Monday, October 31

22nd Day - 26/10/2005 (Wednesday)

I wake up feeling excited today. I get to go home. Finally! Hubby leaves for work and promises to come get me in a few hours time.

I watch tv and at about 10a.m., my Prof enters the room. She tells me that I can go home in while. The clerk is preparing all the necessary paperwork. Prof tells me that I can go back to work after Raya. I ask her again to confirm. She says InsyaAllah, I’ll be fine. I call hubby to inform him. Then I call my mama. I tell her that I can go back to work. She insists that I take leave. I agree, just so she wouldn’t be upset.

Hubby has helped me with the packing this morning. Only a few things are left. I am so excited that I finally get to go home today. It’s been 3 weeks! Hubby arrives at about 11.30, and we wait for all the paperwork and medication to be given. We leave the room and proceed to the clinic to finalise the bill and to get my medicine. Then hubby and I ride the buggy to the Ground Floor.

I leave the hospital with a great big sigh of relief. I am thankful to Allah that I am given another chance at living my life to the fullest. I understand that this has been my greatest Ramadhan challenge from Allah. I ask for His forgiveness and pray that I never have to go through such an ordeal again.

Author’s note:
I was diagnosed with septicemia, or blood poisoning. The symptoms included high fever, low blood pressure, palpitations and decreased urine. I was lucky to have gone to the hospital when I did. My liver was already bleeding internally and the virus had not only affected my liver, but also my heart and kidney. Had I gone to the hospital later, my kidneys might have suffered permanent damage.

21st Day - 25/10/2005 (Tuesday)

Same old, same old. I wake up at 6a.m. when the nurses go on their rounds. I sleep again and wake at 7.45 when they come to make my bed.

Hubby leaves for work at 8.30a.m. I watch tv till my Prof comes. She tells me that my fever is gone. My blood and lungs are all okay. She tells me the most wonderful news ever – I can go home tomorrow! I am ecstatic. I call hubby to tell him the good news. He has to go to the university to get the original GL from the HR Division. He calls me later to inform me that he has already taken the letter. I am relieved. I cannot wait to go home. I’ve been away for 3 whole weeks already!

I watch more tv. While watching The Bruce Lee Story, the rain disrupts the signal on Astro and the service is temporarily unavailable. I take a nap to pass the time. Anyway, I get drowsy everytime I take the cough syrup and the cold tablet.

Hubby arrives, bringing Cheezels with him. I love Cheezels. We spend the time watching two movies – Ark and Ever After. We finally sleep at about 1.30a.m.

20th Day - 24/10/2005 (Monday)

Today I will be alone. Hubby goes off to work from here. He leaves at about 8.30a.m. Mama says she will come see me with my sister Adora today. I wait for their arrival.

My Prof comes to check on me and informs me that my kidney is okay. All my blood levels are back on track. Basically, I should be able to leave in a few days. I am happy to hear this. However, she wants me to do repeat tests for my blood and urine. She also wants me to get a chest x-ray, since I’m coughing and all.

Mama and Adora arrive. We chat non-stop about many things. My sis tells me about her attachment next April. She will be going to the Magistrate Court at Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad. Then I ask her about the Legal System in Malaysia and she explains to me the various courts and their jurisdiction. And she’s only in her first year. I hope she’ll be the best that she can be. We’ve never had any lawyers in our family yet.

My sister Aqilah comes to the hospital from school. We talk, the four of us, and it’s good times for me. At about 2.30p.m., an attendant comes with a wheelchair to take me for my x-ray. I tell mama not to leave yet. I return 20 minutes later and we talk some more. Then mama says they have to leave soon, so again I am left alone. After my tea break, I take a nap.

Hubby arrives, carrying his packet of rice for berbuka. After he eats and showers, he performs the Maghrib prayers. I tell him that I can hear thunder. He goes out to check and sure enough, the thunderous clouds promise heavy rain. He decides to perform the tarawikh here instead.

At about 10p.m., we watch Urban Legend for the I-don’t-know-how-many-eth-number of times. After the movie ends, I get another ‘Kool Fever’ patch plastered on my forehead, and I fall asleep immediately.

19th Day - 23/10/2005 (Sunday)

Today being Sunday, hubby gets to spend the whole day with me. After the morning routine is over and done with, we talk a little while watching tv. Sometimes hubby would recite the Quran or read the Surrah Yassin on the sofa next to me.

I nap now and then, watching more tv with hubby. Nobody comes to visit today. It’s okay. Before you know it, it’s 5p.m. and hubby leaves for his parents’ house.

I eat dinner alone at 6p.m. I sit on my bed and watch more tv. I see that they’re showing Armageddon and I settle down in bed to watch it. Hubby comes in at about 9.30p.m. and sees me in tears. He looks quizzically at me, looks at the tv, and remarks, “It’s only a movie lah….” And I reply with “I know, but it’s so sad….”

After the movie, I drink a cup of Milo. Hubby applies the ‘Kool Fever’ patch on my forehead and I sleep while listening to him recite some verses from the Quran.

18th Day - 22/10/2005 (Saturday)

The routine of every morning is carried out. I really want to go home, but I know it is not time yet. I hope I get to go home before Friday. My in-laws will be getting back to Kelantan on Saturday and I would really like to meet them before they leave.

Today my mama and brother Saufi come to visit me. It’s nice to hear about home. After they leave, both of us watch more tv.

After Asar, at about 5p.m. hubby leaves for his parents’ house. This will be their last weekend before going back to Kota Bahru next week. I assure hubby that I’ll be fine alone.

Since I’ve been moved here, I have had a terrible cough and cold. So, every time after I take my medicine, I get drowsy. I will normally fall in and out of sleep, taking several short naps during the day. My coughing gets worse at night. Hubby promises to buy ‘Kool Fever’ for me to put on my forehead to reduce my temperature.

Hubby returns close to 10p.m. and we both watch The Day After Tomorrow, which is like our 2nd or 3rd time. I get drowsy after my 10p.m. medication. At midnight, hubby applies the ‘Kool Fever’ patch on my forehead. I fall asleep while he performs some prayers next to my bed.

17th Day - 21/10/2005 (Friday)

The nurses come to take my BP and temperature. I seem to still have a low-grade fever. Today hubby will spend the whole day with me. He helps me with my breakfast and makes sure that I eat. It’s cold in this room, so hubby always adjusts the temperature for me.

Up here, I don’t do much except take short naps, watch tv and eat. They serve us 4 times here – breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner. And we get Milo here instead of Nescafe. Since today is Friday, hubby goes to a nearby mosque for Friday prayers.

Sometime after 2p.m., the nurse informs me that I have to go for an echo Doppler test, where they check my heart. I call hubby and tell him to just wait for my return in the room later.

The nurse brings me to the place where a doctor uses a machine, just like getting an ultrasound alone. At one point I look at the screen and actually see my heart pumping. I could even see the valves and the chambers clearly. MasyaAllah! Only Allah can create such a ‘machine’.

I come back to my room and see hubby reading a magazine. We spend the time just talking and watching tv together. Sometimes both of us will take naps – me on the bed and he on the sofa. Poor hubby. Sometimes I hesitate to call out to him for help because he looks like he really needs the sleep.

I eat dinner at 6 p.m. and at 7.02, hubby breaks his fast. Again he goes for tarawikh prayers at a nearby mosque. He comes back a bit after 10p.m. while I am watching Love Actually. We spend the night watching the movie, while I try to explain to him who’s who since he missed the first few minutes. I sleep at about 12.30.

16th Day - 20/10/2005 (Thursday)

I awaken at about 6a.m. to take my antibiotics and the nurse comes to check my blood sugar level. I fall back to sleep and get up at 7a.m. when breakfast is served. I am glad it is morning already, so I don’t have to lie in bed all the time. As per routine, I plait my hair and today is my best effort so far.

A nurse comes in to tell me that there is a room available at Sutera Ward upstairs, and asks if it would be okay. It’s bigger than the other rooms and cost RM160 per night. I say it would be okay. However, they need a new GL from the university, so I tell her that I will inform the HR Office. I call my friend Layla to ask for HR’s number. She calls me back as I’m low on credit. We talk for a while. She asks me if I have heard the news about our PM’s wife. Datin Seri Endon has passed away at 7.55 a.m. this morning. May Allah let her rest in peace.

Layla tells me that she will inform HR for me, and for that I am grateful. Layla also informs me that my faculty office colleagues are having a majlis berbuka puasa and doa selamat for Kak Lin’s baby and I. They have invited Layla and other Corporate Comms people, but Layla doesn’t know who will be going. When I hear this, I feel so deeply touched. They are all too kind. May Allah bless them all. I call Roni from the faculty and tell her to call me back from my extension. We talk for a while I am happy to have been able to speak to 2 friends today. Makes me happy.

I am told that I will be moved to the Special Wards at Level 7. However before I am allowed to go, I have to settle the bills. I ask about my GL from the university. It seems that the GL was only used for the first night’s stay and it has already been processed. Therefore I needed to settle the bills first. I am so glad I have my credit card with me. The student nurses bring me to the Finance Counter to make the payments. Whoa! For the 16 days, and all those tests, I have to pay more than RM1,600. I will need to explain this to my HR Division.

As soon as I get back to my room, I am told to pack so that I can be sent upstairs. I am happy to go. I thank my doctors and the nurses as I pass them on my way out. I am sent to Room 11, in Sutera Ward.

Lying down in bed, I watch a Harrison Ford movie on Astro’s Star Movies. I’ve seen the movie before, but decide to watch it again, as I’d enjoyed it the first time around. It’s called Random Hearts. The movie ends at about 3p.m. I switch channels and watch TV3. I realise that they are showing a ‘live’ telecast of the funeral proceedings of Allahyarhamah Datin Seri Endon. I watch the goings-on and before you know it, tears stream down my face. I am saddened by her demise. May Allah let her soul rests in peace. I watch tv right till the end of the telecast, which is at about 6.40p.m.

Hubby arrives at this time and brings KFC with him. Hurray! I get a Zinger burger and cheesy wedges. We eat together. Tonight, hubby will sleep over and I am happy.

That night we watch tv together. Then hubby leaves for tarawikh prayers. I watch Hope Floats, starring Sandra Bullock, and when hubby returns, we watch a musical made-for-tv movie starring Kelly Clarkson and that Justin guy from American Idol. I sleep at about midnight, while hubby prepares himself for some prayers and recitation of the Quran.

15th Day - 19/10/2005 (Wednesday)

I sleep all the way to 7a.m., only waking up earlier at 1a.m and 4.30a.m. for trips to the bathroom, and at 6a.m. for my antibiotics. I have breakfast which is tasteless, and then plait my hair. All this has become my morning ritual. Those who know me at work will definitely agree if I say I like to see order in things. Don’t believe me, just visit my workstation and my cubicle. There’s a place for everything. I like to see things neatly put away. That’s why I have a huge portion of my desk to write on. Even my pencil holder has different compartments and contains different categories of items. So it’s no wonder that even when I’m sick in thishospital, in this room especially, I still try to keep things tidy.

I could believe that after I have slept for some time, I can still take a nap. But a yawn escapes my mouth and a nap I take.

A while later, a doctor comes to take my blood for a blood culture test, I don’t know what it’s called. She brings along 3 third-year students with her as they have never seen one being done before. The drawing of this blood is different from the usual ones you see. This one requires everything to be completely sterile. Extra effort and care have to be put in to make sure the doctor only touches the necessary items.

I sit up in bed and do some breathing exercises. At about 1.45p.m., one of the doctors comes and tells me that they would like to move me to the Special Wards on Level 7. Since there’s nothing wrong with me, my Prof wants me upstairs to rest. And they will start me on two new drugs – one to bring down my platelet count and one for iron chelation. I need to get rid of all the excess iron in my body, so that there is a lower risk of liver dysfunction or in the worst-case-scenario, heart failure. I tell the doctor that I will talk to my hubby and let him know a bit later in the afternoon.

Immediately I call my hubby, who says that it would be good to go to Level 7. Over there, he can sleepover with me in the room, albeit on a padded mat on the floor. I cheer up at the prospect. Plus, there’s a tv in each room, and we get some Astro channels like Astro Ria and Star Movies. Then I wouldn’t be so bored.

My mama and sister Aqilah come to see me. I tell them the news. During mama’s visit, the doctor tells me that the Special Wards upstairs are all full and a bed may be available tomorrow. So tomorrow it is then. Mama and Aqilah leave at about 3.45 p.m. the sky outside looks grey, promising a downpour soon.

Hubby arrives very late today. After Asar prayers and buying rice for the both of us, he finally walks through my door at 6.30p.m. I have missed him terribly. He promises to see me tomorrow evening at Level 7. InsyaAllah…. He informs me that Friday is a holiday as it is Nuzul Quran. This means that he can spend the whole day plus the weekend with me. I am excited at the thought. He leaves and again I am left alone. I might sleep early tonight too.

I really hope there’s a room for me up there tomorrow. I would very much prefer to rest upstairs. I fall asleep close to 9.45p.m., waking up at 10.30p.m. and midnight for bathroom breaks.

14th Day - 18/10/2005 (Tuesday)

I awake to eat the medicine left by the nurse. It is about 6.20 a.m. okay, that’s not so bad. I only get up once at 3 a.m. to go to the bathroom. Well, looks like there’s no going back to sleep.

I actually look forward to this morning’s cup of hot Nescafe. Breakfast is served at 7a.m. daily without fail. That’s when the nurses also go rounds changing bed linen and giving patients a clean pair of outfit. It’s not like you can make some sort of fashion statement. Everyone gets the same pair of purple button down top and either sarong or pants.

Breakfast is a bit of a disappointment. It’s tasteless Chinese style fried rice and very bitter Nescafe. Even after stirring in two sachets of sugar, the drink leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

I flip through the magazine again. Halfway through, my team of doctors come for their rounds. They say that all my vital levels are stable and improving. However, the low grade fever of 37 to 38 degrees makes them want to repeat some tests. If all is well, after another 24 hour observation period, I may be discharged. Hurray! This means that I may go home tomorrow. One of the doctors suggests that perhaps my fever is nothing more than a result of being homesick. The other doctors laugh and say that it is possible.

As soon as they leave, I call hubby to tell him the news. Then I call mama and spend some minutes talking to her. I stop when lunch arrives. After lunch, I decide to call my grandma. I talk to her for 27 minutes! Checking my credit, I see that I have 41 sen left. My my…. I sms hubby to tell him that I have little credit left and he is to call me if there were anything urgent.

The nurse comes in and gives me the urine sample bottle. She tells me that they need to send it in before 5p.m., or else they can only send it in tomorrow. It’s only 1p.m. now. As if I won’t pee. I am going to now. There’s no way I am going to delay my own going-home.

I flip through the magazine again to see if I’ve missed anything. My goodness! I’ve read everything, except the ads for beauty products, which I have no interest in. then, one doctor comes to take my blood for the tests one last time (I hope). Urine sample has been taken. So has my blood. I remain positive that I would be discharged tomorrow.

I lie down and take a nap, only to awaken half an hour later for a trip to the bathroom. Now what? I feel a bit bored out of my wits. I decide to do some of the breathing exercises that the physiotherapist has taught me. Then I look out the window – the one above my head – and see the blue sky with two huge white clouds slowly floating by. These oversized marshmallows look a little grey on the undersides. Whatever final destination they are headed for will surely be blessed with lots of rain.

I try not to nap so much, for fear of being unable to sleep tonight. I sit on my bed and think about the prospects of going home tomorrow. I still remain positive.

I think about my friends at work. If my mama hears me talk about work at this point, she’ll probably slaughter me. Hahaha! How can I not think of work? I’ve been gone for two weeks! I enjoy what I do, I have wonderful and amiable colleagues, and I enjoy spending time with all of them. I feel bad sometimes, knowing that when I am not there, someone else has to assist and take over. May Allah bless all of them for their patience when dealing with my work.

I lie down and look out the window on my left. Huge clouds loom in the distance. Their graceful fluid movements make me realise how small and insignificant we all are on this planet. And that doesn’t take into account the many planets and distant galaxies in the universe. MasyaAllah!

After the huge clouds disappear from my view, I watch little wisps trailing behind. These wisps puff into cotton balls in a matter of seconds. Watching clouds go by is therapeutic. They provide entertainment for me this afternoon. See, it is times like these that you appreciate the things that are always taken for granted. Sometimes we are all too caught up in trying to find a balance at home and at work that we forget simple things like watching clouds go by. My advice is to take some time to stop and stare. It stimulates you mentally and spiritually.

Hubby comes and immediately my spirits soar. We talk about what the doctors tell me in great detail. Then he goes downstairs to buy chicken rice for the both of us. We talk some more till it is time to break fast, and gain I eat with him. Soon after, it is time for me to leave. He tells me that he will call me tonight, and that he will see me at home tomorrow evening. InsyaAllah….

I sit for a while as I want to sleep when I’m really really sleepy. I fell a little though. Maybe I’ll wait for hubby to call and then go to sleep. A while later he calls. I tell him that I’m sleepy, so I request for him not to call me after tarawikh prayers, which normally ends around 10.30p.m. I promise him if I’m not asleep at 11p.m., I will call him.

Alas, I fall asleep sometime after 9.30p.m.

13th Day - 17/10/2005 (Monday)

Today, I get up a bit before 6a.m., when the nurse is making her rounds. Seeing that I’m already awake, I might as well wait for my mama. I’m going for the exam today. The doctors tell me that there will be one, at most two, students who will try to diagnose what I have. I hope I only have to go through one.

Mama arrives at about 6.30a.m. She brings the sweater with her, together with a nail clipper, cotton buds and baby oil, which I have requested yesterday from hubby. I get ready and talk to hubby at the same time. I tell her not to leave yet and to wait till 7.30a.m. So she stays.

After getting ready, I use the baby oil to get rid of the remains of the stubborn plaster on my thigh. Sitting in an air-conditioned room has also made my hands and feet dry and scaly. Before I could finish cleaning up the plaster, breakfast arrives. I eat first as I need to go soon. Sure enough, at 7.30 sharp, a nurse comes with a wheelchair and says it is time to go. I hug mama and tell her to drive home carefully. She walks out to the lifts with us and then we go our separate ways.

I arrive at Level 10 and see that some patients have already arrived. I have to wait for my doctor to come first. He walks through the door at about 7.40a.m. and instructs them to put me in Room ‘F’. So, the nurse pushes me there. There is a female attendant at each room door. They are there to assist the patient in case the patient needs to go for a bathroom break. They also act as timekeepers for the medical students.

The examination is actually for final-year students. However, this is a repeat exam for those who did not make it through the first time. They are supposed to get information from the patient, then go to another room and present the case to four examiners. Later the med student comes back to the patient’s room and answers the questions from the four examiners. When they have no more questions, it is then over. I hope the med student who is presenting me will pass this exam.

I am brought back to my room after the exam. I finally get a chance to clean all the remains of the plaster on my thigh. Then I put baby oil on my hands and feet. I clip all my nails and feel a lot better immediately.

Lunch is brought and I eat quite a lot. There’s some chicken soup, and a serving of ladies fingers, which I like. I have some honeydew after that, and then proceed with eating the oranges mama brought yesterday.

I feel a little sleepy, so I take a nap, during which my sis-in-law Ilyana and her colleague Kak Linda come. Kak Linda brings some sandwiches for me and hubby. Aww, how thoughtful of her. Ilyana brings me a new magazine, the Malaysian Women’s Weekly this time. I tell her that she can take back her Elle as I’ve already gone through it. After staying about 20 minutes, they say goodbye and go to visit their friend.

I try to take a nap but could not do so. I then decide to just lie down and wait for hubby. He comes sometime close to 6p.m. Says he has too many things to do at work today. He goes for Asar and I request some orange juice. When he returns, he massages my sore shoulder and we talk while waiting for the breaking of fast.

We eat together for the second time and by 7.30p.m. he has to leave. He brings me my handphone today, so that he can communicate with me, in case I can go home or something like that. And finally I can actually tell what time it is. Ever since moving into this ward, I have had no access to a clock, so time is always estimated. Not anymore. Now I will know the actual time. No more guessing from the delivery of food and the nurses’ rounds. He leaves and I am alone again.

I really hope that the Prof comes to see me tomorrow. I want to know when I can go home. I really miss home and my family. There’s nothing like the banter and teasing from my brother, which is normally targeted at my youngest sister Aqilah. And all the stories we all tell when we sit around together in the living room.

I go through the Women’s Weekly. At a couple of intervals, hubby calls. First to give me the numbers from the credit top up card that he has bought for me, and then later just to check up on me to see if everything’s okay.

I read most of the articles in the magazine, and finally go to sleep close to midnight.

12th Day - 16/10/2005 (Sunday)

Miraculously, I have a good sound sleep. I awake around 6.30a.m. and scramble to eat my two antibiotic tables, which needed to be taken at 6a.m. Well, I do not really know if it’s 6.30 because I don’t have a watch but I guess that it must be after six as the nurse normally comes around at 5.50 to deliver the medicine. For the first time, I do not wake up when the nurse entered my room. That is some deep sleep!

Today I take off the plaster and gauze at my right thigh and neck. The one on my thigh leaves behind a sticky white residue. Hmm, I’m going to need baby oil to get this out. The one at my neck is clean though. I look at myself in the mirror and see that I’ve been demoted from Vampire Slayer to just plain vampire victim. Haha!

I am happy it is Sunday. Hubby comes at about 11 a.m. and tells me later his mama, papa, and sister Ilyana will come to visit me. Ooh, many visitors today.

Before my in-laws arrive, my mama and brother Saufi come to see me. Mama brings oranges with her, all cut and ready for me to eat. Mmm, juicy! We talk about the latest goings-on, and I hear about my sister Adora. She’s having her exams now. She’s in her first year of Law at UIA.

My in-laws arrive and it’s great fun for me to have so many people around. The two mamas talk about their health and their children. My sis-in-law then goes to visit her friend who’s also admitted into this hospital.

After my mama and brother leave, ma in-laws start telling stories about our little niece, Tengku Khadeeja. She is now 2 months old and growing so fast. I miss singing to her, as she’s such a beautiful baby. My papa-in-law tells more funny stories and we all laugh hysterically, me especially. It feels good to laugh out like that. Makes me feel so much healthier.

After they leave, hubby and I talk about all the music that we used to listen to during our years in UM. We talk about artistes and soundtracks, and make fun and laugh at the other’s choice of music.

Two doctors come to check up on me to see if I were still okay with going to a final-year medical students’ practical examination. I have earlier promised that I would be free to assist. Heck, it’s not like I’m going any place anyway. They tell me that I will be sent upstairs at 7.30a.m. tomorrow and advise me to bring a sweater as it is extra cold up there. It is then decided that my mama would come after Subuh tomorrow morning to bring me my sweater. I call her and she says she will be at the hospital by 6.45a.m.

Hubby breaks his fast at the hospital. We eat together for the first time in almost two weeks. My mama-in-law has given us a Dunkin Donuts sandwich each, and some honey-roasted chicken with French fries and coleslaw.

Hubby leaves after finishing his dinner. We say our lengthy goodbyes, peppered with ‘take care’ and ‘drive carefully’. After being left alone, I start flipping through a magazine that Ilyana has kindly let me borrow. It’s a Singapore edition of Elle. I flip through the whole magazine and read some of the articles.

Since I did not nap the whole day, falling asleep is much easier. Finding, finally, a comfortable position, I doze right off.

11th Day - 15/10/2005 (Saturday)

Again I am awake before Subuh. I lie awake on the bed and listen to the sounds of the morning; the nurses changing shifts give briefings to one another, the auntie next to me crying in her sleep, the ah poh in front of my bed calling for her mug of Milo.

After breakfast, the nurses move me into a room. Yeah, finally! It’s a small room with big windows above my bed and on the left side. Now I do not have to walk far to go to the washroom. It’s very quiet in here compared to the outside. But the rooms are near the nurses’ station. If I look out the windows on my left while lying in bed, I can see the remaining top floors of the hospital, the great blue sky. It is raining now. And the room is air-conditioned. Brrr! It’s cold in here.

My mother and brother Saufi come to see me. I am so happy to have people to talk to! In this room, we do not have to worry about talking too much or too loudly, which is good. They fill me in on all that’s been happening at home and how my grandmother calls everyday to ask how I’m doing. After staying for almost 2 hours, they leave to see my sister Adora in UIA.

After a while, the doctor comes to take out the line at my neck. He takes off the transparent filmy plaster, cleans the area, and tells me, “Now hold still while I cut the stitches.” Stitches? Whoa, wait a minute! You mean you stitched my neck? I hold very very still and the doctor cuts and removes the sutures. Now comes the part we have all been waiting for, the pulling of the line. I do the same as before. Take a deep breath. The doctor pulls it out and plugs the hole with lots of gauze. While he stands there, we talk about how the line was put in. Some doctors would avoid going through the neck, as it might be traumatic for certain patients. Instead they would start at the arm and take a longer route to the heart.

The doctor checks the wound again and tells me that they might start another IV line on my hand, but it will not be connected to any drips or medication. It is to be used in case of any emergency. I understand. He plasters clean gauze over the hole now that the bleeding has stopped. He tells me that I can take it off tomorrow.

About half an hour later, hubby comes in through the door. I am ecstatic, as today he can stay from now till six. He tells me there’s a horrendous traffic jam on his way to the hospital and that has caused the delay. He brings me a Dunkin Donuts sandwich and 2 doughnuts. I will eat the sandwich for dinner since I’ve already had my lunch. Yum! We fill in each other with what has happened since his visit yesterday. Then we talk about so many other things: work, friends, and my student years in UM. And of course before you know it, it is 6 p.m. already. Hubby leaves with the promise of returning a little earlier tomorrow.

They serve dinner, which I decline. I have my chicken mayo sandwich and read the newspaper. After so many days of not seeing one, I open first the cinema listings to see what new movies are playing. Haha! Don’t think I will be going to any movie theatre anytime soon, though.

I hear the call for prayer. It’s much clearer and louder heard from here compared to when I was outside. Sometime after, I doze off. I awake from a bad dream and realise that the call prayer I heard earlier was for Maghrib, not Isya’. So it’s still pretty early.

In this room, falling asleep is easier, even though I still feel sore on my left shoulder and neck. After rubbing in some medicated oil I go back to sleep.

10th Day - 14/10/2005 (Friday)

I wake this morning feeling sore over my shoulders and left side of my neck. I hope that it were already morning and not 2a.m. or something. After all, I did sleep at 1a.m. I find out from the nurse that it is around 5 in the morning. I am thankful as I really could not go back to sleep. Once awaken, it is a chore to go back to sleep. One that is usually futile. I’ll just stay awake and wait for the muezzin’s call for Subuh prayers.

I am so excited at the notion that in about eight hours, I will get to see my mother. She needs to see that I am okay, so that she doesn’t worry about me. I have to be strong for her. Mostly I have to be strong for myself. To be resilient and courageous at whatever challenge I am thrown into, at whatever adversity I might face.

I hope my catheter comes out today. It’s a pain to have it in my thigh all the time. Hope that it’s not infected or anything.

A new batch of doctors come and take my history for the exam on Monday. And then the other doctors come and confirmed that the catheter in my thigh will finally come out today. I really hope there are no future stitches involved. Ahh, we’ll see….

Oooh, it’s now 12p.m. Cannot wait for mama to arrive. Lunch is terrible. I have barely touched the food when I decide that I have had enough. There is a sweet consolation though – a nice succulent cool watermelon slice. Mmmm… crunchy, sweet and cool in my mouth.

Mama comes and we hug. She is all teary-eyed and emotional. We have a great deal of catching up to do, so we immediately start chattering nineteen-to-the-dozen. My sister Aqilah and my dad arrive about an hour later. It’s nice to see them again, even though they have to leave soon after.

Now I await the visit from hubby. At about 4.30p.m., one of the doctors comes to take out my catheter. I am anxious as I do not know what to expect. The first question I ask is whether I would need stitches (or what is known as sutures), and he replies in the negative. I am so thankful and relieved. He then retorts with, “You breathe in, I pull it out.” Some doctor’s joke, huh? So I sit still while he and a nurse prepare to take it out. First, they clean it with all kinds of funny coloured alcoholic concoctions. One is actually the colour of blood. Then he snips the previous sutures and then asks me if I were ready. My heart feels like bursting at the anticipation. I nod and he pulls it out. It’s out! I’m free! Oh hurray! He asks me if it were painful and I replied with a shake of the head. He plugs the wound with more gauze and says that we will now wait for the bleeding to stop.

The doctor tries to check on the wound but blood gushes out, forcing the doctor to press it further. So the three of us sit and stare at one another. Haha! This is so funny. Then I ask if I could see the tube and the nurse shows it to me. I shudder, thinking how that thing has been a nuisance for a whole week. Well, the ‘nuisance’ saved my life, so to speak. The doctor puts clean gauze onto the wound and plasters it. I am ordered to remain still for a while. Now I excitedly wait for hubby’s arrival.

I hear that they will put me in one of the rooms here. Well, no such luck yet. Hubby arrives and again, like always, we chat about all that has happened since his visit yesterday. He actually has a “buka puasa” do with his office colleagues, but he’d turn them down. He tells me that tomorrow he might come a little earlier than usual, it being a Saturday and all, but he has to leave early too, to break fast with his family. I am a bit disheartened, but I must remember to be reasonable. The world doesn’t revolve around me alone. And, he should spend his time with them, as it has become sort of our ritual to sleepover the weekend at mama’s and papa’s home. I enjoy my visits there all the time.

It is night time and I’m still here. Maybe they’ll move me tomorrow morning. Who knows? Guess it’s lights out. G’nite….

9th Day - 13/10/2005 (Thursday)

I wake up feeling sore all over. My neck still feels like there’s a brick tied to it. Much to my amazement, they don’t wake you at an ungodly hour over here. I see that breakfast is already on my table – a sup of Nescafe and some sandwiches. That is if you can call them sandwiches. More like dry bread with pasty tuna-like spread with a sliver of bitter cucumber. Gee whiz! The fun has just begun….

I forgo my washroom visit and wash my face with “air zamzam” instead, and proceed with breakfast. The usual watching of goings-on takes my mind elsewhere, a time when I was free from pain, so to speak. There are so many thoughts in my head that I feel that my head will burst open and all the words will come tumbling out, littering my white bedsheet.

The nurses have gathered all files, ready for the doctors’ visit this morning. I hope the doctors have something positive to say – like when I can move up to the Special Wards on Level 7. No such luck. The doctors tell me that me creatine level is still high, and I still have to be under their observation here. ‘Creatine’, whatever that means…. I only know it’s something to do with my kidneys. I hear that I may get a transfusion, but when I ask them the number of pints they’re giving, the doctor says she is not sure.

The old makcik is up to her antics again. She has been screaming and calling out names – of her children maybe. It’s always Ani, or Napsiah, or Sani or just Adik. The nurses have their hands full as it is, and she is really testing their patience. Earlier at about 1a.m., she threw her bowl and smashed it to the floor. I pity her. I say a small prayer and hope that Allah may bless her with some peace of mind.

Nothing spectacular happens other than an unexpected but extremely lovely surprise. I receive a bouquet of flowers from the President’s Office. The delivery man places the bouquet on my table and shows me the card. I am amazed at how beautiful and perfect Allah’s creations are. The bouquet contains my favourite flowers – the gerberas – or African daisies. They are the most resplendent peach petals with bright yellow centres. The bouquet also has fuchsia carnations, pale pink roses, yellow chrysanthemums, and two birds-of-paradise with a generous spray of fillers – small white asters, purple statices, ferns and artificial berries. Haha! You know you have a lot of time on your hands when you can use many words to describe a bouquet. My hubby will most probably have to take them home tonight. What a pity, they’re such a delight to look at. We’ll see if they’re strict about flowers like they were in the HDW.

I anxiously wait for hubby since he did not show up during lunch. Perhaps he is busy at work and can only come after. I pity him sometimes…. Rushing from here to there, trying to get things done. Maybe we should take a trip together when I’m well enough. Just the two of us to recuperate. I feel the need to anyway. Funny isn’t it? You come to the hospital to get well, but you come out feeling drained. Well, I feel that way all the time. I need some time to rejuvenate my senses. And where else can you do that but The Avillion, PD! Haha, now I sound like their ad.

Hubby comes and we get busy taking. Then as usual he goes for Asar prayers and buys some food for “berbuka”. I always feel out of breath when I talk to him, as there is just too much information that I want to relay to him and time is always eyeing us with jealous envy. I hear that mama was mad upon hearing of my transfer from the HDW to this ward. I know my mother, she is one fine lady, but sometimes she’s too emotional about things. I used to be just like her, but I think I have simmered down a little after getting acquainted with my hubby. He has always taught me to be patient. All things have a reason for happening a certain way. Who are we to question the plans of Allah? He has made things such for a reason. We may never understand His ways, but He knows best. We must have faith.

I call mama to wish her a selamat berbuka and she sounds happy and alright. She says that she will visit me tomorrow. Hurray!

Author’s note:
It is at this point in time that actual words were penned onto paper. The earlier entries were recollections from memory.

By the way, I learn something tonight. The nurse tells me that the makcik has been discharged for a while already, but the ward is still waiting for her children to come pick her up. It’s kind of sad, don’t you think? Maybe she will go home tonight. I pray that she does….

I try my best to sleep but I just could not do so. My neck hurts and I find no position comfortable for me to doze off. After many restless tossing and turning, I sit up. The fan above my head, without a doubt, makes the most beautiful ‘art’ in the ward. Its breeze moves the curtains in between the beds and makes, in turn, majestic wave-like shadows on the floor. The left side of my bed has rippling waves, incessantly rushing up and down. The shadows on the right side look like profiles of magnificently plumed birds, from a parakeet to an ostrich to a hornbill. Absolutely exquisite….

I see the daughter and granddaughter of the makcik have come to take her home. She looks so happy, her face plastered with powder and what looks like a little lipstick. She laughs happily as they push her on the wheelchair. I pray that she will always be contented.

8th Day - 12/10/2005 (Wednesday)

True to her words, the Chinese nurse comes to shampoo my hair this morning. I do not know how she will carry this out when I’m lying there on the bed. First she folds the top part of the mattress a little bit under, and then she tells me to lie still. She puts a container underneath to catch all the water she uses. As soon as she starts shampooing, I fell relaxed. It is just like washing your hair in the hair salon. I am really grateful to her for taking the trouble to wash my hair.

More of my colleagues come visit me. First Ustaz Nazri and Zambri come to see me. We talk for quite some time. Then they excuse themselves because there were 3 more people waiting outside. Mieza comes again, this time with Tengku Norishah and Kak Sharifah Junaidah. Kak Norai brings a bottle of “air zamzam”. For this, I am very grateful. I feel so blessed when I think of all my friends who have come to visit me. I am a lucky girl indeed.

One of the nurses tells me that I will be moved to one of the medical wards. I am a bit disheartened, but have no choice really. She says they will try to put me in a room when one becomes available. At the moment I will be put in the open ward.

They move me at about 3p.m. the first thing that hits me is the heat. I forget the fact that there are only fans, no air-conditioning. The second thing that is like a slap in the face is the noise. I am welcomed by a cacophony of sounds, the loudest being a makcik screaming at the top of her voice. For a while there, I thought there might have been some mistake. This must be some mental ward! But the nurse tells me that the makcik is depressed, as nobody ever comes to visit her. Suddenly I pity her. Not even her own children would visit? What a shame….

There is nothing I could do but bear the conditions. I have to walk to the washroom on my own now, oh-so-slowly. Before I leave the HDW, the nurses take out the tube so now I need to go to the toilet. Over at the HDW, they bring the bedpan if I needed to do ‘number 2’, and I clean myself before they take away the bedpan. Even so, I am asked to wear adult diapers since my first day at the HDW.

Over at this ward (Medical Ward 4) I still wear the diapers just in case, but then I still go to the bathroom. I just cannot make myself pee into the diapers. So imagine what it’s like to put diapers on yourself. It is a great lesson in humility. At the HDW, the nurses would do it for me while I lie down. How do I do it on my own now? After a few times of putting it on myself, I have mastered the art, so to speak.

The surroundings are just too much for me. I shut my eyes and try to sleep. When hubby arrives that afternoon, the first I do is to sob silently while relating my ‘tragic’ tale of being moved to this ward. After seeing his worried face, I immediately control myself and stop sobbing. Taking deep breaths to calm myself, I apologise. He tells me that maybe this is for the better. The doctors are always around, unlike in the Special Wards at Level 7. I try to look at things in perspective. I agree with him.

At least I’m put in Bed 2, somewhere out front. Hubby tells me to be strong. I’ve come this far already. I tell him that I’ll try my best. I do not want him to worry about me. He worries enough already. I dread the time when he has to leave me. But of course that time comes and he promises to come tomorrow afternoon. He is no sure if he is able to come during lunch, but I assure him that it’s alright.

After he leaves, I decide to plait my hair. At least now when I lie down, my hair will be flat and not hurt my head like a normal ponytail would. I sit on my bed and see my shadow on the pillowcase. It looks like it belongs to some forlorn anime character, with wisps of hair blown by the wind. Haha, anime indeed!

It is difficult for me to sleep here. The noise is unbearable as the old makcik screams all the time. She calls out “Hello…. Hello….” If she sees anyone walk past her bed. She screams for the nurses and says that she’s hungry, or she wants to eat, or she needs a diaper change. She threatens to jump down from the bed. When nobody heeds her call, she starts kicking and says that she’s going to fall now. The nurses run to her, but of course she’s not really going anywhere as she doesn’t even have the energy to sit up on her own. Poor makcik…. I try to sleep and after sitting up and lying down many times, I finally sleep at about 1a.m.

7th Day - 11/10/2005 (Tuesday)

Again I wake feeling sore. I’ve tried sleeping in various positions, with and without a pillow and still I feel pain.

Like yesterday, I receive visitors from my previous department and this time Mazwan comes with Mieza and Dr Beik. We chat and Dr Beik tells a joke. After that hubby arrives. I am so excited at seeing him. While he’s with me, some lecturers from the Faculty come. Kak Liza, Kak Intan, Kak Shima and En Kamarul are here. They bring a huge basket of fruits from the 4 of them and Ms Mariati, who could not make it to the hospital. I thank them for coming. They say that they heard about me from my faculty colleagues, so they too decide to come visit. Thank you so much you guys….

After Kak Intan and Kak Liza leave, the nurses give me the antibiotic again. The one that gives me cramps. This time, something worse happens. My legs get cramps, my heart beats too fast, and my head immediately throbs. It feels like bursting! I scream for my husband. At first he does nothing but massages my legs. Why does he look at me like that? Do something! I can’t breathe properly. At that time I feel like I am going to pass out at any moment. I scream again and again, afraid that he doesn’t hear me. He gets up and finds the nurse. He tells her of my reaction to the antibiotics. The nurse promises to inform the doctor to change it. The nurse puts me back on the oxygen tube and I breathe easier. At this time, Kak Shima and En Kamarul pop in just to say goodbye and they leave.

A while later, Nawi and Juliana, together with Rashidah and Alia from the Faculty come visit me. They say that they heard the office people came to the hospital to visit me, and it was then they knew I had been admitted into the hospital. I want to thank all of you for being here. It means a lot to me. Thanks guys!

Hubby stays by my side till he absolutely has to go. I am thankful for such a loving husband, who cares for me a lot, at times, even more than I do myself.

After he leaves, the Chinese nurse asks me if I would like to read a comic. Seeing that I am bored out of my wits, I agree. So I spend the rest of the day reading a Malay comic, which under normal circumstances I will not even consider reading. The Chinese nurse also tells me that she will shampoo my hair tomorrow morning. She has informed me yesterday to remind me to get shampoo from hubby. The shampoo bottle is now in my drawer.

I read the comic with difficulty at first. All the words merge into one another and seem to swim around the page. It has been a week since I last read anything. My eyes need time to focus. This seems like eternity. When my eyes can focus, I only manage to read a little bit at one time though.

Nothing else happens that day. I fall asleep late again. Now I seem to be coughing a lot at night. I ask for some cough medicine. Since the HDW doesn’t have any, I have to wait for the medicine to be sent from another ward. After the medicine takes its effect, my eyelids feel heavy and I doze off.

6th Day - 10/10/2005 (Monday)

I am awakened and immediately feel throbbing in my neck and left shoulder. Oh, when will this ever go away? Soon I hope.

During the first visiting hours, I receive some visitors. My colleagues from my last department, Corporate Comms., come to see me. Pn Shahidah, my then superior, comes with Kak Liza, Layla, Mazwan and Om Karini. I am so happy to see them, albeit 2 at a time. They pass me the original Guarantee Letter (GL) from the University. I am so thankful that the University will be paying for all the expenses. Hubby comes too, and stays until it is time to go.

My colleagues from the faculty also come to see me – Razlina, Cynthia, Roni, Rena, Zam, Kak Adz, and Din. I am delighted to see them. They tell me that Izzaty sends her regards. They are quite surprised to see the condition that I am in. I am glad they come. Thank you guys!

In this ward, I try not to think too much. I sleep and concentrate on getting better. Sometimes, certain song lyrics would pop into my head and stay, playing the same parts over and over like a broken record. I tell this to hubby and he tells me to stop thinking about songs. It is Ramadhan, so perhaps I should “berzikir” and give praises to Allah. I agree that what he says is right, but sometimes it takes effort to shut out the songs. The two songs I always hear in my head are Allahyarham Sudirman’s Merisik Khabar and Jamal Abdillah’s Kekasih Awal dan Akhir. So now anytime my mind wanders, I will start some zikirs instead.

Sometimes I get terrible cramps in my legs afer they give me one of the antibiotics. I yell for the nurse when I get these cramps and one of them will help me flex my feet. I am drained by now and I lie awake. Around me patients are sleeping. I fall asleep sometime after midnight.

Sunday, October 30

5th Day - 9/10/2005 (Sunday)

The routine goes on today. Same old, same old. My sore shoulder feels like its being pulled down by a tonne of bricks. I find that trying to get in a comfortable position is impossible.

I’m glad that hubby is here. Being in a place with all the sick people is very depressing. My parents-in-law come visit me. We talk for a while. Then my brother Saufi and sister Aqilah come. Mama could not come along because she has sprained her back. I feel sad to hear this.

Nothing much happens. Nothing much can happen anyway, since there can only be 6 patients in this ward at any one time. I talk to hubby and he massages my shoulder. He coaxes me to eat, but the most that I can eat is about 5 tablespoons of porridge.

Then, hubby’s sister Nurin and her husband Fahmy come to visit. They bring along a basket of fruits and flowers. I ask her about her baby and she tells me of Khadeeja’s antics. She’s still a little baby.

After they leave, the nurses tell my hubby that flowers are not allowed in the ward, so he has to bring them home. However, I eat some grapes first, which are crunchy and yummy!

Then hubby leaves and I sleep. Or tried to anyway…. I finally doze off late at night.

4th Day - 8/10/2005 (Saturday)

I am wakened for the usual morning wash. I fall asleep soon after. I get up again and hubby is there. I tell him that my left shoulder feels sore, like I’ve been sleeping on a rock. It seems that the nurses have somehow put a huge half-circle thingy under my shoulder. My hubby removes it and places it at the top corner of the mattress. The device actually connects all the wires from my chest and finger, and monitors the vital signs, and shows them at the screen on my left. My right arm by the way is wrapped with the Velcro-thingy and it automatically pumps and checks my BP every hour. This, too, shows in the screen.

The left side of my neck and my left shoulder throb with pain. But there is nothing I can do except lie in bed. That’s all I ever seem to do.

I also have to start eating now. I am served porridge with some chicken and vegetable side dishes. I only manage 2 spoons.

Hubby’s aunt, Cik Nor and her husband Uncle Shahrail come to see me. Hubby does most of the talking.

Before you know it, it’s time for hubby to go home. I sleep and sleep….

3rd Day - 7/10/2005 (Friday)

I am awakened by the nurses who wash me again with cold water. After getting dressed I find that it is only 5a.m. It seems customary for the HDW nurses to bathe patients and change the bed linen at this oh-so-early hour. Then they allow us to sleep again till breakfast, which is at about 7a.m. I find no difficulty in going back to sleep. Sleep is the only thing that I do, it seems at the moment.

The specialists decide that they needed to do two main things: poke me in the neck and force a tube into my thigh. I am to get a line started at my neck, so that medication can be given straight to the heart. I am also getting a special kind of 24-hour dialysis, so a catheter needs to be inserted into my right thigh, going straight into the kidney.

Getting the line in my neck is not that terrible really. All the doctor has to do is poke my jugular. Haha! Well, I think I am given some sort of local anaesthesia but I’m not really sure. I think there was one for the catheter on my thigh. I hear the doctor mention stitches and I cringe a little at the thought. But hey, I do not feel a thing. Now I have a line, another catheter at the right side of my neck, with three separate tubes. I feel like Buffy the Vampire Slayer with all her amulets around her neck. “Muddy the Virus Slayer”. Hmmm…. Somehow it does not have any commercial ring to it. Haha!

The visiting hours here are from 12.30 to 2p.m. and 4.30 to 7p.m. Hubby normally comes after work, but whenever possible, he will also visit during lunch.

I still feel like I’m in a dream. Everything seems surreal. I slip into and out of slumber at any given time.

2nd Day - 6/10/2005 (Thursday)

I am awakened by hubby. I see his face in front of me and he mouths something. What does he want? I want to sleep, so leave me be. He shakes me again and seems to be asking me something but I fail to comprehend. For some reason, the words Tae Guk Gi keep popping up. I find out later that it was a film from Korea which won an award at the recent Asia Pacific Film Festival. How it got into my mind is beyond my comprehension. The only logical explanation is that I possibly had heard the words before and it was embedded in the unconscious recesses of my mind, and during the episode with hubby, had just popped out. Funny, come to think of it….

The Prof tells hubby that I have to be transferred from the Special Wards to a ward on level 6. It’s the High Dependency Ward (HDW). She wants me to be placed there to ensure that I am monitored 24 hours a day. We are at a loss. Is my condition more serious than a severe case of fever? We then move to Level 6, complying with the Prof’s orders. I am stunned and quite speechless at the time. And that says a lot, because I’m a constant chatterbox.

I am immediately prepped and put into Bed 1. The nurses put a tube in for me (something called a CBD, I think) so that I don’t need to get up to go to the bathroom. My first day in HDW, and I don’t even have a clue as to what is going on. All I know is that my blood pressure (BP) is too low, my temperature is too high, my head is splitting, and I just want the minutes on the clock to go faster. But of course Mademoiselle Time has to have her own sweet ways with me.

They are very strict here at the HDW. Only 2 visitors per patient are allowed at any one time. It’s lucky for me that I do not have many visitors.

I sleep and weave in and out of unconsciousness, my surroundings all forgotten….

1st Day - 5/10/2005 (Wednesday)

Have an appointment with the surgeon today. It’s been two weeks since my last visit. I don’t feel too fantastic at the moment. I have a headache that feels like a wheelbarrow of bricks is weighing my mind. Hubby and I wait anxiously for the doctor. While waiting I regurgitate all my breakfast into a plastic bag. Ugh! Foul tasting bits in my mouth. The nurse gives me some warm water to drink and I feel a bit better.

Upon seeing my condition the doctor immediately asks the nurse to admit me into one of their wards at Level 7. At that time, my temperature was 40 degrees! What happens after that is a complete blur, a series of scenes at times overlapping in my memory.

I remember shivering and being put to bed. At times I see the same dreams taking place over and over again, weaving aimlessly in and out. My head is floating and then I fall back into deep slumber. I recall a sponge bath with honest-to-goodness ice cubes in the sterile looking steel bowls. I hear the clanking of the ice cubes and remember little else.

The nurses tell my husband that I need to bring my temperature down. So that means I have to sleep “berkemban” in the air-conditioned room. Sometime during the night, I could not tolerate it anymore, so I pull the covers tightly around me.

I'm back from the almost dead....

I'm back. After a long disappearance from the blogging world, I'm finally back! I've been ill, and was admitted into the hospital. The next few entries will be my experiences of my three-week hospital stay.

Monday, October 3

Steal my pencils now, will ya....

Hello everyone! I'm back at work today. Kinda nice to come to office after being away for a week and a half. I miss the camaraderie and the goings-on in the office.

Someone apparently replaced my mouse with a new one. Yippee! Other than that, everything's the same except that all my pencils are blunt. Sheesh. Note to self: Steal other people's pencils tomorrow Sharpen pencils tomorrow....

Hmm, no more watching Bristow kick ass. That's ok. I look forward to watching House tomorrow night. And anyway, puasa month is here, so maybe should cut down on the tube watching.

Okay dokey, now if you'll excuse me, I have to see to my neopet. Heh heh....