Archive for January, 2012

Chinese New Year

First of all, Gong Xi Fa Chai to everyone! It’s a little late I know, but Chinese New Year lasts 15 days! I remember Chinese New Year last year. The first day was 3rd Feb, and I was just discharged after my first course of chemotherapy treatment. It was also the wife’s birthday. So it was doubly special. The wife and my mum went to Chinatown to get food for the steamboat dinner before I came home. the bought meats, fish, prawns and abalone!!! Spent a fortune but it was so good.

Chinese New Year this year is a little different with the baby, but like any other Chinese New Year, it’s all about the food. Thinking about all the Chinese New Year goodies just makes my mouth water. But sometimes, due to some freaky clash of the calendars, Chinese New Year will be at more or less the same time as Aidilfitri. And that is something to look forward to! I love Malay food! Unfortunately it’ll probably burn a hole in my mouth.

The time of year also reminds us how far we are from home. Having a baby just makes it worse. The wife and I felt a little sad that we’re spending so much time away from family. Especially after the last 4 months of so when my mum and auntie were here, seeing how they took care of and loved Sophie. Having more family around means more people will love Sophie and she’ll grow up knowing them and her cousins. Now she sees them over Skype and maybe, once a year if she’s lucky.

Hopefully this year will be the year we get our Australian PR application approved. Then we can head back to the upside down country and from there, it’s only a maximum 7-hr flight. We can head back more often, and they can come over more often too. Fingers crossed that it will happen. 🙂 

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Day +134

Day +134 has come and gone. Nothing much to report (thankfully) except that I still attend my clinics weekly (annoyingly)as the consultant is still worried about the ‘minute levels of the CMV virus’ in my blood. That and the fact that the Valganciclovir that I am taking for the CMV infection has decreased my Neutrophils, Platelet and Haemoglobin levels.

So far, it’s been good. I’ve caught a bug though (Rhinovirus) and it’s giving me a cough, sore throat and a runny nose. It’s one of a possible 103 variants of the Rhinovirus, and there’s no effective treatment for it. It’s otherwise known as the common cold. I’d rather catch the common cold than one of the 7 nasty viruses that they don’t have a treatment for and is dangerous and that I would have to be hospitalised! That would be tragic.

My meds have also been reduced. I’m taking the Valganciclovir once a day now (not twice), they’ve removed the Lamivudine (for Hepatitis) and they’ve reduced my Cyclosporin dose to 75mg twice a day (from 100mg). Now the thing to look out for would be the return of GvHD, which sometimes follow on from a reduction of the immunosuppressants. But I still apply my steroid cream once a day on my hands and feet, so hopefully I will be able to nip it in the bud this time.

It’s been a very busy week at work and at home. I’ve just delivered my first project in nearly a year. It’s a small, simple one, but it was good to do it. At least the brain cells are still functioning. It’s also the week Sophie’s getting baptised. So we’ve invited some friends over to the church for the ceremony and to the pub for a few drinks and some cake (a proper one this time). And to top it all off, it’s Chinese New Year! Year of the water Dragon apparently, and one supposedly full of turmoil and conflict. But we take the year as it comes. 🙂 It’s also the first time we have to give red packets. And the first person we’re giving it to would be, you guessed it, our little Sophie. 

Speaking of my Mum and Auntie, it’s been 2 weeks since they left. And we’re slowly adjusting to the routine of work (mine) and home with Sophie in the picture. Trying to balance work, looking after a little pocket rocket, chores, cooking, cleaning, etc is no mean feat. So we decided to get a cleaner in every fortnight to help us with the cleaning. So that should help somewhat. 

Anyway, here’s to more good health and good fortune in the year of the Water Dragon. As an Ox, I am stubborn and resilient. 🙂 So come what may, I will prevail. 

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Work week 2

Work week 2 has just passed and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t knackered at the end of it. I was working 2 days from home (Mondays and Thursdays) and 2 days in the office (Tuesdays and Wednesdays). I went into the office on Thursday last week as I had an important meeting to attend, and also to sort out the project work that I was going to do for the coming weeks.

So a normal work in the office day starts like this:

6:45 – Wakey wakey. Not by choice, but it’s time for Sophie’s 7am feed. The wife feeds Sophie while I cat-nap.

7:30 – Sophie goes back to bed, where she ‘ppffftttsss’ for a few minutes before falling asleep. I make breakfast and have a coffee.

8:30 – The wife gets up, Sophie is usually up and I get ready for work.

9:15 – I leave for work.

17:00 – I usually get home by this time and spend the next 45 minutes or so spending time with Sophie and the wife.

18:00 – We give Sophie a bath.

18:45 – The wife takes a shower while I prep Sophie for bed.

19:00 – I take a shower while the wife feeds Sophie. I cook after the shower. The wife usually does some of cutting during the day so that saves a lot of time. 

19:45 – Dinner. And some time to ourselves. If Sophie doesn’t cry.

23:00 – Sophie’s night feed. I usually take this as the wife is knackered from looking after the little pocket dynamo for the whole day.

0:00 – Bedtime. We’re usually asleep before our heads touch the pillow.

And the day starts over again. Honestly, the first day was pretty OK. I came back from work, still energetic and raring to go. The second day was a little harder, and by the third day I was ready to fall asleep on the train. But it was an exception as I wasn’t supposed to be at work.

The first few weeks are naturally going to be tougher as we’re still adjusting to life without 2 extra pairs of hands, and I’m still adjusting to working again after months of inactivity (plus the baby). It’s going to be interesting once I go back to work for 5 days, 3 in the office and 2 at home. Eventually I hope to spend 4 days in the office and 1 at home, but I reckon that’s going to be a long way off yet. One thing at a time I suppose, so for now we’ve got to get into a routine that includes me at work. 

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And they’re gone

It’s finally time I guess. They can’t stay forever. It’s fantastic that they’ve been here since late August, helping out with the chores, with Sophie, offering the wife support, offering me support when I was in the hospital. They’ve endured a torrid Autumn and a (thankfully) mild Winter here. Overall, it’s been a good 5 months.

Yes, my mum and auntie left for the warm shores of Malaysia on 9th January. To say that our tiny flat is now much quieter is an understatement. While they helped the wife and I (especially the wife) out a lot, they were there for her emotionally as well. The wife definitely felt the void when they left.

But the one person who missed them the most was Sophie. She was only 3 weeks old when they came. She was quite a handful then, crying almost non-stop every day. But they adored Sophie and doted on her. Sophie adored them too and when they left, the poor girl was looking for her Mama (grandma) and Guma (grand auntie). She cried inconsolably for nearly 90 minutes the afternoon they left. Babies are habitual, and she’s gotten so used to falling asleep on Guma’s shoulder in the afternoon that no one else would do. We finally managed to calm her down by sitting her in front of the TV and getting her to watch ‘Deal or No Deal’, a game show that my mum and aunt used to watch in the afternoon. She was OK after that (thankfully).

It’s going to be harder and more tiring for the wife and I to look after Sophie now that we’re short of 2 pairs of hands, especially now that I’m going back to work a few days a week. But as parents, we have to do it. We managed it before they came, and we sure can manage it now. Plus she’s a lot easier to look after now.

Anyway, like I said before, they can’t stay forever. We were very fortunate that they’ve stayed for so long and helped out so much. For now, we just have to get back into the routine that we had before. 🙂 It’ll be good. 

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Back to work

Well, it’s the new year and like the start to any new year, it’s time to head back to work. This was a year late, for obvious reasons, and for some reason, it felt good to jump on the tube and take the train into work again. The work schedule is fairly light to start off with; for the first week in January, I worked 2 days from home and 1 from the office. After that, it’s 2 days in and 2 days at home for 2 weeks, then 3 days from the office and 2 days from home after that. That arrange will probably continue for a while, then it’s 4 days in the office and 1 from home.

It’s been a good few months at home with the family and everything. But sometimes I do miss the interaction at work and the client work and discussions. There’s only so much interaction a baby can provide at this point and sometimes you just need that higher lever stimulation and interaction. Plus it will bring in some much needed income into the household coffers! 

I’ve only done one day in the office so far, and it’s been filled with meetings and ‘hellos’ and ‘how have you beens’ and so on. Then the questions shift to the baby. Everyone wants to know about the baby. 🙂 But that’s fine by me. Work’s pretty quiet, as expected for this time of the year. It’s the lull before the storm. The next couple of weeks will be busy as clients come back from the holidays and discover just how much work needs to be done. 

So the wife will have to take care of Sophie on her own for a few days a week since my Mum and Aunt are heading back in a few days. But it will only be for 2 days a week and we have some of the neighbours for help if she needs it. But Sophie has been a very good baby. She generally feeds well, and sleeps well during the night. The only thing is that she doesn’t take afternoon naps which makes it more difficult for the wife to get some of the chores done during the day.

So we’ll see how well I can cope with the rigours of work and travel, and baby over the next few weeks or so. I think I will be OK and the only thing now is to countdown to the 6-month mark and 200 day mark, then the 1 year mark while living as normal a life as possible.

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A tribute to my wife

Ever since I was diagnosed, there’s been one constant in my life. Someone who has weathered the storm and was like an almighty and immovable rock in the middle of the violent seas. Someone who was my lifeline and my anchor. Like the giant Atlas holding the world on his shoulders. Whose love and support was crucial for me to get through the toughest times. I am talking about my dearest wife, Vanessa.

She knew what was going on with me before I was officially diagnosed. She had obtained the full blood results from the doctors and had faxed it over to her brother (a doctor). She was strong for me, not wanting to worry me. She wanted me to have a few more days of peace while she suffered in silence. She was there to hold me when I collapsed outside the consultant’s office and dutifully took me to the dreaded D7 Ward every day for blood tests, and remained there with me at all times.

While I was getting depressed after the Hickman line insertion, she was there to encourage me and she was the one who suggested that I shouldn’t stay in the hospital gown and that I should change into my normal clothes. That helped me a lot. And when my family came from Malaysia, she took care of them and did her best to get them to adjust and make them comfortable. She drove them to and from the hospital every day, despite the fact that she was pregnant and had her own work to attend to.

When things settled into a rhythm and my mother stayed behind to help, she was holding up the sky on her own. She worked the usual crazy management consultant hours, drove to the hospital every day, paid all the bills and the rent on her own, looked after all the household responsibilities, all while getting more and more pregnant.

When I was admitted into a shared room in the D7 Ward to start my intensification course, she fought tooth and nail with the hospital administration to get me transferred to a single room. It worked. I was transferred to Weston Ward, and finally to Dacie Ward to complete the intensification course.

All this time as well, she would come with me to my clinic appointments. Although she was tired from the pregnancy and all the extra bits that she needed to do, she made it a point to keep in touch with what was happening to me and my treatment. This wasn’t just a meet and greet with the consultants. In most cases, it meant spending 3 hours waiting in the hospital. This while juggling her own paediatric appointments.

And it didn’t stop after Sophie was born. If anything, it got harder for her. She now had a little person to look after, and she had a sick husband to contend with. It was our first baby, so things were pretty tough for a while. My aunt and mother arrived to help, but she still had loads to do. Plus I had to be admitted to the hospital again for my transplant, so I wasn’t around to help her much. Despite all that, she would regularly bring Sophie to the park near the hospital so I can see her and interact with her.

After my discharge, I was out of action for a good few months due to the effects of the treatment and the conditioning regime. She picked up the slack and managed all the household responsibilities, with me and the baby in tow. Although I am better and am picking up more of the slack, she’s still doing loads and to be honest, any other person would have collapsed and given up a long time ago.

People tell me that I’m a strong person to have gone through all of that. But it’s nothing compared to what Vanessa had to go through. She doesn’t get enough credit or kudos as it is. So here’s my tribute to my wife, the strongest and most courageous person that I know. I pray for a better year ahead. I pray that I will be able to be what I was before and shoulder my share of the responsibilities.

I love you dear. For everything. I don’t think I’ve said “thank you” enough for what you’ve done over the past year. You’ve been brilliant. 

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