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...



27 comments:

Akmal said...

Daph,
What you did was admirable. Things that everyone can give, but not many will; companionship.
What the mum did, that is just what every mum will give to the son/daughter; love. But in this case, she faced much bigger challenge.
You are right about the last point. One short period of time will be enough to touch one's heart. But to have our heart being touched, we need to open it...
Have a nice day.

Jo-D said...

Daphe,
OMGQ!!! I dind know there was such a kind of thing. I think I would have starred also. OMG! You darling doing that. But how can someone live with so big a head?

Puteri said...

I have never met a baby born with that deformity though I have seen several news features about babies born with that condition.

It is indeed heartbreaking for a mother to know that she is going to lose the child she carried for 9 months so soon after the child has been born. Truly heartbreaking.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

yo Defni,

i have learned to not give a turd from people who stares. it could be either i look like a freak or because i'm the handsomest guy in the universe, people will still turn their head when there's something peculiar about any subject. i guess its human nature to be curious. i wouldnt mind if they come up and kill their curiousity once and for all instead of standing there making you feel uncomfy.

Raden Galoh said...

Dearest Daphne...

What you wrote in the last para is really true and I got misty eyed reading your connection with Kak and the bond has ever strengthened. I think you have the strength to brace it. God is AlMighty, the last time, I said to myself was something like that too but when the BC hit, in the adversity, I gained courage to face in full face-on.

I see you with bigger heart and you have the spirit to match it, dear.

Take care and thank you for sharing it.

IBU said...

Hi Daphne

Welcome back! Err... ya lorr.. i'm so behind time. Lot's of catch up bloghopping to do.

That was such an inspiring piece on an example of the unconditional love by a mother to her son.

I can't imagine myself in her shoes. Ameer's hi fever alone is enough to make me sweat all ight long.

And yes Daphne dear, sometimes we forgot to be thankful for what we have. One of which is to be born normal and healthy.

Take care dear!

Nightwing said...

Hi Daph,

U did good. Makes me proud to know some one like you.

Not many would do what you did.

People that you in contact with even if for brief moment, you played apart of that person's life journey.

I m sure, the lady also think of you too.


On another note: Pls check out my blog.

Anonymous said...

Happy slightly late 22nd birthday Daph! I still think you are very amazing and what you did here is just like you! Hope you had a great birthday!
John

Anonymous said...

I just came by your blog and wnated to tell you what an interresting blog you have. It was an eye opener piece and you are such a sweet person. Thank u for sharring. Happy belated birthday!

Mat Salo said...

Daphne.. Ahmad also happens to be my first name so I'm especially touched by his story. Care to find out what happened to him Sis?

Faridah Khan said...

You know when my baby was born all I could think about was whether she looked like me or is it the father? But reading your post I have to be ashamed. Ahmad's mother was too special. She had other things to worry about and not who her baby looked like. Thanks for sharing this special stories Daph.
And happy late birthday. When was it?

Jo-D said...

Daph? Where are you? Where have you gone? I want to read your stories!

passer-by said...

dear daphe, i'm a random reader of yours and i left a super-long comment on your previous blog on 'banana' which was written last year, dont forget to check it out. :)

Daphne Ling said...

Hey guys,

Sorry for the late replies...My wireless has been having a tantrum as usual, and I had problems even opening my blog!

Am now back home, so I'll slowly take my time to answer, and blog, k?

Thanks for being so patient...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Akmal,

You know, it is amazing this thing called a mother's love...It really knows no boundaries, huh? I think even all those people who dump their babies and all, they really love their kids, just that desperate measures make them do desperate things, huh? Really amazing a mother's love...=)

I always think that the best thing a person can give another person is their time...So that's what I try to give people, although I often fail...=(

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Jo-D,

Hey...How are you holding up? I guess it's in our nature to want to look at things which we are not familiar with, but I think the least we can do is be more discreet about it! But I think pointing fingers abit tooo much ler...

I really don't know how someone can live with such big a head...I guess God has a big hand in it...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Puteri,

Don't talk about the mother's heartbreak...Even looking at the child, anyone's heart will break, what more the mother's...You just feel like crying, you know?

As for seeing the news pieces, it is really not the same as seeing the child...I for one, will never forget Ahmad...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kerp,

Haha...Well, most people won't dare to go up and ask because the person whom you 'ask' might blow!

But I guess people will always stare when they are unfamiliar...You're shocked, I guess, or it could be curiosity...Or even admiration! I only think it is wrong when you stare with that look of disgust, you know...And point fingers...

But yeah, most people stare for all the wrong reasons...;)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Aunty Dalilah,

I hope I have the strength to face whatever God throws at me, although I really doubt it...I really do (hope)...

That is why I think you're one swell of a woman...You're really so strong in the face of such difficulties, and that is truly amazing...

*Hugs* Thanks for coming by...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Ibu,

Hey, hey! You're back! I checked your blog a few times, tapi macam menghilang je orangnya...=)

Yeap, I groan and moan bila fever too...Drama queen nombor satu! ;) And I feel like such an idiot, when I see children like Ahmad...

Thanks for the reminder ;)! You take care now...

Daphne Ling said...

Hey guys, I gotta go, so will reply again later...=) Happy holidays (for those who got)!

Daphne Ling said...

Hey NightWing,

Thanks, and will check out your blog soon...Sorry it took so long, though...=)

Yeap, it is amazing how people can really change how you feel (good and bad!) in just a few minutes...If only we take the time to realise it...Most of the time, I am rushing through everything, I don't realise what I miss...=(

Daphne Ling said...

Hey John,

Thanks for the birthday wishes, dear...Which John is this, by the way? ;) Too many already lar...

And how did you know it was my birthday? Just curious ler...But thanks anyhow!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Anon 19.14,

Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment...And a big thank you for the wishes too! Appreciated...=)

Hi Abang Mat,

Actually, Ahmad is not the boy's real name...I'm not allowed to use his real name ma (no permission to)...

I will try and find out what happened to him the next time I go back to the ward...Hope they have been keeping in touch...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Faridah,

Are you kidding? I think everybody does that! Nothing to be ashamed off right? I would too! And I would be counting how many little toes and fingers as well!

But yes, agreed most definitely that Ahmad's mother is very special...I really take my hat off to her...

And thanks for the birthday wishes...It was on the 27th of January...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Jo-D,

La, miss me ke? ;) Haha! I've been good ler, just a little busy, and my wireless has been going berserk...Very geram, but what to do? Will blog soon...Promise...;)

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Passer-by,

Thanks for leaving me a note here...And thank you for the comment in 'banana'...I will check it out later, once I'm done here, alright? But it was swell of you to let me know you left a note there...Otherwise, I most probably won't have read it...=)