Hello Brother, You Got Insurance?


(The reality of things even in Malaysia – my Dad was uninsured for a large part of his life and he remains uninsured till now as it is very unlikely that he will get any policy now considering his age and the number of times he had been admitted to the hospital. Image source : http://www.political-humor.org)

Start talking about insurance and most people will feel very uneasy especially when they are talking to an insurance agent.

When my son was born, one of the first thing that we decided to do, other than to get diapers & baby milk powder, was to get insurance policy for him. It started with the obvious medical card scheme and we expanded on to education policy a couple months later. We then kind of have forgotten about it until now when we need a similar policy for the new Boss. I called up a few people and tossed around with a few proposals from a few insurance companies, balancing the various options and deciding the best for our child. And in the process, I realized that all of our existing insurance policies have been outdated and is in need of a serious review (and a policy upgrade).

We recognize that as cost of living & medical fees keep rising on yearly basis, so what ever preparation that we do today may not be enough for tomorrow – such preparations needs constant review and updates (same goes for prepping). And we were kind of lucky to get ourselves medical cards when we had the chance, when the premium was still low and at the right time too – medical cost is on the rise and it is being more crucial to keep ourselves healthy. We all had used the medical card at one point of time in the last few years with my son being the first to use it when he was down with a fever & ear infection and was admitted to the hospital and me a couple months of ago when I was admitted for food poisoning. My mom probably was the luckiest of all when she was admitted to the hospital a few years on suspect of dengue and later had to undergo a minor surgery (when the doctors found other serious complications during their check-ups). The bill came up to almost RM12,000 and we were quite relieved when a bulk of it was fully covered by the insurance company.

My first encounter with any form of insurance was when I was still young and my father’s relative who worked in MCIS talked my dad into buying an insurance policy. Back then we did not have any ATM machines or any Internet Banking and the relative rarely visit us to collect premium so paying of the premium had to be done the ‘long way” by taking the mini-bus to PJ and to MCIS office and wait in line to pay. My mom not wanting to leave us alone in the house, will bring all of us along for this. My dad was the sole breadwinner in the family so when he fell sick one day and could not afford to pay the premium, no one bothered to advise us on the insurance that my Dad had taken (we were a bit lost on the detailed workings of an insurance policy) and in time, the policy simply lapsed. Years later when we were “tidying up” the insurance documentation and we had to visit the MCIS for one last time, we sat down with their customer service and realized that if we had returned the policy in time, we would have received back some of the premium paid.

My next “encounter” with insurance was when I started to work after my college days in the early 1990s. One day as I was walking out for lunch, I saw my old classmate and after a chat over lunch, catching up on good old times, I found out that he was an insurance agent. So, it was not long before I found myself being “stalked” by an insurance agent to buy a large insurance policy. And after putting off his request for an appointment to explain on the insurance policies, I had enough and decided to confront my friend and told him that since I just started to work and only had a pitiful salary, buying a big premium policy was out of the question. So, my friend kept silent for a moment and then suggested the next best thing – a policy that combines saving and personal accident coverage and the monthly premium was just enough to fit into my small budget (although RM130++ per month was big amount back then) and since it was saving type policy, it was a good proposal. Over time, I had enough cash and took another policy from him. I lost contact with my friend a couple years later and the last information that I got was that my friend was no longer in the insurance industry.

Then many years later, my cousin joined the insurance industry and soon was at home urging us to buy insurance policies to kick start his sales. It has been sometime since we toyed around the issue of insurance for the family and my cousin, bent to impress us with his insurance knowledge explained well on the various policies that fits our requirements. That was the time when we were also seriously thinking about medical card (my Dad had been admitted to the hospital on several occasions and we could see how high medical charges can be) and with my son in tow; we decided to buy medical policies plus a few more policies. With my cousin being our insurance agent, it was also easy to “customize” the policy and the premium payment and he was just a phone call away from any enquiries and customer support.

Over the years since then, I have added car insurance, house owner insurance and once in a while I would get this kind of call – “Good morning, Mr X, I am calling from Insurance Company Y and you are in our premium list (ya, right!). We are offering for a limited time only (ya, right again!) the Z policy which covers ABC”. At first I wonder how these people got my contact details and when I queried further, I get my answer – it is from my credit card company. And I quickly refuse the “offer” – simply because the details provided via the phone are a bit sketchy and there are no whatsoever documents to be reviewed before I say ok for the policy. Don’t get me wrong, I know the importance of insurance – it is a solid Plan B that never fails whilst at the same time forms some kind of savings for the policyholder but I want to ensure that whatever deal that the insurance company is throwing (especially those promotional policies) is the best deal. After all, no two policies on the same type has the same terms (check the comparison of the various medicals cards here).

Coming back to the medical card for the new Boss, we narrowed it to Great Eastern’s Smart Medic as the best among the few that we were considering. The premium is like 3 times higher than what I am paying for my son but we realize that it all depends on that the more we pay, the better & higher coverage the policy is and it is the same case here – so we have nothing to complain about. The monthly premium will come to RM150 with annual limit of RM90,000 (RM99,000 if there was no claim in 3 years range – there is a RM9,000 increase for every 3 years of no-claim). It is an investment linked policy so there was other additional coverage. So that RM150 is addition to my monthly expense list but worth the expense especially considering that the Boss will be covered from the “start”.

The next plan for the new Boss would be education or saving type policy which can be used for her future school / college fees but we are starting with the obvious one first.

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Sleepless At Home


Just a quick update for this week….

(The new Boss’ feet on a Giant’s palm – still a long way to go before we can allow the Boss to be independent and does not need us to keep a close eye all small things at night)

This blog was started long after our Big Boss was born otherwise this post below would have been a repeat. But then again, whilst the post is not a repeat but the actual experience is.

For the first few days, things was not so bad – with the new Boss in town, we had plenty of people “volunteering” to take care of the baby when it is time for sleep. But we knew that sooner or later, the tasks of taking care of the baby will fall entirely on us. And that means sleepless nights with the baby “waking up” every 3 hours for milk, change of diaper and sometimes a mere excitement. But before that, there was a need to rearrange the sleeping logistics for me, my wife, the baby and the Big Boss who in recent months have decided (without our prior approval) to sleep with us for a simple reason – it was warmer at his usual sleeping place.

At first, we decided that my son had to sleep in his usual sleeping place with the bed reserved for my wife and the baby. I decided to sleep on the floor with a thick blanket & a small mattress (which was surprisingly rather comfortable). We then thought of setting the alarm so that we will wake up on time for feeding and in between we were hoping to catch some sleep. Disruptive sleep for at least a few months was something we had long anticipated from the beginning and had mentally prepared for it. It all sounds good on paper but we soon found out that the baby had other ideas for the night. At first, the baby had been sleeping all evening long and just when we decided to go to sleep; the baby is so wide awake.

At first we thought it was the same as our son when he was an infant who often stay awake at night but keep silent and take his own time to sleep off. Our second baby was different – not only she is wide awake but also get restless once we switch off the main lights and turn on the smaller lights (it was too dark and she was not used to the sudden change of light in the room, I guess) and when we switch the main lights again, it was too bright for her to sleep off. It was tough to balance the ambiance in the room and this was the case for a few days until we had an idea and decided to switch on the bathroom lights and leave the bathroom door slightly opened. This leaves just enough light which balanced the overall lighting in the room – it was not too dark and not too bright. And we put a softer bed spread which did the trick – the baby sleeps off faster and somehow was less restless now.

But this does not happen all the time and to ensure an even “quieter” environment for the baby, I decided to sleep in my son’s room which helped a bit. I am sure in time, the baby will get used to my sleeping musical notes (aka snoring) just like how my wife have done (so I like to believe) but not for now. Damn, the baby is super sensitive and wakes at the slightest sound in the room – my deep breathing, pulling of the blanket loudly and even a simple turn of the body on the bed causes her to wake up and searches for the source of the sound.

But for now, a little peace and quiet and a dim light should be enough to lullaby the baby to sleep but the frequent waking up to check on the baby, to prepare for the feeding and lack of REM sleep does cause a major havoc in the morning when I wake up to go to work. I usually can wake up at the first ring of the alarm (sometimes even before the alarm rings) but now with 2 – 3 loud rings, I am still deep in sleep and only with “accidental” (if you can call it) awakening, I opened my eyes and realized that I was late for work and rush to shower. But it somehow felt “OK” when I opened the bedroom door to get ready for work and I see my wife, the Big Boss and more importantly, the baby is fast asleep. At least they are resting well now.

The saving grace of the whole affair is that I don’t work on the weekends and with most of us at home are available to keep an eye on the baby, we can afford to wake up late (although it is not for long) whilst the baby under the care of other family members. Yes, it is still a long way to go before we can march off the new Boss to sleep on her own bed but until now, it is night duty for some of us.

An Inspiring Devoted Husband Blog


(Their story is not a common one but one that makes us to wake up and take note. They may not be the Romeo and Juliet that we have read of but their love story does not go far from the great love stories that we have heard of. Image source: Abil’s Facebook )

Truly inspiring! The kind of story that I want to see on Monday morning and it humbles me a great lot:-

A husband who quit his job to take care of his coma-stricken wife has started a blog to express his thoughts and experiences.

Abil Fikri Ahmad said that he created the blog in the hope that his wife Fauziah Muhamad would one day recover. A sudden asthma attack more than a year ago has left Fauziah in a vegetative state.

Doctors have told Abil that Fauziah, 38, would most likely remain in a vegetative state for the rest of her life, but he still wakes up every morning hoping to hear her call out his name. Abil’s life now revolves around looking after Fauziah who requires round-the-clock care.
His daily routine includes feeding her liquid food through a tube, bathing her, changing her diapers and giving her medication, while reading and talking to her. “She is my wife and it is my responsibility as her husband to care for her no matter what,” Abil said in a telephone interview.

Abil quit his job, mortgaged their house in Kuala Lumpur and moved back to Seremban to take care of Fauziah. He is on a strict budget and is surviving on his savings. Readers of his blog and followers of his Facebook page called “Dana Sinar Fauziah” have offered financial support, which Abil said is “just enough to get by”.

Asked what his plans are, he said: “There’s no telling what the future holds. But as long as she lives, I will be by her side,” he said.

(Source)

We share the pain and the hope that the devoted, loving husband, Abil has on his wife, Fauziah who is in coma after an asthma attack. Head over to his blog here and the Facebook page here for support and prayers. We hope to see Fauziah back on her feet soon and brother Abil, hang on there. We share your hope too.

The Week Has Been….


Let’s talk on something that you may be facing but failed to recognize it…

(When is the last time you had depression? Or you are having one right now but failed to recognise one? Have you asked for help from someone or have you decided to face it all alone and end up more depressed? Image: http://www.bipolardisordertestonline.com)

Whilst I finally managed to resolve the Ubuntu upgrade problem and upgraded to 12.04 LTS, this week has rather a stressful one. A couple days ago, I had to bring my Dad to the hospital for check-up (he has not been well since the last weekend) and after a long 4 hours wait for the doctors to complete their observations and diagnostics (discount 1 hour in between on waiting for the doctors), they informed that my Dad is undergoing bouts of depression (it seemed serious though).

Depression, damn I have heard of it and I am pretty sure I have experience it myself when I was far away from home, family and Malaysian food.

Wikipedia defines depression as:-

“….a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless.

They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable; experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions; and may contemplate or attempt suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment may be present.

Depressed mood is not necessarily a psychiatric disorder. It is a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions, and a side effect of some medical treatments. Depressed mood is also a primary or associated feature of certain psychiatric syndromes such as clinical depression…”

My dad is reaching 65 years old starting line and based on the national average of 71.8 years and that is considered old but depression not necessarily affect old people. I guess everyone reaches this point at one point of their live except a few mortals like my Grandma who in her late 80s can still see far without glasses, can speak clearly (including fluent Bahasa), can walk unaided, travels a lot and have a great expectation of life. I hope to follow on her footsteps as well.

The doctors have prescribed some medications for my Dad and it seems to be working – he finally had a good long deep sleep last night compared to the last few days. He had opted to stay at home to rest instead of going to work although he admitted that he can’t wait to go back to work once he has recovered. Of course, there would be follow up therapies to ensure a complete recovery from depression but this may take some time. It is not possible to keep my Dad locked up at home and closely monitor him – he is not the type.

PubMed Health recommends the followings to keep depression at bay:-

  • Get more exercise
  • Maintain good sleep habits
  • Seek out activities that bring you pleasure
  • Volunteer or get involved in group activities
  • Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling
  • Try to be around people who are caring and positive
  • Avoid alcohol or illegal substances at all cost

Kids Health further suggests:-

Exercise – People who are depressed may not feel much like being active. But make yourself do it anyway (ask a friend to exercise with you if you need to be motivated). Once you get in the exercise habit, it won’t take long to notice a difference in your mood. Two other aspects of yoga — breathing exercises and meditation — can also help people with depression feel better.

Nurture yourself with good nutrition – Depression can affect appetite. Proper nutrition can influence a person’s mood and energy. So eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and get regular meals (even if you don’t feel hungry, try to eat something light, like a piece of fruit, to keep you going).

Identify troubles, but don’t dwell on them – Try to identify any situations that have contributed to your depression. When you know what’s got you feeling blue and why, talk about it with a caring friend. Talking is a way to release the feelings and to receive some understanding. If there’s no one to tell, pouring your heart out to a journal works (hmm, like how I usual do by blogging?)

Express yourself – With depression, a person’s creativity and sense of fun may seem blocked. Exercise your imagination (painting, drawing, doodling, sewing, writing, dancing, composing music, etc.) and you not only get those creative juices flowing, you also loosen up some positive emotions.

Look on the bright side – If depression has you noticing only the negative, make an effort to notice the good things in life. Try to notice one thing, then try to think of one more. Consider your strengths, gifts, or blessings.

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish from normal stress, anger, mild depression and serious depression but I guess if one thinks positive and trust others to help out when the going gets tough, things will turn out just fine. And that is what we planned for my Dad on his road to recovery. After all, he has come this far in his life – putting his kids through good education and who now working in stable, good jobs. He have lived well enough to see 2 grand kids (including the Big Boss who is very, very close to his Grandpa) and is likely to see another 2 in the coming months.

For now, for the family (me and my siblings and my Mom), we probably entering a whole new phase and making sure he continues with his medication and therapies – I am very positive of this.

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Some News on Dieting


A quick one before I am off on another travel assignment

(MRI scan that reveals the fat against a normal sized person. Photo source: http://pgobeil.com)

I weighed myself this morning – I have lost 2 kilograms. I know I could have lost more if I had put more effort to exercise but that is a story for another time

In the past, I thought exercise was the only way to reduce my weight but after watching BBC’s Truth about Food, it changed my whole understanding of the losing weight and eating the “right” food.

In this series, the conclusion was outright simple – we end up becoming fat simply because we eat too much. There were other interesting facts too – take more calcium (low fat high calcium milk is a good source) to reduce more fat and always keep track of what we eat (this means no heavy food whilst watching TV), take more liquid food to keep the pangs of hunger away and take more protein. I started to change on how I take my food on daily basis.

Then I read Gary Taubes’ post in the Reader’s Digest on how wrong we have been when it comes to reducing fat by reducing oil intake and exercising. He says:-

Obesity experts have gotten things just about completely backward. If you look carefully at the research, fat isn’t the enemy; easily digested carbohydrates are. The very foods that we’ve been sold as diet staples – white rice, fat-free yogurt, plain baked potatoes (hold the butter), and plain pasta (hold the olive oil, sauce, and cheese) – actually reset our physiology to make us pack on the pounds. And the foods that we’ve been told to shun – steak, burgers, cheese, even the sour cream so carefully scraped from that potato – can help us finally lose the weight and keep our hearts healthy.

Eating less calories and exercising won’t keep people thin, it will just make people hungry. Paying attention to the hormonal and enzymatic regulation of the fat tissue will give us the answer for what causes obesity and what cures it.

I have been eating less at night, taking plenty of low fat, high calcium milk in place of rice if I am at home, doing simple abs exercise and lately have started playing badminton in the weekends.

This started several months ago and I managed to drop 2 kilograms only recently. It is not much but that got me thinking – Gary Taubes may be correct after all when it comes to diet. Kill that rice off and take low carb for a real reduction of weight.

That’s my target from now onwards…

Read Also:-

Reader’s Digest’s The Myths of Losing Weight

Living Longer


(A food for thought but it is bad news for me if there are more people on the road early in the morning)

(We all need our 8 hours of sleep – sometimes more – but waking up early has it’s advantages too. Image source: here)

I had an interesting chat with a colleague of mine almost a month ago who noticed me coming to office very early in the morning. He mentioned that by doing that I would be living longer by doing this.

I had forgotten about it until last week, when I read Glenn Bland’s Success – The Glenn Bland Method and there was an interesting passage on leaving to work early.

Today, I arise each morning at 5.30 and slowly begin to prepare myself for the day.

As the shower’s warm relaxing water flows over my body, I had formed the habit of thinking good thoughts. I look forward to the day with the great expectancy that good things are going to happen. I slowly eat a moderate breakfast and drive to the office arriving at 6.30.

Going to office at this hour of the day creates within you a tremendous feeling of power and authority. The beauty and peace of the early morning hours become a part of you. You literally feel that you are out in front of everyone else and you are!

In the olden days, when our forefathers were confined to agriculture, they will wake up very early to milk the cow and collect the eggs for breakfast and for sale before leaving for the farm to work on the land all day long. In the modern days, we no longer need to wake up early to work on the farm but we nowadays wake up early to avoid the insane traffic jams. I guess that is the “curse” of the modern world – better technology to ease our activities but in the same process increased our stress level.

No doubt, I am losing some sleeping hours by waking up too early and it may sound like a workaholic when others see me coming in early in the morning and late in the evening. But admittedly, the stress level is certainly at all time low because I leave the house early. I nowadays enjoy the music better and with fewer cars on the road, I arrived in a rather calm mode (except instances where some pesky motorcyclists wanting to be under my wheels so early in the morning). The air in the morning still fresh and I enjoy winding down the window and enjoying the fresh breath of air.

In the early years, when I used to wake up late and then rush to work – stress level is all time high and that usually get me in near fights with other motorists. Like one instance when I was queuing up after paying the toll when I noticed a queue jumper. I was like a possessed demon when I saw this queue jumper. For no good reason, I cut out and blocked this queue jumper. I kept blocking him until he was forced to join back to the correct lane. In that instance, I was lucky. The queue jumper was probably too scared to confront me and decided not to hit or overtake me. I may not been so lucky in the next time around – the next, I may be confronted by hardcore criminals with fatal consequences.

And in the journey to the office, I would be cursing those queue jumpers and road hoggers and that was not doing any good for my karma. And as I arrive in the office most of the time so stressed out, it does not go down that well with the rest of the day. Body aches and getting sick was prevalent – it comes and goes without warning.

But thankfully that was history. In my endeavor to beat the traffic jam (and avoid another close encounter with queue jumpers), I forced myself to wake up early and in doing so, I managed to avoid the usual queue jumpers and other “pests” on the road. It was not easy to wake up early – at first, I had 2 alarms to wake me up but nowadays, I can wake up before the alarm goes off. I can now afford to take my breakfast on a casual pace and whenever necessary, enough time for a quick nap before starting work.

So, what my colleague said last month make sense – he said that I am probably live longer with me taking the trouble to wake up early. There is less stress and something in the morning makes me “feeling of power and authority”

Read Also

2010 Reflection: Sorry, I’m An Idealist

Punctuality

9 Reasons to Wake Up Early

Kojak Time


It is T minus 2 days…

(Still remember this show from the 80’s? Back then, we used to call anyone who is bald, Kojak! Image source: http://savalas.tv)

There are some prayers over the weekend for my son and we suppose to get him shave his head as a sign of “renewal” (or as a means of going through a purification ritual, so they say).

This should have been done when he was still a baby but somehow we have been procrastinating until now (ya, we hate to see sharp razor “sliding” on his head). Aware of his good looks, he initially refused to get his head shaved clean until my wife informed that I will shave my head as well (it happened so fast, I had time to react). My son who like to act and talk like me at certain times liked the idea of two of us going bald at the same time – he asked me and I decided “why not?”

I had my hair cut to the minimum length before but a complete shave of the head is something new. As it is for a good cause and for my son, I will do anything, so losing a couple of hair from the head is small thing.

Read Also

Time for a shave

Almost Haircut