Thank you everyone for the up-lifting and encouraging words. My sis is doing so much better now, less numbness and pain and her voice sounds more energetic. Thank you for keeping her & my family in your prayers. Love y'all & god bless.
** Update on April 9**
Sis got home safe finally. Mum & bro are both taking good care of her, which is an absolute relief to me. Still under bed rest & confinement but her condition is improving incrementally. Went for a Spine Specialist yesterday and will get her MRI done today! It better be good *fingers crossed*
First and foremost, thank you for still clicking BS while I emotionally abandoned it for the past few days. Sorry for keeping you all hanging & guessing around, I don't like to just talk about problems, I want to get things solved before talking about it. Things has been rough, but everything's finally became more stable and less worried now.
Now grab your coffee and breakfast, lunchbox, dinner or supper maybe... This is going to be a super wordy one.
So, what happened? You see me posting ridiculous updates on my Facebook & Twitter asking info about Orthopedist in Sabah (Malaysia), you then see me temporarily and suddenly gone missing on the mainstream social networking sites for the next few days. You have probably guessed it right, a series of unfortunate mishaps just took place.
I'm not sure if you know about this, my sis is currently pursuing her studies in University Malaysia Sabah (UMS), not just recently, she actually moved to Sabah since last Sept. The day she left for Sabah, my mum was crying at LCCT (Air Asia's Low Cost Carrier Terminal) like she's sending away her youngest daughter to another side of the globe, farther than United States =.=lll However, my mum isn't much of a worrywart, there are sensible reasons behind her tears.
Just about 3 years ago, she's probably 18-19, I forgot how that happened cause I wasn't even there, so it's either she came home from school or she woke up in bed and found herself suffering from intensive back pain, and the next thing she noticed was the terrified numbness, all the way from her pelvis to toes. She can't sit, can't stand, and don't even mention about walking. Long story short, my mum & bro took her to visit 3 private doctors in town, and she has been diagnosed with Herniated Disc Disease. She had received all the necessary treatments since then: Muscle relaxant injections, painkillers, MRI, physiotherapy, bed rest and etc. After a month-long of treatments and therapies, she gained back her mobility and able to walk again. We then decided to have her see several traditional Chinese medicine practitioners for acupuncture & massage (推拿) instead of solely relying on drugs & painkillers. Everything worked well and finally we have our cheerful & healthy daughter/sister back after 3 months.
We were told by the doctors that her back is not going to fully recover, but we can expect gradual improvement if she is being well taken care of, like no heavy-lifting, intense exercise, extreme physical activity and so on. This is why my mum cried so bad when sending my sis away to Sabah; to my mum, it's like having her heart go walking around outside her body.
Now you kinda get the idea what my family went through in these couple days. My sis has been admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital II (QEII, dang it, the Sabah general hospital sounds like private hospital to me @.@) last Thursday night (March 29th), by ambulance. That's how severe her condition is, same old injury but more serious this time and worse, without family being at her side. Thanks to her caring friends though, they help her get through the hard time.
She can barely move her legs, in extreme pain and in total shock. But those pains are nothing compared to the horrible treatments at Queen Elizabeth Hospital II (QEII):
- The doc at QEII, Dr. Tan gave her tons of painkillers and inflammatory drugs in high dose that made her real sick, even though she complained the dosage has caused her shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, headache and dizziness. She did feel better on Friday morning, less painful on the back but her body's more enervating than before.
- Then, the consultation & diagnosis kicked in. The doc suggested her to stay in the hospital; he won't discharge her just yet. He tried to persuade her to undergo another MRI (which is the only thing that makes sense to me throughout the whole consultation) and followed by an operation. The suggested operation comes with 2 options, the 1st option is F.R.E.E (honestly, I love FOC items but free surgery creeps the hell out of me) whereas the 2nd option costs about RM6-7k. Either one, the risk is 50%, that means there's a 50% risk that my sis would be half paralyzed after the operation. How crazy is that!!??
- With all the drugs and painkillers' side effects orchestrating in her body, my sis can't even think! But the doc told her that quick decision has to be made, or else she's increasing the risk of paralysis (Doc. T, is this what you are good at? Making your patients pee in their pants instead of reassuring them). When my sis mentioned that she needs to discuss this with her family, he asked about her age and said: "You are 21, you are old enough to make such decision." C'mon, What the hell is this?
- She freaked out, broke down and cried. Most of all, she can't really assess her situation rationally, the word "paralysis" keeps banging in her head. She felt very uncomfortable being in the ward and requested an early discharge. She just wanted to go home, go back to Seremban. But then here comes the Dr. T again, telling her if she take the 2 hours++ flight home, she is risking it, the air pressure on the plane and the extreme hectic travel can produce paralysis (Ugh, don't bloody let me hear that word again!).
- Due to my sis persistence, he eventually allowed her to go back hostel and rest, with a 7-day medical leave and even scheduled a follow-up consultation on April 9th (Mon) although my sis informed him that she booked her flight home on the 7th. I guess he wants to drill deeper about paralysis.
After spending an hour plus digging & exchanging info with her friends, including the name of the doc, the hospital, the drugs, the degree of pain my sis is going through, I switched on the research mode; I was trying to educate myself as much as possible and to figure out possible alternatives that could make the situation better, at least to improve her mobility so that she can fly home on the 7th.
You know what, Sabah hospitals are real confusing, I never been there before and super unfamiliar with its geographical region. Made lots of calls as well as sent out tons of messages via Facebook and Whatsapp to friends that I think may be helpful, desperately in need of recommendations. Which hospitals are private? Which ones are government owned (the red flags)? Any Trauma & Spine Specialist? What about Neurologist? The surgeons & doctors creditability (Jeez, I almost send my sis to a doc who involved in a lawsuit before, he misplaced screws on his patient's femur, so scary @.@)? What are the treatment options? Is operation necessary? What are the risks and the chances of full recovery? Facts, statistics, articles, patients records, forums and as many readings as I could obtain and drill into... A super long laundry list. It took me a while to get all these things straight; the sleepless nights and tenacious researches are all worth it though.
On April 1st (Sun), every calls with my sis can literally cause me a sudden heart attack. Although her back seems getting slightly better with each day, she still can't really eat or sit. Vomit and nausea all the time. I heard her feeble voice over the phone, and there's this sense of helplessness rushed from my head to toes, what more can I do now? Every time when I try to reassure her and my mum that she'll be fine, I myself am having panic attack too, I'm so afraid that my decisions are going to ruin her life. And I finally came to the edge of a breaking point, tears streamed down while I was preparing dinner. I can only pray, then hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
On April 2nd (Mon), at last, she received her previous MRI report, the one that my bro mailed out on Friday, and she managed to take solid foods again. Still on full bed rest and still on restricted activity. I consulted another doc to determine which specialist is more relevant to her case and eventually made an appointment on April 9th with Dr. Shukor, the Orthopedic, Trauma & Spine Specialist whom she has been seeing all these while at KPJ hospital Seremban.
Yesterday, April 3rd (Tues), armed with her MRI report, my sis's friends gave her a ride to visit a Orthopedist at Sabah Medical Center (SMC, a private hospital) for 2nd opinion. Here are the shocking facts we unearthed:
- Operation is not advisable and not even necessary at this point, the degree of herniation is not too severe. But MRI is a must for further examination (I strongly agree).
- The chance of her being paralyzed is relatively L.O.W, nearly zero! Most people who have a herniated disc do not need surgery because their symptoms tend to improve over time. Moreover, surgery does not guarantee a 100% recovery too, it's done to decrease pain and allow for more normal movement and function (exactly what I read online).
- The painkillers and inflammatory drugs (Acorxia 120mg & Ranitidine 150mg) dosages were too high. The doc then asked me sis to stop taking those and replaced with other drugs (I haven't asked her about the names, she was about to sleep this morning when I called). She feels so much better after switching to the new medicine.
- And the flight won't increase any risk, in fact, there's no relevant risks that will make her paralyzed, as long as she listens to the doc's advices by limiting her activities for a month.
- The doc at SMC agreed that she should go home and always discuss her situation with family. Family care & support are way too important, for any patients in any situations.
- Also, the doc suggested her to talk to and be treated by a doc that she trusts, and she has the absolute right to accept or refuse any treatments suggested by any physicians (This is truly a universal common sense, everyone has the absolute rights to decide what works the best for them, I just don't understand why most of the docs at Malaysia General Hospitals preach the other way).
Side story. My sis told me there were an aunty in her mid-30s and a young lady who shared the same ward with her that night at QEII, they were both waiting for their turn for operation. Yup, same back problems as my sis, and I think the doc used the same trick on them too. The aunty melancholy told my sis that she truly can't bare the 50% risk of the operation, still can't make up her mind because she has kids to take care of. Then the young lady, she had her 1st operation done 3 years ago and now it all comes back, she's getting another surgery to "fix" it. I feel so bad for them, so bad, honestly.
Now April 7th (Sat) is the only thing we look forward to, my bro already booked his flight and assigned his seat next to my sis, he will fly to Sabah and bring her home on the same day. On the other hand, my mum already has all her soups & traditional recipes lined up, waiting for her return. I “commanded” her to take a month off and rest. As long as my sis manages to make her way home, she will be in good hands.
4 more days to go. I'm super positive that she will be F.I.N.E soon.
#1 你若安好，便是晴天－－白落梅 (Sis & I. Taken in Tainan, Taiwan last June while I was getting ready for pre-wedding photoshoot)
p/s: A million thanks to all my sis's friends who take good care of her, thanks to my dear friends for the prompt replies when I needed help the most, especially my bestie's sis (a M.D. in Sarawak), also thank you everyone for your concerns and caring messages. Appreciated~~