31 Days to Better Doctoring

photo-1I know, I know. It takes more than 31 days to be a better doctor. And yes, I know, it’s a stupid challenge, you’re too busy and you’ve got better things to do. And yes, I know, doctoring is way more complex than doing stuff like these.

Look, I just wanna have fun. I’ve decided to set myself 31 simple acts I can do daily during the month of January 2013 so I can fine tune my heart and head towards becoming a better doctor in 2013. I thought I might share these 31 Simple Acts with you and ask you to join me in this campaign. It’s like a group of friends doing random secret acts of kindness for others. No fame, no glory, no money. Just ordinary doctors intentionally tweaking a minor part of their day and upping the ante on positivity wherever we are working.

All of you good doctors out there are already doing these. I’ve learned these simple acts from you. I’m going to try to put those habits in place so I too can be a better doctor like you.

So every morning (Sydney time, Australian Eastern Standard Time) in the month of January, I’ll be tweeting a little challenge. Something simple we can do at some stage during the day to move towards better doctoring. It’s not going to be “Find a cure for cancer” or “Do a PhD”. It will be simple little acts of doctoring.

Remember, I wrote this for myself. You don’t have to do any of these. But yes, it will be nice to have friends do these together with me. It will be great to hear your story too.

Surgeons’ Guide to Christmas Parties


Revised edition from a previous post.

Surgeons are normally not comfortable among crowds who talk back to them. Christmas, therefore, presents a challenging social dilemma to the discerning surgeon. On one hand he/she is awkward in social gatherings, on the other he/she knows that being the centre of attention is important for his/her ego.

You know the old joke: “What does a surgeon use for contraception? His personality.”

So I’ve decided to provide help by means of a code of conduct that a surgeon could abide by during this festive season. Following this guide step by step will help alleviate the anxieties of the socially-inept surgeon. Here are my suggestions as to how a surgeon should behave during Christmas parties:

1. Ask, no, demand that the party starts at 0830 am sharp, “Knife to skin”. It does not matter if there are toddlers who wake early or teenagers who wake at lunch. Simply demand that knife hits the turkey skin at 0830am sharp. If there are objections, just say “I am God’s gift to mankind. Take it or leave it.”

2. Upon demanding “Knife to (turkey) skin” at 0830, arrive at 0900, and mumble/murmur/grumble about the traffic, the weather, and the terrible parking, even if the Christmas party was held at the surgeon’s own home.

3. Once everyone’s aware of your complaints, ask what we are doing today and raise your eyebrows/arms/legs and in a kind of “the world is coming to an end” drama sigh and say “How come the turkey/ham/beef is not on the table yet?”

4. When the turkey/ham/beef is finally on the table, complain immediately about the position of the turkey on the table, the height of the table and the position of the chairs.

5. Ask someone to drape the turkey while you go and wash your hands. This is a time to grab the surgical magnifying loupes if you wanna go all the way to impress people. Do a proper 5 minute surgical scrub from fingertip to elbows.

6. Upon returning to the operating Christmas table, complain immediately about the draping of the turkey. Then ask someone to adjust the lighting in the room and the height of the table.

7. Complain once more about the weather, traffic and parking.

8. Ask for knife and demand total silence in the room. Make sure everyone is paying attention.

9. As you make the first incision on the turkey, ask your assistant if there were any preoperative imaging of this turkey. Just grumble if there isn’t or even if there is one. This is also a time to ask for photos to be taken, while you are truly ‘at your game’, whatever meat that is.

10. Ask for fork, tweezers, pickups, thongs or any other instrument to help with turkey dissection. Preferably ask for those that are not in the room so someone can go fetch from another room. Upon returning with the fetched requested instrument, decide not to use it.

11. If you’re encountering trouble during the process of dissection, always blame the instruments, the assistant or the turkey’s difficult anatomy. The problem is never with your skills.

12. Once the turkey is well dissected and evenly distributed to your captive audience, close the skin with 4.0 vicryl and drop all instruments on the table. Walk away from the table, and as you leave the room, say “Merry Christmas” and listen to the rapturous applause as you go through the exit doors.

An Otorhinolaryngological Love Poem

An Otorhinolaryngological Love Poem

My ossicles shiver at the sound of your name
My cochlea swirls at the sound of your voice
I get symptomatic labyrynthitis when I see your beauty
And my world becomes vertiginous when you enter it

When my optic nerve see your beauty, my facial nerve gets excited
Temporal and zygomatic open my eyes wide
The buccal and mandibular pull a smile
And I start to salivate

There’s nothing more pleasant
Than the fragrance of your presence on my olfactory fossa
Than the tympanic reverberations of your voice
Than the tactile impulses of your lips on my cheeks

The laryngologists have never heard a kinder voice than yours
The otologists have never met a better listening ear than yours
And the facial plastic surgeons have got nothing to add
To your perfectly symmetrical facial beauty

Your vocal cords calm me, comfort me, and strengthen me
Your tympanum have forgiven me much for my bitter tongue
There are no sinuses too deep, earwax too thick, or neck nodes too big
To keep me from loving you

Written for Mrs Otorhinolary on our 7th Wedding Anniversary.

9 Things 9 Years of Marriage is Like


This was last year.

Today is our Anniversary. I’ve been married to my best friend for 9 years. So how does it feel to be married for that long, you might ask? They say it is like vintage wine, it gets better with time. Well, I’ve never tasted an expensive old fermented wine, but let me explain what 9 years of marriage feels like with some of these more common items.

9 years of marriage is like…

1. My well worn favourite jeans.

Yes, marriage is like that. Comfortable, stylish, totally wearable. Like my favourite pair of jeans, I am so comfortable in it I wanna wear it everywhere: the mall, the beach, work, weddings, etc. Putting them on makes me feel like home anywhere. It’s cool. But like my favourite pair of jeans, marriage also reminds me constantly of my ever-expanding waistline.

2. My coffee

Yes. Marriage is aromatic, strong, and pleasant to the nose. It keeps you awake and your heart rate up. Whenever I go on a date with my wife, like tonight, I feel like I’ve had way too much coffee. Jittery, excited, and wide-eyed. Sometimes it makes me pee a lot more too.

3. My favourite quilt.

Call it what you like: doona, duvet, blanket. I call it a warm hug. The best hug ever is a hug in the beauty of a marriage. It is warm, safe and heavenly. You could be totally yourself under the doona. Just like a safe marriage.

4. My alarm clock

Yup. It tells me when I should get up and face the day when all I want is to hide under the quilt/doona/duvet/blanket. Marriage teaches me the simple discipline of the routine of life. Marriage kicks my bums out of bed every morning and reminds me of my loving duty towards my family.

5. My eyeglasses

Without marriage, I won’t be able to see anything at all. Marriage keeps me in the right perspective and keeps me moving forward without bumping into things too much. Marriage also teaches me to see beauty all around. Marriage focuses what often looks blurry to me. Marriage helps me see where I am going.

6. My comic books

Marriage makes me feel like a superhero. I’m strong. I’m able. I’ve got superpowers. I’m ready to fight for her.  I’m awesomely cool, even in Lycra tights. I’m the all powerful hero saving the damsel in distress, although in reality more often than not it is she, the Wonder Woman saving me from my own silly self.

7. A perfect Rhinoplasty

It’s a beautiful, meticulous act of dissection. It can get challenging at times. Some parts are easier, others harder. You have some basic tricks, but mostly make it up along the way. It’s a bit of science, but mostly art and imagination. But at the end of the day you smile and see the enhancement of what is beautiful. Marriage is an art. Marriage is perfection in the midst of change. Marriage is satisfying, gratifying, refreshing. It looks good.

8. Sunsets

That’s how beautiful it is. Marriage is full of warmth and colour. It is splendid in majesty. It is so good that I would never get tired of it. It is repetitively beautiful and enjoyable. I’ve enjoyed sunsets, but keep wanting more. Each day is a little different. Marriage is gloriously beautiful. Marriage is pictorial and very Instagrammable. And without sunsets, it gets pretty cold and dark quickly.

9. Corn and cheese

That’s right, 9 years of marriage is like corn and cheese because it can be corny and cheesy.

Like this.

I love you, my best friend. Congratulations on surviving me these 9 years.