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