Corrinne's Musings - A singer-songwriter's life.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I write songs, I sing them... I play the piano and a little bit of the guitar.. I've released 5 albums of music, I love the scent of freshly fallen rain and the scent of lavender on bedsheets. I would drink tea all day long if the caffeine didn't keep me up at night. I hate driving in L.A traffic. I would love to one day catch the squirrel that steals the plums from my tree and make him a pet. I don't watch TV anymore. My 3 year old daughter is more entertaining than any TV show could ever be :)

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Someone To Watch Over Me

How amazing it is that each of us has a guardian angel
to watch over every moment of our lives.

I felt truly grateful to have my guardian angel
there with me in those hours in the hospital...I could imagine him sitting there by my bedside,keeping me company with his comforting tales of challenges met and overcome, reminding me of the prayers that friends had said for me.

He has never left my side and I know that as long as I am here,
he never will.

I read something the other day about guardian angels
that I was particularly moved by.

"My life his purpose.
My soul his care."

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Angels in Disguise

Thank God for friends and for family.

Mummy cooked a lot of fish soup "Must eat...good for healing"
for me to eat and Papa went out of his way to make sure he gave me a car lift to whereever I had to be.

Friends Steph and Yen came by to visit and brought essence of chicken.

NUS friends offered to come by with roti prata and tea.

Grandma called and said :"How are you? I'm cancelling Mahjong to come and visit my Choo-Choo."

Friends emailed and smsed to ask how I was doing.

Kavin has been cooking all these wonderful dishes...

What a wonderful blessing it is to have the care of friends and loved ones.
If I've never said so before, I'll say it now :
Thank you for being a part of my life.
Thank you for loving me.

Like A Snail

I was incredulous at how tired I felt in those few days
following the Catheter Ablation. I had all these grand
plans to meet friends for lunch, to go over to Vivienne's
house to play with her kid, Rowan.... all these plans went
down the toilet when I came to the realisation that
I needed to rest because I just didn't have the energy
to do all that I wanted to do.

It felt really strange to slow things down. I'm used
to walking fast. I pride myself on getting from point
A to point B in super speed.

("I'm gonna be a")

So walking slow and taking my time to go up a flight
of stairs was bizarre.

But it made me feel more empathy towards those for
whom literally taking it slow is not a temporary measure,
but a necessity. I think I'm beginning to see the plight of the handicapped
and the elderly with a little more clarity.

I started to notice how overhead bridges were great
for the young and spritely, but I noticed how the elderly were having
a hard time just taking those steps up the long flight of stairs, just to
cross the road outside of an MRT subway station.

I started to notice how fast traffic light signals changed.
I'd never even paid attention to those countdown numbers before,
those numbers that signal how much time you have left to cross the road.

I started to notice how fast people walked. Everyone
seemed to be rushing somewhere, someplace, out and into subways,
along corridors.

How strange it is to feel like a snail.
How strange, and yet how wonderful to feel the freedom,
of being out of time's grip...
of taking slow...deep breaths...of watching the colour of the day
swirl around...hearing the buzz of people slowly fade to a hum...


Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Heart Story - (Part 2) Undergoing A Catheter Ablation


Wednesday, the 28th of February 2007.

The Catheter Ablation was scheduled for 4.30 p.m
and the nurse had told me not to eat or drink anything from 10.30
in the morning. No lunch, no water, nada.

With that in mind, I had a good breakfast in the morning with my parents at the hawker centre. Char siew Wanton Mee and a cup of tea.
and just before the clock hit 10.30 a.m, I sneaked in a big cup of Milo
and a couple of biscuits. It would be tough to go by without any
food for the rest of the day, but the nurse did give me permission to suck on my lozenges for a cough that I'd been nursing, and that gave me some comfort and some much needed sugar.

I was admitted to the hospital at 1.30 p.m in the afternoon and
had to take a urine and blood test before heading to my ward.
The urine test was simple enough. The blood test though, was something I dreaded.
Needles are better used for sewing and making clothes.

The technician was about to draw blood from my left arm, but I told
her I was left-handed and thankfully, she drew the blood from my right arm.

Then it was off to the ward.

I was given a bed next to the window, and even though there wasn't much of a view (it overlooked the next door building), I was thankful to have a little bit of the outdoors to look at.

I was also thankful that Kavin and my father were able to be there with me. They were a great source of support and comfort.

It was a simple room with white walls, a framed picture on the wall,
a red pleather easy chair and a couple of drawers by the bed. The number 5919 was displayed in bold blue on the wall above my bed, with my name "Foo May Ying Corrinne" in Courier Bold displayed right under it and 'Nil by Mouth' scribbled below my name. A CPR board doubled up as my bed headboard. I threw open the curtains to get in as much light into the room as possible and joked with my father that perhaps he might want to buy 4D with the number tagged above my bed.

My roommate was about to be discharged from the hospital. She looked to be about 70 years old and she was from Surabaya, Indonesia. Speaking in halting Mandarin, she told me I should have her bed when she was discharged because "it's closer to the cupboards". I smiled and told her thank you very much, but I really do prefer having the window. She seemed like a sweet lady and her sons soon came by to help take her home.

I was given a blue hospital gown to change into. It was made from a nice thick canvas-like material and it had an open back, where four ribbons could be tied. After changing into it, I kept holding on to the back open seams with my hands, trying to safeguard my fast-disappearing modesty.

the latest fashion trend - blue hospital gowns

A bunch of nurses dropped by my bed soon after to say hello.
"We're the nurses from the afternoon shift and we're just coming
around to say hi to the patients." How sweet. Just a simple
gesture, but it made me feel much more comfortable in that
hospital room.

Another nurse came by to tag me. A little strip of plastic-coated
paper circling my left wrist, carrying my name, my age, my date
of admission, my case number, and a little barcode. The last time I had a tag like that on me was probably 34 years ago when I was just born.
Minus the high-tech bar-code, of course.

Nurse Jeanette came by around 3 p.m.
She had an aluminium container in her hands and she gently shooed
Papa and Kavin out of the room as she drew the curtains around my bed.

"Hi. I'm here to start an I.V line for you."

I have to admit I was scared. I had seen these I.V things on friends
who had been hospitalised. They looked painful. How on earth do you
stick something like that into a vein?

I told Nurse Jeanette that it was my first time in a hospital and that
I had never had an I.V before. She smiled and asked me what I did and if I was from Singapore. I told her I was Singaporean and that I am a singer-songwriter.
She in turn told me that she was from the Phillippines and that she
had been working in that hospital for about 4 months.

Something about her manner made me feel at ease.
"I'll be putting an I.V cannula on your left hand."
Left? Could she do the I.V on my right hand instead?
I need to write with my left.
"No, sorry, the instructions are to have the cannula in your left hand"
I guess, no bargaining this time around. Shucks.

She knelt by my bed as I laid back down on the bed, then she tapped around my wrist to find a vein and got ready to stick the needle in my left wrist. I couldn't watch. I turned my head away and felt the prick of the needle and then the pressure from the insertion of the plastic tubing into my vein.

It was soon done, and with minimal pain. Jeannette had taken the time to be gentle and kind and I felt extremely grateful. "Thank you, Jeannette."
It's amazing how the simplest acts of kindness mean so much when they are desperately needed.

With that out of the way, I took a closer look at the I.V tubing
in my wrist. What an amazing contraption, I thought to myself
and the erstwhile medical-student-wannabe in me showed it off
to Kavin and Papa and took a couple of pictures of it for posterity.
really not as painful as it looks.

3.30 p.m rolled along and Jeannette was soon back with two other nurses who arrived at my bedside with a stretcher that had a pole holding an I.V bag of saline.
She handed me a small plastic cup with a yellow pill in it.
"It's Valium. Take it with a little sip of water."
She looked at me in mock disapproval as I got rid of the cough lozenge that I was sucking on. "You've been eating?" She asked incredulously.
"The nurse said I could have some lozenges..." I said sheepishly.
Jeannette shook her head.

I swallowed the Valium. Hmmmmm....
I guess that is the closest I'll ever get to taking a rockstar drug.

The nurses started the I.V Saline drip on me as I took my
place on the stretcher bed. By this time, my mum had
arrived at the ward and it was a strange feeling, seeing
my family members there in the ward, watching me get wheeled down
the hospital corridors to the Cardiac Lab.

I felt strangely helpless and a tad embarrased as the nurses wheeled me past staring strangers. I probably would have walked into the Cardiac Lab myself if it wasn't the protocol to be wheeled there.

Kavin and my parents followed me down to the holding area where we waited outside the lab for a couple of minutes. It was hard for me
to see the concern on their faces. I didn't like making them
worry about me.

It was soon time to be wheeled into the cardiac lab and
Kavin and my parents took turns to kiss me on my cheek and wish
me the best. It felt good and it was very heartwarming, to feel loved.

Once in the lab, I was transfered from the stretcher to a slimmer, padded metal table. The nurses increased the flow of saline through my I.V and it was strange to feel the cold spread through my arm and my fingers started feeling oddly cold. Another nurse put some sticky electrodes on my chest and hooked me up to an E.C.G so that my heart could be monitored.
I had a oxygen meter placed on the tip of my thumb and a blood pressure cuff was placed on my right arm. I remember seeing some stars in the air at that point in time. Was it the Valium kicking in?
I was soon hooked up to some oxygen through a tube in my nose.
The oxygen had a strangely sweet smell, like disinfected roses...

An 'ablation pack' was also placed on the left side of my back behind
my heart. It was a silver coated sticky patch about the size of a
bag of coffee. I didn't know what it was for at that point in time,
but now I know (thanks to Google) that it helps direct the radio frequency energy that is used to heat up the electrode tip placed in the heart, and that in turn, is used for the ablation, or burning away, of the short circuit in the heart.

The room itself was a pleasant pale green and white and there were monitors to my right and left and some sort of x-ray machine above me.
I saw the nurses get the catheter wires ready. They were thin, only milimeters wide, blue and orange coloured wires. Fascinating...I thought to myself, those things are going into my veins and into my heart.

Dr. Teo stepped into the lab around 4 p.m and started getting ready.
Within a couple of minutes, he reappeared in green scrubs and a plastic face mask.

The nurses rubbed antiseptic on my upper right leg and my left shoulder area and pulled my hair back into a shower cap.

One of the nurses pulled out a copy of my "Safe in A Crazy World" CD.
I was very surprised. Dr. Teo smiled as he said that they were going to
play my cd in the lab while they did the procedure.

It was so strange to hear my music playing in the lab. Part of it was
comforting, part of it was amusing to me. I was flattered that one of the nurses had my cd, but at the same time, strangely embarrassed to hear my own voice singing back to me.

"Hurry up and start sedation." Dr. Teo told the nurse.

(playing in the background) "I feel like a little girl, trying to conquer the whole wide world...everybody wants a piece of me...and I just don't know where to turn..."

Next thing I knew, I felt some pain in my leg as they either
injected me with the local anaesthetic or inserted the catheter into my vein.
I didn't know which...but I believe that the sedation kicked in soon after, because I don't remember much of what came after that point in time.

It is so strange to not be able to remember.

I very much wanted to be awake for the procedure. The 'kaypoh', inquisitive part of me wanted to know what they were doing to me during the Catheter Ablation.

But because I was sedated, I don't recall how they put the catheter
in my shoulder. I don't remember how they took the wires out of me. I don't remember how they bandaged my wounds, I don't remember much about that one hour of my life that was taken to fix my heart.

The only thing I do remember is feeling the searing sensation deep in my chest from two of the eight ablation targets that were done, where Dr. Teo burnt or 'ablated' the abnormal tissue within my heart. I heard the fast beeping of the monitors and felt the fast pounding of my heart, and then heard a funny 'zzzzzzzz' sound. It sounded like a tiny drill was going off in my chest and I felt a sear-like pain as the electrode tip burnt away the errant short circuit of my heart.
Maybe it is a good thing that I don't remember the other 6 burns.

I think my heart is trying to speak an alien language here...

The next thing I knew, I was asking the nurses if the procedure was done, and as I laid back on the stretcher, I saw an x-ray image of my heart on the screen, and before long, I was outside the lab, waiting to be wheeled back into my hospital room.

I vaguely remember a nurse approaching me at that point in time
to request a signature for a CD. I remember signing "To CVL,..."
and the rest of it was foggy.

"Did I sign her CD? Did I actually manage to sign my name? Who
did I sign it to?" I asked Kavin an hour later when I was back in my

"Yes, you did sign it to CV Labs, the nurse's name was Audrey
and you signed : 'Thank you for taking care me.' You forgot to add the
'of'" but you managed to squiggle a signature.

Note to Self : Never ever sign a legal document under heavy sedation.

Once back in the room, Kavin helped to feed me my dinner. I was
starved by that point in time and the simple hospital food dinner tasted SO GOOD.

Dr. Teo came by a little later to check on me and to let us know that
the procedure was a success. Thank God.

After dinner, my parents and Kavin took their leave. I was tired and
very sleepy. I managed to sleep only a couple of hours though before
being awoken by the nurse at 10.30 p.m "I have to take your blood pressure" she said...

It was hard to fall asleep the rest of the night.
My new roommate, a young woman from Indonesia was coughing
through most of the night. The poor thing had a lung condition.

And the nurse came by again at 4 a.m in the morning to take my blood pressure, pulse and temperature.

Moreover, I was supposed to keep my leg still for the next 12 hours.
The punctures in my veins needed time to heal and keeping still would facilitate the healing process.

No easy feat trying to keep as still as possible for 12 hours...

I was so relieved when a nurse came by at 7.20 in the morning to change my dressing.

I knew it was her job to take care of patients, but I wanted to hug her for being gentle with my bandages and wounds.
I felt so helpless just lying there on the bed and letting her change my dressings. I wanted to do it myself if only I could move. The smallest gesture of kindness goes a long way. I made a mental note then and there that I wanted to remember to be kind to those who are helpless and can't help themselves.

It was such a joy after that to be able to move and to get out of my bed and walk with tentative steps around the room.
... the little pleasures in life like being able to walk around freely...the little things previously taken for granted.

So I have no memory of one hour of my life, but I learnt a lot in my one day's stay in hospital.

Thank God for the little things in life.
Thank God for the gift of life.
Thank you God for fixing my heart.

So, I'm going to be taking it easy this next month. I've got three little puncture points on my right upper leg that remind me of those 3 little stars in the middle of the Orion constellation, and I've got one tiny puncture point under my left collarbone and with every passing day, the wounds get a little smaller and are now starting to fade away.
Thankfully too, the chest discomfort and skipped heartbeats are normal and should resolve as my heart heals, and I shall keep in mind Dr. Teo's assurance of "Don't worry. Give it a month to settle down."
Time takes care of a lot of things, as it will this.

Dr. Teo and I - post ablation

(Cue Celine Dion perched on the Titanic singing :"..and my heart will go on and on....")
O.k... that was super cheesy. Sorry. It was Kavin's idea.

So it will be a while before I hit the gym, but as my good friend Pam quipped, "Since when do you exercise anyway?"

I thought I'd end off by sharing a little something I wrote at the end of
December 2006 about the time after my last episode of palpitations.
It'll be like my little tribute, to the short circuit heart
that once was, and that hopefully, will never come back to bug me ever again.


Phantom Heart…running away…
dancing away in my chest like a machine gun
this pounding…shaking me….
this phantom heart….
every once in a while,
something takes it in its hands,
shakes it like a ragdoll
leaving me tired…

why not just rip it right out of me..
hollow out this tree
castanet of flesh and blood
why beat to your own time
slow down slow down.
I can only go one step at a time
my mind races ahead of me.
my heart tries to surge to that finish
line, pounds its share of
beats to make up for those that
I haven’t lived through

my body likes jumping ahead
in time
perhaps my heart is just
trying to play catch-up
with my imagination
with my mind
with my goals that keep
shifting further and further
into some miraged future.

Mary stopped it right in its tracks
the other day as I leaned over
and prayed.
she slowed me down
slowed my racing
phantom heart
I don’t know what that means
perhaps she holds the keys
since she has my consecration
I suppose my heart is in her hands as well.
perhaps she took the quivering into her hands
and by some grace
by some miracle
caused it to stop
stop its crazy spurting
its crazy running around
in circles

this spurting gets me nowhere
it gets me feeling sick
it gets me starved of air
my muscles, fatigued from this
this vain exertion
achieving nothing in the end

perhaps that is what my heart is trying to tell me
trying to shake me out of my indecision
trying to shake me out of my complacence.
reminding me of my mortality
reminding me of my place in the mud
like an earthworm, laid bare in the scorching sun

with steady steps will I approach
my path
with steady steps,
not running ahead of myself
like a giddy teenager
nor holding back my steps
like a scared puppy..
I will, with every beat of my heart
proceed along this path

strewn with weeds
abundant with prickly thorns
this jungle-undergrowth
threatening to stop my feet in its tracks
to sprain my ankles
to bring me down
but I shall machete this mess

my heart belongs to Him

Maker of my heart
if you but transplant it to thine own.
does it mean that your thorns
your scars will be mine?
will I bear the pain
the scars
the loneliness
the fear
the pain that tore through yours.

I fear I do not have the strength to withstand it
to stumble through
to fight my way
to the end

I shall look towards your light
until I reach that day
where I can collapse
in your arms
and feel you holding on to me
for in my dying breath and in my frailty
you are my strength


A Heart Story - (Part 1) Delving beneath the surface

As a singer-songwriter, I'm used to writing from my heart.
Digging deep, going through my daily experiences, reflecting on the various things that life throws at me.
I live for those moments when inspiration strikes.

I like delving beneath the surface of what I see and what I experience,
to find the meaning behind the places I visit, the faces I see,
the conversations I have with people.

I cherish the emotions and stories that friends, family and strangers share with me, little vignettes of life...stories about relationships, both broken and newly formed.

I savour the moments between people when boundaries shatter and floodgates release long-stagnant tears or ripples of laughter that shake guts with belly-aching laughter.

I guess in the midst of paying all that attention to my emotional heart,
I forgot to listen to my own, physical heart.

A song from popular pop group Roxette from the 90's goes
"Listen to your heart, when it's calling for you..."
Well, I forgot to listen to what my heart was telling me.
In fact, I kept ignoring what it was trying to tell me.

About seven years ago, I was standing in line at the supermarket
check-out line, when I started feeling a little queasy and light-headed.
Then I noticed a funny pounding in my chest. Being a musician, I couldn't help but count along to the wierd rhythm; the syncopated, almost jazzy thump-a-thumps.

What a funny rhythm, I thought to myself, and stood there, stunned,
not sure what I was supposed to make out of it. The little dance lasted 30 minutes and even though it felt a little scary, I attributed it to stress.

Still, I went to see the neighbourhood doctor, got a blood test, and he
said that I needed to bring my iron levels up, and so I started
taking a multi-vitamin supplement. The hiccups, the little chokes, flutters and sprints my heart would cook up continued over the next few years, but they never stayed for long and they came by infrequently enough that I would notice them, then ignore them, attributing them to stress, a lack of sleep or perhaps a lack of iron in my diet.

But as it often is the case, the things that you ignore, come back to haunt you.

In July 2006, I was in Chicago to perform for the Chinatown Summer festival.
The performance went well and I enjoyed my time there, the organisers have always been wonderful and warm hosts and there is a vibrancy in Chicago's Chinatown that makes the city-girl in me feel at home.

The next day, I decided to go for a mid-day mass at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral to check out the architecture of the place and also to spend some time with God. While getting up from the pew to receive communion, my heart suddenly started pounding away and something felt a little different this time around. It felt like someone was knocking on my chest from the inside, frantically trying to get out. It was 12.25 p.m.
I went to the restroom, tried to splash some water on my face, I tried holding my breath, I tried walking around, I tried kneeling, I tried praying...and nothing worked. My heart continued to race faster and I started panicking.
I took my pulse...200 beats per minute.
It was faster than anything I had ever felt before.

Maybe I need some food, I thought to myself, and so, though I was getting tired and light-headed, I dragged my suitcase and myself down a couple of blocks to Gino's East Pizza. I only managed to get in one or two bites.
By this time, it was 2.15 p.m And still my heart continued to race.

I was at my wit's end, and I knew that the time was fast approaching for me to catch my plane back to Los Angeles, so, packing up my lunch, somewhat in a daze, I started heading out to the street, to get to the subway so that I could get to Chicago's O'Hare airport. Looking back, I should have asked someone for help, but I felt embarrassed about telling a total stranger about a medical problem, and at that moment I could not think straight-
I was just going on 'automatic pilot'. I was alone, I had no clue where the nearest hospital was, and the thought ran through my mind that if I collapsed right there and then, nobody would have a clue as to what had happened.

I managed to stumble along the street down two blocks, when my heart finally stopped it's frantic sprinting. I was exhausted. It felt as if I had been running a marathon for the past 3 hours. 200 beats per minute for three hours. Something was not right.
And yet, I banished it to the back of mind and didn't mention it to anyone.
I don't know why.

Perhaps I was afraid to expose my frailty, perhaps I wasn't sure what to say...perhaps I was too embarassed...perhaps I thought it was just a one-time occurence that would not happen again.

But it did happen again, and this time, I was in Singapore for a Christmas Concert.
It was December 2006. We had a band rehearsal at the Esplanade Recital Studio for our Christmas Concert and I was looking forward to seeing all the band members again.

After exchanging warm hellos and smiles with my bandmembers, Joshua, Wen, Reggie and Ken, I sat down at the piano and was starting to play a few notes when I started feeling light-headed and felt a strangely familiar, pounding in my chest. "Please...not now...", I thought to myself.
I quickly excused myself and headed to the dressing room.
I took my pulse. 180 beats per minute. I held my breath, I sat down, I tried coughing, and nothing worked.
My heart continued its frantic pace and 20 minutes went by.
Finally, I said a prayer. "Please, please help me slow this crazy heart down. I need to do this rehearsal."
Amazingly, my heart immediately slowed. I went back out to the band rehearsal and continued as if nothing had happened.

Thankfully, the concert itself went well without incident and I headed
back to Los Angeles after the Christmas concert.

It was only in February 2007 when I headed back to Singapore again
to celebrate Chinese New Year with my family that I decided to see a cardiologist that specialised in cardiac arrhythmias, ie. a doctor specialising in heart rhythm disorders. I suspected that something was not quite right, and I knew I needed to seek professional help.

I had a consultation with Dr. Teo Wee Siong at The Heart Specialist Clinic in Mt. Elizabeth Hospital. He is a senior consultant and the director of electrophysiology, ie. the study of the heart's electrical system at the National Heart Centre in Singapore,and I knew that if anybody could figure out what was wrong with me, it would be him.

I described my symptoms to him, told him about my 3 hour episode in Chicago and told him how it seemed that these events would seem to come out of nowhere. I had no way of foreseeing when,how or why.
It was as if I had a phantom heart and I had lost control of it.
I told him about the bouts of chest discomfort and the bouts of breathlessness that seemed to strike me at random.
I had never mentioned any of it to anyone before, and it felt so good to, excuse the pun, get it off my chest.

"Your symptoms sound like a classic case of Supraventricular Tachycardia, most probably due to AV nodal re-entrant tachycardia." he said. What?
"You have a short circuit in your heart's electrical system that's causing your irregular heartbeats." He said simply as he took out his pen and began drawing blue circles around the AV node of the heart cartoon printed on his notepad.

Then he proceeded to explain how some people are born with an extra electrical pathway in their hearts. Our heartbeats are triggered by electrical impulses from our natural pacemakers, a node within the heart muscle that sends out signals to the heart to start beating.

In my case, he suspected that I had an extra electrical pathway which caused a 'short circuit' in my heart, thus causing multiple heartbeat impulses to go round and round, in a circle, resulting in sudden episodes of rapid heartrate that if left unchecked, might lead to problems, like a higher risk of heart failure or the likelihood of having to visit the emergency room to get medication or an electric shock to stop a runaway heart.

Great...I thought to myself. I have an errant merry-go-round in my chest because my traffic signals got crossed.

[Cue Joni Mitchell singing : "And the seasons they go round and round and the painted ponies go up and down. We're captive on the Carousel of time. We can't go back, we can only look, behind from where we came...and go round and round and round in the Circle Game."]

However, I felt an instant sense of relief. Finally, here was an answer to this phantom medical problem. It was real, it had a name and I wasn't just imagining it.
It wasn't as I had thought, been caused by stress, or anything in my diet.
I had been born with it and it just chose to rear it's head at this point in my life. Did it have a solution?

He suggested that I undergo a Catheter Ablation to correct my heart's rhythm disorder. I was a little shell-shocked. I thought he'd just give me some medicine and send me off on my way and instead, he had suggested a 'Catheter Ablation'- an invasive medical procedure to effectively destroy the source of the heart's 'short circuit'.

Dr. Teo told me to think about it and gave me some literature to read regarding this medical procedure. It was the only cure to my condition. True. I could take medicine, but it would not cure my problem. It would just help to ease the symptoms. He gave me some Isoptin pills, to take in case I had another episode.
"It will help to slow your heartrate if you have another attack."

And so think about it I did. I was nervous, I was confused.
I could not stop thinking about what the procedure entailed.
For a whole week, I googled, I researched and I talked it through with my family and my husband who were shocked that I had never mentioned anything to them about my condition before.

"Why didn't you tell us you had this problem?"
I guess I didn't say anything because I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to cause them unnecessary worry. How do you describe something that doesn't leave any evidence that it was ever there? How do you prove the proverbial 'Snuffle-laugh-phogus' that Big Bird from Sesame Street was always trying to prove existed?

Getting a diagnosis from a doctor gave me the freedom to speak up about something that I had only previously confided to my journal. I felt as if a burden had been lifted off me. It was good to finally share my little secret.

I found out that undergoing a Catheter Ablation would mean that I had to stay in the hospital for a day. I had never stayed in a hospital before and the thought of having to do so scared me.

I would not have to be under general anaesthetic, but I would be under heavy sedation. The operation would be done in the cardiovascular lab, where I would have thin wires threaded through a vein under my collarbone, and 3 more wires threaded through the vein in my leg and all these wires would, with the help of x-ray guidance, be threaded all the way into my heart.

Once in the heart, some of these wires would help to diagnose and confirm the type of heart rhythm disorder, and to help the doctor map out a picture of how my heart's electrical impulses worked. He could then find the exact spot in my heart where the circuit needed repair. Then one of the wires that had an electrode tip would be heated via radio frequency waves (yup, the same ones on the 500hz AM dial. I'm my own self-contained radio. kidding.) to a high enough temperature that it would 'burn' away the abnormal tissue it came into contact with. It would destroy the cells and the abnormal tissue, creating a scar in my heart that would prevent further signals being conducted through the errant pathway.

This scar would in essence, put a stop to my heartbeat irregularities.

As with any medical procedure, there were risks involved, such as the possibility of injury to the blood vessels or a blood clot causing a stroke or a heart attack, or one of the wires could puncture my heart, or if the 'burn' to the heart ended up accidentally modifying too much of my AV node, I might need a permanent pacemaker to control my heartbeat, but the literature I read indicated that the risks of any of these happening was extremely rare. Besides, Dr. Teo was an expert in the field and I knew that he had had much success with Catheter Ablation, having been one of the pioneers of the treatment in Singapore, and he had done over 2000 of the procedures in the course of his career. The procedure had a 95% chance of successfully curing me of my heart ailment.

Still, I was leaning towards not undergoing the procedure.
Taking life-long medication still seemed to be the less scary of the two options I had.

However, as luck would have it, I happened to mention my situation to my friend Vivienne over lunch and she said that it sounded like something that her mom had gone through a couple of years ago. I was so relieved to know that there was someone else I knew who had gone through the same experience. I spoke with Vivienne's mum and she reassured me that the procedure was relatively painless and that once she had done it, she had been cured of her condition.

I was also incredibly blessed to have recently gotten back in touch with a friend, Jack , a schoolmate from Raffles Junior College who was presently a cardiologist himself. I called him and we spoke about the procedure, the risks, the benefits, and he told me that as a friend, he would recommend that I go ahead with the procedure. It had a high success rate in curing my condition and the risks were low. "Think about it like having Lasik", he quipped. I personally am scared of having Lasik to correct my short-sightedness. Something about getting my eye cut by a laser did not particularly appeal to me.

However, I knew that I didn't want to go through life wondering when I would have another attack like the one I had in Chicago. I knew that my symptoms had gotten worse over the years and in all likelihood would continue to get worse.

I knew that I could not afford to have them while I was in the midst of performing on stage. I had already experienced a couple of short episodes while performing in Los Angeles and they were not pleasant. I knew that I didn't want to have to risk visiting the ER repeatedly over the course of my life.

With that in mind, I decided to go ahead with a Catheter Ablation.
it was a scary decision for me, and in the course of the next few days,
I sent out sms-es and emails to some of my friends in Singapore and in Los Angeles, asking them to pray for me.