Thursday, 20 August 2009

Being an F1 and my special Ramadhan...

Assalamualaikum wbt

I remembered a decision I made back in December 2008, when I was advised by the JPA officials (my sponsor) that I should take the last 6 months of my studies off to focus on my treatment. It took me a lot of thinking but in the end, I decided that I wasn't going to delay my studies but to give it a go. Thinking about it now retrospectively, I believed that I've made the right decision, and I can only thank Allah for that.

Two weeks ago, I took the decision to start work as a Foundation Year 1 Doctor in Royal Preston Hospital knowing that it'll only be for a short while. A decision my Consultant fully respected, and one which rather surprised him as he thought I would've opted to enjoy on an extended break from work.

Alhamdulillah, the two weeks have gone by quickly, but I have relished every single moment of it. As people often tell you, life as a doctor will never be the same as when you were a medical student. You can no longer walk away whenever trapped in a difficult situation, and there are certainly a lot more critical decision-makings involved.

I remembered vividly on my 3rd day as a doctor when I was called upon by the nurse to see a patient with a known lung cancer who was acutely short of breath, looking very distressed and was profusely sweating. There wasn't any other senior doctors around and I knew I need to act immediately whilst waiting for more help to arrive. Macam cerita kat TV lah, every second counts kan. I went through my ABC assessment (A-Airways, B-Breathing, C-Circulation) and 5 minutes later, alhamdulillah the patient settled down. As I was about to leave the patient, the nurse said a simple, yet profound statement,

"Thank you very much Doctor."

Such a straightforward statement that makes this job all worthwhile. It really does.

I guess my short journey as a doctor would have to be put to side for now as I draw near to my first course of ESHAP chemotherapy. I need to have the sutures on my Hickman line taken out tomorrow, and start doing some packing for my admission to hospital this Sunday night.

The chemotherapy will be given from Monday morning for 5 consecutive days until Friday, and I was told by my Consultant that I can be discharged for the weekend if deemed fit enough.

This will certainly be one very interesting Ramadhan for me. Firstly, that this will be my first ever Ramadhan during the summer, thus the long day. Secondly, because of the chemotherapy and therefore the prospect of fasting whilst undergoing treatment. But before I worry anyone, let me reassure that I will not put my health at risk if I don't feel able to fast, insya Allah. In a way, I look forward to 'converting' the ward I'll be in later next week into a place of worship.

A place where I will perform my obligatory and terawih prayers.

A place where I'll be reciting the Qur'an and offer my supplications.

And hopefully show to the people around me what Ramadhan is all about for Muslims. Seems interesting, huh? Insya Allah!

Yahya related to me from Malik from Abu'z Zinad from al-Araj from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "By the One in Whose hand my self is, the smell of the breath of a man fasting is better with Allah than the scent of musk.' He leaves his desires and his food and drink for My sake. Fasting is for Me and I reward it. Every good action is rewarded by ten times its kind, up to seven hundred times, except fasting, which is for Me, and I reward it.' " [Translation of Imam Malik's Muwatta, Book 18, Number 18.22.58]

Ramadhan Kareem everyone. Kullu aam waantum bikhair.

Monday, 10 August 2009

The journey continues...

"Are you not afraid of death?"

I can certainly remember vividly that question Peter (not his real name) gave me when we were both having treatment in the O2 Day Ward Unit in Hallamshire Hospital. A nice gentleman he is, already in his 60s I presume, having being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma a few years back. We met for the first time in the day ward during the 3rd course (I think) of my ABVD treatment and it was then that he found out about my condition.

"Well Peter, death will come to all of us anyway, and there is no escaping from it." I replied.

He smiled, as if the intention of his question was merely to see how I am coping with having a cancer. I always enjoyed my tete`-a-tete´ with Peter whenever we met in the Day ward. I've not seen him since my last ABVD treatment but wherever he may be now, I wish him all the best and may God give him the hidayah of the Deen, insya Allah.

أَيْنَمَا تَكُونُواْ يُدْرِككُّمُ الْمَوْتُ وَلَوْ كُنتُمْ فِى بُرُوجٍ مُّشَيَّدَةٍ

Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high! [An-Nisa:78]


Ever so often during my treatment, I am surrounded by patients all of whom are at least half-centurion, and it is obviously strange for them to suddenly see a bloke supposedly fit and healthy to join the "bandwagon".

My first ever admission to the hospital for my Hickmann line and bone marrow biopsy last week wasn't any different. Yet again, I was in a bay with three other elderly patients. Although we might think of them as being poorly and frail, just think again. Most of these people are strong at heart, fill with optimism not even people of our age could compete.

I remembered two of them, Jack and John (not real names), who both suffer from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Had it not been for Jack's reassurance, I would certainly dread the thought of having a Hickmann line.

"Don't worry Mas, it's just going to be a sharp scratch with the local(ie the local anaesthetic), and from there on you'll just feel some pushing."

If looked after properly, a Hickmann line can stay in for a few months.

Jack wasn't completely spot on if I'm being honest, as inserting the Hickmann line was quite an unpleasant 30-minutes experience. Nevertheless, things might have been worse had he not reassured me with his thoughts about the procedure.

Last Thursday was certainly not a day I'd like to remember much in my life. Not only that I had my Hickmann line inserted on that day, I was also scheduled to have a bone marrow biopsy just a few hours later. I've had one before back in December, and it wasn't pleasant at all as far as I could recall.

But never had I imagined it to be as traumatic as this time around. That was probably the most painful thing I've ever had for such a long, long time.

Bone marrow biopsy

My horrendously painful experience of having the bone marrow biospy reminded me of our beloved Prophet SAW. My mouth didn't stop from uttering words of dzikr as I was trying to bear with the sheer agony of the biopsy. That was all I could think of during then. But Prophet Muhammad SAW, he was different.

How in the midst of pain from Sakaratulmaut, Prophet Muhammad can still remember about his people and not about himself.

'Ummatii, ummatii, ummatii?' - 'My people, my people, my people.'

Allahumma solli 'ala Muhammad. How deep is your love to us, ya Rasulullah!


I am still feeling a bit sore from both the Hickmann line and bone marrow biopsy, but I knew that will be the case for at least a few more days. My consultant has not got a definite date yet to start my chemotherapy, as he was still waiting for the results of my neck biopsy. However, he did say that they could probably fit in a date for my first chemotherapy sometime later this week, insya Allah.

In the meantime, I am still resuming work in Royal Preston Hospital. Enjoying my very short stint as a doctor, before I embark on a possibly long break from work. It's a great shame that I have to yet again put aside what I aspire to do for so long, but la tahzan (don't be sad). Allah knows best. He always do.

To my dearest families and friends, please keep the prayers coming. Thank you so much for all your support and du'as.