Thursday, 6 December 2012

Why no updates

It has been a while since I last wrote in this blog. There are a few reasons to this. 

The main reason was, I was asked by a few media friends to setup a new blog, in the local language, dedicated to the world of scuba diving. The website, which simply means diving teacher in the Malay language, is targeted to be an educative and informative website.

After a few months of writing over there, I find that I missed expressing myself here. I write in English more expressively than in Malay. That is why when I curse people, I curse in English...hehe.

Therefore, I will find time in my 'busy' life to try and update this blog as well. For my dedicated readers, thank you for your kind understanding.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Arowana - Harvesting the babies

A few days back, I paid a visit to our Arowana pond somewhere in Bukit Merah. As luck would have it, one of fish had babies. Thus I would like to share how the harvesting process was done. Only the male Arowana carries the eggs until they hatch. Then the babies are kept in the mouth still, for approximately 2 months, just about the time their egg yolk sac diminishes and they had to start eating thru the mouth.

The farm area is a Strictly Restricted Area

Harvest is every 55 days

The farm was bustling with activities

Our pond

The Preparation

2 workers were in the pond, one on each side

The worker ensures that there was no gaps between the sides of the pond with the net
A large net was dragged from end to end

The net was hiked up coz the arowanas are able to 'jump' out of the water at a considerable height

The Harvesting

The dude spotted a 'suspicious' looking Arowana

He gets it into the 'quarantine' net

Here he is feeling the underside of the mouth to check whether there are any babies in the mouth

The 'quarantine' net was replaced with a bigger net

Since the Arowana is an energetic fish, the only non-drug based inducement to 'tranqualize' the fish was by spinning it around until it gets dizzy...very basic...hehe 

The fish was coaxed to open its mouth

Suddenly out comes the babies

And more babies...

Final check to see if there are anymore inside

The babies were quite mature...approximately 2 months old as there were no egg yolk sac left

The babies collected in a plastic bag...

...and immediately sent to the Nursery

The Nursery
The nursery...very hygienic place
The latest addition to the family...

...and his siblings

... and his elder brothers and sisters from the previous harvest

Strike a whore like its owner :)

Friday, 30 December 2011

End of Chemotherapy

The last few sessions had left my dad drained of energy, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing. The specialist had changed his chemo cocktail of drugs, and as explained in my previous posting, it was taking a toll on his health.

Before my dad had his 12th second level chemotherapy, a CT scan was ordered to see whether the development of the cancer cells had been halted in any way. Unfortunately, it shows that improvement, if any, was very minimal.

After consulting the various doctors, close friends and families....after 16 chemotherapy sessions (4 first level + 12 second level), my dad decided he has had enough of chemotherapy. So the relationship with Radiology and Oncology Department HKL remains as a palliative procedure, requiring him to pay a visit every few months. My dad was happy with his decision, and I was happy that the old man was happy. I had always, in the past, decided on all his medical decisions, but this time I let him decide on his own.

Sour Sop or "Durian Belanda"
We have now embarked on a new pathway, that is of alternative medicine. No...its not about witch doctors, voodoo dolls or the local Tok Bomoh.... its taking the natural pathway... fruits, berries etc. During our numerous visits for his chemo sessions, we heard tips and advices from numerous cancer survivors at the clinic. Among the consistent tip is to take Sour Sop on a daily basis, or locally known as 'Durian Belanda'.

After he started taking the fruit on a daily basis, his cancer marker showed an improvement, and this was after his 10th chemo session during which his cancer marker was increasing all the time. A myth or coincidence? Maybe...but quite a number of cancer survivors attest to the power of the Sour sop.

Maybe that is why the 'Durian Belanda' is quite expensive nowadays. For those of you who have large plots of unused land, maybe this would be a good business venture :)

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A Rave Party Tiesto Style

One fine day, my old friend Zeq suggested for us to attend Tiesto's concert in Sepang. Hmmm...sounds interesting. Then he said the magic word "My treat". That sort of seals the deal. hehehe. Zeq and I share this passion for what I call 'laid back' music...more of the music, less of vocals. We used to listen to Cafe Del Mare during long drives on dive trips. However I am not sure that Tiesto and Cafe Del Mare are of the same genre.

When CaTz heard the news, she thought I was kidding. After a few minutes of her laughing her head off, then she said..."you nak pergi concert budak-budak muda tu? Can you stand that long?". I answered "kalau penat duduk la kat kerusi". Then it dawned on me that it is not the same kind of concert as the Kenny G concert I attended way, way back in London, where there were plush dedicated seats in a nice concert hall. O M G.....early signs of regrets starts to surface.

However, it was a few hours away from concert time, it's too late to chicken out. So I put on my black  tshirt, jeans, shoes and headed for Sepang. Little did I realised I was dressed as a rocker heading for a rave party.

There were local and international DJs spinning their music. The atmosphere was just nice, with soft wind cooling the scene, and a full moon in the background. Everyone was waiting for the star of the show, Tiesto to come on stage. Eventually he came on, to the tremendous applause from the crowd. Suddenly there was an influx of people. You can see rows and rows of hand phones videoing (is there such a word?) the appearance, and Tiesto did not disappoint us. Much effort went not only to the music, but also the video and special effects.

At last, I have to admit that I felt a teeny weeny out of place. I spent most of the time looking amused at the antics and dance 'styles' of those around me. Here are some of my observations:
  • the fatter they are, the skimpier are their outfits....ewwwwww.
  • stay away from those who have just left the centre court area, coz they are sweaty and smelly, from all that jumping around... of course.
  • the longer you stay, the more invisible you are...coz more people seems to be making body contact with you, as if you weren't there.
  • no matter how sexy you are, you look really ugly when you are drunk and vomiting everywhere.
  • any body movement qualifies as a dance move....even just putting your hand up (like when in school and you are asking permission to go to toilet).
At about 1am, we left the area. Somehow the thought of our beds seemed more inviting. Sign of old age....maybe. To all youngsters who were looking at us in disbelief, we have this to say... "we have been there, done that... when you were just an itch in your dad's pants" hahaha.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Reality Hurts

It's been months since I last blogged. It does not mean nothing interesting happened in my life, but I was quite occupied between teaching,work and sending my dad for his chemotherapy. He has just completed his 12th second level chemo, plus the 4 first level chemo, totaling 16 chemotheraphy sessions. Until today, I had forgotten about his 'true' condition, subconsciously hoping that the chemotherapy was doing it's magic.   

The person that snapped me back into reality was a good doctor friend who took time to call me and reminded me of the truth. You see, as it was his 12th session, he was asked to do a CT Scan to determine the extend of the damage done by the cancer and whether the chemotherapy actually worked. I guess my friend saw the result, and it's not good. The cancer is stage 4, has spread to his lungs and liver, and it's terminal.   

Even though I had watched how life was literally sucked from my dad, from happy, strong old man to a frail and weak old man, I had always told myself that it's the side effects of chemotherapy, that inside the chemotherapy was doing it's magic. I believed that so much until I forgot that he was a stage 4 cancer patient and that the cancer cells were eating him up.   

My friend had asked me to prepare myself for the worst, to spend every available time with my old man. The problem that is on my mind is how to tell my mum and my siblings. They too have the right to know the truth, but I am not sure whether knowing the truth would be best for them or my dad. No matter how many times I had been faced with death while rescuing people, it is not an easy subject to face, much more when it involves someone dear to you.

I hope and I pray that I have the endurance, perseverance and strength to go through all these to the end, to carry out my tasks and responsibility as the eldest son. The feeling of helplessness is simply overbearing.   

It's true what some people say, chemotherapy is a bigger killer than the disease.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

2nd Level Chemo...the saga continues

The reason why I decided to blog about my dad's condition is hopefully it can be a informative source for anyone who has colon cancer. Hopefully, it would ease them to face this condition that saps the live out of a human. Continuing about my dad's fight cancer saga....

After his 4th chemo in Selayang Hospital, as mentioned in my previous entry, my dad was referred to HKL (Hospital Kuala Lumpur, formerly known as General Hospital) for 2nd level chemo. My dad was not in favour of going to HKL, due to the bad experiences from my late sister's case.

For the first experience with the Oncology Department in HKL was an eye opener for him. Though a bit cramped with people, the attending specialist was pleasant, soft spoken and full of empathy. Upon checking my dad, she was surprised to see the condition of my dad's hands. She was more surprised to find out that there was no medication prescribed for it.

She then recommended that a 'Chemo Port' be inserted to ease the infusion of the chemo. You have to purchase the device from the pharmacy though as its not provided for by the hospital.
Within days, the minor operation was conducted. The operation takes less than an hour, but you have to wait for your turn. My dad was admitted at 10am, the operation only done at 4.30pm. after the operation, Mr Tan, the surgeon told my dad that he can be discharged. Due to the incompetent ward MO who was unsure how to discharge a patient, we had to wait until 10.30pm when the specialists conduct their ward rounds. Instead of having my dad discharged, that MO chose to follow the specialists around the wards and only discharged my dad after that. Even the specialists were confused as to why my dad was still there.

After discharged, we had to go to pick up the medicine from the pharmacy ourselves. When I finally sent my dad back home, it was close to midnight. That MO has to wisen up to prioritise for 'warga emas' who has just completed surgery as compared to 'in-house' patients.

During our next visit, we got some good news. There is an option of having the chemo infusion at home, thus no more hospital stay. My dad jumped at it the moment the specialist has just completed her sentence. Seeing my dad's eagerness, I agreed to it. For this option, we have to purchase the disposable infusion pump (single use) ourselves as it's not supplied by the hospital.

The pump has no batteries or moving parts and operates by pressure. It infuses very slowly through his Chemo Port. So now the routine is on Friday to take blood sample. The following Monday from 9am - 4pm, he takes his infusion at HKL. Then they prepare his pump and attach it to the Chemo Port. After that he can go home and on Wednesday at 12pm, I send him to HKL to detach the pump. The cycle is every 2 weeks.
So far he has gone for 1 cycle of the 2nd level Chemo. Alhamdulillah, there are no severe side effects.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Why I haven't blog...Part 3 (Final)

1 month on, and there we were, my dad and I, listening to Mr R, the specialist on Chemo. Mr R thought that my dad could not understand English, thus he was very blunt and straight forward in explaining about my dad's medical condition. He was saying things like "It is bad as its Stage 4 cancer and has spread to his liver and lungs", "We don't know how long he will live, but its gonna be worst" etc etc. I looked at my dad but he looks cool. Then I interrupted Mr R and told him "My dad understands English. You can explain directly to him". Mr R went red in the face, poor dude, but we understood that he meant well.

There are a few options in getting Chemotherapy. Option 1 is a daily dose but he has to come weekly for it, Option 2 is a 48 hours dose but on alternate weeks, Option 3 is 5 straight days in the hospital on a monthly basis. There is now a tablet form also that you can take at home but its a bit costly. After discussing with my dad, we chose option 2.

The good part was, treatment is at Ward 4C, a 3rd class ward, but for chemo, he would be placed in an isolation room, similar to a 2nd class. The first time everyone was nervous, including myself, coz we didnt know how my dad's body would react to the drug. The 3 days in the ward was with little interruption from the nurses, its as if we were just temporary visitors. First day went by, and apart from slight increase in body temperature, nothing else happened. Same goes for the rest of the stay. I was grateful that there were no serious side effects.

The 2nd visit was easier, with the ward already waiting for my dad to come in. A special mention to my dad's attending physician, Dr Farhan, a soft spoken Kelantanese, whom immediately clicked with my dad. He was in-charge for administering my dad's medication.

We have now come to our 4th visit next week. During the last visit, Dr Farhan said that the cancer markers were still increasing despite the Chemo. Thus, maybe my dad needed a much stronger 2nd level Chemo but could only be administered in HKL (Kuala Lumpur General Hospital). A stronger cocktail of drugs would certainly bring some side effects, I am sure.

My dad and I has gotten much closer since then. I was there by his bedside no matter how tired I had worked during the day because I know that the few moments together were very precious to me and him. Everytime on our journey back home, we would stop by our favourite Mamak restaurant, where we would have father - son conversations over lunch. The topics has gotten heavier though, and I try to digest them while trying to put on a brave face, not to show my sadness.

I am thankful to the Al Mighty coz I am blessed with the means and time to be with my dad. To me, it's the greatest gift of all. I hope and I pray that I am given the courage, perseverance, patience, time and the means to go through what's ever coming in the future.

For those of you who have yet to bond with your old man, now is a good time to start.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Why I haven't blog...Part 2

Dad's room in Ampang Hospital
A second opinion was requested and my dad was transferred to Selayang Hospital, reputably the cancer centre amongst Government hospitals. The surgeon in-charge of my dad's case, Mr Raj immediately put my dad's fears at ease. He was very courteous, professional and most of all, a knowledgeable and experienced surgeon. The prognosis was not good, he has colon cancer. Within days, he had scheduled my dad's surgery. There were also indications that the cancer has spread to his liver and lungs. He stressed that the surgery was not a cure, but merely to 'improve his quality of life'.

The night before, my mom stayed overnight together with me. At that point, I didn't know how or what to feel. My dad was understandably a bit nervous, but the sleeping pill given to him helps. The next morning, very early, the nurses came to ask him to get ready as he was the first on the list. The journey from the ward to the operating theatre seems a long one. We said our goodbyes and they wheeled him in. The look of sadness on my mum’s face was heart wrenching, and slowly I put my hand around her and lead her back upstairs to my dad’s room.

Somehow we waited and waited, and yet there was no news about my dad. Time passed by …1 hour, 2 hours…5 hours. Could something have gone wrong? Asking the nurses didn't help either, coz every time they gave me the same standard answer..."nanti kita bagi tau". Luckily I knew someone who works in ICU, who then did some investigative work for me. "Belum lagi Rul, masih dalam OT" was the answer. That didn’t help. He called again 30 minutes later to tell me my dad was in recovery room.
Dad post ops
Still not getting any news from the nurses, I went down to ward 4A, the surgical ward for post ops cases. I went alone to ensure that everything is OK before my mum comes down. There he was, on the bed, on Epidural. The look of discomfort was on his face, but being dad, he didn’t complain. Luckily at the same time Mr Raj came by. My dad whispered that he was in great pain. The anaesthesiologist was called in and the Epidural dosage was increased. After that he was more at ease.

The next day he was better, probably free from the hallucinating drugs. He was no longer in pain and you could almost see the energy returning back to his body. Surprisingly, on the 4th day, Mr Raj discharged him from the hospital. When I arrived that afternoon (you cannot stay at the wards after 7am until afternoon), he was all packed and ready to go…hahaha.
My 'bed' brought from home
Throughout the ordeal, I was there to look after my dad, as I was 'more independent' than my siblings. I am thankful to have a very understanding wife as I was away most of the time. Ampang Hospital was the best, as I had brought my camp bed along as the picture above. Selayang Hospital was still a bit conservative, as they still have the nursing/medical staff from the older generation, thus I had to make do with the hospital armchair as a bed. be continued (Final part)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Why I haven't blog...Part 1

It has been a long time since I had updated my blog. The main reason was, earlier on this year, my dad had some medical problems. One day, I received a call from my sister saying my dad was some serious stomach pains. You see my dad is quite reserved, funny and one who has above normal tolerance to pain or disgusting people (unlike his son haha). So when he is groaning in pain, it means that it was a above normal level of pain. Administering some skills I learned as a rescuer, the pain subsided when he finally went to the toilet. My dad refused to go to the hospital, so since his pain has subsided by about 90%, I decided to have a pep talk with him later.

The reason why my dad refused to go to the hospital was more of a traumatic emotional scarring by the death of my youngest sister. My sister was born much later than me and my other 2 siblings, about 7 years later, thus she was the baby of the family. She spent the whole of Ramadhan in Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (HKL) with a condition that baffles the doctors. So it was a barrage of tests, including a trial and error application of medicines. Everyday without fail, my parents would visit her, and everyday they carried a change of her clothes, just in case the doctor would say "you are well and discharge". At that time, medical care at public hospitals were quite bad. Facilities were limited, patients were overwhelming and the medical staff were overworked. All these leads to nasty, foul mouthed nurses, whom during my late sister's tenure in the ward, had unleashed some of these unprofessional attitude to her and my parents. My dad had prayed for her to be discharged in time for Raya, and true enough, the doctors discharged her a few days before Raya. My parents were happy.

However, on the second day of Hari Raya, she had a relapse of her symptoms and had to be brought back to the HKL. To cut the story short, that was to be her last Hari Raya with us. God had answered my dad's prayers, but her time was up. We were not prepared for her sudden demise. Everyone was shattered, and me being the eldest son, had to clench my teeth (to put on a 'strong face') and arrange for her burial. She died at the age of 15 years old. Ever since then, my parents had avoided going to hospitals, especially HKL.

2 weeks later, I had the opportunity to have a father-son chat with my dad. Finally he agreed to a check up at Ampang Hospital. With assistance from Ms Lynn, an appointment was arranged within days. As expected, he was admitted and a barrage of tests were performed on him too. While waiting during the Colonoscopy, a surgeon was called in. "This can't be good" I thought to myself. Sure enough they found a tumor which almost closed up his colon. An immediate surgical procedure was the only option.
My dad's room in Ampang Hospital be continued
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