Brav­ing life’s storms

The fam­ily’s sup­port and en­cour­age­ment turned one man’s fear­ful ex­pe­ri­ence into a jour­ney of love and hope.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By Si­mon-Peter eng star2@thes­tar.com.my

When ev­ery­thing is go­ing well in life, we think we are in­vul­ner­a­ble to any of life’s prob­lems that may come un­ex­pect­edly. We think we are un­de­feat­able and in­vin­ci­ble. But when life deals us a heavy blow, we fran­ti­cally search for strength to face the harsh re­al­ity.

My storm of calamity came eight months ago when I went for a morn­ing walk with my wife at Lake Ti­ti­wangsa, Kuala Lumpur. I had barely walked 2km when I felt a sud­den surge of sen­sa­tion gush­ing through my left hand and chest. A tsunami of fear swept over me with the thought of an im­pend­ing heart at­tack. I asked my wife to send me to the near­est hos­pi­tal for a check-up.

Af­ter run­ning a blood test and other examinations, the gen­eral prac­ti­tioner con­firmed that I had, in­deed, suf­fered a mild at­tack. I was warded at the ICU (In­ten­sive Care Unit) for fur­ther ob­ser­va­tion. Af­ter three days, the car­di­ol­o­gist dis­charged me with med­i­ca­tion. I was re­lieved but kept think­ing: “how could I suf­fer a heart at­tack when I am so healthy?”

Two weeks later, the same gut-wrench­ing sen­sa­tion hit my left hand again. I sought a se­cond opin­ion from a heart spe­cial­ist in an­other hos­pi­tal.

The spe­cial­ist ad­vised me to un­dergo an an­giogram (an X-ray test that uses flu­o­roscopy to take pic­tures of the blood flow in an artery or a vein). half an hour later, I re­ceived the most ter­ri­fy­ing news of my life when the spe­cial­ist re­vealed that the test showed I had three blocked ar­ter­ies.

Fear gripped me and I prayed in des­per­a­tion: “God, please give me an­other chance to live. I haven’t achieved my plan yet. I haven’t seen my two chil­dren get mar­ried yet. I want to hold and play with my grand­child. I am only 54 years old. Please, God.”

Be­fore my fears could sub­side, the heart spe­cial­ist con­tin­ued, “You need to do an an­gio­plasty (a pro­ce­dure to open nar­row or blocked coro­nary ar­ter­ies) im­me­di­ately.”

At this point, I felt like a tower tum­bling down. nev­er­the­less, my won­der­ful fam­ily stood by me through­out the or­deal, en­cour­ag­ing me to un­dergo the an­gio­plasty op­er­a­tion.

I can imagine the ten­sion and anx­i­ety that must have en­veloped my fam­ily as they awaited the out­come of the op­er­a­tion. It was over in two hours.

My wife later told me how she and our chil­dren were so re­lieved when they saw me giv­ing a thumbs-up af­ter the op­er­a­tion. Af­ter that, I was pushed into the CCU (Coro­nary Care Unit) for my con­di­tion to be mon­i­tored overnight. I was dis­charged the next day.

It has been eight months since. I now have a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on life. Life, to me, seems to be ex­tremely frag­ile. We can feel so alive one day, and the next, we can be over­whelmed by the storm of life. no one is spared from fac­ing life’s un­cer­tain­ties.

My “never-thought-it-would-hap­pen-tome” or­deal trau­ma­tised me. Be­fore that, I was the epit­ome of strength in the fam­ily, shel­ter­ing them from the winds of in­se­cu­rity and waves of trou­ble. But now they have to take care of me.

I used to take them for out­door ac­tiv­i­ties such as camp­ing, walk­ing, swim­ming and bad­minton. now, I can­not be as ac­tive as I used to be.

I felt so dis­ap­pointed with life. I felt that my dream and am­bi­tion had van­ished into thin air. It was the most ter­ri­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of my life; my con­fi­dence had plum­meted. Yet, in the midst of all the chaos, I felt that my life was be­ing chore­ographed by God.

Since the huge wake-up call, my life­style has changed tremen­dously. ev­ery morn­ing when I wake up, I thank God for his mercy and bless­ings, that my fam­ily is with me. Be­fore that, I took my fam­ily, es­pe­cially my wife, for granted – I ex­pected her to do all the house­work even when she was tired af­ter work.

now, I help her with some light house­work as the heart spe­cial­ist had ad­vised me not to do any heavy tasks. I’ve learnt that the most im­por­tant per­son in my life is my wife. She is by my side all the time, com­fort­ing and en­cour­ag­ing me to be strong and to never give up.

From the ex­pe­ri­ence, I learnt that we must not wait for the ap­pro­pri­ate time to give love to our loved ones. Cul­ti­vate the habit of ap­pre­ci­at­ing them ev­ery day.

Take pho­tos of the fam­ily when­ever you can. Show grat­i­tude for their lit­tle ges­tures, not only to recog­nise them as your won­der­ful fam­ily but to show that they are pre­cious to you. In­spire them with your dreams. help them to fo­cus on what is won­der­ful in life in­stead of what is not. Teach them your un­wa­ver­ing faith and be­lief.

Since re­cov­er­ing from the or­deal, it dawned on me that ev­ery chal­lenge hap­pens in our life for a rea­son. In my case, I was nick­named “bit­ter gourd face” by my fam­ily as I al­ways wore a grouchy look in­stead of smil­ing. As such, I had caused them a lot of un­hap­pi­ness.

The un­for­tu­nate ex­pe­ri­ence not only taught me to smile more but also to not take things for granted.

I hope my story will in­spire oth­ers to em­brace life with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude, to live life to the fullest be­fore it is too late, to take care of their health, to be grate­ful for small joys and to al­ways smile.

never take your loved ones for granted as they will be the ones who will stand by you, with love and sup­port, when the storm of life over­whelms you un­ex­pect­edly.

Spousal sup­port: “be­sides God, she is my next tower of strength,” says Si­mon-Peter eng of his wife an­nie Lee.

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