Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Freak Accident Update ~ “A surgery, really???”

After an upbeat entry about the Gung-Ho Run, this entry is to reflect how set-backs could creep in when you least expect them.

I decided to Whatsapp my friend Orthopedic Dr the day after the run (20 Nov 13) asking him if he could spare some time to look at my crooked pinky (link).  I was lucky as he said he could see me during lunch time.  Wow…that was very kind of him.

I arrived at the base hospital, waited for about 10 minutes outside his clinic and it was time to see him.  Then it all went super fast and within 45 minutes after leaving his clinic, I found myself being registered for an operation to re-attach my suspected torn tendon.  What???? No time to think, just react ok.  I trust my Dr as I have known him since 2006, and he has performed my PCL reconstruction surgery before.    

Just a small surgery with local anesthetic? Didn’t seem like it though.  The pre-surgical process was quite intimidating to be honest.  First, I was told to change into a complete garment for surgical patient.  Huh!!!  ID bracelet was placed around my wrist, IV line was put on my right hand (ouch), indemnity form, question on allergies etc.  A quick call to my wife and I was immediately ushered on a wheelchair to the OT.  All set to go.

As I lied on the operation table, the nurses helped to remove my wedding ring and glasses.  All the patches to monitor my vital signs were placed.  Unfortunately, a screen was also put in between to prevent me from seeing the ops procedure.  My left arm was positioned on a raised platform, then rubbed with the cleaning solution………all we needed then was for the Dr to come in.

The procedure to reattach the severed tendon in my finger took less than one hour.  However, I discovered that the local anesthetic for a finger surgery did not alleviate the pain completely.  In fact, the operation was quite a painful experience.  Quite a sting for each of the anesthetic injection, and all the cuts and whatever was done to reattach the tendon were not exactly “pain free”, and “painful” was probably a better word to describe it.  I was told the pain was inevitable as the area was small and so close to the bone, I just had to endure this “little” pain I guessed. 

I know my pain tolerance is quite high, but I felt my pain threshold was really stretched during this surgery.   

The surgery was finally over and I was quickly wheel-chaired back to the ward for recovery.  I was advised that I could stay overnight if I wanted, but I decided against it as I felt I would be better off recuperating at home.

The outcome

The ID Bracelet

So now the pinky is heavily bandaged and supported by a splint until my appointment next Tuesday.  This has been super fast.  A crooked finger, a quick assessment by the Dr, a quick surgery………… but now the long and slow battle towards recovery.

I was advised to spend the night here....but

.......I want to go home

Life is so full of surprises……… I pray that God will give me the strength in coping with the many challenges coming my way. Amin.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A PCL Survivor Milestone ~ KDSI I Annual Gung-Ho Run 2013

I have always wanted to climb Mount Kinabalu to signify my personal accomplishment in surviving the PCL surgery.  Now 5 years later, the dream still hasn’t been realised, early osteoarthritis has begun to set in, both knees have deteriorated that now I’m surviving on gel/fluid insertion into these knees every 15-18 months, and I’m obviously getting older.  I’m actually in constant pain, but it is a condition I’m already accustomed to by now.

I had a chance to put my PCL knee to test recently, a consolation to my inability to make my way to the peak of Mount Kinabalu I suppose. It came in the form of a “Gung-Ho Run” held at my work place.  It comprised rowing for about 500m, running for 10km and finally climbing 303 steps to the top of an 11-storey building.  I was anxious to see if the knee would hold.  So far I’ve only run up to 5km, and have never attempted to exceed that (the regular jogging track around the base where I work makes it convenient for me to limit myself to just 5km).

Early riser

The day started very early for the Gung-Ho Run.  Already at my workplace for breakfast at 0530, Subuh prayer and followed by a warming up session.  Off to the boat house by 0700 and after a quick motivational talk by me (hmmmmm.......trying to motivate 90+ staff officers and trainees, including psyching myself up wasn’t as easy as I thought), we were ready to kick start with the first activity ~ rowing.

About to start

12 crew in each boat, and off we went.......... The heavily strapped pinky (link) didn’t bother me much....alhamdulillah.  Energy level was high, spirit was high.....but steering technique was totally off....hahahaha.......we were zigzagging to get to the marker buoy and were lucky not to finish last.........

The first boat to arrive....not mine

Now all pumped up for the gruelling 10km run...... After putting on my jogging shoes, and a quick warm up on my own to make sure I was ready, I lined up quickly with the rest at the starting point.  A blast of the horn and we were on our way.  The morning was beautiful, and the sun was shining brightly to lift up our spirit. Alhamdulillah the knee felt okay initially, but I knew I just had to maintain my snail pace and not be tempted or intimidated to keep up with the faster runners.  The agony of pushing through the pain barrier was the biggest challenge.  My aim was to complete the run without stopping at all.  Glad I have my wife and kids who drove along and waited at strategic places to cheer me on.  My pride and joy who have always been there for me.........I’m such a lucky guy.

The starting of the run

Still feeling good early on

Morale booster from the kids

At the first check point I was doing relatively my standard that isJ  Still running, and maintaining my position just about the middle of the group.  However, after the one hour point, the knee started to bother me but I was determined to keep running.  My pace got much slower, a few runners behind me began to catch up and I was really struggling to keep moving.  A PCL survivor’s quest had to I just kept on going......”layan jer” as we say it here....

No pain, no gain 

The second check point finally behind me and I was enroute the last quarter of the now drenched in sweat, and soaking wet with water I poured over my head at each check point,  coupled with a wobbly knee that felt like jelly.  Finally, the end was in sight and I could see my family and some of the earlier finishers cheering me on.  To complete the agony of this run, the last 500m was an excruciating gradual climb.  Huffing..... puffing..... sucking as much air as I possibly could and slowly inching my way.....still running all the way till the finishing line.  I was completely spent......... but the run was over.  And yes, I have managed to run the whole way.........

The last 500m uphill....with my twins cheering me on

Fliud replenishment before taking a crack at the 303 steps up the building

The route and my time

But wait......the Gung-Ho Run was not quite over yet.  I still have another 303 steps up the 11-storey building to be conquered.  The pain to complete the climb was obvious......every lift of the leg up each step was a challenge, every level reached made my chest tighter and my breathing faster.......the claustrophobic confine of the stairs did not help one bit as I was deprived of the much needed oxygen............. Then, finally I could hear the clapping and cheering signifying I was only about 20 more steps from completing my dash up the final stretch.  As I reached the time was read out to me: 1 hour 29 min and 35 sec.  Actually, I can barely remember now how I rang the bell to signify the end of my run.  But rang the bell I did, and this PCL Survivor has finally completed the Gung-Ho Run!!  My family was again there to celebrate this significant milestone with me.  At this point, the spectacular view from atop the building was second to the sensational feeling I had.  Alhamdulillah, I have finally reached the end of this.......running all the way, conquering not only the distance but also the constant pain I felt throughout the run.  Gung-Ho Run 2013 is now a history!!!!

The killer steps.....almost there

Your time ~ 1hr 29min 35sec

Are you okay sir?.....the expression says it all

The triumphant ringing of the bell!!!!  Yes, it's finally over

Looking back I’m glad I did it.  It encapsulates my own personal success in coping with the PCL surgery and the slow battle for recovery.  My life has changed forever as a result of the PCL injury.  This little feat of completing the Gung-Ho Run reaffirmed the belief that the change may not be so fact I believe being a PCL Survivor has given me a better outlook on life.  As usual, God’s plan is always betterJ As I recuperate from this packs on both knees, a long shower, a short nap and a dip in the base swimming pool; I can’t help to feel really blessed and fortunate.  Alhamdulillah atas semua kurnia Mu Ya Allah, I’m really thankful.  Life is great!!!!!

They are my pillars of strength....always

Nursing the hurting PCL knee

Iced-cold towel.......such a relief

The certificate

Medal for one of the Gung-Ho winners

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What You Can Do With RM10 In Manjung

With the recent hike in fuel and sugar prices, we the ordinary people can’t help but cringe with anxiety as how it will impact our daily lives.  We are also constantly being reminded that GST is good, prudent spending is necessary, and we must do our bit to help the country’s economy so that we can all benefit from being a high income nation by 2020.  Oh yes, we must…………

I am not sure we can make sense of it all, but cope with it we must.  This lazy Sunday morning, I’ve just confirmed that for RM10 I can still provide a decent breakfast for a family of four in Manjung.  This should fit in perfectly with the need to cope.  However, I imagine it’s much easier to do this in Manjung than in the big cities.  So for this amount to meet your breakfast needs, you may want to consider these few options:

~ Don’t eat out – this is mandatory, or else you'll definitely need more than RM10.
~ Buy basic but tasty commonly available breakfast choices ie roti canai, nasi lemak & bihun bungkus etc minus all the frills ………forget rendang, ayam goreng, paru sambal etc.  Taste is very subjective so the best bet is to buy at our preferred stalls. I have a few in ManjungJ
~ Don’t go for nasi dagang, bihun sup, soto, lontong or any of the slightly more complicated to prepare options.  The more complicated they are, the more likely they are going to be pricey.
~ I don’t know about other places, but kuih in Manjung is still RM1 for three, and you can mix and match as you please.  Yes, way to go Manjung!!!
~ The obvious choice is to cook at home for breakfast…………but for me it’s faster and more convenient to spend RM10 instead.  Home-cooked food is a better option for lunch or dinner in my household, definitely.

So here’s what I got for RM10 this morning.  Exactly RM10.  And as a bonus I got to throw in the Star newspaper as well.  I just love Manjung………

The full spread complete with the Star newspaper for RM10

Roti Canai & Murtabak

Karipap & Apam Polka Dot/Chocolate

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Freak Accident to Rejuvenate My Blog

What a better way to rejuvenate this blog than to recount a freak accident that occurred to me today.  A seemingly harmless awkward landing on the bed in the middle of the night as I stumbled my way back from the loo resulted in my having a crooked pinky and a trip to the Emergency at the base hospital.

No serious pain when it occurred so I didn’t give it much thought at all.  I just slowly drifted back to sleep and wasn’t bothered until the next morning.  To my horror, I first saw the pinky in a crooked position when I got into the shower.  Hahahaha………You must be wondering how come I didn’t realise immediately when I woke up.  Heck, I don’t know………I guess there wasn’t any need to move the pinky until I got into the showerJ

Crooked pinky & ice cream stick work well together

Well, to cut the story short, I consulted my Orthopedic Specialist Dr Musa.  Upon seeing a picture of the injury I sent him, he advised me to get it x-rayed at the base hospital.  He suspected some damage must have occurred to the tendon.  “Make sure the finger is straightened using a splint, the staff at the hospital should be able to assist you to get it done”.

As a temporary measure, my ever reliable wife, Lin, strap an ice cream stick to keep the pinky straight.  She did a really good job albeit having to use a “decorated” ice cream stick left over from the kids’ activities.

Then off to the hospital with wifey and kids in tow.  Glad it was a smooth process; an x-ray was done almost immediately, followed by the splint.  The bandage used to hold the splint in position has made the injury more obvious for everyone to see.  Oh well, I guess I just have to live with all the questions and speculations on how it occurred for the next few weeks.

Trip to the Emergency at the base hospital

I am scheduled to participate in a “Gung Ho Run” in a few days.  This grueling test of rowing for 500m, running for 10km and climbing an 11-storey building will really put my post-PCL surgery knee to test.  And having a crooked pinky surely adds more flavour to this challenge.  Well, what can I say…………Bring It On!!!!

Gung Ho Run- Rowing, Running & Resilient Climb.......hope I can hack it when the time comes

Thursday, September 13, 2012

As the Page Turns

Yes, time really flies and I'm not doing a great job at keeping up with it.  It's already September and I've only got a single entry to show for this year so far.

Too many things happening around me lately, and sometimes the situations made me feel really small.  I have a big heart though, that I know.  So plough through I must, with a newly found conviction I strife. As I know my being has a purpose, albeit insignificant as it appears to some.  Small changes I set as my objectives, mindsets change I seek, the young minds as my target.........future leaders I hope to shape.    I know I am navigating through unchartered water.  While the final destination is clear, the journey ahead seems long and arduous............ May Allah give me strength as I do not know how my story will end.

I know my blog entry will be few and far between as my time and energy will be spent elsewhere.  I am normally energetic during the day but almost totally completely spent as the night falls.  Anxiety creeps in at times, self-doubt does appear occasionally, but they quickly dissipate when I see the glimpse of hope, the potential waiting to be unearthed and the greatness in some of the people I meet.  I am not alone in this battle after all, and as our strength combines at my helm, I truly hope that our deeds will be written as ibadah to compensate for all the shortcomings and wrongdoings we may have committed thus far.  And hopefully, we will live to see the fruit of our labour.  That is the day I hope to see, a day that marks the coming of age for a could-be giant, which so far is still searching to find its footing.

Fair Winds and Following Seas
Sedia Berkorban

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dry Spell

After the longest dry spell EVER, this is my first entry for 2012. It’s rather pathetic really, I know.  But I must also declare that while this entry breaks the long silence, it does not indicate the beginning of continuous stream of thoughts coming from my end either.  I’m doing this merely to say that this BLOG is still alive and that I have all the intention to keep it going.  I guess after completing a Masters Programme where writing was part of my daily struggle for survival I just needed to give myself a break........too long a break as I now discover….hahahahaha.

What do I want to say here?  Firstly, I want to say that I’ve discovered a new threshold in my own capacity to endure stress, pressure and pain.  Being a student again and stretching myself to complete all the assignments particularly my thesis really put me under a lot of strain........Did I manage it well?  Not sure, but with the amazing results I got I sure hope so.  The experience also re-affirmed the conviction that the more you give the more you get back.....and it comes with a bonus, peace in your heart no money can buy.  Sadly, I also discovered some of the ugliest sides of human being.  Unbelievable and incomprehensible as they seemed to me, I still believe that there were positive values to be gained......although easier said than done.  I am thankful for the opportunities that have allowed me to see many attributes in human beings.  Generosity, kindness, caring, empathy, compassion etc exist in many forms..........if we open our heart to see them, then we’ll see them in abundance, but if our hearts seek the opposite then we’ll only see hatred, deceit, betrayal and other similar destructive values.....and that’s sad.  I am still learning about human attributes; mine as well as others’.  It’s a life-long journey of learning for sure, and I hope and pray that the experience will only affect me positively and make me a better person.  Amin.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Glimpse Of What I Was Like As A 16-Year Old

I made an entry about my oldest memorabilia here.  Just a few days ago I had another encounter with a trip down memory lane...... this time after discovering a journal I had completely forgotten about, until recently when my brother stumbled upon it presumably as he was rummaging through the stuff around his apartment when he shifted to a new place to call home.  The journal comprises my daily thoughts and observations as a 16-year old in 1987 during a training stint for a month at the Outward Bound School (OBS) Lumut (Sekolah Latihan Semangat Outward Bound, Lumut).  I was initially astounded, as well as intrigued by this discovery.  What was I like back then before being exposed to the experience of living in the US, UK and France?  What was I like when my conversation was mostly in Malay?  What was I like as a teenager?  I certainly discover certain things about my own self that I never knew existed as a teenager.

 We normally have certain “images” in our mind of what we were like before, but are they really accurate?  Do we block certain elements especially the painful ones and amplify those we are fond of?  We obviously can’t remember everything, and therefore I think through “selective” inclusion and omission we somehow generalise or even distort some of these images.  Therefore, reading through this journal was a bit of self-discovery for me.......with all the uhhhs and ahhhhs along the way and smiles throughout looking at how I survived a month long thrill at the OBS.  There are just too much to mention that I don’t think a short blog entry like this will do justice to describe all the experiences. I did repelling and rock climbing and the journal illustrated my agility as well as fear when I scaled down or climbed up a rocky vertical while putting my faith in the safety line and in the belaying buddy holding the rope.  I also met strangers-turned-friends who were mostly older than me but ended up leading them as we struggled our way up the three hills in Pangkor (my experience in compass marching as a student of Royal Military College was the obvious reason for this).  Spending the night in the forest with no water and only dry Maggie mee for dinner, having to create a stretcher from branches and a military “poncho” to carry an injured teammate, and the countless caked blood stains on my calf from leeches bites were the highlights of this particular expedition.  Similarly, a 30+km mini-marathon was a test of teamwork and perseverance as none of us had previously run or walked that far in a single go.  And finally, doing a solo camping for 2 nights equipped with a box of matches and three candles out in the haunted forest near Teluk Rubiah was unbelievable......trying to make fire to cook rice, counting the 100+ mosquitoes I killed throughout the sleepless night and guessing the time as we were not allowed to wear watches were some of challenges I encountered. 

How did a 16-year old like me, fit and energetic, cope within a team (my team was called “Irau”) made of much older guys and gals mostly bankers and teachers?  It is an amazing rediscovery to read about it almost 25 years later.  But none more gratifying than reading my own thoughts back then.  I was competitive no a young boy from RMC who played sports like rugby, football and participated in athletics I was adrenaline-charged and bound to be competitive.  But it was also pleasant to read that I was very helpful as well, never failed to carry out my duty as a sentry at 2 or 3 am when some of my partners might just “curi tulang” and got along with almost everybody in the team.  I was naive as well, and did not see some of my own values, strengths and weaknesses. I am sure when I wrote those entries in the journal I never thought it would eventually reflect some of my traits as a youngster but when I re-read it now I am actually quite glad to see who I was back then.  Flawed, yes but also I can see how those elements, good and bad, have formed part of the jigsaw that made me who I am today. 

My masters programme is finally over, hence this as an entry to announce my return from a long hiatus. Everything that we do constitutes a part of the puzzle that makes us.  We always have a choice to make.  I like the analogy made by an author, Felix Siauw, about the choices we make in life.  We always have to make them.  When we choose one, we can’t choose other options (at that particular time).  The condition of being able to choose only one option and in doing so deciding not to opt for others will obviously accumulate (exponentially I believe) and who we are today is a result of the many choices we made throughout our lives.  Looking back, one single different decision along the way could actually lead us to a different path altogether.  Hence, reading through the journal I am glad for the choices I made during the one month at OBS.  I also understood better that some of the traits I see in myself were already there in 1987 without consciously knowing them.  As I realign my thoughts away from my “India’s non-alignment foreign policy” thesis, the OBS journal has been a God-given reminder and blessing to help me plan for my next challenge.  Alhamdulillah.

And by the way, I am reading Felix Y. Siauw’s “Beyond the Inspiration” and Peter Mayle’s “Encore Provence” with the latter about the author’s take on the uniqueness of the Provence, the place that I called home for 2 years from 2002-2004.  It has brought back some memories about my living in Southern France, such a light and stress-free reading compared to the scholarly books and journals about India.  Alhamdulillah,  life is good!!!!!

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