for a few months now but we haven't been checking in to the Converse store as religiously as we used to (not after my last big haul in January). Over the weekend, we thought we should have a bit of a nosey-around and there they were on sale! Heavily-discounted and out of the last three pairs left, two were in his size. A meant-to-be type of thing, I guess.

Aren't they just gorgeous?! Soft grey leather + olive trims + navy blue laces = my dream colour combo in a pair of shoes! And those silver D-ring eyelets! If they were available in lows, I would have bought them too and put an end to my search for those elusive grey marle ones. Actually, fuck the grey sweatshoes! The next pair I hope to find are these low snakeskin beauts.


Last Saturday at Rushcutters' Bay Park. Our pal Meeps couldn't have picked a better day or spot for a "Good Bye, Summer" picnic! She brought some gay ("I didn't have toothpicks but I sure have cocktail umbrellas!", she said) meaty sandwiches. Ms Carpet made some superb chicken + leek pies that very morning. K-Pop baked his super-decadent chocolate brownie the night before. I cheated with store-bought cheeses but I made up for it by making some cheese platter pals - oatmeal + parmesan biccies, candied walnuts (so good with the Gorgonzola, not "Gorzonzola". Haha!) and fig + port jam "turds". And I got to use my cheese markers! And washi tape! Woo!

A good time was had by all, guzzling sparkly cheeky drinkie-poos by the marina dotted with bobbing sailboats and making friends with strangers' dogs (so many cute ones!).

The temperature has since dipped so ever slightly but tomorrow, according to the met station, is going to be another scorcher of a day in Sydney. There might not be another one for the next six months. A good day for "A Last Hurrah for Summer" picnic if you have yet to have one this season!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Shnuggly Season Already?

gif makers
Woo! Time sure flies rather speedily these days, huh?

We brought this Japanese Woodland Doll home from our friendly neighbourhood Pop Shop in December when the boyfriend was in there doing his Secret Santa shopping for work. I was still on my silly hey-let's-make-childish-GIFs-with-our-toys (like this and this) trip then and I couldn't not make this new cutie of ours the star of a clip, could I? Just look at that face! Those large doe eyes! Rosy chubby cheeks that you can't resist pinching! And that cowlicketty fringe! It was two months ago that the GIF was made on our living room's grassy rug with this old-school grill-gate-screenprinted tote bag as background and filed away in the too-bulgy-to-shut Drafts folder.

Poor little thing has sat in there for too long and today she makes her debut! I can't think of a better moment than the first day of Autumn in Australia because she is dressed so suitably for the wet, cold and grey day (boo) that is today. And I want some of what she's having! Teddy-eared hood with scalloped edge trim? Yes! Cute add-on collar? Ooooh! A little cherry-pom-pom bow detail? Give it to me! Herringbone-stitch knit? Now! And a shnuggly cotton-tailed onesie for sleeping in? Like wearing my favourite jumpsuits for beddie-boo time? Yeah!!!

And here she is with her vintage Japanese squeaky animal pals (she is a re-issue and hasn't got the "squeak" put into her while the donkeys and the cows are "noisy" originals made decades ago). A moving clip of her frolicking with her pals might follow soon. In another two months, perhaps? Haha.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Bearly There

This wisp of sterling silver from Karen Walker's Super Fine range of jewellery is so tiny and delicate that I forgot I had it. Yay! A new old ring! I'm going to work the bear hard now that I've re-discovered him. Maybe get him a new playmate too!

Thursday, 14 February 2013


My grandmother laughed when she saw this Chinese calendar on our wall the last time she visited. She didn't think us "young people" would like such old-school ching-chong things.

But we do! And we've been buying a new one each year for the last three, I think, or four years. We can't read very much of the Chinese characters but we love the illustrations that you get only on special days! Their what-the-fuck-ness never fail to make us laugh. Like today's. A pair of Chinese cherubs riding on Mandarin ducks in a lotus pond! And it's not even the unofficial Chinese Valentine's Day today. WAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Meatpop On Things

Our pup, inspired by Maddie the Coonhound, on a beautiful bouquet of Australian native blooms (my favourite!) that our sweet pal K-Pop brought us for Chinese New Year.

Sometimes, looking at pictures of cute canines doing/wearing silly things beats looking at samey-samey blogger-girls dressed up to the nines, pulling awkward poses in some back alley...
:: more of Maddie!
:: Menswear Dog - Boys' clothes + puppy (wearing boys' clothes!) = two of my favourite things in one blog!
:: Ayasakai - French Bulldogs + bowl haircuts!!!!! I've owned various breeds of dogs, from big to small, since I was seven but never a Frenchie and it's been my dream breed to own for the last twenty years. I love a good bowl haircut (precision!) and have been wearing mine for at least eight years now. I look at these pictures of the cute little Japanese boy with a mini version of my hairstyle + his puppy pal and imagine myself in his place. What a sweet sweet life!
:: Trotter - more Frenchie hilarity!
:: Why We Rescue - It's not a blog but a storytelling-via-photos project by Maddie's human. Turn your speakers up and listen to the tales. Have your hanky within easy reach.
:: More rescued dogs stories - Manhattan Nest, one of the best home improvement blogs around, was made even better when Daniel, the author, adopted Mekko. Nothing improves a home more thanthe addition of a loving pup, I think! Or two! Linus was rescued a few months after and I definitely needed a hanky reading his story.  

Monday, 11 February 2013

Chinese New Year Sweets

We had one of our steamboat parties for a few pals (eight at the table for good luck...haha!) on Saturday, the eve of Chinese New Year. It's one of the easiest kind of dinner parties to throw! All the food prep I had to do was make a big pot of rich stock, marinade a selection of seafood and meat, cut some vegetables down to a good bite-size and our guests cook whatever they want to eat at the table. To make up for the lack of cooking effort on my part, I try to make the sweet things to end the meal with.

I don't like most traditional Chinese desserts but didn't want to veer too far off the Chinese meal theme so I usually incorporate some sort of Asian ingredients into the desserts (like the green tea brulee I made for our last steamboat party). Plus, this year, I had an added challenge-to-self -> to make something dairy-free for a new pal whose tummy doesn't like lactose. I love a good food challenge! And I think it's not polite to serve a guest something different (or easy, like a bowl of fruit) from what everyone else is having because of his/her food allergies.

Coconut Sorbet, Coconut Sugar + Mango Jelly, Mango + Candied Kaffir Lime Leaf Dust Salsa was what I made.  Tropical fruits (plus mangoes are still in season!), a dark and fragrant sugar that is used a lot in Asian desserts and a leaf that's so distinctly Asian in flavour. Kind of like those mango puddings that you get at yum cha/dim sum places but in a different form. I considered flat-laying all the different components on a wider plate - a way better look but the thought of plating that eight times at the end of an alcohol-fuelled night? Naaaah. So out came my old-school fluted jelly moulds! So cheesy ching-chong! So on-theme! Gong Hey Fatt Choy!