Friday, May 29, 2009

Riding The Storm

I took the whole of Friday off work to take Dad to his Oncologist well before his scheduled routine appointment at the National Cancer Centre in the morning.

It was to be on 19th of June 20009, but Dad developed breathing difficulties for the last week or so and became really acute the past few days sleeping sitting down to get some reliefs.

Being Dad, it was quite hard to spot if he was feeling unwell because he hides his pain so well. Only Mom can noticed the subtle changes she sees in Dad from his easily agitated reactions to actually seeing him sleeping upright on the sofa in the night.

The straw that broke the camel's back was when for the first time, Dad did not want to accompany Mom and Elder Sis for Mom's routine medical checkup at Woodlands Polyclinic. He had never done that before. He had never missed being with Mom for her checkups and outings.

So when asked why, Dad finally broke the news that he had been feeling giddy and was not able to walk long distances anymore.

The tall-tale signs were there already about a week or so. Mom noticed it, but Dad used his anger to stop her from probing further.

Mom noticed that his beloved potted plants in the corridor garden were not watered for a few days. Dad stopped going to the supermarket for groceries... in fact stopped entirely. He loves going to Sheng Siong Supermarket at Woodlands Centre, most probably because it lets him be outside the house and I believe, he feels independent still and in control of his life.

While waiting for the blood test and the consultation, I slowly coerced him to tell about all the changes he had been feeling the past two weeks, Dad admitted that his sputum has more blood than the usual pinkish dots. There is always blood in it nowadays.

He especially becomes more breathless and has lost his appetite... the reason I managed to make him agree for an immediate consultation with Dr. Lo. Friday was the earliest when I called on Tuesday, but the hospital asked to take him to A&E if it became acute before the date.

When his queue number was given after his blood was drawn, the scaled tipped at 57.50KG when Dad was weighed. A 2KG drop in weight in a month!

It was uncomfortable to think of what is coming...

Dr. Lo Soo Kien found that Dad was breathless upon examining him. The classic symptoms of weight loss, breathlessness and more blood in the sputum suggest that Dad's tumor has metastasized.

She ordered for an immediate X-ray done after her consultation and come back to her again at 2:00PM after taking our lunch.

Lunch at NCC's outdoor cafe was nice. Both Mom and I had full rice meal, while Dad struggled to finish two slices of tuna sandwich, even though it was his favourite.

Upon coming back to the consultation room, both Dad and I were shocked to see the X-ray flashed on Dr. Lo's computer as we walked in to sit down.

Th whole of Dad's left lung appeared white. A totally different view we saw when we stepped into her consultation room for the first time. Then, Dad's X-ray had only a small white spot indicating a 3CM growth. Now I could see only the right lung!

"Now we know why you have been breathless." Dr. Lo said to Dad, looking into his eyes.

Dad forced a smile, but was afraid what came next.

Dr. Lo requested for an immediate admission to the hospital, "Pakcik must get warded so that we can take care of you and make you feel better again."

I repeated the dreaded "warded" word to Dad again. Obligingly, Dad nodded in agreement, which really surprised me. He did not put up any resistance and appeared reluctant to be hospitalized. I believe Dad was really worried for himself this time.

By 4:30PM, Dad was lying on the hospital bed, Ward 48, Room 10 and Bed 1. While Mom accompany Dad, I went to the Admissions Office to settle the paperwork and Dad's Medisave.

Everything was a little taxing due strict screening of everyone having to register when entering the wards.

By the end of the in-processing and buying toiletries for Dad, I had many colorful stickers of different sizes and green and red chops on my arm from multiple entries to the ward.

"I feel much better with the oxygen." Dad said. He coughing was lesser too.

Mom and I saw that he could finish his rice dinner. It was even encouraging to see him finished a bowl of chicken porridge several hours later after his dinner.

We bid him farewell about 8:30PM. The visiting hours are strictly followed now that all medical centres on the island are screening and preventing spread of the Swine Flu or H1N1 virus.

I slept overnight at my parents' to accompany Mom for the night. Eldest Brother had volunteered to stay with Mom on Sunday. Mom will stay at Elder Sis' place for as long as Dad is in the hospital.

Youngest Brother will be going to our parents home to check on things there and to water Dad's precious babies... his plants.


  1. My thoughts remain with your dad and all the family.

  2. Hi Donna,
    Thank you for your thoughts. It does not seem good but we all are making the best possible time with our Dad here.


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