Friday, 4 September 2009

ESHAP - My new nemesis

Assalamualaikum wbt and Hi everyone,

I’d firstly like to apologize to a lot of people who had been trying to get in touch with me over the past one week but failing so. It was certainly never my intention not to reply messages or answer phone calls but rather I’d just been literally knocked down by the sheer effect of the ESHAP chemotherapy. My last 5 days had just been what I can simply summarize as dreadful, to say the least.



Add pain to the equation and what you get is basically NIGHTMARE.

Ever since I had the recent bone marrow biopsy, I've been getting regular nagging pains around the area of my right upper leg, most of which occurring at night. My Consultant played that down to an expected effects from tissue regeneration from the biopsy area, one that should calm down in a short matter of time. I don't think it's anything serious to go by (osteomyelitis is probably what most of you and myself will be worrying about), but I do wonder how long more will it take for it to be gone. The pain was at its worse three days ago when my housemates had to ring the hospital for assistance. I wasn't admitted for it, but M had to rush to the hospital at 1030 at night to fetch some tramadol (strong painkiller) to help with my pain.

It was a long, long night. One I wish I'd never have to come across again.

Osteomyelitis is infection in the bones. Often, the original site of infection is elsewhere in the body, and spreads to the bone by the blood. Bacteria or fungus may sometimes be responsible for osteomyelitis.

My longest stay in hospital yet

Never have I been in a hospital for this long in my life, as I was in since Monday morning and was only discharged on Saturday evening. The big delay is in part due to one of the chemotherapy, ie the Cisplatin, where a full 1 litre bag of it usually takes 20++ hours of continuous infusion. And there is usually a delay of at least a few hours before commencing on the next bag of Cisplatin. I basically need to have 4 bags of Cisplatin over the course of a few days, on top of the other drugs including Etoposide and Methylprednisolone which don't take long to be infused. They then give me a full bag of Cytarabine right at the very end of treatment for about 2 hours.

Apart from the ward rounds, meal times and vital signs monitoring (blood pressure, oxygen saturations, pulse, body temperature) performed by the nurses at regular intervals, my day routine in the ward was interspersed with frequent visits to the loo to pass water. By frequent I mean almost every half an hour at some point. Not because my kidneys are failing, but because they have also infused me with plenty of normal saline to hydrate my body, making sure it's not starved off adequate fluids. So you can imagine how difficult it was to even get a good few hours of sleep at night when every now and again you just have to drag yourself out of bed to make it on time to the loo.

It wasn't all terrible if I'm being honest. I am thankful to Allah that I was still perfectly able to perform my obligatory prayers within their stipulated times whilst in the ward. I've made some spaces by the side of my bed as my praying area, and the nursing staff were being thoughtful by making sure that I was not interrupted whenever the time was due for my prayers. I remembered during one of the morning when one of the nurses came to check my vital signs, she asked:

" Have you done your early morning prayers today, Mas?"

I smiled and replied, " I have indeed. At 5 o'clock this morning. Thanks for asking."

She took the blood pressure cuff off my arm and responded whilst filling in my observation charts, " No worries love, just making sure that you've not been a bad boy and missed your prayers, that's all."

We both smiled.

Just when you think you're the unluckiest

I know a lot of people dread staying in the hospital for any longer than a day, what more for one whole week. Lying on a bed with sick people all around you and with nothing much to do.

I wont go as far as saying that I love staying long in the hospital, but I've always been able to learn plenty about life whenever I'm in the wards, be it now or when I was in the O2 Day Ward Unit previously. Listening to other people's account of their diseases can only turn you into a more humble and gracious person in life.

Just when you think that no one can be as unlucky as you are in life, just think again.

James (not his real name) is a gentleman in his late 20s whose bed was next to mine in the ward. He has been diagnosed with Haemophilia since birth, and has had episodes of bleeding into his joints all his life.

He was in the hospital this time around for a left knee replacement, as the bloods pooling into his knee has destroyed the joints. He has had his right knee replaced for a similar problem a few years back. If I am fighting against feeling sick and lethargic, he was battling against pain day and night, surviving only with high doses of oxynorm liquid (a type of morphine, which all of us would know is a strong painkiller). He has never been able to play sports all his life for fear of internal bleeding, and needs to inject clotting factors into his body regularly for years now. Yet, his optimism and strong belief that nothing should stop us from aspiring big in life has without a doubt inspired me. I wish him all the best in life.

Quoting from the respected scholar Tariq Ramadan, suffering does not mean that we have made mistakes, nor does it reveal any tragic dimension of existence: it is, more simply, an initiation into humility, understood as a necessary stage in the experience of faith.

As Jep rightly says in his blog, Life is a long lesson in humility.

Take care everyone, and do remember me in your prayers.

P/s: Thank you so much to everyone who has been visiting me for the last few days, be it from the Malaysian community as well as my dearest friends from the mosque. May Allah reward each and every one of you, for fulfilling one of the responsibilities that is due from you. Barakallahu fik.


Husna Musa said...


Im a jnr back in kyuem, somehow ter-come across this blog. My prayers will always be with you. Hang in there, insyaAllah you'll do just fine.


JeP said...

Alhamdulillah, if there's one thing I'm grateful of - it's your continuous optimist outlook on your condition. Indeed in tough times we sometimes need to foresee our current conditions and focus on alleviating our spirits and emotions.

Nevertheless, your description of the last few weeks does sound dreadful just by me reading it; so I wish you a steadfast recovery. I pray that your coming days will fare far better than previously, and that you'll continue to find motivation in people and your surroundings.

Your well-being is always in my prayers daily. InsyaAllah, in this blessed month God has given you opportunities to reflect on His blessings in ways only others can hope for. La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah.

Continue to be strong chemoboy.

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum Afzal,

It is so heart wrenching for me to know that you are in pain. It is bad enough knowing you have to endure the nausea and tiredness, but add pain to it all? I pray Allah smoothens your path to recovery but alas, you have to go through life with such heavy tests...Trully, Allah loves you most that he tests you so intensely...He tests me n papa too in a way, because when any child of ours suffer pain, we suffer alongside, in spirit.

I hope your friends/housemates remain generous with their help in your times of need...Stay strong my dearest..all our prayers are for your quick recovery....mama.