Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Twins Blog - Apr. 26, 2011 - "Welcome Home, Aidan"

On April 25 (Easter Monday), the hospital notified us that we may bring Aidan home on hospital leave. That is, we need to bring him back the next morning so the doctors can examine him when they do their rounds. He's not officially discharged, but it was better than nothing.
At around 4:30pm, Aidan finally came home. After 143 days in the hospital, he finally felt the warmth of family.
We brought him back to the NICU this morning, but it's likely he'll be officially discharged later today.

(Aidan on the left, Ethan on the right)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

10 situations that are only possible in TVB dramas

1. The Elevator Baby Delivery
Pregnant woman plus elevator equals elevator failure and emergency delivery.
Reality: See here for details. This one deserves it's own little piece.

2. The Ankle Sprain
A female character suffers an ankle sprain while chasing/running in the street. It's not just a minor sprain too. It's a major sprain where the person requires assistance just to stand.
Reality: It's impossible for someone with any motor-skill coordination to suffer a major sprain just from running on smooth pavement. You might trip and scrape yourself, but never to the point where it's difficult to stand.

3. The Rubber Burn
Cars always slam the brakes and burn rubber when they stop. I'm not even referring to chase scenes. I'm just talking about regular pedestrians driving casually.
Reality: It's as if the effects guy gets paid a commission every time he uses that screeching sound bite.

4. The Homemade Takeout
If the breakfast scene is at home, the characters always have homemade congee, fried noodles and fried dough for breakfast.
Reality: I can understand homemade congee and maybe fried noodles. But there's absolutely no way that people fry their own dough at home for breakfast. It's just too much effort and not practical.

5. The Concussion-caused Amnesia
Every concussion injury leads to retrograde amnesia (ie, loss of memories formed before the injury).
Reality: Concussions are fairly common. If all concussions lead to amnesia, a lot of professional sports athletes would be wandering the streets wondering who they were. Besides, even if the concussion lead to amnesia, it's more likely to be that of anterograde amnesia (ie, inability to create and save new memories).

6. The Imaginary Restaurant
Characters always meet at a particularly weird non-existing type of restaurant. The entire restaurant consists of small square tables that can only accommodate a party of 2. The lighting is usually dim. Upon sitting down, a waiter (usually dressed very formally) approaches and asks the person what they would like to have. If the fictional restaurant is meant to be a "cafe", the waiter would specifically ask what they would like to drink. The answer is usually coffee. If the fictional restaurant is actually meant to be a restaurant, the main character wouldn't even look at the menu. They'll always have the "set lunch".
Reality: The type of restaurant described simply doesn't exist. There's no other way to put it. There's no restaurant that primarily serves beverages in the format described. And there's no restaurant where there's only 1 set lunch. There has to be at least a choice of appetizer, main course, and drink.

7. The Scenery Shift
In a conversation between two characters (usually romantically involved), one of them might say something like "We need to talk" or "I have something I'd like to say to you". The content of what needs to be said is usually dramatic enough to warrant a change in scenery. Suddenly, the scene shifts to another location which might be miles away.
Reality: Either they teleported there to continue their conversation or they commuted there in awkward silence.

8. The Broken Glass Cut
An item shatters (usually glass). The first person to go ahead and pick up the pieces always gets cut. Always. Seriously. Always.
Reality: In my experience of cleaning shattered messes, it's pretty difficult to cut yourself unless you purposely take a sharp piece and squeeze into it like an idiot.

9. The Imaginary Hospital
Medical surgeries take place in a hospital that can't be found in the real world. If a character requires surgery, the character's family/friends wait directly outside the operating room. There's always a couple of benches but the hallway is always empty except for the family/friends. The door to the OR always has this box with the words "Operation Room" on it and it's always lit from the inside with a fluorescent tube. The light switches off to signal the end of the surgery, the family/friends stand up and the surgeon comes out accompanied by one or two nurses to discuss the outcome of the surgery.
Reality: This type of hospital doesn't exist. Every hospital hallway is always crowded with people and staff. I've never seen that "Operation Room" light indicator in any hospital I've been to. And surgeons never immediately address family/friends right after the surgery.

10. The Incompetent Car
Cars routinely malfunction and break down while being driven. There's only two types of problems. One is a brake malfunction which usually leads to an accident (often crashing into a light pole or road sign). The other type of problem is when the engine sputters and white smoke emit from the hood. Oh, and every single male character is a mechanic. They always pop the hood as if they know exactly what's going on.
Reality: Cars just don't fail that easily. Every car goes through annual inspections to ensure that they are still road-worthy. The brakes are one of the main parts of the car that is heavily inspected. I'm no expert, but the "white smoke from the hood" issue appears to be the radiator overheating. The radiator is also heavily inspected and is routinely flushed. Besides, the radiator never just suddenly fails. There's a temperature gauge on the dashboard that warns the driver of any problems ahead of time. (In fact, I knew someone who drove around a 10-year-old car for months with a leaky radiator. Every hour or so, he would need to refill the radiator with tap water. That car's engine never failed.)

11. The Unfocused Accident
Characters have dramatic things happening in their lives and often, the show producers would like to illustrate that a character is mentally preoccupied with something. Perhaps the character is deciding how to reject a marriage proposal from a millionaire or if she should arrest her fiancĂ©e who is a crime boss. The only effective way to show a character is unfocused is to have her handle a knife and food. She would stare straight ahead while chopping carrots or peeling an apple. She will inevitably cut herself with the knife. This is the only way the audience would know that she is unfocused.
Reality: This is just like #8. You really have to be an idiot to cut yourself with a knife. This just doesn't happen to adults.

Pregnancy and the Elevator in the world of TVB dramas

A common criticism of TVB dramas is that they're basically all the same. They follow a predictable plot. They're full of cliche lines. And they're all played by young aspiring (ie, bad) actors/actresses.

Most importantly, they don't portray the real world and there's no better example of this than the dynamics between the elevator and the pregnant woman.

In the TVB drama world every time a pregnant woman steps into an elevator, the following is true 100% of the time:

1. Shortly after the elevator doors close, the elevator fails due to some technical glitch or power outage.
The probability of getting stuck in an elevator is once in a lifetime for a person using elevators on a daily basis. In other words, this just doesn't happen as often as depicted.

2. The pregnant woman suddenly cringes in pain, her water breaks, and goes into emergency labor where the baby has to be delivered right away.
Labor typically lasts several hours, sometimes days. But on TV, the water breaks and the woman sits down in a pile of sweat in about 5 seconds. This is then followed by 15 seconds of panic to hype up the drama. Then 10 seconds of pep talk. About 30 seconds later, the woman is ready to start pushing.
By the way, the woman is usually in her late 3rd trimester of her pregnancy when she enters the elevator. But this doesn't really matter. She could very well have just conceived the night before and all of this would still happen.

3. A protagonist assists with the delivery of the baby.
The protagonist is never a doctor. Yet, he/she seems to know exactly what to do. He/she just puts his hand between the woman's legs, implores her to push, and then catches the baby as it comes out. Labor is that easy, eh? Makes you wonder why we even need doctors and medical equipment?

4. The baby and mother always turn out alright despite the unsanitary conditions and the inexperience of the protagonist.
Nobody's hands are washed/sanitized. The elevator floor is dirty. There's no clean water supply. Yet, there's no risk of infection. If a woman really experiences such an emergency labor, I'm willing to bet that there's at least some sort of complication with the baby and/or mother. Yet, this is just never the case.

5. Only after the delivery of the baby can the lift doors be possibly opened.
This is like a rule chiseled in stone. Never will you see firefighters pry open the doors during the delivery of the baby. It could be the most epic grueling labor in the history of mankind lasting several hours (breaking rule #2). But by the time the doors are opened, the baby is already neatly wrapped in a mysterious towel of unknown origin. Where did the towel come from? How was the umbilical cord cut? What about the placenta?

6. The father is never in the elevator.
The father character is never the main protagonist. So if he's in the elevator, our protagonist doesn't get enough screen time.

7. The dramatic event sparks a relationship between the protagonist and the romantic interest.
The elevator doors open. The baby and mother leave with the paramedics. The protagonist and the romantic interest character looks and nods at each other. Somehow the experience changes them and they have a new found respect for one another.

Any more that I missed?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Twins Blog - Apr. 10, 2011 - "Cake"

Today is day 128 in the NICU for Aidan. There's still no end in sight but it does feel like we're at least heading in the right direction. Aidan is still on nasal cannula but the settings are minimal (ie, 0.5 liters per minute flow at only 21% O2 concentration). Apnea episodes still come and go but they're happening much less frequently and he recovers much more rapidly with fewer assistance.

Ethan recently went for his 2nd immunization shot. The doctor warned us that from his experience, babies tend to cry really loud because this shot hurts more, compared to the previous one. Ethan cried for about 45 seconds for the 1st shot. This time, he wailed for just about 15 seconds. It was cake.

A couple of recent shots. (We like dressing them this way; long sleeve inside with short sleeve outside.)

Ethan - Morning nap