Friday, April 20, 2007

Looking back

First of all, thanks to those who extended the condolences, Al Fatihah and words of encouragement on the demise of my late BIL. That really mean a lot to me, knowing that there people out there that I can share with. We are pretty much moving on now, we are holding on to our faith and I'm just grateful on the way the family face this sad episode in our life.

But, I just can't help it but to still think about every little detail of what happened during the last two weeks. The first week was a very tiring and emotional one, but surprisingly it turned out to be completely different on the next. I decided to blog it, for some reasons. This is going to be a long one, be prepared with some coffee and tissues, maybe;).

Friday, two weeks ago
Early morning, while mom-in-law preparing our breakfast, I reluctantly ironed and packed hubby's stuffs. He had to go away for a long outstation work, 3 weeks of continous work without a single day leave. First to South, then to west of the peninsula, then to Sarawak.

A few months before that, when he mentioned to me about the trip, I cried my heart out. I was worried sick that I could not handle the 3 girls all by myself. That, I assumed mostly due to the hormone in the first trimester. I was a lot better after some positive thoughts.

And that day, I just thought there was no way to make him stay. Besides the girls, he also left me with a grieving mother-in-law and a brother-in-law in the ICU. But he just had to go, and it was clear that he left everything to fate.

He don't show affection in public, but I assumed the intense kiss on my cheek on that bright morning, in front of the cafe where office staffs were having their breakfast was a way to tell me to take care of things.

At noon, a doctor told me that they suspected BIL might heard some of the conversation among the doctors and the heartbeat rate rose. They had to make him paralysed to prevent any activity that could do more harm to the heart. She said his heart was kind of 'hardened'.

My parents and a sister came down. That made a little difference, having them with us, listening to their words of encouragement. They left the next day.

BIL was stabil, I spent only a little time besides him but I know from MIL that a number of his friends came to visit. There were 3 doctors in the ICU that I talked to. Each had different ways of explaining. One of them, while talking about BIL's condition tend to indicate that there was no more hope, according to him BIL could last a little while due to his 'young' heart. He already mentioned that they thought they would lose him even on the day they put him on the ventilator. Once MIL, said the way BIL breathed was a bit different, looking at the movement of the chest. The doc said, it was the machine that 'moved' him. He explained what would happen without the support.

He also mentioned that they had done the last ditch, giving BIL some steroid to help the area around the aveoli (in the lungs) to absorb oxygen, where the problem seemed to be as he had no obvious pneumonia as the docs suspected. And even that, it didn't really work.
As always, MIL insisted that she wanted to know word by word from the docs. Upon learning about the whole thing, she asked me to talk to hubby for the possibility (if it was permitted) to just pull the plug, as it was too much for her to bear.
But he objected, saying that BIL was a fighter. He had not given up, it would be a 'selfish' thing if we gave up on him. Then, it just occured to me that I've heard many stories that people can be in coma for years. After being 'bombarded' by 'no hope' talk by the doc, I woke up the next day refreshed and with a different thinking.

For the first time after he became unconcious, I talked to him. I just said that we were always there for him, and we would wait. More people visited. At 8.30 pm, a call from the hospital. The staff said he was not looking good and asked relatives to be there. I sent MIL there and two uncles joined her later.
He then went back to a stabil condition. The doc said MIL and uncles could go back, they would contact us again.
I could get much sleep, and I had my handphone under the pillow.

I attended the first day of a 4-day course at a nearby hotel. Was reluctant at first, but MIL insisted that I should go. I went in the ICU before leaving her. The staff said again, he was not looking good, no improvement. And they just gave another medication. I could see the BP was getting low, so as the oxygen intake.
Had a missed call from the hospital, later an uncle called saying that Dr S (who was the first one attended to BIL and had been with him for 3 years) wanted to see me. Another call from MIL, telling about the same thing. They said, he wanted to see me after 2 pm at another ward.
Around 1:15 pm, Dr S himself called me and said he wanted to see me right away.

I went in to see BIL first, the oxygen intake was 74 then. Later what looks like regular 'sigmoid' turned erratic, to something like a shape of hills and mountains and the reading went to '?'.
I saw Dr S at 1:45, he talked to me like it was the last explaination from him. That BIL had the best treatment they could give, on how even without the Bone Marrow Transplant (that didn't work), he would not last that long, and some other stuffs. He finally said he was sorry for him, that he was a strong fighter and to him BIL was a good friend. I knew this from hubby and BIL himself. In that 5 years, Dr S was away in Australia for two years, and I told him that I was sad that he was not here during that time when he had the BMT. He had his pager beeping, and went out. And to me, the conversation ended there.

Looking back, I know he knew it was almost time, that's why the urgency of the meeting. But he still gave us a little hope, saying that BIL would not last till the next day.

I went out the room and saw MIL with two cousins. Soon, I saw Dr S went in BIL's room. He then came to me and said that they would not do any resuscitation or CPR as his heart would not take it anymore. I didn't really compute that first, but explained that anyway to MIL.

That was when I just walked in the room again. That was when I wanted to say something to BIL, but I thought I better continued praying for him. That was when I saw the heartbeat rate went from 34 to 0 to 19 and 0 again.

I remember a doctor who was sitting outside went in, and said she was sorry that my BIL was gone. I remember she said "Can you see the heartrate, it's zero".

Looking back, I know that they knew it was too near that the doctor and 2 nurses were on 'standby' outside the room.

I was still standing there when one of the staffs started unplugging, and taking things off. It just occured to me that it was over, and I walked out the room towards MIL and that two cousins. Told them what I needed, in just 3 words. They broke down, but I thought I could not cry in the situation, there were many calls to be made. I walked out of the ICU, called hubby first, also just a few words exchanged. Secondly, I called a friend. Not being a relative, she was not at the top of the list but it was more to let it burst. I thought being the one who had to tell everyone that BIL was put in a coma, that he might not recover was the hardest. Then, I had to be the one annoucing his death. It was too much, but I gathered my composure again when she said he chose to go when I was by his side, I was special to him.

Later I kept myself busy with registering for the transportation to bring the body home, on how to prepare for the funeral, attending to a few more visitors, mostly from my office. My boss asked if they could help, but I declined as I really rather kept myself busy. Most of the time, holding and rubbing on my tummy, praying that any emotion that I was going through didn't influence my boy.

Anyway, I broke down again in the surau. One staff and the only one besides the doc, surprisingly asked me to be patient. I let it go again. I told her he was my student, images came to my mind. Once in a class, he had that naughty twinkle in his eyes, indicating to me that he knew I had a 'thing' with his brother.
I went in the room again when asked by one staff, if I wanted to see him before they send him to the mortuary. Without all the tubes, he looked like he was just asleep. I had seen him in ICU, in a coma twice, I had seen him asleep many times but I knew he would not wake up, as he always did.

And when the car that brought BIL (together with everyone else) left, I found myself alone at the hospital. MIL told me to just wait for hubby at the babysitter's house. It would take a few hours more before he arrived. I called my mom, told her that I was not really sure of going back home, knowing that BIL would not be coming back. She said I was there from the beginning (of his illness) to the end, I should find a 'closure'. That was my home, that didn't change, she said. I took her words, fetched the girls, went home, packed my MIL's stuff to bring back and waited for hubby.

Funeral was done at 9.30 pm. It was a breeze, alhamdulillah. In Islam, it is always better to do it the soonest. Could not really sleep as Bea3 kept waking me up.

I broke down again in the early morning, when I heard hubby's voice cracked, followed by a soft crying while he was reading the Yassin.
I didn't know that to register a death, we need to have the deceased IC. I didn't bring it with me. To make use of the leave days that hubby had, we went back to KL so that he could do all the neccesery.
I went back to my course. I asked if I should continue or just leave, since I had two sessions missed. One of the speakers insisted I should stay. It just happened that I arrived during lunchtime, so I managed to talk to him. He is a doctor in the same hospital. Later another guy joined us, he is also a doc. I used the chance to talk. They mentioned when the reading of the oxygen turned to '?', he was already braindead, or vegetative. On how, here in Malaysia 'pulling the plug' was not encouraged, on the possibility that the last medication that he was given on Monday morning could be just something to reduce the effect of some drugs, to make it 'easier' for him to go etc.

I only realised in bed that night, that I was just so tired.

Continued with the course. Hubby had to go again that night, but he suggested something I never thought before. When the course was done, me and girls could just follow him for a week. I got so excited.
A few times, I had tears rolling down my cheecks when I thought that my routine had changed. No more rushing to the hospital, no more planning on when to go, which pharmacy to go to get his stuffs, which road to take to avoid the traffic, no more worries about more time taken away from my kids while I was at the hospital etc.

End of course, I did a little catch-up and did not do that badly in the test that followed.

Hubby came back. I made some arrangement before leaving, packed the girls and off we went to Lumut.

I planned to bring some journals to read but hubby and I had some misunderstanding. He assumed I would spend the whole day packing while waiting for him to arrive from the south. Of course I needed to arrange for my leave especially after 4 days out of the office for the course. In the haste I had forgotten the camera, the girls swimming wear and didn't get the chance to get the journals too. He grumbled that it was not a holiday, but tell me moms what would you call it: no laundry, no cooking, no mopping, and now in my case no work to bring.

I'm not going to do day by day, don't worry;). So, in all the 5 days there, hubby went out early morning and came back at night. I kept myself occupied with making sure there is always enough food (while trying not to spend too much on hotel food) for my kids that are always hungry, being busy just to be with them.

After a few calls to get info on hotels, we settled in the Orient Star, a hotel near the jetty. The compound is huge for the kids to run around. They have monkeys, bunnies, cock, peacocks and turkeys in a few cages. The kids loved them, it became a routine that they must saw them twice a day.

On a cool and blowy day, we walked up to the jetty. The beach (don't know if I should ever call it a beach) is not for swimming but we bought some beach toys, and I let the girls play with the sand for a while.

No pic to share except for one of the hotel taken from this site. It was a great get-away, after all.

We had a pleasant surprise to know about that it was a holiday in Perak yesterday. So we drove to hubby's kampung on Wednesday night. We returned home yesterday.

Hubby had to leave again. I still reluctantly packed his stuffs this morning but after that two weeks, things are different now. Think I had sighed a huge relief. This weekend, I'm going to pack my late BIL's stuffs that are still intact in the room and let hubby and MIL decide what to do next.

See, told you it is a long one. Thanks for reading and make it till the end;) and have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Al Fatihah

My bother-in-law passed away at 1414 today. He was on the ventilator for the past 5 days.

He went away with only me by his side. We were moving around, meeting doctors and relatives. Asked how long he could last, the doctor told me not till tomorrow. Mom-in-law told me a nurse said with that low BP, only 3 hours.

I don't know what prompted me to go in. I was standing there, looking at the monitor. I felt like saying something to him, but I just continued reading some verses from the Quran.

I was there for barely 1 minute when I saw the heart rate went from 34 to 0, then 19, then 0 again. I was still trying to comprehend that, when a nurse walked in and nodded to a doctor who was sitting outside the room.

The doctor then touched my elbow and said she was sorry, my BIL was gone. I've been strong so far, I only cried for my mom-in-law who just lost her son. But I also cried when I related the story of he went away, when I was there to a friend, why me and not someone else, not even mom-in-law. She said he chose to go with me besides him maybe as a way to thank me as I was the one who spent most time with him during his illness.

I can go on and on, but I have to go now. Knowing him, I know he just want us to move on.

Al Fatihah.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Pray for us

I just received a call from a doctor who is treating my brother in law, they have to put him on the life support machine. He said, they have to get him into a coma and he may not recover. Last week, he already emphasised that things were not good. "We may or may not lose him"...that his words.

I should be in the hospital, but I don't think I'm strong enough to be there alone.

I just mentioned about him only a few times in this blog, so maybe most of you has never heard of his condition. He has lymphoma, been fighting it for the past 5 years. He was my student, a brilliant man, in the Dean's award list. According to the doctor, it is not hereditary, he just got it because of his body react in such a way to the cancer cells. And his case is very rare. He made it sound that life is just too fragile.

BIL had bone marrow transplant in Nov., and it didn't really work. I cried on the way to the hospital to visit him soon after hearing about the result. I felt hopeless as we always talked about hope, with that news, I just didn't know what to say and how to face him. Surprisingly, he just smiled, even joked about it and said "Let's us just pray".

Later, he started not to talk and not to eat. He didn't even watch the TV and read. Everytime, I went in the room ( our apartment), he would always be asleep or just close his eyes. After the failed BMT, doctors put him on Interferon.

About 3 weeks ago, he had coughs and again admitted. Later, lung infection that the doctors are still trying to figure out the cause. 4 possibilities remain: the disease itself, infection, the drug or the reaction from the sister's bone marrow (through BMT).

He later was admitted to the ICU, about a week now. Two days ago, he asked me to get him 100-plus. Yesterday, I was there again and I could see he was breathing differently. He opened his eyes when I called. Asked if he wanted to drink, he just signalled "no" and closed his eyes.

And today, the call came. Most of the staffs here know him, but I'm picking up every bit of strength to inform them.

I don't know what to do, I even dread the thought of me walking towards the ICU again, in this situation.

Please, pray for us. I don't even know if I feel better now that I write this.