Saturday, 25 June 2011

How come the tasty stuff are the bad ones too?

In the previous post, I wrote about the passing of my friend's eldest son due to a complication I have never heard of before. Although I'm not a doctor, I thought I have heard or read about most of the life-threatening diseases there are. Just goes to show that when it comes to subject of the human body's health, there are still so many things that we have yet to know.

No doubt, the prophet Muhammad s.a.w. had mentioned that for every ailment, there is a cure. It is just that the present human skills and capability have not discovered most of them yet.

Which now brings me to the subject of my own health. About two years ago, I posted the results of my medical tests in this blog. It showed an improvement in the total cholesterol level in my blood that has fallen below reference level and a slightly high uric acid level. This caused me to seriously re-think the stuff that I eat everyday so that I could maintain the cholesterol level and perhaps reduce the uric acid level.

Apparently, I have not been serious enough...

The results of my latest medical check-up came in a few weeks ago... and they do not look too good. Well actually, I am generally okay... except for the two items above which have been a bane in my medical history. My total cholesterol level jumped from a low of 4.5 mmol/L to a high of 5.7 mmol/L, i.e above the reference level of 5.2. The uric acid level did not improve either, rising from 0.45 mmol/L to 0.49 mmol/L, above the reference level of 0.42.

This is not good at all. The high levels of these two substances are primarily due to diet. Red meat, shellfish, anchovies, tuna, soy beans (plus all its derivatives such as kicap and tempe) and a whole lot of other tasty stuff. Perhaps I should just become a vegetarian...

Friday, 17 June 2011

The human body's filtration system

Around two weeks ago, a friend of mine Zaaba Ahmad, posted on his Facebook status about his son's medical condition. He mentions IgA Nephropathy. I didn't know what it means so I immediately ran a google search. Upon reading a few of the online reference sources, I became a bit depressed. The eldest son of my friend is suffering from a very serious ailment. I copy below, the first two opening lines from one website, and you'll understand what I mean :

IgA nephropathy is a kidney disorder that occurs when IgA—a protein that helps the body fight infections—settles in the kidneys. After many years, the IgA deposits may cause the kidneys to leak blood and sometimes protein in the urine. (source - NIDDK)

Our kidneys functions as the natural filtration system for our body. It removes wastes and excess water from our blood and discharges them as urine. Damaged and diseased kidneys are seldom treatable. More often than not, transplant is the only solution.

Early this week, Zaaba transferred his son from a hospital in Seremban to the HTAA Hospital in Kuantan. The young man was studying for A-levels at a Seremban college and had in fact, sat for his exams while warded. His condition had not improved and Zaaba decided to transfer the son to Kuantan to be nearer his hometown so the family can easily be by his bedside. Zaaba kept us friends updated by posting news on FB.

Yesterday the young man slipped into coma and was warded in ICU. I managed to get a call through to my friend at 11.00 am today. He was at the hospital and told me that the situation did not look good. The son is on a life support machine. I couldn't say much except offer to pray for his son. I almost cried...

At around 5pm, I received a message from another friend who was at the hospital.... they have stopped the respirator. Zaaba has lost his 20-year old son.

My condolonces to Zaaba and his family. May the Almighty place the soul of Afiq Aiman Bin Zaaba among the pious.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The joy of meeting friends from cyberspace

Some time back, in the early days of this 3-year old blog, I wrote the following :

I created this blog primarily as an avenue to sharpen my writing and story-telling skills. It's a very modest journal on personal experiences mostly. It also gives me the chance to meet other writers in blogosphere. Along the way, I get to be friends with readers, commenters and other fellow bloggers... and this is a good thing. Thanks to all of you for dropping by and having something to say about what I write. Most appreciated. I truly hope that we'll be able to meet in real life, one day.

During my young days in primary school, I loved writing. English composition was my favourite subject. Those days I wrote to a number of pen pals (wonder if such a hobby still exists today). I never got to meet any of my letter-writing friends. The interest in writing stopped for a while when I went for further studies. Thanks to this phenomenon of blogging, I re-discovered this old pastime.

In blogosphere, I came across other like-minded souls. I am glad to note that I have succeeded in meeting some of my blogger friends and regular commenters... and with that, I hope our friendship will continue to last.

The very first blogger-friend I met in person is Versedanggerik who lives in Kuantan. That was back in 2008. I met her again early this year when I was again in Kuantan and she graciously invited me for tea so that she could introduce me to her other half. As it turns out, Mr Ahan and I do have something in common.

One weekend in early May, I managed to meet up with Kak Teh and her hubby Awang Goneng for the latter's book promotion at MPH Mid-valley. The following week, I met Emila Yusof at Silverfish books in Bangsar. I met Emila again early this week when she handed over a watercolour painting of hers that I decided to buy.

An original Emila Yusof creation called Rose II
On the 4th of June, I attended the wedding of Zendra's son, where I got to meet Kak Zen and her husband Red Alfa. Finally, two days ago I met up with Pak Zawi at his daughter's house in Puchong, to hand over the autographed copy of Awang Goneng's `A Map of Trengganu'.

Pak Zawi with his adorable grandchildren

Putting them all as a list will look like this :-

1. Versedanggerik - Ahan in the afternoon
2. Kak Teh - Choc-a-bloc blog
3. Emila Yusof - Emila Yusof's Illustrations
4. Zendra Maria - Zendra's fascinations
5. Pak Zawi - Life as I see it

Really lovely people, all of them. I am glad to have met their acquaintance. There are many more of the wonderful friends on my blogroll whom I wish to meet. God willing, the time will come when our paths cross in real life.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Telling the truth now, will hurt... but not telling will hurt even more

There are certain times in our lives when we face a situation that puts us in dilemma. More often than not, such a situation is a result of a decision or choice we made quite a long time ago. At the point in time when the decision was made, we believed that it was the correct one, or at least it was the most appropriate one under the circumstances. In actual fact, we are merely pushing the problem to a later date, hoping that somehow a favourable solution would present itself sometime in the future. Sooner or later, we come to the inevitable point of dealing with the matter, whether we like it or not.

A few days ago, my cousin met me to discuss about a problem she is facing. She is making preparations for the wedding of her only daughter in a few month's time. She wants my help to arrange for my mother (being the closest elder family member) to be present when she breaks an important piece of news to the young lady who's getting married. And what is this important bit of news that needs to be told?

The young lady is adopted. My niece is not my cousin's biological daughter. When my cousin got married many years ago, she found out that she couldn't bear any children of her own. An opportunity came by her way when someone gave up a baby girl for adoption. My cousin took up the offer and proceeded to raise the girl as her own. I can still remember the first time I set eyes on my cousin's new daughter. She was so cute and chubby, and everyone adored her.

The baby girl has now grown up to be a pretty young lady. She started work as a graphic designer a few years ago and her hand is now sought in marriage by a handsome young man.

The time has therefore arrived for the mother to reveal to the daughter who she actually is. It is something that cannot be avoided, especially in Muslim marriages. My cousin is now in the unenviable position of finding a way of breaking the news to the young lady. I can picture the heartache and grief that both mother and daughter will face when the news is broken. Expect tears to flow, all around.

Why is my cousin asking me for advice? Because I have first-hand experience of such a situation. My own youngest sister is adopted. The day when my parents told her the real story was one of the saddest days of my life.

I recall the day very well. My mother had called me one day, asking me to come home urgently. Something to do with my sister, she said. I went to my parent's home with my wife. On reaching there, I saw that all my three younger brothers have already arrived. When we were all seated, my father started to speak. The old man is a seasoned speaker and he delivered the story in a most gentle and calm manner as he could. Even so, how are we to know what my sister felt at that time? When my father finished speaking, it was the turn of my mother... and the emotions started to flow as soon as she spoke. When she finished, the time came for the brothers to speak. Being the eldest, I spoke first. I wasn't sure what I said had helped relieve my sister's feeling of grief and possibly disappointment at that time.

I love my sister very much. Before she came into our life, we were four mischievous siblings, all boys. My mother brought her home when I was 13-years old. I helped my mother take care of her until the day I had to enroll into boarding school. Never once did it cross my mind that she and I do not carry the same blood.

I told my cousin our story. How she would approach her own situation now would very much depend on how she expect the reaction would be from her daughter. It would be preferable, I thought, if my cousin was to speak to her daughter on a one-to-one basis. The fewer people around, the better... because it always hurt you more to know that other people know about your background than your own self. But if my cousin feels that she needs our moral support, then we will be there. Whatever it is, I hope she doesn't wait too long. Waiting does not help lighten the sorrow...