The Saga of my Mummy’s Tummy

Having lived abroad, one of the thing I miss is universal health care. Though when I ceased being a student that doesn’t apply either but that’s another story. So, Indonesia, my wonderful and lovely home country doesn’t yet have a comprehensive health plan like the NL or UK has. If you’re sick you gotta pay. No money, no doctor. Or as the general public would say, “Poor people are not allowed to be sick over here!” Or so the conventional wisdom goes. Well in practice it is not as cold as that, hospitals do help people without money, there is some form of medical help for those without insurance but it is sealed thick with bureaucratic tape etc etc etc. Well, as it turned out, not going to the doctor when sick is not just the poor’s domain, but also lots of other better off people. For example : my mom.

Now, my mom. Ok, we’re not terribly rich but, Alhamdulillah, better off than most people. We have roof over our head, 3 square meals per day, etc. So we could afford a simple doctor’s appointment when needed plus she does have insurance courtesy of my dad’s work. But my mom, she is not one to cry pain at a moments notice so if she felt something is wrong, most of the time she brush it off. When she’s sick and I offered to take her to the gp, she mostly refused. She’d said it’s nothing let’s have lunch instead. Well, most of the time it is nothing, until this time, it is not.

My mom had felt some pain during the week, but as usual brush it off as stomach flu or ate bad food. Come Wednesday she felt really ill so very early morning she went to the ER because of massive stomach pain. We all got called, that dreaded early morning call. After arranging our household affairs, my sister and I were promptly at the ER around 8 am. Then with the three of us there (my brother was the one to take my mom to the ER) the doctor proceed to explain their action plan. Initial tests result from the ER doc requires him to consult the Internist. The Internists suspected they might need to operate, thus he consulted with a surgeon. Due to her age, the surgeon then proceed to order ever more tests just to be sure.

My mom undergoes a series of blood test, USG, x-rays, and finally, CT Scan of the abdomen. She also got checked by a cardio doctor (is that what you called a heart specialist?) and lung doctor. After all the results came in, the team of doctors don’t actually know what was wrong with my mom. They suspect it could be appendicitis, but it could be something else since the tests were inconclusive – it’s just conclusive that something is seriously wrong. The only way to figure out what’s really wrong is surgery.

The surgeon and the internists (there’s 2, abdomen and lung, remember?) came up with a plan, first they are going to do a laparoscopy, it’s minimally invasive and would let them take a peek to find out the problem. If it is appendicitis, it would only take around 30 min to fix. If its something else, they ask permission to do laparotomy or actual cut open surgery which they estimate would take around 2 hours. We agreed, signed the consent form and pray for the best.

Around 6pm, my mom is wheeled into OR. As it turned out, the appendicitis were ok. It was her stomach (I sure hope I got the translation right). It was ruptured/punctured/holey 1cm in diameter and was oozing out puss. Her entire abdomen was covered in it. Before they venture with the laparotomy they asked a member of the family to be present to see it, has to be someone who can stomach blood and gore. Good thing one of my aunt is a dentist, off she goes into the OR to see my mom’s abdomen. It was just as the surgeon described. Filled with puss. It made the organs sticky and that’s what been hurting. He also said that these kind of infection takes time, more like months, not days. As my aunt is a doctor, they offered her to stay for the whole operation process but she declined. Seeing the first part was enough for my aunt. After she left, they proceed to suck out the puss, So clean it up and fix the hole in the stomach. All in all the whole operation took 3 hours.

Later my aunt say, she actually wouldn’t mind looking at the operation, she is a doctor after all so always fascinated with the human organs, but because it was my mom, her sister, she couldn’t. She said it was a good thing they covered my mom’s face otherwise even she probably couldn’t see just the first bit of the procedure.

What caused it? According to the surgeon it is usually due to excessive drinking, partying, drugs, or cancer. Since my mom is not a drinker nor a party-goer, it only left drugs and cancer. To figure out what cause it, they took some tissue samples. Thank God it was not cancerous! Which means… drugs!!! Apparently for some time now my mom has experienced some leg pain and been taking some pills to help ease the pain… which would be fine if she was under doctor supervision. Which of course she was not. I’m not sure what this drug is, apparently it’s some sort of pain-killer? It made the leg pain go away so she can go on with her myriad activities but it’s not supposed to be used long-term because one of the side effect is well.. she just proved it.

Anyway, operation is a success, mom is recovering well and slightly ahead of schedule. Having to lay in the hospital for 2 weeks really makes my mom rethinking her health plan. It now exists! Because she was seen by tons of doctors, she’d like to follow-up with one of them to discuss her asthma and the surgeon recommends some doctors to see about her leg pain. No more self medicating! Proper doctor guidance only from now! The surgeon was amazed at my mom’s high threshold of pain. He said usually people would be crying pain when the stomach wall was scraped. Here it is not only scraped, it’s puncture and ripped to boot! 1 cm diameter is no small thing when it comes to stomach wall.

Now my mom is already discharged from the hospital, safe and sound with the comfort of home. Recovery is slow, she’s not allowed (nor able) to really get up and about yet, but it’s getting there. With patience, she’ll be up and running walking, attending to her work and hobbies as usual.

Alhamdulillah.

So remember, if you feel persistent pain, perhaps it is time to visit your gp. If it keeps coming back, do not brush it off, go get second, third, even fourth or fifth opinion if you have to. More importantly, don’t self medicate! We’re lucky to be able to treat my mom in time. Other people may not have the same story.

Stay healthy peeps 🙂

The Heart Knows Not What It Wants

The biggest battle you’ll ever face is that between your heart and your brain. This occurs almost daily and all the time. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been taught to put the brain forward with a bit of heart thrown in. I never really have much patience with those who allow their heart to rule. I always thought, get a grip! The funny thing is my best friend in college thinks that I’m an open book he said that I wear my heart on my sleeve for everyone to see. Hmm… really? 

To tell you the truth, some battle I win, some I don’t. I still haven’t won the battle to lose weight. I really am not sure why. Why is it so hard for me to change the habit? What’s with the constant self sabotage? It really is rather annoying. I am not at the point where I’m beginning to think that razor is a good idea, for gawd sake no! But nor am I on the path of slimness. The needle on the scale hardly budge to the left, more prone to the right.

Temptation is always sweeter than the righteous path; it is a self-destructive one in the long-run. I know this. My head knows this. Yet the heart refuse to listens. But the heart must listen. I do not want to self-destruct, I’m no spy, just an ordinary human.  So help me go through this hurdle. And pass it I shall.

Scrumptious Boys, Envious Gal ;)

Of all the injustice in the world, I can think of two things that are supposed to be a female thing but sometimes the boys just got it better, namely hair and make-up. Yep. Perhaps I’ve been watching way too many of Jerseylicious re-run. (Yes, I know Olivia, Tracy, et al are bona-fide girls, but why the drag get-up? Only God knows) But it just strike me as I’m stuck in traffic (well, this is Jakarta, we’re always stuck on traffic) some scenes of the past just suddenly fly by. Here’s 3 of them.

1. Back in the day, I once went to a metal/rock night at my uni with some friends. This being uni, there are plenty boys sporting long hair regardless of music orientation. But on this night all the long-haired boys seems to unite in mass head banging to score some bangin later… or maybe not. I’m just struck by the sight. Reminds me when I went to the zoo and saw the peacocks. Anyhoo, one of them got talking to me. Crisp red shirt, leather or tight dark jeans (it was over 10 years ago ok) and wonderfully luscious wavy honey coloured hair freshly smelled of flowery scented shampoo. Now, this is a boy we’re talking about. Got a sudden hair envy. I never could keep my hair longer past the shoulder. Always sprinted to the hairdresser to chop it off. And this boy got better hair than I do? The world is not fair.

2. Still back in the day, even further back as in high school, I once went out with Jou on a Saturday night outing. It was summer, the weather was warm, we didn’t feel like clubbing. So we just went to one of our favourite place in Regulierdwaarstraat to hang out. Responding to the weather, the cafe/bar/club pulls out some chairs and benches right outside. We sat on one of the benches and pretty soon got talking to friends, new and old. Suddenly we saw a rather familiar face among the crowd. He was kinda shocked to see us too. See, he’s a school friend but we’re on different cliques so it was a bit surprising to see. After the initial shock is over, we call him to sit with us. He graciously obliged. We hug, chat and I was staring at his eyes. No, not in oh-my-you’re-so- gorgeous-let’s-make-out but in bloody-he*l-how-come-your-make-up-is-better-than-me? Seriously. We’re what 17, 18 tops and yet his eye make-up is just sooo gorgeous. It really emphasise his eyes.  And no, it wasn’t thick at all! We’re used to him wearing colourful outfits to school, but this is the first time we saw him with make-up. I don’t think I could ever do my eyes like that. Even now. *sigh* The world IS not fair.

3. Just a few years back, I was minding my business waiting for my turn at the obgyn. I was alone and not feeling pretty. My stomach bulges, my feet were swollen, my clothes look like tents, when in came yet another wonderful head of hair. It was not very long, just about shoulder length, but it was very shiny like he just step out from a shampoo commercial. His wife has good hair too but the husband just got a better hair than all three of us. I’m thinking, daym! Where did he go to get like that? Seriously it was like a shampoo add. All shiny and lustrous. I must have been staring because he then turn around. I got to see his face (all this time I got his back which is how I can see how shiny it was) and then… well, he’s a famous person, a singer. No wonder his appearance is very well-kept. Somehow I then breathe a sigh of relief. He’s a singer, it makes sense. He gotta look good for his fans. Phew.

There is some justice in the world after all.

😉

Marhaban yaa Ramadhan :)

Today marks the first day of Ramadhan, the holy month where able, healthy Muslims are required to fast from sunup to sunset. It may not sound very exciting, not being able to eat and drink, but the more I learn, the more Ramadhan fascinates me.

Back when I was a kid, Ramadhan means one thing; Eid is coming thus feast, celebration and new clothes! It’s like a kid waiting for their present at Christmas. Then as I get older, I start learning what the holy months is all about. There are many layers to Ramadhan, depending on your age, you learn from the very basic, the physical the gradually moving up to the spiritual.

The first lesson of  Ramadhan for me is gratitude and compassion. By withholding from food and water all day long, we learn what it is like to go without sustenance. Being hungry and thirsty is not fun. But, we’ll get it at the end of the day (or the middle or even by mid-morning if you’re still learning 🙂 I know at the end of the fast I will get water and food. There is plenty in my house. I can smell my mother’s cooking wafting through the house in the afternoon and can’t wait to taste them. Plus I only have to do this for about 30 days. But for others? Not only they might not have enough (or any), but this might be a situation for them day in day out regardless of the month.

Medical research have also shown that fasting is beneficial for your health. It is often thought of as ‘holiday’ for the digestive system. Time where they can repair themselves because they don’t have to work quite as hard digesting our food. Some people have commented, but I can’t fast, I’m sick! Well, the first rule of fasting is there’s no fasting.. eh, sorry, a vision of Brad Pitt just crossed my mind. But anyway, you do need to be healthy and able to fast. It is not meant to torture you. If you’re sick then of course you should not do it. Which brings me to another point about gratitude, being able to fast means you’re healthy. Something that we sometimes take for granted.

The second lesson of Ramadhan, the one I learned as I get older is the ability to withhold oneself, to learn to keep our emotions in check. You’re not only meant to not eat and drink but also to control yourself. To not get mad, sad, angry, easily. No instant gratification there. You learn to be patient. Patience is something that’s in short supply these days what with the digital revolution that enable us access to nearly everything at a snap. Why do you need to learn to be patient? Because things takes time. Nothing happens in an instant, there’s a process that you just gotta do to get from point A to point B. You learn to enjoy the process, not giving up or get mad when it doesn’t happen. Just go back at it.

Why’s that? Well, to keep our emotional health in check so we don’t get stressed at every single thing. Learn to pick what to let go, what to worry. Things you can’t control? Just let it go. Things you can control? Then work at it. Don’t freak out. It’s hard. Seems easy on theory but in practice? I haven’t mastered it yet! But just keep trying you know.

Of course there’s other benefit to the holy month but those are the top 2 for me. In short, I am glad we have Ramadhan. We are blessed with a month to reflect on ourselves. What we have done in the past, and to plan how we can improve for the months ahead. With that I shall end this note. For my muslim brothers and sisters, happy Ramadhan!

Ramadan Mubarak

When Tropical Disease made a Visit

When I was newly married, nature decided to give us a wedding present in the form of DB or Dengue Fever. Yep. In just less than a month after the wedding. I didn’t know it was DB, at first I just thought it was cough and sore throat, then I thought it was a nasty flu, so I just go to the local md to get some meds. But after a while I still don’t get better and I was feeling very weak,  so weak that I didn’t have the energy to shower that we decided to go back to the doctor.

This time we go to my husband’s internist in the hospital. He saw me, actually to be honest I didn’t remember what he said anymore. At that point I was barely hearing what he was saying. So anyway, off we go to pay the bill. Now, I really was not feeling well, but I think my husband still thinks I was just being a big baby. I told him I want to sit down then proceed to sit on the floor. I distinctly remember telling him I just want to sit down. I wasn’t fainting, nor was I falling, but this being a hospital suddenly there’s a commotion of people and nurses screaming, “Oh my God! She’s fainting/falling!!!” I think I was still trying to defend myself saying, “No, I’m not. I just want to sit!” but of course nobody hears you.  A wheelchair suddenly materialise and the next thing I know I was carted to the emergency room and put on the bed.

Mind you, I did feel much better on the bed. All I wanted to do was rest. And they gave me rest. Took my blood too I think. And my hubby? I think he was panicked. His new wife is really ill. The nurse was asking him all sorts of questions. Questions he doesn’t know the answer to like do I have any allergy (remember we’ve been married for about a month, knowing your allergies aren’t top of our priorities 😉 fortunately, I can still hear (I didn’t faint, I was just tired) so I whispered my answers to got the appropriate wristband colour. He then sorted administration, got me a room and off we go. Being wheeled on a bed was certainly a new experience, not one I would like to repeat anytime soon. I think what was weirder was looking at my hospital bracelet and saw how long my name was. Now, I know my first and second name is rather long, 9 letters on the first and 8 on the second, but I didn’t think 17 letters would take up all the space in the bracelet. Upon closer inspection I notice the culprit. My husband’s name is added. Aha! No wonder. 23 letters do take up much space. Although to be honest my first thought was, what the heck is his name doing there? Oh yeah, we’re married. Duh.

We settled in the room. He got me a single room, thank God for insurance, and well the treatment begun. Good thing the doctor caught it early. I soon recovered and hope not to ever catch it again! Still, it doesn’t change the fact that we begin the second month of our marriage by… spending time in a hospital. Romantic eh?

That ‘W’ Problem

I used to think being fat doesn’t matter as long as I’m healthy. Wrong! Being overweight is opening an invite to a host of diseases. There’s this saying,  “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips!” that’s not a lie you know. It’s too easy loading up on calories; the cakes, the snacks, the butters and co. But unloading it is frankly a b*tch!

Looking at old photos, I wasn’t a fat kid. Wasn’t the skinniest on the block either, just happily middle ground. Then college kicks in. The  fresher’s blues, cured by turning to food but not doing regular sports.  Now that was smart. Lemon chicken and Orange Duck were my vice. How sweet it was! I could do worse, but yeah, food is the drug of my choice (and yes, I’ve watched too many Oprah episodes to count). And I bet, even after more than 10 years, I’m still paying for those luscious crispy fat fowl skins coated in those yummy sauces.

It’s not like I wake up suddenly 3 sizes bigger, but never underestimate the power of denial. I don’t like dramas so when clothes don’t fit, I don’t fret. I don’t sweat it, I just get a what fits.

Then I got married, got pregnant and my warped brain screams, “Yay! A valid reason NOT to lose weight. Yippee!!!” The birth of a baby doesn’t downplay it. Heidi Klum can lose all her pregnancy weight in 2 weeks for all I care. I’m breastfeeding. I need nutrients so warped brain says, “Triple yay to mindless eating! Yay yay yay!!!” Is it any wonder I continue to be big? Yes of course I could eat healthily, food combining and all that. Denial. Remember?

And before you know it, those cute fab outfits don’t fit no more. But even when I could no longer shopping for clothes off the peg, that still doesn’t make me convert. I just make my own clothes.  “I have 2 kids!” and the world nods understandingly. Worse still, some friends were turning into making and selling clothes so they cater to my size. Suddenly I can still have new, chic clothes. Problems solved!

But you can’t keep abusing your body and not paying for it. Nu’uh! No way, no how.  My right knee gives way. It hurts for a whole week before I finally get it checked to the doctor. One MRI later… I’ve damaged my knee. It’s a bit torn, or was it ruptured? Forgot the medical terms, but as seen on the MRI result, a bit of my knee is not where it should be hence the pain. The culprit? Overweight excerbated by high heels. The funniest thing? I don’t even wear sky-high heels anymore! Not since I got pregnant the first time round which was over 5 years ago. But the damage is done.

Still wanna be in denial now? I have to lose weight. I just have to. Unless I want to start saving up for a knee surgery down the line which is a very real probability should I can not reduce the weight down. Oh it’s hell. It’s not easy breaking out of that comfort zone. I have to make time for exercise. I have to truly watch what I eat. It’s a lot of work!

The thought of a knee operation is seriously scary. But my repressed vanity is also screaming out. Dammit I like looking good!  I like to have the option to wear heels if I want to. I want to be able to buy clothes off the peg from a mall! And, most importantly, none of my children are called Gilbert Grape.

It’s a struggle. I haven’t won yet. I have a long way to go. But the way I see it, if I really am grateful for what has been given to me, then I have to stop abusing it and start respecting my system. I need to give my health a chance.

The ‘W’ problem. It’s an ongoing battle. One that I aim to win. Good luck, me.

Armand Maulana goes to my gym! Yay! Gorgeous guy 😀

Gym Babe or Gym Rats? The 9 Type of Gymgoers. Find out yours!

After going somewhat regularly to the gym, based on my power of observation, totally without scientific base I believe most gym goers fall into these categories:

1. Gym Rats
Mostly male over 30’s, mr. Universe wannabes or has been. Goes in packs. Likes to huddle in the weights area, egging each other to lift weights heavier than they actually can. Often this means 2 people are lifting at the same time since he can’t lift it on his own. Sometimes venture into the weights machines.

2. Cardio Lover
These are usually efficient people. They go in, put their stuff in the locker, go out, pick the cardio machine of choice -usually the treadmill- turn on their iPods, then off they go between 30 minutes- 1 hour. Afterwards they do some stretching exercises, may be tempted to go on a weight machine or two, but generally just go straight back to the locker, shower, get dressed, get out. Mostly exercise in the morning.

3. IFC – Instructor Fan Club
Usually female, they are loyal to a certain instructor but not the actual gym itself. Travelling in packs, they follow and catch his (it is almost always a male instructor) classes wherever they might be. Though good looking, his preference remains a mystery. Before and after class the IFC members flock to him and hang on to his every word. He usually teach yoga though he can also be found teaching cardio or dance classes.

4. Exercise Mania
In contrast to the IFCs, the EMs are loyal to the club taking classes after classes nearly everyday. They take at least 2 classes, know the schedules by heart and are not afraid to demand certain instructor for certain class. They are on first name basis with all gym workers and employees. Has their own ‘areas’ in the locker room.

5. Athletes
Almost like the Cardio Lovers except they do routines with the weights as well. They usually have the best bodies as the emphasis is on health and toning the muscle. Subtle definition not vulgar testosterones. Sometimes in twos but mostly on their own.

6. Wannabes
Perhaps too cheap to use a personal trainer, but too intimidated to hang out with the Gym Rats, the Wannabes are skinny, scrawny males trying to bulk up without really knowing how. They can be found staring at the Gym Rats or the Athletes when they’re doing their sets, then immediately copying whatever it is they did. Without proper training and supervision the wannabes could hurt themselves as they don’t know how to do the movements correctly. They can be quite amusing to watch though.

7. Gym Babes
Usually consisted of former M/A/Ws (Model, Actor, Whatever) but not limited to. Their uniform is to wear super tight fitness clothes they can find. They leave little to the imagination even when covered up. Like to cruise around near the Gym Rats. The male version don’t always wear skin tight clothes but they do their fair share of prancing around with an expression that says,”Look at me, I’m so cute!”

8. Equipment Hoarder
How to spot one? They’ll be the ones with their hands attached to the smartphones. They’d go on a machine, put the minimal weight, do half a set, stop, then get on the phone. Forever. They don’t sweat. Have no clue about gym etiquette.

9. PT Posse
They’re usually a variation of these; the super dedicated who’ll only exchange brief hellos with their trainer, concentrating solely on their reps and sets. Those who spent more time attached to the cellular rather than doing what the trainer told them to. Those who looks like they rather be working something out with the trainer. Then finally, there are those who yakked with the trainer whining about their weight the whole time. Their similarities? They always look like they’re in pain with the PT as the whip master whipping their butts into shape. Rarely seen without their trainers.

Thus conclude my highly unscientific classification.

Which group do you belong to?