Thursday, 20 October 2011

BEFORE ITS TOO LATE...

How does it feel to be closer to death? Is it scary? Will it be painful? That was one question that played over and over again in mind a year after being diagnosed with CML some 21 years ago but it is still fresh in mind. With so many deaths in the family within just a few months, this would be a good story to share. I can only share the near-death experience from my experience battling leukemia and would not know how it felt with other sickness or illness but I am sure the agony was similar. The thought of dying had never crossed my mind when I was first diagnosed. Infact, I never thought that I would die so soon but did go through many rounds of mental and emotional cycle but that is a story for another time. I initially refused to accept that my day was coming sooner and closer to an end but it was after the full dose chemotherapy and total body irradiation (TBI) for the Bone Marrow transplant that I saw, felt and really experience the deterioration in my body, health and physique and began thinking perhaps this is the phases of death.

Before the Bone Marrow transplant, I was admitted a few times at the University hospital for spleen enlargement and the painstaking lung pneumonia. The pneumonia was indescribably torturous. I could not breath and breathing was painful. I was in tube inserted through the nose for oxygen but although I was on breathing support, I can still hardly breath. Lifting the arm or any slightest of movement was almost impossible. I was too weak.. unbearably weak but I never thought I would die. I cannot die yet.. There were so many things that I wanted to do. For one, I was pursuing after this one puppy love and I really needed to go out for a date. I also need to look good and get out of this stupid hospital that made me wear the hospital gown that exposes my buttock and back. Damn I was embarrassed but the teenage hormone was pumping high.

Although I was unbearably weak but it was not as scary as when I first saw myself after the chemotherapy and TBI. The chemotherapy and TBI began a week upon admission at the Hammersmith Hospital in London. I was checked-in a 200 sq feet glass room (felt like living in an aquarium) equipped with television, video player, my own fridge, own toilet with bath and shower, a laundry room, a hifi system and a library full of videos!!! Woww... almost like living in a Hotel room. This could not be so bad, I thought to myself but with doctor's expectation of a hospital stay for at least 3 months if not longer, it justified the means. I was all smiley and my attending nurse!!! She was hot!!! a 26 years old, blonde, tall, long leg, err.. busty and so feminine. .... 3 months? I wanted to stay in hospital longer!!!

All was good and a week later, the nightmare began.. I was wheel-chaired to the radiation room which was quite a distance away. My family escorted me through but actually I wanted to be alone. It felt embarrassing being helpless. The doctor explained the procedures but claimed that the procedures would not be painful... ya right, that was the doctor's standard statement at every medical procedures. I had to lie down on a very uncomfortable bed without a string of thread on my body, totally exposed with a huge round UFO type of machine moving slowly in circle around my body from head to toe presumably the point where it radiates. Beside the uncomfortable bed and the shame-ness of being naked, it was quite boring in the beginning. A moment later, I felt a hot rush throughout the body, and began to sweat. I asked via the intercom if that is normal and the doctor said its routine. Weirdo.. How can it be routine when I am so uncomfortable... a moment later I felt my brain was going havoc. I find it difficult to breath and was sweating and felt warm shivers. It felt so restless, and I feel so agitated. I wanted to jump out of bed..

To cut the long story short... I came out of the radiation room feeling abused and lost but it was not so bad. I was wheeled back to my 5 star room and I played Lionel Richie record on the turntable midi hifi. After completing the TBI, the chemotherapy began.. The chemotherapy procedure was easy.. it was like a transfusion via a 'hickman line'.. a tube inserted through a small surgery about an inch above the nipple, that connect the tube straight to the main artery. The chemotherapy was transfused via the tube and was repeated for a few days.

I was still good after completing the whole course of TBI and Chemotherapy.. Quietly, I said to myself.. Maybe I got to pretend to be sick.. because I am feeling good and everybody expect me to be sick. My hair too was still beautiful at shoulder length and there was no sign of any hair drop!! Maybe I am the exception!! Maybe I wont lose my hair.... Happiness was me!

A day later, my mouth felt dry.. as in really dry!! my throat felt like it had shrunk as small as a drinking straw and swallowing the saliva felt impossible. It just refused to go in and I had to spit out my saliva everytime! My eye felt blurry and overall body weakens. My muscle and bones began to ache but my mum who was beside me at all time said I felt weak because I was lying down too long in bed. I should go out and walk and so I tried. I got out of bed and I cant even stand straight....  something was terribly wrong!! I could not walk!

A handful of my long shoulder length hair was spotted on my pillow. Oh god.. its happening!! There was nothing worst for a teenager than to lose his hair.. ya okay was abit vain during childhood. But the hair was painful!! As in.. a wind blow or any hair movement would hurt me.. Combing the hair was a horror! I cannot bear having any hair, I pleaded for a barber to shave my head. Shaving the hair was another nightmare. I never thought a haircut to be painful. The mat salleh barber could not shave my hair because I was in so much pain. He could not shave off all the hair but had to leave about an inch short from the scalp. My head was full of bold patches from the hair drop. Note to self: Lesson to learn, shave off the hair before any chemo or radiotherapy.

Within a few days, I was totally bed-ridden... Everytime I wanted to pee, the pretty nurse will bring me a pan for me to pee in bed but of course I asked the nurse to leave me alone while pee'ing and although the nurse insisted for me to shit in bed.. i just could not! No way Hosey! I would crawl, struggle and bring myself to the toilet and had to stop a few times before reaching the toilet and Aaaaaah.. heaven! Although in the toilet but I had to shit in a pan. The doctor wanted to see my shit.. owh shit! Eeww.. I dont want to be a doctor!!! After a few days of deteriorating strength and health, I could gather enough energy to bring myself to the mirror..

My face and look had totally changed!! My skin was dark tanned, my head was bold, my eye was black akin of a zombie, my face was fat and rounder (apparent effect from the steroid), tongue was white, neck was small, the size of my arm? There were red-Polk-a-dot spots on my scalp caused by low platelets that led to bleeding under the skin. I was shocked.. I was a living corpse. I was broken to see myself so ugly. I could not recognize and did not know myself anymore. Who am I? What have I become?

Situation worsen within just a few days of the full doses. My eye hurts and I could not bear the sight of any lights. When the nurse open the door and the light from outside penetrated my dark pitch black room without any light, it was akin of a stadium spotlight flashing straight to my eye. The smallest of light was so painful. I cannot bear any sound too. When the nurse dropped a pen on the floor, my ear drum screamed and felt like a car honk beside my ear. My mouth had no taste. Totally tasteless. I cant taste any spices, bitter, sour or sweet..... just totally tasteless.

But that was only the beginning, I had a few out-of-body experiences which at that moment, I thought my soul had left my body. Maybe it did. It felt unbearably weak with every muscle, joints and bones aching. I felt so cold but I was sweating. The room air-conditioning was already switch off but it just felt so cold. I can feel the sweat dripping from my head along my eye brow to the side of my ear. I lifted my hand and wiped the sweat as it tickles down my skin but the sweat was still dripping although my hand was continuously wiping my sweat. My body suddenly felt hot. I held and feel my head with both hand but as I open my eye, both my hands were still beside my body and was not moving but I was stretching both hands above the head!!! I tried to sit up and I did but my body was in bed. I lifted my leg and it moved!!! but I see my legs frozen stationary in bed. I turned to mum who was sleeping on the sofa beside me, tried to call her but I could not speak. I held her hand but she could not feel it. I tried to scream but she was sleeping. My tear flow along my cheek, I was so scared. Mum woke up after my many attempt struggling to speak. I look at her straight into her eye crying for help.. She saw me. I can only speak a few words... mum, I am scared. I think mum understood, she asked me to praise to Lord (mengucap) and called my dad whom was at work at the Malaysia Embassy in London. Then mum reads the Surah yasin.

To be continued. Have been trying to write my book for.. now 20 years but going back memory lane was never easy although every single details was as fresh as yesterday but points to note.. Please do not wait for that moment to experience and to be closer to death to appreciate time, to start taking care of your health and to be expressive with people that you care. Time is always of the essence. Do not waste time at all cost. Tell people that you care, how much they mean to you. Express your love and affection like there is no tomorrow. Be closer to God like you are dying. Spare some time like an hour, 3 times a week to exercise.. if you do not know what to do and how to exercise... surrender yourself to me at the CHIEF'S ORIGINAL BOOTCAMP. Let the program re-brand you to a healthier, fitter and sexier person. Sorry ar.. marketing sikit.. Bluwek.. Bring those that you care to a complimentary Bring-A-Friend Day session on Friday 5:45am to 6:45am (Alpha) or 7:00am-8:00am (bravo) at Bandar Utama or 6:45pm-7:45pm (DHZulu) at Damansara Heights or Saturday 5:45am to 6:45am (Alpha) or 6:45am-7:45am (bravo) at Subang Jaya. For more information call 0123145665 or 0173795988 or browse www.bootcampmalaysia.com or register now at HERE for new recruits or HERE for returning recruit. There is no better time to take the first step for a healthy lifestyle than now.

May the Almighty, ALLAH swt bless the soul of Nawal Aini's uncle, more fondly known as Mat Joi that had just passed away yesterday and all Allahyarham and allahyarhamah relatives and friends. My condolences to all family members. Mat Joi has battled Bone Cancer for more than 20 years but succumbed to a heart attack and safely returned to the Al-Mighty yesterday. Mat Joi is Allahyarham Babah, Nawal's dad only surviving brother. Nawal's dad died of stomach cancer 13 years ago. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un (إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ)  We belong to ALLAH swt and to him we shall return. Amin


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