Reflections: Fatherly-nah and Her Supposed Son.

Some sporadic thoughts of info on first day of school in this ‘BETTER-than-last’ year. Too much info, too little time lah… ūüôā

  • can’t help but burst out laughing everytime the Sec 1 kids muster enough guts to ask me this (this is the 2nd time this question was posed to me)
    “Cikgu, sekolah ni takde padanglah. Cikgu tau tak kat mana kita boleh main kejar-kejar?”
    (teacher, this school doesn’t have a football field. Do you know where we can play catch?)
    No.1: The word kejar-kejar (play catch) is almost extinct in sec sch. No one wants to admit they know what it means! Cannot imagine my grown-up-ish sec4s playing kejar-kejar for their beaus to see. All that action-macho flushed down the loo.
    No.2: Of all people, WHY ASK ME? DO I LOOK like I remotely¬†enjoy playing kejar-kejar? (unless they think I’m forever It, of course….)
  • during assembly, my Level Manager highlighted this point to the students:
    “If you have any problems, do not hesitate to approach your level managers and assistant level managers. (I’m one of ’em). We are FAAAAA-THER-LY, very FAAAA-THEr-LY…¬† (and motherly, he said later).
    I swear I sat up thinking that my name was called. Paiseh.
    Which got me thinking…. I’m Fatherly-nah. But I’m really quite motherly. Misnomer, no?
    (useless knowledge of the day: someone in the staff room does call me Madeline…. but ONLY BECAUSE he thinks I’m MAD, not motherly. Tsk.)
  • went on stage to speak to the Sec 1s about conversational ML/CL. Totally unprepared. Powerpointslide-less. Impromptu. And, not bad actually.
  • A colleague said she saw me during the hols with my son. And another one asked me how my son is. And if I allowed him to, he could probably convince me that I do have a son. Hmm. Fishy. Will not even contemplate how else I can make Sarah look more girly than she is. (pink ribbons overload next outing)
  • I didn’t have ONE BREAK since 7.30, all the way to 1.30. Boo. And even when the final bell rang, I was still not done. I left at 4pm, half of the 200 things on my list left undone- only because I suddenly realized I haven’t eaten a single thing and was STARVING. And you know, ‘starving’ and ‘me’ just don’t go well together. Which means- abandon ship. Just gotta do what I gotta doooo. No fuel = no work baybeh.
  • I did drink lotsa water t0day- downed 3 bottles of water (500mlx3)- PLAIN WATER. Because teacher talked too much and too loud after a two-month hiatus, talking like normal human beings do. So the parched throat helped me reach my 2litre-daily goal. Woohooo?
  • My form class seems good… seems. Hope this assumption sticks THE WHOLE YEAR.
  • Spent nearly $150 buying nonsense I don’t need from the likes of Japan Home, Popular and Guardian. But the fulfilment of eating a $20 fish-and-chips meal: PRICELESS. (HEY, because I’m worth it ok. And much more than that.)

That’s all from me today. Hmph. Still quite a long entry huh. MUST. BE. CONCISE.


Epilogue: A Series of Unfortunate (2009) Events

New Year’s eve is here, and for ONCE, I can’t wait for the new year to come. Yeah sure, what difference does one day make you say, but somehow the digits 2009 just didn’t work out well for me. Could be the numerology I suppose. I’m not even asking for fabulous things to happen to me in 2010- all I’m asking for is a normal, non-eventful year.If I were to plot on a graph how¬†I want the events in the year to be, please give me a straight line¬†(any value above zero will do, thank you).¬†I don’t need the spikes if the dips are gonna plunge beyond zero.

2009 has been challenging. At home, at work. Too many tears shed and the outlook was bleak. The Ox sure played up its long-suffering, “I persevere” motto to the fullest. Too bad that the ox will¬†technically only stop ploughing through my life in February, but I’m just gonna pretend the Tiger will come in on 1st January as well. Bring the cat in already. ME-owwww!!!

Why am I talking like I’m an astrologer/¬†a geomancer/cat¬†anyway? Oh yes. So I could blame everything on something. ūüôā

Because I would like to believe that 2010 will be a better year, I WILL make resolutions. Ah. Perhaps that’s it. I never did make resolutions for 2009…. that’s why…. (something new to blame). Plus, I remember I started the year feeling so… void of hope (I won’t use the word ‘useless’). Bleak.

So here goes, for better or worse, my resolutions for 2010.

1) I will make sure whatever little time I spend with Sarah will be meaningful. And in saying that,
2) I will spend more QUALITY time with Sarah and Ramli. Yes. You.
3) I will spend wisely as opposed to frivolously¬†so we can get ‘that place there’¬†by 2012.
4) I will devote more time just for family outings- just us three.
5) AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK, I will leave school (for home) the moment it is permissable to do so.

1) I will finish marking whatever work on the same day students hand in their work. *gulp*. I shall not go home until this target is met. Which means…
2) I will not be overambitious and give out more work than I can mark in a day. *smart eh?*
3) I will be more organized and set one hour at the end of my teaching day doing all my filing and paperwork. Religiously.
4) I will be pro-active at work. *Okay maybe I should be more realistic and start at ‘active’.*
5) I will stop doodling/ rolling my eyes/ cracking jokes / gossip-non-verbally during staff meetings. I banish you, cheeky sense of humour!
6) I will stay in school AT LEAST until 4 everyday (just so I get everything prepared for the next day and not have to bring my work home or fret about it!) Justifications, justifications…. No more ‘ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO!’ moments for me while waiting for the last bell to ring). Ha!

1) This is a FIRST FOR ME, SPEWING SUCH ‘UN-ME’ THINGS, so humour me please and STOP SNIGGERING. I’m serious.

– I will take better care of my health, and get rid of that mantra “ROUND IS A SHAPE ROUND IS A SHAPE ROUND IS A SHAPE SO I AM IN SHAPE.” This translates to the following sub-resolutions:
– I will drink more water. I am way too dehydrated and water-retentive. (It’s not fats, it’s water.)
– I will NOT call for a cab just because I don’t want to walk out of school UPHILL to the busstop. I WILL WALK UP THAT DAMN HILL. *ok it’s a slope, really, but any incline is uphill for me hokay. Don’t talk so much ah, why don’t YOU try carrying a cow on your back and walk up that ‘slope’?*
– I will go for walks around the neighbourhood with Sarah and my mom in the evenings before Maghrib. And NOT stop at the murtabak shop.
– I will think happy thoughts and BE happy. Positive, not negative! (Right now ‘happy thoughts¬†‘ means ‘food fantasies’.)

2) I will read read read read. And maybe write. ūüôā
3) I will spend more ME time (with ME lah). Pamper myself, watch chick-flicks and read chick-lit¬†and not be ashamed to admit I enjoyed it,¬†savour a cuppa and read, reflect…
4) I will learn how to forgive. Believe in the power of forgiveness. Be the magnanimous person I know I can be, and let go. Afterall, hate is like cancer. It consumes you completely. *cheesy I know, but TRUE okay…*
5) I will be NON-CONFRONTATIONAL. Again, let it go, let it go…. inhale, exhale…..
*which reminds me of the NUMEROUS near catfights and bitchfits I get into with perfect strangers when they just shove you aside trying to get out of the lift/ not holding the lift for you when you’re struggling with a pram/ fighting for seats at eateries (you don’t want to be irritating and stand right beside the diner, so you just loom around near enough, and when the diner lifts his butt off the chair, some bloody *&*$*# comes out from NOWHERE NEAR and just pounces on the seat. FIGHT LAH!)/ fighting for parking space (same scenario, but in a car of course)/fighting for taxis (I am a very ethical taxi-waiter; I¬†WILL NOT cut a ‘queue’-¬†so I will do crazy things like stand in front of the taxi of some bastard who cuts me. And tell them to get out.) Yes, I go crazy like that, and it scares ME at times.
6) I will say this AGAIN because I got ANGRY and got my heart palpitating  just recalling those too-frequent CONFRONTATIONS/ FIGHTS:
I WILL LEARN HOW TO LET¬†THINGS GO. Stop getting so caught up with ‘fighting for my rights’, and expecting some people to be civilised. It’s bloody Singapore lah. If you can’t beat em, join em. Learn how to cut queue and appreciate the cheap thrill. Don’t press the lift button for others, just watch how funny they look when the heavy lift doors close in on them. Speak loudly into someone’s face. Pick my nose like there’s no tomorrow¬†and flick¬†the booger¬†at someone. What the hey. It’s all fun I’m sure.
I WILL BE LESS ANGRY. Why torture my blood pressure and overworked heart with anger when I can do so with tasty fatty food?
I WILL CURSE LESS. Save all that dirty talk for some other situation.

And… last but not least….
7) I will devote more time for being at one with¬†The Almighty…¬†no more ‘qadha’¬†lah nanti… or kejap lagi….no more skipping.¬†Every one matters… I take my hat off to anyone who can fulfill all five waktus,¬†I really do, and must admit, I’m¬†always getting into that¬†‘buat mana yang dapat’ kinda mindset. I’m so bad. And when I’ve been bad, I comfort mysef when I lapse, let’s say, Zuhur,¬†by saying things like ‘at least I got Subuh…’ I have to change that lah.¬†¬†I know full well that mindset should not even exist. And when I do , I hope to spend more time¬†for longer wirids, du’as, zikirs…¬†I can see what a big difference¬†it makes to¬†my state of mind/ perception¬†of¬†things/ mood and temperament.¬†I never fail to¬†realize that sometimes when things go out of whack or didn’t turn out the way you planned, it could¬†simply be a reminder of how powerful prayer is.¬†STOP PROCRASTINATING ALREADY! It’s affecting all aspects of my life; work, family, spiritually….¬†get everything on track!

So, those (wahhh so many) resolutions- I will try the best I can. Really really really. I’m SOOO raring to go that I’m starting some of them now. Like target-setting for students, I¬†think I have set quite realistic goals, even though I admit- they may not ALL AT THE SAME TIME be achievable (if you think about it some can be quite contradictory,¬†oh well,¬†better than NO resolutions right?

Happy New Year to everyone. HAPPY. Remember that. May 2010 be a good year for you, as it will be for me. *positive, positive!*

My Heart Will Go On

It’s been almost two weeks since Ooyah went through that awful surgery, and Alhamdulillah, she is back at home now- safe and sound.

What we thought was gonna be an almost two-week stay at the hospital turned out to be only a 5-day stay- 4 days only if you were to count the days post-surgery. Is that amazing or WHAT? She was so determined to get out of that horrible place that she pushed herself to recover quickly. And she did.

She actually spent only one and a half days in ICU (the doctors predicted 3 days), the drainage tubes were out of her just before she was transferred out of ICU and she spent 2 and a half days in the step-down unit. It was amazing. To give you an idea of how amazingly fast her recovery is, here’s how: in the same as ICU, there was a 15-year old girl who had the exact same surgery as her. She underwent the surgery 4 days before Ooyah, and when Ooyah was wheeled in, she was still in a vegetative state. She was only regained consciousness nearly 2 days after surgery, and she was only transferred out of ICU a day after Ooyah. Even then, she was still on full morphine, still had her drainage tubes on her when Ooyah was discharged (all this we learnt from her mother who was almost exasperated that her daughter is so weak!) I did tell her mom though, that the doctor did mention that the older the person is, the longer it will take to recover. But this girl- she’s actually taking longer than the doctor predicted. I guess the awareness that a surgery has just been done on you surely takes it’s toll on the patient. It’s psychological really- for Ooyah she didn’t know that her chest has a long stitched up wound. She didn’t know that her ribs had been sawed apart. Ignorance is bliss indeed. I’m sure if we had decided to do the surgery when she’s five, it would have been a different story. So, in retrospect, i’m thankful that we decided to proceed with the surgery now as it would also be more psychologically scarring for her once she’s older.

Everytime the doctors came by, they are so pleased with her progress and never fail to tell us that she’s a very strong and brave girl. The morning that she was transferred out of ICU, Ramli was there when the team of surgeons and specialist doctors from the ICU did their rounds. The head of the cardiothoracic surgery department complimented Ooyah’s surgeon, the Jap doc, for a job well done. He was all smiles and bows. The head also announced to the other doctors that Jappy has been waiting a long time for a chance to do an ASD surgery, and finally his chance came, and he did good.

Of course when Ramli recounted this part to me, I flipped like a pancake. HIS FIRST TIME? My daughter’s heart was the first actual heart he operated on?!!! If I had known this earlier, I definitely WOULD NOT allow him to lay his virgin-cardiac-surgeon hands on my girl’s chest- okay that didn’t sound right- My girl’s¬†heart.

Apparently the head surgeon was there too, standing by his side (hopefully he wasn’t giving step-by-step instructions on what to do next). Well that’s what we’d like to believe.

But Ramli did tell me one good point. If it was your FIRST time doing something, wouldn’t you be extra careful in making sure that you wouldn’t screw up? Compare that with, let’s say, something that you have done everyday for¬†ten years. Wouldn’t you be more heck-care or can’t be bothered about that job?

Very good point Ramli.

Anyway, back to Ooyah- she’s a fighter, yes she is. She is much stronger than we ever thought she could be (Miss Shiver-with-fear-when the wind blows). She has astounded everyone with her fast recovery, thanks to Allah, and also thanks to the prayers of our beloved family and friends.

We’ve had family and friends visiting her at home and let me tell ya this- they sure didn’t expect to see her being same ‘ol Ooyah, all skippety-skip and laughing her heart out (pun not intended). Nosiree- she is not at all bedridden. In fact, she has gone back to her normal routine, her appetite is BETTER THAN EVER, and she’s much happier now.

There was one incident though, one day after she returned home. It was late at night and she was about to go to sleep. I was looking at her from the corner of my eye when she went quiet. She suddenly touched her chest, probably wondered why there’s a bandage over it, and her face was sad. She¬†then took her blanket,¬†wrapped it a few times round her tiny body. It was heartbreaking to see.

Of course, every morning, bath time is a battle. We’d have to remove the gauze, and bathe her, and she will scream to the high heavens. Actually the¬†doctors told us that¬†her wound does not need to be dressed anymore¬†as there isn’t any bleeding. There will not be any pain, and I believe¬†them. I guess Ooyah is just traumatised by seeing the wound (a long 5-inch scar, plus¬†2¬†holes sewed up badly near her tummy (that was for the heart-lung bypass machine).¬†Since¬†2 days ago, my mom and I finally had enough guts to leave the wound undressed,¬†making sure she wears comfortable clothes that do not have buttons/embroidery/ detail in the front. The wound is healing nicely now, although her chest (the sternum does¬†seem to¬†protrude out a bit. The doctor said that it may probably remain that way because the bone structure has been altered, and it may go back to normal, but¬†it is not a problem at all, unless your lifelong dream is¬†to be a swimsuit model for¬†Sports Illustrated of course.¬†

Well of course he didn’t say that last bit. And OF COURSE Ooyah’s lifelong dream isn’t to be a swimsuit model. Hahh.

So, I’m happy to say that after¬†more than two months of heart-wrenching moments and agony, Ooyah¬†is in very good shape (other than the¬†misshapen chest). She’s on the highway-road to recovery, and she says, with more conviction¬†than ever, “My heart is all better now, Mom. Takde¬†lubang. (No hole.)”

And this is where I give my thanks to everyone of you reading- for your support and encouragement, which played a big¬†part in keeping me sane- I would have been a wreck otherwise, weeping my bodyweight away (that didn’t happen, of course). Sure I shed tears when I confided in you, but I felt better everytime I talked and cried it out. So thank you, for lending me your ears, and your shoulder to cry on. And to our dear Bav, thank you, for doing just that, spiritually- even though you are far far away. Trust me, all those emails sure did help perk me up.

It was this bad incident that made us realize how lucky we are to have so many people who care about us… family, friends, it’s amazing, all the¬†encouragement that we received.¬†Thank you for the love… you will never¬†know how touched we are by your kindness….

Rest assured, we will tell Ooyah¬† how lucky she¬†is to have so many people who love her. And it is with your prayers and support, and Almighty¬†God, that- yes- as tacky as it sounds- her heart¬†WILL¬†go on.. ūüôā

Open Your Heart

Wednesday. 16th December 2009, otherwise known as ‘The Worst Day of My Life.’

Barely catching 40 winks, I made my way to the bathroom at about 6.30. Ramli had woken up earlier to watch her sleep. Tried to sober myself up as much as possible, as it definitely would be a very long day. Possibly a day that would never end. The little angel was still asleep when I returned from the bathroom, and my family had already reached the hospital, waiting for her to wake up. The mood was sombre, and everyone tried to pretend that everything was perfectly normal. Of course it was not. Everyone was like a truck loaded up with gasoline, waiting for a tiny spark to blow up.

She woke up nearly at 8am. Finally at about 8.20am, a few nurses came to her bed and informed us the Operating Theatre has called for her to be brought down. The staff nurse asked if I’d like to give her a bath as she probably would not be bathed for pretty much 2-3 days after the surgery. I wanted the nurse to bathe her, but they conveniently pushed that¬†task to me. I didn’t want to, not this morning. I know I sound morbid and so full of negativity, but at that point, I swear- I couldn’t stop thinking and wondering if that would be the last time I’ll bathe her.

It was as if she knew what would happen to her little body. That’s what I kept thinking as I carried her to the baby’s bathroom. She didn’t ask any question at all (so unlike her). She was calm. Quiet. And the one thing that astounded me- she didn’t even refuse when I took of her pyjamas and told her I was going to bathe her. This was extraordinary, because for as long as I can remember, from the day she was born, she dislikes bathing. She’ll put up a fight, until the very end. If there is ONE challenge in a day of caring for her, it would be BATH TIME. But not this time. She was quiet all the way. It was as if she knew…

In the same bathroom, another baby of about 2 years old was being bathed by her grandma. Poor baby, she too would probably suffer the same fate as Ooyah. She was crying and struggling, pretty much how I expected Ooyah to be. But not today.

I brought her back to her bed, dried her with the towel, put on her diaper. The nurses were waiting by her bed, and this didn’t help me at all. As I combed her wet hair, I couldn’t hold it back anymore. I just burst out crying till I shook all over.¬†Ooyah knew that I cried, even if I turned my back to her and tried to control my sobs, hoping that the rest could take over dressing her up. But apparently my crying was just a cue for everyone else. Ramli, my mom and my sisters started to sob uncontrollably as well. Surprisingly, she was unperturbed looking at all of us in tears. She was QUIET. No questions asked. She didn’t even look frightened or curious. Just calm and quiet.

As we wheeled her out on a wheelchair, we tried very hard not to cry. As it is, the parents and patients in the ward were looking at us sympathetically. It was dramatic, I know, but it was a very trying moment for all of us. Even though her condition is one of the most common heart defect in children, not many parents are willing to let their child undergo the surgery because of the risks. It is a major operation, and in a case where the heart-lung bypass machine is involved, her life is basically hanging on a tether.

At the operating theatre’s reception area, we were asked who would be accompanying her in. That would be me, the one who birthed her. I would like to be the last person she sees before she is knocked unconscious and before the machine takes over, thank you. I was told to put on the scrubs, she had to put on a surgery gown, and we were told to proceed to a waiting area. My family members and Ramli took turns to kiss her, tears streaming down their faces. By this time I had stopped crying because I told myself, I HAD TO BE STRONG, THIS LAST LAP, just for HER.

In the waiting area, there were two other kids. One boy, who’s about 2, and a girl who’s about 13, both with their mom or dad. As I looked at Ooyah and the boy sitting amongst the many toys provided to¬†countereact the negative energy that was in the room, I couldn’t help but think of sheep waiting to be slaughtered. Yeah, just like that. Let’s make them happy and delude them before they go under and we fiddle with their little hearts/ lungs/ whatnot.

After 15min of nerve-wrecking waiting, the anesthetist came in to brief me about what to expect. I couldn’t focus and what came out from her mouth, to me, was just verbatim without meaning. Remain calm/ Support her head/ Inject anesthesia through the plug on her hand/ Distract her / 30 seconds and she’s out /After surgery, wait at ICU waiting area / She’ll be wheeled in directly.

The teenager in the same room was due for a surgery on her arm for a fracture. Her mom was sobbing. Wimp. Give me a fracture any day, please.

And the young boy, short 1-hr day surgery (faeces got stuck in rectum and needs to be removed?) . The parents looked at my tear-stained face like I’m some weakling, and I felt like screaming into their faces, blardy a-holes, my girl’s going for a HEART surgery okay, not like your son who’s going in to remove his shit out of his ass! Her chest will be cut open, her sternum sawed apart, they will plug in a heart-lung bypass machine through her chest and the side of her tummy, they will STOP HER HEART, cut open that heart, get to the hole-in-wall (the atria), strip off the lining of her heart to cover up that huge hole, sew it up, then sew up the heart, then fix back the sternum with stainless steel wires, and remove the machine and start up the heart, and FINALLY, sew up her chest. SO DON’T YOU DARE give me that ‘stronger-than-thou’ look!

Almost half an hour after parting with Ramli and my family, the dreaded moment came for me to carry her to the operating theatre. Theatre 11. I entered the cold room. Okay, not too intimidating, they did try to make it seem less frightening with stickers of cartoon characters all over the room. It was brightly lit. The nurses and anesthetist led me to sit on a stool beside the operating table. This is it.

And this whole time, Ooyah was quiet. The nurses all held bottles of soapy water, to blow bubbles. They were so chirpy I wanted to smack their faces. Then they started blowing bubbles all around her. Now, Ooyah is a sucker for bubbles. She will FORCE you to get her a bottle whenever she sees one and is highly amused by them.

But this time, she didn’t give two hoots about it. She looked at them blankly. What’s more amazing- one of the nurses gave her the blower and put it near her mouth to blow and USUALLY, she’ll go wild at this point. But this time- nothing. Expressionless. The look she gave damn was as if to say, oh please- kid me not. I know what you’re up to.

They tried to distract her with all their might, but they just couldn’t stop her from looking at the anesthetist injecting the potent white liquid into her IV plug. She looked at it pensively, and the nurses were still chirping, trying to distract her. She managed to blow ONE bubble,before the anesthetist told me to hold up her chin and neck as it would go weak in a few seconds.¬†I watched that liquid go into her body. I did as was told, ¬†said a prayer in her ear, and whispered ‘I love you’ in between sobs before she lost consciousness. The nurses took away her small, limp body from my arms and put her on the operating table. I stood up and wanted to go up to her and kiss her again, but was quickly guided out of the room.

Oh mighty Allah, please spare my child’s life, and keep her away from any harm or danger… please, I beg of you.

If I could sell my soul and switch places with her, I would. This would be the moment.

I walked out to where everyone was waiting. They were all crying, and that made me sob again. I described to them how it went, further aggravating their anguish.

It was like a scene out of a movie. Us waiting outside the operating theatres. There were about 6 other families waiting. And we saw many being wheeled in. One by one, the doctors came out bearing good news to the parents, and then we saw the patients, all who went in after Ooyah, wheeled out, conscious and smiling. Some were even handed over to the parents (including the one who had shit stuck in his ass). Such trivial surgeries. The wait was torturous, as everytime a doctor came out, we jumped to our toes, hoping he/she would tell us the op is done and she is in good condition. But it was NEVER her doctor.

And this went on for almost 6 hours. The doctors told us the surgery would take 3, 4 hours max. But by the¬†fifth hour, we were going mad. I went into the OT reception and asked the nurses to check on the progress. She came back after a few minutes, telling me the correcting of the heart is finished, but they ‘haven’t closed her up yet’. Meaning, her chest is still gaping open. Apparently, the doctors are ensuring that all systems are back to normal so that they needn’t open her up again. Point taken.

What was worse during the break was there were a bunch of people who were so insensitive, laughing out loud in the waiting area, playing music loudly… budak taik young parents with their friends. The mother was all dolled up at laughing hysterically like a hyena while her child was inside the op theatre. This was the same parent who left their barely one-year old daughter unaccompanied the night before in the same ward. The baby caused a ruckus the whole night while the nurses tried frantically to contact the parents, THEM,¬†but to no avail. And can you believe it, just after Ooyah, the baby was wheeled in for her op WITHOUT her parents, least of all her mother. Where we they? At the park, taking pictures and enjoying themselves (according to Ramli who went to the park to cry¬† think.) At one point, while they took a break from laughing in the waiting area, the nurses came out carrying her groggy child and asked ME, is this your baby?

It angers me to think how such people exist- I’m sure even animals care for their young. These are monsters; they wouldn’t care less if their child dies. They’d probably just screw someone else and pop out another one!

… and even THEIR child came out of the theatre before Ooyah!

FINALLY, after 6 hours, Ramli came to us- he was waiting in the ICU waiting area. As I expected, they didn’t pass by the operating theatre waiting area as Ooyah had to be wheeled straight into ICU. I made my way to ICU, only to be told that I can only see her half an hour later as they were ‘setting her up’. Ramli said that Ooyah looks fine, unconscious though, but her face didn’t seem swollen.

The Japanese doctor came up to us and assured us that the surgery went very well. He then mentioned all the risks again, and the possibility of it happening after the surgery. The only thing that was ruled out at that point was the accidental, DISASTROUS¬†cutting of the major artery. That, he assured us, is clearly out of the question. The rest: brain damage, kidney damage, liver failure, leakage- well, he’d just have to prolong our agony and tell us that we can only tell 24 hours after the surgery. Thanks a lot doc. But the prognosis is very good, as Ooyah’s organs were able to be revived promptly after removing the heart-lung bypass machine, and that was a good sign. So good that the feeding tube could be¬†removed before she left the operating theatre.

At long last, we were able to go in to see Ooyah. A nurse came out and said Ooyah was screaming for her PUTING (pacifier!) I found this quite funny, as it¬†gave me a huge sense of relief. From the outside of her room, we could hear her! She was groaning and could only manage stifled cries. I braced myself, hoping not to be taken aback by the tubes and all. There she was, awake, groggy, but she was groaning in pain. It was heart-wrenching to see her in a state of immobility- there was an ugly portacath (central venous line) on the side of her neck- to deliver the pain-relief medication (one of them morphine), an arterial IV line on her left hand, and another IV line on her right. She had an oxygen mask on, and most definitely she was on a urinary catheter. The moment she saw me she started to weep and beg me to carry her! It was heartbreaking, and again, I cried. She asked for her ‘puting’ and we put the oxygen mask over her puting.

But the most saddening part was seeing her writhing in pain… her lips were trembling, tears didn’t stop streaming from her eyes but she didn’t have the energy to cry out loud. She kept on saying, “My hands’ stuck, mama! Help me!” (both her hands were tied to the cot rail to prevent her from pulling out the lines)¬† She kept on asking for water… “Nak air, mama…. haus!!!” but I couldn’t give any to her. The doctors say she can’t have any fluid as she may vomit and this may affect her lungs badly. The most I could do was wet her pacifier and it killed me to see her thirstily slurping out every drop dripping from it!

Soon after, she went in and out of sleep. The morphine was timed to intraveneously enter her bloodstream every five minutes. In her moments of semi-consciousness, she actually started hallucinating, I think, and talked about all sorts of weird things.
“Help! I’m stuck! I’m stuck in the anemone!” (this must be from Finding Nemo, although no such scene/ line exists in the actual movie)
“Mama, helang,¬†lang kat owang-kawi! Moink, moink, moink! Macam Nemo!” (combination of her eagle-watching memory at Langkawi, and the seagull scene from Finding Nemo)
“Daaaaaadddd!!!! Save me!” (Again, from Finding Nemo)

It was poignant, yet funny at the same time. She was grumbling and grumbling, and saying so many funny things that made the nurses in the ICU laugh. At one point, she was SO desperate to get the tubes off her that she begged us to BATHE her- thinking that if we were to bathe her, we’d have to remove the tubes! Knowing how much she hates bathing, I would say she was pretty much desperate to be free from the tubes. My mom and Fizah sobbed uncontrollably when they saw her, especially when she pleaded with them to give her water. I was a bit stronger I must say, taking comfort in the fact that she had regained consciousness and her talkative nature was kicking back in full force!

A few hours later, Ooyah was visited by my two cousins, whose mother is being warded at SGH for a heart surgery as well. They cried when they saw her and Ooyah didn’t give up trying, begging them to release her. By 7pm, all our family members had the chance to see her. Ooyah had also managed to strike a deal with nurses; they would give her a few drops of water if she promised to be quiet and close her eyes after that, and she actually complied!

By 10pm, when the doctor visited her, she was allowed to drink controlled amounts of glucose water. But not much, only 20ml for the whole night in doses of 5ml. That’s like a teaspoon each time. But it was important not to overfeed her with water, in view of her recovering lungs and heart.

The nurses and doctor told us that they have actually given her medications that cause drowsiness, but she is so strong-willed that she refuses to sleep. The doctor also added that most patients would actually succumb to the post-surgery pain and lethargy and eventually fall asleep, but for Ooyah, her threshold for pain is rather high. It was only close to 11pm that she finally couldn’t take¬†the tiredness¬†anymore and fell asleep. It was time for my folks to go home and rest. As for me and Ramli, we went to our $50 per day rented parent room a few floors up to clean up, take a shower¬†and start our night vigil. My shift was from 12pm to 3am, while Ramli’s was from 3am to 6am. She pretty much slept through the night, with a few whines and grimacing in between.

It was a tiring day, mentally, emotionally and physically. We were relieved, and gave thanks to the Almighty for answering our prayers. As we walked in and out of ICU, we couldn’t help but feel more thankful to Allah, and also felt like we were so much luckier than others; the regulars every night in the waiting area include parents of a cancer-stricken 1 1/2 year old baby, parents of a 7 year old boy trauma victim who has a skull fracture and needs multiple surgeries, a girl, comatose from liver, lung failure and on dialysis, a girl barely 3 years old, in an isolated room, whose parents kept on weeping (she’s in critical condition). Ramli even saw a dead body of a child wheeled out right before Ooyah went into ICU. We also had the chance to read the cards and letters of appreciation by ex-patients, and even parents of many patients who didn’t even make it out of ICU. It was a reminder to all of us, of how fragile life is. And it made me more thankful to Allah for protecting our angel from harm.

At this point, 24 hours is still not up, so we are still praying…

Fixing a Broken Heart


Tuesday. 15th December 2009.

As difficult as it was for us, we woke up early and made our way for the hospital. Our little angel had no idea what was in store for her. When we got to KK, she knew it’s a hospital but I guess she must have thought that it was just gonna be another day of echocardiograms and x-rays.

She was admitted into her ward and thank god the place was nicely decorated. We lied to her and told her that she will spend the night at the hotel just for kids. She chose to coin a new term and call it ‘hotel hospital’. Her papa bought her a breakfast of McD’s hotcakes with sausage, which made her violently happy. She loved her baby cot (like the ones supplied at hotels) and was contented just lying in bed watching her dvds to no end. The nurses here are amazing. Really caring and sweet. They told me Sarah had to be taken away for a while to have her blood drawn. Apparently they can’t do it in the ward itself as whenever blood is drawn from a child patient, they will start bawling and this , in turn will scare other kids. So they whisked her from her bed and into a secret room. A jabbing room if you can call it that. My mom waited anxiously outside as I was too cowardly to hear her scream when her arm is pricked. But did my mom hear crying and screams?

NO. Not even a whimper. When the nurses came out with her, my mom asked if they couldn’t find a vein or something, but NO. They DID draw a substantial amount of blood from her and even put a ‘plug’ in for future withdrawal of blood/ injection of drugs. The nurses and doctor told my mom how amazed they were that she didn’t cry.

Soon after, her surgeons came by to¬†do their checks, and also- to get us to sign the ‘cover-my-ass’¬†papers. It was quite shocking, I must say, because they have never really been very truthful about the¬†risks that come with the ASD closure procedure. They have always made it seem that there is MINIMAL risk, and that the¬†risks of leaving the¬†hole uncorrected outweigh those of having the surgery done. REALLY. So when we heard the doctor explain, FOR THE FIRST TIME, in detail about the risk, Ramli and I were left in a daze and soon after, tearing.

The risks include:
1) brain damage
2) kidney damage
3) liver failure – all this due to the use of the heart-lung machine that takes over the heart’s function while it is stopped for the surgery. Yes. Stopped. And yes. Machine. Apparently the machine regulates the pressure of blood circulating the body and excessive pressure can lead to one or all of the above.
4) accidental cutting of a major artery on the back part of the heart (that they REALLY REALLY cannot see, they insist, but I’m no doctor you see.) Oh, may I add, the candid Jap doctor HAD to reiterate that if this happens (and it is of NO FAULT of theirs because they cannot see what, correct or not????) — “This is a DISASTER.”
*He repeated this tactless phrase TWICE and if he could, he probably would have said that it is comparable to the Nagasaki nuclear bomb attack to prove his point.
When he mentioned the word DISASTER the second time, I was visualizing myself bitchslapping his face fifteen times and tell him; now THAT’S a disaster, doc.
5) leakage of the patched up hole, meaning, there will still be the mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood, but a tiny whole does not matter at all. Sure. I’ll remember not to flip my girl like a pizza/ prata¬†lest I stretch that hole.

And last, but definitely the most frightening of all,
6) death.

They were pretty smart in telling us the risks at this stage, as we were more likely to just sign the damn thing anyway and pray hard to God that we WILL NOT be that unlucky one percent. But of course, at the back of our minds, we knew that we were putting our girl’s life at risk here… it left me wondering whether I’m gambling smartly here- maybe I should let her live with that hole, afterall, she may live past her teens and even reach adulthood. Am I being silly here? I’ve got two cards to play- death, or death at 40. What the hell was I thinking?

OF COURSE we stopped ourselves from thinking too much, and signed the damned papers. It was the hardest decision to make.

¬†We had to convince her to leave her bed and go for a walk around the hospital premises… better let her walk and run around as much as she can because after tomorrow, it will be a long time before she can enjoy such a simple thing, I thought.

So we hung out at the shops in the hospital… she even took a nap when we ate at delifrance. It was only at about 6 or 7pm that we decided to go back to the ward and let her rest for tomorrow’s big ordeal at 8am. By 9pm, my family members were told to leave. We were hoping they could stay longer, at least until she feels sleepy. Truth be told, we didn’t want to face her alone- the guilt totally got to us. If my family members were around, we thought that guilty would be ‘shared’ by everyone… but we didn’t even get to have that.

It was the longest night… she simply wouldn’t sleep and got tired of watching her collection of DVDs. After watching the first 5 mins of every movie, she got irritated and demanded to go home. After much convincing and pacifying, she finally quitened down and slept at nearly 1am.

For me, sleep was the last thing on my mind. Much as I tried, I just couldn’t. For one, the two babies in the same ward took turns waking and crying in their super-high pitched voices. On top of that, I couldn’t stop myself from visualizing how dreadful the moments before and after surgery would be. That vision of her lying on the operating table kept on flashing in my mind. I spent the night weeping. The nurse on duty that night, after finding me sobbing everytime she came to take Sarah’s temperature, even asked me if I needed to talk. I kindly turned her down, knowing that nothing anyone says at that point can make me feel better. Ramli had a more restful night, exhausted from all the hospital’s admin and paperwork in the day. Not to mention the mental and emotional drain since weeks prior to her admission.

I spent the night watching her sleep nary a stir, so peaceful and comfortable. This would be the last night in a long time before she could sleep so comfortably, without needles and tubes running through her, and definitely, the last night in her whole life that she will sleep with a perfect, smooth¬†chest, without a gruesome scar to remind her of that little holey heart of hers…

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

It’s just one more day before our angel is admitted to hospital, so you can imagine how much of a wreck I am at this point. These many weeks haven’t been good to me at all. I banish all thoughts of the surgery because it’ll make me sob like a baby in an instant. Still in denial, and I am not at all prepared to face the truth.

We took her to a short getaway to langkawi, hoping that she gets as happy as possible with lots of nice memories to think about when she’s bedridden for a while. And we succeeded- she can’t stop talking about ‘orang kawi’ (Langkawi), thinks every bird is a ‘lang’ (helang or eagle), still thinks of her Coolbo, the horse she gallantly rode and fell in love with, and the ‘monyet kepala benjol’ (the monkey with a bump on its head- we were greeted by a bunch of monkeys at our hotel balcony; they got into a squabble and one of them bumped it’s head hard against a table). She had a great time, and forgive me for being such a sourpuss, but somehow that makes me feel so horrible. I feel like we’re tricking her into something….

The flight to and fro was something else though- both rides were terrible and I SWEAR HERE, that I will never never never board another plane from the budget terminal again! It’s totally not worth it, not that it is any much cheaper! We didn’t want her to get a flu or fever because if she does catch either one 2 weeks before the surgery, they will have to delay it. So there we were, all five of us, the ONLY five in the airports I suppose, with face masks. And BOY was I glad we decided to go paranoid/hypochondriac/’kiasee’ (scared to die) because there were loads of people around us who had sneezing and coughing fits. The air SURE was loaded with germs. So stare at us all you want, diseased people, just don’t infect my angel with your bugs!

That holiday was over on Wednesday, but remembering that we had a $50 voucher from our previous stay at Marina Mandarin, out of a whim, we decided to check into that hotel on Saturday, if only for a night. My family were headed for Malacca anyway, so it was just the three of us. Sarah simply LOVESSSSS hotels (me too!) and she was super happy to see us packing our overnight bag.

Since the hotel is connected to Marina Square and Suntec City, we spent a few hours shopping. And again, the guilt-conscience in me took over and I tried to overcome that by splurging her with all sorts of things. She only wanted roller skates, but i sorta convinced her that she needed much more and bought her a big tub of Lego duplo blocks, a disney sticker compendium, thomas and friends sets and also a thomas and friends backpack.

I thought seeing her so happy would make me feel so much better, but eventually it didn’t. That sinking feeling just keeps coming back.

I had a talk with a friend whose son has been through at least two surgeries for something else, and from experience, he advised me to tell her about what’s going to happen. No need to go into detail, just prepare her mentally that she will be staying in a hospital for quite a while to make her better. I’ve been thinking about it, but just do not have the guts to do it. She can be quite unpredictable- we may scare the beezelbubs out of her, but on the other hand, she may even totally calm about it. I can never say. So, rather than risk her being frightened about the stay, I think I’d better not say. I just don’t know, though, what on earth I will tell her when we’re admitting her to the hospital tomorrow. I suppose I’ll tell her TOMORROW that the doctor wants her to sleep in the ‘hospital hotel’ for a while to make her heart feel better. Or perhaps I will tell her that I am the one who is ill, and I need her to accompany me. Will that do? I’m very inclined to LIE to her, I don’t know why!

I know it’s silly. Like my friend said, kids are not stupid. You can’t fool them. They know better, even as young as three. And an incident happened last night which proved to me that I really can’t fool her.

Last night at home, while she was sleeping (exhausted from all the shopping), I started packing the things she will need for the hospital stay. Compiled all her favourite cartoon dvds, stickers, colouring materials, toys, storybooks… and as I was doing it I can’t help but wonder if she’ll be able to do all those things that I’ve packed for her. Will she even be able to sit up? Hold a pencil? At first tears were just trickling down, but after that, I had to stifle my sobs. I didn’t want to wake her up because from the last incident, I knew better than to cry in front of her. I told Ramli that I’ve never been so scared in my life. And would you believe it? This angel who was sleeping so soundly next to me just SAT UP, asked me ‘why, Mama?’ , JUST LIKE THAT. I wasn’t even LOUD. And she was in deep sleep, but she got up instantly. Ramli was exasperated and told me NOT to cry, because she can SENSE IT. And how true that was- it didn’t matter that she didn’t see me cry- she can feel it. And that’s just amazing, the bond that we have.

I told her that I’m not feeling well, that my tummy hurts and she says just the damndest things:

‘Don’t worry mum. You watch Disney Channel and it make you feel soooo much betta. You makan ubat, ok, and drink lotsa water. Then you rest. You feel soooooo much betta, mum’.

That made me laugh because that’s EXACTLY what I will say to her when she complains of feeling ill – okay – MINUS the Disney channel part! That was just a ruse to make us change the channel so SHE can watch it, haha! But what was most touching is that she was soooo concerned that I was ‘sick’… she’s so sensitive and caring. And she was the bigger person, the one in control. I figured out that it is possible- she could be stronger than I think she is. Maybe she’s braver than I am, maybe she is prepared for all of this.

I am dreading every moment leading to the surgery and what may come after, but maybe I will be stronger than I think I am. I have to be, for her. If I’m a wreck,¬†it would not do her any good. She looks to me for strength, and impossible that it may be, God please, grant me the strength to help her get through this. She needs me, and I damn well will be there for her…

Blowing My Own Horn (Because blowing somebody else’s is just disgusting!)

This year is quickly coming to an end. This has to be one of the fastest a year has gone by and I honestly can’t say if that is a good or bad thing.

But one thing’s for sure, a lot of shitty things have happened this year, so I guess it’s good that time was fleeting by.

And I’m a firm believer of ‘every cloud has a silver lining’, so those shitty things- well some of them aren’t looking so bad now. Some of them.

As there is no such thing known as a ‘restful holiday’ for teachers, all of us took home our share of 2010 duties/ responsibilities/ expectations for the one month holiday. As the PSD God was heard saying,”¬†Go, go yonder and book that air ticket, oh civil servant… I shall bog thy spirit with unsettling thoughts of WORK while you attempt to laze on that deck chair, muahahahahahhaha!!! “

(“But don’t fret because I am giving you a 0.25 month bonus capped at $750 dollars okay, so BE THANKFUL!”) he added.

For me, I took home a bit more. No. Not bonus. $750 cap, blardy beets- so I’m at the losing end here. Work, I mean. This school has given me a lot of opportunities to shine, and boy have I shone. During my boss’ absence, I was given the chance to lead the department- well notinsomuch lead, more of managing and making sure things don’t screw up and if they do, keep it a secret.¬†Haha.¬†I did try to do my best though, and I couldn’t have done it without¬†the help (and conspiracy!)¬†of my wonderful accomplices colleagues.

And it so seems that it was a blessing that I am in my school’s Staff Welfare Committee. Turns out that the Food and Beverage ambassador doesn’t just order tonnes of biscuits from Khong Guan to keep the school’s workforce alive after the (sucky) canteen stalls close, nor does¬†she stop at ordering cartons upon cartons of 3-in-1 milos, nescafes, and what have yous- none of which she can consume and savour (thanks to the palm oil allergy). (Oh yeah- that’s another thing to add under my ‘Shitty Year’ list). She’s more than that! (Defensive nampak?) I don’t just deal with food and beverages ok- I also write emails to inform the staff of whatever event SWC organizes. Why? This is funny because- A LOT of the activities organized by SWC has a lot to do with FOOD! So FOOD= FADELINAH. Ask anyone in TW and they’ll tell you that!

Apparently, the emails I write are different. Totally disregarding the fact that work email has to be (1) formal, (2) concise and (3) short, I have totally beat the red lights of this unwritten rule and voila! Scored high points for it!

I just can’t help but be longwinded and un-serious. Really. My emails have managed to make the colleagues laugh, and they tell me that they love my emails. So many of them have come up to me to tell me to keep my emails coming in because it makes them lighten up. Of course this makes me feel real good, c’mon, gimme some credit hahaha! Really appreciate them for appreciating me! Some even tell me that they let their kids read my emails because they find it funny. But¬†I must admit-¬†the greatest compliment has got to come from my principal and vice-principals- they are very encouraging and tell me that¬†I have ‘a funny bone’ (???) and that I set a positive mood amongst the staff. Oh betchabygollyWOW! ¬†Is that a compliment or WHAT?

And, another great compliment- the principal’s missus even came up to me and gave me a big pat on the back, telling me that she enjoys reading my emails! She even tells him to let her know if I sent any new ones. Hmmm…. maybe I should tell her that I have a blog she can read???? Ideas, ideas….

Okay, to tell you the truth, the emails are not hohohoho funny lah, I do sound like I’m talking though, in my emails. Lots of puns, and wordplay, that’s all. I also make fun of things (calculated risks have been made!) and thank god, everyone in TW has a good sense of humour. Or else dah lama aku mampos, making fun of people.

Anyway (I do digress when I’m boasting, don’t I? ūüėõ ), somehow or other, I became prominent (and not just due to my size, may I add) and my work has not gone unnoticed. So what this means is….. MORE WORK NEXT YEAR! Wooooots!!!!

(Am I actually happy? Well actually- YES!)

For a start, I will be appointed as Assistant Level Manager for Sec 3- this is sorta like a discipline-master kinda job, but more than that (WHOAAA Nelly!) I have also been appointed as the main I/C for the school’s concert band (I’m kinda scared about this one…. big job big job…). On top of that, I have been chosen to be in the school’s marketing committee; I will be taking over my 2nd VP’s job of giving talks to primary¬†6 kids, so that they’ll choose to¬†come to¬†TW. This is also something I’m worried about… I asked the man why I was chosen and he said that my charisma will work wonders with the kids (whoaaaa- like captivate them? I can???) plus I ‘speak very well’, he said.

Wait a sec- I don’t think he got that right. I don’t actually really speak well. I get nervous as hell speaking up, I swear. If I don’t mentally-bitchslap myself while I’m speaking, I would actually end up mumbling nonsense.¬†Now how did he gather that I ‘speak well’? So I told him that¬†perhaps I sound better¬†when I WRITE, and he is confused because¬†one can ‘hear me’ when reading¬†what I¬†write. Right?


But but but he assured me that I can speak well (oh well okayyy then if you insist!) but I’m telling you , his are big shoes to fill. He is Mr Charisma alright. I am nowhere close. What he said about MY charisma, naaaah. He was just talking about HIS charisma. I can, at most,¬†do a Karishma Kapoor.

So, in and attempt to cut the long story short, I actually have A LOT OF WORK TO DO NEXT YEAR, even before next year starts. I have been (secretly) identified by the upper management as a potential leader and although I seriously as hell cannot fathom how I can be a leader (I doodle like mad during serious meetings and roll my eyes to show discontent), somehow, I just have to learn to be one. I have GOT to clean up my act (and my table, my filing), I HAVE to be more organized (can somebody PLEASE conduct a workshop on this tough one???!!!) and definitely- stop procrastinating!

Mark your papers everyday!

File your papers and reports as they come!

Be a toughie and no more Mrs Nice Gal (as opposed to Mr Nice Guy?)

Stop doodling!

Stop rolling your eyes when something official strikes you as being silly!

Read books on leadership, and PLEASE DON’T roll your eyes or say “Oh COME ONNNN!!!!”¬†(out loud) when you’re reading them!

*rolls eyes*

Okay somebody stop me.

So remember, whether a bot is made

of new parts, old parts or spare parts…¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

…you can shine

no matter what you’re made of.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† – ‘Robots’ (2005)