The reality bites

Today is my 13th day in HKL. Last night my Deputy Sec General came. Apparently her husband was in the same ward and strangely our path never crossed until last evening. Small world.

That aside, the most anticipated time came late yesterday afternoon. Dr Lee and his team came with CT scan result. It confirmed my  greatest fear. I had liver cancer due to prolonged hepatitis B infection. He said it came from the mother. How could he blamed my beloved mother for this?. He said the rest of the family should be tested for Hep B virus.

The treatment plan had to postponed to Monday as it was already late most of the specialists have gone. I couldn’t quite describe my feelings. I was pretty neutral, blank, and some from hope still there. I believe Allah has plans for me. If this is way for me to go so be it. I can only pray to Him. My wife was also around when Dr Lee explained the whole thing. She was very calm. Extremely. I really admire her courage. I guessed she anticipated this. As usual she would provide a little sermon saying all this will at least clear some of my sins. I must not lost hope. We must strive for a cure. For every disease except death there is a cure. What a wonderful wife I have. How lucky I am.




20/11/15: Historic day

Tuesday to  Thursday were fairly routine. At 5am, a nurse will come to check the blood pressure. I wonder why my BP sometime shot up to 159/86 while  I was in hospital. My normal one hardly breached 140. Then again hospital is a stressful place. By 7am another nurse will come to check my blood sugar content which has gone beyond control. Only for the past past few days it has gone down to 9 – 10 level. Now the doctor has decided that I cannot rely on pills anymore. I have to be injected with insulin. Well, its never too late to start to learn to be a drug addict!!. Fortunately for the past few days the injection were done by the nurses. Two fingers away from the navel, swipe with alcohol and zooop goes the needle. Press the syringe and hold for 10 seconds. Withdraw the needle and swipe the needle mark with alcohol swab. All seemed very simple. Wait till I have to do it myself.

By 730am, the bland tasteless breakfast will arrive. Coffee with skimmed milk, oats with milk. Then the count draculas   will come to draw blood. For the past four days I have been here, they have drawn blood from my arm not less than 10 times. My inner arms near the elbow joint are now black and blue on both sides. It is not very painful but very irritating. A few times I asked the doctors what were they for, the answers range from testing for infection, testing for virus, testing for thyroid, etc. Can’t they take a few samples and kept them somewhere secure and safe and whenever they want to do some tests or whatever just use the stored stock rather keep withdrawing from the hapless patient.

Then the MO will come asking the same questions over and over again and taking notes. Do a bit of physical examination. By 10am or 11am the specialist would come with coterie of doctors and the whole House MD episode can be seen. The specialist would explain to me the situation and what they are doing which most of the time confusing me. After four days and various testing they are still nowhere near any possible reasons for my bloatedness.

Today, I am scheduled to go for ultrasound check, supposedly the check that could unravel a lot of things. They could not get an earlier date,  so it is today. As usual I was wheeled to the scanning theatre on the first floor. One Dr Nurul was attending me. After several swipes of the jelly laden scanning head around my abdomen, she asked a startling question. ” Are you having cancer?” Gulp. Agghhh. “No”. “They are many nodules and lesions on your liver”.  After a few minutes a specialist came along and they bantered  a bit about  life in Long Island New York. Oi Hello, what about me? After a few minutes she said, I am done. My liver is cirrhotic, some lesions that maybe cancerous. The possibility is quite high she said. But she is not completely sure. The team at the ward has to decide what to do she said. I am quite amazed at my calmness at receiving this news. I reckon I have been priming myself at all sort of possibilities. As a Muslim, I have to redha at whatever is coming. I truly believe, Allah is not going to burden you with something that you cannot bear.

As I was wheeled back to the ward, the assistant chided me for reading the report. I did not understand much of it anyway. Dr Nurul was playing it safe. Nowhere in the report she said anything about cancerous. As I can see it, the kidneys are OK, the prostate not enlarged and a few other things that sound very Greek  to me.

Back at the ward, the gastroentrologist Dr. Mohan ( I hope I got that right) came followed by the specialist,  Dr See. He said the result was quite unexpected. They’ll arrange for CT scan to be done as quickly as possible to confirm. More blood samples to be drawn – tumour marker to check that the tumour has not gone anywhere else.

My mind was playing several scenes on how I am going to break the news to the family. My wife is very strong lady, she definitely can take it, but how am I going to break it to them when they come this evening? Salam everybody, dad may have cancer. That’s it. But Allah is very merciful, as soon as my wife and son came in  that afternoon, the team of doctors incidentally came in as well. They did the explaining. The family take it quite well. As I predicted, my wife took it very calmly. Now how I am going to remove this TB marker on my left arm.


17/11/15 Ward 27.

I arrived at the emergency department on Monday 17/11 by 6.45am as promised. Had to go through another hour of  waiting and verification.

As I was wheeled to Ward 25, I asked the assistant who insisted that I took the wheelchair service. I told him that I am capable enough of walking. No she said, the rule is I must take the wheelchair. If anything ever happened, she is responsible.  I relented, after all it is not that often you get the chance to be wheeled in and out of places, unless you are an invalid, which is what I felt like that morning.

Ward 25 is on the 5th floor north wing of the main block. Typical of government hospital the place was buzzing. I noticed there were a lot more nurses and doctors than before. That was a few years ago when my son was warded for suspected dengue. We had to wait for while – almost 15 minutes. The staff nurse said, sorry no vacancy, the matron said moved me to Ward 27. So, again I was wheeled to Ward 27, a recently refurbished ward, looks very modern but very crowded. It looks like pasar  malam sans the tents.

The nurse said sorry there is no vacancy in Ward 27 as well. But the nurse from Ward 25 was very insistent, she was told by the matron to send this patient to ward 27. They already had triple extension, no more space. Yes there is a space, the matron said so. There was a bit of a stand off between the two. In the end the staff nurse from ward 27 relented since the matron gave the instruction, she would abide.

I was wheeled to a crowded corner of the ward and was told to use the stretcher as a temporary bed. So this is the term extension. Being a stretcher, it was higher than everybody else’s bed and I had the chance to look at the kind people in the ward. Furthermore, the “bed” was next to the doctors and nurses table, I can almost hear their discussions – which is not necessarily all pertaining to medical issues!

I was attended to by a Chindian MO who looks like a Malay but with a name Jason Saravanan Kumar. Mind you, The number of doctors running around in the ward is almost the same number as patients. Now I am beginning to believe the statistics that says by 2020 Malaysia would have an excess of doctors and nurses. Even today in this ward I can see their numbers, most of them are housemen/women. Dr. Jason asked me lots and lots of questions and took down copious notes. He had a young lady doctor with him who writes things down for him. She never said a word.

Then a coterie of doctors came along with the specialist, Dr Ng. A real House MD clone. I can see a few of the doctors were terrified of him. He never minced his words, he even threw down my x-ray when one of the doctors could not answer him correctly. A classic House MD action.

By afternoon I was moved to bed 12, a proper bed, and a few minutes later to Bed 1, a quite corner of the ward. Dr Ng came again, this time only with a few doctors and he was super charming. I reckon he had to put on that facade in the morning to impress upon the new doctors the importance of doctors making the right decisions based on reality, not on something you learn through the internet. He explained that they are investigating on several lines of possibilities viz blocked colon, renal weakness, liver problems, stones or even thyroid and pneumonia! Ouch!. And I am to be moved to Ward 28 in the evening.

Ward 28 is a two bed ward, terribly quiet since the other bed is empty. After the hustle and bustle of ward 27. This is a real haven, but I am bored. How I wish to be in this ward without the illness. A real hospital holiday.



15 November 2015. Emergency Department. Kuala Lumpur Hospital

Around 8pm on the 15th of November, my daughter probably have noticed that I am so listless and apparently in pain, virtually dragged me to KL Hospital. I have been postponing it quite a few times and in fact was planning to go the next day. The trouble is, my so called ailment seemed to come only in late afternoon until midnight. By late afternoon you an feel the tummy started to bulge as if it was pumped with helium and you hear it rumbling and groaning. It was a very uncomfortable situation. I was so bloated the girth started to measure to 38″ compared to the normal 36″. There was this nagging pain on the right side of the abdomen. The pain was more excruciating every time I bend over and took a deep breath. My earlier stones episode still fresh in my mind. Strangely, By morning I am as good as ever. I have been suffering from this for quite a few weeks now. Just the intensity was not so high.

As usual after going through all the rigmarole of registration and waiting, I was finally called to meet one Dr Fatimah. After some visual observation and the usual battery of questions she sent me for x-ray. The result was quite shocking. She said there is water in my tummy and my lungs. My colon is congested. Another strange observation as I never had any problem with bowel movement. Furthermore I hardly ate that much these days as the bloated tummy virtually killed my appetite. She insisted that I have to be warded. Before that I had to go for angiograph to check my heat condition. Alhamdullillah, the angio curves looked ok.

My experience living in hospital looking after my daughter was not a pleasant one. I plead for time. Please allow me to come the next morning so that I can make a proper preparation. Granted. Be at the hospital before 7am next morning. By then it was almost 11pm.

The new experience in my life really started the next morning.

A tough budget for 2016

When The Honorary Prime Minister who is also the Minister of Finance announced last month that the budget for 2016 is for the people, I thought it was just another of those political headlining. Every year they announced some sort of people’s budget so I was quite skeptical about it.

When the details came out for the Ministry, we were quite shocked. We were warned the 2016 budget would be lower than 2015, but we weren’t quite prepared for the scale of the reduction. On paper we were getting almost the same as 2015 but most the money goes to emolument, 80% to be exact as compared to 76% in 2015. That is the sort of scale on the size of the Ministry’s staff. It took a hefty 80% of our budget, leaving us with a meagre 20% to work with to manage the Ministry’s activities. The amount left is about 2 billion less than what we got for 2015. As you know, all government allocation are apportioned according to sections know as Objek Am (OA) which somehow coded by thousands such as 10000, 20000, 30000 and 40000. Each of this Objek Am is further subdivided into Objek Sebagai (OS) such as 11000, 12000, 13000, 14000, 15000, 21000, 290000, 42000 etc. Money that has been allocated to a certain OS can’t be simply be transferred to another OS without permission. So if you are running short of 21000 (travelling), you cannot take the money that has been allocated to other OS such as 29000(services) or worse still from OS 42000 to make for your short fall, unless you permission to do so from your financial Controlling Officer or from the Ministry of Finance. It is all about planning, meticulous planning. You planned properly what you need next year and  you spend as per your plan. It is quite simple. But in reality things can be quite different. There are spending that has to be done not according to plan and this can create havoc to your budget.

As for 2016, we really had to tighten up on a lot of things such as connectivity, office supplies, transfer monies, asset acquirement, scholarships etc. Since the notice came recently after the 2016 budget, we really had to readjust our plan for next year. Hopefully things would improve by the middle of next year and we’ll get extra allocation.

Can Klopp drag Liverpool out of the quagmire?

We were quite surprised in these days of instant success Brendan Rodgers survived that long at Anfield. After his first quite successful season, which is quite normal due to the surprise effect. The real challenge is the second season onwards. What was termed as “second seasonitis” is also applicable to managers. They did very well in the first season but in the second season the performance dipped especially without  Louis Suarez. Rodgers underestimated the problem he is going to face with Balotelli. He was quite confident he can tamed the man to become a good striker that he could be. He failed miserably.

I  thought the Fenway Group would have replaced Rodgers in the summer, but I supposed a good performance during the summer preparatory games gave them some hope that things would turn around under Rodgers. But after a few weeks their patience ran out  and the draw at home with local rival Everton was the straw that broke the camel’s back. By the speed of Klopp’s appointment I believed they had already sounded him a few weeks earlier. They had already made their mind to replace Rodgers with Klopp a lot earlier.

Klopp’s first game was an uninspiring draw at Spurs. I did not see the so called “full throttle football” that  Klopp is famous for. It is early days yet. Then again I saw glimpses of what he can do. He gave Origi and Ibe a chance to prove themselves. A chance that Rodgers rarely gave. We are yet to see what Klopp can do to Liverpool. But with his experience in whipping up nearly boys into high performance horses, we can anticipate exciting times for Liverpool.

Stones go away, do not bother me anymore…

Tuesday was just another ordinary day. A few meetings have been concluded  and just before asar i had a cup of coffee while discussing upcoming financial meeting in Terengganu. It did not come quite as sudden but as I got up, the stab of pain on the right abdomen was really prominent and excruciating with even the slightest movement. I dismissed it as I believed it was temporary. I had a few bout of these pains recently and they quickly went away. The pain persisted even as I was doing the asar  prayer and even more prominent as I was doing the sujud. I tried smearing some ointment to reduce the pain but it did get any better. Then it dawned upon me this pain ain’t leaving any time soon. Every little movement brought pain, even drawing of breath is painful. I quickly learnt to reduce the pain by taking short shallow and rapid breath. The drive back home was indeed a painful journey.

After maghrib the wife and my two daughters accompanied me to the General Hospital. The distance from the emergency triage room to the treatment room is only about 50m but it seemed like 500m. The wait for the turn to see the doctor was really trying. After a quick examination, The doctor quickly ordered painkiller jab to be administered. She said I might have some stones stuck somewhere in the abdomen. The urine test later confirmed it. Too much acid in the body, she said. Incidentally I have been trying some simple detoxification regime recently – soaking lemon in all my drinking water. I have had glasses and glasses of “lemonised” water. That may trigger the quick formation of stones. Hummph… moderation my dear, moderation.

So the next few nights I had to sleep sitting down as lying was too painful an experience. So far the alkanizer solution prescribed by the doctor had little effect and I managed the pain via painkiller pills. I hope the stones would shatter and leave my system ASAP. I cannot handle the pain. Please.