Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Chronicles Of A Caregiver (Part 1)

I have been reading up many articles lately after seeing too many deaths of patients and close friends. When I was a volunteering as a caregiver at Hospice, I had to fetch endless of terminally ill patients to different hospitals around Klang Valley for various chemotherapy and nuclear treatments. They were all suffering from cancer's final Stage 4 and passed away eventually, not after having many heart to heart talks with me about their whole colourful and miserable lives of regrets. They would share their many hopes that, should they ever recovered, they would be doing a long list of things they have missed out. They would wish to turn back the clocks and probably remained single too. I was providing free transports at my own accord as most of them had children or family members who were not free, unavailable or not bothered to send these patients to hospitals. It was not an easy task for me as I had to juggle in between my working hours to fetch them to & fro. Each patient had their own special needs & attention to be handled and I had to provide small comfort pillows and disposal bags inside my car, in the event when they threw up vomits of blood and toxic phlegm from time to time.

Case #1: 
One Indian lady named Preema, had 15 grown up children and all 14 of them were married with sound financial background while several had retired. None of them were available to fetch their poor mama who was diagnosed with throat and thyroid cancer for weekly treatments. This old lady in her 80s had money but lived near Putrajaya and no taxis wanted to fetch her back and forth. That was long ago before the Uber and Grab taxis were available. So I was her complimentary taxis. The treatments had closed up her whole throat until she could no longer swallow food & liquid. She had to be fed through the tube and carried the attached bag on her stomach everywhere. Her unmarried daughter accompanied her for every trip and would speak to me on her mother's behalf. The most shocking thing was that Preema would be greeted at the hospital's entrance by a young handsome doctor during her every visits. This Indian doctor was doing his housemanship at the hospital and would greet Preema by going on his knees ritually to kiss her feet using his hand's gesture. I was shocked and speechless to discover that he was Preema's own grandson!! WTF?? Why nobody was free to fetch her?? We caregivers had all been well trained to carry out our duties diligently without conditions and with so many do's & don'ts. We have to refrain from preaching religions, asking personal questions, discuss their sickness, talk politics or even sell them any MLM products. We can only engage into these conversational topics if the patients themselves spoke up. Preema passed away peacefully in her sleep at home a few months later after all treatments had stopped.

Case #2:
John Lim was just 38 when I met him on his death bed. He was from my hometown Penang and had been a successful top salesman in Selangor. He was a macho sweet talker who sold all the imported brands of cigarettes to all the distributors. Naturally he was a chain smoker himself to be able to trade so well. He could brag to me that he smoked at least 4 packets of cigarettes daily since they were all free samples for him to enjoy. He was heavily sedated with morphine to ease the horrible pain of both his lung cancer. We chatted a lot in between his sleep when his eyes closed for 2-3 minutes where he was being drifted out with his soul floating about as claimed. John repeatedly swore to me that he wanted to regard and join me like his own brother to be a caregiver volunteer if God heals him back to robust health again. John passed away 2 nights later, leaving behind his mother, young wife of 30s and a primary school daughter. I went to his funeral at the Section 17's funeral parlour and John's face looked peaceful & free from pain inside his coffin. That was my first time seeing white lights of angels dancing & hovering in circles above his coffin as the church members sang all the hymns for him. John's smiles and words still echo in my head today after more than 10 years.

Case #3:
Selva was just 32 when he was diagnosed with Stage 4's lung cancer. He lived in a flat in Puchong somewhere opposite IOI Mall. I had to fetch him to UH and HUKM on different days for his chemotherapy sessions which had to start at 8:00am sharp. Imagine the traffic crawl and stress for having to drive hurriedly to beat the jams and even red lights so that my patients would not be late for their life treatments. The hospitals would be full of patients waiting and when you are too late, you have to come back again another day after making a new appointment. That is the difference between a private and government hospital. Selva was very talkative and could not accept his fate that he was dying. He would often scream in acute pain and burst out crying inside my car. I had to hold the steering and used my left hand to comfort him. I would give him a small pillow to hug while he crouched his body to lessen the pain. The smell of his decaying lungs filled my whole car whenever he breathed out hurriedly in pain. He asked me why his colleague who was in his 50s was not suffering from cancer since he had smoked much longer than Selva. I could only stare at Selva's eyes and wiped his tears away without any good words that could pacify him. I could only advise him to be brave and continue the treatment since many patients had recovered or managed to live on for several more years. That was a white lie as the number of recoveries were quite slim and small. Selva begged me to tell all my friends to quit smoking as he did not want others to suffer and go through the severe & hellish pain that was like tearing up his lungs with knives. That was Selva's own words! He passed away a month later and left behind his wife in her 20s with 3 young children.

That's all my case stories for today and it could run over 100 but it might bore my readers. So I will continue to recall the stories for part 2 & 3. All the stories are real incidents and non fiction using real names.

Besides cancer, the next deadly sickness that took away most of my friends was heart attack. You might think that it was a quick and sudden deaths but they all died too young. The other surviving friends often tried to analyze the whole lifestyle of the deceased and I would conclude that they all had very successful career that came in a package of unhealthy diet, big stress and no exercise! I need not elaborate on this topic except to look at my own lifestyle. The recent case of my close uncle who had multiple strokes really frightened and saddened me. The fact that he may have to be a vegetable and bed ridden for many years is scary and too troublesome for everyone. I am not a doctor or physician but merely sharing my own thoughts for my own well being.



I don't deny that I often eat out all the time with groups of different friends
and we would eat just anything unhealthy & nice. When I eat alone, I would
try to eat more vegetables to detox and balance my diet. Today I went to my
favourite Rimbun Restaurant to eat their Malay food. The whole plate costed
me just RM3.50 with a Limau Panas drink at RM1.30. You can only find cheap
meals like this in Sungai Buloh. I ate raw cucumber, tomatoes, long beans, okra
and acar pineapple-cucumbers with lots & lots of fiery hot sambals.



I told myself that I must drink fresh coconut water at least twice
weekly to cool my system and build my immunity besides
lowering down my blood pressure which had shown significant
improvement now.



 One coconut is just RM4.00 and that could bring abundance
of goodness for one's health.




I read up some health articles which ranked this pomegranate as
the best fruit juice that would greatly help to clear up all our
clogged arteries. That would cost me RM18.50 just for this
bottle of fresh pomegranate juice. This is really a bomb price
for me, so I would drink it probably once a fortnight.




I have been reading all these healthy juice charts like a bible.
I would probably print them out and paste them on my doors
and all over the house as reminders.


 I do drink many other juices from time to time
and eat some supplements daily besides
increasing my exercises at the gym & pool.


Health Is Wealth.




****




55 comments:

  1. Bless you! While it is very depressing to see others in pain, you go all the way out to help them, comforting them in a way.. not everyone can or will do that...
    Each day when I wake up, I thank God, it is another blessed day for me.. and you are right, coconut water has a lot of minerals, that is why it is more expensive now.. Ipoh is also selling at RM4 onwards.. My area here sells them at RM4.50.

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    1. Sometimes I think I have been fated to walk with these patients to provide them with palliative care. It has enriched my life and understanding on human's journey where life and deaths are inevitable.

      I always salute you for your strengths to work so hard and bring up your grateful children.

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  2. You are so kind to be a caregiver. I couldnot bring myself to tell white lies to terminally ill people just to comfort them. you can try growing your own pomegranate tree.

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    Replies
    1. It was an accidental fate that I had to be a caregiver when I was brushing off this role for sometime. I will blog about it someday.

      I know that white lies is still a lie but when we need to give some hopes, we have to share other successful stories where Stage 4 patients really recovered which was very rare.

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  3. You brought the pain and sufferings of the cancer patients in front of my eyes… I couldn’t image closely watch someone dying in pain. But I really wonder how strong you are to go through all their writhe moments and continue to show your support and care. Hats off my friend and I’m happy to be connected with someone who understands the pain of other. And for being healthy, those are great suggestion. Being natural is the best way to keep away diseases.

    Cheers my friend

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    1. Today you made me realise the different roles of a caregiver and a funeral undertaker. My good friend who is a undertaker had pointed out to me earlier there is difference as the caregiver has to provide extreme patience while he just ordered the staff to conduct the funerals etc.

      Thank you for your warm compliments. Wishing you a healthy and happy life always. Hope we can meet someday, somewhere.

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  4. Indeed health is wealth, as if you are not healthy, anywhere you go you won't be happy because you feel pain. Thanks for sharing the health tips here, by the way, are packed coconut drinks healthy? Or we have to buy the real coconut juice extracted from actual coconuts. I wonder those packed coconut drinks sold in Supermarkets, will there be too much artificial flavouring

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Buddha bless you for being a caregiver, not everyone can do it

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    2. Actually I felt quite emo and sad reading all the case stories

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    3. I felt sad because we have to die and part with our love ones

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    4. Libby do you believe that when we die we will be reunited with our departed loved ones?

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    5. Mun: I really hope so, my sis said we will be reunited in Neither Land

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    6. Mun: Is there such words as Neither Land?

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    7. Libby: I think the fresh coconuts are still the best but the recent packed & bottled coconut juices tasted just as good! The promoter told me the nutrients contained is the same with no preservatives whatsoever.

      I always drink packet cranberry juice as there is no fresh fruit juices available here. I could testify that the goodness inside the packet managed to heal all my urine infections.

      Thank you for your kind compliments and hope that you will be stronger each day to face the deaths of our loved ones as there is sadly no permanence in this world.....
      Netherworld is actually Hell's dimension. Your sister should reunite with you at the Western Paradise.

      Mun: I am very sure that most of us do not reunite with the departed loved ones. Karma would decide on one's individual destiny and some do meet up again, subject to the brief timing. I have no proof on this but I am sure of this.

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  5. I am very impressed TM that you have sacrificed your time to help these people who are in need. God bless you! Health is indeed wealth as I am always reminded when I am under the weather. I love pomegranate juice but is it so expensive! Bought once only hee..hee.. Wah, you really can handle your hot fiery sambal!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you for your compliments and I wish to be able to continue to provide as a caregiver as long as fate allows.

      These pomegranate fruits are imported and costly. I found out recently that our local passion fruits are cheaper and have almost the same goodness.

      I am a walking sambal who fears no spices & chilly. Muahahaha

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  6. I feel so proud of you when I read these incidents as it really take great strength ..both physical, mentally and emotionally to handle these terminal ill persons. God bless you for your generosity (time and money spent).
    Just wish that people will listen to these advices.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind wishes. It took me a long while to brave myself to face them all. Eventually it strengthened me to take care of both my aged parents while they were fading away. I guess it was the good fate that helped to prepare myself.

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  7. I feel so proud of you when I read these incidents as it really take great strength ..both physical, mentally and emotionally to handle these terminal ill persons. God bless you for your generosity (time and money spent).
    Just wish that people will listen to these advices.

    ReplyDelete
  8. For being such a caring person and going the extra mile to help people in need, I wish you 'live well and live long'! These stories do not bore me. If you have 100 of them, I'd read them if you write them. It gives me an insight to think how lucky we are to be in good health and hoping we won't have to go through what some others have gone through.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Wow! I wish to have a robust and good health if I need to live a long life. Otherwise there would be no quality of life when one gets too sickly and bed ridden at old age. I wish to be able to write blogs and go hiking till 100 years old.

      I would continue to write these chronicles since you will read them! Thank you.

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  9. Coconut juice is good but for ladies, better control la cause it's too cooling for our body and womb.
    Fresh fruits and vegetables juice is still my number one choice!

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    Replies
    1. I agree that too cooling is definitely not good for ladies. However these coconuts seem to have the certain nutrients that no other fruits have them esp for the benefits of our brains.

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  10. Replies
    1. Thank you and come back to read yeah!

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  11. Mentioning about Heart Attack, makes me think of a Church Friend, the couple was watching TV and the wife went to sleep first, as the next day, it's Sunday and they are going church, the husband continue watching TV, the next day, when the wife woke up, the husband was on the floor with the tv still on and was a shock to the wife...

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    1. That was such a peaceful death to enjoy watching a favourite program before God brings him to heavens. I also lost several close friends and relatives to heart attacks which took just few seconds! No need to suffer and worry so much like cancer patients.

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  12. You are my inspiration and motivation

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank you.... Hope you will live a meaningful life and help all the sentient beings.

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  13. Wishing you the best of health!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you William! Get married quickly and have babies.

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  14. Hi! I admire you that you became a caregiver. I hope you would keep your good health.

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    1. Thank you very much Minoru-San. I wish you to have good health and many years of traveling to admire all the flowers in this world.

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  15. useful health advices. i must practice yoga more.

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    Replies
    1. Yoga and Tai Chi are definitely the best form of exercises to heal and maintain one's well being. Keep it up!

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  16. thanks for sharing all those bitter experiences of the cancer patients...I came from family where almost all my grandparents, aunt and uncle died of various types of cancer. Yes, I m prone to it too, hopefully I will be blessed with better health (and not dying from cancer) coz it is indeed very suffering to spend the final days battling with it.

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    1. I am glad you understood that you and I are also at the risks, for having several close family members who had cancers. I hope we will always pay extra attention to detox and cleanse our body system to be healthy always. Cancer is the worst deaths as the pain could drag for years!! Scary lah!

      Delete
  17. waaaa, u changed ur blog design again....experimenting again. ahahaha~ wow, thanks for sharing the stories!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. We change our underwears everyday, so I need to change my blog designs every week too. You might not visit my blog again if they smell like dead fish.

      Delete
  18. Replies
    1. Oooh! I am just a nobody if wanna compare with all the many kind souls out there like Mother Theresa.

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  19. “Health is wealth”, I can’t agree you more. Being such a nice and helpful volunteer caregiver and having health conscious diet, I think you’ll be blessed with longevity in fit even if things happen random, I mean, life is unfair.

    The episodes you shared reminded me of Mao Kobayashi, a wife of a Kabuki actor and mother of two little children, who died of breast cancer at 34 two weeks ago. She didn’t hide her cancer as she didn’t want her disease overshadowed her whole colorful life. ”I will be who I want to be.” So, she kept blogging about her battles with cancer and her loved ones with positive attitude to encourage cancer patients till the previous day of her end. We live only once, let’s be who we want to be.

    Yoko

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind wishes and nice sharing about the late Mao Kobayashi. She was so young when her life was taken away. She was so brave and battled all the way to share all her thoughts. I wish that she had written them in English for me to read. I also hope to be able to write my blogs till the end of my life too.

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  20. I have many friends and loved ones succumbing to cancer as well as heart attack.

    I'll always remember the first time I lost a friend due to heart attack. He was only 29 and he was my colleague. He sends me to work and fetches me home daily. On that unfortunate day, I waited and waited at home yet he did not come. I called his phone but he did not pick it up. I called another colleague to check on him and true enough, when they went over to his place, they found him dead in his room from heart attack :(

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    1. OMG!! Your story about your friend was a big shock to you. I am sure that really woke you up on how fragile our lives are. Heart Attack is always like deaths would come knocking at the door without warnings. Your friend was only 29 and hope he wasn't married with kids.

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    2. He wasn't. He was single. Alone. We were his colleagues as well as his friends. Sad. After that incident, there were many more relatives and friends who passed on due to heart attack. So sad and scary as well :(

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  21. We often hear this Chinese saying..'Those days a single parent can raise & feed 9 children but nowadays the 9 children cannot even take care of one parent. Hiaz this is life huh!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. This is so true and the newer generations are like pampered snowflakes!

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  22. Have not tried any pomegranate juice yet but love eating the fruit itself. Yummy.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Pomegranate and Passion fruits are quite similar but their prices are hugely different with the same nutrients.

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  23. It is so sad and depressing to read about these patients' stories. In olden days, the Chinese people always believe that you must have more children so that you will have someone to take care of you when you're old and ill but look at the society now. Even if you have 9 children, none could take out some time to even take the old grandmother to the hospital for check-up.

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  24. Thanks for your volunteering work. I'm certain it made significant difference to the patients.

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  25. this is quite a sad and difficult piece to read, but it would have been a thousand times sadder and more difficult for you to have experienced it and sacrificed your own time to help others. thank you for sharing ... it's very moving, and it definitely reminds me again to be thankful for all the blessings in life, big and small. you're a treasure!

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  26. Inspiring, Anay! Please share more of these stories.
    I have a couple of friends passed away or under treatment of cancer too lately. They all are my exercise friends. They eat healthy and they lead active lifestyle, but still cannot get rid of cancer at the end. Why?

    I sort of knowing the reason. Stress and exhaustion in their earlier days were the main reason.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Just to let you know that my hiking friend who was diagnosed with colon cancer 4th stage passed away in March. Only half years as of what the doctor had told her.

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