Monday, September 22, 2008

My 18 Hours Under ICU

“I was discharged from oncology ward at 7pm on Thursday 11 September. 18 hours later I was knocking on heaven’s door. I was readmitted as my life was under threat. During those hours, which was filled with a lot of uncertainties, I felt there was some unknown strength that supported me through it all. I have gone through a lot. The medical staff treated me well during my ‘detention’”. Say No to ISA, oophs ICU!

Dad’s condition has deteriorated since the article “Cancer” was written on 4 June. He is a frequent boarder of the hospital. Friday the 12, it was a close call. Mom called “Dad was not responding too well and was sweating profusely. There was not much urine in catheter bag” It was almost lunch hours and it should be wee-wee time. That could only mean one problem – the urinary tract was blocked. Luckily the traffic was kind and with no chicane to tame managed to reach the hospital in a quick time.

Dad was wheeled into the A&E in a semi conscious frame. After briefing the doctor, the medical staff sprung into action. It was show time. As a bit part player, the only role for me was to spread loving kindness “May You Be Well & Happy” at the waiting area. Many thoughts were floating around and the best decision made during that moment was to feed myself with tuna sandwich and 100 Plus (otherwise might had ended on the drip too due to dehydration!)

It felt like ages when the doctor pulled me aside “Can we talk?” I was ready for the worst. “The bladder infection is quite bad, the blood pressure is dropping, there is a possibility of a heart attack as he has a mild shock and dehydrated. Due to his condition and age, and the fact that he is terminally ill, it does not look good. There are 2 options – let him go naturally or go for active resuscitation. The choice is yours. Go naturally, does not mean we are not doing anything….” The truth hurts. The doctor heaved a sight of relief “ I am glad you took it well as I was not sure how to tell you” as I did not scream and pull her hair or called her names!

After making a quick look at him in all the tubes, I started making calls. The doctor gave the green light to get the loved ones over to kiss and say goodbye! The first call was to my brother and told him to wrap up his work and drive mom and my kids over. As usual mom was cool. It was going to be a long night. He was wheeled to the general ward after he was stable to free up the bed. As the eldest, you can’t just enjoy the perks. You got to take in the dirty jobs too, meaning I qualified automatically to stay the night beside him.

As I was preparing to take forty winks on the lazy chair, the midnight news woke the dead. Someone got arrested under ISA. Quick walk to the television set hung at the common area. No surprise to hear the first name – RPK. Was stunned when the next 2 names were read out - Theresa and Tan who? The pendatang journalist. Disgusted, disoriented and despaired. It was the point of no return. Whatever support to the government had just evaporated. It was abuse in the first degree. Period.

However all is not lost. During my 2 nights stay, I witnessed a bunch of dedicated medical team. There is definitely hope for mankind. Even though they were understaffed, they showed lots of caring and patient attitude in caring the patients (pun intended). Kudos to them. Agreed the public healthcare sector is still riddled with many horror stories namely long waiting list to be treated and if your stars are not aligned properly you might be treated by a rookie who used you as a guinea pig! However the facilities are on par if not better than the private sector. Just like any entity, there are bound to have a few bad apples but overall the dedicated and caring lots stood out.

I am quite embarrassed to share this true story. When I, wife and children are ill, we would be treated at a leading private hospital whereas when our parents are ill, we would check them in the public hospital! Huh? It was purely economy reason, nothing malicious. We are covered under our employment terms and conditions. In addition, we are spoilt for choices as the insurance industry has evolved. Those days insurance was associated with death – Choy! Choy! Choy! These days, in addition to protection we are using insurance as a tool for education planning, retirement planning, health and medical coverage etc.

The take home is that we are in a position to decide whether we want to be treated in a public or private hospital. The cost of medical treatment is ever rising, growing faster than the official inflation rate and to make it for ‘affordable’ when we needed medical treatment, perhaps we should look at insurance in a different way. We do not need to be over insured, just insured based on our affordability.

The other financial related lesson is the asset distribution and estate planning. Dad does not have a will and do not need one. He had gifted us the house a decade ago. The only piece of paper work was to transfer the ownership of the beaten Wira. It would be a totally different story for us. With some assets in tow and for those young parents, it is wise to explore writing a wills. Get the paper right and unfreeze the assets the quickest time. Public fights and court disputes are the last thing to leave behind in the time of grief.

Fast forward a week later, dad was discharged on Friday the 19. He did recover from the infection. However, it did not warrant a thanksgiving party as the battle is not over. Not a seventh heaven scene. Mom was exhausted as she stayed overnight to be with him when I was back to work. Another wise decision that we made was to ‘terminate’ her services as babysitter and cook during this ‘ordeal’. We have engaged her sister, my aunt to baby-sit Jo Ven, my 15 months old junior. The slight drawback is that we are spending more time on the road. Crazy crazy traffic scene at Cheras. The sight was unpleasant with streams of vehicles as contra flow system was employed during peak hours with never ending road construction and diversion!

The expenses just shot up. Petrol, toll, food, babysitter allowances and not forgetting medical expenses. Thank goodness we have our safety net. It is so so true that we really do need to have some savings – for the rainy days! Otherwise I would not have the liberty to write this story.

What’s next? For dad, everyday is a bonus. Heaven knows if he could celebrate the next Chinese New Year. For the rest of us, life goes on as we could not wait until hell freezes over. Enjoy the calm before the next storm!

8 comments:

samo said...

Sorry to hear what you have to go through bro, be strong. Good vibes and prayers sent to you and your family...

Sam

CheeWee said...

thanks for the wishes and support bro..

Center Parted said...

Dear CheeWee, sorry to hear about your dad's condition. Must be trying for the whole family. Wishing your dad well and suffusing with metta...

CheeWee said...

Thanks dude. May You & Your Loved Ones Be Well & Happy too.

mg said...

Hi Chee Wee, hope your dad's condition improve. Take care of yourself and family too...

Razali Razman said...

Hi...just read about your Dad's condition. Hope that you be strong in the face of your dad's health situation. I wish you, your dad, and your family well.

CheeWee said...

Hi MG, Razali and everyone out there.. thanks for the supports & wishes. We will ride the storm & come out of it in 1 piece..May Everyone Be Well & Happy!

Ahmad Ikmal said...

Hi bro, just read your entry. I pray that your whole family will stay strong and patient, that God gives your family and you especially the strength to get through these difficult times in your family. I am sure your dad is quietly pleased to see you stepping up and taking the responsibility to look after the whole family. It might be tiring, what more with the traffic and so on, but God will repay you one way or another.

About the ISA issue, I totally agree with you. I am totally appalled by what happened. I can understand RPK, but not the other two. Wrote about it on my blog, and if you have the time do go through it. http;//aikmal.blogspot.com

Hope to see you for raya bro....

Warmest regards,

Ikmal