Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"I'm OK." Am I?

Dad was admitted into hospital for an operation after a fall. I went home with my sister to play the good son part, talking with the doctors, seeking second opinions, camping at the hospital, attending to dad, updating families, dealing with visitors and so on. Gratefully, the operation went well. When dad was discharged, I stayed on at home for a little longer, mainly taking care of dad and helping mom around the house.

Dad is diabetic. The healing time, especially the surgical wound might be longer. Therefore we ensured he took his medication taken religiously. Mom prepared his meals accordingly and I would control the portion stringently. His blood sugar level was monitored at least twice a day.

I found that dad was perhaps slightly depressed and anxious about his recovery, his ability to walk again after the operation. He was becoming cranky and moody. I called a counselor friend in to speak with dad, trying to get into his head and get him motivated. We gained some insights, hopefully would be able to communicate with him better and cheer him on.

Dad was bed-ridden for almost a month prior to the operation. His muscle strength was deteriorating significantly, quite a challenge for him to even stand up on his own, let alone walk. I resorted doing simple work out with him two to three times a day. We helped him to start walking again with the walker frame, as frequent as possible, as ordered by the doctor. But how would he maintain the exercise routine when I return to KL for work? We talked about hiring a physio-therapist. Then my sister came back and we agreed that she would take over the working out part.

One of the most troubling troubles was whether mom would be able to cope with dad’s care taking when all of us kids go back to our work. While mom was adamant that she would be fine but we have our reservations. Together we explored several options such as getting a live-in maid to help around the house, and even sending dad to an elderly home. In the end we decided to sleep on these options and would just cross the bridge when we come to it.

Truth be told, those were a lot of work. They weren't some challenging laborious hard work though, most of merely some errands. But I supposed under such intense and stressful circumstances, it could be quite draining emotionally.

Friends and family had been calling, emailing and text-ing with the well wishes and to check how I was holding up. I told them I was doing OK, business as usual. I replied them very matter-of-factly. Indeed, I found myself getting through fine. Everything over dad's operation was dealt with mechanically and objectively, almost devoid of any emotion.

Business as usual!

Devoid of emotion!

I was, well still am, not certain if that was a good thing. One certain thing, to me, it sounded cold. Heartless. Emotion was cast aside. Somehow I was able to detach my feelings almost completely. Everything was an issue or just another problem at hand, which could be defined and clearly expressed with a problem statement. With some deep digging into the root cause, looking into cost benefit, identifying then mitigating risks, solutions were formulated, with contingency plan in place. All the who-does-what-and-when-and-where-and-hows were set. The problem could be resolved!

Perhaps I was being an optimist.

Dad was hospitalized and went through an operation. All that was reduced simply to a scientific problem with a means to an end.

Perhaps that was how I deal with things. That was my fight-or-flight response.

Too mechanical! Too objective! Too systematic!

Too cold!

I'm an engineer, well a man of science one may say. In science, everything must have got a sensible, scientific explanation. Facts are facts, universal and indisputable. Emotions have neither part nor value in the search of solution or making judgment call or drawing a conclusion. That’s how science works. That’s how an engineer functions.

I kept telling myself that.

I keep telling myself that, still.

1 comment:

sumwai said...

Actually, when I first found out that my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I was in an emotional wreck. But when she went in for the operation, and during her hospital stay and follow up care, I was going about it in a very clear headed way and perhaps like how you felt, devoid of emotion. I guess when you have to deal with these type of events, you have to go about it devoid of emotions, otherwise emotions would just cloud your judgment and the person relying on you would require you to have a clear headed mind.