Singapore: The Place I Love The Most

I debated greatly upon writing this article. I generally didn’t tell people that I went to Singapore, maybe in fear of being un-humble, or thinking I was a workaholic doing placements during my holiday. But I honestly loved being in Singapore, and everything that came with it that I wanted to write this, so I’d remember it.

Let us start with the thing that everyone is curious about:

Placements 

I attended placements in two different settings. One in an Occupational Therapy private clinic for pediatrics, while the other was a government hospital. I usually don’t disclose the name, due to confidentially reasons, and in case I ever wanted to write stories about good or bad experiences, people don’t trace and track my clinical background to pinpoint or blame a particular place (also so that hospitals or centers don’t track me down saying I broke the confidentially contract). It’s serious guys.

I spent one week in the private clinic, and spent two weeks in a government hospital. I would always say to myself every morning, “I don’t know why I’m doing this, I’m waking up at 6am in the morning during my holidays, while my friends are happily waking up in the afternoon.” It was placements, which entitled me to everything a placement would entitled you to: waking up early, going to work, attending meetings, walking for long periods of time, and standing for even longer periods of time, coming home late, being too exhausted to do anything else but just come home and sleep. Not technically “enjoying” her holiday so to speak, in terms of physical exertion. But of course, the knowledge and experience I got, had no price tag on it.

 

I won’t go into the nitty-gritty detail on what I learned, because there’s so much technically aspects to it. New assessments I’ve done, new models I’ve been exposed to, research based interventions, occupational therapy assistant (OTA), therapeutic use of self, how to write your short term and long term goals, functional based assessments, community visits, community hospitals, etc etc. I’ll share one extract of my favorite conversations between a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, and a medical social worker about a leg fracture case.

PT: He can only ambulate with the walking frame. 

OT: But his house has a very high and thick curb going into the house, and in the bathroom. Can you try ambulation with clutches instead?

PT: But he doesn’t have the balance and strength to use clutches. What about we he uses a wheelchair? 

OT: We then would need to install a ramp at his house. 

MSW: But he can’t afford a ramp. They are not financially stable. This is also just a temporary condition, it’s a fracture, he would heel and be able to walk eventually right? So he wouldn’t be wheelchair bound for life. Why don’t the hospital just rent a wheelchair for them temporary instead of them needing to buy one? 

OT: That still wouldn’t work. Because he needs to go to hospital appointments. And I talked to him. The distance from his level story apartment, he would need to get over the curb, then into the elevator, then go to the cab drop off point is pretty far. Then the wife would need to fold the wheelchair, and bring it up back into the apartment. Because when he gets to the hospital, they would be using our wheelchair anyway, it’s just too tiring for the wife to do all that physical work. What about scooting over the curb?

PT: He doesn’t even have enough strength to get from the sitting to standing, let alone from lying down of scooting to standing.

The conversation went on awhile, but it’s one of my favorite conversations because in my opinion you can really see the roles and interdisciplinary teamwork, and how everyone feels into their roles to help the patient. The physiotherapist works very much on their strength, ambulation, sitting and standing balance. The occupational therapist focuses on their environment, habits, routines, carrying out their occupation. The medical social worker works on financial aspects, discharge plans, supporting the patient. In essence, I just generally loved seeing the role of occupational therapy so prominent in the work force, and what we could do to help the patient, and how it ties in with the role with everyone else.

Overall, I learned so so so much through my three weeks there. I learned a lot of humility as well. Towards the end of my time, I did get some bad feedback about the way I treated some therapists, probably in the tone of my voice or the way I approached them. They guided me on what is the best way to speak to your superiors, or your seniors and even about respect. They really taught me how to be a better therapist and a better person overall.

If you wanna know more about it, and you know me personally, please do ask me! I love sharing about what I learned, and how we can all be better therapists together. 

Food 

Haha! I survived a month of being vegetarian in Singapore. Disclaimer: I wasn’t vegetarian due to religious reasons, so I was very lenient in the food I ate as well. So if the soup had meat in it, I wouldn’t mind drinking the soup, just not eat the meat.

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I survived on home cooked meals, chap fan, and eating yong tau foo in the hospital cafeteria for lunch for a good few weeks. I also had some of the best vegan and vegetarian options in Singapore.

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Relationships 

I had the best time spending time with so many great people there. Firstly, it’s definitely my Australian twin, Becky. I honestly did come to Singapore because of her. Haha. I heard that she was doing placements in Singapore, and I checked my schedule to see that I had holidays during that time, so I figure it was finally time to do my Singapore holiday placements I’ve always wanted to do, so we could do it together.

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It was so fun and amazing to have someone you could do everything with. Occupational therapy, going church together, going Bible class together, eating together, exploring together, talking about boyfriends (both boyfriends who have accounting backgrounds). It was so sad for me to cut our time together short. So thankful to the Lord, who allowed us to do this together, even for a short period of time.

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Next, I have learned so much from the youth in Singapore as well. They are one of the most nicest people I’ve met, and with such strong desire to please the Lord and serve the church. It was so fun to just sit around and talk, and get to exchange notes as well.

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I also had the most amazing fun time with my friends back in LaSalle College of the Arts. We sang together, danced together, ate together, hugged. They share stories about the art school and art program now, and how it’s changed after I left, their research projects, their relationships, their struggles. When I’m with them, it really feels as if I didn’t even leave.

Not to mention a shout out to all the amazing people who has taken such great care of me, like Aunty Lai Mui, Lester and sorry, more people who I might not have mentioned!

Last and not least, my wonderful amazing boyfriend who made an effort to come down and spend a weekend with me. Not really with me, it was always our dream to spend time with couples in Singapore, asking them for their advice on marriage and relationships, raising children, and Christianity. We managed to meet up with two lovely families, who were so willing to share on their experience. We had such a great time!

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Whenever I think of Singapore, I would always think of the words of WongFu Productions in the video of “The Last”.

“Maybe it was my desire to be on my own, or to prove something to everyone back home…. a new energy, new experiences that really push me to mature more than anyone, or anywhere else. The city where I loved the most”

The city where I loved the most, is definitely Singapore. It will always be associated with the feelings of independence, of learning new things, or being on my own, of new experiences, of maturity. A city where I loved, and was loved the most.

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“I want to sew again”

As I am writing notes for my next semester’s prosthetic classes, I came across a large amount of notes regarding upper limb prosthesis. As I’m writing my notes, this conversation between me and a elderly lady keeps replaying in my head over again and again. I always feel like crying when I replay that conversation in my head, but at the same time, I believe it’s important to remember as it holds the essence of occupational therapy true in my heart. So here it is:

It was early in the morning, it was my first day of placements, and I was assigned onto the amputee department. The first person that I saw in the morning was an elderly lady (maybe 60-70’s). She was a bilateral amputee, where her she had a below knee on one side of her body, with another below wrist amputee on the other side of her body (contralateral, if you know the term). The therapists and I were educating her and her carer upon proper stump bandaging techniques. She proceeded to some other activities and exercises.

I noticed that she’s actually an extremely motivated individual. As she was doing all her exercises throughout the session to her best capabilities. Even when she was tired, although I prompted her asking, “do you need to rest?”, she said “just a little”, within a few minutes she was up again to continue completing her remaining set.

 Finally, she was brought to the table to do some upper motor limb exercises with her other hand. I was left to supervise her, while the therapists went about to treat other patients. Looking at my opportunity, eager on the first day on the job, I started to chat with her. 

“Hi, so, erm, well, what do you like doing? what are your hobbies?”

She looked at me, eyes arising from her activity and said “sewing”. I wrote it down in my notebook.

“I see, so did you use to cook and such? before your accident?”

She replied saying that she did, and was able to cook a few dishes.

“But, I like sewing” she said again.

“You know! I love sewing. I can sew all kinds of quilts. And I sew tissue boxes. And I sell them to my friends and family. Everyone loves my designs. I’ve sewn like 20 or more tissue boxes.” 

“Oh” I responded, surprised by her sudden enthusiasm. “What kind of sewing? Was it knitting? or sewing with a machine?”  In my mind, I had a maid who also loved knitting, and she would always knit me tissue boxes in her spare time. It was the mental image I was getting.

“Yeah yeah. I made quilts too!” 

At that point, I wasn’t entirely sure we were on the same page. My Bahasa Malaysia language skills weren’t that strong, so I wasn’t exactly sure if what I had in mind was similar to what she had in mind. I even proceeded to take out my phone, and try to find what form of sewing she was referring to.

“Doctor” she said, interrupting my thoughts. (I wasn’t a doctor, but sometimes they do get confused by our white coats).

“When will I get my fake hand?” 

I thought and replied “If I’m not mistaken, I think in two weeks time?”

“Oh” she said, while proceeding to do her exercises. After a while, she looked at me and asked “Will the hand be able to move?”

“Erm” I thought. “You’re going to have to ask someone else about that, I’m not entirely sure what type of prosthesis you would be getting.”

“Oh” she paused again. She looked at me and said “Doctor, do you think you can get me a hand that could move? It’s just… I can’t sew anymore without my hand. If you get me a hand that could move, then at least I can sew again! I really want to sew, I have orders that I need to finish up. People are counting on me.” 

I was stunned, my brain struggled to find the right response that I could tell her. I didn’t know what were the plans for her prosthesis, neither did I know what was her prognosis of her condition.

As an occupational therapist, my heart bled when I heard those words “I can’t sew anymore. But I want to. I need to. People are counting on me”.

It was my job, my job to make individuals as independent as possible. To facilitate their journey of recovery to help them do what they need to, what to and aspire to do. Here’s someone, who has such a heart to return back to her life, regardless of her condition, DRIVEN by her occupation. She wanted to get better, she could care less about her independence and the checklist we usually check off using Modified Barthel Index regarding personal hygiene, feeding etc etc. All important things. But, it didn’t matter to her. It didn’t matter to her whether she could eat, go to the bathroom, use the toilet. No, it mattered to her that she could sew.

When I saw her, someone completely driven by occupation, that’s when it just clicked in my head, that’s occupational therapy. Yes, skills for survival, that’s important, essential even. But, occupational therapy? It’s about doing what you love, and using what you love to motivate your rehabilitation journey and return back to your role in society.

So for her?

It was sewing.

Training Chopsticks Manual

This is the most amount of work I’ve done for something that is barely graded in my subject. But because I’m so proud of the end product, and the amount of independence in making this, that I wanted to put it up here.

As well as walk through the process:

 

1.Modelling 

I got my very helpful boyfriend to model for me

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2.Drawing the picture

I actually first drew it in broad pencil, later on outlining it with an outline pen. Followed by erasing all the pencil marks.

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3.Scanning the product 

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4.Editing it on photoshop 

I generally get my two amazing sisters to do anything for me when it comes to digital products. So yes. Most of my digitalized designs, I would say ALOT would be credited to my sisters. Who are masters at the photoshop and illustrator game. But this time I managed to handle it on my own! Which is a huge stride for me. Anyway, I used color range, selected the whites, and deleted the whites, followed by increasing the black and white levels, sometimes I would do minimal clean up with eraser and cloning tools, lastly saving as PNG transparent file. I’m sure there are other ways to do this, but I felt this was the most simple and “cleanest” so to speak.

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5.Arranging it and designing it on canva.com 

So repeat this process. I then chose a template on canva, uploaded all my PNG files and designed this. I also love having PNG files because I can use it on my presentation slides regardless of the background.

 

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Hehe! Despite the marks and the amount of time to do this (literally a whole day), I think I loved making this. Generally because I learned alot of new skills. Even if you find “training chopsticks” of not a great importance, you can use these tips for other drawings. I was very inspired by one of the books a friend of mine just bought “Occupational Therapy Toolkit” that is filled with pictures like these. And trust me, when you’re in a country that speaks many languages, pictures are the way to go.

Malaysian Occupational Therapists National Conference 2017

Hello! I feel that this is a much desired write up of the national Malaysian Occupational Therapists National Conference of 2017, dedicated to all the beloved students who couldn’t make it.

I also wanted to note, this is the most number of pictures I ever had to manually edit. so, *achievement unlocked*

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Brochure of Malaysian Occupational Therapy Conference, with the theme “Knowledge to Skill”

Upon registration you get the schedule, booklet and a fancy bag of the notes of Prof Matthew Yau, one of the key note speakers.

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The whole talk consisted of four plenaries, and you get to choose between three different concurrent sessions that would take place for as long as three days on the topic of (outcome measure, interventions, and sharing experience)

  1. Sexual Rehabilitation
  2. Pain Management
  3. Supported Employment Program

Well! I was honestly very interested in Pain Management, because pain is the number one concern of many patients, however! being the fact that Sexual Rehabilitation was the “up and coming” area of occupational therapy, as well as the fact that the speaker was Prof Matthew Yau who was a specialized sex therapist with foundation in occupational therapy, who graduated from the United States of America, practiced and taught in Australia as well as Hong Kong. I choose based purely based on the opportunity of listening to a speaker with such amazing and diverse experiences.

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But I’ll get into the topics later, here are some of the other interesting things and highlights of the conference.

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Live opening violin performance, he was really good!

As well as many exhibitions, show-casing many interesting OT related inventions. That’s the best part of being part of an OT conference, in which the exhibitions are catered to your needs and line of work.

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A form of finger splint using malleable aluminium
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An arm splint

Yeong Shyuan (my friend) loves trying out these splints because she thinks it looks like a ninja costume (hence the pose above).

I kinda freaked out internally trying out all these splints, because they are actually alot more comfortable than than the thermoplastic splints that we are trained to make, and they are actually alot cheaper in comparison. All I thought was “these people are going to run me out of my job”

You actually  can observe the competitiveness of companies and the variety of their splints (and prices!)

Take a look at this interesting work of art! Its a “flexible” splint, in which you can have multiple splints in one! It comprises of multiple components, and according to how to manipulate the components, you can turn the splint into a Extension Splint, Hyper Extension Splint, Ulnar Deviation Splint, Radial Deviation Splint and others.

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For stroke patients, preventing flexion contractures, as well as aiding in better gasping movement and flexibility

This is another interesting contraption, in which these rubber bands allow you to have extension of your fingers (as often, after lesions, your fingers would be in a flexed position). What makes this “splint” so special is that its flexible, where the patients are allowed to bend their fingers, practicing grasping movements.

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Robotic arm to allow continuous passive motion of the fingers
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Thermoplastic splints with colorful patterns to appeal to the interest of children
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Special car to help the posture of children with postural disabilities or motor delays
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They classified themselves as the “original” velcro brand. Don’t let looks deceive you, it is so comfortable, and so soft, I think I can rub it on my face without it scratching me
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Compression socks! They actually made this with the intention of helping health professions that have to stand for long periods of time

And I saved the best for last!

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This is a pinch gauge, where its supposed to measure your pinch strength

The first question we asked was, where’s the meter?

This brand of products have digitized our pinch tests and grip strength to allow all data to be instantly recorded into a computer. But besides that! it also allows you to play games with the assessment tools

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The movement of the ball is dependent on how hard you can pinch the pinch gauge. So all forms of manipulation of the game is dependent on how well you manipulate the tool

It’s truly occupational, as they in cooperated games into assessment tools! That made it really fun.

It was really fun and interesting to look through the wide variety of options of these aids for clients, as well as try them out.

Besides the exhibitions, there are also the poster exhibitions

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Not to forget the verbal presentations of papers!

1150560-01I generally really enjoyed listening to the paper presentations, because I am also in the midst of preparing my own paper to be verbally presented in the ASEAN Healthy Ageing Conference. So it was really great being able to expose myself to the types of papers presented, manner of presenting, and questions that people may ask.

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I also have never been treated so well as a vegetarian before. You see normal people go through the long line of buffet. For vegetarians, we sit down, and they serve us our food in a little bento box. And the food was amazing!

In addition to the plenary talks, and workshops, there was also a workshop on photography.

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You see everyone starring at me, yes that’s me trying to take a photo after being instructed to. It’s one of those, can we get a volunteer from the audience please? And I just had to. Some interesting things I learned that in a photo class: you need to make things three dimensional, be daring to try different and extreme angles, orchestrate your photography, you need not only your subject in the picture, but the context of the picture. For example, if you take a picture of a man with a microphone, what is he doing? Is he an MC, is he a speaker? What talk is it?

Putting those tips in mind, I tried a different approach to my photography after that,

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Not a bad improvement, if I do say so myself. 😉

Also, we had a photography session to follow up from it.

Now let’s get into the topics shall we!

We had four main plenary lectures:

  1. Sexual Rehabilitation
  2. Pain Management
  3. Supported Employment Program
  4. Clinical Hypnosis

Sexual Rehabilitation

The main message was that sexual satisfaction was a right, for anyone regardless whether they were disabled or etc. In addition, there was also a controversial topic, in which there are countries in which, where disabled individuals obtain sex or lose their virginity in brothels because they are unable to get sexual satisfaction from anywhere else. To be fair, it is a lot harder for them to find a partner, if not due to discrimination by potential partners, but also discrimination by parents of potential partners. Not to say you need to apply this in your practice! (especially since it’s still illegal in Malaysia). But the point being in that despite disability, humans still experience sexual desire, and just because you’re disabled does not mean you are unable to fulfill those needs. Secondly, the most important message was that sex was not just penetration. Your skin is the biggest sex organ. There are so many different ways of expressing sexual desires, such as hugs, kisses, and touches.

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I think what I loved about the concurrent sessions was that Prof Matthew conducted it in a workshop manner, he didn’t even use the stage because he wanted to be closer to us. You can ask as many questions at almost any time you desired. He made the topic so interesting, and he was beyond helpful in answering any questions or inquiry that you may have.

Intervention wise, there was a large focus on basically sensate focusing. Other than that, its counselling and education that you are still able to have a sex life after your accident or injuries. Many people ask “how do you even start this type of conversation with your clients?”, the main answer is that you don’t just say “Hey! How’s your sex life?”, the more politically correct answer is that you say “How is the relationship between you are your partner after your accident? Is there anything you wish that was different?”, and you can eventually ask about his/her sex activities. If the individual does not want to talk about it, it’s okay. Then your next step would be to educate the patient “If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine. However I would just like you to know that if you wanted to talk about it, or you are facing difficulties, we can help you. Help is readily available if and when you need it.” You need to allow your patient that education that help is available. You do not need to require for your patients to tell you about it. Which brings me to my next point, if your client is perfectly happy not having any sex at all, it’s also alright. If he/she lives life having zero sex in the year, and is perfectly happy, there is no need to intervene as if oh you need this to be happy. You need not ensure that your patient hits a certain requirement of sexual pleasure to be happy. The point of intervention is that it is still highly client centered. You do what your patient wants, at his/her own satisfaction level.  In addition, you also need to look at the needs of the patient’s partner. For example, if the client is happy, however the partner is not, it is probably better to talk about it. For example, “I just would like to bring to your attention that your partner feels this way.” Again, if your client chooses to not deal with the situation, it is still their decision.

Pain Management 

This is mainly focusing on OTs and hospitals dealing with acute pain management. I think my main take-away was the acronym: PAIN. P for position, “where is the pain occurring?”; A for aggression, ” is there anything that you do that cause the pain to get worse?”; I for intensity, “what type of pain is it? throbbing, stabbing, prickling? what is the pain score like at rest and at movement?”, N for neutralization, “is there anything that you do that makes it better?”. In addition, I learned that now pain is categorized as the fifth vital sign, after body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure.

Supported Employment Program

 The idea of the talk was mainly to push patients from rehabilitation into a form of occupation, to a form of work. In a certain hospital, they take pride in return the patient to work within a week. There are multiple benefits to this, such as you allow the individual to be part of competitive employment, they then would like to push themselves to be better. Furthermore, it has be evidently proven that employment programs improves their condition, emotional satisfaction, as well as cognitive levels.  I was pleasantly surprised knowing, that they provide the individuals with the mediums of starting their own catering business, in which all comprises of clients that is supported by the hospital. So for example, if there was a talk or event held in the hospital, the “patients” would prepare the food. There have been many articles and journal published that supposedly won a competition regarding this program of supportive employment, I haven’t read them yet, but here are some that I found: Employment program for patients with severe mental illness in Malaysia: a 3-month outcome; Functional remission and employment among patients with schizophrenia in Malaysia. My favorite thing said was,

You don’t wait for a patient to get better to start occupation, but use occupation to help the patient get better.

Put that on a T-shirt yo.

Clinical Hypnosis 

It was a very basic introductory class. Debunk-tifying the myths of hyponosis, such as it isn’t used for evil, and you don’t use it to make your patients do whatever you want. In addition, it isn’t magic, so it doesn’t mean that you try it once you immediately get it right. There are times, you need to say the same thing to the patients for 4-5 sessions to get it into their subconscious. This is one of the best explanations for hypnosis, you know the feeling you get when you just wake up, that drowsy feeling, and you hear things. So this is a common example, say your mom tried to wake you up 5 times in the morning, but you don’t remember them at all, at that moment you heard her constant nagging, but you just drift back off to sleep. Hypnosis is like that, you are in between consciousness and unconsciousness, and you don’t exactly remember everything that went on, however your subconscious does. If you make your patient fall asleep, then that means it went too far. Also, hypnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you need to see a pendulum like you see in movies, Prof Matthew stated you can even use your fingers. Hypnosis is a mixture, of the script you say, how you say it and the tone of your voice. Best part!!! He gave us a taste of self-hypnotherapy for relaxation. This is to help us to get patients to relax, pain management, and help with their insomnia. I now like to say, I was hypnotized before! (and it was cool! 🙂 )

That’s all! It was such a great opportunity to learn and PR in the conference. I will say take opportunity to shine in front of others, because the people in the room would be your future employers and employees one day. I had the opportunity to involve myself in conversations with the president of Malaysian Occupational Therapy Association, as well as discuss my potential thesis project with experienced occupational therapists. Also, I had the wonderful privilege of having lunch with this amazing individual, Prof Matthew Yau (we have the same surname!) Thank you for taking the time to answer my many many many questions regarding your line of work, and being so encouraging of my journey as an OT.

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I learned so so so much, and am so grateful for the sharing the speakers took to explain things. Thank you again to Malaysian Occupational Therapy Association for planning this wonderful conference (as well as providing the students with a student discount! hehe!) It was a great experience.

“Creating Urban Happiness” – health & living by AIA Vitality Event

Starting out your morning at 6.00am in the morning, to go for a health talk discussing about “Creating Urban Happiness” at Health and Living by AIA Vitality at Sime Darby Convention Centre bought by BFM (The Business Station) 89.9.

I think I’ll start out by saying I was extremely disappointed that I did not get the chance to bring out my camera, so you might have to bear with me and my sub-par pictures that I took with my camera phone and via WhatsApp photos quality.

 

I volunteered to help out Malaysia Healthy Ageing Society with their booth for the particular talk. So the morning was pretty much setting up the booth, having breakfast with my course mates, and getting briefed about what to do.

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Next was basically repeating the same script over and over and over and over again to people of all walks of life, promoting the ASEAN Conference on Healthy Ageing 2017.

“Hi! Could you spare a few minutes to hear about our conference? We’re having an ASEAN level conference, and even though it’s ASEAN level, we have international speakers coming from the USA, Japan, Philippines, talking about a wide range and variety of topics! Sexual education for the elderly, laws to protect you, financial management, exercising, maintaining healthy body, or preventing neuro degeneration! If you’re a student or you know any students, we’re also calling for papers, and if you qualify, you can try to get the Young Investigator Award where if you’re eligible and receive the reward, you can have your registration fees weaved as well as travel expenses subsidized!” 

So putting on my best professional smile, and professional voice and walking about crowds to promote the event! It was generally very entertaining. I got to practice my speaking skills and articulation, rapport building, and being as thick-ed faced as possible to approach just about anyone who moves. I also had to endure being rejected a few times when people either walked pass me, or said “no not interested”.

I think the most entertaining speech was when I was speaking to someone so enthusiastically about the conference, then I was showing him the speakers, and he was like “wow! that’s my name!”, then a few people around me started laughing and explained to me that he was not only one of the speakers, but one of the committee members of the ageing society planning event, and my future lecturer. All I said was “….. so……. did I promote the conference well enough?”

You can check out the program of the event here, and take a look at all the wondering and amazing speakers that spoke.

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So it was designed in such as way that allowed a lot of discussion and question taking (which I took full advantage of).

I learned so much from the talks and it was so entertaining to be part of. It was not one of those serious lecture, of symposium form, but this was more of a “talk-show” type of feel, with a live audience.

And true to what I wrote, I absolutely love advocating occupational therapy every chance I got.

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Every time someone took my question, it gave me the chance to say “Hi! My name is Annabelle, and I’m an Occupational Therapy Student, I’d like to ask about …. ” and I was so excited for some people to come up to me talk about occupational therapy. Some came up to me saying

“hey my sister’s an occupational therapist!”

“I love occupational therapy, if I could choose my life all over, I would seriously do occupational therapy”

“So tell me what occupational therapy is about?”

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Overall, it was a great talk where I learned so much. There are multiple booths from organisations whom I respect so much such as BeFrienders Kuala Lumpur, Maaysian Mental Health Association, Alzheimer Disease Foundation Malaysia, Malaysia Society of Clinical Psychology and Persiaran Parkinson Malaysia, (do check all these organisations out on facebook to be updated on their events and conferences!) where I got to share ideas, and talk about the common goal of improving the well being of people.

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There was also free health screenings, as well as lucky draws.

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I got to bring home a little something!

Thank you to AIA Company, Sime Darby Properties and BFM Radio Station for the wonderful talk, as well as Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society for the chance to be part of this wonderful experience.

Lessons from REMEDY by EJA Productions

 

When the two worlds of my loves collide, performing arts and therapy.

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Some time ago, some friends and I went to watch this show about therapy by EJA production. It more of cognitive behavioral therapy. We were also fortunate enough to be part of the Q&A that was held after the show with Dr Chua, the founder of RELATE Malaysia.

Dr Chua Sook Ning is a lecturer and clinical psychologist at National Institute of Education at Nanyang Technology University. She graduated from McGill Universitry, Canada, with a PhD for Clinical Psychology. Her main research interests are developing accessible prevention and intervention programs and examining optimal support styles.

Due to as always, a lack of time to blog on my part, I just wanted to write about some highlights that I learned through watching this show.

They talked about an issue that was very relate-able to us all, which was big transitions in life, making big decisions such as quitting your job and following a different path of life. From my own personal experience, those transitions have never been easy decisions, needing to deal with backlash, anxiety of whether it would all work out, relearning things you didn’t know before, and submitting yourself to a different culture altogether.

Personally, I was more curious on the aspect of what do you do as someone in the receiving end, what if your own friend was suffering through these things, what can I do to make you feel better, what can I do to help you through this, what can I say to say to make you happy?

For a while now, I’ve always questioned myself and God. I don’t believe I am someone who can give good advice for your life. When I have problems, there are so many individuals and figures that I go to, and honestly they help me put my life into perspective, help give a mental slap to get a hold of myself, or just cheer me up in general. Despite my efforts, I never believed that I was someone who could do the same for others.

Moses said in Exo 4:10

Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

Through this experience from the show, I learned some things, in such that you don’t always need to fix someone’s problems. I love the language of therapy, they would use words such as

“It sounds like you’re experiencing ….”

“I’m detecting that you feel …. does it sound true to you?”

“What about ….. does it sound like something that you can relate to?”

“Is this very important to you?”

“Why is this important?”

“Why do you feel the need to do ….”

I’m not suggesting that these are answers to problems, however, it’s the form of language that I particularly take comfort in, in which you’re not explicitly trying to provide a solution, but helping someone to discover themselves, their intentions, trying to understand a certain individual.

Ask the individual, what are your intentions? As your friend, would you like a listening ear, or would you like my advice? Because sometimes not everyone wants a solution. I love example that was given by Dr Chua

A wife would tell her husband, “I feel fat”. And the husband of a stereotypical problem solver would say “alright, let’s go exercise tomorrow morning”, but the wife would respond with “so you think I’m fat?!”

I then started to understand men’s dilemma in understanding the language of women. Just kidding. However, I did find that to be a great example. Applicable to everyone. Not everyone wants a solution at that particular point of time, sometimes you just need to be a listening ear, or help someone guide through their problems.

Second highlight was the stereotype of mental illness and therapy. When someone asked the directors of what is your main message of this show, what are you trying to advocate?

A great example that I got from them was

When you’re generally sick or not feeling well, you would go see a doctor. You wouldn’t wait until your illness developed into something serious like lung cancer before seeing a doctor. Similarly with mental health, you shouldn’t wait until you have a serious mental illness to see a need for therapy, when actually you can just go if you generally feel unhappy or you can just go get some help if you needed to.

A great problem in society now is the stigmatization of mental illness. We look down on people who we see might have any form of mental disability or illness, deem them as individuals who bring problems in society, which shouldn’t be the case.

An interesting contribution by Dr Chua

The most common mental illness is actually depression and anxiety. Through a study it shows that 80% of people will experience some form of mental illness in the span of his or her life. To be okay today in today serious, fast-paced and busy environment is abnormal.

It is basically an advocacy that “it’s okay”. If you have a problem, it’s okay. If your friends have a problem, it’s okay.

As an occupational therapist, I believe that we always look at an individual as a whole and strive to find ways to provide the means for an individual to be as independent and functional as possible, including issues with mental illness. Dr Chua puts it

For the case of schizophrenia, as therapists we don’t try to help you to get rid of the voices, instead we tackle with how do you deal with these voices?

I think similarly, as an OT, we don’t always try to “get rid” of your disabilities, but instead “how do you live with your disabilities?”. Which I personally believe is a problem in Malaysia. When in an unfortunate event, you obtain a disability, it honestly doesn’t mean that it defines an end to your life causing you to be a “vegetable” forever. In many cases, you can still do the same things that you wanted to do, you just need to do them differently. Don’t look at it as an “inconvenience”.

In conclusion, it was a great show, and an enjoyable time with my friends. It touched upon issues that are and should be greatly discussed today.

 

Malaysian Occupational Therapy

Hello! Sorry for the lack of update! I’ve been pretty busy lately. Even though I promised myself I would write more during my holidays. I was pretty busy during my holidays. I volunteered for National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM) as well as for the ASEAN Conference on Healthy Ageing 2017. There is actually so much I want to say about the experience, and so much I want to reflect and write about, however, as I have been sick for the past two days with a viral fever, I have some serious catch up I need to do on my studies. So I’m here to share with you guys my welcome present to one of my OT friends!

I did a personal project during the holidays as a gift for one of my friends in Australia who is also studying OT. What I did was take OT quotes and plastered on some photos (which I took myself) to give it some Malaysian flare (she’s Australian, and I’m Malaysian, so it wouldn’t be a souvenir if it didnt have Malaysian flare.)

aunty-01
I typically thought that this sort of “pasar” feel is foreign in Australia. I took this picture in the TTDI Pasar. The way she’s focusing on what’s she’s writing really brings the attention to her hands, so I thought this quote was a pretty good fit. Quote by Mary Reilly, 1962.
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This quote was actually inspired by a blog that I absolutely love dedicated to the usage of tea in occupational therapy. It is absolutely amazing. Go check it out. In my personal opinion, a cup of tea means so much in occupational therapy, and it acts as such a common assessment. Also, what is more Malaysian than a marble table and some teh tarik.
food-01
This quote’s source is slightly confusing. So I will link it here. However, it is generally known as a Chinese proverb. I am honestly inspired by this quote by a T-shirt design by the Singapore Institute of Technology’s OT students. I believe this quote sums up OT so well, in the advocacy of independence for life. Nasi Lemak is also a Malaysian must, and it has to do with food, and food has to do with feeding. It connects okay.
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Typical quote you here. Just with some pun humor. For those who dont know “P” represents Parking, and “Bayar” means Pay. Malay is typically Malaysian thing too. So why not.
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I went into a shop with my parents, and I loved the tightness and small corners, and I thought you wouldnt have these kind of shops in Australia. (I may be wrong!) However, Malaysian price tag ! I love this quote by Hellen Keller. It’s very applicable to many things and not just OT. However in OT as well we have to focus on the small things, like increasing your range of motions of your fingers, then later on you get to hold a pencil, then you learn to write, but you must conquer the little things first. I related this quote to the screwdrivers on the right, they are so little, but they are insanely important in life.

That’s the few of them. I actually had so much fun in this project. Occupational Therapy quotes with a twist of Malaysian flare. Credit goes to my younger sister for editing the photos for me.