Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Chances are...

My better half suffers from a skin ailment which afflicted her just after we got married. The cause of the disease is still not known and scientists have yet to find a definitive cure.

In September of last year, the situation became a bit serious and she had to spend a week in hospital. After a regime of antibiotics and other medication, her condition improved but the specialist doctor still could not pinpoint the exact cause.

Six months ago, the skin inflammation recurred and she had to be warded again. As I was helping her `check-in' at the time, it surprised me a bit that she was assigned the same bed in the same room of the 1st Class Ward at Hospital Sultanah Aminah, here in Johor Bahru. The HSA is the oldest government hospital in the city. Its 1st Class ward is located in a new wing and the rooms are quite comfortable. Nearly on par with that of private hospitals. The sad thing is that, admission to 1st Class is quite restricted and upon direction of the specialist doctors only. The rest of the common folk have to make do with beds in the lower classes. The Malay proverb of `duduk sama rendah, berdiri sama tinggi' does not apply in this case. How I wish that one day, all Malaysians can have access to equal health treatment.

The duration of my wife's second stay at the hospital was as long the the first. Again, still no clues as to what caused the recurrence.

Last night, her skin flared up again and I took time off from work to accompany her to the hospital earlier this afternoon. While waiting for the administrative work at the admissions counter, I casually mention that it would be a very slim chance indeed if she gets the same bed again. Once registration is cleared, a nurse leads the way to the room, and lo and behold.... it is the same bed, three times in a row! What a coincidence. My wife shares this fact with the nurse and we are all amused. I jokingly add that my wife has signed a long term tenancy with the hospital for that particular bed.

I did a quick mental calculation on the probability of such an event happening. The women's first class ward at HSA JB has 16 beds. That means 1 in 16 chance (or 6.25%) of being assigned the same bed on the second visit. If my memory of Probability Theory serves me right, the chances of the same thing happening the third time is not doubled but squared.... i.e. 1 in 256 or a teeny-weeny 0.39% only. How's that for great odds.

Well.... the jesting aside, I wouldn't want my missus to be spending time in that bed (or any other hospital bed for that matter) longer than necessary. I hope she gets well soon.


Anonymous said...

salam Oldstock

that's a long time to not know the exact cause. my mom has been suffering lapses of tiredness for some 30 years without any known illness. some things are just unexplainable.

I wish your missus well.

Wan Sharif said...

I think the probability of her allocated to stay in the same hospital bed (out of the available 16 beds) three time is 1 in 4096 ;))
Hope your better half recovered soon.

VersedAnggerik said...

Hope the missus gets well soon!

Koka has got eczema. It flares when he comes in contact with chemicals with irritants. Masa kita tgh baiki2 rumah, he came into contact with that chemical to kill off the white ants that was sprayed by our pest control guy. Seminggu lah juga menggerutu kulit dia dan gatal2 sepanjang masa.

Anonymous said...

Salam Mr Oldstock,

Wow! your wife's skin ailment is serious and I agree with Noir, it's a long time and the cause is still unknown. Has she been seeing the same specialist all the time? Sometimes I find that changing doctors can help esp if you are lucky enough to chance upon a younger doctor who is diligent/passionate enough to look up the technical journals and do alittle bit more research into the matter.

I hope she gets better soon.

Nurie said...

Hope your wife gets better soon. Inshallah.
Being warded at the same bed 3 times in a row is amusing! Maybe should request change of bed next time, boleh terus baik!

mamasita said...

Salam Oldstock..my son Harris pun ada bad jerawat problem on his chest and back.

I've yet to do it but I know that daun keling sembahyang..sorry that is the name, bukan nak insult our Indian friends..but you tumbuk and letak dalam kain and the juice will slowly heal the gatal2..kena buat regularly..sekali tak cukup..tu yang I tak start2 lagi on Harris..
He pun dah jumpa banyak skin specialist but tak heal..so try lah if ada masa sikit k..memang leceh but it works..InsyaAllah.

Another suggestion..bawak your missus gi the Dead Sea..the salt kat sana katanya heals skin problems..hehe

doc said...

skin diseases are difficult to treat & even harder to diagnose correctly. hope the missus gets better!

the only way all malaysians get the same health care is when we become a socialist/communist society, but you know that's not going to happen because some are more equal than others.

in that respect, the closest i've experienced to a socialist society was the NHS in UK. everyone goes to the same GPs & when admitted to hospitals, everyone gets the same wards. there's no class divide & the consultants see everyone in his charge. however, the rich do pay their own at private hospitals.

JohorMali said...

Mr Oldstock,
Since your missus stayed in the first class ward of the new wing, allow me to relate about the old first class ward aka the officers ward situated in an old building across the main building of HSA.
It was notorious for many unexplained episodes . On many occassions, the escalator with the collapsible steel door, would would moved without any passengers. I could really hear the clanging of the doors from my room (accompanying my late father who was warded in 1980s) usually after midnights.
Sometimes the nurses would come to the room and inquired whether anybody had ring the bell for their attention, only to be told that we were all asleep. So who rang the bell?
Oldtimers (nurses, paramedic , amahs and attendant) were all nonchalant about these happenings for they confidently beleive these mysterious beings would not disturb any hospital staffs since they were doing good deeds.
I always have an open mind about these things for I beleive,
human, animals, angels and devils are all Allah's creation
and unto Him that I seek protection.
Anyway may your missus get well soon and not to be unduly worried about my story above..

Oldstock said...

Salam Noir,

Actually, there is a name for the disease my wife suffers from. Only that the cause is unknown and the remedy yet to be discovered. Thank you for the wish.

Oldstock said...

Ayah Wan,

I think you are probably right. But since I was only interested in the chance of the same event happening again, I thought it was enough just to square it. Itu pun dah jadi a very small percentage figure. And thank you for the wish too..

Oldstock said...


I also have eczema and get the rashes sometimes. My wife has psoriasis, which ranges from mild sometimes to severe occasionally. Thank you for the wish.

Oldstock said...


The missus is now a regular patient of this specialist lady doctor working in a government hospital. We have tried other doctors before and my wife is now comfortable with this one. Thank you for the kind wishes.

Oldstock said...


Hehe... I like your sense of humour. I'll tell the missus to get a different bed the next time :-)

Oldstock said...

Salam mamasita,

Thank you for your suggestion. Actually it has been our intention to visit Jordan and let her have a dip in the Dead Sea. After all, our eldest son is studying there. Cuma buat masa ni belum ada rezeki lagi.

Oldstock said...

Hello doc,

I am glad you touched on my point about the equality in medical treatment. What I hope is exactly as you mentioned, similar to NHS, where all citizens get treated by the same doctors and warded in the same facility. Those who can afford private treatment, by all means can still do so.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Will pop over to your place soon.

Oldstock said...

Sdra JohorMali,

Haha... you have revived the mysterious stories linked to the old officer's ward. Quite famous.

I first started work in government service and had a female colleague who was entitled to the 1st class ward for delivery of her baby. After the first night there, she requested to be transferred to 3rd class. The officer's ward terlalu sunyi, katanya...