Sunday, May 26, 2013

3 Nights in Alexandra Hospital to Fix Broken Ankle

No one is more qualified than me to review public hospitals in Singapore. Not an achievement anyone would like to have. My 'credentials' include torn ligament on my left knee during national service; hairline crack on my left arm caused by motorbike crash during army days; hemorrhoid and appendicitis surgeries more than 10 years ago, all of which hospitalized in Singapore General Hospital. More recently, fractured clavicle (collarbone) surgery in Changi General Hospital; and fractured fibula and ankle surgery in Alexandra hospital. In most cases, I was hospitalized and went through general anesthesia. My perception on public hospitals, what more to expect? However, Alexandra Hospital has totally changed my perception on public hospital in Singapore.

The whole experience in Alexandra Hospital started when I arrived at the wrong block in a taxi. Instead of K clinic, the taxi driver brought me to the sport medicine block which was quite a distance away. A staff in the sport medicine not only get a wheelchair for me, he volunteered to push me all the way to K clinic. I was speechless.

While in K clinic, I was greeted in the reception by smily nurse. After registration, I was pushed to the waiting area waiting for my turn to see doctor. I was 'wow' again when a girl approached and offered me tea and oat cookies. In fact, two girls pushed the coffee cart around the waiting areas offering tea, coffee and cookies to all patients waiting to see doctors. As a patient, I felt a sense of caring in the hospital, and the perceived shorter waiting time to see doctor.    

Unfortunately, the x-ray shows that I had a fractured fibula and ankle on my right foot. The orthopedic explained to me patiently about my conditions. He got a 2nd opinion from a senior consultant, and both of them assured me that surgery is the best option to fixed my ankle.  I was hospitalized the same day and scheduled for surgery latest by the following day.

This x-ray was taken in Batam's  hospital. Unfortunately, I was unable to show x-rays taken in Alexandra Hospital, which are more detailed and precise. It shows that I fractured my right fibula and right ankle.

X-ray taken one week after surgery. The x-ray clearly shows that the broken fibula and ankle nicely aligned and fixed. 

I bought AIA HealthShield Gold Max Plan A for many years, and I advise you all to do so. It covers all my medical, surgical and hospitalization expenses. The Alexandra Hospital is the best public hospital in Singapore. Feel more like resort than hospital. The nurses will march into your bed and introduce themselves on every change of shift duty. They will check on you regularly to ensure your needs are well taken care of. I am speechless at the level of service delivery in this resort...ops I mean hospital.

The experiences I had in so many hospitals, I dare say Alexandra hospital is the best. I am fortunate to have Dr Gamaliel Tan, Head of Orthopedic to fix my ankle. I was briefed on the risk of general anesthesia and various options. I expected to have sore throat,  some bruises and vomit after surgery, similar to what had happened in Changi General Hospital when they fixed my broken clavicle. To my surprised, I feel none of that in Alexandra Hospital after surgery. 

My first dinner after the surgery. Pasta with cheese entree, bun with butter, mushroom soup, water-melon and chocolate milk.

Supper. The foods were generally good and well presented. I could select menu the day before. Options include western, asian or malay cuisines.

Breakfast. Besides food, I was also impressed by the cutlery they used.

Western lunch

Dinner again!

Breakfast again!

The surgery was so well done that I could stand with both legs without clutch or support 2 days after discharged from hospital! In fact, I felt so good that I could walk on both legs with clutches and aircast one day after surgery!

One week after surgery, I could pedal stationary bicycle during my first physiotherapy session in the hospital.

First ride on trainer 8 days after surgery. The photo shows significant shrink of calf muscle on my right leg. Time to rebuild my muscles!

At the bottom of my heart, I would recommend Alexandra Hospital to anyone who is in need of medical help. Look forward to get back to work and into action soon :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Downhill Training Course organized by Drak Bike Park Batam and Coached by Chandra at Dangas Downhill Track, Batam, Indonesia

(Photo: From left Chandra and Chris)
On 12 May 2013, finally had the opportunity to meet the legendary Chandra, who is a respected downhill racer and coach in Asia. He was once the National coach of Singapore downhill team. A total of about 16 riders attended a one day Basic Downhill couse at Dangas Downhill Track, Batam in Indonesia. The course was coordinated by my riding buddy Ian Ong, organized by Steward Ong from Drak Bike Park Batam, and coached by Chandra. The whole experiences were awesomely planned and executed. 

Recovering from broken collarbone 3 months ago, I was fully charged and excited to attend the one day training camp in Batam. In fact, I was fully prepared and ready to go 2 days before the actual date.
Arrived 7.30 am sharp at Harbour Front Ferry Terminal with Ian Ong in his Audi. We were the first to arrive, together with Rob and Zhi Cong.
The whole convoy pushed the bikes into the mall in style.  
We were all ready to board the ferry. Surprised to see Jonie Sua, the only girl in the team. She is an awesome rider. She will be going to Whistle this June for Gravity training camp. Respect!
Singapore is only a short distance to Batam. It took us only slightly more than an hour to reach Batam Ferry Terminal. Steward Ong was waiting at the terminal to receive us. 
We picked up our bikes at the ferry terminal and rode to Dangas in a convoy. The support team comprised of 2 lorries and one van, carrying our bags and escorted us to Dangas. A short 10 minutes ride.
Vinz and I were having fun chatting along the way to Dangas Downhill track. Highly respect Vinz for his riding skill...he is born to ride.
Ian Ong riding his stylo malo Specialised DH bike and Zhi Cong was riding Specialised 29er. Both are awesomely skillful riders!
When we arrived at the base of Dangas downhill track, Jonie was super excited!
The support team helped us to load and unload bikes onto and from the lorries. Excellent service, we just need to focus on riding!

On our way to the hill top.
We all settled in the base camp and ready to ride. There were shelves to hang our helmets and van to keep our bags secured. Icy cold drinks were readily available and free flow. Tables and chairs were well positioned for us to rest and put on our gears. Very thoughtful and well-organized. 
Posed for a group photo before the training start.
We were all very attentive, listening to Chandra instruction. The sun was blazing hot but the spirits were high. 
Chandra was teaching us how to decent with control and use only the front brake. 
Chandra was teaching us how to drift the bike and make a quick turn to exit. 
This was one of the few obstacles Chandra taught us to clear. Jonie was "fortunate" to be picked by Chandra to execute the stun first.

Unfortunately we did not have many opportunity to shoot the whole training in action. This is the only action shot I took.
Finally, we break for lunch. Yummy Indonesian cuisine with fried chicken, curry beef and chicken patty. Awesome food! 
Having cleared Cobra a few times in the morning, it was unfortunate that after lunch I washed out upon landing. Not a hard fall, merely a slow drop. My bike bounced excessively at the rear upon landing. I think the rebound might have adjusted too much for this drop. Perhaps I should not replace the 350 lbs spring with 300 lbs. Perhaps, a proper DH bike will do the job, as my skill might not be good enough to handle Cobra with 160mm all-mountain bike. It was unfortunate that my right foot caught under the pedal when I crashed. Fortunately it was a clean break, no surgery was required.
The medical care in Batam was not too bad. I was sent to RS AWAL BROS, a private hospital in Batam. The x-ray, casting and doctor diagnosis cost about SG$128 in total.  
Broke my right ankle 3 months after breaking my collarbone is not something anyone would want to achieve. Having to wait for another 3 months to ride again is really pain in the ass. Feel very bad for my family as they too have to suffer as a result of my act.

I believe things happen for a reason. I am grateful to all my kakis who help me while I was in distress. My sincere thanks to Jonathan Lim and his wife for offering to drive my car home; Steward Ong and Ferry for ensuring I got treated in the hospital and reached Singapore safely; Jonie and Rob for DIYing casting with branches while waiting for help; Ian Ong and others for taking care of my needs. Most important of all, I am grateful to Danielle and Zan for having to take care of me all over again since I broke my collarbone 3 months ago. Feel really bad but motivated to get back into action again.

The Downhill Training Course organized by Drak Bike Park Batam is excellent in terms of up-skill and service delivery. Riders have a peace of mind, and just need to focus on riding while the organizer provides all the support including medical care should it arises.  Highly recommended if you are serious about DH ride.