“Thinking Forensics”

I was suffering from a bout of skin disease and boyy, I didn’t know I was allergic to anything in this world (is it even an allergy?). Or bacterial/fungal attack?

I am in my early 30s and since I was a baby ’til now, as far as I am concerned, I wasn’t allergic to any foods or environmental factors (e.g. pollen, sunlight, sweat). I once thought I was allergic to vegetables, but that surely wasn’t true – was just an excuse to my mum not to eat them when I was in my primary school years. I was very lactic tolerant, no problems at all with any sort of seafoods, and no damn problems with gluten (I wish I did!).

Recalling back, I used to have occasional hives, or what Chinese people termed it: “fong mok” where red spots aggregate into large raised red & itchy surfaces that appear due to intolerant to some dust mites or maybe hyper-reaction of some antibiotics I took and then I went straight to some stressful physical workout like swimming. Nevertheless, I will encounter “fong mok” and usually it heals in 1 night after a jab of antihistamines into my ass. I have not had any skin conditions besides face acne (cause I am still young) for say…..15-20 years already.

Therefore, I was worried because I had this very bad itchiness on my entire legs (especially knees and elbows) just this Hari Raya 2014. I was worried because this was so not the “fong mok” symptoms like I’ve previously encountered. And what if I am suddenly allergic to some common ingredient like say eggs in my adulthood and not childhood, which would be unbecoming because…hei, eggs are common in any local dish!

Skin-thinning after continuous application of anti-itch creams – side effects of steroids-based topical creams. 

 

So I decided to do a thinking-forensics examination, where what you do is track back your steps to what you ate, what you did, what you saw, and who you met, before the outbreak. Btw, thinking forensics is only in my own dictionary, so don’t bother to Google:

1.

It was Raya eve this year when I went back Ipoh to celebrate my father-in-laws birthday at East Ocean. In the evening, we went swimming at the deplorable public pool at DBI, Ipoh bring my niece and nephew there for a splash. Despite 20 yrs of not stepping foot at DBI pool, nothing has changed since. 20 years and the changing/locker rooms were fungus-filled esp. at the shower and tiles. Even if I am not OCD, I couldn’t stand the sight of the lockers.

Hubby brought back really fresh (and expensive!) fish and sea-cucumber (lagi expensive!) from Sabah when we were there for our marathon. We let the restaurant cook it as our dinner – both fish and mollusks were steamed. I took a lot of fish, but just maybe 2 slices of sea-cucumber because not that big a portion. Share share marrr.

2.

After dinner, I went home, slept, and when I woke up the next day, my back and calf was itching. I spotted one red spot on my back, and one at my right calf. And it was super-itchy. The itch on this 2 spots didn’t subside even till the next day because I continued scratching it. It’s called the itch-scratch-itch cycle (this one is a term on Google), whereby, the more you scratch, the more the spots will itch (and spread), and you start scratching more.

3.

Then I came back to KL to work on Raya 3rd day. I spotted some new red spots on my legs (femur) and knee. Because I am the only one at office, I just roll up my pants and scratch…whole day. Well, no one looking and it was sooooo syiok to scratch.

4.

The 4th day of Raya, my boss came back and knew that I was studying to be a certified chemist. He dug out a very, very, very super brown old text book on Organic Chemistry from his office cupboard and said that he used to use this textbook for his studies 30 years ago. Hmmphh…I said I would really love to borrow it. When I opened the book, it has this super-dusty-old-hapak smell, and the paper was crisp. Guess what, I took the book home, opened it on my lap and read the book with full enthusiasm whole evening and night and made it my bedtime storybook.

More like chicken pox, but I’ve got chicken pox when young.

 

5.

My itch worsened the Saturday morning. I was supposed to go Chiang Mai with my bff on the same evening, but I felt like ripping off my jeans because there’s this one spot on my knee that was super itchy, but I just can’t scratch beyond my thick jeans. On the plane, I boh care already and start scratching the knee because whattodo, damn syiok weiii!

6.

Reaching Chiang Mai just in time for dinner, we had tomyam kai, a coconut drink, and paku-pakis in garlic sauce. That’s when the itch became unbearable: one spot became 100 raised red spots and aggregating as I keep scratching them. Luckily I traveled with my pharmacist bff (yay!), and she took me to this drugstore and recommended me some oral antihistamines and topical ones too. At night, the itch was unbearable, and even with antihistamines in my system, I woke up in the middle of the night to top-up on the antihis cream.

Back in Malaysia, the doctor commanded like Caesar: “Take steroids, and be gone is your urticaria!” But I refused to take steroids and willing to bare the itch with spreading Tiger Balm menthol cream. Tiger Balm burns my spots and causes me to temporary to forget about my itch. I somehow think I need antibiotics/antifungal (bacteria spores attack?/ fungal attack?) and not steroids. Never listen to doctor advice is like dat lu.

The itchiest spots are in this feet area!!

 

Old spots has since turned into pustules. Pustules are painful, but I felt super great with them around because pustules means that the whatever “foreign thing” in my body is in the process of being eliminated out from the body in the form of nanah fluids. And these pustules are no longer itchy! (yes!) Let’s see, I have 20-30 pustules all around my legs and heels which no longer itches, but I look terrible in my shorts or miniskirts. People asked if I had Chicken pox or…Ebola. Like what, Ebola!?! (Do you even freaking know what Ebola’s symptoms are?!)

4th week into this disease, it just got completely healed (no itch and no new spots, but scarred!).

 

Based on my thinking forensics, the culprit could be: 

1. Fungal infection from public pool or changing rooms.

2. Fish, prawns and/or seacucumber from Sabah.

3. Mites on my Ipoh bed or sofa. Bed bugs are likely.

4. Dust mites or dust bacteria on the vintage organic chemistry textbook of 30 years.

5. Unwashed jeans of 1 year.

6. Tom yam chicken in Chiang Mai

7. Stir fry Paku Pakis with garlic dish in Chiang Mai

8. Coconut juice in Chiang Mai

9. Stress. No way jose, I am not stressful lately. I swear 🙂

10. Genetic predisposal. My family especially Dad has very bad skin sensitivity problems – to ants, to spiders, to caterpillar, while Mum can’t eat too much beef. Elder brother has eczema problems on and off.

My forensic findings: No.1, 2 or 4 are likely primary factors that led me to my ugly scars. Then, the elevation of severity (or seriousness) is caused by consumption of “toxic” foods such as tomyam and paku-pakis vege, while in Totality: genetics played a huge role in causing the sensitivity.

**Just pray I am not allergic to anything as I get all, especially not to common ingredients. Some people’s sensitivity to things change as they grow older. I have a friend that was never allergic to pineapple when young, but now can’t take pineapples in any form. She had allergies to squid (only!) and is now no longer allergic to any seafood, not even squid. I have another friend who was allergic to eggs, but could now take them as adults.

Your thoughts?

 

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Life Changing 2013

Happy New Year 2014!

Last year 2013, I didn’t have time to recap the moments of the entire year. I was so caught up with events in December that I kinda forgot all about blogging.

In short, 2013 was one of the greatest years in my life (well, I said that every end of the year, don’t I?). Hmmpph. But really, 2013 was not only great but was life-changing. I have gotten my long awaited double promotion, and long-awaited chance to be married. Sounds desperate, but I am not desperate. I do work hard for it. Stuffs sometimes just happen and it goes in your favour. God’s will.

Highlights:

1. I was being proposed to by one of the most amazing guy on earth (ok lah, exaggerate a bit here), but I love him; my family and relatives adores him; we share the same passion. etc. And with that, came a diamond ring. If you know me well, naturally I don’t really care how many carats it was, but the 2-weeks secret proposal effort did make me cry, and that was all that matters. Read it all here.

2. Malaysia General Election clogged up almost all conversations in the office, coffeeshops, homes, etc. during first quarter of the year. Read my thoughts and experiences in one of the most dramatic and ‘dirtiest’ GE of all times.

3. My birthday was also my ROM. There was I, signing my name off. Sounds morbid but it was actually my mum and dad’s dream to see me married off, as many would have said: Ivy might never get married cause her character is….(insert masculine adjective(s) here)…. Of course, the myth was debunked.

4. We signed up for a wedding photography package and made Cameron Highlands our outdoor location shoot. Thanks to Jacky from Bridal Collection and some luck with the cooling weather and sunset, we’ve got ourselves some breathtaking photographs. At the same time, we really had lots of fun doing the whole shoot, and it was sooo cooling. No sweat, literally! Read the experiences and my current take of weddings here.

5. Fong has gotten a new double-storey link house for us to begin our lives together, and so we worked hard, day and night to personalized our pad. With much money thrown in, I think we are both happy to get ourselves a place in Klang Valley, where many young people could only dream of – a landed property. A lot of sweat poured in into doing our own painting, fixing of own cabinets, knobs, hinges, with no help of an ID. From there, I found that Fong does make full use of his PE in civil engineering – such a great handyman and has much knowledge in renovation, he could be a salaried Renovator himself. Plus, I remembered going IKEA 5 times in one month.

6. Just like every year …*ZzzzZzZzZ*….I had to prepare for my naik-pangkat assessment. This year, I did it! Promotion! Smiling from cheek-to-cheek when my payslip arrived just the other month.

7. I went to Beijing twice for meetings and another for a business attachment. Me being me, I make sure I explore the city like a tourist, but on the other hand, going to many roads less traveled. I try to absorb in as much as I could about the country, while maintaining my own cultural integrity, also making every trip a time for self-discovery and a learning process. From there, I never had the same thought about China ever again. Funny, but I love China, and my colleagues were jokingly asking me to ‘balik China’ again as I was bragging about my VIP treatments in Beijing, oh well….so much better compared to my treatment as a chinese in my own country.

Photos of my 1.5 months business attachment will soon be posted on my PICASA. Here are some sneak peeks:

8.  My appraisal/performance this year scored me another promotion and consequently, a long-awaited salary upgrade that brings to my face, a larger smile. That makes it a double-promotion this year alone! I worked my ass out this year (harder!) and finally, finally…phew…got noticed.

9. Achieved the best full marathon time ever with at 5hrs 24 mins in the SCKLM. And I could proudly say that I ran this race alone. I gave myself a pat in the back before retiring from races for the rest of this year ’til my wedding in March 2014.

10. I have gotten myself a beautiful sister-in-law (Ipoh girl mahh), as my elder brother tiba-tiba preceded me in getting married. I said “tiba-tiba” because it was Fong and I who announced our marriage first, but their wedding was done earlier than ours. I am so happy for them both and wish them both the best as husband and wife. At the same time, our family moved into our new bungalow in Tambun. My parents were so proud this year alone; it shows in their faces every time I go back to Ipoh.

I pray that this year 2014 would be another memorable one for me. This will be the year of my wedding, and I have great hopes for my career to be a Certified Chemist (just in case you didn’t know, I am a biologist working my ass off as a chemist). This is also the year where our government will be imposing the GST and has had many items increase in prices including electricity, water (ice!), food, toll, etc….in response to the bad results they obtain in GE(?). Some sort of revenge, eh?  Meh, I am not surprised that our federal government is retaliating. Hah! Happy BN (Barang Naik) year of 2014.

God bless and lots of hugs to my loyal readers.

Hard Selling

I bet most people has had an experience with hard-selling. It is where you receive some great services or was offered one, and before the service is bestowed upon you (or after), the service provider talks incessantly about the benefits of buying their service/product packages and subsequently to commit you long term (read: membership) with them, and that comes with a greater costs $$$$.

This manner of ‘compelling’ you to buy stuffs/services is not new. I am now committed to a facial package, that I did not regret being in, but from which started off as a hard selling from this lady. I initially called the lady a bitch (I regretted the name calling) because she was annoying and ‘forceful’ into making me get the package (and I did fell for it). Until now (though no regrets and with intermittent update of my package), I am still using their facial services religiously which has maketh my skin much much better than before, but like an elephant, will never I forget how unhappy I was initially with the way they talk me in into buying it.

Of course, I admit being susceptible to hard selling. Services such as facial, hair, gym, credit cards, spa, etc. may offer you the service one-off, but during which you may have to listen to their lectures during the session. I managed to stop myself from being convinced into getting the package in several occasion e.g. gym and hair, but it wasn’t easy. I was literally in hell. You have to be brave, thick-skin, not say much (mute your mouth), and trying not to be rude, just took my bag, stand up and leave. If he/she talks talks talks to you to buying some expensive packages, just walk out the door, smile, say NO Thank you, and leave. Don’t sit there and try to talk him/her out (I always try to out-talk them but that turns the game against me). You are unlikely to win. They will find all excuse to counter your reasons. 

Giving you an example: GYM. I was happily doing my own cardio, strength training and carrying weights in the gym, when this PT approached me said I was doing it all wrong. Of course, I didn’t tell him I used to hire a personal trainer for 12 lessons in year 2005 at a previous gym. I have good knowledge with many gym equipment, and dare he misled me to say I am running wrong and doing the wrong stuffs for toning! I know my body weight has been stagnant for years, but don’t you dare tell me I am not running well….because…I have been running for a long time, and I have had 12 f*cking personal training sessions before. He wants me to get a PT package from him and claim I will have a beautiful toned body in 6 months which will attract many guys(?!). What angered me is that I should stop running as my body has got so used to running, it has plateau-ed. Yes, I know my body has been stagnant, and I can run 21 km with one eye closed with zero weight loss, but that’s not the point. I just want a healthy heart, I love running and being in ‘The Zone‘ and yak all the nasi lemak I yearn for. My goal is not to lose weight. Probably he didn’t understand my goal.

I eventually told him I play badminton every week, run 3 times a week long distance (>7-10km each time) and swim in the weekends. That did shut him up a bit. Because I said to him loudly: WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT FROM ME? I have had too much exercise in my life. I think the yucky fats around my legs did cushion and prevent me from various running injury 🙂  Please, I begged him, to just let me do my own sh*t in the gym (even if it’s wrong) and eventually told him I have HAD 12 PT lessons before this, and I don’t want anybody to control my food intake. I’ll accept my flabby arms and my eventual weight gain…like a MAN.

I am not snobbish, but sometimes people tell you white lies just because they wanna get their commission. You are actually cheating me off my money. Why can’t you just leave me in peace and not in pieces after my facial, or hair do, or gym or bodyspa? If I wanna jump like a monkey and do crazy cartwheels in the gym…just leave me! If I wanna have a bad hair day for the rest of the year, just let me, and if my body has acne, what gives?

I don’t blame the other end either. I know it’s not easy getting business nowadays bearing in mind, businesses are very competitive lately. Metro-sexual men and women are rampant in the cities as we know it, and they have good money to spend on beauty, clothings and other personal care. They have therefore become easy targets (or voluntary victims) for various indulgences. I have a friends/family who sold me credit cards, and I did see how difficult it is for him to sell even one in a week. They need to be thick skin to endure rejections. I quietly applaud their effort. That is why I don’t mind listening carefully to the seller at the end of the line first, and not reject them immediately. I do not slam the phone down at any sales. I am quite kind in that sense.

Everyone needs to SELL at some point in their life. SELLING is a skill that is actually very useful in life. You have to set your sales pitch right. But when it comes to a point when your pitch becomes forceful and irritating, then that’s when you may lose your customers. What’s worse: customers turning angry and ugly.

 

Wonder Women

Everytime you see me, you know I am full of stuffs. My ‘thinking’ face and squinting eyes does show clearly I am nothing but a lady filled with things to do. Ample. I am damn tired. But I try. I try to make time for everything I love – friends, colleagues, my fav TV dramas, run, swim, Olympics, etc. which makes me one superhero.

Not that I am boasting. It does make me a superhero, I guess. Mum calls me  Wonder Woman. Most women are anyway, particularly this generation, this era. Mum herself is. We have a career, we cook, we clean, we own a property/car, we run, we swim, we yum cha, we breed, we educate, we pay the bills, etc. I cook almost every other day after work, I clean the toilet while I bathe, I study unrelated subjects (read: mathematics) to climb the career-ladder, yet I go running every other evening. I teach swimming in the evening, but not before I make sure my car gets a wash, or I teach swimming, then off I go with my make-up on and dainty dress to a fancy dinner party. I pick up some novels to read and finish it within a week, etc. etc. etc. Now, I do think Galileo got it wrong: The Earth revolves around me.
Me …probably. But with a smaller cuppa.
As for “me” time, you would definitely think I am the sporty type – putting “me” time on runs/swims. But nah…you are wrong. I am quite a couch potato, sitting watching How I Met Your Mother or The Kardashians or Criminal Minds…and right now, the Olympics. I turn on my laptop in front of the TV screen, essay a few reports while sobbing on Mobbed or cheering for Uchimura Kohei on pommel horse or Park Tae Hwan on his freestyle heats,and while Draw-ing Something on my phone (**yes, hate me for still playing that game).
My Idol spitting water – OK. My swim students spit in the pool, I scold jia-lat.

** I am into Park since Beijing 2008. See previous post.

Yes, I am Wonder Woman, but I am still human. Like many superheros on TV, I err, I love, I hate, I have feelings. Sometimes I don’t care enough. Honestly I have one very bad trait: I get jaded with things very fast. Many instances have shown me what I can really be: when I over-indulge in something I loved so a lot, I can suddenly go all cold about it. For no reason. I will hate doing it altogether and I have no qualms quitting it. Doesn’t happen all the time, but it happened with Aikido. It happened with Entomology. It happened with Swimming. So I do not go over-board with my indulgences cause I could get jaded. Every day, I pray I don’t get jaded with running. So, I try not to over-do and out-run myself on marathons or other races.

I dedicate my ‘me’ time to my new Samsung Galaxy S3. A blessing-in-disguised, I supposed, that my first smartphone got pickpocketed whilst browsing some recipe books. Stupid, I call myself, for not being vigilant of two male foreigners browsing on recipe books(!!!) near me. Yes, I have a world-view of thinking guys lately have great passion in being chefs themselves (think: Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ram), I never would have thought they were thiefs. Nevertheless, once I realised it’s missing, I instantly got a new Samsung. Now I am so addicted to my super-fast, super-slick S3. Yummmy!!!!
I got two scuba diving trips coming up this August and October – Phuket and Sipadan. See, I am full of stuff despite being sooo freaking busy. Mum said she hates me being involved in so many ‘rubbish’. Hey!!! 
I also got myself a property after searching for the looongest time. I bought this condo on impulse. Well, it’s primarily bought for investment, and the location is great, so WHATEVER! But looking at the huge awesome swimming pool, I think I might ‘merasmikan’ it with several bouts of freestyle, butterfly, back and breast, and pee in it, before I tenant it out. (I think I bought this place only because of the pool).
I also have to study to climb the f**king career ladder. Sh*t! I thought I don’t have to ever study again since I’ve gotten my doctorate. But nope. Here it comes again! And worse: it’s all new subjects, unrelated to what I graduated in (read: studying insects). I have to learn physics and engineering and …..errr…part of it: MATHS. I hate maths, like a lot. I guess learning is part of life and it never ends (but studying is not). Warning friends: if I do get cranky, please forgive me: it’s because of my studying = bad grades = no naik pangkat = no naik gaji = cranky!!!
Milk foam on my upper lips. I am a Nespray Kid!
You will still see me in some coffee chains on weekends especially. This is one habit that ……I can never get jaded. Never.

The Great Expectations by Mum Dickens

My mother always say that she didn’t give birth to me. I agree 70%. Cause there’s little in common in our characters and being. She’s street-smart, I am book-smart; She was prettiest girl in Taiping (my dad vouched), I took the crown of prettiest in Jalan Persiaran Perajurit 2 Ipoh ever since my mum got old(er) and wrinkly; She loves raring chickens and do gardening, I was afraid of chicken droppings and has ‘hot’ hands (even cactus die under my care).

I despise her fashion sense. She hates mine completely.

But then mathematically, the 30% has some truth: We are both females..duh!; we love to eat anything and everything that is edible + sambal belacan-kinda-spicy; she and I are caring..yup yup…to a certain extent; she and I can never say “no” (kinda bad trait, actually) to any requests; both me and my mum loves flowers; she likes to entertain people, and so do I (e.g. jemput orang makan-makan, masak byk-byk di rumah, suka ber-party, etc.). And this trait, no one can deny: She and I are both super-talkative and opinionated (vocal).

Some China-based flowering plant which only thrive in cool climates, but my mum managed to make  it grow and bloom in hot, humid Ipoh.

Why did I even start this blogpost?

I suddenly miss my mum. No wonder I hate holidays (yesterday). Thinking of nothing makes you think of something. Tak han mou yeh chou. Makes me over-think about things…and worst, to get emotional over it.

So yes..I miss my mum. If I hadn’t talk to her in a couple of days, I may suffer, die or stab myself to death. Not that I am dependent on my mum, but she gives the best opinion ever and some how, and I dunno how, her opinion is always right. She used to pressure me a lot when I was younger to study, music, swimming, and other sports but I understand why….cause I could do it. Since my 20s, I’ve been buggering (it came to a point that I was WARNING her) her to stop putting any pressure on me anymore in my studies, career…and surprisingly she relented. I know why. When I was young, she thought I was perfect and could do wonders until…. I didn’t fare quite well in STPM and onwards. Today, my mum probably has come to grounds that I am a failure in many things, and it finally made sense to her: I am only human.

My Ipoh’s house is full of plants, crops and flowers maintain by my mum. No wonder I was named after a plant by my mum.

Yup, in spite of all the madhouse, old-school punishments, caning and scoldings I endured….I was given a lot of freedom and most important of all: she trusts me. She allowed me to do and pursue anything I want. I was allowed to dye my hair red (but I didn’t), go clubbing every single weekend (in my mid-20s), drink and get drunk, buy as much clothes as I want with my teaching-swimming side income, date any guys I wanted. She doesn’t care who I bring back home. But she only warn me of these 3 things:

1. No drugs,

2. No smoking, and

3. Don’t get raped.

And her favourite sentence of all time: “Never be kan-cheong in anything you do”. But I always feel that she meant otherwise. Cause it’s soooo unlike her to say this to me after all the pushing and pressure she imposed to me to do just about everything.

My mum is my best friend. You can see me and her talking in the afternoon and one will never know that’s my mum on the other side of the line. We talk like friends… taruh each other, talk loud loud, scold each other (both of us opinionated marr)…but there’s definitely a sense of respect somewhere.

Or maybe I don’t have a sister. I do secretly pray each day that I’d had a sister one day. Father and brothers…ahem…I won’t say you guys aren’t any good in this earth, but you don’t have enough oestrogens to understand me. You guys are really from Mars!

I love you, Mum.

Bla bLa bla bla…Okay, now Mum, cook me some prawn sambal petai!

At Lumut jetty. Mum showing of her ‘luxury’ salted fish. She had gotten it at a bargain price and soooo proud of …a salty fish?!

>THE GREAT SINGAPORE SAIL!

>

It’s the GREAT Sg. (sungai?) SALE!




Heard that Hermes store was affected by the flood.

I want to be at Ground Zero itself… looking for any Hermes bag, just in case there’s one floating on Orchard Road!!





Yes, yes…there it is!!!




Jakun diving (macam kat Tasik Chini)!? Tak pernah tengok banjir ke?



(Disclaimer: no offence, but maybe this guy was abt to save someone. good samaritan) 



>Am I seeing wrong?

>Monday Blues. Capital Blue, because just came back fr a great diving escapade in Perhentian! (will blog when I have the mood).

And while force-feeding myself with some knowledge, my eyes got soo droopy, I am still still wondering if I am seeing this right:

This kept me awake for a moment. For a second.

OK, Off to bed.