I went to see a doctor at NUS University Health Centre last Friday because of two problems: sore around oropharynx and growing number of blisters on palms of both hands. The blisters hurts a lot when I do experiments, for examples, when I’m turning the screw cap of a container or when I use my right thumb (see the photo on the right) to push a syringe (with a syringe filter for eliminating crushed polyacrylamide gel from a aqueous mixture) forcefully. The doctor checked the blisters first and asked if they were itchy. I said no and they were painful when pressed. Then, he told me the blisters were actually ulcers and what I had is likely to be hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), and he expected that there were a lot of ulcers around my pharynx too, which was confirmed by looking at it with a flashlight. He then asked if I had a fever. I did have a fever about two weeks ago. He said HFMD is very common, the symptoms would disappear slowly after the fever, and no medicine was specific for HFMD.
I was so moved by this episode that I watched it three times from the start to the end (not on the same day). Dr Thomas, who was a good mentor and a good friend to Yang, died in the middle of an operation. His words were full of insights, very inspirational and sometimes funny. It’s nice to have a role model or mentor like him.