The last visit

Had a follow-up consultation with gynae Loh on Monday afternoon. My appointment was at 2pm, but we were late. Well, you know, now that we’ve a baby, his needs come first. To compound the lateness, there were so many visitors at Thomson Medical Center that day and parking was seriously horrendous at this place. So by the time I was at Loh’s clinic with baby Alex in tow, it was already 2.30pm. The staff were amazed by how big Alex has grown.

I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that Loh’s clinic was also super crowded. (He really must be doing a brisk business.) I could hardly find a seat; there were even patients waiting outside. I checked with the staff and was suggested I returned at 4pm. We didn’t even have lunch yet, and Alex was starting to sound like he was hungry. So we went down to Delifrance for a bite since there wasn’t any other choices available. TMC is a maternity hospital but the amenities available for new moms and babies are rather poor. It appears that there is only one nursing room, and the place is not even stroller friendly. Most parents either carry their babies in their arms or in a sling. I think having the pediatric center could be an after-thought. This contrasts greatly with KKH; but I guess it is likely due to TMC being a small dinky hospital and so there’s space constraint.

Anyway even after we returned to Loh’s clinic after 4pm, there were still 4 patients ahead of me!! It was a mistake to see him on a Monday, should have asked for a Thursday or Friday. But like what my husband said, it would be our last time there.

Loh was delighted to see Alex, and commented he has grown to quite a significant size. He was wondering whom Alex resembles and decides it was my husband. The latter informed him Alex is already 6kg (13.2 lbs) now, which Loh said that it was a good size. I told him he must be enjoying brisk business at his clinic. At that he replied, “no lah, still the same. This is my retirement job, so I’m taking it slowly.” Yeah, right! He’s also the head of the fertility center at TMC, that doesn’t sound like taking it slowly to me. He then continued, “some of these doctors, they call me Dr Loh because I’m older than them, they asked me ‘Dr Loh, how do you have so many patients?’ I can tell you it’s not easy. Takes a lot of hard work and providing good advice, doing a good job. Not like this (Dr) X from A hospital (a private hospital). He’s a fertility specialist who is involved in some funny business.” I thought this Dr X sounds familiar and asked Loh, “aesthetic business?” “No.” “Oh that’s (Dr) Y!” He then said, “this Y is a junior fellow. You know, I was at this dinner where he and (Dr) Z were having a conversation. But both of them were talking about totally different things. It’s so interesting; they were having monologues in a conversation.”

Unfortunately Loh didn’t continue to give us the scoop on Dr X. My husband told me later I shouldn’t have interrupted him, but I seriously thought he was referring to Dr Y whom I’ve heard about from Natasha. Still, when my husband mentioned the name of an aesthetic doctor, C, Loh revealed to us that C is a collector of Mao Zedong’s portraits because like Mao, C has a mole on his chin as well; and C has a gallery which he showcases his collection. I couldn’t help asking Loh, “you been to his gallery?” “Yes, C is my contemporary. But I don’t drive fancy cars like him, and I get into accidents.”

Anyway Loh did an ultrasound scan to check on the uterus. He had also told me earlier he would do a pap smear. When I heard that, I was a little taken aback since I didn’t expect it. I remarked, “I go to a GP for pap smear.” He looked at me and responded, “you can also have the pap smear here. I probably charge cheaper.” When I approached the scan machine and bench, Sandra (his nurse) whispered to me that Loh could do the pap smear and I didn’t have to go to the GP. I told her I just wanted to needle him. The scan shows my uterus has moved back to position and everything is fine. He said to me, “you run, right? You can resume running now.” Before the scan, I noticed there was a bottle of anti-stretch mark cream on Loh’s table. So I asked him if he was selling it, and he replied, “no, not me. It’s Sandra. If I’m selling it, I’ll call it ‘Loh’s anti-stretch mark cream.” My husband told him that he could also go into the aesthetic business; but he should first get himself a fancy name, and suggested, “Barney. You can call yourself Barney Loh.” To that, Loh replied, “no lah. Cannot. You know we’ve a staff at the Fertility Center called ‘Marni’ (money?)” Yeah, it’s strange how the conversation changes.

Loh also asked me for my current weight, which is 45.5kg (100.1 lbs), and said, “You’ve gone back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Let’s see…” and looked at the data on his computer screen and continued, “it was 47.6kg (104.7 lbs) wasn’t it?” I was surprised, “no, I was 44kg (96.8 lbs) pre-pregnancy.” “This is dated 19 January.” “I was pregnant then!” “yes, 19th or 20th week.” Loh thinks that my pregnancy weight has gone to Alex through breast feeding, even though I’m not on total breast feeding.

Anyway when did our meeting not mention anything about politics? This time was no exception. My husband joked to Loh that because he didn’t offer free medical service to Hougang residents before the by-election, PAP (People’s Action Party) lost the seat to WP (Workers’ Party). Loh then said, “yah, if I had offer that, would have swing a few percentage points. Even Low Thia Khiang (WP’s party secretary-general) would have voted for me.” I looked at him amused and wondering what reply should I give him. Just then, Alex made some baby noise. I told Loh, “that’s the baby saying ‘bullshit’ under his breathe.” He laughed and said, “no lah, cannot use that kind of language with baby. Must be more refine.” He then rattled off in mandarin a self-deprecating joke about him that involved farting. I replied, “both my husband’s and my Mandarin is not as fluent as yours.” He then continued, “my malay is also rather good. The other day, an Indonesian delegation came to see me. We talked until they didn’t know what to say.” You should have seen the question mark hanging above my head. Sometimes I honestly can’t tell whether he’s joking or he’s stating a fact.

Just like the instance when Loh commented about Alex able to sleep well (Alex napped through the entire meeting). My husband told him that he sometimes wouldn’t want to sleep during bedtime. Loh then said, “bring him here lah. When he’s here the entire afternoon, he’ll sure sleep well at night.” “Nooo… when he cries, all your patients will run away.” “That’s ok, this is only a retirement business.” I stared at him, “are you sure your clinic will babysit Alex?” He replied, “yah! At Tekka market, they sell them by the kg.” I’ve to admit for a moment I was taken in. In case you don’t get it, Loh joked that if we left the baby with him, he could sell him at Tekka market and fetch a good price since Alex is a strapping baby. This is typical Loh speak, basically his thoughts go all over the place and he can sound a little incoherent.

Anyway I was given a new appointment card and was told to have a review a year later, probably for another pap smear. But I’m not sure if I’ll come back for that. Sure Loh charges S$35 for the pap smear (which I’m not sure if it’s cheaper than GP since it’s been a really long time I last had one), but his consultation fee is more expensive at S$65. My husband told me that if I want to have a political discussion, I can come for the visit. Still, S$65 for political discussion and gossips?? So I guess if we decide to have another baby using the stored frozen embryo, or gotten pregnant naturally, or maybe menopause problem, I’ll see Loh again. Looking back, it’s been a funny and interesting encounter with him, making my pregnancy experience a memorable one.

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