In July last year, I was reminiscing about Eric in a blog post. Antares asked me to say more either here or in a private mail. Since I planned to meet up with him at Magickriver, I put off thoughts of writing since I would tell him, my story, in person. However, that hasn’t materialized. Much as we’d talked and planned, Stephen and I just haven’t gotten round to going there.
Perhaps it is best I write about it here. What I share may be useful information for someone out there in the cyber world. I hope so. If not, maybe I’ll find my closure by doing this. I hope so again.
In any case, most people don't know this real story. So here goes!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This was my journey.
When I was expecting Eric, it was the easiest 9 months for me.
Before Jared, I had a miscarriage.
With Jared, I was bedridden for 2 months. I needed help to strengthen my womb. He was born with the umbilical cord twisted four times around his neck. His dad was away and I embraced motherhood alone.
With Eric, I was energetic, active and ready for his arrival. His dad watched him being born and there were no complications.
Eric was a cute boy with curly light brown hair. In contrast, is Jared with his jet black straight hair. (curly and black from me; straight and light brown from the father).
Eric was so easy to look after. He slept through the night and went from milk to cereal to solid food, without any fuss.
Dr Foo Ong Pin is the clever and dedicated paediatrician who discovered that there was an abnormality in Eric’s heartbeat. He detected a murmur and recommended a thorough medical examination at Subang Jaya Medical Centre.
Dr Foo arranged for an ECG and chest X-ray and the results showed that Eric had an enlarged heart most likely the result of a hole. Dr Foo helped by giving us an introductory letter so that we could go to the University Hospital.
I became a widow. I am alone now.
It became the biggest challenge for me to overcome my grief and I struggled to remain focused on Eric. A day didn’t pass when I wasn’t brainstorming my situation. Faith healing. Prayers. Hope. Hoping against hope.
In the University Hospital, I met with a Doctor (can’t remember the name) and further tests were done. Another X-ray, ECG and Echogram, all of which confirmed his heart problem and he was put on medication. However, the doctor told me that Eric was still very young and that I could wait until he reached the targeted weight of 10 kgs.
Follow-up visits with another doctor (it’s always a different doctor) indicated that Eric would require an operation. It couldn’t be done immediately and Eric was put on a long waiting list for surgery. He was number two hundred something, I remember.
Eric has the flu and I visit Dr Foo again. Dr Foo is very concerned about Eric’s health and suggests I get a second opinion at the Subang Medical Centre. He sends me to see Dr Anuar Masduki, Consultant Cardiologist and eventually I meet the famous Dr Rozali Watooth, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon. I remember both of them as being very kind and gentle people. They were extremely caring and it was easy to depend on and trust them with the life of my child. Although I was told earlier that Eric’s operation could wait, Dr Watooth told me that Eric needed immediate surgery. It couldn’t wait. I am so confused now. Two contrasting opinions.
I sought a third opinion. I met with Dr Saw Huat Seong, the Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. Dr Saw confirmed my worst suspicion that Eric was in need of an immediate operation. The words “only reasonable step” and “even suboptimal final results” jump at me. I understand what it means.
I am unsure of what to do next. Twice, I brought Eric for faith healing. People prayed over him. I even spoke to the parish priest of SFX, Fr Jojo Fung. Finally, I decide on the operation.
Dr Watooth schedules an appointment for Eric on 14 May 1992. Eric has a cold and the operation is postponed. Dr Watooth told me that his schedule was full but if he had any opening, he would call me. A couple of days later, he called but Eric still had a cough and cold. Apparently, you can’t have heart surgery if you have the common cold! Disappointment is such an awful feeling.
In the end, the gravity of the situation and Dr. Watooth’s advice finally forced me to look outside Malaysia.
Between Australia and Singapore, I chose the closer.
21 May 1992
There is no time to think. We reach Singapore and check in to Gleneagles Hospital.
23 May 1992
His operation is scheduled and a surprise visit from my in-laws touches my heart. They flew in to be with me. I am so grateful but I am in a daze from not enough sleep and the beginnings of the flu.
I spend one night sleeping, on the chairs, in the waiting room of the hospital. Cold and alone but thankful that he survived the operation.
The next night I stayed with my cousins, James and Rosalind. After that, I'm back at the hospital. I don't remember if I thanked them for their kindness or not but I am always grateful for their help that day.
Early in the morning, my Uncle Maurice checked in on me and asked how I was going to Gleneagles. I don't really know so I told him I would catch a cab. He tells me how to take the bus. It sounds complicated. In the end, he takes me to the bus stop. I expect him to show me which bus but he boards the bus and sits with me all the way to Gleneagles. He leaves me at the entrance. I know he would cross the road to take the bus back. All these random acts of kindness are my precious memories. When I feel down, I think of them and they keep me going.
In the end, there are no regrets at all and my conscience is clear that Eric had the best surgeon in Dr Saw Huat Seong. I got S$19,000 for the RM30,000 that I changed. It cost me much more than that. Don’t worry; all debts were paid with help from family and many friends.
The operation was a success. Great job, Gleneagles!!!! Standing ovation for the team of doctors and nurses.
31 May 1992
Eric is discharged from the hospital. It is such a great relief. A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
We return home.
24 June 1992
Started my new job and feeling settled. I didn't know that soon, I was going to have the rug pulled out from under my feet.
To be continued …