Thursday, 24 January 2008

Of Big Heads and Bigger Hearts: Touched for a Lifetime...



I have been meaning to tell you the story of one little boy called *Ahmad…



Ahmad was warded at the pediatric wards for a few weeks, and I had the very blessed opportunity to meet him and his very sweet and inspiring mother…


Ahmad’s bed was placed at the very front of the ward, at the far end, near the sliding door-windows…He was the only patient at that entire ‘section’, and he usually had his curtain drawn…


Naturally, I was curious, and so were the other people in the ward…I didn’t ask, but one day, I saw what was on the other side of the curtains…






Honestly, I was taken back, but my heart went out to that little boy…And one day, I went up to say hello, with Chee Keong in my arms…

Ahmad was about 14 months old when I first saw him…At 14 months old, he weighed 16 kg’s…Nothing really shocking right?




Well, how about I tell you that Ahmad’s head alone weighed 10 kg’s?




Some of you might already guess what was Ahmad’s condition…He has Congenital Hydrocephalus (Big head, caused by a lot of fluids/water in the head)…


I had seen many children with Hydrocephalus before, but nothing as big as this...




I was a little apprehensive about going up to Ahmad’s bed…I didn’t know how his mother would take it, but I thought the most that could happen was that she would shoo me away…



So I went up, introduced myself, introduced Chee Keong/Adam (who actually remembered his manners for that time, and "Oooh"ed at the sound of his name), and asked if I could say hello to Ahmad…




His mother was very sweet about the whole thing…She asked if I was a doctor…=)...I said no, and told her I was a volunteer attached to the ward, and that I was taking care of Chee Keong, who was an abandoned child…



Ahmad’s mother and I became friends from that day onwards…She never called me by name (My name a bit susah lar, huh, and most people just can’t remember it), and I only knew her by ‘Kak’, but I think that was enough…




Ahmad’s curtains were not drawn so much anymore (previously, he was down with something, so they drew the curtains), and every morning when I passed their bed, Kak would wave, and I would wave back…


And after bathing Chee Keong, exercising him, powdering him and dressing him up, I would go make his food, and bowl-of-food, Chee Keong and me would go visiting to the other end of the ward…




And so began our routine…Kak and me would chat away while Chee Keong slowly made his way through his food (or snored away), and Ahmad would call out every once in a while…(Kak also started to make visits to Chee Keong, while Ahmad was asleep...If I was away, she would carry him and play with him..)



I found out that Ahmad had actually had numerous surgeries to drain the excessive fluid since birth to help him…He also had shunts placed from the cerebral ventricles to other parts of his body for the fluid to be reabsorbed…In fact, he had just had one a few weeks back, and was due to have another one in a few months…Needless to say, he would need many more surgeries…




Looking at Ahmad, I was very sorry…He could not close his eyes properly because his skin was taut, and he spent almost all his time on the bed…Kak said they needed about 2-3 people just to lift Ahmad, because of the size and weight of his head (one on either side of his head, and one for his body)…His body, was normal sized…


Ahmad’s head was not exactly oval/square/rectangular/round or any other shape you would normally describe a head with… From far, his head looked round, but up close, especially when you run your hands over his head, the skull were deformed too…It was huge, like an over-inflated balloon, and the top of his head had little ‘curves’…They were like little mountains and valleys…




I really had very strong admiration for the young lady in front of me…She loved that little boy, and was very accepting of her son’s condition:-


"Takdir Tuhan, kita terima saja lah...Kak mestilah sabar" (God's will, we must accept...I have to be patient), she would say...



In fact, if I was asked to name one thing we can learn from the Muslims, it is this: To accept God's will...





Nevertheless, I don’t think I will have the strength (Scratch that, I know I won’t) to be so strong in the face of such adversity, where you know that the child you carried for 9 months, might die any moment…



I guessed it helped (both Kak and I) that Chee Keong himself had disabilities…There was an unspoken bond that we were both holding very special children in our arms (hers figuratively)…

I would have forgiven her if she thought I was only there to ogle her son’s condition, but I think it changed (whatever assumptions she might have) when she saw little Chee Keong who had all kinds of disabilities himself…




But mostly, I went up to her because I wanted her to know that she had a friend, and that there were people who didn’t think of her child as a freak (many children point fingers, and their parents don’t bother to stop them, and most don’t come up to say hello…They just stare)…

But I think the one thing I wanted her to know more than anything was that I thought she was a very special mother, because really, such special children are born to very special mothers…




Ahmad left the hospital a couple weeks later, and Kak and I lost contact…Although it has been nearly 2 years, I still wake up in the middle of the night wondering what has happened to Ahmad…




Although at first, I was very sad when I realized all friendships end when the patients and their families left the hospital.


But in retrospect, I think the lesson for me was in the here and now…The lesson for me was that people can touch your heart just by being themselves, because just a moment’s encounter is enough to leave a lasting impression in your life…


And I am especially thankful that I was born ‘normal’…





*Note: Name has been changed...



Friday, 18 January 2008

The Day I Gave The Wireless-Router a Few Smacks!...




I am very fed-up with my wireless system here...Nothing irks me more when I turn on my computer, then for the Network to scream "Very Good Connection" and it turns out I cannot open Yahoo!


Needless to say, Blogger, oh Mr-Blogger, who is temperamental at the best of times, is a complete pain here...It took me exactly three days to open the comments page, log on and reply to some comments left there...




How can it be that there is "Very Good Connection", and every page you try, you see "Cannot Find Server"?!?!





Lately though, I've been seeing this:- "There is an IP conflict with another system on the network"...Last night, after consulting some computer experts, who made me even more confused with their techno-jargon, I did what an enraged bull would do...

I nevertheless thank the experts, because they were indeed very helpful...It's not their fault this brain of mine cannot understand them...=)



Anyway, back to the bull...



I climbed on a chair, got on the counter, and gave the wireless-router a long string of expletives, switched if off, and told it to behave, otherwise I was not turning him back on...After about 5 minutes, I gave it a couple of smacks, and flipped it back on, and voila, at 8 am this morning, I managed to log on...




Huh, who would have guessed?



This is ridiculous...My hostel bills include the wireless and yet, we get such ridiculous service...And yet, on the information-leaflets we see about the hostel, it is said sooo nicely we have a "HotSpot"

*Oh Wow* (Cynical I am...)



I considered getting my own connection, and after hearing me complain about needing 5 hours to finish an assignment that would have taken me 2 at home, my parents too gave up...Leisure on the Net is another issue which I complain about, since I actually use the Net for a variety of things, besides doing homework and blogging...



I also chat, and do most of my readings of news, journals, excerpts from books and publications online...My parents are cool with that since the alternative would be me asking to buy the books! ;)




But guess what?



Maxis Broadband doesn't come to my area...

Celcom Broadband costs me RM 999 to get the USB, plus RM 68 monthly...I think it is ridiculous to fork out RM 999 for a connection that I need for another 3 months or so only...

Streamyx is the next best thing, but guess what? Those idiots say you must suscribe for a minimum of one year!




But the most ridiculous of all is that I need to even consider to pay extra for a service that I am already paying for!



Me thinks the only way for the college to sit up and pay attention is if I write to the press and give them some bad publicity...After all, all my complaints and the complaints of my fellow hostelites are falling on deaf ears...

Why is this becoming a trend in Malaysia? Want change, make people look bad?



Does anybody have any way to help me stay sane for a few more months?



Please?



Monday, 14 January 2008

With These Hands We Reach Out...




Self-Explanatory...




Today I want to tell you all the story of 2 ladies my mum and I met while in the hospital…

About 4 years back, at about noon, my late grandfather (he was alive then) had difficulty breathing…My parents and I rushed him to the hospital, and because of his age (he was about 87), the doctors admitted him into the red-tagged ‘Zon Kritikal’ (Critical Zone) to be assessed…



My mother went in with him, while I hovered outside the red-tagged doors…After a few minutes, my mum came out looking a little nauseated, and asked if I could sit with my grandpa instead…She said I could say no…



The reason? On either side of my grandpa’s bed, were two other patients, who were seriously injured…

On his left was an army officer who had been flung out of his truck and had sustained very severe head injuries…On his right, two beds away, was a baby who was screaming away, who had shrapnels of glass all over her body…(They sedated the baby shortly after)…


My mum cannot stand the smell and sight of the blood…




I went in, and the first thing I thought was ‘Oh God, the smell is terrible!’…And the sight I saw that night is something I will never forget…There was blood all over the floor, and various tubes of different sizes were everywhere, and I swear there was actually bursting from the patient…



When one smells a little bit of blood, it is ok, but to have blood everywhere, the smell is very nauseating and very hanyir (I don’t know how to translate this)…The hospital personnel were all robed up and had masks on, and my grandpa had on an oxygen mask, but I was left with nothing…I ended up breathing through my mouth instead, while looking the other way…They later drew the curtains, but I could still hear them!





After a while, my grandpa was sent for observation in the famous Observation Room…While they were doing some tests on him, my mom and I waited outside…

At one corner was a young Malay lady crying silently, her face ashen…At another corner was an old Malay lady, also crying silently…


My mum and I guessed they were family of the 2 patients still in the Critical Zone of the ER…I went to talk to the old lady, while my mum approached the young lady…






Although strangers, our lives, are often inter-twined...





I spoke to Opah, and she told me that her grand-daughter (the little baby) was inside the ER…She said that they came from Taiping, and while her son was cleaning the glass windows at home, he had accidentally smashed right through it, and that her grand-daughter had been lying on a little mattress directly underneath…

The result was all the glass landing on the baby and cutting her…The old lady was sobbing away, because she was afraid of losing the little girl…




My mum later told me that the young lady was the young wife of the soldier in the ER…The truck he had been traveling in, on the way home from Penang, had met with an accident, and he and 2 other had been injured (he the worse for he was flung out)…The couple had recently got married less than a month ago, and had recently moved to the army camp in Ipoh…

They had no family here (Ipoh) as both of them hailed from the East Coast (I can’t remember exactly which state, but if I remembered correctly, it was Pahang)…

So she was completely alone, with a dying husband, and no friends and no family, and completely lost…



My mum lend the young lady her handphone for her to make some phone calls home, and subsequently left her number…She told the young lady to call should she need anything during the night, since we lived nearby…



My mum later told me that she was worried the soldier might die in the middle of the night, and the lady would be all alone…



After a while, we left to get my grandpa’s stuff and also to bring my grandma to the hospital to accompany my grandpa…


On the way back to the hospital, my parents stopped at 7-11, and my mum and me went down…I
was a little surprised when I saw her pick up stuff like mineral water and biscuits and bread, and even more surprised when she got some nasi lemak bungkus (she said the 7-11 bags showed they were halal)…

When we reached the hospital, after seeing to my grandpa, my mum did some enquiring, and later, took me to the security guard station (this was about 11 pm)…





Our hands may be of different sizes, different shapes and colour, but underneath all that, it's still the same...Just like us humans...=)





It turns out, she had bought all those food and water for the two ladies whom we had earlier met in the ER…She herself went to see the soldier’s wife in 1A (or it could have been 2A), while I was sent to find the baby in 5D…She was scheduled for surgery in the morning, but thankfully, the injuries were not permanent…

Mum’s reason? They would be too worried to think about food, but she was sure that somewhere in the night, they would be hungry, and there would be no food…


We then nipped back down to bring my grandpa in to be admitted…



The next morning, on our way to see my grandpa, my mum told me that at about 7 am, the young lady had called to say that her husband had just passed away…She also told my mum that all their relatives (as in, both sides) had arrived in the middle of the night, and all got to say goodbye…


I asked my mum if we should go see them, but she said that we should not intrude on the family’s grief, and moreover they would be too busy seeing to the funeral arrangements…The most important thing was, said mum, the young lady had her family with her, and she wasn’t alone…Mum said that if she was still alone, then we should go…



I honestly can’t believe I actually remember the events of that night, but remember them I do…I guess there are some things you don’t forget…





Reaching Out...




But a 17 year-old learned one thing that night…And that is: Just because you don’t know a person doesn’t mean you can’t reach out and help them...



Friday, 11 January 2008

In Reflection: 2007...


Hey Folks!


I'm back!

While I was away, I’ve been doing some thinking, and I thought I’d kick-start my return to blogging by reminiscing on what 2007 was…(Ok, so I am later than most in doing this post!)








Some friends of mine and the little 21st birthday celebration they threw for me in the hostel...








I blogged about the first decade of my life, and subsequently, the second decade, and I think this would be a good time to blog about the 21st year of my life, seeing that it is coming to an end already!


So what kind of year has 2007 been to me? I would say, it has been a great one! I had some personal losses, but I think the gains I got helped…Here are among the *Ahem* highlights…








Chee Keong dear...





The first thing that came flooding back in remembering 2007 was the death of my dear Chee Keong…Chee Keong was a special needs boy, with severe Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy, and a whole host of other health problems…In the course of my 10-month stint with the hospital, I had found myself inevitably becoming terribly attached to this (at that time) 16 month-old child who weighed a shocking 4 kg’s…And what I thought would just be another child I worked with turned out to be the one child whom I gave my heart to completely…




I shared 6 whole months with him (daily) and later would bug my dad to drive me to see him in Selangor, something my dear dad occasionally obliged…

His death from measles in March 2007, came as somewhat of a shock, and among the feelings I also felt, was anger...My family of course, was of great help...









Presenting the Lings...One reader (who only wanted to be known as Aunty Teoh) whom I met a few weeks back commented she had never seen my dad's picture...So here he is!








I knew, from my various visits to the home, that they had not been taking proper care of him…Most of their care was lavished on 2 ‘normal’ children there, whom had come into the home since they were a couple of months old…I supposed the caregivers of the home found it more ‘rewarding’ to care for children who responded to you like any normal-needs child would…Morover, the bond was already there (for the two kids)…





I was wrought with anger that perhaps, if they had paid more attention to him, he would not have died…A feeling which, by the way, was shared by the nurses of the Ipoh GH, where he called home for nearly 14 months in total…







But in retrospect, Chee Keong’s death comes as a blessing in many ways, and indeed, the best place for him to be was to go back to God…(After a lot, a lot of crying, mind you!)…The virtual hugs and support from the readers of this blog helped tremendously too, so thank you!



I still miss him a lot, but at least, I am moving on…I still think and speak of Chee Keong in the present tense, so spell checks do come in very handy! ;)










Before the campaign...






Then there was the Siti Aisya campaign, which was a much bigger success than I could ever imagine…The intensive nearly-2 month campaign managed to raise RM 14, 450, along with pledges for a one-year supply of diapers, milk, and glucose…

There were some weirdos (for lack of a better word, because the alternative would be to curse =)) who decided to make it their business to make things difficult for this campaign and the people involved, but there were also many others who came forward to give their support! And I think that is more important than weirdos with nothing better to do…=)









4 months into the campaign...






For a full update on how things are doing now for the Shahidan family, click here




2007 was also the year that I went fully-public with my blog...I met many new people in the course of blogging, and in the process, made many new friends as well, both from near and far…



There’s Jacqui, who was my first friend from Germany (now she’s in the States); There’s Uncle Lee and Winnie in Ontario, Canada; There’s Jenn, Kak Farina, Gurdeep @ KL_Girl, Aunty Rita and Kak Puteri in the States; There’s Kak Teh in UK…


On the local front, there’s the very hug-‘Care Bear’-gable Danny @ Kerp, the (by choice!) baldy in the yellow wheelchair;
There’s Kak Pi, the PLWHA-saviour, who lives about 5 minutes away from me;
There’s Chris @ Mob, the poster master with the pony-tail;
There’s Aunty Dalilah, the very courageous cancer survivor with the sweet voice;

There’s Abang Mat, perpetually stuck on an oil-rig that nobody is allowed to visit unless they have the physical-properties of a Decathlon athlete;
There’s Doc Tokasid, the good doctor with the great sense of humour and tons of advice;
There’s Chegu Nazir, the ‘Godfather’ of Penang Island who is really cool;

There’s Uncle Bernard, the man with the pipe and the big bear hugs;
There’s Anu @ Galadriel, the lady with the eye for photography, who is also very helpful (I’m supposed to tumpang her if I want to go Mee Rebus Tuesday);

There’s Aunty Nuraina whom I initially thought was A. Samad Said’s daughter;
There’s Aunty Maria, her sister, whom I heard cooks extremely well, and for a platoon, no less!;
There’s Kak Ruby who looks good no matter where she goes…=)

There’s Uncle Jimmy @ The Razzler, who is such a sweet person who never runs of comforting words;
There’s Jimi, the soft-hearted teacher with a penchant for movies,
There’s the enigmatic NightWing, who makes me quite curious;
There’s Elviza, the Crocs lawyer with the super charming (very young) son;
There’s Mott, who’se gonna have a baby soon, and Sharlydia who already has a son;

There's Ibu who's a real dedicated mother to her lovely sons;

There’s the witty Zewt, who just had his wedding reception with his lovely bride;
There’s Jo-D, the spunky girl with the red hair;
There’s new-found friend Akmal, who is going to be an OBGYN, but who plays with slippers;

And there's Aunty Teoh, a reader whom I met by accident, who identified me by accident, and who saw my dad by accident!



As for ‘celebrity’ bloggers:-
There’s the sweet Aunty MarinaM who is the epitome of ‘big things come in small packages’;
There’s ponytail Rocky who brews quite a sensation;
There’s Uncle Jeff who is giving newspapers a run for their money;


Really, not bad, if sitting behind the computer gets you so many new friends!








The kids admiring the montage on our beloved country...




2007 was also the year we Malaysians all celebrated our 50th Merdeka! And the kids were not left out either! And I still have not gotten the opportunity to meet Tun Dr. Mahathir! And I guess I never will...=(






At the horses' stable...





2007 was also the year that I ventured into a new form of volunteering, and that was with horses and special children under the RDA (Riding For the Disabled) Program…It was also the year in which I met many Down Syndrome children, and their families. These children, along with their family and caregivers were very instrumental in my short little study on DS…






Hydrotherapy...





The children of course played a big difference in my life, this year, like the previous year...Hydrotherapy was one area which I managed to continue helping out in during my hols...It was a good form of exercise for me, as the water is warm...Kinda like being in a sauna...=)



Here are two pictures I like very much, of some kids I have met...






Baby Amin: Somebody's sleepy...






Sharvin: Somebody's happy...





Whatever it is, this year is going to be another big year for me...Let's see how it goes; Keeping my fingers and toes all crossed!

Here's looking forward to another wonderful year of friendship with all of you...Thanks folks!