Bookish Thoughts: 10 ‘Medical’ Books lying on my Bookshelf needing some TLC!

After knowing where am I posted to next, things start to move fast and there are just so many stuff that needs attention! I guess this is part of growing up! Currently I am dealing with housing stuff (since I am going to work in another city not in my hometown or KL), and some financial stuff (which I am worst at, taking baby steps here), and everything seems so confusing!

I am thankful and blessed to have my ever supporting family and friends to guide me in this so that I can take a breather and still chill and live the moment, seize all the opportunities that I can spend with my family before I am shipped (literally) to the Cat City! (Multiple sobs, I don’t want to leave this place!)

Anyway back to our countdown for today, 10 books that I would love to read that is medically related, here we go!

1. Medical BreakthroughsThe Reader’s Digest (in my bookshelf since: pre-med)

This book has been lying on my bookshelf since I am 18 (think daddy or mummy got it from a book fair before entering med school)! The pages are interesting enough for me to flipped through once in a while but I have not gotten much out of it yet (too much words, and too many distractions in my life). Though it may be slightly outdated by now, I still hope to get the most out of this book!

the version that I have, hehe! *image from www.readinghabit.com.au

the version that I have, hehe! *image from http://www.readinghabit.com.au

2. The Encyclopedic Atlas of the Human Body – A Visual Guide to the Human Body (owned: pre-medschool)

Another book scored when I was doing my A-Levels back when I was 18 and at that time it was a SPLURGE with a price tag of RM50 from a book fair. Since then it has been lying on my bookshelf, have only flipped through it once when I am buying it (guilty call… =p ). Nonetheless, recently while cleaning up, I’ve found this again and flipped through, was quite a gem! =) Recommended for fresh meddies to be or curious babies like me, and although I’ve transported this book back to my hometown to be my dad’s reference book (he is interested in alternative medicine), I am thinking of sneaking it to the Cat City with me. I am guessing that it be helpful when I am losing my bearings especially during the first few months of ‘de internship’!

3. Human Lifespan Development – mummy’s copy (pre-clinical)

This was one of our prescribed readings back in first year which brings back much nostalgia. I still remember vividly our interesting psychology lectures by the Monash team, especially Mr Paul Jambu! Thanks for making psychology so much interesting! I have never read a page the real book but I have found out its existence in my house when I was in year 2.

our lovely Mr Paul Jambunathan! Thank you for making Psychology like a game! =) *image from google*

our lovely Mr Paul Jambunathan! Thank you for making Psychology like a game! =) *image from google*

My mum was doing her Masters in Counselling and this was one of her prescribed readings. At that time I was doing one year of Counselling course from the Buddhist Gem Fellowship (hoping to volunteer as a telephone counsellor) as well so was quite interested in the book, but still was too lazy to flip it though. My last push was during my clinical years, especially in Paediatrics or when I was doing my Geriatric posting during my final year.

To add more fire to it (=p), I had the privilege to do my clinical elective in the Neurology department of the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) London, one of the top kids hospital over in London and had managed to join several clinics dealing with developmental paediatrics (which basically deals with problems of kids growing up). It was an eye-opener and made me even more interested to read up more about (when I am not bounded with procrastination =p)

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), a dream come true!

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), a dream come true!

4. Stress and Mental Health SocietyDato’ Dr Tan Chee Kwan (pre-clinical)

Due to some event twists and turns, I’ve gotten this book since pre-med years. This book is recommended if you are interested in psychiatry and think that the normal psychiatric books are too bored to flip through. Dato’ Dr Tan is a prominent clinical psychiatrist who have dipped his toes in art, writing, sports etc. His book are filled with anecdotes, inside jokes and artsy-fartsy stuff occasionally. A good book to flip through (though I’ve just flipped 5 pages of it) so this is definitely following me to Kuching!

5. The Prescription for a Lifetime of Great Health: The Doctors: 5 minute Health Fixes – The DOCTORS with Mariska Van Aalst (owned at 2012) 

This book was from the Big Bad Wolf (BBW) Sales in KL (I think) back in December with a price tag of RM20. I gave so much thought to it before buying (as usually books from BBW are as low as RM3-5), thinking that it was a splurge! Laid on my bookshelf for two years until recently when I started cleaning the house that I’ve rediscover this book which I gave it to my dad to bring back to my hometown.

Now that I am back in my hometown, Kedah, and flipping though this book, I’ve just realised that this book is indeed, a hidden GEM!! Short and sweet, its a good companion book for your household, and just like the book described ‘you will have a house doctor with this book’. It’s something like Murtargh but in layman’s term and loaded with many general knowledge stuff, along with household tips and tricks! I am now thinking of sneaking it to the Cat City! =p

6. Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine (owned: 2014)

This book has been luring me to buy every single day as I walked pass the High Streets of Chiswick while on the way to GOSH back in London. Priced at 9.99 pound in Bookcase, the steep price tag was stopping me from buying this book. Until one day when it suddenly disappeared from the window display, I panicked and ran into the bookstore to enquire about the book, luckily it was still there and flipping through it, I knew this is the book that I NEED in my bookshelf.

image from goodreads

image from goodreads

So at the very next day, I bought this baby back home and as a result have to sacrifice my shopping purchases. The only regret is I’ve been neglecting him and doesn’t give him the love that he deserves (this book is definitely a guy)! Time to shower some love to you, big guy!

7. As Nature Made Him – John Colapinto (owned: 2014)

This book was thrifted in one of the old bookstores in Melbourne, in a quiant little street (can’t remember the exact place! =*( ) for a mere 3AUD. As the title suggests, this book is about transgender issues, a true story that follows ‘a boy who was raised as a girl’. The topic itself and the price tag is enough for me to stash it, but the final touch was that as I was flipping through the book, a Christmas Card dropped out, with a lovely message inside (to the previous owner I think). What better book to have than a well kept one which carries a story and some personal touch? =)

download (3)

8. Pharmakon – Sorry forgot to jot down the author’s name (owned: 2014) 

Another book thrifted when I was in Melbourne, from another nice little bookstore at the price of 3 AUD, located at a street near to the CBD where my little sis is staying. The boy and I spotted this bookshop while sipping coffee on the super artsy street (I need to ask my housemate, the Dutch Lady about the street name, she recommended and it WAS a nice place to chill and spend an evening). After coffee we went inside the wonder store and I scored several books (as usual) from this shop. One of the best scores was Mr. Barrack Obama autobiography <Letters for my Father>, was a fantastic read! And now back to this book, it was about pharmaceutical companies and consumers, and stuff along the lines. I’ve flipped through it, seems pretty good and since I’ve finished its sibling, now its time to work on this book!

9. Psychiatric Emergencies – library of the Alfred Hospital (owned: 2014) 

This book was scored when the boy and I were in our second rotation of our final year in Melbourne. We went to the Chapel Street in one of the weekends for their Astor Theatre, which is an old school cinema to watch <Indiana Jones>! Was a pretty amazing experience! Chapel St. itself was pretty cool and both of us were like kids in the candy store wandering around, admiring the architecture which was well preserved and maintained its ‘old-ish’ charm. Lovely place to spend an evening!

the boy and I before being 'Indiana Joned'

the boy and I before being ‘Indiana Joned’

And of course we spotted several unique bookstores selling differing genres of books and themes. I was walking along the street when I spotted this book dated at least 10 years back about psychiatric emergencies. At the price of 3 AUD, I was like I AM GETTING THIS! What are the odds you will find a book from the library of the hospital you are attached to outside of the library itself on sale; from Alfred the Great (as some medical students have coined it); and its about Psychiatric Emergencies (I am interested in child psychiatry)! So this book went straight into my stash and I’ve never flipped it since (since I was buying it as a momento).

Alfred the 'Great' LOL!

Alfred the ‘Great’ LOL!

10. Time to Live: Jannie Tay’s Journey: Mum’s stash

I have noticed this book in my mum’s bookshelf since 2013 and she recommended me to read it since its pocket size and was a quick read. It is an inspiring autobiography about a strong woman who carries multiple roles being a businesswoman and at the same time juggling her career and her family. Things gets harder as she has to take care of her physically challenged daughter as well. She managed to do all of those, on top of that being involved in charity and caring for the underprivileged.The book dictates how she overcomes all the challenges and her insights, which I think would be an empowering read to all women.

the strong women =) my driving force!

I am blessed and privileged to get to know three of such inspiring woman in real life; my mother, my grandmother and my little sister. They have worn so many hats at a time, being successful and  yet managed to take care of the family and themselves so well, at the same time being supportive and ever loving to each other. To them I am eternally grateful and thankful for, and I wouldn’t have been in my place now if it wasn’t for them, and of course my great giant the DADDY as well! =) I love you all! And to the other strong women that have left footprints in my life, thank you for shaping me and giving me the confidence for me to believe that I can pursue my dreams and passion!

daddy! the giant behind me =)

daddy! the giant behind me =)

On Labeling and Stigmatization

In the medical world, as cruel and inhumane as it may sound, patients are often being referred as ‘cases’ by healthcare professions, especially by doctors and medical students. On a typical day in the wards, I often heard someone asking, “hey, any interesting cases today?’, be it my friends or even among doctors. I, too, am guilty as charged. Sometimes it just slipped off my mouth, and it is a terrifying idea that whether am I still looking at patients as humans or merely another ‘case’. The thought of being drowned in the world of academic medicine and forget about the initial purpose of studying medicine – treating and making someone feel better, often send chills down to my spine.

Recently I have seen a 5 year old girl, Cindy* who came in due to recurrent urinary infection, with a background history of Turner’s syndrome (a genetic disorder) based on clinical diagnosis. I had the opportunity to have a nice chat with the girl’s mother, Kelly*, who has been ever so helpful and willing to give a wonderful history. It seems that the poor girl has been admitted three times prior to this due to urinary infection as well, which worries Kelly*. Upon further elaboration on the diagnosis of Turner’s syndrome, Kelly* revealed that the doctors suspected it shortly after the delivery as Cindy* seems to have some syndromic features. A karyotype analysis (a laboratory testing to map out the gene) was then ordered which interestingly came back with XX gene (rather than XO in Turner’s syndrome), making the diagnosis of Turner’s syndrome on Cindy* unlikely. 

Despite that, Cindy* continues to be treated as a child with Turner’s syndrome even though she had a normal karyotype and minimal syndromic features (low posterior neck line, slightly low growth rate). When the mother asked me should she believe in the report or take the word from the doctor, it occurred to me that she actually was not being explained about the report and being brief properly by healthcare professionals for the past 5 years! It is sad that the mother was being kept unknown about her daughter’s condition and no-one has ever attempted to explain to her what was going on for the past few years. For the past couple of years in medical school, we have been taught how important communication is and how we should always keep the patient in the loop on the management of their health. Yet, often, inadequate or no explanation has been given to the patients in the hospital due to time constrains and several other reason. 

Another thing that I have observe is that how far labeling and stigma can go when a diagnosis is not being reviewed accordingly. Even though Cindy* is unlikely to have Turner’s syndrome, the diagnosis has been following her around for the past 5 years. Is it because the doctors were scared to whistle-blow? Or they just took the safer way out and copy whatever has been written previously? It makes me think how important an accurate diagnosis is to the patient, and if he or she has been diagnosed wrongly, the labeling goes a long way and he/she might just be stuck with it for the rest of his/her life! Besides, it also made me realize how important continuous reviewing of the patient’s diagnosis is, in order to formulate and deliver the most appropriate management plan. 

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I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to meet Cindy* and her ever supportive mother, Kelly*. I have learnt a lot, academic and ethics wise. It has been a lovely evening and I sincerely hope that one day, they will find someone to get rid of the label from her case notes for good! =)

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