Friday, 10 April 2020

An Evil Sweeps Through

An Evil Sweeps Through
- by TC Lai, 9th April 2020

There's a rumor in town that a new evil has arrived.

It used to be the Tax Man. "A necessary evil," is what the people in charge told us. His masters will keep us safe; give us medicines; cure our crops of malice; or equip hired soldiers to keep us safe from marauders.

Sometimes their medicines don't work and we watch our loved ones die - often due to "consumption", "dysentery", "cholera", or "listeria"...Names we dare not give our children even though they sound exotic and faeryish. Soldiers are at times ill-disciplined and steal from us.

But such pestilence would often pass after a toll has been exacted, a price paid. Or when the crows have flown away to another accursed land.

However, this time it is different.

This new evil is said to be more vicious, and careless. A careless evil is hard to arrow down even if you know it is present and near.

And worse, it watches and stops you from comforting the sick. For if you do you will soon need the same attention, and so on. Quickly, your whole family will lay gasping on the floor, not unlike fish that has fallen out of a basin. Your home is still lovely: the sun pouring sunshine in, the wind playful with the curtains. And you wonder why you are in such dire straits. You should be outside singing and dancing. It feels unreal, surreal. You gasp your last breath and wonder if you will ever wake from the sleep you feel is creeping up and sealing you in
darkness for good.

But why am I drowning on dry land? - a final thought that locks you in limbo, in cyan, a color that is not supposed to exist.

Soon your whole village is asleep. Any visitor arriving will see corpses lying forward as if when alive a sprint race was afoot. Hands grasping chests as if enormous effort had been expended to win what must be the most valuable prize on offer at race end.

The visitor covers his face... In fear as well as in familiarity. Is this another incidence of pestilence? When was the last, he wonders, for some plaques do have a regular cycle like the seasons. Locusts are born, fly about, make love and die. Not before greedily eating up all your harvests leaving behind stalks for you to weave mats of, to lie down and grab your tummy in memory of food once promised.

In time folks from all over the land hear of this evil and stay away. They wear garlic in hopes of warding it off; masks so the evil will not recognise each as a family and drag them all away in unison. That's the most terrible loss a person can bear. To be alone where once meals were consumed with company, conversation and laughter. Now the silence is unnerving and unbearable, persistently gnawing at your grief.

Days and months pass. A stranger turns up and wonder why the land is lush, the wild creatures aplenty. He doesn't notice the graves that dot the land for they have been hidden from view by tall, willful grass. Birds sway atop them as oblivious as the stranger to what an evil had once wrought. Even the folks who went through the ordeal cannot be sure now if that evil had indeed passed through, so swift and devastating it was. Like a bad dream, they rather not talk about it. Soon new communities are formed, comfortable relationships forged.

Faces that were once familiar fade into a fog pierced by bright
sunlight. The blindness fades and the color of earth emerges, a land thirsting for water and the familiar grip of fresh crops. A new cycle beckons. Life once on hold begins anew.

The end

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Singaporise It!

FT on coronavirus (pix received on 15th March 2020)

Can Lah!

You have a virus situation
Blur-blur about your resolution
Singaporise it!

You have a clogged up road system
Pained 'bout arterial revitalisation
Singaporise it!

You have not a beautiful garden city
Eyesore from too much concretelitis
Singaporise it!

You have civil demonstrations everyday
Can't get to work go everywhere delay
Singaporise it!

Singapore, the land is small
Singapore, people come to the fore
No matter the race, language or religion
We come together as one tokong union

Because a paper boat can stay afloat
Because a paper plane can fly
Because if paper can crease for a moment
To square up a dream
So we shall, so we shall

Our forefathers give us strength
Our children give us vision
Our harbour has forever flowered aspirations
So, if...

You have a handful of Asian padi rice
A laokwayhbu that's old, plum and pretty nice
Singaporise it!

You have some black sauce, flat noodles and cockles
A kwali and wokchan, wrist action with power
Singaporise it!

You have a thing for dried shrimp, coconut milk and spices
Plus taupok, boiled egg and fishcake
Singaporise it!

Chicken rice super nice
Charkwayteow "wo lai liao!"
Laksa anytime no lasa

So, if you have a problem you cannot solve
Look to this Tiny Dot that has much resolve
To live in Peace, Harmony and Progress
To set a example for the REST

You have rampant shootings in the schools
Children frightened hiding under stools
Singaporise it!

You have druggies, pushers hanging out at street corner
Perhaps white powder for the rich to savour
Singaporise it!

You have media mastheads of every font and color
Op-eds lambasting every issue, creed or color
Teach us leh!
Don't just Singaporise it!


- by TC Lai 15th March 2020

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Corona Virus Toilet Roll Mania

The news this week out of Sydney, Australia of two women fighting over toilet rolls in a Woolsworth market inspired these two comedy pieces. Enjoy!

And this done today. ;-)

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Malaysian New Back-Door Government

Did Dr M miscalculate? Or did he not do enuf to push for reform? Or indeed support Anwar. In the end, he probably wavered with Anwar because he wants a "for Malay" government. What a missed opportunity to return Malaysia to Before-Najib and some semblance of "clean" government! 

In response to Dr M being dumped out of Bersatu and the break-up of PH.

This is response to new PM meeting so quickly with UMNO president Zahid Hadidi 

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

In Love With A Married Woman

In Love With A Married Woman
- by TC Lai, 11 Feb 2020

I am in love with a married woman
The way she walks the way talks
Even the way she holds her fork and spoon
Are the little things I liked of a girl long ago

You will never tire thinking back
Of how you had wanted to say hi
If she would hold your hand
Or maybe dance that dance you had in mind

The big question
The big occasion
The honeymoon

I look at this married woman and feel
All those memories
And the ones only together with kids can make
And wonder earnestly if she feels the same

I wonder too of the work I need to do
To covet what that is not mine
If I need to run her husband over with a car
Or just accost him in a dark alley

To get him to give up what is obviously
A lost cause for him
For that married woman has given me a smile
That she might climb onto this adventure

I am dreaming of and am punctuating
With lovely imagery
For the years ahead are still pretty long

Then I get smacked on the head
"Eh buddy, why are you staring at her so long?
She's your wife, ain't she?"

"No lah, just thinking of an old song," I lied,
Embarrassed, but somewhat true

Some married women are best left alone
But there's only one I'd rather keep by my side

The end

(Note: A different take on the usual Valentines Day poem. :-))

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Getting Over Wet or Weeping Eczema - Our Journey

Below is the post I've written to the Eczema Support Group of Sg as well as on my timeline in Facebook. Hope my/our experience is of some help to those of you still suffering from the same ailment. Please share if you think appropriate. 


Dear all,

I am happy to report that my girl has recovered from her wet/discoid eczema that began in July last year. It has been quite a ride, seeing her blister like someone who has rolled down a granite hill (see earlier post) or plastered with slices of raw salami (it's that bad (see initial onset condition pix below).

To those who suffer from WET ECZEMA, know that it is NOT an incurable problem as most online sources have you know (yes, even our local National Skin Center think that). NSC was a place we avoided after finding their steroids too strong (made her wounds hurt and ooze more)). Also, almost all information online is about dry skin eczema.

First, thank you everyone for their feedback. It is much much appreciated.

In brief, my girl's eczema was tackled with a combination of TCM & Western med treatments; and importantly, supplements. The only hiccup during the whole journey was using an aloe vera gel to heal her skin. It caused massive inflammation (those large dark patches you see). Thankfully it was  manageable in the end.

Long story short:
- use TCM to arrest the situation. It stopped the oozing AND itching. But surprisingly, they do not have a skin cream to complete the healing process;
- use Western meds to tackle the leftover flare-ups: no lesions but still small pimple-like dots appearing. Few though;

We took TCM for two months. But because they did not have a skin healing cream (they told us to use aloe vera). We bought one Korean brand (apparently 98% pure). Turns out more starch than gel. Didn't help, was stinky, and left her skin irritated and inflamed. Raw again, KNS.

No cream seemed suitable to heal her raw-again wounds. My girl has become terrified of anything that hurt.

Because her skin was so sensitive we decided to use tea instead. We tried chamomile, green tea and oolong TEABAGS (moist and direct application). All worked like a charm. In the end we settled on the green tea as my girl seemed to prefer that. However, although the wounds healed gently, they were not ideal. I was also worried about scarring.

So for a complete recovery I brought her to see a family skin doctor in Marsiling Rise (the father of which was well known and a family friend). The rationale was I needed skin meds to help her heal and kill off any skin eruptions that might flare (i.e. those pimple-like irritations). I was also not going to be an arrogant bas**** and look for the creams myself. There are just to many out in the market; I needed pointed, expert advice.

All the while since the start I had been researching and buying suitable supplements for my girl. I still believe her case was aggravated by her poor diet in school and also age-prompted hormonal change (she's 14). Her supplements were at first Vit C with zinc and D. Later I supplemented with B5, Calcium+D, Vit E, Vit C with D and standalone Zinc Picolinate which is said to work better with women. She is still on them, at first daily and then on alternate days to prevent supplement overloading. Her body would absorb them better.

The Western meds were prednisolone, curam (antibiotics), famotidine (itch/allergy), lorfast (itch/allergy),
Cetaphil Pro Derma moisturiser; and a light Clobetasol and Clotrimasole steroid cream to apply on those pimply spots. This C&C cream worked like a charm. The Cetaphil was slow going (to eradicate the dark patches) but worked. We were told to keep going like this for 3 months. We're past the two month mark and you can see the results yourself in the pix. Her pimply irritations have also stopped in the last two weeks. Now her skin is normal and smooth smooth. The task now is to continue to lighten those darker pigments. And oh, she also bathed with Physiogel Daily Moisture Therapy throughout her ordeal - the only thing good that came out of our visit to NSC that helped with her lacerated skin. Turns out, Physiogel is de rigeur with eczema patients and well known.

My girl would always struggle to get to bathe with her open wounds. Physiogel (and loud music) both helped her to get through her daily, painful ordeal. 

As for her diet, I was very strict since I was not sure if it was food that triggered her eczema or what. Egg white yes (to replenish those skin cells) but NOT the yolk (for some, it is an allergen). As days past and she improved I relaxed on the restrictions *esp gluten). She has begun eating chocolates again. As for probiotics, I stopped after a month as they did not seem to help. I was using both lacto GG and lacto bifidus, etc..

Afterthoughts: What would I have done differently? After the TCM worked, I should have brought her to see the Western doc immediately. This would have helped heal her skin and further weakened the eczema threat. I was cautious probably because of the bad rep of steroid use often leading to TSW or topical steroid withdrawal. The Western med doc (that family friend) we finally saw seemed to know what he was doing. And using a diluted mixed cream usually isn't a problem. This I also found out on Youtube.

Importantly, the Western doc did give her a progressively reducing dosage of prednisolone (a med I was  skeptical at first. Most docs would give a standard regular dose over a period of time). The combined meds (antibiotics, anti-itch/allergy meds) really toned down any leftover eczema aggravation. My girl was really happy seeing her skin heal finally. As for me, I really KNNB the aloe vera cream and brand. Let me KNNB one more time to feel better. *angry face .

So, thanks much to folks in this group: your sharing and experience was a huge learning and comfort. Kudos to the TCM lady doc Liu Siuzheng (Room 4, Mon mornings) at Chung Hwa Toa Payoh for being spot on with her herbs, and to Dr Gabriel at Woodlands Clinic (Marsiling Rise) for his learned experience. Merci beaucoup once more!

- TC Lai
* Special thanks to friends Alex L and Michelle P for their sharing and particular insights.

Now sui sui smooth smooth. Still need to get rid of the dark areas though.

Inflammation again after the aloe vera. KNNB.

We tried chamomile, oolong and green tea. In the end preferred green tea, The tea bag comes folded in two.. Stretch it out long for a longer wound. Cut in half (fold and staple to seal it) for smaller wounds. Flip over to use unused side the next day. Didn't throw away much as my dog kind of like the used one. Made green tea sandwich for him.

Once moist, put a dressing backing behind the teabag so it won't soak through the bandage. Of course, remove the tags first. Tedious but easy-peasy process. Also, use dressing tape to hold teabag and backing in place so as to wrap easier (esp places affected by gravity - such as the under arm). I use masking tape (not hooks) to secure the bandages (better).

Nightly routine before bed. Apply teabags over the wounds, bandage, tape up. She soon discarded the mittens as they made her hands uncomfortable (warm)

The lousy aloe vera. Is it fake? The 98% like not indicative of anything.
I've always had faith in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). So when the National Skin Center treatment did not pan out, I quickly looked to TCM for a solution. I've always felt TCM to be natural and less harmful to the body. It is also more holistic, going to the root source of the problem. In some ways my daughter and I were fortunate. We hit upon the right TCM doc who prescribed is all the right herbs, i.e. for itch, lesions, inflammation, etc. The herbal meds worked in the first week (I boiled them myself - each time for two servings). I opted for herbs vs prepared TCM meds because I find that more pure (traditional) and targeted, The formulation on the left is the first one (see pix and date); the second one was later (after a request to help my daughter sleep better). Either way, the herbs are not much different for discoid eczema according to the TCM lady doc. I had also asked for liquorice to be removed after hearing that it might agitate the eczema. Bcoz the cause of my girl's eczema is unknown I had to research and find out what might trigger it and eliminate all possible causes. PLEASE NOTE: I append this herb list to help those who might be desperate or is not able to find a TCM clinic or herbal store nearby. KNOW THAT it is better to go see a TCM doc and be personally attended to. Even in Singapore where TCM medicare is popular and easily available, at the very same clinic (Chung Hwa HQ in Toa Payoh), we had a follow-up doc (a cocky bast***) who dismissed the above formulations out of pride, and gave us meds that made my daughter's condition worse. He gave us some stupid reason saying my daughter was poisoned. Even after we told him that the herbs our attending physician prescribed to us was working well. I think he was trying to make a name for himself as 'the capable' skin doc at the clinic. (Physicians at this clinic come in at certain days and times and our attending physician only attend cases one day and morning per week - an inconvenience for many working or schooling patients. So this idiot physician set back my daughter's healing and returned her condition back to Day 1. What an egoistical and ignorant idiot. He shud be sent back to school or suspended from this well known clinic chain. After this disappointing affair we asked or another opinion - one from a senior physician - and he concurred that the original prescription was correct. Actually if you know a bit of TCM, you could make out that the correct herbs were all there. Certain TCM herbs are well known for tackling itchiness, breakouts, inflammation, etc. It makes that above-mentioned setback harder to swallow. Any TCM doc worth his salt should know. Was that idiot physician actually illiterate to some extent??? So DO NOTE: Your race type and body make-up might prejudice you in some degree of sensitivity to herbs or herbal contradiction because of some pre-existing condition. So, if possible, GO SEE a TCM doc for an examination and opinion. In any case, best wishes and know that discoid eczema can be cured.

Initial onset condition. From a mere pink dot, it deteriorated pretty fast. Thinking back, thick bubbles forming at her elbow flexor skin was the first sign.

Near the end of November when my girl got much better, I treated her to a 9-mall shopping/driving adventure trip to JB. The last one was actually a mega thrift shop. NIce. We ate at some nice places and dined at some super good night supper spots. And caught up with my girl's fave: satay (no peanut sauce for her tho).