This is a little off tangent from the Sabah travelogue, which I do intend to finish, however for the time being a whole lot of serious stuff has been happening in my household lately.
My dad had a major heart attack 3 months back. The kind where they take him into the red room and tell family members to be ready for anything. I don't think i need to explain what kinds of thoughts go through your head while you sit there waiting, with every doa you know spilling endlessly from your lips.
His first words to me when the doctors finally did allow us to see him was "i'm ok" at which point I could do nothing but burst into tears and hold on to him. Miraculously, he recovered from the incident almost immediately. But of course, he was discharged with 9 different medication, which I was almost sure he was not going to take.
Subsequently was his visit to Institute Jantung Negara (IJN) where he underwent an angiogram. The diagnosis was rough. 3 out of 4 arteries blocked. 2 almost completely. His specialist told him that there was no other option than to do a bypass. They gave him a month to think about it before giving his final answer.
That month, was a hard one for the family. My dad refused to undergo surgery, saying that he didn't want to die in a hospital bed. On one hand we understood the fear of undergoing such a major surgery and on the other hand we also understood that the longer he waited the higher the risks of a second attack. To make things worse, he began refusing to take medication, relying on alternative medicine he bought from a mutual friend. And not only this, anything and everything that he though would help him he'd consume except for the prescribed medication.
People will say that it was irresponsible of us to allow him down that path. I will say this much. Sick people undergo a huge plethora of emotional fits. If he was a child, it may have been easier to deal with. We got angry, we tried coaxing, we tried everything short of pushing the pills down his throat without his consent. After a while he began doing strenuous activities, convinced that if he worked himself hard enough the clot in his arteries would clear and he'll be back to health again.
Then the inevitable happened. Saturday night, my sister and I was making our way home when I received a phone call from my mom.
" Papa terjatuh. I think he's having a stroke"
It's phone calls like these that make you dread seeing that home number flash on your mobile screen. When we reached home my dad was interestingly enough propped up at the dinning room chair, staring blankly at his fingers. Once I got a closer look, half his face was paralyzed and when he tried speaking to me, his slurs were incomprehensible. I think my heart dropped to the floor right then. We were having such a hard time deciding whether we should just whisk him off the the hospital ourselves or wait till the ambulance arrived. Luckily, we didn't have to wait long, and the paramedics handled everything quite smoothly, despite the fact that my dad kept trying to ask where they were going.
We were at the hospital till close to 2 am. My dad went from not even having a gag reflex, to being able to move his facial muscles, to recognizing people and finally understanding conversations. Again a miraculous recovery. When he did stabilize, we found that he had a slight trouble with his speech. Not to the extent where people didn't understand but, there were words, here and there that he could not pronounce or took sometime to figure out. It was the same thing with his writing. After 3 days and 3 doctors later we learned that my dad had suffered multiple infarctions, majority on the left side of the brain. During our stay, I sensed that he was undergoing some kind of depression. Coming to terms with the abilities he had lost. And worrying if they would ever come back. He was particularly distraught that he was unable to read Yaasin as he had so often done before. It took a lot of patience and calming him down in order for him not to stress himself out. And it was also difficult for us to get used to what was happening and what it entailed.
Luckily, the stroke brought him back to his senses. He finally consented to taking his proper medications. I have memorized their uses and the times when he needs to take them. i sometimes call home to check if he is indeed taking them. And we rescheduled his bypass with IJN. We thought all was well, at least as well as it could have gone at that moment. We were yet to be surprised again. The night after the IJN visit, my dad started to become agitated, and repeating questions over and over again. There were already warning bells ringing in my head then, but we told him to rest and not think to much since his brain needed a lot of time to recuperate. The next morning, he was still anxious and his body was becoming weaker. I decided to take leave to watch him. It wasn't long before I realized something was clearly wrong when I found that his eyes were not only focusing but was also wandering!
So for the second time within a month, the ambulance came to take him to the hospital. This time to HKL, where he was warded in the neuro department in order to see what kind of damages have been occurring in his brain. He was very forgetful, not remembering huge chunks of events that happened only a day ago or sometimes a few hours prior. The doctor told us that the two strokes that we had witnessed might not have been the only strokes that have been occurring. She told us that my dad was most probably suffering from vascular dimentia as well as expressive aphasia. It was a lot to take. A lot to handle in a span of only a few months.
Now, currently, our family is trying to figure out what our next game plan is. How we are to sort things out where someone will always be at home at all times. My maid can only do so much in the case of emergencies. My mom who will be retiring this month is also not apt to handle emergencies and is also entering old age where she too will need someone to look after her. Even now my dad rings me almost every other day asking if I'll be coming back, Alhamdulillah i'm seeing progress in his memory strength, his speech as well as his moods. But it breaks your heart to see them so frail and so in need of help. Especially when it happens all of a sudden and out of the blue.
So now I feel that I need to be home. I need to finish this masters thing yesterday. And I need to focus on what my family needs right now. Because when you think of how little time you could have left to spend with your parents, it puts all your priorities in order.