Sunday, September 28, 2008

Selamat Hari Raya Aidhil-Fitri

Assalamualaikum and hi,

Hari raya is just around the corner. I was saying to my husband just the other day that most of the hari raya songs are very sad. I can only think of three songs which promotes joy and happiness in hari raya. First is the one sung by Allahyarhamah Saloma, the second one is sung by Allahyarham Sudirman (Balik kampung) and the third by Siti Nurhaliza (Nazam lebaran). It seems to me that you are supposed to feel sad on hari raya. So, that means, people who are in the same boat as me should feel double sad on this joyous

In most literature I've read about battling cancer is that you have to be mentally strong. You have to show cancer who is the BOSS. You have to fight, sacrifice and at the same time have a lot of faith in the almighty. You also have to do a lot of soul searching to motivate yourself and at the same time find somewhere in your heart to accept what has been planned for you. You can't get anywhere near that by feeling sad all the time, brooding with self-pity and always asking "why me?".

This Aidhil-Fitri is going to be tough for me. I can't savour the various mouth watering ketupat and rendang, cakes and biscuits, lemang and other hari raya goodies. Socialising is not going to be easy either because I keep on drooling whenever I am upright. To stop the drooling, I have to sit back in a reclining position. Or else I have to always cover my mouth with tissue or small towel.

Anyway, I am going to have a happy hari raya, whatever it takes. Not being able to enjoy food does not mean that I can't be happy. There are so many things in life other than food that can cheer you up. All you have to do is to open your eyes to new horizons. Travelling, for instance...hmm how does that sound? Meeting old friends??

So, I am taking this opportunity to wish all my muslim brothers and sisters Selamat Hari Raya and Maaf Zahir dan Batin. May your hari raya be the happiest day.

May Allah bless us all.

Bye, for now.

"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully..."

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Oncology Department, Penang General Hospital

Yesterday, I went back to the hospital to see my doctors. First, Dr Regu who is the plastic surgeon. Then, Dr Zul who is the ENT specialist. Dr Regu said that there are very few cases of oral cancer which strike people like me who are considered young (he he), non-smoker, non-drinker, and non-betel leave eater. The startling fact that he told my husband and I is that when oral cancer strikes people of my category, it is really aggresive meaning much more aggresive than people who have the risk factor. Thats why they have to monitor my progress very closely. In reflecting what he said, I thought to myself. hei, smoking and drinking are not bad after all....

Then, we went to see Dr. Zul and he said that he is quite confident that there will be no more recurrence after the radiotherapy. I asked him the side effects to be expected. He said that it depends on individual patient. However, the most common ones are dryness in the mouth because the radiation would attack the salivary glands. The radiation is aimed at the cancer cells which are fast growing. It so happen that the cells in the salivary glands are also fast growing, thus, they would fall prey to the radiation beam as well. That means, I will have to force myself to take a lot of water to compensate for the dryness and also to overcome the heat from the radiation. Well, I suppose losing the salivary glands is a small price to pay compared losing everything to cancer...

So, I was warded again yesterday after seeing the doctor because this morning I had to be driven to the Penang GH in an ambulance to see a doctor at the oncology department. A nurse woke me up at about 6.00 am telling me that the ambulance would be leaving at 7.00 to Penang. So, I quickly got to the shower and prayed. Then, had my milk (can't fast) and quickly went straight to the nurses station. They said that the appointment was set at 8.00am. I was saying to the nurse who accompanied me that we would not make it on time because of the distance (Alor Star to Penang is about 160 km) and the heavy traffic on the Penang bridge. Was I in for surprise!!

As soon as we hit the highway, we were already flying. We reached Sungai Petani at 7.20 am (55km). When we reached the Penang bridge, there was a massive traffic jam. Then, the driver put on the siren and we just criss-crossed the vehicles and made it before 8.00am. Phew!!

Went in to see the doctor. Was informed that I will have to go to Mount Miriam on Oct 7 for the oncologist there to plan my radiation treatment. As soon as the treatment starts I will lodge at the Balik Pulau hospital not the Kepala Batas hospital. Doesn't really matter to me because whichever hospital I'll be staying in, transportation will be provided to go to Mount Miriam. So, the treatment will start after Hari Raya. I don't know whether I should be happy or not because I feel that it would not make too much difference before or after raya. But then, a close friend commented that well, at least I would not be on the hospital bed in the morning of Hari Raya. I guess she had the point.

Bye, for now.

"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully...."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friends from SMK Air Merah

Salam and hello:

Naturally, I am a very carefree and cheerful person who love my job as a teacher very much. In my 16 year teaching career, I had been on my toes doing a lot of things at school level, district, state as well as national levels and enjoyed every minute of it making a lot of friends along the way. I became busier than before when I transferred to my present school, SMK Air Merah because I was one of the pioneer teachers and we sort of helped in the setting up of the school. I used to get quite depressed when holidays approached because I was afraid of being bored of idling. I could never understand many people who often say that they can't wait to retire because I just could not stand the thought of not doing anything for years waiting for my time to go.

But now.....I have not been working since March this year. It has already been six months. Amazingly, I feel fine. I get to do a lot of things that I could not find the time to. I don't miss my busy teaching life at all ( writing record book, taking attendance, marking exercise books and exam papers etc, etc) but I miss teaching my students very much and most of all, my colleagues who are quite close to me. I miss the jovial environment in the staff room every morning when we greet each other and joke around. Sharing jokes/stories/problems during break times at the school canteen is already a norm.

Then, last Sunday they came to my house for a visit..yae! Azvida, Azlina, Linda, Shimah, and Jah with her daughter. It was really fun talking about school.
They filled me up about the latest gossips and the goings on. They wished me well on my radiation treatment. Too bad its ramadhan, so nothing to eat or drink. On the following Tuesday, Kak Saerah, Rohaizah and Fairuz came. All of them talked about how hectic things are getting at school now. The form five students are having their trial examination now and after this its going to be the final exam and so on...Oh.. I don't envy them at all.

Hei you guys, I miss you very much...

"Life is too short"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Hello to all,

Got home last night. I was told by my doctors that there was no point for them to restraint me in the hospital anymore. I was fine. I was not sick at all. I was walking around everywhere, visiting other patients. I was always having either a book in my hand or a laptop surfing the internet and practically all the things healthy people do everyday except eating. I still can't take solid food yet, only liquids. And drooling. I am still drooling but not as much as before. So, when the doctor said that I could go home, I was really excited. I was at the hospital for 34 days!

Talking about drooling, my lower right lip does not feel anything. It feels as if you are about to have your tooth extracted where you don't feel a thing. Numb. That is why a lot of time, I don't realise that my saliva drips out of my lips. So, I have to have a box of tissue by my side at all times.

Many people say that I look a lot better now than I did after my first operation. My neck is not as swollen and I don't look pale at all. The only thing is that I have lost a lot of weight. I guess so because I can't take as much food. Just liquids.

On the 22nd, I will be seing the oncologist to discuss the radiation treatment. I heard that its pretty rough. I hope I will be able to go through it just like hundreds and thousands of others who have been through it and survived! I'll be admitted again on the 21st, and the hospital staff will take me to the Penang GH to see the oncologist. After that, I'll be transferred to another hospital in Kepala Batas where I'll be driven to either Pantai Mutiara hospital or Mount Miriam in Penang Island for the treatment daily. So, that will be another long hospital stay. Well, after being in the hospital for 34 days, I have kind of got used to it and to be pampered again by the nurses.

Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts and prayers.

Ok friends. Got to stop now.



"Life is too short"

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Still in the Hospital

Salam and hello:

Today is the 25th day I am in the hospital. I am actually doing fine. I am not under any medication any more and I can walk around everywhere. The only problem is the dead cells on my tongue which is collecting milk residue. So, I have to wait until the dead cells and the milk residue comes off. Then only I can take other types of liquid food and be allowed to go home. As for now, I have to get by with milk. And because of that, fasting is out because I need to take the milk every three hours. On top of that, I also need to maintain a high level of oral hygiene. We are talking about rinsing my mouth with mouthwash 5 to 6 times daily.

Two days ago, one of my uncles was admitted at this hospital because of a heart problem. He has been going in and out the hospital for the last 4 years. He is suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. He is now wheelchair bound. When my husband came yesterday, we went to visit him. He was quite chatty regardless. I hope he will get well soon.

On the 22nd, I will be seing an oncologist to discuss my radiation treatment. My doctor hopes to proceed with it as soon as possible. The treatment will take about 6 weeks. Well, looks like Hari Raya is also out for me. Thats ok because as things are now, not being able to celebrate Hari Raya is just a small matter. What matters most are getting better, family and friends! When people who matter to me are up and about, I am thankful.

So, folks. Thats all for now.

Bye and wassalam.


"Life is too short"

Monday, September 01, 2008

Passing Time in the Hospital

Salam to all:

When I had the first operation, I was not given any sedative before going to the operation theatre. So, I was conscious when I entered the OT. Upon realising what they were going to do to me, I started saying the shahadah. However, this time, its different. I was asked to take a pill which was supposed to calm me down. I was not told about how powerful the pill was. All I remember was that I was wheeled to the OT and I was waving my good byes to my family. When the door closed, I saw my mother in tears and then, I was out. Darkness. The next thing I remember was the ICU and the voices of my husband, my parents, my aunts and uncles, my brother, Rofli and wife, Zah and the whirring of all sorts of machines. Then, I counted my blessing for coming out of the OT alive. I did not get to say the shahadah before I blacked out!

It has been slightly over 2 weeks after the operation and I am still in the hospital. The doctor is still waiting for the lab report on the tissue that they removed. The lab report is needed before discussing my follow up treatment plan with the oncologist. I don't really mind being in the hospital because I have my blog and some books sent by Hizzad to keep me occupied. I got the books last friday, I have finished reading two: The Kite Runner by Khaled Houseini and Nadia's Song by Soheir Khasoggi.

The Kite Runner is an interesting story, about culture and life in Kabul, the hardship of majority of the people and the prosperity of the minority. It also centers around the dilemma and the guilt consuming the main characters (father and son).

Nadia's song is about the tragic life of a singer, Karima Ahmad, who was well-known throughout the Arab world specifically Egypt. Her life was intertwined with forbidden love, hardship, triump and tribulations. She lost her two year old daughter in a Hotel fire during her concert. Little did she know that her daughter was actually found by a childless couple who fell instantly in love with the lovely child and adopted her. Mother and daughter found each other eventually and realised how much they cared and loved each other. The story took a turn when Karima died in a hotel room and it was said that she died for taking sleeping pills and alcohol. This, her daughter would not accept and at the risk of her life, she strived to find out the real reason behind her mother's death and her findings startled her...

Now, I am on to the next novel, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Whether the book is interesting or otherwise remains to be seen. I should be able to update you before I leave the hospital.

Who said hospital stay is horrible, huh?? Thank you so much, Hizzad.

By the way, I have perfected my swallowing technique. Now, I can finish 2 glasses of milk twice as fast as before. Just put the glass on your lips, tilt your head a bit, let the liquid flow into your mouth and use your breathing and your throat muscle to control the flow into your throat. Voila, you've got it made!

To my muslim brothers and sisters: Selamat Menyambut Ramadhan and Selamat Berpuasa.

May Allah bless us all.

Bye, for now.


"Life is too short"