Author Archives: felixt

Mom’s stroke

Most of this post was written during my visit to Surabaya few days after the stroke happened, I didn’t manage to finish it and now 8 months later, I finally had a chance to.

Mom had a stroke on Friday, 29th April 2016 – just a mere few days after she came back from visiting us here in Sydney Australia.

On the day of the attack, in the morning, she started to feel pain on her right arms or back (can’t remember). And then later on, while walking, her right leg was “stuck”, that’s how she described it. She then fell and hurt her backside quite badly.

My family including mom were not that informed with diagnosing a stroke attack, hence they focused on treating the pain on the backside and arm by taking her to “tukang pijat” (traditional masseur). They self-diagnosed mom’s condition of losing control of her right side as her being tired (capek) or masuk angin as she has been travelling overseas for awhile. On a side note, please do have a read about recognising symptoms of stroke – it’s very easy to spot.

When my sister messaged me about mom, me and Lina had this fear that she was having a stroke (although we prayed that it wasn’t that) and did urge family back in Indo to take her to hospital asap. But things are not that straight forward with my family, they have this “family doctor” (more like dodgy doctor to me) and God knows why he suggested against taking her to the hospital (only in Indo – when doctor suggesting not going to hospital on critical case).

My sister finally admitted her to emergency ward on Saturday as her condition has turned to worse.

Much to our family dismay, the hospital didn’t seem to take mom condition urgently, apparently because it was Saturday, the specialists aren’t there – so they won’t do anything but monitor mom and told us to wait until the doctor came the next day (seriously you need a specialist to see a possible stroke patient?).

The details are a bit blur after this – but the doctor in hospital finally did confirm of a stroke attack. After that confirmation, I flew to Surabaya on Tuesday.

Here are my observations during my stay.

About doctors and hospital

So my mom is assigned two doctors – a heart doctor (dokter jantung) and a neurologist (dokter saraf). These 2 doctors don’t stay in the hospital the whole day – they only come to see the patients once a day (usually in the morning).

I wanted to see these doctors as soon as possible as to get better understanding on mom’s condition. The doctors already explained it to my sister and aunt, but I wanted to hear it from the source.

Getting hold of them proved to be quite frustrating. I don’t sleep in the hospital at night, so I try to come in the hospital very early to meet these doctors when they see mom. However it was trickier that I thought, sometimes they don’t come to the hospital at all, sometimes they come earlier than usual so I missed them.

When I finally met them, getting an explanation out of them is also quite interesting experience. The neurologist is quite friendly, he explained what happened quite clearly. The heart doctor on the other hand is quite challenging to talk to, he looks to be constantly irritable and doesn’t like answering questions.

So in summary, I found the hospital system here in Surabaya (RKZ hospital) is inefficient bordering dangerous (mom not immediately treated) and strangely organised (doctors don’t stay on hospital). I am somewhat thankful of Australian health system – sure it has its own issues but miles better than what I experienced here.

Diagnosis

Both doctors said that mom’s condition is quite concerning, there were blockages on the blood vessels on the neck that deliver blood to the brain. I asked whether mom needed operation to deal with the blockage and they suggested against it as it is high risk.

The neurologist said the best solution is for mom to lower cholesterol level to a very low level and maintain it for a number of years then hopefully the blockage will slowly go away.

I am quite sad with the recommendation simply because I know my mum, she isn’t someone who is willing to persevere. We were hoping for a quick fix like operation or medication.

Family Tension

Understandably, my family in Indo which consist of my aunt, sister and grandma were finding it hard to cope. Since my dad passing (and me no longer living with them), my mom is the de facto head of the family. Now that she is incapacitated, my aunt had to step up. I am grateful that she was there to hold the ship, but it did take a heavy toll on her.

As the tension was high – everyone seem to be getting to each other nerves. There were a couple of big and small clashes. I think to this day 8 months after it happened, the relationship has sadly changed a little bit for the worse.

I also saw a lot of selfishness out of everyone – me included. Our sinfulness is just magnified and brought into light in this difficult time.

Sharing the Gospel

When I was accompanying mom at the hospital, I made use the time to read the bible to her and praying with her. She was quite receptive and even asked for bible reading and prayer at times. My sister did her share of reading the bible and praying with her too.

Although I am happy that she was receptive but also at the same time I am sceptical knowing her. She believes that all religion is the same, although she considered herself as a Buddhist (well Taoist really but she can’t tell the difference), and she would gladly seek and accept prayers / thoughts / whatever from any religion if it is going to help her to get better. Although I am sceptical – I keep her in my prayers because maybe this is just a seed and one day it will grow – God knows.

Mom’s attitude

I was hoping that this situation made her question her life, maybe prompt her thoughts about after life, about getting right with God rather than getting things from God – unfortunately looking at our conversation months after the stroke doesn’t indicate a change on her attitude on life.

She kept on focusing on the negative aspect of the stroke – she whinged and whined a lot, she sees the stroke as a misfortune (“sial”), she’s impatient with the slow progress of her recovery.

My concerns

I am actually at lost on how to relate to her now.

I should be encouraging her to keep on working towards recovery, but also at the same time I think I also need to prepare her about the possibility of long recovery timeframe (years not months) and the level of recovery (just don’t expect 100% recovery).

Mom is so focused on recovery – but I am more concerned in the blockage, how can we get that monitored regularly – a second stroke would be fatal needless to say.

Of course, the biggest concern is her spiritual sickness – one day it will be too late for her to be right with God.

 

New year

I was reflecting on the year that has just passed yesterday as well and making plans and goals for this year, as we all do this time of the year. As I was doing that, I took a break in the middle to reflect on God’s word.

I have been using John Piper’s app called Solid Joys for my reflection and I found today’s reflection from 1 Corinthians 15:10 is worth pondering.

The proper response to the grace you experienced in the past is thankfulness, and the proper response to grace promised to you in the future is faith. We are thankful for the past grace of the last year, and we are confident in the future grace for the new year.

A lot has happened in 2016. both good and bad – but one thing to thank God for is his grace, by his grace I can call him Father, his grace has sustained me, his grace worked in me through my sins and failures. And in 2017 and onwards, regardless what happens, good or bad, his grace will still be there, this I can be sure of.

‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. (from Amazing Grace)

Kaya dan miskin

Found out this note that I wrote back in 2010, I still feel the same way.

Setiap kali pulang ke Indo – aku selalu diingatkan akan jurang perbedaan antara kaya dan miskin. Menurutku aku termasuk golongan yang kaya, yah antara menegah ke menengah atas lah. Bukannya bermaksud menyombongkan diri tapi ini adalah realita, keluarga aku memang berkecupukan. Melihat orang-orang sekitar di Indo, kadang aku sulit mengerti kenapa bisa sebegitu besar perbedaan finansial aku dengan orang lain.

Sulit dimengerti, lebih sulit untuk dicerna. Contohnya, tante saya dapat hadiah menginap di hotel berkelas di Surabaya, sangat bagus – saya ikut kecipratan juga merasakan tinggal di hotel bintang lima ini. Tinggal di hotel ini serarasa tinggal di surga. Keluar dari hotel aku serasa menginjakkan kaki ke neraka. Hanya bebarapa ratus meter di luar hotel terlihat pedagang kaki lima, anak2 kecil dan orang2 berusaha menyambung nafkah di bawah terik matahari dan bau asap kendaraan bermotor.

Yang menyentuh perhatian saya adalah, tadi saya melihat bapak, ibu dan 3 orang anak lelakinya. Ayahnya sepertinya punya usaha tambal ban di pinggir jalan. Ayah menyuapi anaknya, salah satu anaknya tertidur pulas di pinggir jalan, sang istri menggendong anak yg paling kecil (masih bayi). Tambal ban.. berapa penghasilan yg dapat diperoleh sang suami setiap harinya? Tentunya dia tidak pernah merasakan empuknya bantal dan dinginnya AC di hotel yang baru saya tinggali.

Kehidupan di Australia sangatlah berbeda – tentu ada orang miskin di Australia, tapi saya yakin semiskin-miskinnnya orang di Australia, hidupnya tak akan lebih susah dengan kaum miskin di Indonesia.

Bagaimanakah seorang yang kaya hidup di Indonesia? Saya rasa hidup di Indonesia bagi saya pribadi akan menekan batin. Saya mau menikmati hidup, siapa sih yang tidak mau? Tapi mampukah saya 100% menikmati yang saya punya ketika saya dikelilingi orang yang berkesusahan? Haruskah saya menutup mata dan telinga?

Kadang saya juga tidak habis pikir melihat keborjuan orang kaya di Indo – bangun rumah kaya istana sampai pake satpam segala – padahal di sampingnya kampung yang banyak orang miskinnya.

Seperti pikiran2 saya yang lain – saya tak punya jawabannya.

Brisbane Holiday

We had a wonderful 10 days holiday on Brisbane (mainly) last week. We drove from Sydney to Brisbane – which is about a 1000km drive, we didn’t drive all the way though. On the way up, we stayed overnight in Coffs Harbour and on the way back we stayed in Nambucca Heads. The drive was very pleasant, it was quite scenic drive on big roads with minimal traffic. We tag teamed the drive, very thankful that Lina could drive. We thought we could’ve gone all the way in the future – but we took a conservative approach as we haven’t done that long of a drive before.

We lived in an Airbnb accomodation in Algester – which was very pleasant. We lived in a 2 storeys brand new house – we lived in the upper storey, the owner live downstairs. Our host was very friendly and accomodating – and again the property was really good – we got 3 bedrooms, the boys were very happy with having their own rooms for a week.

Our primary aim of going to Brisbane was to look at suburbs that might buy a property in. And I think it was a fruitful visit from that point of view. We also managed to travel around in Brisbane city a bit, visited South Bank and Fortitude Valley – I immediately taken by the city (compared to Melbourne for instance which was a meh for me – no offence Melbournians).

One of my personal highlights of the visit was visiting our 2 friends – one of them is our old friend from church. He is a pastor now in church in St Lucia. It is always good to see a brother in Christ and how he stays faithful and seeing his passion for the Lord and the opportunities in Brisbane and UQ in particular.

Then I visited and stayed with old friends from high school. I was floored by their welcome and hospitality. It was super nice catching up and talking about all things especially the good old days. We haven’t seen each other for almost 5 years yet it doesn’t feel that we are apart that long (if that makes sense). As a plus – our boys had a good time with their girls too.

Few interesting things happened on Friday, had a job interview via Google hangout in the morning – which was unexpectedly long about 45 mins and thank God I got the position (notified few days ago). After that we drove down to Gold Coast, had lunch with fellow property investor – which was an enlightening conversation. We then drove to Main Beach to have a swim – the weather was warm and beautiful and you can’t go to Gold Coast without swimming of course.

That’s when the low point of the holiday happened. We swam (or played in the water I guess) near a bridge in the beach (which Lina already warned that it’s not a very good idea). We did try to play a bit further from the bridge – but somehow Matt at some point went a little bit too close to the bridge and got carried away by the current towards the bridge unable to make his way back. When I saw him in trouble, I went to him straight away, I was walking towards him and when I got close to him, I suddenly realised my feet were off the sand bed – which meant there was a steep drop, no wonder Matt was in trouble. I was quite panicked too at this point – I managed to get to Matt and tried to make my way towards one of the pillars of the bridge as it seemed to be easier swim rather compared to going back.

We held on the pillar for a bit (which seems like forever) – shouted at Jeremiah to get help – people must have noticed by then. Few blokes came over to help us and we were saved. Thank God that Matt is ok, I got cuts on my arms, legs and chest from shells on the pillar – but it’s ok, as long as everyone is saved in the end – thank God.

Thankfully the rest of the holiday was pleasant. Went to a couple more of open houses on the next day, then we went to Sirromet winery – had a late and pleasant lunch with my high school friends and their girls. We stayed at their place – had a long chat until late. We went to their church on Sunday then we went to Gold Coast for lunch at George’s Paragon (really nice seafood) – after that we had afternoon coffee and it was time for us to bid Brisbane goodbye as we started our trip back to Sydney.

It was a memorable holiday – I am liking what Brisbane has to offer.

Struggling to write

I found that writing a blog post is harder than before.

It’s not that I don’t have any ideas to write. I do have a lot of topics to write in my head, but my struggle is with structuring the topic and put it into a writing.

This, I think, is because I just don’t do enough writing nowadays. We all know practice makes perfect, so is with writing – to make writing easier, write more.

But why don’t I write more? I used to blog a lot, although I have to admit most of them is short and more like status updates rather than fully fleshed writing.

One reason why I don’t write anymore is because I consume more. What do I consume? What else – the social media of course: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There’s also HackerNews (thank God for HN newsletter!).

Here’s hoping for more producing and less consuming in 2016.. maybe?