Friday, November 01, 2013

She's So Young

I got to know her from my brother a few months ago. She's from Seremban. She was scared and crying her heart out wondering what was happening to her, wondering why she, of all people is destined to endure this agony. She smsed me asking me she should do..telling how scared she was because she had lost her tongue mobility, making it impossible for her to eat her favourite food and speaking normally was out of question.

After exchanging text messages for the first time, she kept me updated on her development. She told me that the doctor planned to perform an operation on her after the Aidhil Fitri, to remove the cancerous part of her tongue which would entail half of it, which was on August 16. I was glad for her because she would still have half of her tongue which, to me was fantastic. So, I waited anxiously as the date drew near. However, about a week before the said date, she got a call from her doctor telling her to come over because there was something important to discuss. Then, she said that the doctor suggested doing chemotherapy first in the hope that the tumour would shrink and hopefully she would not have to go through the operation. She was very glad with the doctor's recommendation, but I was worried. I wanted to say something about it but then, asked myself..who I am to go against the doc's decision.

She suffered like hell during the chemo sessions, and I kept on telling her to be patient, pray a lot, and always look forward to getting better.. after a few sessions, the doc said that the tumour has slightly shrunk and she could move her tongue a bit..I was elated that the chemo worked..

However, all that ended abruptly in early October when the MRI showed that the tumour got bigger and the whole tongue would have to be removed. The operation date was set to be on Oct 10th..in Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah, Klang.

Will continue in the next entry...

With love,
Sharifah

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Timed Based Promotion

I have been in the teaching profession since 1991 teaching the English Language. As far as I can remember, I've never been charged of insubordination all these years and have tried to do my work to the best of my ability. I've made quite a number of achievements through out my teaching career; among others, I was the national champion in the Innovative Teaching and Learning in Mathematics Competition in 2004, awarded the Innovative Teacher award in 2005, my school team became the champion in the ICT research competition in 2006 and numerous others which I can't exactly remember the details. I was also offered a post in RECSAM, Penang as a researcher. However, all those became meaningless when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Everything stopped. Halted. From then on, my life took a different turn. The direction of my life had to take a different bearing...I had to take a medical leave of 2 years which was entitled to government servants struck by cancer or leprosy. I was told that the 2 year medical leave would not affect my seniority, my pension or my chances of timed based promotion. Since it was an entitlement, and was also recommended by my Pengetua at the time, I went ahead and took my 2 year medical leave or, should I say my long vacation!! hahaha I came back to work in 2010 with a bit of reservation, not knowing what to expect now, not knowing how to carry myself now...since I had to come back to work as a handicapped. My biggest fear was to face the students..I had no confidence at all to face the students...my colleagues are great, they are very supportive...many took the trouble to try to understand me and tirelessly tried to convince me that they could understand me perfectly..but of course, I knew better. I knew how funny I sounded like.. When I started working again in 2010, the Pengetua gave me several tasks to be carried out...I was in charged of the Computer Room where I had to oversee the usage of the room and the computers. In 2011, I was placed in the school library along with another teacher. Since I'm not able to teach, I had to carry out administrative duties and coach a group of students in preparing for the KWN video competition. Fortunately, I had the chance to work with wonderful students who could not be bothered with my slurring speech. In 2012, I still continued my job in the library..and that was when I was due for my timed based promotion to DG48...I was asked to fill in the application form which I did...then, in May, I got a rude shock..my application for the DG48 promotion was not granted..I was denied my right for the promotion. I wondered whether that was because of my 2 year leave, but that could not be because the leave was an entitlement. Then, I decided to check on my annual appraisal marks...and I was hit with a much bigger shock..I was awarded 64 marks for 2008, 50 marks for 2009, 51 marks for 2010 and 71 marks for 2011. In 2008, I was on leave for the whole year and my marks was higher than 2010 when I came to work for the entire year....in 2009, I was also on leave for the whole year, and I got 50 marks..meaning that for the whole year that I came to work without fail, my work was only evaluated to be 1 mark...because I was given 51 marks in 2010..It has never occurred to me that anybody in the right mind would do this to another human being..and especially in my case, I was not informed at all what I had done wrong... Can someone out there please explain the logic of it all??? I have appealed my case through several channels, but it seems that nobody could do anything about it...many have voiced their sympathy but it stopped there...nobody is able to go beyond that....it looks like the fate of teachers lies solely in the hands of the Penolong Kanan Pentadbiran (the first evaluator).. and I really feel what happened to me was an injustice and a mockery to the appraisal system... I decided to write this entry because I feel that government servants, especially teachers, must be made aware that something like this could happen to them too..so, fellow teachers, please insist to see your marks first before signing the appraisal form...I learnt my lesson the hard way... With love, Sharifah

Saturday, April 06, 2013

SHOULD THERE BE AN EMERGENCY.....

We often see relief centers whenever there is an emergency such as floods, earthquakes, and most recent was the Lahad Datu incident. These relief centers function as temporary accommodation for the victims that could add to thousands. These victims who are forced to leave their homes would be cramped together in schools or public halls. Usually, when these happen, donations and aids would come pouring in, in the form of clothings, food, blankets, medications and so on. When I was watching the news the other day about how the villagers from Kg. Tanduo, lived in the relief centers, with their children running around, how they slept on the floor, how they washed their clothes, had their meals, my heart really went out to them. I could just imagine how miserable they must have felt. Most of them left all their belongings and got there with just whatever they had on their backs. I could not help imagining if I were to be in their position. The first thing that came to my mind was, how would I take my food??? I would have left my blender and my foodstuff behind for fear of the intruders. And I would also have left behind the tube I use to pour down my food. I would have to go for days without any food..I shuddered when the thought crossed my mind. My survival now is greatly dependent on my PEG tube and it is like my lifeline and I'm really thankful to whoever that came with this idea of a PEG tube. Or else, many people like me would have died of malnutrition instead of cancer..... With Love, Sharifah

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Socialising

Just the other day, I read Dr. Swill's blog, an entry about leading a life as a tongue cancer survivor. He had a very successful life before cancer. At a young age of 24, he was already an owner of three pizza franchises and he did not look back. However, his good and successful life was significantly altered when he was diagnosed with tongue cancer and had his tongue removed. But thankfully, after a few years of struggling with some major and minor operations and a series of treatments, he got back on his feet, but sadly, has to face the world with slurred speech and altered appearance. Well, a tongue cancer survivor is different than survivors of other types of cancers. A breast cancer survivor, for instance, does not have to deal with social issues as much. She can speak or take her food without inviting stares from those around her. It does not really affect her social life. And a lot of time, nobody even realise that she had had breast cancer before without her revealing it. But for tongue cancer survivor, especially those who underwent total glossectomy, the repercussions are quite serious. It could really affect your self confidence you tend to get emotionally upset when you can't express yourself as well as before. Sometime, you are wrongly understood. For some people, it takes a lot of patience on their part to make sense of what you are trying to say. And this can cause a lot of awkwardness in a social scene. There have been a few times that I noticed some people being uneasy for not understanding what I say but either too embarrased to ask me to repeat or too worried that I might get offended. So, they pretend as if they understand it by nodding or providing inappropriate responses. And me, also either too embarrassed to repeat myself or afraid that I would make them feel uncomfortable, or I might waste their time, just go along with them, pretending that, yes, thats what I meant to say. But, from their body language I could tell that they had no idea what I was saying but too polite to admit. However, this seldom happens with friends or people who are already used to my way of speaking. Alhamdulillah... But then, there are also times when I thought that people don't understand me when they actually do.....and it irritates them when I keep on asking..."do u understand what i'm saying?"..or "faham tak ni?".. Sharifah, with love...

Father

There he was, sitting facing the front door willing her to walk in. She had not been back for months but promised to come to Bangsar to meet him and his wife. They drove all the way from Kedah to his sister's house first thing in the morning just to meet her. He missed his beloved daughter terribly. Where is she? She said she would be here. The clock ticked by....one hour...two hours...four hours...still no sign of her... He got up, had a cup of coffee...stretched..then sat again with his eyes still fixed on the door..watching the knob..hoping it would turn or hoping to hear a knock... Finally....maghrib azan could be heard but she was still not there...His heart sank. His wife watched him helplessly..she did not know how to cheer him up for she herself was heartbroken..it was such a heartwrenching moment..too painful to watch.. That incident was narrated by her aunty to her when she arrived the next morning.....she cried, really cried... To her abah, she was really, really sorry for putting him through the agony...and she promised to herself that she will never, ever disappoint him again.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Arwah (Late) Grandmother

She was fast asleep on a mattress on the floor. It was past midnight. The small boy and his father came into the room and woke her. The father said: "Mak, bangun, ni tilam James. Mak kena bagi tilam ni dekat dia. Kalau tidak dia tak boleh tidur." ("Mother, wake up, this is James' mattress. You have to give this mattress to him. Or else he won't be able to sleep.") Startled, and sleepily, she got up and handed the sponge mattress to them. Father and son then just left her sleeping on the mengkuang mat. And I was there, watching the whole scene with tears trickling down my cheeks. That was, I think 40 years ago and its still clear in my mind and I'm sure it will stay affixed in my mind till the day I go. That loving woman who was my grandmother passed away when I was fifteen.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

WHICH ONE IS WORSE?

Everytime I come across someone who is physically handicapped, such as a person with amputated leg, or blind, or deaf, I always ask myself; would I want to trade places with them? Am I more fortunate compared to them? At least, they can be still be sociable. When people see a blind person, they know what to expect, that is, this person can't see. Or this person has to depend on clutches or prosthesis to walk around. But, for people like me, who look just like any other normal people, strangers are bound to be surprised when you start talking. And what do they do when they are surprise? Yes, they stare at you. Wondering, what is wrong with this lady...because you sound funny. I was once asked by a stranger whether I had stroke when he heard me talking. The situation is even worse when there are children around you because children cannot hide what they feel. They would just scrutinize you in awe. And what if they see you eating through the PEG for the first time? They would not be able to take their eyes off you, rite? Well, pouring my food down in public is something that I haven't got the guts to do just yet..even now, after 3 years... Cheers!!!