Beethoven Hospitalised

Filed in Dogs of our Lives, GeneralTags:

One of our 'kids' is in hospital.

Beethoven follows me everywhere when I'm at home. At night before I go to bed, if I get up from my computer desk and move toward the bathroom, he notices and gets up to follow me within seconds. Except for last night.

Last night, I moved toward the bathroom and Beethoven didn't move. It wasn't until I came out of the bathroom that I noticed he hadn't followed me. I snapped by fingers which is usually enough to indicate to him that I'm going to bed, and he still didn't budge, so I examined him closer.

His body was colder than normal. His eyes were a little dull and drooping. His body posture was unusual, and his breathing was rapid. His tail wagged very slowly. If I asked more demandingly that he get up and come over to me, he would but it was a difficult and slow walk. Everything indicated a severe decrease in energy. One of the kids had thrown up their dinner moments before, but I couldn't be sure if it was Beethoven or someone else.

Our kids are normally very resilient. They get bodily injuries and they recover. They get the occasional sneeze but it never lasts long. They eat something that doesn't agree with them and they'll either throw it up, or eat some of the vegetation around the yard to force themselves to throw up. But I've almost never seen them in the state that I now saw Beethoven, and it worried me.

So at 1am this morning, Beethoven and I were in the car heading to the Pets Central 24-hr clinic in Mong Kok. The vet examined him and agreed that he didn't look well. They took xrays to see if something had lodged in his digestive tract but it was clear. They then took blood samples and found that his red blood cell count was way above the normal range; i.e., his blood volume was low. He was subsequently put on a drip and placed in a cage to rest. His condition worried me considerably. If any of our eleven kids were to leave us, it would hurt me greatly. I am not looking forward to the coming years.

My wife and I visited him this morning just before lunch. Fortunately, Beethoven looked much better and I was very relieved.

I suspect that they won't find a cause for the problem, but that doesn't worry me much because I have actually seen this condition once before. Before we adopted our first kid Dallas, he was a free ranging pup in our village who would come up to the car park to greet us every evening when we returned from work. We became great friends. And then one night, he disappeared. We scoured around looking for him and eventually found him in a store room lying on the floor, wagging his tail but unable to get up or move. We took him to the RSPCA (there was an 'R' in the name at the time), and he was placed on a drip for 3 days with a condition very similar to Beethoven's. Dallas recovered and never suffered from the same condition again. I hope the same is true for Beethoven.

In some ways, the condition is actually the reason we have pets today. If not for the condition, we would not have taken Dallas to the RSPCA. If we hadn't have taken him there, the young people in the village who casually looked after him wouldn't have given him to us, and we wouldn't have started to adopt.

Beethoven is still in the hospital. Hopefully, I'll be able to bring him home tomorrow.

Resurrection. Part 2: General Symptoms.

Filed in General, HealthTags: ,

I can remember several experiences over the last ten years that were brought about by my ailment. I can remember them vividly because they were quite severe, and I'll describe some of them for you in the next chapter of this series. In today's chapter however, I'll quickly describe some of the general symptoms I've experienced.

Fatigue was a big problem. I felt tired for most of the day on most days. Even if I slept for an extra two or three hours during the day, I would still feel tired. One result of the perpetual fatigue was that I was almost always passive rather than pro-active. This was probably why I was able to continue my work at TVB, because they'd call me up to go to work and I'd go. It was that simple. On the other hand, trying to actively prepare for engagements, or walk out the door to exercise, or even prepare breakfast was extremely hard to do.

Watching tv became a big part of my life because watching tv is the easiest passive activity on Earth. Procrastination also became a way of life because I didn't have the energy to actively work on those tasks that were most urgent. This didn't mean that I didn't get any work done, but it did mean that the most urgent work was normally left until the last minute.

My body also suffered. Over the years, injury and illness became more common. Before the programming incident, I was rarely ill. During the last three or four years however, I found myself mildly ill for many months at a time. Healing was also a problem such that running or weight lifting did not lead to healthier larger muscles as it should have, and led to injuries instead. Looking back, I suspect that this was also an ingredient in my vocal problems; even though I trained, my vocal cords were not able to build strength as they would normally do.

My moods were unpredictable. There were times when my body felt as if it had hoarded large quantities of adrenaline, so much so that I wanted to explode. This unfortunately and regrettably led to uncontrollable, unnecessary and unreasonable rage, most of it in the privacy of our home. I remember raging uncontrollably and knowing in my mind at that very moment that the rage was completely unjustified but unable to stop regardless. There was a period of time when it was very very difficult for my family to be with me. Happily, those days are far behind us now although they'll never be forgotten.

Next time, I'll describe some of the individual experiences I remember. I think you'll find them intriguing. And then in a later chapter, I'll tell you what I think the ailment is.

Take care all.

The Album Cover

Filed in Album ‘Serendipity 緣的根源', GeneralTags:

We've hired a local design company to come up with designs for the new album cover and yesterday, we received the first draft. I can't show you just yet but it's very cool!

Take care all.

Resurrection. Part 1: The Beginning.

Filed in General, HealthTags: , ,

Almost 10 years ago, I succumbed to a debilitating physical/physiological problem that nobody could diagnose or treat correctly.

At the time, I was writing software to aid database developers who worked with the FileMaker database system. I spent day after day working on it for months. Many programmers will tell you that it's difficult to pull yourself away from a project once you get involved, and I often spent 12 to 15 hours a day working on the software. Most nights, I slept only 3 or 4 hours, and not very soundly because one ear was kept open while I slept to listen for fights and incidents involving a village puppy I'd befriended earlier in the year.

After 3 or 4 months of this schedule, my body gave up and I lost the ability to do anything conscientiously. It was a hard time for my family. I saw a doctor and was promptly prescribed anti-depression medication because my ailment was not understood and therefore deemed to be psychosomatic in nature. People around me and at TVB were telling me to buck up, get back in the game, stop moping, pull yourself together, etc. They simply didn't understand, and that's the biggest problem with this ailment; nobody understands it except those who have experienced it personally.

The symptoms are terrible and life changing. You feel exhausted and fatigued all day every day. You are unable to do anything that your responsibilities dictate should be done. Hormonal rage becomes an unpredictable part of daily life. And for me, stage nerves transformed into stage terror. This was perhaps the most serious symptom for me because where I once loved performing on stage, I was now in fear of it, or rather in fear of the terror that I would probably experience on the stage. It was extremely debilitating (and life threatening) and there were many occasions when I considered giving up performing because I felt so tired, and more importantly to avoid the fear and the terror.

A mystery to me, I was still able to function at TVB although it was very strenuous trying to maintain the energy in my characters while on set. I distinctly remember my role as Marco Polo, thinking at the time that Marco Polo would probably have been an extraordinary man with unlimited energy, intelligence and curiosity, and then using every ounce of my limited energy to try and portray that in the character. It was hard.

The last 10 years have been very difficult, but my family and I survived and it's almost over.

In August this year, I flew to L.A. to begin recording my album. While in L.A., I was suddenly besieged by multiple sources of significant stress; health, financial, responsibility. Where most healthy people would be able to continue with their lives, my body's reaction was instead pronounced. The muscles in my upper body, shoulders and neck all responded by tensing up as hard as possible. This included the muscles in my throat, and I was no longer able to sing. I saw a wonderful ENT specialist in L.A., and extended my stay by two weeks in the hope that I'd recover and be able to record my songs, but I didn't recover and the recording had to be postponed indefinitely.

Since then, I've reflected and analysed these past years since the programming period 10 years ago, and I've realised that my body in its current condition is unable to handle stress. If I'm to turn my life around, accomplish worthy goals and fulfil my dreams, I will need to cure my body and make it strong again.

Fortunately, I may have discovered the true nature of my ailment, and that makes it possible to repair my body. The healing has started and the future is beginning to look bright!

More later.


Filed in Album ‘Serendipity 緣的根源'Tags: , ,

Today was disheartening.

A year ago while performing in China, I damaged my vocal chords. The speaker configuration at the venue was such that the microphone couldn't be turned up very much and I had to sing at a very high volume to be heard by the audience. My vocals were not strong to begin with, and after two nights of over-singing, my chords gave up. I was unable to speak normally for several months, and recovery only became somewhat noticeable in June. Even now though, I haven't fully recovered.

Today was evidence of that. We booked a recording studio to get experience in a recording studio, to see how things are done, and to make sure that the music material we have is compatible with the studio. Everything was great, except for my voice.

It was crystal clear that my voice is not yet ready for 'prime time'. It was broken and raspy. It definitely needs time and work.

So, it is not possible at this time to set a release date for the album. In the meantime, while I work to strengthen my voice, we'll continue to work on the various things that pertain to the album; designing the CD cover and insert, re-designing my web site, arranging the remainder of the songs, thinking about marketing, etc.

There have been many obstacles to recording this album. When it is finally released, it will be a symbol of victory against all odds.

The letter ‘s’.

Filed in Album ‘Serendipity 緣的根源', GeneralTags:

In 1987, I bought a one-way ticket from Sydney to Hong Kong. My dream was to become a Cantopop singer. It's been quite an adventure, but that dream is about to become a reality.

In 2010, we began planning my first Cantonese album. Its name? I'll give you a hint. It begins with the letter 's'.

Stay tuned.