Last Friday (part 1) – the needling game

Seems like what gynae Loh told me previously is right, the wait at his clinic on Friday afternoon isn’t as bad as what many others experienced on other days. After the routine urine test, blood pressure reading and weighing, I was told to return 45-60 mins later. I had suggested to the staff that if I had to wait much longer, I rather see lady Marianne, as suggested by my husband, especially since we had the childbirth education class at 7pm and the latest I had to see him was 6pm. The staff checked and told me there were only 8 patients ahead of me and I would be able to make it for class.

Just like before, my husband and I went for a bite. He suggested we checked out the cafeteria in the hospital. The offerings looked really unappetizing. So we went to Delifrance again. My husband quipped that no wonder Loh skips lunch, food at TMC sucks! But at least waiting around at Delifrance gave me lessons on how not to dress and what not to wear from the preggie ladies walking around. For instance you don’t wear a purple animal-print muu-muu dress paired with a brown leopard print scarf, and please don’t wear a red baggy top with a green cardi.

We returned to Loh’s clinic 50 minutes later, but there were still 2 patients before me. We waited on a couch outside the clinic. My husband thinks Loh should consider allowing his staff to set up a small cafe inside the clinic selling beverages and light snacks to the patients. Anyway when I checked with the staff 10 minutes later, turned out I missed my turn, but was slotted in right after. All in, we waited slightly more than an hour to see Loh which I guess, compared to other patients, is considered pretty fast.

When we saw Loh, instead of the usual “hello, how are you?”, it was “So Maria, what do you think of the Dr Yaw’s incident?” I said to him, “why am I not surprised you asked me this question? I want to put down on the record that you’re the one who talks about politics, not me!” (The reason I said that was because Loh described me to my friend as the one who’s always talking about politics when in actual fact, he’s always the one starting the topic.) I continued, “and Yaw Shin Leong is not a doctor.” (YSL was the member of parliament for Hougang Single Member Constituency or SMC, and was very recently sacked from the Workers Party for not being accountable and transparent to the party leaders on his extra-marital affairs that surfaced a month ago. So now Hougang SMC doesn’t have an MP.)

Loh was very amused and said, “I’m not against him. But WP has let down the people of Hougang, which is what the Prime Minister said.” (Of course, you’ll parrot the ruling party’s line.) Then came this question, “so are you going to contest in Hougang?” (Huh??? What kinda question is this?) My husband asked him in return, “why don’t you contest instead? Maria will support you.” Loh continued smiling and replied, “no lah, I’m not suitable.” I said to him, “if you’re not, then I’m even less suitable.” He then mentioned about him going to Hougang for the Teochew porridge (which I’m not sure what relevance that has). My husband asked him if he could speak the dialect, Teochew (most Hougang residents belong to the dialect group), and he can’t. (I certainly can’t speak any dialects other than Cantonese.)

When Loh got to asking me how I was doing, he remembered the brand of fish oil I was taking (can’t believe he has the memory of an elephant), we told him I have now switched to taking the one available at KKH. He asked us how much we paid for it (S$30 or so) and told us he is selling it for S$27.50, “you know some people thought they got a cheap deal at Watsons (smaller version of CVC or Boots), but when they went to Takashimaya (similar to Macy or Herrods), they found that the product is cheaper there.” My husband quipped to me, “he’s comparing himself to Takashimaya .” I looked at Loh, “well, you know, when I looked at the environment here, I thought…” “Yes, there’s a Chinese phrase (which he then rattled off) which means a single word has a lot of meaning in it without saying too much.” (I’m not sure if he got what I wanna say, but it was like we were speaking in riddles.)

Finally I was able to have the ultrasound scan, and I was looking forward to the 3D scan. But what was shown on the monitor was the usual B&W image of the baby and it wasn’t even clear. “That doesn’t look like 3D to me!” “Relax! Let me adjust the image. It’s 4D, not 3D.” And then there was the so-called 4D image, which looked even less distinguishable. Loh was saying, “see, there’s the face.” I was like, “what face? It’s a mess of orange and black image.” Even my husband couldn’t figure it out. Loh said, “you’re not an artist, your husband also not an artist.” “This is not art, this is an image.” “It’s art. See, there’s the nose, the mouth.” But this is not what I expect from a 4D image. I had seen some really clear images shown in a TV documentary. My husband told me that was done using high resolution scan machine, and the cost of the scan will not be S$20 which is what Loh charges his patient. Anyway we found out that the baby has turned, and his head is now facing downward, and pressing against my bladder. Loh told me I would be experiencing frequent urges to go to the bathroom. Yeah, my toilet break has already rivaled my husband’s, who joked that I should consider wearing an astronaut’s diaper. But the placenta is at the side of the tummy. Loh said that hopefully it would move up, otherwise I might have to go for a C-section, which is definitely not what I want.

Like the previous visit, I had put down in my phone a reminder of the list of questions to ask Loh. A couple of them were taken from my friend, one of which was the memo or white envelope which details the blood test results, allergies and any approved birth plan of the patient to be given to the nurse at the labor ward. My friend asked Loh if she should be given one during the last visit and Loh said no to her. When I asked him, he said instead, “I’m cheena, I don’t give white envelope, I’ve red envelope.” At that, he showed me a booklet of pink medical form. I told him I thought he would give me a red packet (money) instead. He quipped back, “after I retire.”

I took the chance to ask him about the emergency admission right he has at KKH. He said during situation such as pre-term labor, he would exercise it. But he then went on to gripe about how he was made to feel unwelcome at KKH, and his suggestions to improve the fertility center process were rejected. He said he was ok with it despite not being welcome back. But if I want to go to KKH, there are experienced doctors available. It seems to us that there is now bad blood between him and the hospital. We suspect it is because he must have taken quite a number of patients away from KKH, as I have heard from my friend that TMC now has more patients at its Fertility center. So if anything, going to KKH is out of the question unless he is the admitting doctor.

I asked him for his charges for childbirth, and he said it was no difference from KKH, ranging from S$1,200 – S$2,000. I guess I was determined to needle him back, I asked him, “so if I have the childbirth on my own effort, with help from midwife, do you still charge me?” “Har? Then who’s going to stitch you?” “I may not require any stitching.” “Wah, you’re so confident? Then it’s free, I won’t charge you anything.” My husband laughed and quipped, “can you say that again, we’re going to record this down.” I looked at his nurse, Sandra, and said, “Sandra here will be our witness.”

Anyway I will see Loh 4 weeks later after I have taken the glucose tolerance test, which I regretted bringing it up to him after I found out I have to have my blood drawn twice. But you would not believe this, as I was getting up from my chair to leave the room, he asked me the question again, “so, are you going to contest in Hougang?” I was like ‘this man is getting to be a pain in the ass!’ I told him, “if you contest, then I’ll contest against you.” Honestly I think both of us are having a game of who can out-needle the other party.

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