Monday, September 10, 2007

Of suffering and quietness...


Wanted to update my journal about what has happened since last~ last Wednesday but knowing me, I know I’ll most probably write another long essay just to try and jot every single detail down which wears me out in the end. Thus, I keep procrastinating to avoid myself having to do all the writing. “Well, there’s always a tomorrow,” I said to comfort myself, not knowing that the more I delay, I’ll have even more things to jot down. Guess that’s the reason why I could never start a diary even when I so desired it during high school, as I am just too lazy. Though thinking about it I sure hope I did, as with a diary you are able to reflect about your past and see how much you’ve grown so easily as you have written it down in ink, and it sure is fun to see how “weird” you were last time.

I really need to learn how to write English articles short and sweet, a habit which I don’t have since entering secondary school. Note, I put “English articles” because if it’s any other language, especially Mandarin, it won’t be much of a problem as writing basic facts was already hard enough, and if I try to elaborate it I guess it’ll be a major disaster. So I really keep things short in order not to get deduction of marks from writing errors in mandarin (but it didn’t really matter in the end as I always did get a big fat zero for the many unavoidable “spelling” errors, giving me a huge disadvantage in marks whenever I write Chinese essays, as I always mix up the different words that has the same pronunciation).

Or… perhaps in other words I should just go straight to the point… in which I have already broke this rule with all the ramblings on top. But I guess it really isn’t much of a journal if I don’t write about how I think or feel, it’ll be more like summiting a military report if I just write down important details.

Alright, enough about that, on to what happened last week.

Well, to be exact last~ last~ last~ week Zhi Yong “suddenly” messaged me and asked me how was I doing. Usually I would just answer with the “Oh, I am fine” line but during then as I have mentioned 2 post earlier I was starting to get paranoid so I asked him about lymph nodes and stuff, how to detect if something’s wrong, etc. After that he also asked me how was I doing spiritually, in which I told him that it “didn’t” seem to go well, with the reason that sometimes when I am not going through suffering, I tend to forget about God and His greatness, only putting Him in during say, devotion time? Zhi Yong did comfort me with erm… some words that have to do with remembering our final goal in Christ… I guess. Ha-ha, can’t really remember the whole thing, but at least I was able to put it to rest then.

Imagine the irony then on Monday (27th of August) when I went for an unexpected check up at the clinic. I was told that I required to be admitted to the hospital… what?!! Imagine the horror! And there I was talking about how I need to “suffer” to be reminded about God’s greatness and love.

As I have said, it was an unexpected check up as the main reason I wanted to see the doctor was the evil intention to see if I could avoid taking the chemotherapy pills, since I was suffering with the gum plus thumb infection the week before and I wanted to see if I could cut some slack and relax this week with the reason that I was still having the flu after almost a month. Thus, if it is possible to stop eating the pills in order to allow my immune system to recover back to normal and let the white cells do their job of getting rid of the flu. It is a legitimate reason after all… but I didn’t expect that my white cell has dropped real low; it was at the count of 0.9. The plan backfired, and the doctor wanted to admit me to the hospital in order to inject Neupogen to boost up my white cell count quickly to keep me out of danger.

I thought I was being smart by trying to negotiate with the doctor, telling him that the slow and steady way was still as good, that I would be alright as long as I stop eating the pills (I was still really stubborn in eating the pills), though it’ll just take a liitttllleeee longer. Well, the terrible count was also partly due to the infections that I got, and since it was 80 percent cured why worry? The doctor once again used that funny expression in his face that always makes me think that if I don’t listen to him I was going to threaten my very own life, and seeing that I had no chance to argue with him, I just gave in, no point delaying the inevitable anyway.

Sometimes I guess I need to keep my mouth shut, as somehow those weird requests actually comes true. Before I was diagnosed with leukemia I was kidding myself and said that:

“Hmm… perhaps I should try being bald once in awhile”

(Because of dandruff problem and my hair being like a bird nest most of the time)

“Man… I sure wish I had a year long break

(I didn’t wanted to enter university so fast as I wanted to enjoy sometime before all the hectic schedules begins again)

Well I was bald for 5 times, and I had a 2 years break, woo-hoo!

So this time I was like jokingly saying to myself: “I guess it’ll be for the best if I got admitted to the hospital, at least I’ll get closer to God.” And on Monday (the day for the check up) I was having this tingling senses the moment I woke up telling me that I was sure to be admitted, and jokingly told my mom to prepare my stuff to bring to the hospital (which she thought was silly)… and viola! I was sitting on the hospital bed watching the same old TV channels I used to for the whole past year.

I’ll be totally honest with you; this time being in the hospital wasn’t too bad or torturing even. At the beginning I expected to stay at least for a week to allow everything to recover (being disappointed each morning with no improvement in my blood count comes to mind), but I remembered that this time I wasn’t under the side effects of any heavy chemotherapy. Sure enough after putting the Neupogen, my white cell count went up to 2 the next day, 3 the following and got discharged. The Neupogen, though I really dread it (even the nurses tease me about it as they know I am afraid of that injection), I guess I kind of got used to it this time, as it didn’t bug my mind non-stop for the whole day and made me worried. Though the fact that you can’t estimate how pain it is each time it’s administered ups the “Wow!” factor.

But if I am not really suffering, doesn’t that defeat the purpose that I wanted? To draw closer to God? That, I can’t say it’s true.

Surprisingly, though I didn’t had any severe pain or discomfort in which I need to cry out to God for help and thus being closer to him, I still managed to be closer to God, through the quietness in the hospital. Well, of course I don’t mean quiet as in quiet till you can hear a pin drop quiet, the hospital is quite noisy at certain times, but I guess what I mean is there aren’t so many distractions around you and most of the time you put your mind on God. The television set in my room had a sound defect (it was so soft even at max volume); I didn’t wanted to bring my laptop as I don’t want to pay 20 Ringgit just to go online for 2 hours; and my Playstation 2 wasn’t any help either as I needed a walkthrough to advance in the only game that was brought there. So most of the time I was on bed semi sleeping, and semi thinking about why God does this and that, which of course we human can never fully understand God’s plan. Fasting from doing things in our regular busy schedule (okay, I am not proud in saying how I am busy, as I don’t study nor work, so go figure) once in a while can let us keep things in perspective, as sometimes in our busyness we tend to forget about God’s goodness and grace, and His will for us.

When we are suffering it draws us closer to God and really put our all on Him because we realized how weak we humans are and know that by our strength alone it’s impossible, thus humbling ourselves, acknowledging that we need God’s help. The letter Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 clearly explains it: But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

But… I also realized that sometimes even when we are suffering, satan still has tricks up his sleeves to keep us out of track. Keeping us physically and mentally busy to think about God; telling us that the problem is just a small one and we don’t really need to put God in the picture…

I can say this because when I was writing the journal, I realized something that didn’t quite fit the picture (well, most of the time it’s this way as I drag myself from writing for so long that I jumbled up the timeline, but this is different) . The day I mentioned when I was chatting with Zhi Yong was also the day when my gum and thumb infection started to hurt quite badly. If you have read the previous post you should have realized how I suffered that week but weirdly… I didn’t remember what I said to Zhi Yong; the whole thing about suffering to remember about God, till I thought I may need to be readmitted to the hospital. It makes me think: “How in the world did I forget about that?” I didn’t even mention it in my previous post, and for that few days till I wanted to see the doctor I didn’t even have a slightest clue of what I’ve said. This also reminded me that if we are ever not careful and do not have a strong relationship in Christ, the devil is going to pounce on you and make you sin against God. The devil doesn’t need to do some full scale attack like making you go kill hundreds of innocent people to make you sin, but he has many ways that seems “insignificant” to fulfill his evil desires and slowly make you go astray.

Thus, I thank God for the second chance in the hospital to give me a wake up call. I also really thank God that this time around the stay in the hospital really was a pleasant one: after all the time over there I finally manage to hang-out at the ground floor at night and eat dinner at a proper place instead of on the bed. Well, most of the time I either can’t come out of my hospital room because of my low white cell count and need to be isolated, or I am just too weak and can’t be bother to go down at all. This time I was neither of it, so I manage to go with mom to the newly opened Dome café and ate dinner, which I must say is really delicious and later “lepak-ing” at the ground floor observing how things go at night, which I wanted to try at least once since being in the hospital.

I was scheduled to see the doctor the next week after being admitted then for another check up and boy time sure flies when you are enjoying it to the full. Since I wasn’t taking the chemotherapy pills for awhile I felt the burden lifted up from me, no more slightly nauseous feeling or slight dizziness or anything bad of the sort, and it sure was good. But why must those few short days go by so quickly!!?

Remembered how I say that sometimes I should just keep my mouth shut? Now I am reconsidering it as on the day of my check up, I was saying to my mom: I sure hope the doctor says: “Your white cell count is too low, let’s postpone another week for the pills.” Well, imagine my smile when the doctor told me the exact same thing, ha-ha! The doctor was like saying to my mom: “Ehh… I know he’s very happy…” as it’s suppose to be a “bad” news. Yeah, so I had an extension holiday from the pills. (Oh, by the way, this was what I wanted to write mainly about last~ last~ Wednesday as mentioned in the first main paragraph, about how I got admitted and later the joy of not eating the pills, though through the process many things came to mind as written above.)

Because of my laziness in typing writing, I have delayed the post so long that tomorrow is the day where I’ll need to go for another check up to see if I could eat the pills again. Phew, after all those negotiations, the doctor finally agrees to lower the dosage of the chemotherapy pills because it seems too heavy for me, though I am still worrying about how I am going to adapt to the pills again after enjoying so much freedom from it. I suppose I am scheduled for another Lamba puncture around this month, too, since it has already been 3 months since the last chemotherapy treatment.

I really thank God for this experience, though of course it isn’t as grand as the other things I’ve gone through, it did remind me of certain important things. It’s wonderful to see how God uses seemingly random situations in our eyes to make something that will help us grow more towards Him. I also thank God that my infections were cured really quickly (the last time I felt really pain on my gum was actually the day I saw the dentist), that I was able to enjoy the stay in the hospital and come out just in time for my college mate’s gathering. I guess I also need to thank God that as I am writing this post, my flu seems to be very much better (after a month), though somehow in me there’s this lingering feeling telling me that if the flu gets cured I am 100 percent going to need to eat the pills when I pay the doctor a visit, which of course, I dread.

And yeah, before I forgot, during the time when my gum infection started, which was around the 20th of August, Monday, the hair on my head finally started growing again. Though I have been accustomed to this bald look, I still thank God that the hair is growing again. I myself was quite fascinated that in just one day my head was filled with black dots instead of the usual white shiny parchment. Mom herself confirmed this when she came back from her Vietnam trip and was surprised herself. Younger brother said that probably because the cells in the body were busy making hair cells, that there weren’t any defense when the bacteria came and attack my gum and thumb… I hope my body doesn’t do that again.

Alright, so once again I wrote another looonnnggg essay, which I hope I could learn how to cut short and also not leave it day after day till I need to write this much of an amount and crack my brain hard just to remember the time line of the things that happened. Hmm… maybe I should just try the report method.

Report of what happened since the August 25th post.

21st of August: Chatted with Zhi Yong about suffering to remind you about God.

22nd of August: Visit dentist for gum infection; didn’t remembered what I chat yesterday.

26th of August: Thinks and says to self that I may need to get admitted to the hospital. Suddenly remembered about what I chatted.

27th of August: Went for check up; white cell count very low; admitted to the hospital. Sad.

29th of August: Discharged. Happy.

31st of August: College mate’s gathering.

4th of September: 2nd check up; white cell count considered low; don’t need to eat pills. Happy.

10th of September: Finally finish writing report. Realized all that has happened.


Now ain’t that short and sweet?

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