Saturday, October 03, 2009
The day for me to leave for Mecca finally arrived. I was very excited and looking forward to the trip. I went with a friend. I was still on tube feeding meaning that I took in my food through a stomach tube which was inserted directly into my stomach. It was quite troublesome when you are on a long journey. And it was a long journey. The flight from Penang to Jeddah took 12 hours. I could only take water and light soup in that 12 hour flight. It was on Friday, August 21st. When we reached Jeddah, we were stuck at the Immigration for 5 hours and I still could not get any food into my hungry tummy.
After getting through the immigration, we hopped into a bus which took us on another 5 hour journey to Medina. I could only manage to put in a glass of fruit juice into my stomach on the bus. We reached Medina after dawn. Then, we got into our rooms. It was the first day of Ramadan and I made a big mistake fasting. I still felt okay and amazed at myself at how well my body tolerated the hunger pangs. On that day itself, along with a few others, I walked to the Nabawi Mosque to pray. Wow, the mosque was really breathtaking. I can't even begin to describe it. We visited the tombs of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and his friends; Saidina Abu Bakar As-Siddiq and Saidina Umar Al-Khattab, and prayed for them. I was doing fine until the time for iftar. No problem and I even bragged about it.
On the second night, we were off to Mecca to perform the umrah. We had to put on our ihram attire meaning that the clothes will have to cover the whole body except the face and palms. We had to put a head scarf as well to cover up our hair. There are also certain restrictions that need to be observed when you are in ihram attire or your umrah would be nullified.
On the way to Mecca, we stopped at Bir Ali for the ihram sunnah prayer and to express our intention for ihram. Then, we headed straight to Mecca, stopping on the way for subuh prayer. When we reached Mecca, it was already about 9 am and it was scorching hot. We were given our rooms and instructed to come down at about 11 am to do the tawaf and saie at the Masjidil Haram. We walked into Masjidil Haram through the Babussalam entrance. Thats the entrance used by Prophet Muhammad when he entered the mosque. We headed straight to the Kaabah to perform the tawaf. When I looked at the Kaabah I was overwhelmed by emotion. This is the qiblat for our daily prayers. Meaning that this is the direction we face when we perform our prayers. And here I am, feeling very fortunate to be given the chance to look at it for real, with my own two eyes. I felt so small in front of Allah.
I took the opportunity to pray for my good health, good life, my family, my parents, friends and other cancer sufferers.
The tawaf, amazingly was not that tiring. Fortunately, there were not too many people. Probably because it was just the first week of Ramadan. I managed to touch the Hijir Ismail and kept on praying until we completed the seven rounds of tawaf. Then, we were set for the saie where we have to walk or brisk walk to and from Safa and Marwah 7 times. This is to emulate what Siti Hajar did looking for water when her son the Prophet Ismail was crying of thirst at Marwah. I felt so weak and tired after the 4th trip and thought that I would pass out. I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to complete the saie. At the same time, I was thinking of Siti Hajar running to and from the Safa and Marwah under the hot sun, barefoot on the dessert gravel and sand. That thought really kept me going and finally I managed to complete the saie.
On the next day, I went to do another round of tawaf and saie. Managed to perform the terrawih prayers in Masjidil Haram. Alhamdulillah. However, that night I was hit with a severe waves of diarrhea and nausea. I had very bad stomach ache. The next morning I started throwing up and I could not fast. By afternoon, I started throwing up tea-like liquid. It could be blood from my stomach. Then, I could not stand it anymore and requested to be taken to the hospital.
I was worried that my cancer might have attacked my stomach. At the hospital, the doctor did a blood test and infused 2 pints of saline. Alhamdulillah the test came back ok. My blood was alright. The doctor suspected that I've got a very mild ulcer. Probably due to the long hours I went without food on the long journey. He prescribed some medication and I've been alright since then. And everything was just smoothsailing after that.