22:13

This morning at 04:15 my brother came into my room and woke me up. He was complaining of a sharp abdominal pain on his right side (just under his ribs). He said he had phoned an ambulance and they would be there within an hour. I quickly snapped out of my dozy state and got ready.

We waited for 30 minutes and there was no sign of the ambulance. My brother was clearly still in discomfort and was resting on the sofa. Whilst we were both relatively calm I started getting more anxious and paced about from window to window, looking out for the incoming ambulance. At 04:50 the ambulance arrived and we went inside to get checked.

After the usual questions and checks were completed, my brother was given some morphine to ease the pain. He started to feel a bit disorientated but soon we were on the way to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital at almost 06:00. My brother was wheeled into the hospital on a chair and we were assigned an examining room to wait. A student doctor came to do a check up but seemed very unsure of himself. Another doctor also came to look at my brother’s condition but seemed to think nothing of the symptoms and thought it not serious. We were assigned another room and paracetamol was given to help with the pain.

At around 06:30 the student nurse came back to do a blood test. He joked about missing the vein and having to repeatedly stab patients. My brother and I didn’t think it was funny given the situation. The bloods went off to be analysed and we waited for the results.

It got to 08:10 and we still hadn’t been informed of anything. My brother had fallen asleep lying on the trolley and I had dozed on and off. I also contacted our mum to inform her of what happened and stayed relatively calm so not to freak her out. The blood results came in about 08:20 and a consultant told us the blood results were normal, and there was nothing to suggest internal problems. The verdict was ‘non-specific abdominal pain’. The consultant talked us through the possible reasons for the pain and what to do if the pain recurred. At this point my brother’s pain had subsided considerably. By 08:35 he was discharged. Thank God he managed to rest more during the course of the day (as did I) and ate a little.

One of the doctors commented on how calm my brother was throughout the whole process. This also led him to believe that it was nothing serious. The whole experience was a huge learning curve for me, not only into how the medical care system works but also of how I deal with emergency situations. I kept my calm in the ambulance by reassuring my brother and also saying prayers in my heart. Had the sirens been blaring and the ambulance been going faster, I would surely have been more panicky. Luckily it was early morning and the pain was bearable.

In emergency situations always remember to be logical, prepared and informed. We both managed to stay calm, I packed some food, water and an external phone charger in my bag, and I took a photo of the medication my brother takes. Though I certainly would not like to experience the situation again I would like to think I could handle it well.

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20:25

Currently undergoing trying and testing times due to a family member being in hospital for major surgery and recovery. It made me reconsider the things I hold dear to me. Last week I took an unexpected day off work to go to the hospital with my family. Previously I would have considered how my colleagues would feel picking up my work in my absence, or the fact that I have used all my annual leave already. However I found that I did not think about work that whole day because my heart was concerned with the matters of my family. Worrying about trivial things is not healthy or beneficial. Yes, we need to consider these things in the long run but it is also important that we can drop them at a moment’s notice.

01:12

Following on from my previous post about my grandma, I would like to share a little more about her situation and how I plan to help from 300+ miles away.

  • Thursday 5pm: Gran felt a great deal of pain in her stomach area and was unable to go to the bathroom. My mum took her to see the doctors, and they were told to go to the hospital for further checks.
  • Thursday 10pm: Checks and scans were completed and a cancerous tumour was found in my grandma’s stomach. This tumour had grown so large that it had blocked the intestine, causing the bathroom trouble and pain. Gran had to stay in hospital overnight.
  • Friday 9am: Doctors advised emergency surgery to remove the tumour otherwise she would have days/weeks to live. Gran had previously refused surgery due to her old age and she was afraid there would be complications. Surgery scheduled in for the same day.
  • Friday 4pm: Operation was a success, grandma to stay in hospital to recover.
  • Friday 11pm: My parents received a call from the hospital saying gran had woken up very confused and was mumbling in Cantonese. She had also pulled out the tubes attached to her and tried to get up and about without help. My parents and uncle visit gran and calm her down, and explain where she is and what she is not to do in the future. The morphine has side effects of confusion and distortion of reality.
  • Saturday 8am: I fly home to visit my grandma in hospital.
  • Sunday 6pm: My whole family visit gran in hospital, and she is very grateful to see us all together and gathering to see her. She could not eat much due to her stomach feeling uncomfortable and painful, but was able to laugh and joke with her husband.
  • Monday 6:30pm: Gran able to get up out of bed unaided and able to sit for longer periods of time. Bodily functions working a little better, but still nausea and vomiting.
  • Tuesday 7pm: Grandma felt ready to go home but the nurses said that was optimistic but she wasn’t ready. My mum and I visited and brought her food to see if she could eat a little more.
  • Wednesday 2:40pm: My last visit before I had to fly back to Edinburgh. Gran feeling much better and able, appetite mostly back and eating most foods now. Nurses said she was almost ready to be discharged.
  • Thursday: Doctors said she could be discharged however she didn’t feel ready yet. Decision made for her to stay one more night.
  • Friday 12:30pm: Gran discharged from hospital and to recover in the comfort of her own home.
  • Saturday 3rd September: Gran’s 79th birthday!

A long, long update! But the context is important for my request…

On Saturday 17th September I will be taking part in the Pretty Muddy 5km run with my colleagues. This event is sponsored by Cancer Research and all donations from sponsorship goes directly to them! They do such an amazing job providing assistance to those facing cancer, and it is important for us all to support such a big cause!

Although I signed up for this run a few months back, and my grandma’s situation occurred in the week just gone, it is now a more important cause close to my heart. Without the work of Cancer Research the diagnosis and treatment of cancer would be more difficult. I am so grateful to the doctors, surgeons and nurses who looked after my grandma in this difficult time of illness, and made her transitions smooth and easy.

With this in mind; I have a small favour to ask of my followers. A simple donation goes a long way! If you would like to sponsor me for this 5km run please follow the link below:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kimberlyliu4

Thank you in advance for your donations and well wishes! You are all so wonderful and kind (:

22:44

An emergency trip home to visit my grandma in hospital has been the wake up call that I needed. I have been so engrossed in my own matters, my own satisfactions, and my own pleasures, that I have forgotten the things which are most important.

Hearing about the difficulties of my grandma’s operation and hospital stay brought to reality how much I had neglected my own family. Throughout the summer I have been out watching shows, getting dinner with my friends after work, visiting European countries without telling my family… the list goes on.

While I prefer to withdraw myself from people for my own comfort, I do not always remember to check in with my family. I have realised how selfish this is, how my recluse ways are not ideal, and how this affects my own mental health. As I live 300+ miles away from my immediate family, it is very important that I alter my thinking (not only for my family’s sake but also my own).

23:37

Today I accompanied my granddad and mother to the hospital to hear the results of my granddad’s biopsy. The surgeon called us into a room with two nurses, and spoke to us regarding the results and their decision. Unfortunately their discussion of the results had led to a negative outcome: my granddad has a high possibility of gastric cancer.

My parents had prepared for this notion in advance, and had also told me and my brothers of this possibility. However, hearing it from a surgeon made it all the more real. People often call cancer the big ‘C’. Whether this is to avoid the reality of calling it ‘cancer’ or to lessen the blow, I am not really sure.

What does this mean? My granddad will have keyhole surgery in a few weeks time to confirm the presence of cancerous cells, and to ensure it has not spread elsewhere. After that, if it does prove to be cancer, he will undergo chemotherapy. Following that will be an open surgery to remove part of his stomach.

There was a lot to take in and process today. I think the not knowing is the hardest part. It could be cancer, but it could also be a benign condition. The surgeon told us that they would treat it as cancer and do their utmost to help my granddad through it.

At more than 70 years old, my granddad has faced numerous health problems in the past, and this adds to the ever-growing number. He is brave and has always gotten through his troubles with a smile on his face. Even during the meeting he smiled and kept his spirits up. Sometimes I wonder about the way we age. When we are younger we cannot wait to grow up, to get out of school and explore the world. When it comes to being older we may face many problems and we may yearn for our younger lives which were so carefree. I hope that whatever steps come next will be the best ones for my granddad. I ask my readers to keep him in your prayers.