2015 – The Year of Learning

Every year end, I have always wrapped up my year, listing all the wonderful achievements, lessons learnt, and my plans moving forward.

Budget was always calculated every month end for payments to be made on early next month.

2015 year end was different. I was clueless on what to write on my learnings throughout the year. I didn’t even bother to calculate my budget to pay for the next month. I didn’t even feel excited to have a new year resolution. I even paused updating my travel blog.

This happened shortly after the demise of my dad and grandmother. Both, died on the same day, with difference of about 1 hour or less.

Although I may go to work happily and give my full commitment at work just 1 week after the incident, I know deep down I still haven’t fully recover.

My dad had always been a great father, mentor, and best friend. The one I would share stories about friends & teachers at school (and he remembered all of their names & where they’re from!). The person who I would voluntarily tell all of my activities when I go out with my friends (or even on a date!) without being asked. The one I shared my vision in career and studies, and whom always commented back with honest and wise views.

Not to mention that he was my personal tutor in almost every subjects I took in school. And taught me a lot of things about life. He was, indeed, a great teacher to his kids.

That feeling is mutual among all my siblings. Everyone feel that we are individually special to him. Yes, he’s very personal, and he loved us all the same. Such a great father.

And my grandmother, I used to look forward to go back to the village as often as I can, back when I was single & less busy on weekends. But when I started to have tuitions on weekends & after I got married, my visits getting less often, but I always still longing to visit her. Especially so when she asked on my whereabouts.

I am not a loving person. But I always like to make people laugh. My grandmother sometimes will joke back. Good memories.

But yes, all those good memories were then switched to worrying days in 2015.

My dad was suspected Leukemia in end of November 2014, and was confirmed sometime in December 2014 / January 2015. When he break the news personally to me and my husband in end November 2014, my dad & I decided to make a joke out of it. Pretending it’s normal and we’ll figure. Laugh at how “young” his blood was (because of the abnormal percentage of blast cells in his blood). I stayed strong and happy infront of my dad.

But behind closed doors, only God and my husband knew how devastated I was. How I was  worried of what will happen in the future. How I read all that I can in the internet about Leukemia before sleep.

And him being diagnosed later as MDS/MPN family of leukemia, which is a very rare case of Leukemia and still under research. I was worried sick. But as usual, exchange of jokes with dad on his disease is a definite way to make him happy. Because I know, deep down he was also worried, and probably scared.

I read all that I can about the disease, and tried all the tips that I’ve read to help him. He looked strong, and was strong for a Leukemia patient. Even the doctors were amazed. His blood count was still abnormal, yet stable. He still feel manageable to walk, though slowly. I guess I started to feel happy and less worried by then.

In mid October 2015, his hemoglobin (red blood) count started to have a lowering trend. His Cytotoxic medication (Hydroxycarbamide) that he used to consume 3 times a week was increased to once a day. He started to have blood transfusion every 2 weeks.

Again, I was worried sick. Of the risk of frequent blood transfusion, and the possible side effects of a more frequent Cytotoxic medication intake on him. But my dad being my dad, he joked about it (which I exchanged joke to him in return). He even quietly took a selfie during one of his blood transfusion. Boring, he said.

He was then slowly started to have appointments to monitor his kidney, due to the increase of Creatinine level. His first test was fine, but will need to monitor every 6 months.

And after that he started to have appointment with Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist. He had a runny nose that was quite bad, but nothing serious.

Throughout his days as a Leukemia patient since he was first diagnosed, and even way before he was diagnosed, my dad was always having fatigue. He used to be very fit and was able to walk at a very fast pace for 1 hour 15 minutes (his routine exercise every morning back when he was still healthy). But there was one year that he totally stopped all his morning walks. Didn’t even have the energy to bring me for a shopping date. He became easily tired. I only understand the reason after he was diagnosed.

About 1 or 2 years before he was diagnosed, he was having bruises (looks like big purple patch) that suddenly appeared out of nowhere. It healed by itself and disappeared, though. And after the next month came another one. Again, I only understand this after he was diagnosed.

And when he was diagnosed, his taste buds was always changing. He was always hungry, but always stopped eating halfway / totally don’t like the food that he saw. Sometimes he will go out to a 2nd dinner with mom, due to he didn’t feel like eating the home cooked food. My dad was never a choosy person. I couldn’t remember clearly, but I remember that it was obvious after he consumed his Cytotoxic medication (Hydroxycarbamide). I guess it’s a side effect.

Every blood transfusions that he went, most of it he will have to take up 2 pines of blood. Only his last blood transfusion, there was not enough blood in the blood bank, so all patients received 1 pine each. I guess he was weaker than before, but he didn’t show. At least not in front of his kids.

And I guess when it’s time for us to die, there’s nothing that we can do to escape. All of us siblings & in laws wanted to donate our blood to dad, but either we didn’t pass doctor’s test, or having personal constraint. Blood donation guide was very strict, due to ensure safety for the recipient.

Dad was managing well, only complained about when he walked down stairs, felt like taking a sprint for 100 metres. But he stayed a good humor father. 🙂

Only when he saw my grandmother who died that same morning because of old age, he started to feel different. He was ok at first. Looked calm and ready. Only weak. He used the toilet and then sit calmly at the end of his bed, and telling my mom to ask neighbours help to take care of my grandmother’s funeral. Only then he started to become restless. And asked my mom to call ambulance. He was unconscious before the ambulance arrived. And when he reached hospital, he couldn’t be saved.

Devastated, sad, hopeless – all the negative feelings, you name it. I was having all that at first, but the feelings become better after thinking about how easy the way he died, together with his mother. How this is the kind of death that everyone would have liked, especially so for a Leukemia patient.

And I was especially amazed with how dad had prepared everything for his death many years before he actually died. My dad is a very organised man and always thinking forward. I guess there’s a lot that I have learnt during his life and after his death.

So, I’ve decided to build my new year resolution based on that – imagining my death bed. What situation would I want me / my family to have when I die – the preparation for it. I will share this on my next blog update 🙂

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