Monday, 20 May 2013

The Toilet in Conversation

I remember trying to learn English words by listening to my aunt who spoke English to my grandfather. There was one instance we were comfortbaly seated in the TV room which was air-conditioned. Then the conversation started about how schoolchildren asked their teacher's permission to go to toilet.

Internet pic

There was "Teacher, please may I go out?" and "Teacher, please can I go to the toilet?" However, the conversation took a twist when either urinating and "berak" was specified. So the question became "Teacher, please can I go out to urinate?" and "Teacher, please can I go out to pass motion?" At that point, I started laughing because it didn't make sense to me, why a student needs to inform the teacher whether urine or stool was going to exit the body. I laughed so much that this memory still lingers on even today.

Today, at my PBL class, a Chinese boy from Kubang Kerian asked for permission to go to toilet. It made me smile and I let him go to ease himself. I told the class that they don't have to ask for permission to leave class to go to toilet because they are now adults (aged 19-20).

Back in our class discussion, another student asked me, "When is old, old?" I responded with "Depends where you are. If you are in Australia, old is 70+ as that's when they retire from work. If in Malaysia, old was 55 because that was when people retired from work but now the retirement age is 60. So I guess 60 is regarded as old in Malaysia today." I then talked about labels such as warga emas or warga tua.

Today at PBL, we discussed about acromegaly due to a functional pituitary tumour in a 50-year old Malay man but the picture given for discussion was a Caucasian male. The skin colour was a giveaway. The hands and facies are tell-tale signs. I asked the students to place their hands on the chest crossed and see if they can cover their entire chest with just 2 hands as in the picture. So there alone they can see what acromegaly can do to body parts. Otherwise acromegaly is just a word with no meaning and students easily forget and confused acromegaly with Cushing's. The professional exam is either acromegaly or Cushing's.

A smart question was put to the floor: What hormones are secreted by pituitary tumour? Since the student was facing me, I answered.

Another student asked about polydipsia. He said he keeps drinking water by the bottle. I said to the class, a benchmark would be to check stool consistency (should be soft or spongy and not be stiff like tahi kambing). Of course they all laughed but that was a lesson learnt. I reminded them that in hot weather, they must take enough fluids and not regret 3 years on when they graduate only to have failing kidneys.

There was one question about numbness of digits and limbs. One Indian student asked how was it possible to even get numbness. I explained if they wore tight sandals (like I did) then they would suffer from numbness. The same if they had POP cast on the leg or hand, after the cast is removed, there is often numbness of that particular limb. I also mentioned to them that long ago mothers wore tight corsets and also get numbness of the lower abdomen - I mentioned zaman Saloma, and they all laughed.