ithink it's a great English Resource

Sunday, November 7, 2021

By now, most of you would have completed your exams and received your results. If you did well, congratulations! If you did not, this holidays is your best chance for you to beef things up! With the pandemic still ongoing, there is a shift in learning. New platforms have sprout out overnight and several portals like Zoom, quizizz, Kahoot, Neopad have been popularised. Like it or not, self-directed learning is the trend. 

Personally, I like to balance both online and offline materials. With the advent of technology, it is inevitable that it captures more of the student’s attention. Finding a suitable assessment book is needless to say , boring and difficult. Honestly there isn’t a large array at Popular bookstore when it comes to Secondary English. And for the material to be trendy and relevant, it is far and beyond. 

Thankfully, i discovered a series of magazines published by iThink is a monthly magazine written by ex or current MOE teachers. This itself is credible enough. You are assured that the content covered are relevant and up-to-date. 

A quick glance of the ithink series will probably get you attracted. It is coloured! This seems superficial but is somewhat an important draw when compared to the mundane black-and-white publications on the shelves of bookstores.  Colours can produce a higher level of attention and is effective to increase memory performance. Psychologists have found that we are significantly better at recalling scenes, pictures and images if they are not just black and white. They believe this is because colour has a stronger appeal to the senses, prompting a better connection to parts of the brain involved with memory. Therefore, it can be concluded that colours have the tendency to capture better attention level, and thus, better memory.

On a more serious note, let me give you an insight to some of the pros in this series. The magazine covers a variety of categories. Each month, they have a new theme and I love their genre as it is very relevant. Students these days lack general knowledge so reading what’s offered will definitely give this area a boost. With the Covid situation still not easing up, it would be a while before we truly let loose and travel like before. As if clairvoyant, the team has a section called WANDERLUST which brings you to places from Pompeii to Brighton! I gained so much insight just by reading about those places. many of which I have not heard before. Ok, perhaps I am just not well-travelled enough. Covid needs to make its exit so that we can regain our wanderlust lives!


Pretty sure you have heard of the above phrase. Humans and other animals are capable of observational learning. The magazine generally starts off with a series of essays written by the knowledgeable editorial team. It covers various genres like narrative, expository, descriptive, argumentative and hybrid. If these sound alien to you, they are basically what will be tackled typically in Secondary and even Junior college. We often hear parents nagging their children to read more but what exactly to read? Well, apart for expanding their general knowledge, we should be really selective in readings at this age due to the lack of time and the fact that they are impressionable. By reading more model essays, one will tend to go in a better direction with regards to their literacy level. As cliche as it may sound but I truly believe that it improves their repertoire of vocabulary and perhaps guide them in finding their style of writing. Of course, you don’t learn it all simply by observing. In order to retain, one will need repetition. Hence, repetitive spaced-out reading will enhance one’s retention. 

HEY Listen

Another section which I really love is the listening comprehension section called HEY LISTEN. I’ve been asked several times what books to buy when it comes to listening comprehension. Honestly, there isn’t much out there at a Secondary level. In every issue, there would be an article befitting the theme, which would be used as a listening comprehension practice. The questions are over on the last few pages of the book. A quick scan of the QR code (oooo savvy!) and you’d be able to commence your exercise. Fret not if you are wondering if there are answers. There are! They are all hosted on their website (


Apart from listening comprehension, another important and fearful component for most is oral. Once again, I seem to feel there is a lack of books in this area. So glad the editorial team has covered it. They even went out of the way to have someone recite out the passage. A click on the QR code once again and you’d be hearing someone read it out loud for you in accurate English, ala BBC style. Once again, monkey see monkey do. If you listen more, you’d probably mimic the confidence exuded by the reader! The second part of the Speak up section is the true lure — conversation. This is a component where candidates engage in a discussion with the examiners on a topic based on a visual stimulus in the form of a video clip. If you think it’s easy, think again. Candidates will not be asked any questions about what people say in the video clip. Typically there is a video linked to a QR code and subsequently questions based on them. This is an excellent break from a mishmash of words. To top it off, you can also listen to their suggested response! Often students are tongue-tied because they do not have the content and can’t think of personal experiences on their toes. Listening to others would definitely help in this area. And mind you, oral takes up 20% of the pie so you should really beef up this area. 


This 66-page magazine really packs a punch. After all the articles, there are several notes under the WORKOUT section. An analysis of the various genres of essays is given. Students can also do some HIIT workouts through the comprehension and visual text exercises penned down by the team. They follow closely how a typical English paper is, covering both Non-fiction text and Fiction text. In case you aren’t familiar, this takes up 35% of the GCE O Level paper. Once again, suggested answers can be found on their website Under this section, there are also several tips on how to write a good essay or quick tips on answering techniques in some issues. 

Last but not least, one can really be self-directed using this tiny but mighty magazine. It has a section called TWEAK ME, where students are able to submit their essays for the editors to comment on and edit! If your essay is selected and published, you’d be given a token of $20! Not bad right? This could potentially kickstart your writing career! is a company which publishes English resources that will get your child to read more and do better in school. It does not only have ithink which is for the older children age around 15yo. Under its umbrella, they also have a whole range of other interesting magazines, catering to children aged 4 to 16 years old. 

Story Time for 6yo

i Magazine for 10+y

Inspire for 13+yo

ithink for 15+yo

StoryTime has great short fables written in simple but good vocabulary. It also comes with activities to engage the littles. The colourful illustrations are a plus. 

Activities in StoryTime

iMagazine is one for children age around 10years old. In addition to the articles, I like how cleverly they sneaked in relevant activities like "editing" over on the last few pages of the magazine. The topics covered are also trendy. Ranging from K-pop to content creation. To keep myself abreast with trends, I find myself immersed in the articles as well. One point to note, as with all their publications, behind every writeup, there is also a word bank section that gives the meanings to certain words which may appear alien to some students. This is notable as we all know how oblivious we can get when it comes to unfamiliar words. Very often, we are too lazy to whip up the dictionary and will simply guess its meanings. The guesswork is eliminated with this helpful section. How thoughtful of the editors!

iMagazine recognises that their readers are still young, hence a certain amount of activities is still weaved into the magazine. 

The iInspire magazine is recommended for 13+yo but I personally feel that if your child is ready, they can start reading this as early as 11yo. The reason for this is that I'm seeing a trend in schools introducing expository writings to students as young as 11yo. The genre a 11yo is exposed to is generally limited, hence, reading beyond may not be a bad idea. 

A good command of English is of paramount importance. Everything revolves around English. With the exception of second languages, English is used in every subject. Getting the right resource will ease the learning curve a little. These publications adhere to MOE’s latest guidelines and are targeted at the child’s specific level. It’s been tried and tested by many students and myself. I personally have used iThink quite extensively prior to this blog post. Cultivate the love of reading through magazines! I think it’s less intimidating than assessment books or chapter books if your child is not quite a reader yet!

Discount for my readers!

ilovereading has kindly offer a 10% on for the following publications:

1) Storytime Magazine

2) i Magazine

3) Inspire Magazine

4) iThink magazine

Simply quote MMM10%. Promo code is valid till 30 December 2021. 

Disclaimer: All photos are property of www.themishmashmess.blogspot. We were given copies of the magazine for review but I have been a paid user prior to this post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the product. Please seek permission before reposting and give due credit when doing so. 

Review: Mobile polishing & carwash with Blackantyellow Prime Detailing

Monday, August 9, 2021

Washing and polishing my car has always been a pain. I only know how to drive. I have absolutely no time and desire to leave my car at the workshop and pick it up hours later. Yes, I am that busy. Even with washing, I find turning into a 10-minute car wash (and possibly waiting for another 15minutes if it is peak season) at the petrol station a waste of time! I just want to zoom home after work to be with my children or to rest. So, most of the time, I rely on Mr rain. I thought that was good enough, but Ruihong of BlackantYellow Prime Detailing educated me that it isn't! Rainwater evaporates and leaves a layer of pollutants that damages your car's paint. Ideally, you should wash your car after it rains in order to minimize the harmful effects it brings to your car's paint. 

When BlackantYellow Prime Detailing was introduced to me, I was excited. A mobile carwash service could potentially save me a lot of time! I could simply have the car washed down by my apartment while working from home. No extra logistics are needed.  It was an eye-opener to see how well-equipped his little vehicle was. 

We started off with an assessment of my car. Part of the car has a coating from a previous polishing job approximately 2 years ago while our bonnet did not due to a replacement we made a few months ago. We were a little concerned if the existing coating would be affected should we do a polishing. I was assured that it wouldn't. There were different grades used and Ruihong, who is a certified IGL coating applicator, is well versed with them and uses good quality paint protection sealants and solutions. What is IGL you may ask? I did a quick search and here's what I found:

IGL Coatings is a multi-award winning Malaysian Technology firm based in Shah Alam focusing on developing innovative, disruptive and sustainable nanotechnology products. Redefining the coating industry, IGL Coatings pioneered in low and zero VOC ceramic coatings. 

This all sounds very environmentally friendly to me. IGL specializes in coatings for the automotive industry, marine and aviation industries. They also supply cleaning and maintenance products for various surfaces including paint, glass, metals, plastics, and fabrics. Because of its commercial grade, some of their products require accreditation, which is what Ruihong has. 

A bit of background information about this young chap. He has just graduated from a polytechnic and is trying to earn his own keep to alleviate his parents' financial burden while saving up for a part-time degree in the University. I absolutely salute the tenacity of such young individuals and think we should all #supportlocal! He has been running the business for over a year with his cousin and clocks in a good number of cars each month. His passion for cars is his drive and you can tell when he meticulously polishes your car. He has amassed enough experience from washing and grooming cars at petrol stations plus the fact that he got himself an accreditation shows that he is serious.

Back to our experience. I met up with Ruihong over at the multi-storey carpark near my mil's place since we were visiting and having dinner there. I thought we could simply leave the car there and he'd call once done. There was a washing bay where water could be collected so I thought all was good. But, alas! The tap was faulty and there was no water! Fortunately, the quick-witted Ruihong was well prepared for situations like these and suggested a no-water wash. He was going to use a no-rinse liquid for this purpose. 

The husband was a little skeptical initially. How can a no water wash be clean? A quick demo and he was convinced that it would be good enough. Probably a full wash would had been better but this was the next best. The stains were able to be removed before the actual polishing was done. 

My car had a lot of swirl marks and in particular, the handle area had a lot of nail scratches. This was all new to me. I do not even have manicured gel nails! How did those scratches surface? Bizzare. What was more bizarre was that they were removed after the polishing session! Unbelievable! See the before and after photos below: 

Amazing isn't it? So there. I've got myself a clean, polished car after 2 hours. 

So why mobile and not some big grooming center you might ask? Well besides the fact that it is convenient because he is able to do it at the sheltered carpark of your convenience or perhaps at the comfort of your home should you have a porch, the price is pretty pocket-friendly too. I did a quick comparison with our regular carwash which isn't your typical touch-and-go service at the petrol station and found that Blackantyellow's pricing is at least $50 cheaper than a brick-and-mortar grooming center. This by no means meant that the quality is compromised because what Ruihong uses isn't quite the sort of shampoos or wax you can grab from the petrol station shelf. Plus, the comparison was based on the grooming center's package prices. Something which I don't really like. Packages scare me. What if the place closes down? BlackantYellow gives me peace of mind as it is a one-time thing. 

So the next time you would like to get your car washed, polished, or fumigated, show Blackantyellow Prime Detailing some love and drop them a message for a quote. Advanced bookings are highly recommended as things can get really busy for them. 

Blackantyellow Prime Detailing FB:

Blackantyellow Prime Detailing IG:

Disclaimer: All photos are property of www.themishmashmess.blogspot. We are sponsored a carwash and polishing session, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the product. Please seek permission before reposting and give due credit when doing so. 

Combating fatigue with Lao Xie Zhen

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

 Health is wealth. That is an old adage that I suppose many of us take for granted. 

Ever since my unfortunate incident last year, I know that it is paramount for me to put in more effort in taking care of myself. Being the matriarch of the family, I cannot be down. It is, however, not the easiest thing to do. With work and two small sidelines, ensuring that food is on the table and every other thing for the family is on point, becomes a priority. I forget about myself. It wasn't hard. I neglected myself. It wasn't hard either. We only have 24 hours and that is barely enough to do it all. Coupled with all the Heightened Alert measures, it has put a strain on me. The kids are perpetually home and the husband is bogged down by meetings after meetings. It isn't that my work came to a standstill. In fact, it's quite the contrary. Ever since the last round of Circuit breaker in Singapore where students were unable to head to school, parents have now recognised the importance of online lessons to keep their littlest occupied and nourished academically and of course to keep the adults sane. So yes, work has been piling and though on social media it looks like I've got it all covered, in reality, there are still heaps of improvements needed. 

According to UNA, women perform 66% of the world's work and produce 50% of the food but earn only 10% of the income. Thanks. This is why it's so overwhelming to be a woman. However, I have come to the realisation that I must prioritise taking care of myself everyday otherwise I can't function. Loving yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle will keep me from sinking too low on my bad days. Ok, I'm still working on that. 

One way to help make things a little easier is to take shortcuts. Yes! instead of standing in front of the stove, double boiling a bowl of chicken soup, there are several options out there. It is really ridiculous sounding to spend 2 hours or so, reducing half a pot of soup to just one bowl. That doesn't sound very productive to me. Since young, I absolutely detest the taste of those chicken essence which comes in a bottle. It was too pungent in my opinion. I had to pinch my nose to drink it. So when I found out that with the advent of technology, there is now chicken essence in a sachet, I jumped right on. To be honest, I was skeptical at first. What if it tasted just as pungent? 

Lao Xie Zhen proved me wrong. Not all chicken essence is foul-tasting! I had a go at  Lao Xie Zhen Premium Boiled Essence of Chicken last year while I was recuperating from my miscarriage. Many kind mummy friends had sent them to me to help with my wound healing. I drank it everyday and that possibly could be the reason why I managed to bounce back that quickly. It was really light and easy to drink. Lao Xie Zhen collaborated with Taiwan's largest free-range chicken farm, only 2nd generation free-range hens that are at least 12 months old, which have the highest nutritional value are used. Paired with a small amount of premium pork ribs, it further enhances the taste and nutritional content of the chicken essence. 

Some of the benefits include:

  • Combat fatigue (NEED)
  • Increase energy level (NEED)
  • Strengthen immune system (NEED)
  • Help with recuperation 
  • Help with wound healing 

More recently, with all the work-from-home arrangements, increasing energy levels and combatting fatigue are really necessary and taking  Lao Xie Zhen everyday really helps. How do you think I manage to tackle at least 3 zooms a day and cook three meals a day on top of all the chores? This definitely is a testament that something is working. Even Small K, aged 7, was also willing to drink! He has been complaining of dizziness in the morning hence I had been advised by the mother-in-law to have him drink in the morning. I like it that Lao Xie Zhen is 100% natural with no preservative and additives. Due to the un-intimidating natural colour, Small K was also open to drinking it. It really tastes different from the conventional chicken essence. It is so convenient. Just soak in hot water for 3 minutes and you are good to go! I don't even need to carve out a big pocket of time to self-love!

To make incorporate it even more into our daily lives, I have even infused it into a dish! It's really easy and here's the recipe:

Combine all marinates for 3-4 hours. Preferably overnight in the fridge. Steam at high heat for 40 minutes. Do a taste test at the last 5 minutes and season with more salt to taste if required. It's optional but you could also add cordyceps flower. 

The primary reason why I had been procrastinating when it comes to taking better care of myself is time. I attempted to buy several soup packs with the wishful thought of boiling them at some point in time. But those packs are sitting prettily in my refrigerator, mocking me every single day as it occupies a huge part of my space. Lao Xie Zhen makes it so convenient. They used Japan's patented four-layer opaque packaging and advanced sterilization sealing method to ensure the nutrients are well preserved naturally without the use of preservatives. With a long shelf life of 18 months, the product is stored at room temperature hence you can conveniently bring a sachet out anywhere! 

They have other products besides chicken essence. And if drinking all these regularly can make me as good-looking as Vivien Hsu and Aaron Kwok, I say, give it to me man!

So, make yourself a priority once in a while. You need to be taken care of because you are worth it. It is really not selfish. It is a necessity!

Disclaimer: All photos are property of www.themishmashmess.blogspot. We are gifted Hao Yi Kang's Lao Xie Zhen, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the product. Please seek permission before reposting and give due credit when doing so. 

Reivew: Youdao (有道) Dictionary Pen Version 2

Monday, March 1, 2021

Chinese is the nemesis of many in Singapore. It is a beautiful language but sadly, there's just insufficient time to expose ourselves to the beauty of its origins. Growing up, I struggled with the language as my family spoke predominantly in English. The closest to getting myself interested was when Aaron Kwok, Jacky Cheung, Leon Lai and Andy Lau graced the airwaves. I was smitten and obsessed with their songs and wanted to learn the lyrics. However, knowing the pronunciation of each character was painful, and searching up the words in a paper dictionary was agonizing.

Fast forward many decades later, with the advent of technology, dictionaries have evolved. No longer do we rely on the paper dictionary. There are now apps, reading pens and most recently discovered -- the OPTICAL YOUDAO (有道)DICTIONARY PEN!

Photo credit: @elitechinese

The Youdao (有道)dictionary pen is such an awesome invention, I wished it was available when I was taking my PSLE. 

Prior to owning it, we had a series of aids ranging from the electronic kind of dictionary (BESTA), some random reading pen bought from Taobao to the reading pen given by Berries (a local Chinese enrichment centre). 

The BESTA electronic dictionary was one recommended by our Primary school but it is sadly, the most underutilized. It is a chore to key in the word in question and as such, it has pretty much been a white elephant in our home. Big K has a huge aversion towards it. Consequently, I do not see an improvement in her comprehension where there are generally some words that are out of the syllabus. Try as I might, she simply refuses to pick up her dictionary. I don't blame her. 

When presented with the optical reading dictionary pen, she was instantly enthralled. It was love at first sight. She badgered me to allow her to bring it to school. I'm also seeing how independent she has become, reaching out the pen whenever she is attempting a composition or comprehension. A testament to the joys of using this gadget was that she discovered the use of voice recognition! How smart! Should you not know how to write a certain character, you may simply speak to the pen and the word cum definition would instantly pop up! This is way better than Google Translate, Pleco or the C-Pen, which several forums rave about.

It is able to scan and translate sentences

Did you know that Youdao is a New York Stock Exchange-listed company, which brands itself as a leading intelligent learning company in China? It also developed a neural network translation engine (有道词典)which seems to host a tonne more words than many other sources we've tried.

Below is a summary of the pros


1) AI Voice Assistance

This is a very useful feature when you wish to search up a word. But do note, your pronunciation has to be accurate lest it gives you the wrong word. However, it is said that through the high-fidelity speaker, pronunciation can be learned accurately.

2) User friendly

All you need to do is scan and translate. It is very idiot proof. 

3) Works on handwritten text

4) Reads out sentences or even paragraphs

Scans and translates multi-line or sentences fluently. It reads fast too. At 15 words per second, this definitely satisfies the need for speed.

5) Provides definition in Chinese and English

In some words, they even provide other variations and examples on how to use the word or how it is matched as a phrase. It is compatible with loads of picture books, newspapers and textbooks. All these provided the fonts are small enough. (Less than 2cm). It is also able to recognise various types of fonts. 

6) Portable

You can carry it around anywhere! Just put it in your pocket!

7) Clear audio

Unlike several other pens which made me cringe when listening to their English diction, this doesn't. It is crisp and clear.

8) Translates Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese & English words

Its translation is up to 98%

9) Shows 多音字

10) Suitable for both right and left-handers. 

It reads from left to right but has both left and right orientations.

11) Light and rechargeable using USB

After charging, one is able to use it offline for 8 hours 

12) Add words to favourites

You may add words to your favourites and revise them in the future. It has a big storage for learning.

13) Bluetooth & Type-C Connection

Connects with your Bluetooth or type-C headphones easily.

14) Sleek Design

I love how sleek it looks coupled with the colour, it's classy. I know I sound shallow but such things does affect my joy in using. 

With every technological gadget, there are bound to be some flaws. Youdao (有道)Dictionary pen is no exception. 


1) As it is made in China, for China, certain local (Singapore) phrases cannot be found. For instance, you are not able to find the phrase 巴刹 in it as over in China, they call it 市场. 

2) It can only read texts that are less than 2cm. Optimally about 1.2cm in height. Hence, it would not be compatible with several flashcards which we own. That said, at a higher level, they are generally faced with words which are small in font size.

3) When scanning a sentence, you may not know what you are looking for and accidentally scan a word or two before or after the actual phrase or sentence. Therefore, you may need a few trials to get the right characters in to make sense out of things.

4) Pronunciation may not be picked up. Big K tried saying a word or two, unfortunately her diction isn't accurate enough for the pen to pick up the correct character. I managed to breeze through. In a way, this may aid her in correcting her pronunciation. Probably a pro more than a con  if you think of it positively?

What we currently have is the Version 2. There is apparently another model Version 3 where one main difference is its interactive reading function. They have collaborated with Scholastic Inc to allow visual interactions for point reading for specific picture books! This is quite a draw for the younger kids but in my opinion, the Version 2 suffices for the general public. 

There are massive resources to tap on for the Version 3 and you may check out more about the Version 3 over here if you are keen.


It is clear that the Youdao (有道)Dictionary pen is our hot favourite of the moment. It really works for us and is igniting Big K's interest in the language. It is a huge step towards our efforts in self-directed learning. I would strongly recommend it for kids above the age of 6years old as then, they may be able to read more of the definition. It is also a great tool to have to encourage older children to read chapter books. Definitely a useful device to have to support your child's learning journey. So far, our other pens were mainly able to read only the books that are within their limited database of prescribed books. The quantum leap in technology and innovation today is undeniable. Such gadgets are a necessary evil. Being raised in a digital era, the Youdao Dictionary pen is here to stay and will gain traction and inspire many to embrace the language.

Disclaimer: All photos are property of www.themishmashmess.blogspot. We are gifted the Youdao Dictionary Pen 2, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the product. Please seek permission before reposting and give due credit when doing so. 

Big K's discovery of Teratoma

Saturday, October 17, 2020


Never had I expected that things would turn out this way. Nothing could mollify those devastating moments of despondency that would remain forever etched in my mind. I demanded justice at the start of the year when I was torn by a miscarriage. And today, on the fateful day of Children's day, I lay shattered like a broken China once again. Tears marred my vision and it felt like I was elevated onto the gallows. 

8th October. Mom was scheduled for her surgery. To remove the tumour in her rectum. I haven't quite shared, but mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 rectal cancer in November 2019. She went through 3-4 cycles of chemotherapy and finally, the doctor gave the go-ahead for a surgery. After seeing her enter the operation theatre, I headed off to work. Yes, I was still working that day. Instead of packing up and down the corridors of the hospital or standing outside the OT, feeling absolutely helpless, I might as well work for 2hours right? Midway through work, the deliveryman called asking me if anyone was at home to receive a parcel. There should be. Before I left home, Big K was sleeping, Small K was due to be home and the hubs was working from home. So yes, they should be at home. But they weren't. 


I texted the hub, only to find out that he brought Big K to the hospital to see our Pediatrician again as her tummyaches intensified till her face turned as white as sheet. A month ago, we admitted her due to constipation. We initially thought that it could have been a muscle strain as papa made her do some leg raises which might have pulled a muscle. What ensued over that weekend were episodes of vomiting and acute pain. So painful, she couldn't stand or walk well. We took her to the GP and it was inconclusive. It wasn't food poisoning, stomach flu or UTI. So the GP suggested that we monitor the pain and gave us a letter for A&E as she suspected HERNIA! Say what nia? I had to google and it freaked me out. Her nauseousness and acute pain persisted and we zipped her off to A&E. The PD had a look at her concluded that she had severe constipation. The condition wasn't because she wasn't pooping. On the contrary, she was. Everyday. Xrays and Ultrasound showed that her large intestines were all clogged up and there were hardly any pockets of air to push the poo out. The PD explained that this could be due to the fact that she pooped too quickly and over time, the remnants built up. It needed time to clear. Probably a month she said. So we gave it time. Despite Big K's complaints, we still insisted that it could possibly be constipation. However, that afternoon, our PD felt something different. She felt a lump at the tail end of her large intestine and instantly ordered for a CT scan. 


It was at a time when my daughter was in the hospital waiting for the time to do her CT scan and it was also at that moment that my mom was already wheeled out from surgery. Who should I go to? Mom or dot? It was a tough call which was probably why the husband did not inform me there and then. He knew I needed to settle mom and didn't expect things to be so bad for Big K. So I headed down to Tan Tock Seng Hospital to have a quick check on mom. She was awake and grumbling despite having a slight fever. I knew she was going to be well (Since she could grumble), so I zipped down to my baby girl. 

7pm I arrived at East Shore Hospital.

830pm CT Scan. 


By now, Big K was already in immense pain. She could not lie or sit well. She seemed to be searing in pain. She was made to drink "contrast". Something which would aid the CT scan and even then, it made her want to vomit. She entered the room herself but minutes later, the radiologists came out asking me for help. Baby girl was in so much pain, she couldn't lay straight to facilitate the execution of a proper CT Scan. They needed my assistance. With a lot of coaxing and me decked in a lead vest to protect myself from the harmful radiation, she finally did the scan. 

930pm. Results were out. 

My world collapsed when I heard the news. a 10.3 x 6.6 x 6.0cm  tumour was found in her ovary. It had tiny calcifications, fat-attenuation appearance which is suggestive of a mature cystic teratoma/ dermoid cyst. Her left ovary was also not discretely identified. Meaning to say that the cyst was so huge, it covered it and we do not know if the ovary was still healthy. One complication of this was ovarian torsion. I was speechless when the PD announced it to me. I was alone (due to covid, they only allowed one parent to be with the child) and I knew I had to stay strong. But it was so tough. It was a double whammy for the day! The day my mom went for surgery was the day I discovered that my child had a tumour? I couldn't even say the word out loud. Those moments of anguish and agony lay like broken mosaic tiles, forming the picture of hell on Earth. It hit me like a bolt from the blue and once again, I demanded justice. I knew that I am viewed as a resilient woman. From all my recent episodes. Every single episode did help me surmount countless moments of desperation. But the reality of the situation was that I was assaulted by multitudinous arrows that struck and agonised my heart. I called the hubs who was trying to settle Small K and his own work matters. He expected the result to be yet another sign of constipation but when he heard the news, he too turned silent. The words spun round and round, destroying our mental faculty, grinding it to an ominous stop. We had nothing to say to each other for that few seconds. My world of happiness came to a cataclysmic collision with the world of reality. 

1015pm PD suggested we get transferred to KKH

KKH is known to be the forefathers when it comes to children's condition. Our PD said Teratoma is rare and in her years of practice, she probably saw it once every 10years. Say what? Why were we so unfortunate then! Why can't this translate to a lucky draw instead? The thoughts continued to swim in my head. My inner screams rose to an unbearable crescendo of screams. She gave us an option for us to go in an ambulance of I could drive her there myself. I wanted to zip us down immediately but the hubs was concerned with my mental health. Plus I only managed to clock 2 hours of sleep the night before. Hence, he insisted we call for an ambulance. The hospital assisted us on this and our PD was really nice, coming in constantly to check on us. To check on me, in particular. The blow was bad. I didn't look that badly shaken to be honest. But it was all a facade. A part of me had collapsed. In that instant, I really did not know what to do. 

After what seemed like eternity, the ambulance finally arrived (after almost an hour). By the time we arrived at KKH and got ourselves checked in, it was already 1am. Once again, due to Covid19, only one could accompany Big K. Though badly shaken, I needed to be the one. The hubs understood and stood outside the A&E, waiting for further news. We were brought to a waiting area where the doctor asked us some questions. Meanwhile, the hubs got admission done and we were pushed up the ward. By now, Big K was knackered. Her spirits were still high though. Afterall, it was her first experience (and only one I hope) in an ambulance at the age of 8+. It was also exciting that she got to sleep that late. Truth be told, she was already dozing off in the ambulance as she looked around curiously. Seeing her indifference due to her ignorance pained me even more. 

That night, I couldn't sleep. I was shivering in cold and gasping for air. I had no one to turn to. I ranted on social media because it was late and I needed an outlet. Friends I have, but it was late and I knew better than to impose. I refused to be placated even after the hubs texted to say that he is optimistic all is going to be well. He is always the happy-go-lucky one. The optimistic one in the relationship. To the extent, I sometimes feel, he is unfeeling. 

930am Dr Ong Han Lim, Associate Consultant of the Department of Paediatric Surgery came to Ward 75, Bed 12. 

Together with his team, he went through the possibilities and after an internal discussion with the team, they concurred with our PD, that it was indeed Teratoma and it had to be removed asap since it was causing her so much pain. They were calm. Too calm. They probably have seen several more cases but still I was told that it is something rare. In fact, they have been trying to gather participants for their research in this area and their aim was to attain 150 participants for their study. However, to date, they only managed to get 60 in a span of 3 years! That is how rare this damn cyst is! They put us on priority and managed to get a slot for the operation theatre for that day. Laparoscopic Cystectomy kiv oophorectomy. Gosh, the jargons scared me. 

9th October 2020. 430pm. Operation. Children's Day.

Like a bolt from the blue, right after lunch, we were told that the surgery would be scheduled for that afternoon. Once again, I was hyperventilating and tears flooded my eyes. I hugged Big K tightly, telling her to be strong and brave. She was baffled and thinks perhaps I should be the one who needed to be strong and brave. My kids are the sole impetus behind the perseverance. They give me courage. Courage was the essence of what impelled me to accomplish each day. No matter what construed over the past few months: Mom's cancer, my grandfather's passing and my miscarriage. But now, one child's health is at stake. I felt like I had been slapped. It felt like someone up there was playing a prank on me and this is was breaking the camel's back. Big K was extremely brave and I tried keeping her occupied with happy things. She missed her brother so much, the two of them kept video-calling each other.

Thud. Thud. Thud. 

My heart palpitated wildly in my ribcage as the hours ticked by. As we drew closer to 430pm, my heart pumped harder. at 2pm, I ensured that Big K was comfortable and tried to sponge her. I wanted to do everything for her. We prayed really hard and each time I prayed, tears rolled down uncontrollably. At one point in time, Big K hugged me, telling me she was sorry. She apologized as she thought it was her fault that she's ill. Oh my heart. It shattered into a million pieces. Oh my darling, it isn't your fault. It is no one's fault. We are just unlucky. I don't have the answers to why we are unlucky, but that's a fact we can't change. We could only pray for divine intervention. 

4pm. Operation theatre. 

She was made to change into a robe and strip off her undies. She felt tickled and was giggling all the way. She was still pretty clueless. I did explain to her that a monster is in her and that is the thing which is causing her immense pain. We had to take it out in order to feel better. She understood and even asked to see that monster after it was taken out. Such a brave girl! Someone please give her a trophy. The surgeons came to speak to us and told us of the option for one parent to go in with Big K to ensure that she doesn't go ballistic during GA administration. Once again, the hub knew I needed to be there and gave me the honour. I helped her tiny hand tightly as she was wheeled into the theatre. The cold white walls must have given her a different vibe. She looked all around her and suddenly realisation hit her like a sledgehammer. She whispered, "mama, I'm scared." I told her not to be. To focus on positive things, to think of the songs I sang with her. To pray and have God in her heart. But I was a wreck. I was tearing so badly, my mask was wet. Seconds later, the doctor started injecting saline. It made her uncomfortable but she did not cry. She never shed a tear. However, she exclaimed. This time I could sense her fear in her voice. She cried out to me" Mama, I'm scared, I'm scared!" I was so helpless, I could only continually scream for her to be brave. That I would be here waiting for her when she woke up. I screamed at the top of my lungs for her to pray and that God will protect her. She did no wrong. My poor child. I bawled my eyes out and the next moment, within probably 3 seconds, the aesthetician announced that Big K was asleep. That feeling of having your child hold you so tightly, shouting out in fear to the moment she fell into a deep slumber and let go of you. The feeling was indescribable and no parent should ever go through this. 

I walked out of the OT and ran into the husband's embrace. Cried buckets and I could have sworn he too, wanted to cry out loud. but he didn't. He once told me that if I'm in such a wreck and if he is also affected badly, who will hold the fort? He urged me to head home for some rest. The operation was going to take at least 2 hours and she has to spend another 2 hours in the recovery ward. Instead of heading back, I dragged him off to pray. My face bored the wretchedness that was swallowing my heart and soul. He couldn't talk me out of things and accompanied me. I bemoaned in tears and sobs, telling God the devastating news. Grief washed over me in tides but luckily masks were mandatory and that hid my woebegone expression. Following that, we went for a quick bite. I haven't eaten much. Midway, the husband announced that all should be good since there weren't any calls and it was already an hour into the operation. You see, we were told that should her ovary be damaged and that they had to cut it off, they would call us. This was something which caused me to plummet into the depths of despair. I tried to stifle my sobs as my husband tried to console me. 

730pm. The call came. 

Big K was out in the recovery ward and both her ovaries are intact and the prognosis based on the doctor's observations (they found hair --YES HAIR! FREAKISH and calcifications which might develop into TEETH if it carried on developing) and experience, it was indeed a mature dermoid cyst hence it is likely to be benign. Ohhh thank God! Someone up there was watching over her! The tumour was expanding in her ovary hence the left ovary could not be seen. Also, the doctor later revealed that her ovary was actually twisted 360 degrees but because it still looked pink and healthy, they were able to salvage it. Early detection helped. So please do not dismiss your child's pleas when they are in pain. Such a thing is so random. It isn't hereditary or genetic. The harrowing few hours of nervous anticipation that amalgamated with ominous fear finally vapourised! We zipped back to the hospital and called out to Big K. She struggled to keep her eyes open and managed a weak grin when she saw me. Guffaws of joy and relief choked in my throat. That night, she slept. She woke up midway wanting to pee. She underestimated her threshold and insisted on going down the bed and walk to the toilet. Bad move. She bravely walked to the toilet but on the way back, the pain surged through her. But being the warrior that she is, She lumbered back to her bed. Every step was excruciating and it pained me so much. I wanted so badly to carry her 23kg frame back to the bed, but I could not as I would cause her more pain. She could only depend on herself. She made it, but following that, she developed a phobia and refused to get off bed. It was so arduous to even pee on the bed pan. The whole process took possibly 20minutes as she was in immense pain. Think Cesarean if you have ever gone through it. Imagine taking out a 10cm tumour from a petite child. Proportionately, 10cm is HUGE. 

The black stuff was the tumour. It was as big as the bladder from the scans. 

The entire episode was like a whirlwind. Between diagnosis to surgery, it was only 2 days. Less than 48 hours. Ripples of disbelief still linger in my heart. We waited for almost a week before the histology was out. The immensity of the pressure was lifted with the assurance of the doctor to us that it was non-cancerous. It is such a dirty word, I can't even say it. Upon hearing that, all the muscles in my body eased momentarily. While we have successfully hopped over one hurdle, the journey ahead is still uncertain. Big K has to be checked periodically for at least the next few years. We have to continually pray for a non-recurrence. 

Thank you all for your support, prayers, love and encouragement in one way or another. We are deeply appreciative. A time-bomb is still in us. For now, gratitude triumphed over insomnia. We can only take one day at a time. Hope is what keeps us going.