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!


Anonymous mrs b said...

Ros, you are truly a strong woman and your husband obviously has the fullest confidence in you to pull things through, without the hindsight of knowing how tough things would have gotten. I think your family would have been so grateful for your deeds and love and are indeed so blessed to have you. Hugs.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Lrong said...

That was quite an ordeal you went through... my condolences to you for the passing of your BIL...

2:28 PM  
Blogger ekantona said...

I remembered telling my ROXAR course instructor who was in the same batch with yr BIL that he was in the ICU.
I think he went to see him, and I am sure that he was grateful he did!Takziah to your family. Yr BIL was so lucky to hv you as his SIL!

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mama23beas said...

Mrs b..what a nice thing to say, thanks a lot. At that moment, I knew I don't have much choice and my focus really turned to MIL.

lrong...thanks, I think I was ok maybe because all of us were ready to let him go, after that long 5-year battle.

ekantona...I'm sorry I didn't get back to you and thanks for passing the words around. I felt a bit upset with myself as I only started telling when BIL was already in coma. Wasn't really sure as a few months back, he once mentioned he had already tired of informing friends, he might not like visitors anymore. Until hubby said, I should start calling. I just relied on a few of his friends that I know. Now I'm glad I did, quite a number of people turned up. Thanks again

6:05 PM  
Blogger D said...

eh, i thought I left a comment here a few days ago? Alahai... frustnya!
well, take care dear because you have an 'extra' there within you! I actually came back today to say that I mentioned your grief to another fellow blogger and asked her to read what you went through with your BIL's passing. Hope you don't mind.

2:16 AM  
Blogger NJ said...

Salam perkenalan Mama Bea,

Got to know this page from D, yup she was just here to inform you, hope u don't mind.

I can totally relate to what u had just gone thru, bcoz my SIL currently is also what doctor call it, a terminally ill patient, suffering from a very rare stage-4 kidney cancer which has, as we are talking here, adversely affected her liver as well. Watching here drastic downward transformation, I can't help but wondering the big IFs/WHENs... but I just know I had to be strong for her and my hubby.

Thank you for the posting, somehow I found solace just by reading your entry,

4:39 PM  
Blogger Mama22Beas said...

d...really? Your comment went missing...I pun frust tak dapat baca. And yes, of course I don't mind sharing this with anyone. I hope some people in the same situation would learn something by sharing.

nj...I'm so sorry about your SIL. And yes, during BIL drastic and aggressive (using ur words) downward transformation after the failed BMT, he had also liver failure, then later followed by lungs and heart. It happened within days and being the only one at the hospital, I had to 'swallow' this info directly from the docs.
Sometimes, I felt guilty as I just could not help it but to think about the WHENs but we went through a stage that I called a 'denial'. Hubby, first time when he saw BIL on the life support said, it could not be that bad as we'd seen him in that situation before, but he was up and about again. I had to remind him over and over that this time, the lung was failing. I just hope you and your family don't have to go through that stage.

Previously I really wanted to blog about everything, just to record mostly maybe for the kids to read when they are able to, but I was not really sure if BIL would approve it. But now, I just feel like I should share, some people may benefit a little from this.

Thanks for reading, I pray for you and your family to be given the strength to face this.

1:33 PM  
Blogger 鐵火卷John said...


5:28 PM  

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