Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Facing My Own Everest. One Hand, One Day at a Time

If you recently fractured your wrist or you're caring for someone who has, and you want to know what to expect after surgery and during rehabilitation, I hope you'll draw comfort from my experience. After a fall that broke my right wrist, I find myself facing my own Everest, so I improvised and learnt to cope with my non-dominant hand. 

February 12 (2016): I had surgery for a distal radius fracture and  distal ulna fracture, commonly known as a broken wrist. A titanium plate was fixed to my radius (the larger bone on the thumb side) and a K-wire to my ulna styloid (the head of the smaller bone on the little finger side). 

The K-wire's out!
April 28: I went in for day surgery and had the K-wire taken out under local anaesthesia.

Today, 5 months post-op: My non-dominant left hand has grown so used to picking up the slack sometimes I forget the right one's on the mend.  With my left hand, handling a fork and spoon, switching TV channels and opening doors has become as natural as kaya on toast. That's one unexpected icing on the cake.

As for my healing right wrist, about 90% of the post-op numbness and tingling pins-and-needles is gone, little is left of the tight muscle twitches and stretches I had to endure up to 2 months post-op, and my scars are fading into  works of art, except where the healed ulna scar was reopened to take out the K-wire. The scar is now slightly raised and thick. My surgeon said it's a hypertrophic scar, and the tiny knot of dissolvable surture used to close the wound that's popped out from it is a reaction to the surture. I can now lift the kettle to make coffee and recently went back to lifting my 2kg dumbell, thanks to exercises prescribed to regain wrist stability and strength. 

After nearly 20 outpatient visits and therapy sessions and an ongoing wrist strengthening home exercise programme, my recovery is on track, although I still have some way to go. I still sleep and wake up to a right wrist and fingers that stiffen up when when not used. My grip is weak and there's still some ulna-sided tightness, tingling in the base of my palm near the thumb and the odd ache after the grip and weight exercises. 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

What I've Learnt From A Broken Wrist

As I write this, it has been exactly three months since I fell and broke my right wrist. I've had my fracture attended to in two hospitals, endured two rounds of surgery and countless therapy sessions. 

My life changed after a fall in February. 

I was taking a stroll after dinner and slipped on a pavement where puddles of water had collected from the rain earlier. I fractured the two bones in my right wrist. Somehow the bananas I was carrying fared better than I did. 

It happened overseas and I had to stay overnight at the hospital so the orthopedic surgeon could temporarily fix it. Through an external reduction procedure, he manoeuvred my displaced bones back into position and immobilised my arm in a cast, until I could have surgery back in Singapore.

I've had my fair share of bumps and falls in the past. My passion for the outdoors plus my flat feet have scored me the odd tumbles here and there. I once fell off a Segway and seriously sprained my upper right arm. I've parasailed, snorkelled, trekked and cycled, torn my skin and sprained my ankle more than once. 

So I'm used to bruises, cuts and sprains. Broken bones, hell no! There's always a first time and I hope this is the last.

A broken right wrist is one hell of a curve ball, especially when it's the hand I depend on for simple tasks I'd taken for granted. The hand I use to eat, drink, write, swipe my iPhone and iPad, hold my computer mouse, brush my teeth,  wash my face, switch TV channels and open the door. 

You get the picture.

My broken wrist, before and
after surgery
I was unlucky to break both the radius and ulna at the distal (wrist) end of my hand. My surgeon diagnosed it as a distal radius fracture and distal ulna fracture. The radius is the larger of the two bones of the forearm. It rotates around the ulna, allowing us to rotate our hand, turn our palm up or down, bend and straighten our wrist and elbow.

At the time, I felt no immediate pain even though my wrist was bruised, swollen and lost its colour pretty fast. My forearm felt numb and looked grossly odd, bent near the wrist. Not a pretty sight.

The impact of the fall had compressed the median nerve which controls sensation and movement of the hand. 

It's also the reason that until today, I still feel pins and needles in my fingers and wrist, and I wake up each morning to a tingling wrist, stiff fingers and a tight grip-like kind of feeling in my forearm that takes several minutes to ebb away. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Why I'm in love with Perth and the Golden Outback

I vaguely recall my first visit to Perth more than 5 years ago. My husband and I were there on Australia Day and spent an entire afternoon with patriotic Australians whose bodies were draped in varying fashion with the Australian flag. We felt the celebratory mood and saw a public concert in a park. I remember enjoying a cuppa in Fremantle. Then there was Northbridge aka Chinatown, where we had large portions of chicken rice and sweet sour chicken. Nice city but rather slow-paced and laid back, we thought. Metaphorically, there were no sparks and cupid failed to strike. I liked Perth enough but wasn't in love with it. 

Fast forward to May 2014. After a second visit (without the hubby as I was there for work and had more time to explore), here's why I'm in love with Perth and the outback.

1. Elizabeth Quay - Perth's Marina Bay

Change is in the air. A leisurely walk around Perth's central business district hints at a soon-to-be-transformed Elizabeth Quay. No doubt that sleepy Perth is playing catch-up to Sydney. At the centre of a big bold plan to "revamp" the city, Elizabeth Quay's revitalisation will embrace the Swan River. Redevelopment is expected to include an inlet connected by 1.5km of continuous boardwalks and promenades, public spaces, new hotels and residences.  A bridge will connect the inlet to an island featuring winding paths, kiosk, children's playground and spectacular views back to the city. When completed, Elizabeth Quay is expected to attract more visitors and be a place where people gather by the river to work, live and celebrate occasions, big and small.  

Elizabeth Quay now (inset: redevelopment plan) viewed from the top of The Bell Tower in Perth

In many ways, Singapore has done with Marina Bay what Perth plans to do with Elizabeth Quay. Sitting on land reclaimed from the sea, Marina Bay has a 3.5km waterfront promenade, a city skyline carefully sculpted by urban planners, accessibility to public transport, parks and gardens. Marina Bay is as popular with photo buffs as it is with joggers, families, retirees and curious tourists. Now a 360-hectare extension to the adjacent Central Business District, Marina Bay is a vibrant and happening place whose food outlets, restaurants and retail shops are patronised by tourists as well as residents of the nearby upmarket condominiums and corporate types from the CBD. Open air spaces pop up as venues for theatres, carnivals, walkathons and marathons. Since 2008, thousands of Formula One grand prix fans have converged each year to watch the evening race on a street circuit that meanders through the area.

Just as I watched Marina Bay gradually transform into my fave place to chill, I look forward to delighting in the magic that Elizabeth Quay promises on my next visit.
My Segway adventure by the Swan River. What a blast! Our guide has a wicked sense of humour, the sun is out and there is a cool breeze. We booked our ride through Segway Tours WA in Perth

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Forget Man-Made Structures or Attractions, Nature Beckons...

Nowadays when I travel, I prefer going on a hike and a boat trip rather than shop or visit museums. It's impossible to resist the green lungs of the nature reserves, the scenic beauty of the mountains, the aquamarine blue of oceans and rivers that beckon, and the mystery of caves that have existed centuries ago

I have yet to meet anyone who hates the gentle caress of the wind on their skin, the fleeting screech of a seagull or the soothing sounds of waves crashing on the beach.

It is said that reminiscing comes with age. So it is that my appreciation of the amazing wonders of nature has kept pace with the grey hairs that merrily spread their territorial claim on my head.

I pay more attention now to the rich diversity of wildlife, flora and fauna. The traditions and simple - or challenged - lives of the people and homes I visited. The rich history that has bound and defined existing customs and traditions. Most of all, it's the peace and quiet away from the humdrum of busy city life that I sometimes crave. I get this when I go on such "breaks". 

Many trekking trails in the
mountainous north,
with a small town
My nature sojourns are my way of coping with stress. Recollections of such holidays I will always hold dear, and I hope they will never fade like the pages of an old and tattered book.

Over the past year, I had my Kodak moments of sojourns to Borneo's Gaya Island in Sabah, to Noosa on Australia's Sunshine Coast, both of which I blogged about.  

Most recently, I was captivated by Sapa and Halong Bay in north Vietnam. Especially my overnight stay on the Victory Star, one of many Victorian-day replica ships that cruise the tranquil waters of Halong Bay. 
 Some balancing act!
The tribes in Sapa depend on farming and tourism for a living

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

A Tale of Two Pelicans Down Under

Believe it or not,  Ah Pui and Ah San lured me to Noosa, the Sunshine Coast's coastal hub!  

My introduction to Noosa - Ah Pui and Ah San, the pelicans with big appetites! 
Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo may have put Australia's Sunshine Coast on the tourism map. For me though, Noosa's graceful feathered residents with their recognisable throat pouch and large beaks prowling the riverbanks are what first drew my attention to the place.

My friends, Australian Brad Jeffreys and his vivacious Singaporean wife Judy Koh, often raved about the feathered visitors to their exclusive riverside home. Each day after 5pm, a pair of friendly pelicans they fondly refer to as Ah Pui (the fat one) and Ah San (skinny one) turn up like clockwork on the wooden platform jetty that joins their patio to the riverbank.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

From Ireland to Borneo: Ronan Keating Champions Marine Conservation Cause

Be A Marine Biologist For A Day On Your Next Holiday

It's possible. Caress some of the less sensitive marine organisms like the starfish and sea cucumber in a "touch" tank. Peek into live tanks and read about how seahorses, corals, fish - and more - co-exist and sustain the marine eco-system. Then, if you like, sign on to be a marine biologist for a day. If you do, be prepared to set aside one full day for this. You will get a behind-the-scenes peek at the painstaking work and research that goes into producing giant clams and restoring the coral reef.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Coffee, Tea or Richard Branson, Anyone? OK, But No Orange Juice, Tony Fernandes Insists!

Loving this CNN picture with its tongue-in-cheek caption!

Exactly a year ago, I blogged about two very savvy marketeers and my all-time favourite CEOs, Virgin boss Richard Branson and Air Asia boss Tony Fernandes.  Richard had by then lost a bet to Tony. 

I did wonder when (not if) Richard would eventually get down to shaving his legs and cross-dressing as an AirAsia stewardess, when the Virgin racing team lost to AirAsia's Lotus team in the 2010 Grand Prix.

Count down to May 2013.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Public Relations, What's That?

It all started when an ex-colleague who teaches tourism and resort management called and asked if I could talk to her student and enlighten the teenager about public relations and just what it is that we, practitioners, do. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Compare Air Fares - It's Easy With Skyscanner

Skyscanner, who? I asked myself.

I am not (yet) one of those junkies who search and make all their travel arrangements online. Why bother when I have hundreds of travel agents who can physically do that for me? I am spoilt and therefore willing to pay travel agents extra for their service. It's bothersome trawling the different airline and hotel booking sites, having to enter countless of data fields, just for cheap tickets, which has taken hours of my precious time.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Air Asia Brand Flies High

Air Asia makes for a good case study in branding.

I have never flown Air Asia. I don't have friends or relatives working there. Neither do I have a vested interest in this low-cost carrier which has remarkably built a name for itself in 10 short years.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Public Transport: Shareholder or Public Interest, First?

The Straits Times report, 3 May 2012

How much beating can one's reputation endure?

Following a dip in the share price of the SMRT, projected lower dividends and increased spending on upgrading Singapore's 25-year-old rail system, analysts have suggested to the news media that Singapore's rail system could be nationalized. 

Should the SMRT - or the state - run something as critical as a country's public transport system? Is nationalization the answer? Not according to the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, quoted in media reports. 

Monday, 30 April 2012

A Lesson from Hainan

Famed Yalong Bay in Sanya
There is a lesson to be learnt when there is over-promise - and failure to deliver the goods. A case in point - Hainan island in the Republic of China, touted to be the Hawaii of the East. 
My recent holiday to Hainan blew to pieces whatever illusion I had of this supposedly enchanting jewel of the East  that so proudly fashions itself after Hawaii, from its glossy marketing of tropical and sandy beaches to its greeting of "Yanuda" inspired by Hawaii's "Aloha".

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Blogger's Block?

We've heard of writer's block. But blogger's block? Ragan's PR Daily's article on "4 places to find blogging inspiration" is worth reading.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Of Euro 2012 goodies and models in sacrilegious wear...

The Straits Times report, 10 April 2012
When things start breaking down in our very own backyards, naturally we make it our business to complain. Not the very least because it affects us on a personal level.

These days, Singaporeans are speaking up on many things that bother us. Crowded MRT trains that frequently break down. Telcos that give better perks to expats. Event organisers who have models dressed as a Christian nun or a Taoist priest.

Two recent examples come to mind.