Foot note

Dr Ooi Lai Hock, 39

  • OCCUPATION: Orthopaedic surgeon of Island Orthopaedic Group. He specialises in foot and ankle ailments.
  • UNWINDS: By playing a football game every Sunday. Dr Ooi is the captain of the St Joseph's Institution alumnus team

I decided to specialise in foot and ankle orthopaedic surgery because...

It is an area in orthopaedic surgery that has always intrigued me. There is so much to learn in terms of problems of the foot and ankle, and there are many types of treatment options. It is one of the more difficult areas on which to perform surgery. The chapter on foot and ankle surgery in general orthopaedic textbooks is usually the longest.

The musculoskeletal system is fascinating because...

We can see the interplay of physiology, anatomy and mechanical engineering within this system. For example, physiology comes in the form of calcium metabolism to build bones. Anatomy in the interaction of the skeleton and muscles and engineering in the biomechanics involved when we move our joints.

If I were to give an analogy for what I do, I'd be a...

Carpenter for the human body. If a bone is fractured, I can fix it with metal plates and screws. If there is a deformity to correct, I can use the bone chisel and saw to cut and realign that deformity.

A good carpenter also needs to have an eye for aesthetics to create pieces that are both functional and visually appealing, similar to what orthopaedic surgeons have to do.

I have come across all types of cases...

Such that I have a punchline for every diagnosis. In the case of bunions, and women may not like to hear this, wearing high heels or shoes with narrow toeboxes are the likely causes. However, I do understand a woman's need for her Manolos and Louboutins.

A typical day for me would be...

Taking the children to school and my wife to work in the morning. I start the day at 8.30am with ward rounds. If there aren't any, I go straight to the clinic at Mount Elizabeth.

After work at 5.30pm, I go home to have dinner with my family. I have two sons, aged 11 and one, and a nine-year-old daughter. My wife, a lawyer, is 39 years old. My daughter loves to chat over dinner and while I love listening to her day's stories, I have to limit her to one story per day. Otherwise, she would simply go on and on.

I unwind by relaxing in front of the television with a can of beer or reading a book with a glass of wine.

I love patients who...

Keep their feet clean - because I have to examine them.

Patients who get my goat are...

Those who do not keep their feet clean, especially those who dirty their feet before surgery despite my reminders to keep them clean. It's good to have clean feet before a procedure as cleanliness can have a direct effect on its result.

One little known fact about foot and ankle pain is...

There are more foot and ankle (and also knee and back) problems in societies that wear shoes than communities who walk around barefoot, like the Masai tribe in Africa.

Things that put a smile on my face are...

When I have taken someone's pain away.

It breaks my heart when...

I don't usually feel upset. But I do feel a little disappointed when my Sunday football game - I am the captain of the St Joseph's Institution alumnus team - gets cancelled because of bad weather. It is the only time I get a real workout.

I wouldn't trade places for the world because...

Orthopaedic surgery requires a combination of intelligence and physical strength. I have always been active in sports and orthopaedic surgery reflects my personality.

My best tip...

Stretch your calf muscles daily. Most foot and ankle problems are the result of tight calf muscles.

 

This article was first published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times.

Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDED CONTENT

SPONSORED CONTENT

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.