Friday, July 11, 2008

PART I: WHEN YOUR HEALTH IS AT RISK, GET A SECOND OPINION, OR A THIRD

My apologies for the long leave of absence from this blog, Seniorsaloud. Since the last posting on 14 June, an unexpected series of events have kept me pretty much incapable of anything more strenuous than getting in and out of bed. Even that proved difficult at times.

Well, the weeks have passed. Thanks to all your prayers, well-wishes and moral support, I am now recuperating at my daughter’s apartment in Singapore.

It all began on Monday 9 June. I experienced aching joints after my line-dance class in the morning. By afternoon, I had the shivers. Must be the flu, I thought. A couple of days’ rest, and I should be up and about again.

Tuesday and Wednesday I was so weak, I could hardly get out of bed. Moon, my elder daughter, happened to call on Wednesday night from Singapore. Alarmed by the weakness in my voice, she immediately called Belle, my younger daughter, and told her to take me to the doctor the next day.

On Thursday 12 June, Belle and I were at a private hospital just down the road from my apartment. Not knowing what precisely was wrong with me, we had no clue as to what sort of doctor to see. Belle had sought help at the information counter, but was told to refer to the board listing of all the doctors. She finally picked on a cardiologist consultant cum physician who said I showed symptoms of Hepatitis A – jaundiced eyes and a sensitive, bloated abdomen. Nothing to worry about, he assured us. A bottle of Jetepar should do the trick. Just to be on the safe side, he recommended a blood test for me. Not only was the experience painful, it also left me with a huge bruise on my arm that remained for two weeks.

I was told to return a week later for a follow-up. In the interim, I dutifully took 4 capsules of Jetepar a day, and tried to have as much rest as possible. My best day was on Tuesday 17 June when I felt strong enough to deliver a speech and presentation at my Toastmasters Club. Most days, however, I was too weak to do much. Obviously, the pills weren’t working.


(Looking and feeling weak, but still able to deliver my powerpoint presentation on 17 June.)


At the follow-up visit on Thursday 19 June, a second blood test was done. It was even more painful than the first. The results showed some abnormalities in the liver. A scan was scheduled for the next day, Friday 20 June. Moon was already in KL by then, so she went along with me. The scan revealed a fluid-filled abscess in the left lobe of the liver.

The first doctor arranged for me to see a consultant general surgeon in the same hospital who had handled similar cases before. So the next day, Saturday 21 June, Moon and I were back at the hospital. The second doctor gave a detailed explanation of what could have caused the abscess, and what he proposed to do to deal with the problem. A simple procedure, he said. The fluid would be aspirated through a needle, and the bile duct ‘washed’. Only one night’s stay in hospital required for observation. The sooner I had the procedure done, the better, preferably within the next five days. I didn’t know then that the abscess could cause a rupture, and that could be fatal.

I had done a number of medical examinations, scans and most recently, dental bone-grafting surgery in Singapore. Each time I was impressed by the professionalism of the doctors and nurses, and the quality of the healthcare services. It wasn’t that difficult to make my decision. If surgery was my best option, I wanted it done in Singapore.

Two days later, on Monday 23 June, I left for Singapore, still weak, still carrying the abscess in my liver.

(Dim Sum lunch in KL with family members visiting from outstation and overseas - just a day before my hospitalization in Singapore.)

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