Monday, September 14, 2015

One in three

In life there's a big C that we're all afraid of. Reportedly, one in three will get this. The statistics are quite grim if you look at the person to the left of you and to the right of you. Out of the three of you, it's eeni meeni miini moh, so we'll see who gets the hot potato.

The hot potato happen to fall upon my mum's lap. It happened quickly and the whole family rallied behind her to quickly sort out the problem. Within 2 weeks, after countless blood test and consultation, she went through a small operation to ascertain the spread and another bigger operation to get her womb removed, so she should be on the road to full recovery. Thereafter, it's yearly checkup for 5 yrs to make sure that she is cleared.

It sounds like a bad thing, but really, it's one of the best thing that can happen to any person, should you survive that is. Why do I say that?

1. Immediately, there's a 180 degree change in attitude. My mum always complained to me about how she's always taken for granted. But this is nothing an extended hospital stay and a serious illness cannot resolve. People started realising that once the help is absent, the status quo is changed and they themselves will have to step up to shoulder the burden in order to bring the status back to normality. It's the fact that people had to do things themselves that they never had to do it in the past that makes them think about how hard and difficult my mum had been silently doing without complains in the past. I think this is certainly a 'life-changing' experience for her. Maybe it's only for the short term because she's ill? We don't know, but at least my mum can be grateful that people are appreciative of her efforts now.

2. Love need not be expressed out in three words. If you listen hard and intently, and recognise the language of love, it is there. Love is when you see someone constantly by your side before the operation, reassuring you that things will go well. Love is when you stay beside the bedside waiting for hours while the anaesthetic wears off. Love is when you gently brush the hair off the face and whisper softly to the ears while lying on the bed half awake. Love is when you're surrounded by your family and friends, all eager to see that you're eating properly and ready to support you come what may. That is the language of love; it can be silent and very expressive, if you listen hard and intently.

3. An unfortunate incident is an opportunity to bring out the best in people. If things are fine, everything just goes on with their routine life. We should be grateful when things don't go our way, because we have the opportunity to change ourselves and we can all come ahead better from all these. There's the usual disputes between family members in my family. I think a serious illness puts all these in the correct perspective. How many years do we have here? Out of that, how many years do you want to be unhappy and sulky and be angry with each other? If you see the little things in a broader view, I think you'll see that everything is just a blip in our life. Treasure the good and the bad things that happened, because it gives you experiences.

See? It's not really that bad isn't it? And what do I learn out of all these?

1. Get the best h&s plan that you can afford. When one is ill, recovery of health is more urgent and the last thing you want to think about is whether you have to wait a longer period. My mum met some patients who had been caught inside the bureaucratic web and had been bouncing around places to places until the cancer spreads more extensively than necessary. Some of them are surprised she went through countless body checks, MRI scans and 2 ops within 1 week (plus another week for recovery from ops) while they had been waiting for years. It's unfair and it's unfortunate but there's just more patients waiting for more subsidized wards than less subsidized ones.

2. Have a positive mindset. Life is a big ironic play, with actors like you and me. When one is unafraid of death, the likelihood of death falls. When one lives inside a cage of worry and anxiety, sometimes the fear and the negative emotions just suck you in and spiral you downwards. What you can do, you do your best. What outcomes you cannot control, you let go. Letting go is not giving up. The difference lies in who the master and the slave is - the situation or yourself.

3. Be vulnerable and let others take care of you once a while. First you can let them appreciate you more, and secondly, you allow them to grow and wean off you. If you don't let go, they can't build the muscles for their eventual flight. We all have to part someday.


SS said...

Hello LP,

Hope your mum have a speedy recovery. Sometimes it takes a crisis to bond the family together. It takes the strength of character to be able to see the positive side of things despite the hardship. You have my respect.

la papillion said...

Hi SS,

Thanks for your well wishes. She should be fine. Before the op, she's already telling the doc she still want to live a few more years to spend up the money in her bank acct. Her positivism makes it easy for medical officers to deal with the problem easier without having to manage the emotional side too. This is something I can learn from my mum :)

Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot ;) What to do but laugh in the face of adversity haha!

Lizardo said...

Life's changing moments drive us towards living each day like it's the last. Everyday becomes so much more valuable. Take care.

Anonymous said...


Glad that your mum is recovering. :) She is indeed strong since she still can crack joke with the doctors.

Looking back, I always laughed at my naive and silly behaviours. Some time, I wonder why others take minor incidents so negatively and seriously. At time, I commit the same mistakes. Inevitable, no matter how much we learnt and enlightened, we will still make the mistake that we will be laughing at.

Simple philosophy that any child can tell us, be happier. No matter how successful and smart the person is, it is still about being happier in their life.

Great that you are practising mindfulness and positiveness. :)

la papillion said...

Hi lizardo,

Hmm, if we were to live everyday like it's the last, it'll be very tiring haha! We should strive to live everyday like it's the first...curious like a kitten. Thanks for your well wishes.

la papillion said...

Hi FD,

Yeah, life's too short to be so serious lol! I agree with you that a child can teach us a lot of things with so little. Actually I think a kid and an elderly is not much different. Both can't walk well, can't speak well, have problems with bowel control, can't eat solid food and don't know much things and need to be taken care of haha! Thus we should learn to be more like a kid - learn to like the simple things in life.

Rolf Suey said...

LP, get the right H&S plan, u r right! I am unable to get that now because of my hospitalization 7 yrs ago. I deeply regretted it!

Now this is also another reason why I need more rainy day cash than most.

By the way, ur mum will recover one Lah! I say one! my ex boss already pronounced dead by doctor if he never go for ops 10 yrs or more ago! eventually he never go for ops and is ever healthy n successful now. do not follow him... One off example only.bottom line stay positive and happy n look forward... If die also Bo Bian.. But must be a happy ghost Lah

la papillion said...

Hi Rolf,

Don't look at me, I'm not sulky or grumpy! I was still joking with my mum, taking photos of her ghastly look after her ops to show her when she awakes ;) Very true, must be happy in the end :)

Btw, your boss power lol

Sillyinvestor said...

Hi LP,

Glad she is recovering well. As usual, you are the teabag that have out a fragrance in hot water. The positivism is in the DNA perhaps. Take care.

ladykiller said...

Relieved to hear your mom is doing fine. My dad unfortunately didn't make it out alive, although the lessons are still just as relevant. In fact the attitude change came within me, and I started to relax more in my career and not give too much of a shit. And also the insurance point is extremely important, I have since diverted resources towards more coverage.

Sanye ◎ 三页 said...

Hi LP,

Thanks for sharing your life experience. I admire the way you take things positively. I wish your mum a speedy and complete recovery.

There is another lesson I learn from your story: Treasure our love ones when we are well, don't wait till any disaster or illness strike us to show our love, for it may be too late then.

la papillion said...

Hi SI,

So poetic - what teabag, what fragrance, what hot water lol! Thanks man, for your well wishes.

la papillion said...

Hi LK,

I'm sorry about your dad.

There's always something to learn from any experiences, so I'm glad you changed. I think only when our most important asset - health and time - is stressed, do we realise what's important to us.

Regarding insurance, I think I've seen enough examples of people saving money on lower plans for h&s and lamenting when they actually need to use it. I bought the best plan for myself, so there's always an option to escalate the solution to private hospitals if necessary.

la papillion said...

Hi Sanye,

Thanks for your well wishes. You're right, we can cry and lament and spend lots of money during funerals to show our piety, but it's far better to spend more time with family when they are still around.

During the whole ordeal, I'm actually more concerned about my father than my mum. In the uncertain days during the checkup, I've to make sure my father is handling it well. On hindsight, I find it amusing.

Singapore Man of Leisure said...



The force is strong in you.

la papillion said...


I can only say that if this happened way earlier, I would have been more stressed and grumpy. Age makes such things easier to handle. My wife was concerned that I was too calm and cool about it, and sat me down asking if I want to talk about it. I still don't know if this is suppressed emotions or really calm. There's a difference between a active volcano waiting in between eruptions vs a dormant volcano - both looks alright on the surface but in one, the lava is boiling inside. I guess time will tell which one I belong to haha!

SMK said...

Always good to be positive.
good to hear your family got together to work through it.

for those without h n s, it is unfortunate.
However, I wish to add that the supporting family members who go to the visits should get acquainted with the various medishield and medisave schemes.

Sometimes the hospital staff doesn't know and thought it is not claimable because they are not familiar with another provision. No point scolding them FTs or uncaring locals. Because your teachers also feel that they should be paid for teaching and not admin jobs.

It is up to you to insist on your claims and educate them.

you can save as much as 80% on regular visits by taking action.

sometimes people complain they are paying too much but sometimes they never checked.

la papillion said...


You're right. I think we have to do our part to find out if something is claimable or not. It's not just listening to someone's opinions about it. We also have to take responsibility by verifying it. Ultimately, we're the one paying for the mistakes if any, so we also have to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility.

I think with the medishield life, things might be better for the general folks, esp those who can't be covered because of existing conditions.