Posts about health

Turning a staircase into a piano

In an effort to promote healthy lifestyle, Volkswagen came up with the creative idea of turning a staircase at a Stockholm subway station into a piano and captured how travelers responded.

The result: 66% more people chose the stairs over the escalator.

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Neurosurgeons don't hold mobile phones to their ears

According to a recent NY Times article, it is found that neurosurgeons don’t hold mobile phones to their ears. (via kottke.org)

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Benefits of power napping and how to do it

How sleep works

For those who are curious, here’s a good read up on how sleep works.

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How to deal with post lunch sleepiness

Reasons to eat slower

Eating your food slowly is not only about health but also lifestyle. Here are 5 reasons why you should take a few extra minute to munch slower.

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Keep an eye on the waterline

Just how much water is required by the human body each day? Here are some guidelines for water intake.

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Why is yawning contagious

According to a recent report from the BBC news, yawning is designed to keep us awake and it can be contagious if we see someone yawn.

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I'm infected

Barely less than 10 hours ago, I wrote about how my colleagues were infected with conjunctivitis one after another.

This morning, as I struggled to open my eyes, I realized that my left eye was covered with a think layer of “eye wax”. It was sore, red and painful but my right eye was perfectly alright. I hesitated for a moment before deciding to visit the doctor.

When the doctor examined me, it turned out that both my eyes were infected except that the right eye was not infected as badly as the other. Now that I’m down on 2 days of medical leave, this is certainly most unwelcome and has certainly spoilt my day and weekend!

Update: I was curious what kind of conjunctivitis I’m suffering from and how to prevent it from spreading to the others. It seems that I’m suffering from bacterial conjunctivitis. For those whom are interested to know more about it, you can read more about it from the vision guide and here.

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Conjunctivitis

The remaining few fighting fit colleague of mine and myself were forced to take half-day leave for today and tomorrow as there was an outbreak of conjunctivitis among us and around the workplace.

It started on Tuesday when one of them was on medical leave for sore eyes. Then somehow, one of them got infected it didn’t take too long for the others to start rubbing their painful, reddish and tearing eye — all of which are symptoms of conjunctivitis.

This incident reminded me of the SARS crisis which Singapore experienced a few years back. It also serves as a reminder to everyone on how vulnerable we are when exposed to the unknown in the air. Lesson learnt from this episode: Never fail to maintain personal hygiene at all times because when the unknown strikes, it’s fast and can be deadly within seconds.

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The torture machine

I went for my second G-Fet (G-Flight Environment Trainer) habituation today and to my surprise, it feels much better as compared to the previous 2 sessions. Today’s profile includes a gradual onset to 8G environments as well as a rapid onset to 6G environment that lasts for 40 seconds. Luckily, both profile allows the use of a G-suit since the G-Suit will greatly help to reduce the amount of physical straining on my part. I doubt I’ll be able to sustain 6G for 40 seconds without the help of a G-Suit since it can be quite tedious and tiring for my muscles, not to mention that I’m not exactly that strong and physically fit.

Till now, I’m still uncomfortable with the idea of being spun around like being in a washing machine. What makes matter worst is the tumbling effect that one will experience during the start and end of a session, normally just before the machine comes to a complete stop. Furthermore, there’s always a risk of losing consciousness while executing a profile and this equates to more sessions with the torture machine. I dread of every session but still, I have to overcome my fear and get used to such training.

I’m currently experiencing the side effects of sustaining high G’s. This includes G measles appearing over my arms, legs and abdominal as well as muscle aches over areas where the straining occurred. It’s not a big deal but the G measles can get quite ugly as it looked like one is suffering from some skin disease or bad skin rash. Hopefully, this will heal within the next few days but it wouldn’t be long before I’ll experience the effects once again.

For those who have no idea how a G-Fet machine looked like and is interested to know more about it, I’ve managed to find a copy of the article from the Singapore Armed Forces Pioneer magazine which featured on the G-Fet trainer.

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Can you see clearly

I went for my 3 months post eye surgery review today and am pleased to hear from my ophthalmologist that my vision has stabilized. Currently, it stands at 6/4.5 which is better than the perfect vision that measures at 6/6. People usually termed it as “Eagle Eye” because of the sharpness and the details I can capture.

Anyway, this also concludes the no exercising excuse I’ve been tagged by the aeromedical doctors since surgery. I’ve not workout for almost 4 months and lately, I’ve been feeling lethargic and unmotivated.

Can’t wait to jump into the pool or go for a run to cut the excess fats gained!

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Wisdom tooth surgery

As part of my work requirement, I was required to extract all of my wisdom tooth so as to avoid any unnecessary medical complications during flying training in future. Thus, I went for a dental screening few months ago to determine how many wisdom I’ll need to extract. Luckily, the x-ray showed that I’ve got only 2 wisdom tooth at the bottom of my mouth that needs to be extracted.

So, I went for my wisdom tooth surgery at the National Dental Centre yesterday. As I chose to do my surgery under general anesthesia (GA), I had to be admitted and change before the surgery. Initially, I thought it would not take more than a few hours. Turned out that I was wrong and due to unforeseen circumstances, I spent nearly 5 hours on the bed waiting for my turn. It wasn’t the hunger that’s killing me but rather, the boredom. All I could do was to patiently wait for my turn to come.

Finally, at around 1430 hours, the nurse prepared me for the surgery. She sprayed some chemical through my nose and it tasted bitter as the solution flowed down into the throat. I walked into the operating theatre on my own and lay on the bed while the anesthetist prepared to drug me while calming me down at the same time. Within seconds from inhaling the gas mask, I was into dreamland. The next thing I knew, one hour had passed and the operation had completed. I’m now lying on another bed with an oxygen mask attached to me. I started to feel numb around my lips, tongue and the chin area and it was an unwanted feeling.

It was close to 1600 hours and I was informed that I may leave if I wish. After collecting the medication and paying the bills, my uncle drove me home. I felt drowsy initially but that feeling was soon overcome by the swelling of my mouth. Dinner was porridge but it was unpleasant as every mouth of food caused pain and I could taste blood from the wound.

It’ll be a few days before I can enjoy solid food. Meanwhile, I’m on 8 days medical leave from this surgery. Although it was one kind of an experience (especially the anesthesia), I hope this will be the first and last time I’ll have to undergo through this. I would say it’s a little scarier than my PRK surgery and the pain is definitely unbearable!

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Down with flu

I’m down with flu and fever and I’ll be staying home to recover. I thought I could have recovered after a good night’s sleep but it seems otherwise. It’s not that I enjoy going to work but it’s more of personal pride. I’ve never reported sick and/or took any medical leave (except for my PRK surgery, which was a required rest) since my enlistment into military and today, I broke the record. Hopefully, this would be the first and last time I’m taking medical leave.

On the brighter note, I’ve managed to complete writing and have published a list of entries which was marked as draft since early November. The entries are back dated to Nov 07, 2006. For the convenience of those who wants to catch up on what I’ve wrote, here’s a list of the entries fresh from the oven:

  1. Does public image matters
  2. My classmate’s wedding
  3. FireFox 2 reviewed
  4. Context menu hacks
  5. Stumbling with Chinese
  6. The route to obtaining a driving license
  7. Experiencing gravity effects

Wow, a long list of entries and the effects of snowballing. With this in mind, I’m left with 2 entries to complete as well as any upcoming entries for the month of Dec 06, before a new year arrives!

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Experiencing gravity effects

Gravity [grav-i-tee] An attractive force which all matter possesses. Every bit of matter attracts every other bit of matter. The strength of that attraction depends on two things — the mass of any two objects, and the distance between those objects.

Gravity effects (or Gs in short) are mostly experienced by aerobatics and military (fighter) pilots. It is the kind of feeling not many would like and am able to take it. For those who take commercial flights, one would experience mild G effects during turbulence.

There are a few alternatives to experience G effects apart from taking an air plane. One method is to pay S$30 for a five minutes reverse bungee jump. The other cheaper and easier way is to take a TIBS bendy bus which I found out recently. By sitting at the rear of the vehicle and when the bus is travelling at a relatively fast speed on an uneven road, the bus tend to bounce and this in return will cause the passengers, especially those sitting at the rear to lift off their seats literally. Try this the next time you take a bendy bus!

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My PRK experience

Now that I’ve gone through the PRK surgery for my right eye, I thought that I would pen down this once in a life time experience, which will serve as a form of wonderful memories for me as well as general information and knowledge for those who are interested in knowing more about it.

To start off, I would briefly explain the differences between Photo-refractive keratectomy (PRK) and the commonly known Laser-assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery. Because of my job requirement, I’ve no choice but to opt for only PRK surgery. The PRK surgery is a procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea using an excimer laser to ablate a small amount of tissue from the front of the eye, just under the eye’s outer layer or epithelium. Due to this procedure, there is generally more pain and visual recovery is slower as compared to LASIK. As for LASIK surgery, basically what happens is that LASIK retains the epithelium from the corneal flap which will be replaced and used to act as a natural bandage, thus creating what we call a ‘flap’. According to my surgeon, there’ve been pilots from the USAF whom have undergone LASIK and encountered post-op injuries while flying missions. What happened was that the ‘flap’ came loose (also known as dislocated corneal flaps), perhaps due to high altitude and air pressure.

Enough of theory explained. Prior to my surgery, I had 2 detailed pre-op screening each lasting for a few hours, which includes very detailed test to check if my eye is suitable for the surgery. They have been cases of unsuitable candidates due to various reasons and this caused them to lose their employment contract. Thus, it was a risk that I took in return for this surgery. I was given some eye drops and was told to use it 2 days before they actual surgery. For the first time, I actually had a taste of what eye drops taste like and boy, it was bitter! Somehow, the chemical travelled through my nostrils and ended up down into my throat.

On the actual day, I was led into this preparation room where the nurse applied anesthetic drops and cleans the exterior of my eye as well as put on the green gown. Then, I waited anxiously in one corner while the surgeons prepared the machine. Before I know, I was lying on the bed while the surgeon began clipping my eyes wide open with some sort of a clipper and washing my eyes with water. Little did I know that the anesthetic drops wasn’t enough and had not completely numbed my eyes and this caused me to flinch. The surgeon had to calm me down and I was kind of embarrassed. And so, various kinds of liquid and chemical were being applied to my eye and the next thing I knew, I couldn’t see a thing. Then slowly, my vision became and I was the laser being projected to my eye. Within 15 seconds, I saw the laser beam being shot into my eye and it slowly turned into a ball of fire. At the same time, I can smell a stench of something being burnt. When the process was over, a bandage contact lens was being placed over my eyes. When I walked out of the laser suite, my right eye seems to have perfect vision. I tried looking around and everything became so clear — just like when I had my glasses on. It was an amazing experience!

I’m thankful to have been given an opportunity to regain perfect vision once again. I thank god for his guidance and arrangement and most importantly, those whom have helped and enabled me to undergo this surgery. As for my left eye surgery this coming Tuesday, I’ll make sure the nurse applies enough anesthetic drops before I actually lie down on the laser suite’s bed to save myself from further embarrassment!

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Spectacles no more

Tomorrow will be the last time I’ll be wearing my prescribed glasses after having worn it for the past seven years. Within these seven years, I’ve purchased 4 glasses in total and of which, only one is metallic frame. I remembered when I was young, I’ve always wanted to wear a spectacle as I thought it will look on me. Reflecting upon, I realized how foolish that was and regretted having to wear spectacles. Not only is it inconvenient but also a hassle as one have to take good care of it to prevent it from accidental damaged.

So, you must be wondering if I’m switching to contact lenses. Sad to say, the answer is no. Although putting on contact lenses will look nicer in terms of appearance, I can never imagine myself placing a thin membrane into my eye. Furthermore, my job does not permit me to wear contact lenses at all. Thus, this leaves me with no other alternative other than undergoing a vision correction surgery using laser technology, or commonly known as photo-refractive keratectomy (PRK).

I must say I was really lucky in being able to qualify for the surgery. My job requires a pair of perfect eyesight and thus, I was being placed into this vision correction program. This also means that I’ll finally be able to do away with spectacles! I must say not many qualify for this surgery as there are stringent requirements and procedures. I’m thankful I’ve been given this once in a lifetime opportunity to correct my vision — back to my pre-spectacle days.

I hope the surgery tomorrow would be a success and with no complications. In every surgery, there’s bound to be some risks involved but the doctor says that it’s 99% safe although there’ll be some temporary side-effects such as poor night vision etc. This also means that I’ll be down with 2 weeks of medical leave and a pair of painful eyes with no computers, television and even reading of books!

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How not to feel drowsy after lunch

How many times have you almost or even fell asleep after lunch while in the office? Personally, it occurred to me a few times but I usually avoid “taking a nap” in the afternoon as I know I would have difficulty trying to sleep later in the night. So, I was curious what causes human to feel so sleepy — especially after lunch and decided to find out more about it.

According to this report, it states that human feels sleepy not because of the lunch but rather, because of our sleep patterns and cycle. Here’s an extract from the article which explains why human feel sleepy at certain time of the day:

Recent research suggests that each day with insufficient sleep increases our sleep debt and, when this sleep debt becomes large enough, noticeable problems appear (Coren, 1996a). These sleep-debt-related problems are most predictable at certain times of the day. This is because the efficiency of our physical and mental functions show cyclic increases and decreases in the form of circadian rhythms. While our major sleep/wakefulness rhythm has a cycle length of roughly 24 hours, there are shorter cycles as well, with the most important of these being a secondary sleep/wakefulness cycle that is around 12 hours.

Because of these cycles, the pressure to fall asleep is greatest in the morning, between 1 and 4 a.m. In addition there is a less pronounced, but still noticeable, increase in sleepiness 12 hours later, between 1 and 4 p.m. It is this afternoon low point that makes you feel sleepy after lunch, not the meal that you may have just eaten. It probably also was the original reason for the afternoon nap or siesta.

However, I came across another article that suggests that feeling sleepy after lunch is due to the food we consumed and it also gave tips on how to survive the second half of your day. So as to say, I’m still confused on what exactly causes human to feel sleepy after lunch and I’m on the search for even better explanation.

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Post Tamworth-trip fitness

My colleagues and I attempted our first 2.4km run at the running track since returning from Australia and we found that it was much more difficult to control our breathing as well as keep up with the stamina as compared to our pre Tamworth trip fitness level.

It has been barely one month since we last ran and this goes to show the importance of exercising. All the free flow of food and ice-creams consumed during the trip has only cause us to gain weight and grow more fats!

Time for a serious body workout and losing weight session.

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Training this week

Since the end of the last outfield exercise, we were given more recovery time as well as time to clean our muddy personal stores. This week also marks the start of a sequence of Individual Proficiency Physical Fitness Test (IPPT) as well as Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) for people like me who have yet to clear it.

To think of, I’d actually clocked 9m30s previously and I was just short of that 1 second to clear the mark. Because of this, I have to retake the SOC test till I pass and things aren’t looking good because my body fatigue level is very high. My last attempt was on Thursday and I actually clocked 9m54s. Apart from SOC, I’m expected to clear IPPT at the same time and we will not stop doing till we achieve a gold standard, which is being measured in the following manner:

  1. Standing board jump: 216cm to pass, 234cm for gold
  2. Shuttle run: < 10.7sec to pass, < 10.2sec for gold
  3. Sit up: 33 to pass, 40 and above for gold
  4. Chin up: 6 to pass, 10 and above for gold
  5. 2.4km run: < 9.44sec for gold

It’s definitely going to be a tough journey ahead and all these needs to be cleared in less than 2 weeks time before my Service Term in OCS ends. Otherwise, I might be stucked in infantry during my Professional term or even get out of course!

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Extinguish the heat

You woke up one fine morning and find that your throat has a burning sensation. Your lips starts to turn dry shortly and the skins are starting to peel off. You are in immediate need for a lip balm to help prevent the lips from peeling. Ever had this kind of feeling? This was what happened to me yesterday when I woke up and found that my day will not be fine.

I am very prone to heatiness ever since I left secondary school (I have no idea why but it seems that my immune system is getting weaker). That’s why I always try to avoid fried and oily food at all times and I certainly have no carvings for it as the consequence of eating these food will be too much a price to pay for. It used to be fine as long as I watch my intake but nowadays, just eating a little will cause my body to develop heatiness.

There might be several reasons why our body is prone to heatiness and here are a few I happened to come across while reading an article recently:

  • Spending too much time in an air-conditioned environment, thus leaving our body and skin exposed to the dry air and lost of body fluid
  • Lack of intake of water — Our body needs at least 2 to 3 litres of water daily, preferably plain water
  • Dehydration

The remedy
To help prevent from falling sick because of heatiness, I have some *secret recipe* that may help to greatly reduce the body heatiness:

  1. Eat lots of star fruits or water chestnut
  2. Buy & drink Eno — helps to relieves indigestion and heatiness
  3. Boil and drink barley seeds with green bean seeds — the most effective method
  4. Use lip balm (oil based) every now and then to keep your lips moisturize

The above will definitely help to reduce our body heat but in all cases, please don’t over consume any of the suggested remedy.

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