Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gifts and New Things

The many many essences that I received - Fish Essence finished because they said it helps heal the wounds faster... from left - Lo Hong Ka Cordyceps Essence, Lo Hong Ka Ginseng Essence, Eu Yan Sang Essence of Chicken and Brand's Essence of Chicken

I bought 4 boxes of these for my mom and then took one box for myself! Hahah... The 4 boxes is in exchange of something on my neck now....

My Crocs.... casual slippers

Haha.... Another pair of Crocs... nice? See the flowers - Orange and Blue - XeerSoft logo colour!

OK - fancy having a little diamond necklace in exchange of 4 boxes of Essence of Chicken? My mom bought this for me and I bought the Eu Yan Sang for my mom.... ngek ngek ngek OOopps... the Crocs are paid by my mom too! My friend called when I was in the middle of the shopping spree and when I told him I am buying a diamond necklace, he thought I sold my liver to afford buying this. But is my mom who bought this!

Two pairs of Crocs come with this pair of cups in event of Valentine's Day

The cups change colour and words when warm water is poured into the cups! Nice things! Hmmm but I have no partner to share the cup with.... hmmm
Thank you thank you thank you for having gifts for me today.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mission: Life Saving; Update: Life Changing

Hmmmm I never thought an operation to save a life has got to change my life so much. Many things happened before, during and after the operation to donate part of my liver to An Qi.

I asked how long should the operation takes and the answer came - about 10 days. Well, is literally that - 10 days but I never expected I needed such long rest. So I sms-ed my boss to apply for 10 days leave for this mission - naive enough to think 10 days and that's it, I can work right after! My boss knew better and he has expected 2 months.

It took tests after tests to confirm I can donate my liver. First test was done in BP Lab in Subang but alas, the doctor couldn't find my left kidney! A second test done in Taipan came to be the same and I had the third ultrasound test in Cheras branch and confirmed - I have no left kidney! DISCOVERY!

I have a right kidney which is a duplex kidney and is about 12 cm big (normal ones are 10cm in size). I prefer to call this my TURBO ENGINE! I have to take care, drink lots of water and preferably do annual tests on the urine.

The tests include chest X-Ray, ultrasound, blood and urine tests.

After a few days, the results came in - mine matched!

Travelling to Singapore for a complete check - 10 days. Again, urine and blood tests done, chest X-ray again, ultrasound, too and this time a new test - CT scan. They poke something to my left wrist which has a valve to allow injections to my body during the scan. I was told to hold because it will be a little painful.

Since this is a liver scan they will need to inject fluids to my body very quickly. I drank 3 cups of water and then when the injection came - the excrutiating pain on the wrist was still clear in my mind. I screamed "Argghh...!" and I could feel the fluids flow to my body - going through all over and even flowing to the legs and all of a sudden my body was numb. I was pushed to the scan machine, asked to breathe in and hold and then the scan was done.

By the time the nurse actually said , "You can get up now," I was still numb and thinking of the pain.

This is the first time in my life having so many injections, blood sampling and so many pokings to my hands, wrists and well.... all these within a month. And then, what more disgusting, I had to carry a container and store all my urine for 24 hours into it - to test whether my kidney functions normally.

hmmm... then a doctor to explain the procedure, risks involved - 0.5%-1.5% risk of death and 15% risk of infections.
Charges: SGD 150

Then psychiatrist interview to confirm I am making this decision under clear awareness. 15 minutes chat with memory tests, maths tests....
Charges: SGD 300

After that, a lawyer - to confirm no trade of organ involved because trading of organ is prohibited by law in Singapore. A signature on the paper after understanding the clauses.
Charges: SGD 100

I was made to understand that my medical tests cost about SGD 10,000 while An Qi's cost SGD 20,000. So, you better not get sick - else ensure you have enough cash for the coverage.

Then an interview by the etiquette committee - they interviewed both me and An Qi's father as well as the doctors involved. The interview is to ensure that a transplant is really needed and that the doctors do not screw your money by just saying a transplant is needed. It is also to ensure that we do not trade organs and that we understand the procedures well.

So.... at last, date of operation fixed on the 2nd January 2009. Phew.... I was relieved. At the time of announcement of the date, An Qi was already hospitalised due to high fever. So I visited her before leaving Singapore.

I have fears with me. Is the first time I am doing this and I still do not know what is the outcome. However, for the sake of the little girl, I have to appear strong. My jovial and humurous manner reduce my tension and of course laughters also helped ease the stress in the Lee family.

When I saw An Qi before I left, her aunt broke the news to her mom saying operation date is fixed. Her mom immediately turned to me and said "I really do not know how to thank you." I myself was stunned by the response and felt like crying but I stayed strong.

Towards the end of December, the blood bank has got not enough blood for standby so the operation date was delayed to 12th January. I rescheduled my tasks and was able to clean my room and the kitchen before I leave to Singapore again.

We reached Singapore and again blood tests were done. Never in my life so much blood taken and pokings were done to my body.

My mom and aunt came to accompany me. They arrive in the wee hours of the morning of the day I was supposed to be hospitalised.

In the hospital, we had
1. Orientation - we visited the ICU, the rooms and the nurses ensure we know what to do and the procedures.
2. Pain management brieifing - explanation on the use of PCA
3. Anaesthetic briefing
4. Physiotherapy briefing
5. Surgeon briefing
6. Shaving of all the "bulu" at the abdomen part

Actually the tension and fears getting higher at this point of time although I tried to keep myself calm. Then all of a sudden my mom asked if I would like to go shopping. So I requested the doctor to allow and there we were in Bugis Junction. I bought more than SGD300 worth of G2000 clothes - new clothes for 2009 - XeerSoft sales, here I come with NEW CLOTHES!

We came back to hospital at about 6.00pm. I was advised to bathe with a pre-operation antiseptic at night and in the morning from head to toe. My second aunt and Rudi came to visit me at night. Right before they came in, the nurse has pumped soap water to help ensure I have a clear intestine before the operation. So within minutes, I rushed for the toilet as soon as my aunt stepped into my room..... then in the toilet, I heard Rudi's voice.

While we were chatting, I can feel my stomach grumbling and bowels moving but I held on... after they leave, before I slept, I went to toilet once again and had a smooth business in the toilet in the morning.

I wonder why the nurse asked if I can sleep and if I needed sleeping pill. I guess most donors have sleepless nights but my shopping (especially when my mom said buy as many as you want and she will pay) has ease my tension a lot - I slept very well that night.

The next morning the nurse woke me up at 6.00am. I bathed, brushed my teeth and wore the gown they gave. As I afraid of cold - I had another T-shirt on and a jacket. When the trolley bed came in, I knew it's TIME!

They asked me to remove the T-shirt - only the gown allowed so I did. I slept on the bed - my mom and aunt came in time to follow me along the path to the operation theater. I was glad to have my mom and aunt came for support. Without them, I am sure I wouldn't have stood so strong.

I was pushed to the waiting area then to another waiting area NEAR the opeation theater where I have to part with my loved ones there. I was nervous and shivering. I wonder was it the cold temperature or was it due to my fears. Nurses ensure me it was the temperature so they gave me almost 3 plies of blankets!

When I was pushed to the operation room - it was so cold that I shivered even more. The doctors immediately poke my left wrist again just like the one they used for the CT scan. Then I repeatedly said it was cold and warm blankets were brought in again. I still manage to ask the doctor, how long will it take for me to doze off. 10 seconds... so I counted... one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.... hey.. hmmm "Doctor!" I shouted..."is already more than 10 seconds!" The doctor was suprised and said "Aiyo, not that one la, I haven't inject anything... You want to sleep is it? OK this is the one" So he gave 2 injections and I counted one, two, three... and dozed off...

When I woke up, all I knew was that I was being pushed towards the ICU - I saw my mom and aunt on my left and my first words "I am very COLD!!!" The pain management button was placed on my right hand and someone told me to press it if I feel pain. Since it was really very painful, all I knew was to press and press and press and press..... But I was so drowsy I dozed off.

By the time I woke up, I was in the ICU. Two days later I was moved to the general ward. Then discharged on the seventh day.

I bet I am FREE! I saved a life and I already achieved my mission!

Little did I know the life changing part was my DIET! While doctor said I can eat anything as long as they are low fats and low salt, the Chinese believe that is best to avoid certain foods for faster recovery.

I can't eat chicken meat from a rooster... no eggs, no spicy foods...
dark soya sauce
small fish
fishes with no scales
beef, lamb
seafoods - crabs, abalone, prawns are all NO NO!
anything which are seeds and nuts or made of it
liver is NO NO - not that you eat liver to recover your liver OK?

Yes foods - Ikan haruan, fruits and vegetables, pork, bird's nests always a welcome...
I had to call my "supervisor" (my second aunt) to consult what I can eat and what I should not take everytime I want to eat something.

Another life changing part is to know how much people care about me. It was really touching to know that I have supporters and so many visitors came. My aunts took care of me so well. Since I cannot bathe, they have to help me clean my back and then I clean the rest of myself.

The most unforgettable one is when I can dine with my Dad and Mom on the same table after more than 20 years. My mom came before my Dad but both of them met while I was in ICU. So, I guess future dinners on the same table shouldn't be a problem.

I also appreciate the brakes applied to my life - as I live life so fully, I missed many opportunities to slow down and appreciate, relax and reflect on happenings in my life. I also took the opportunity to resign from many organisations I joined and now focus on my life. If not for this operation, I do not know when I could apply brakes to my life and start appreciating moments of life.

I learnt to love myself more - especially in health. I have seen with my own eyes how much money spent for the operation - estimated more than RM500,000 spent for An Qi. I believe health is important and I must take actions to protect it. I have also increased my insurance policy premiums for higher coverage.