Farah Syahidah, get well soon.

I must congratulate the authotrities for the changes that they have done to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital and mind you it is still work in progress. I used to hate to go to the place. You see, back in 1988, my daughter was diagnosed with a condition called biliary atrsesia. I was in Kuching then. Of course at that time I did not know what on earth was this animal called billiary atresia. When the good doctor Amar Singh explained the gravity of the problem I was quite taken aback. The wife was crying at the prospect of losing sibling of her twin. It was a semi emergency the doctor said, we have to go to HKL for surgery. That started my acquaintance with the institution. We had to be in the hospital for 15 days. She underwent a five hour surgery. Did I tell you that she only nine-week old at the time. Her body was all jaundiced and her tummy bulging (I believe distended was the term used by the medical fraternity). Life at the hospital was harsh. The wife and I had to take turns to look after her. At the time the Paediatric Institute was still on the drawing board. We had to endure the crammed old North wing with dirty toilets and noisy wards – well what do you expect in a ward full of infants, babies and toddlers suffering from one ailment or the other. The floors were plain cement render. Visiting hours were limited to lunch time and late afternoon, even on weekends. After the operation she had to go for several more admissions either in Kuching or HKL. I lost count on the number of times she was warded. One of the push factor that drove me to transfer to KL was the frequent trips that we have to make to HKL was a drain on the resources. True, the government paid for the airfares but other expenses have to be borne by us. After we moved to KL, the trips to HKL continued. By then I knew almost every secret entries to the wards bypassing the guards. I can slipped in and out at any time. I wonder if those back door exits via the labyrinths of the HKL buildings still exist. Good thing about the design of the hospital, every section of the complex is interconnected. You just had to follow the long and winded corridors.
Today, the HKL, facility wise is as good as any private hospital if not better. But it is still suffering from lack of doctors. Despite that, you do not have to wait for three or four hours to see a doctor anymore. And the waiting room are well furnished and airconditioned. The walkways are covered and prettily tiled. I do not see people sleep on the corridors anymore like we did in those days. Having said that, parking is still a big headache. And now you have to pay for parking. It was free then and it was free for all – real chaotic. Even the emergency Deparment has been spruced up and the examination rooms properly partitioned unlike those days when only curtains were used.
But whatever it is, hospitals are not the place I like to be in. It give me the sense of dread. Maybe it was the psychological baggage that I am carryng due to my past encounters with hospital. So when, a stranger called me on Friday night, telling me that she is my daughter’s friend and my daughter is in the emergency department of HKL, the sense of dread came flooding back very quickly. She was suppose to go for her check up on the 14th, but due to my hectic schedule and her orientation week, we missed the appointment. I was cursing myself for not putting the welfare of my children first. The images from the dengue advert on TV kept flashing in my head – where a father was remorseful of his inaction over his daughter’s fever. When I saw her in the treatment chair with saline drips dangling from her hand half an hour after the call, I knew what to do. It was aroutine I had done many times before. Check her temperature, check her palm for jaundice and check her eyes for the yellow tinge. It was a relief when I saw none of the ascending chulangitis symptoms. But the worry still lingered, especially when by midnight, the doctor said she had to be admitted. I was resigned to the fact that I had to repeat the tasks that I did so many times until 2003. Since then she was well enough to keep us away from having to spend time in HKL.
The doctor is still diagnosing her ailment. Probably the ultrasound tomorrow would shed some light. Get well soon Kak Ngah. Pray to Allah for your well being because only Him can cure and ail people.


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