General

Autumn Typhoons

When I was young, typhoons were for summers so that we won’t expect them in autumns which is the season for hiking and stocking up the body for winters. But these years, the more severe typhoons had chosen to visit us in autumn, and a run on Facebook pages easily confirms the facts. Last night, having waited a whole day for bad weather and severe rain storms, and before I went to bed, I posted a one-liner on that eerie waiting feeling which could have been felt by a lot of people.

I was at the Elderly Clinic in Kwai Shing for almost the entire morning. Last week the Centre called and asked me to turn up at 10:30am for health check, which is a Department of Health policy to run an annual general health check for people over 65. People are advised to make an appointment a year before they reach that age at a clinic close to where they live, which for Mei Foo dwellers would be Kwai Shing. It is an area not served by MTR and one is advised to spend about $70 taxi fare one way to get there unless one is prepared to go to Kwai Fong MTR station for the No. 89S GMB, which I did twice before for the return trip, but which took a lot longer.  As for the medical check itself, each visit costs $110 which covers general health check, blood tests and other tests on grip power, balancing abilities, memories and reflexes. After checking in, a nurse would carry out the preliminary assessments and interviews including an ECG and most tests and measurements. I was then asked to wait, for more than an hour, before seeing a doctor who asked me more questions and ran tests on my eyes, hearing and abdomen. The doctor was a young man, well-mannered and rather professional. As I left, I asked him casually about his workload to gauge why I was asked to wait for more than an hour. He said he would see eight patients a morning. It was then close to 1pm. Nevertheless, I had not been idle while waiting. I spent the time coordinating with my brethren on the Masonic appointment that evening, which resulted in having the meeting cancelled; and I also refreshed some rituals I had brought with me, so that it wasn’t time wasted after all.

During the interviews, both the nurse and the young doctor were surprised and somewhat aghast at the level of my regular alcohol intake, which I told them was between 50 to 200 ml a day, sometimes more, mainly malt whiskey and often accompanied by half to a full bottle of table wine or champagne. While they were appreciative of my candid replies, they kept asking whether I would consider drinking less or switching to something non-alcoholic. But they had no ready answers when I asked why. Now, the impending severe tropical storm had meant that there won’t be another transport run to take blood samples to HQ in the afternoon, so that I need to return some ten days later for the exercise. I had gone this morning without breakfast, expecting to have my blood taken and thereby saving one trip. Probably because of my confessed drinking habits, the doctor underlined that the tests would focus on liver and kidney functions as well as cholesterol and blood sugar level. The doctor also gave me a referral letter for the Ophthalmic Clinic at Shamshuipo to check on early symptoms of yellow spots in the left eye, assuring me that I might wait long for an appointment. Yes, I had past experience dated back to 2017 when the Family Clinic referred me there to check on the cataract which was getting worse at the time. I spent almost a day there, ending with a 5 or 10 minute consultation with a young pretty specialist ophthalmologist who told me that my conditions were not sufficiently serious for immediate surgeries and instructed me to come again in one year, I gave up and went for private surgeries.

Still on these meant to be annual check-ups, they have become less frequent or regular. I had only four visits between 2015 and 2019. These assessments were cancelled during the Covid pandemic, and my last visit was on 10 January 2020.

Back home, Su had returned from her visit to her parents. To cut the long story short, her mother had a hairline fracture around the left thumb over the weekend which had swollen up and she took her to a consultant bone surgeon on Monday for a plaster set which would probably remain there for a good part of a month. Her siblings continued with taking her father to follow-up consultations. The way forward in the short term for both parents is still uncertain; but Su found the back and forth trips rather tiring and asked me to get some food myself for lunch, with which I had no problem. With no appointments for the evening and the Observatory promising bad weather, we stayed indoor, but decided to get some food from our friendly fish stall after Typhoon No. 8 was up. We also did some more shopping at the supermarket in Lai Chi Kok. I tried my Government vouchers which worked once, but couldn’t get in the second time so that we had to pay by cash. Worse, the Apps seemed to have been locked up. I called for help later in the evening from my IT savvy brother. He advised me to consult my service provider after the typhoon. It only left to have more food and drink between us, which we did, till almost midnight.

Which brings us back to today, which turned out to be another day of eating and drinking and tinkering with the YouTube and sound systems and more bed rests until the No. 8 typhoon signal was down after some 24 hours. Su had revived her self-grown yeasts and made a pizza with an improved crust and I have been thinking what the young doctor had asked me to do before I left him yesterday. First, he asked me to drink less, which I have already discussed. Secondly, he asked me to eat less, take more fresh fruits and eat less food, which leads to the third point, which was to shed another 7kg from my present 60 kg. I have been working hard since some seven years ago to maintain my present weight at 60 kg, after shedding some 20 pounds of flesh, but based on my height and the weight chart he was looking at, I should weigh in at just under 53 kg. That seems to be a mission impossible; and I need some motivation before I can even think about such a proposal. Friends, what do you think?

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