Previously published on 12 January 2014 as: Our parents have looked after us all our lives. Give back in their old age and times of need.
I’m going by KTM train to Ipoh, my hometown in Malaysia.
The scare about Dad on last Tuesday have turned out to be real.
On Wednesday 8 January, 2014, my father went for a scheduled removal of bandages for his right hand skin surgery and left thigh skin grafting.
Dr. Nigel, plastic surgeon who operated on his left thigh was very happy with the healing of the skin grafts. Other doctors were very happy.
I thought this was overall good news. I was totally distracted by the ‘good news’ but was not aware of a life-threatening situation which I could not see as I’m not a doctor.
And none of us knew to alert the bandage doctors about my father’s complaints by chest pain, and very weak physical strength.
Big Lesson One: Doctors and surgeons will usually look at SPECIFIC specialist medical problems only, and leave other medical areas to other specialist doctors.
This was evidenced when Dr. Nigel expressed surprise to see my father again but in Emergency Room three days later.
Earlier my doctor brother had on the phone from Hong Kong insisted to my parents to go immediately to Ipoh General Hospital (GH) ER
after the bandage removal to check on his overall condition, and cough/flu and general weak state of my father.
I questioned my parents WHY Andrew, my doctor brother, insisted on going into GH ER.
But both my parents convinced me that it was a big hassle and a long wait in public GH,
when it is easier to treat just a normal cough/flu with a n0rmal private GP.
My father could have bleed to death over the last 4-5 days.
It was a very close medical call.
Big Lesson Two: You cannot let the convenience of GPs override proper check-ups and tests in public or specialist hospitals.
Going to private General Practioner doctors is convenient and much faster and is generally good for ‘small illnesses’.
That’s why they are called ‘General Practioners‘.
But they lack full scale professional equipment, blood and medical transfusions, team of doctors, and tests to check ‘hidden’ unseen medical conditions.
GP doctors can’t detect what’s wrong with you internally: i.e. virus,bacterial infection, organ failure, early signs of cancer, internal bleeding, symptoms of impending heart attack or brain attack (stroke).
Even Specialist Doctors only diagnose their expertise areas, and can’t detect problems in other medical areas.
NOTE: I have heard many stories how GP Doctors had not ‘detected’ serious signs or symptoms and had not advised patients to go to a hospital to check on some ‘odd signs’ – just in case there are some ‘HIDDEN’ internal illness which GP or even Specialist Doctors can’t detect visually.
And after a LONG TIME when much more serious signs start showing that obviously something is very wrong, by then it may be too late…
This is a huge lesson for me and my family.
I call the Angels, and GOD to send healing light, strengths, and love to my father, Chen Kim Foo
According to doctor brother, he connected the dots lately (he was not in hometown to make a direct assessment):
“(father)… lost a lot of blood after his skin cancer surgery.
I think this is probably from the side-effects of the pain killers he is taking post-op.
He has been given 5 packs of blood.
He is going to have an emergency endoscopy now to check where he is bleeding from.
Obviously, with his heart failure, etc. and old age, this has been a significant strain on his system.
….That is why he complained of shortness of breath, chest discomfort, tiredness, leg swelling,
and this bad cough which was probably due to fluid in his lungs rather than bronchitis,
which in turn was caused by his heart failure and compounded by his blood loss.
The other oversight was Dad had been taking grape-color energy supplements which camouflage the blood bleeding in the faeces.
He was really quite unwell, but probably could not express himself very well.
I think he also tried to downplay how badly he must have felt so as not to worry anyone.
When he mentioned to call us (sons) home, he must have felt the end was near.
I do not think he was too far off the mark although his condition is still treatable.
Of course, his reason for thinking so was incorrect.
He was sick from the side-effects of his medication, rather than some disease process.
That is why I insisted he go to the emergency department to get himself checked out.
Our parents have looked after us all our lives.
Let us not forget to reciprocate just a little of this kindness and love in their old age and times of need.
~ Dr. Andrew Chen”
(from email from my brother)