Tuesday, 5 February 2008

It Is Not Easy To Let Go

They say when it rains it pours. Well in a way what happened in my house about 2 days ago gives credence to this age old adage. No, it did not rain Pak Lah and TDM though I would wish for it to happen but this is closer to home.

I have in one of my earlier entries mentioned that my mother in law was in a bad shape after a sudden fall. Ever since she has been bed-ridden. First she could not urinate. Then her tummy started to swell so they had to push hard for the urine to release. Before anyone says anything let me make it clear that she refused to go to the hospital. She may be 80 but she is one spunky lady and when she says no, she means it.

Then no amount of pushing would get the urine out so with advice from our good doctor Tokasid, we got one of her grand daughters who works in a clinic to insert a catheter to drain the urine. It worked. After about 2 weeks the catheter must be taken off for fear of infection. In fact her urine showed signs of infection setting in. We were hoping that after taking it off she might be able to urinate on her own but sadly we were mistaken. Her bladder started to collect water again and she began to show signs of extreme lethargy.

We boutgh a new set and inserted the thing and her drainage went to normal via the tube that is but her lethargy began to get worse. She seemed to slip into coma. When conscious, she was most of the time almost inaudible but all the time incoherent.

Then 2 nights ago, while watching the Arsenal game, of course hoping for them to lose but they did not, my wife came running out of the room screaming something that I could not understand. We ran to the room and there was my mother in law struggling with blood oozing out of her mouth. I thought it was internal bleeding but no it was not. She had some kind of a fit and bit her lips and tongue. Before the biting episode they said that she was foaming in the mouth. I thought it was a heart attack. It was not a heart attack; in fact it was not foam, it was phlegm oozing out of her mouth.

There was panic for a while. We got a spoon to pry her mouth open, wiped the blood and tried to wake her up. We tried all we could but she just didn't respond. It was as if she was in a very deep slumber. After seeing that the situation was under control, we went back to the hall to watch the game which we shouldn't because Arsenal was not in a charitable mood. Then another scream. We rushed again and true, she bit her tongue again. We repeated what we had done earlier and after a while things were good again.

Then it was the Man Utd game. United drew which was not a good result but the last gasp equalizer had us in ecstasy. While discussing Tevez's life saving equalizer, there was another shout from the room and before we could rush to it, poof, the lights went off. For a moment it was pitch black. It was even difficult to find the room. When I looked out, the other houses were with power supply. With the help of lighters and lights from the many handphones, we got to do some rescue work. Now being a strange season, it was exceptionally hot that night. We couldn't on the fan and there was no light.

When I switched on the main fuse, there was light in the kitchen and my daughter's room but the other parts of the house were without supply. Luckily all the plug points were not affected so we could use a stand fan.

Since the plug points were not affected, my air conditioner was not affected. I only got in at about 3.00 in the morning and at about 4.00 my daughter rushed into my room to say that it happened again. By then my wife and sister in law were already experts in dealing with the problem. Ever since then till the present time, she has been completely unresponsive to any outside stimulus. The fit attack continued every four or five hours.

While I am typing this entry now, which is 12.34 am my computer time, my wife and her sisters are attending to their mother. I can hear them trying to talk to her. There were some involuntarily twitching of her closed eyes and that got my wife's hopes up. I told her it was involuntary and I could see that she was disappointed. I don't want her to get her hopes up too much because only divine intervention could prevent the inevitable. The sooner she comes to term with this reality, the better prepared she would be to face the final moments.

You see, my wife is the youngest. When we got married her mother followed us to Kelantan and lived with us there for 2 years. She was never away from her mother for long except when she was in vocational school. Even now, my mother in law lives with us. Occasionally she would go to her other children's house but her stuffs are all here. After seeing all this suffering, am I wrong to ask The Almighty to have pity on her and take her away. I told my wife that and impressed upon her that it was for her mother's own good. She saw my rational but I know deep down inside her she was hoping for a miracle. The twitching episode told me so. Life is not cruel, it is us who have to learn to let go.


cakapaje said...

Salam Cikgu,

I have no words to say but am sorry to note of your M-I-L condition. Perhaps, praying for the best is the only thing we can do.

bergen said...

I know how you feel, sir. Used to be a volunteer caregiver at an old folks' home and I thought I've seen every thing there is to see about old age.

Used to take care of Grandma right up to the day she died. Used to write about this in one of my earlier entries, but it has been deleted.

I remember having to wake up every 15 minutes to help her switch sleeping position. And the laundry rotation, dietary time-table, and the bowel movement. Had to poke the finger in there a few times to guide the waste matter down the valve.

No, sir. Never once I prayed to Allah to take her away. I saw her suffered but she was cheerful when I made a joke of her condition. Had to carry her to the bathroom countless times in a day. The last few weeks she prayed by moving her eyelids. She prayed right up to the last moments of her life - she went after performing her last Asar prayer.

It's a test for you, sir. You gotta have patience.

At an old folks' home where I volunteered as a caregiver, the inmates were from a varied racial and economic background. It was heartening, sad with its moments of laughter in between. That helped.

I never forget the lessons from these experiences because deep down inside I know for certain that I won't know for certain how I will end up if I ever get to live long enough to become old, frail, helpless and lonely.

One thing I know for sure, your own child won't look at you as parents no more when you are like that. You are a stranger to them as to the men and women you see wandering about aimlessly on the street.

Thank you for this entry, sir. It's a subject very close to my heart.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...


should have thought about the catheter thing but even if I had it in mind back then, no way I’d suggest it to you without getting any opinion from the expert first, in this case, docTA.

Admittedly, reading this post I was a little worried on mrs. Cikgu’s well being more than of your Mom inlaw’s knowing the latter’s condition. And of course, giggled myself silly when you mentioned about the 2 matches on that sat night. Such high drama on mysterious night for you. a typical long day safe to say?

I can only pray and hope the best for everyone to come out of this, insyaAllah.

monsterball said...

kata tak nak.....From today .for at least 10 days....I will be very busy with my relatives and my children...for the coming Chinese New Year.
To tell you the truths...this will be the most uneasy and no fun period....as being an old man...I enjoy a quiet life.
But the joy to see the grandchildren....those innocent faces are the rewards I get.
I do feel like a fool...forgetting some of their names!!
All my children are earning their own livings....so noting to worry about them at all.
And the hordes of relatives....from far and near ...coming to see me with loving kindness....very good.....but ...do make my kepala pusin..as usually....after they leave....I will go and sleep as much as I can....to prepare to welcome ....the next group.
So my dear friend ...I do wish you good health and happiness too...and to all your Chinese visitors..I like to wish ...one and all....'Kong Shee Fatt Chai"

Kata Tak Nak said...

Yes it is prayers. Luckily for us there is this thing called prayers. Besides asking the Almighty for intervention, it is also a therapy for us, sort of chicken soup for a grieved soul?

Kata Tak Nak said...

My MIL is completely unresponsive. We do not know if she is praying or not.
When my late brother was very ill, I visited him often but distance and job commitment prevented me from staying with him. Knowing the the disease he had was terminal I prayed to Allah to take him fast because I couldn't bear the sight of him suffering.
The same goes with my MIL. She herself before slipping into the comatose state that she is in, talked about wanting to be forever free of the suffering she has been going through.
If I were to be in a vegetative state like her, I would hope that there be a swift end but then again who are we? We are Allah's creatures. He dispenses.
Indeed this is another test, the same that I had to endure when my mom passed away. She was brain-dead but the docs wanted to try. After 5 days they confirmed that there was no point since she was brain-dead. Those were 5 long days.
Thanx Bergen and thanx for sharing your experiences.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Yeah the game. We think we are tough but we humans are really very fragile.
My main concern is really my wife because ever-since that fall her mom had about a month ago, she had had no good night's sleep at all and the physical strain is showing. The emotional strain? Only Allah knows.

Kata Tak Nak said...

If anything were to happen and I would be busy because of it and not be able to wish you then let me wish you now. Happy Chinese New Year and may you and your family be blessed with prosperity and peace.

tokasid said...

Salam che'gu:

That is the agony that we face in situations like this. We just become helpless. We've called the doctors, we've insert CBD for them, IV drips ran through their veins but they remain the same.And when the episodes of fits recurred we can just look and wait for it to go off.After every fits they go into deep slumber. And we wonder if its due to the fits or is she not getting any better.

With her stupor state it is hard for her daughters to react. I'm sure they knew she is not getting any better but they are still hanging to that thin line of hope that she will one day open her eyes and sits up and ask them: What happen to me.

It is difficult for us to let go our loved ones especially our mother or grandmother.

Thus far I have seen many death within my extended families.People very close to me. My bapak,my Tok,my Paksu,my PakTam and the lastest Pakcik Hashim.

How do I deal with it?How do I let them go?
Its called REDHA.All of us had an agreement with our Creator dictating our duration living on this world. But that memory was veiled from our mind.

When some one passes on, it just meant their agreement had expired accordingly to the stipulated time.

For us still serving the contract must understand this. Our beloved ones had their contracts as per se.It will be the same for us.

And do remember this, our loved ones are on loan for us by our Creator. We too are on the on loan list to compliments other ppls lives.

My do'a is for ALLAH to give His rahmath to for MIL and your family. May ALLAH the Most Merciful grants forgiveness to her,your family and all of us too.

Kakak and her sister need to grasp this concept. I know they already knew about all this ajal maut stuff, but they have to learn how to deal with it.And its not easy for they are very attached to her.
You need to give them that strenght.

Letting go doesn't mean we don't love them anymore.

Kata Tak Nak said...


"Letting go doesn't mean we don't love them anymore."

The above statement by you is something everyone must realise. Another one is REDHA. I should have used that as the title of my entry. Just one word tells so much.

Raden Galoh said...

Salam bro... I'm moved to tears reading yur last paragraph. How it reflected on what had happened to us when arwah mak Mahyar was in her last ordeal.

Everytime we saw her conditions - the shocks her body took because of the tubes inserted into her throat and nose, the blood oozing from her nose and mouth, her unconcious bodily state (we know her mind was there) tore our hearts and brought us down with weeping and crying.

I personally feel it's not wrong to ask the Creator such a request. That is part of being ready to let go. And let her go freely.

I'm with you here, brother. Everyday, I include in my list a prayer for your MIL so that Allah eases her ordeal and gives the best for her-whatever it is. Thnax to brother Tokasid for informing me about your MIL's conditions when the fits attacked her.

My arwah Mak Mahyar was also adamant not to be admitted to the hospital. Only when she started to vomit blood at my SIL's house, she had no choice but to agree when they all brought her to the hospital. It's not easy getting her to agree. Maybe your MIL and my arwah MIL 'keras hati'.

Continue to offer her the best you can and pray for the best. It's not easy, I know, but talk it out with kakak. At least you hear her heart.

Take care bro. Salam to kakak.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Its very comforting to know that I have friends who care. Yes, it shows that we are ready to let go or as Doc said we REDHA.
Thanx sis.

acciaccatura said...

salam chegu,
sorry i'm late here chegu.
sakit-sakit kita di dunia ni umpama nak tebus dosa-dosa agar mudah bila nak dihisab nanti, inshaAllah. Memang 'sabar' tu mudah cakap pada buat dan masa itulah Allah Taala menduga kita.
Ketentuan Allah, dalam keadaan ini, pasti yang terbaik untuk MIL chegu, walaupun pada mata kita keadaan tu sangat merumitkan.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Terima kasih accia dan saya jugak faham yang puan telah melalui satu pengalaman yang pahit sebelum ini so you speak through experience.

zorro said...

It is more merciful if she goes with dignity with her loved ones around her. In cases like this, we have a tendency to think that we are doing the afflicted one a favor by wishing her recovery when there is no more hope. We are giving the sick false hope....the only thing they can cling on to. Of course when she is still with us it is our sacred duty to give her the best quality care we can administer. But we have to be real and be prepared for the inevitable. I had to tell a terminal cancer friend Gail not to hang on....to go....because she was suffering immeasurable pain. I told her to go with a promise that Karen and I will look out for Denis as we had always done even before they met. She went within two hours. I know now she is looking after Karen, Denis and me.


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