Friday, September 28, 2007

KM 229.1

something's wrong with me - i'm attracting accidents like the Titanic attracts icebergs.

last weekend, i had a wedding double header - Saturday and Sunday. so i was driving to the wedding on Sunday when i saw a motorcycle lying on the road, and an Indian man lying on the other side.

i wasn't exactly bedecked in my Sunday best, but i was well-dressed. and so i just had to stop and administer first aid. he wasn't in bad shape, nothing was broken and he didn't have any major life-threatening injuries. even had time to write a note to the Casualty doctor.

and today i was in Ipoh in the State Health Department for some official business (Taiping GH's having a massive international laparoscopy congress in November), so after dinner we left for home.

and at KM 229.1, Mr Shanker (my surgeon) and i saw a body lying in the middle of the highway. and so we just had to stop and see what was going on.

some guy had decided to park his lorry at that spot and cross the highway to the other side - God only knows why. he had been hit by a car, whose windscreen was smashed to bits.

from 5 metres away i could see him breathing, so at least he's alive. when the coast was clear, i pulled him to the side, and checked for pallor, pulse and major injuries.

he just had a few lacerations to his head, with no active bleeding, as well as a broken left tibia. there was possibly an internal brain injury as well, but those things need CT scans. so we waited until the ambulance came and followed him back to the hospital.

maybe i'll go see him tomorrow. he's got a broken leg, after all - i still have to take care of that.

the scary part is, KM 229.1 was where the Bukit Gantang Incident took place - the bus fell into the ravine and killed lots of people about 10 metres from where this guy's body was sprawled on the road. stuff of nightmares.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Number One: Enduring Love

Avril Lavigne has made this beautifully directed music video for When You're Gone. i am listening to the song repeatedly as i am typing this out.

there are three subplots in the video - a pregnant wife saying goodbye to her soldier husband who's off to Iraq, two young lovers torn apart by parental opposition, an elderly man smoothing his unslept-in marital bed and crying over pictures of his dead wife.

the first subplot is Separation, the second is The Future, but it is the third subplot that deserves mention: Enduring Love.

i'm not married and i'm single. i don't know what it's like to be married to someone for 25 years and wake up every day to the man or woman that you love. i don't know what it's like to share everything you have with your wife or husband - not material goods, but your entire existence. i don't think i know love at all.

but here i am crying over this song when i look at what the old man does in the video - smooth over his late wife's side of the bed, caress their framed wedding photo, look through her old clothes and smell her again, put on a suit and share a glass of wine at her graveside.

when my dad passed, i always thought that the most difficult death that any human being will have to endure is the death of a spouse. here's someone that you chose, for better or worse, in sickness and health, till Death do us part. losing a child is horrible too, but loneliness in your old age is more crippling than any disease burden.

i think i am hypersensitive for the last few days. i saw an 85 year old lady take care of her 91 year old husband who has cancer, in the Surgical ward. day after day she is there, taking care of someone who is just lying there with no possible cure. she feeds him every 4 hours through a feeding tube, mops up his excretion, stays by his bedside. she's keeping him alive, and i don't mean physically.

she is HUMANISING him. he isn't just that cancer patient in Bed 3 in Ward 18, he's not a dying person on palliative care - he is a man with a past and present, with children and grandchildren, he used to have a job and fended well for his family - she is keeping her husband ALIVE.

they've been married for over 60 years. for over 60 years, they have truly loved one another, in every conceivable sense of the word. you know, i like to think she's not just keeping her husband alive, she is keeping every one of us alive. every last one of us, no matter how desensitised, cruel or blind, should see the genuine and sincere love that is on understated display. blink your eyes a moment amidst the chaos of sick patients, and you'll have missed the Magic of Enduring Love.

i write this for my mother, who is uppermost in my thoughts as i cry as i write this. i write this because i see in the 85 year old lady, my own mother, who i know will also be there should her 91 year old husband be hospitalised.

i see in the old man in Avril Lavigne's video, my own mother, who has had to deal with the death of her husband at the age of 50, only after 25 years of marriage. i can picture her missing my father tremendously, but showing tremendous courage and strength to move on and live for her two children.

i can only hope that someday i can be the old man in the video.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

and now she's leaving on a jet plane

after a false start yesterday (when we reached the check-in counter in Penang Airport only to be told that we were one day early), wyny flew back to the UK after spending about 3 weeks in malaysia.

it was obviously good to see her again after many months, and almost immediately after leaving, there was this uncomfortable silence in the car because we felt a little incomplete. something very vibrant and alive was missing.

she developed a strange hobby in Malaysia - she was consumed with this Canto-drama, the Drive for Life (it pains me to write that in caps) and would spend hours in front of the telly watching that drivel. i loved to watch it with her and mum, only that i would also append my own comments, usually in the form of an analysis of the situation, and provide advice on how best to solve the dilemmas in the series. profound stuff, i tell you. my advice i mean. i don't know why they both always chase me off.

she'd claim to not like Haruki Murakami, but yet would read his book to fall asleep. or maybe that's why. plus the myriad culinary desires that she gets and how we'd go satisfy those urges. or that new mp3 player she got and how we couldn't get this one Daniel Powter song in there.

well anyway, it's a rainy Sunday night tonight. all's quiet and cold outside, and to be completely honest, it's a little quiet and cold inside me as well. i miss her, and she's just been gone 12 hours.