Thursday, November 23, 2006

to grieve to bereave

i was in kl for the weekend. attended a grief and bereavement counselling workshop. the speaker is a bereavement counsellor from hong kong. she’s really good. learnt a lot about death, mainly the coping mechanisms for the bereaved, and how, as professionals, we can help them through the difficult times.

for me, working with sick kids at the hospital means mainly trying my best at finding out the cause of their illness, and then to try and make them better. and them being kids, cant help but play and joke with them as well, try and make them forget about their illness if not for a lil bit. but it also means inevitably having to see some of the kids die as well. which then brings me to the most difficult task of all....informing the parents of the devastating news.
(yea, it's not the diagnosing part, not the curing part, not even having to work 33 hrs straight when i’m oncall, nor the part when the nurses call me at 3 am to ‘revive’ a dying child.. they’re not as difficult as actually telling parents that their baby, their child.. is dying, or worse...dead)
it just seems.. illogical. we accept that evryone dies. but we also have this picture in our minds that in the cycle of life, when we become parents, we will care for our children, play with them, watch them grow up, teach them about life, pray that we live long enuff to see them become parents themselves, and we get to be grandparents. then if we die, we would die before our children, and our life cycle is complete. but obviously, that's not how it goes for evryone. and that's why, to me, it's more difficult telling parents their child is dead, than vice versa.

i cant getaway from it of course, talking to the parents. so i do what i can. put on an empathic face, clear my throat, and tell them. at times, i meet them again in a few weeks at our bereavement clinics, these parents who have lost their child (there’s no specific word used to describe such parents btw-like 'orphans', or 'widows'). in the clinic, we talk to them, clarify the cause of death, answer their questions, and mainly see how they’re coping after the death, help them "move on" healthily and safely. by then, some parents have accepted it, some dont, some blame it on themselves, some blame us, some dont want anymore kids, afraid to have to go through the pain again.

what i’ve realized now is that, having been in the field for 5 years now, i seem to have gained this ability to automatically detach myself emotionally from a dying patient altogether, no matter how close i was to that patient the whole time he/she was alive under my care. and i would show my empathy with the parents, share their sadness, advise them about life (cewah!) and why they have to continue living, etc..and when they're out of the room, i get on with my life, with work, like nuthin happened.

at the workshop they say it's ok if we shed a tear with the parents. it's ok to even cry a little afterwards. but they also advised that we "cleanse" ourselves before we go back's not healthy.
myself? i totally do not have a problem with that. i dont need to cleanse anything cuz there's nuthing to cleanse. once the dead body is "discharged to heaven", or once the parents leave the clinic, then my job is done. one less sich baby to worry about.
some people would say "that's good. that's why you can do this kinda thing. if it was me, i'd bawl so much, the bereaved would have to console me instead!"
there are also those who say " wow, you see and handle death evryday at work. you must be used to it. tak heran pun ek?"
i always dunno what to say exactly.
cuz at the same time.. i feel like.. i dunno.. kinda cold inside... if i actually tell them outloud that "'s nothing. i'm not bothered at all by it. tak heran"

anyway, alhamdulillah so far i've never had anyone complain that i was "insensitive" or "inappropriate" when i deal with a dead patient, or talk to their families. so at least whatever it is i'm not feeling inside of me doesnt exactly show on my face (it's a capricorn thing :)). i just have to keep reminding myself to nurture more emotions, if only to make me feel more human i guess.
dunnolah whether i'm even putting down properly in writing here exactly what i think i actually wanna say..haha.

back to the workshop, the speaker like i said, is a bereavement counsellor and was really good. she really loves what she's doing, and hearing all her stories and experiences actually made me love her job as well. and i only learned then that we dont have such professional position here in msia. so people like me get stuck with it, even though we're not as intensively and properly trained as she is.
anyway, but i was glad i attended the workshop..even it was just over a short time, i learned a lot about dying....and more importantly, about living.

Monday, November 20, 2006

an update

view from my mom's hospital room. kl traffic at 5 pm.

2 weeks ago my mom was admitted to the hospital for dengue. she rarely gets sick. the last time she was ever admitted was when she delivered my youngest brother, 26 yrs ago. my father-being the chronic chain smoker that he was, is the opposite. he had been in & out of hospital quite a few times in the past 10-15 yrs. from stuff as mild as gastritis, to major surgeries for necrotizing pancreatitis, and a quad bypass just 2 yrs ago. it was a scary moment for everyone then. esp because of his smoking, doctors warned us that he might not get off the ventilator easily post-op. thank God that he did ok, but that finally got him off the cigs. so far.

anyway, back to my mom, she’s better now. it was just mild dengue, not hemorrhagic but because she was too dehydrated and had a urine infection on top of that, she was kept in the hospital for a few days. i caught up with my reading masa jaga dia tu and also caught 'bawang putih bawang merah' - people been talking about this indon soap - finally dapat tengok, and seronok dok kutuk the show and teased my mom camne la dia boleh suka tengok..hehe.

syawal is still on. but after the 1st week, raya sorta mellowed down for me. I only managed to go to 1 open house this year and that was it. macam malas je. and always penat too for some reason.

then I attended this bereavement course over the weekend (blog coming later). managed to "squeeze time" (ie sneaked out of) to see some friends. even tho evryone was also busy with their own plans for the weekend, and evryone was saying that they each cant stay for long, but we did anyway. friday nite - jo, al and me actually stayed up till 4am even tho the plan was to be back home by 1-me cuz i had to be at the course by 8 the next day, jo was the maid of honor at a wedding the next day, and al had to make agar2 (hehe). same thing happened on sunday-me, i was supposed to teman my sis get groceries at 5pm, and g was suposed to go jogging - both plans were cancelled and we all stayed an hour later than planned ;)

did the usual lah:eat, drink, catch up on things, complain about work, whine about life, talk about the men in our lives-the very few we adore, and the many more whom we just love to hate. indeed, we’re picky-but we have to be, in this day and age, with the kinda weirdos out there, failed relationships don’t just give you a broken heart or at least a hate mail anymore.. you can actually get killed/chopped/bombed to pieces for all you know!
speaking of which.. I thought our conversations are now a bit mature too (er—about time? hehe) .. we even chatted about politics, and religion, etc. and i didnt even get bored! but then how can i? there is never a dull moment with these people.

drove back to melaka early this morning - left kl at 530am. cuz there was this huge thunderstorm around 7pm just as i was planning to leave, and there was no way i was gonna waste it on driving - i mean, it's the best time for naps, so i did, and i "napped" for about an hour or so. then amirah was being all noisy, and cute and playful and stuff that i felt like rugi pulak to nap when i can actually play with her. so i did. and so tak jadi balik malam tu.

then tadi kerja as usual-busy morning, then petang i was like a zombie already.

habis. i'm hitting the sack now.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

books read this year (or still reading..)

since i gave up on exams this year, i had plenty of time to catch up with reading stuff other than medical textbooks. just felt like listing them down (sbb takde idea nak blog apa malam ni).
they are in random order..
  • a short history of nearly everything-bill bryson
  • memory of running-ron mclarty
  • stardust - neil gaiman
  • shanghai baby-wei hui
  • undomestic goddess-sophie kinsella
  • anansi boys - neil gaiman
  • american gods-neil gaiman
  • the tipping point -malcolm gladwell (not done yet-it's non fiction ;))
  • daughters of arabia - jean sasson
  • stories of the prophets
  • marvel 1602 -neil gaiman
  • strangers in paradise book 1 -terry moore
  • neverwhere - neil gaiman

hmm... i think there are 2-3 more titles that should be up there as well, but i cant seem to remember. but hey, not too bad at all. compared to last year..only managed to read 4 (dan brown's famous 4). 'course, comics and graphic novels take less time (even tho they cost a lot more - sigh.. why do books here cost SO much anyway? well.. they told me why.. but.. i still think they can be cheaper dammit!!)

btw, kinda obvious that it's this year that i fell in love with neil gaiman's books aint it? i mean, i read the sandman series before, back when i was still a university student, not the whole lot cuz i was borrowing them from the library (which is another thing that needs serious help/attention here in msia) and couldnt get the whole collection..and i guess i was distracted with a whole lotta other things then too, like borrowing movies too..sigh..sometimes i miss canada.. and bagels.. what was i trying to get at again? o this year i've been spending a lot more time at the bookstores again so i guess i sorta rediscovered him (gaiman) and his great imagination.. and so i'm a fan once again.

oklah.. actually i was planning to comment a bit on each of the book, like/dont like/cool/boring/suck..that sorta thing (heck, i'm not a book critic pun) but anyway tak jadi cuz it's too lewat malam alrdy, so gonna go to bed instead (alrdy on the bed actually-o but u know what i mean..)

nite world..

Monday, November 06, 2006

i was supposed to prepare for a talk for tomorrow. well i did. for awhile. then i got bored and decided to change my laptop's wallpaper..yet again. ever since we got amirah (my niece), her photos have been gracing my computer. but now i've got too many of them that i dunno which to pick anymore. so decided to put up a bunch of them together. she's so cute. i'm gonna spoil her rotten.
now back to that dang talk..

Saturday, November 04, 2006

back when i was 15...

read my ol journal back when i was in boarding school, and came across this puisi thingy that i actually made up around the time i was stressed out preparing for SRP.

kau datang sebok2
ngacau2 aku
aku belum ready
nak hadapi
dirimu itu.
salah aku ke?
aku rasa iye..
padan muka,

kalau lingkup?
issh..harap idak le..

boleh tak kalau..
kau ditangguhkan?
boleh tak kalau..
aku dikecualikan?
boleh ke aku..
menaruh harapan?
boleh...setakat P8!

aku tulis puisi ini
waktu maghrib begini,
konon2 lepas tension.
aku rasa aku ni bangang
azan dah lama berkumandang
aku masih setaraf dengan..
kerbau berkubang!
patutnye aku pegi mandi
lepas sembahyang
boleh study.

boleh tahan jugak..hehe. but if i have to create anything like that again..dont think i can do it anymo. i remember writing up stories when i was in school. essays/stories that the english teacher made me read up in class or tampal on the class board. i remember in form 2 or 3, ms eliza made a few us in class record ourselves reading our so-called creative stories on tape. i wonder if she kept the tapes.

oh..and then there was this sorta mini novel that i wrote too(took up a whole exercise book). i called it "base III". nuthin to do with the bases dating couples move onto on each date mind ya (naughtynaughty.) but was some sorta refugee/army base camp that held most of my friends captured by enemies...and um..

oklah, ceritanye camni (hehe)..there was this world war that caught evryone in the world off-guard (yes, i had to take sejarah for SRP). whole msia kena bomb, including la our school ..many students were captured as tebusan, but me and my friends escaped cuz being the delinquents that we were, during the school raid/bombing, we were skipping class, and were in our hideout, which was so well hidden lah kononnye, even the so-called world enemies whose army troops were invading the country couldnt find. and so the whole story was about our journey to save our family n friends, to help them escape from this "base III", which was somewhere at the pahang-kelantan border.our school was in melaka, so jauhla perjalanannye kan.. so on the way tu macam2 happened, adventure la, and even romance pun ada selit2 jugak..real-life couples and crushes semua i included..alah..girl A who had a crush on boy B in real life. I wrote that she fell down a big hole, and B tried to save her, only to fall down the hole as well, so they were stuck there awhile, just the 2 of them, till help arrived. and they got to talking. and got to to know each other. and fell for each other..that sorta thing la. innocent jek ;)

as for the wardens/teachers we didnt like and goody 2-shoe-students who liked to snitch on us, they became the enemy-under-the-blanket...kira pembelot the story. they worked for the enemy, so in the end during the 'great big escape' from the base, we get to kill them all..muahaha.

i remember reading the story outloud to my close friends in our dorm, and we daydreamed about having it made into a movie one day (and for some reason we wanted aziz m othman to direct ;))

but u know the sad thing? sometime after high school, when my parents left to work overseas, and we had to rentout our house in kl, and so had to move our stuff back to our kampungs (both melaka n perak), and evrything went evrywhere.... my novel just went missing. i havent seen it since.

anyway, going back to this journal i had when i was a teen.. the cover was full with stickers saying "keep away!" "dont peep!" "TOP SECRET" etc. on the 1st page, i wrote a warning, for people not to proceed to the other pages, "to read is strictly forbidden, not now, not ever. SERIOUSLY!"

Friday, November 03, 2006

the answer to each question is "yes"

1) "doktor pun pakai selipar ke?"

2) "doktor pun bawak botol air ke?"

3) "doktor pun bawak (kereta) kelisa je?"

4) "doktor pun nak cuti/raya ek?"

5) "doktor pun boleh sakit?"

adoi.. so far no one's dungu enuff to ask "doktor boleh mati tak?" .. cuz if ada org ask me that, then i'll just turn green and cry bloody tears i think.

but then ada jugak people ask us "if we agree to this drug/procedure/surgery that u're telling us, u can jamin esok baik ka?".
haloo.. i cant even jamin that i myself will idup esok hari to tell u of your progress.'s one thing la if these people who ask us these things have no belief in god/religion/fate whatsoever.. but when i get questions like these from a pakcik yg pakai ketayap or other fellow muslims jugak tu yg tak tahan tu.. godalmighty..sabar jelah.

tetiba teringat lak...
the poor doctor who was in the news not that long ago. she was accompanying a patient to another hospital when the ambulance they were riding in met with an accident. she was in a coma in the ICU for 15 days before finally passing on.
when i accompany patients in the ambulance, it just never crossed my mind before that i could die doing it.. i mean, of course bila dah ajal tu, anytime anywhere pun can die la kan, but u know, many of us worry about accompanying patients, especially emergency cases, in the ambulance. but not because of the thought that we could die doing it lah.. for me personally, i was more nervous than anything else.. did we bring evrything? will i get motion sickness (god, please dont make me vomit) will the patient be ok? what to do if the patient turn from bad to worse, and i have to resuscitate in an old turbulent ambulance trying to 'fly' at 140km/h?

after her death, berkobar2 the ministry wanna upgrade the ambulance service in this country.
anyway, alfatihah to her and takziah to her family.