Sunday, October 25, 2009

More on life and its ironies

My mum is well. She is in her fourth day of an intensive physio and occupational therapy program at a rehab hospital. She is enjoying the sessions and has made some new friends who have helped her see things in a new perspective, especially her room-mate: a thirty-something year old woman who has just been diagnosed with MS. In a sad (yet slightly ironic) twist of fate, another event that has provoked much reflection among the family has been the death of one of the doctors who was looking after my mum during her time in hospital. A cardiologist, he died of a sudden heart attack last weekend - his wife sent a letter to all his patients informing us of what had happened. For some reason, it feels a little close to home for me. I do feel very sorry for her loss too, and sad that he was not able to be helped: in the way that he has helped so many others. C'est la vie..

And now I bore you with the logistics of my life. I have decided to take up the University's gracious offer of deferring my exams. Sort of. I actually have four exams - two written and two prac exams. I am going to do the prac exams next week with the rest of my cohort and am deferring the written ones, which are going to be held again at the end of January (!). I told my PBL group and couldn't believe the hostile reaction of one of my group members - she felt so personally threatened by the prospect of someone having that extra time to study! I felt like saying to her "oh grow up child, I'm not asking for you permission!". Le sigh. I'm still undecided as to what to do with the research project, but will probably contact the supervisor soon to decline it I think. As for Fiji, my dad suggested that I go for two weeks rather than four, straight after exams.. just to get away from things, if anything. I like the idea of compromise, but I don't want to tempt fate and leave because I feel like something may happen while I'm gone. Guess I'll give it a few more days before deciding for sure.

Don't know how to end this post, usually I'll add some lyrics, but there are no songs for my mood this evening. So instead, something a bit more sinister, that I feel captures a bit of my paranoia and cautiousness (it's a bit long, but fans of Alice in Wonderland will appreciate it):

'O Oysters, come and walk with us!'
The Walrus did beseech.
'A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head --
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat --
And this was odd, because, you know,
Thay hadn't any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And think and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more --
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And the they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

"The time has come,' the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax --
Of cabbages -- and kings --
And why the sea is boiling hot --
And whether pigs have wings.'

'But wait a bit,' the Oysters cried,
'Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!'
'No hurry!' said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

'A loaf of bread,' the Walrus said,
'Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed --
Now, if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.'

'But not on us!' the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue,
'After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!'
'The night is fine,' the Walrus said,
'Do you admire the view?

'It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!'
The Carpenter said nothing but
'Cut us another slice.
I wish you were not quite so deaf --
I've had to ask you twice!'

'It seems a shame,' the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!'
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread to thick!'

'I weep for you,' the Walrus said;
'I deeply sympathize.'
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

'O Oyster,' said the Carpenter,
'You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none --
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one."

~ "The Walrus and the Carpenter", C.S. Lewis

Monday, October 12, 2009

Above everything, I am...

A daughter? A sister? A distant relative? A best friend? A casual buddy? A medical student? A member of PBL study Group E? A first aid officer? An employee at a pharmacy? A research assistant? A traveller? A random member of society who has made a commitment to serve?

I'm not really sure right now, but my situation demands that I make a decision soon.

Last week, my mum had another stroke. She was taken to the hospital, where, amongst other things, an MRI was ordered. She never made it to the MRI though because out of no where, she started to feel an uncomfortable crushing tightness in her chest, before throwing up, and then suddenly losing consciousness. An ECG and some blood tests indicated a STEMI -- an angiogram further revealed an occluded left descending coronary artery. Two stents were put in, followed by a recovery period in ICU, where she had two episodes of tonic-clonic seizures that night.

We have a saying in Islam: "Alhamdulillah". It literally means "Thank God", but in actual fact the sayer is implying "Thank God, for and in spite of, everything". Alhamdulillah for the blessings and the misfortunes. Alhamdulillah she is still alive. We use this term to accept that which we've been granted and affirm our belief in there being greater wisdom in what happens to us, beyond that which we can foresee.

More imminently and practically (for yours truly, selfishly), I have my end of year exams in three weeks' time; after which, I have a month-long elective in Fiji, completely organised and paid for... then a very exciting research project that I was going to participate in and co-publish which, again, took a lot of time and energy to organise... and then, well you get the point. I won't lie - I'm greedy - I want to have my cake and eat it too. But, in light of the circumstances, this is becoming a seemingly impossible ambition. Furthermore, the University has kindly granted me the opportunity to defer my exams until a more suitable time. On the one hand, I just want to attempt these exams and get whatever mark I'm given, at the risk of failing altogether - but this will leave me with ample time in my holiday break to slot my various activities in. On the other hand, oh to not have to worry about exams for a little while later and just be able to concentrate on being with my family is such a wonderful relief - even if it means having to cancel my plans for Fiji and research in the holidays, as I will be studying for my deferred exams! The answer seems obvious, but that's the conundrum - what IS the right answer?!

Above everything, I am... confused and unsure of what to do.