October 31, 2006

Coming to terms with our loss

It has been more than a month since dad left us. Everyone in the family has begun to come to terms with our loss. Mum has moved down to Petaling Jaya to stay with sis as without dad, she would literally be immobile as she can't drive. But I know she misses Menglembu and our family house a lot. She kept saying that if she were not babysitting Yihao, my nephew, she would be more than happy to stay put in Menglembu. She could make do with cycling out to the market and the neighbourhood coffee shop for her daily necessities. But with Yihao, that wouldn't be possible. Anyhow, we probably would not allow that to happen as we would be worried sick about her being alone in Menglembu, even though several of our close relatives are nearby. We've decided not to sell off the family house as we just can't bear losing it, at least not for the time being. With the family house intact, we promised mum we'll make monthly trips back to Menglembu, just as we usually did.

Life is beginning to return to normal for me too even though I'm probably not back to my jovial self. I still think of dad a lot and all the what if's. I still shed a silent tear once in a while and I've caught mum doing the same. Mum still blames the cardiologist in Ipoh Specialist Hospital for not noticing dad's paleness which could have rang some alarm bells. I guess that's just the way she's trying to cope with the loss.

Dad was cremated and his ashes are now interned at Nilai Memorial Park. We've made several trips there for prayers and will continue to do so to keep his memory alive.

October 04, 2006

Losing dad

I lost my beloved dad very suddenly on September 25, 2006 at 9.50pm. It's really difficult losing someone so dear so suddenly and the thought that I'd never see, hear, or touch him ever again is just too much to bear.

Dad died of heart attack precipitated by bleeding in the stomach. The doctor said he probably had underlying coronary heart disease and when he bled and his red blood cells count dropped, his heart tried to compensate by pumping harder and that tipped him over.

I'm trained as a pharmacist and am seen as the "doctor" of the family. I can't help but feel responsible and guilty that I could have done something to have changed the outcome. I could have suspected stomach bleeding earlier coz he was complaining to mum that he looked pale, and was feeling giddy the whole week. And I know he's got all the risk factors - smoking, advancing age, taking low-dose aspirin. If I had paid enough attention to him when he was feeling unwell that week, things could have been so different!

Or when his stress test in May turned out equivocal, I could have insisted that the cardiologist do an angiogram to look at his coronary artery. The cardiologist said it was not necessary as dad did not have any symptoms at all such as chest pain, etc. If we had done that, we probably would have caught the blocked artery and did something about it.

That morning, sis who was back for the weekend took him to see a doctor after being unwell for a week. He was planning to see a physician in Ipoh Specialist Hospital who specialises in treating elderly patients but one thing led to another and he ended up going back to the cardiologist who treated him in May. The cardiologist didn't see anything wrong with him and he was sent home. If he had consulted the physician as planned, the physician might have just picked up the stomach bleeding and admitted him, and he wouldn’t have progressed to have a heart attack.

Mum and dad followed sis to KL that afternoon since all of us siblings are here and it'll be easier for us to care for him. That evening in KL after taking his shower, he fainted for a while but recovered moments later. I was still in office when sis called and told me about it and I asked sis to take him to the hospital immediately. He was still well then and insisted that there's no need to go to the hospital. We took him anyway and he was diagnosed with stomach bleeding at the A&E. He was still well then and could even ask questions and talk to us as usual. He was then transferred to the High Dependency Unit and the gastroenterologist was planning to transfuse two pints of blood into him as his red blood cells count was only half of normal. That was around 9pm. Before they even manage to do that, I saw dad breaking out in cold sweat, his ECG got worse and his blood pressure was crashing. He was progressing into heart attack. They immediately transferred him to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) where he collapsed. The doctors tried hard to revive him but failed. And dad left us at 9.50pm. It all happened just in a matter of three hours! We didn't even manage to say goodbye as he was hastily pushed to the CCU and I could see he was in distress then. The only thing he managed to say to me was "I have difficulty breathing", and I can still remember his distressed face vividly.

People tell me he's in a better place now, a place where there's no more worries, no more suffering. I really wish to believe so but it's just too difficult. Dad was only 62. He retired just about 3 years ago. After slogging for so many years to bring four of us up, and now that all of us are doing pretty well and could afford little luxuries for him...it just seems so unfair. He had signed up for a trip to Shanghai and was supposed to leave on October 18. We have also booked a family holiday to Hanoi in January. And he couldn't even celebrate Yiu Yiu's first birthday! Yiu Yiu would never have him dote on her and it breaks my heart knowing that she would probably not remember Gong Gong at all.

The only comforting thought I have right now is dad didn't need to suffer, but even that sounds so hollow to me…