Friday, August 16, 2013

Down in the water

I swam. 2 weeks later than I thought. At 6 weeks after surgery, it's finally the right time. I could have done it earlier but it was either laziness that gripped me and held me to bed or the damned weather that prevented me from going every time I decided it was good to go.

I figured out long ago that swimming was good for my soul. But today, I had another thing click. It's the weightlessness that I feel when I glide through the water. I am still not at full strength but I do feel fit. I wasn't tired but my wound is still healing and I don't want to aggravate it unnecessarily by overexerting. Nevertheless, I pushed for 1k and still managed it well under an hour. If I had to walk that distance, I'd be hurting. Although it's too soon to tell I don't think I'm going to feel a lot of pain from today's 1k.

The other day I met an overweight boy of 13. He's the child of a family friend. I've seen him over the years and each year he has grown. His brother before him was rotund as well but lost all his weight in his late teens and is looking fit now. Everyone who is around him, save his family, is quick to make various comments about his size or weight. And each time, I can see that cringe inside him. He smiles politely and utters nothing each time but I can tell it hurts him. And each time, he's wishing that whoever is talking would just shut up or go away.

I've asked my family and friends who are around him to refrain from making comments about his appearance, but some have just got defensive and insisted that they were just saying he is "big". Isn't that bad enough? Said enough times, and often enough, it would kill any self esteem he has left.

This is the sort of experience you will suffer if you are overweight in Malaysia. People often don't say the things they are supposed to say, but say the things that they aren't supposed to. I've suffered it enough to realise that the first thing people are going to say to you is, "Wow, you've put on weight" or something to the effect. Or worse, "you're so big, not like your [insert relative or parent]". And yet when there are real and important concerns about someone's well-being, most are keen to say, "I don't want to ask or make any comments. It's none of my business." If you are Malaysian, or indeed Singaporean, you will know exactly what I'm talking about.

So I got to thinking about being weightless while I was swimming. It's got to do with being carefree and burdenless I think. It's being naive and vulnerable, even careless. It's returning to a childlike state perhaps? It's different from me being able to think through stuff while swimming.

                                                                     *   *   *   *   *

A day later after I wrote the above, I'm feeling great. Having swum 500m today using both upper and lower body strength I'm feeling a little confident if not cocky. I'm going to make the best of whatever time I have left of the summer. School has started back home in the States for Zoe but she's still here. I've got lots of stuff to do before I leave here... I'm dreading leaving but I also look forward to being back in the swing of things in my other home. Sigh!!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Some places I've seen

Bournemouth  ~  Steyrling  ~  Perth  ~  Trinity Hall  ~  Dungannon  ~  Hangzhou  ~  Nottingham  ~  Bangkok  ~  Dam Square  ~  Enniskillen  ~  Glasgow  ~  Camden  ~  Bangor  ~  Port Authority ~  Tiananmen  ~  Besut  ~  Clark Quay  ~  Linz  ~  Southfork Ranch  ~  Quayside  ~  MOMA  ~  San Juan  ~  Whitley Bay  ~  Seattle  ~ Sydney  ~  Graz  ~  Millennium Park  ~  Manila  ~  Shanghai  ~  Christchurch  ~  Hatyai  ~  Osaka  ~  Hong Kong  ~  Pasir Mas  ~  Rotterdam  ~  Belfast  ~  Niagara Falls  ~  Baggot Inn  ~  Piccadilly Circus  ~  Nikko  ~  Salzburg  ~  Melbourne  ~  Cincinnati  ~  Petronas Towers  ~  Leeds  ~  Perhentian  ~  Coleraine  ~  Vienna  ~  Edinburgh  ~ Sunderland  ~  Wembley Arena  ~  Schipol  ~  Tokyo  ~  Durham  ~  Tate Gallery  ~  Memphis  ~  Santa Monica  ~  Mall of America  ~  Gateway Arch  ~

Friday, August 2, 2013

Just another rant: this one is about Control Freaks!

Within the narrowest of definitions, I think everyone qualifies as a control freak. Who wouldn't want to be in control at least of themselves? It's the undesired parts of "control freakery" that are so annoying. Really!!

Having being accused of being a control freak, I will own up to many things that I do and expect of others. Yes, I want to know what I will be doing and when I will be doing it. Yes, I want you to damn-well RSVP so I can plan the party and know how many guests are going to be running around my house. Yes, as a mother, I want my daughter to do exactly as she is told because there is a method to the method and it isn't madness! (And if she finds a better way of doing something, I will willingly integrate it into daily usage). Yes, I want things to be done the right way. When there are established methods of doing things that are logical and that lead to success, I do my best to follow those methods I have followed before. I don't see anything wrong with that. Do you? If those are the things that make me a control freak, then OK, call me one.

What I don't get is the passive-aggressive type of control freakery. For instance, some people will ask questions or say things to lead you to "draw a conclusion" and make you do what they want . You know what I mean don't you? Instead of telling you something like "We ran out of coffee, can you please get some when you're at the shop?" They will say, "Hey the coffee bin is empty you know." and then expect you to get some from the shop.

Or it is the passive-aggressive silent treatment disapproval that these control freaks give you when you inevitably do something that is not pleasing to them. And until you fall in line and do what you're expected to do, you won't be getting any favorable attention..

Then there is the possessiveness of some who try to dictate your every move: what you do, what you wear, where you are going, who you are meeting, what time will you be home, where are you now, and of course the mother of all of that: What are you doing and with whom?

And don't get me started on people who don't understand what an opinion means. An opinion is simply that. It is not gospel. If I ask your opinion, I'm interested in what you think. Sometimes it could be someone asking for advice but that advice may not be followed. Don't get offended if I don't follow your opinion to the letter. At best, an opinion is a suggestion. I personally am quite clear about this. If someone asks me for my opinion/advice, and they don't take it into account, it's okay with me. They may not agree with me and I'm totally all right with that.

The inability to deal with ambiguity or unplanned situations is a serious problem. I find myself stuck in between wanting to be prepared, and wanting to just be spontaneous. Frequently, the latter has won. I find myself wanting to plan more, but I have an undeniable affinity with spontaneity. I like surprises (but not nasty ones!), and I like to surprise people. I like the unknown and I'm intrigued by it. It's exciting to be in a completely new place or situation and go with the flow. I don't quite understand the people who cannot deal with that at all. Surely it must be a "release" from the humdrum of a schedule?

I will admit that there are certain things I expect from certain people in my life. I constantly have to assess and manage those expectations. I find that the less I expect of others, the happier I am. My goal is to seek happiness, and not be bitter or frustrated by others. But is expecting less necessarily better? I'm not sure.

Post Surgery notes

The surgery went well. I caught a huge break. Despite the twelve-centimetre monster mass in me that adhered to some of my organs, I came away untainted by cancer. The OVPLEX cancer marker test results gave my physician the confidence to open transversely (conservatively) because the risk of my having cancer was extremely low. I imagine it was a complex task to get the intruder out and not perforate my surrounding organs. The incision was in excess of six inches. A little more than four weeks later, there is no visible scarring on the outside. At each end of the incision, under my skin, there are noticeable protrusions, no doubt from the internal scarring post op.

I am posting a little shout-out to all the nurses at Gleneagles Ampang on the third floor who were so kind to me and my family during my five-day stay post op. The level of care was top notch. I have mad respect for these ladies who are expected to do so much and yet seldom get the recognition they deserve. A band of doctors also roll through to check on patients for various reasons. They were an incredibly competent bunch.

The past few weeks have been spent taking it easy (missing a planned holiday to the pulau), being generally bored but managing to find entertainment off and on (including watching all three seasons of Game of Thrones) and reflecting on my year thus far. I have had few visitors because I have insisted on my privacy. Ironically, I'm publishing the details for the world to see on here. Hmmm, something is wrong with this picture...hah!!

More later..

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sand and Sea before surgery

I squeezed in a bit of sand and sea time today before leaving for KL tomorrow, before the big surgery

Today was the first time we went to the beach since being back in Malaysia. It felt good to feel the sand under my bare feet. It feels like home for me now.  I've flown over the South China Sea so many times but until today I wasn't in it.
I took a wrong turn and went to the popular beach close by instead but when I realised my mistake, I quickly made my way to our usual secluded beach that was not far away. In this semi-private and not so well known beach, there are no vendors, no hoipolloi. Sometimes there's a few local kids hanging out here and fishermen, but it is usually a small number.

We got there really late, well into the evening, close to dusk. The sea was calm, and there was no rain in sight. It had been raining every day for a while with scattered thunderstorms, but this beach was clear of all of that.

The South China sea felt warm and inviting. I knew I didn't have much time to savour it fully. I was satisfied with just being in it, walking around, barefoot.  

Zoe took great delight in digging for crabs after initially complaining about them running rampant on the beach, squealing at the slightest sight of crab holes.

If you want to stay and play, quit whining and get over it! I said.

And with that...she was let loose!

I love that the first thing she did was write L-O-V-E in the sand. It was cute! 

I had told my parents at the last minute, that I intended to take a short ride to the beach and even though they usually don't enjoy it, they must have sensed that it was important to me to go today. I have no chance of going to my usual Perhentian getaway, so this little outing will have to do me for the rest of the year.

They too came along with little fuss. We took so many pictures today especially after I discovered my camera was capable of some special effects!

Zoe knew her time was running out when the light faded. It was hard for me to leave too.

Because of my surgery, she and I both won't be able to go to Perhentian this year.

If it is for your safety, Mummy, it's okay. We can go next year.

In the moment those words were uttered, I felt such pride. And such sorrow as well. I knew it was a great disappointment for her too, that she couldn't go snorkelling. 

We will swim with the fishies next year baby. 

Soon, darling. We will go to the island we love.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Pet Peeves

Perhaps I have been living away too long. I can't get used to some of the things in my own country. 
  • Uneven steps in the floor everywhere. Hard to explain, but they are everywhere in Malaysia. You just have to look before you step. These can really trip you when you don't expect a less than one inch difference in floor surface.
  • WET public restrooms: From floor to seat. Lack of toilet paper, and the stench of pee. The existence of the "bidet hose" in every restroom just helps make this mess.
  • On the loo theme: shoeprints on the toilet seats
  • People who can't say what they mean, eg, asking questions to allow you to draw your own conclusions then getting frustrated that you didn't draw the same conclusion they were driving at.
  • The "see first" or "see how" attitude that so many people have. How about making a commitment to do something at a certain time or a certain way and sticking to it?
  • Doctors' appointments for each patient that start at the same time and it is "first come first served". Or you're told to come within a certain window, say 9am-12pm and the same "first come first served" rule applies.
  • Drivers who don't drive within the designated lanes. This has also forced me to drive the same way. Some of this is inevitable, I understand, because of motorbikes and trishaws, but even when there's no one else on the road?! 
  • Cashiers always asking if you have small change. For example, if it is $6.20, and you hand them a tenner, they inevitably ask you if you have 20 cents. If I had it or wanted to get rid of the one I had, I would have given it to you!
  • People who's breath I can almost feel when I am at an ATM. Personal space please !! And on that note...see the following two:
  • Blatant queue jumpers or people who are so impatient they push you.
  • Body Odor!!
  • Referring to females as HE and males as SHE. This happens so often it's not even funny!
  • Ridiculous shorthand on texts. OK I'm guilty of a few but some are ridiculous:. "X Wan" - means "Don't Want" 
  • Saying "Don't Worry" when they actually want you to shut up and quit talking. I've caught myself doing it a time or two as well, much to my dismay! 
And the list goes on.. maybe in another post! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I don't know where to start

I have a date for my surgery. It's finalized.  And it's a mere few days away.

Suddenly it feels like reality hit me. Originally I was just going for consultations, appointments, scans, blood draws, and nothing was certain. Nothing was because every cancer marker was normal. The last cancer marker has not come back, but a surgery date is scheduled. This, is for real. I now have a tangible date.

I would love to go into surgery without a care in the world, but I'm left wondering what my mum is going to do, the worry-wart that she is. Who is going to sit with her while she waits for me outside the operating theatre? What is she going to do for dinner that day? Who is caring for Zoe while I'm away? Are they going to be able to handle her because she can be precocious? Who is going to watch my stuff while I'm in the OT? I can't leave it lying around or trust anybody else with it. I also worry about having to be admitted for more than 24 hours before the procedure. I'm going to talk to the surgeon about it. I'm going to be bored senseless. If the op is in the afternoon, let me come really early in the morning, for Pete's sake!!

If I had my way - nobody will be with me overnight either. But plans have been hatching around me to stick someone with me overnight to "take care of me" because "it is the way it is done here in this country". Somebody has to be with me so they can do what? Hold my hand when I have to pee? (I think I will have a catheter for that) I should be a veteran by now but I still hate being in a hospital. I have stayed as long as one month before. Granted, my husband stayed over almost every night and brought me outside food. I am determined to do this stint as unassisted as possible. I hate to be fussed over. As long as I have my phone and iPad, I think I'm fine. I can keep myself occupied and concentrate on recuperating.

That said, it would be nice to have my mum to sit around with me for a while. I just don't want her to stress over me and I know she will. It will be uncomfortable for her to sit around the whole day, to say the least. And, she will be bored as well. 

I know they all mean well, but I just want some peace of mind knowing that Zoe will be looked after and that I won't be hearing complaints about her later. Find a way to resolve problems without my assistance or knowledge. I just want to see her smiling at me later. For that matter, I want to see everyone smiling at me later. 

Whether this is cancer or not.