I thought it would be a normal visit. But, as you will find out later, my hospital visit had turned out to be something totally unexpected of me.
This looks like bad news from the onset. Nonetheless, the experience has given me the opportunity to think more deeply about what matters most to me. It has changed my perspective about life and family.
If you want to skip this part, you can do so. But I hope you don’t because this is an important part of the story as it triggered me to contemplate about life. Without this, I wouldn’t have written this article.
On September 2nd, some sort of wake up call happened.
It was a Thursday morning at 7am. When I was peeing, I couldn’t believe what I saw.
I thought it would never happen again since the doctor said there was no apparent reason why this happened for the first time – exactly 3 weeks ago – even after some initial tests.
But it happened again that day – for the second time. I saw blood clot in my urine as it changed from the familiar yellowish to brownish… and at one point, dark reddish.
I remember what the doctor said when I saw him when this happened for the first time. He asked me to see him immediately if I spotted blood in urine again.
I did what he said. And also I brought along some sample urine which I managed to store in a sterile container I got from my first visit to the urologist.
I thought it wouldn’t be long. But it turned out to be one of my most eventful days – besides my graduation day and wedding day.
My urologist advised me to go for a biopsy on the day itself to determine the cause of the blood clot. He wanted to rule out the fact that I might have kidney stone or cancer.
I couldn’t do anything except to listen to what he said and do what he said. He told me I would be admitted for a day and I must get ready at 1.30 pm for the procedure.
To make matters worse, J was with me at the hospital. And she had to go to school at 12pm. I called up my wife to ask for help. She took a half-day leave and she had to take care of the kids after I admitted.
My brother-in-law helped me to fetch K from kindergarten. A job that I was supposed to do but I couldn’t make it on time that day.
After sending J home and wife took over the job of sending her to school, I spared no time and went back to the hospital to check myself in.
I was assigned a room and asked to get prepared to go to the operating theater. Anytime when the word OT is mentioned, we can’t help but get the impression that something bad is happening.
With nothing but a hospital robe (you can say I was almost naked), I was pushed to OT at around 2.30pm. Something struck me the hardest at this moment. While lying down, I could see clearly the ceiling lights passing by one by one as I was wheeled away. The exact scene you can see on TV show such as ER.
At that moment, I felt I was so fragile, helpless, and alone. Everything else did not matter at all. I only wanted to be healthy. I only wanted to be with my family.
After I was briefed about the anesthesia at OT, in less than 5 seconds I was unconscious. Fully sedated.
I was only fully recovered at about 8pm. It is no fun when you are still under the influence of anesthesia.
It was very painful to even go to toilet after the procedure. For the first three times, my urine was still bloody. And every time I urinated, I felt burning sensation followed by excruciating pain. It was unbearable. So much so that you would do anything not to go to the washroom. But I got no choice.
Before this, I thought I knew how it felt like being a sick person or even a dying person. To be frank, I did not.
(While we are on this topic, if you want to learn life’s greatest lessons from a dying person, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. It is an awesome book to help you to put things back into perspective.)
Nothing compares to real, personal experiences. You haven’t really got it if you have not experienced it yourself. That is why people say experience is the best teacher.
I was discharged the next morning at 11. Amazingly I did everything by myself: from admission to discharge.
After this unpleasant and shocking ordeal, the way I look at life has now been some what different.
Life Changing Lessons
Here are some life altering revelations I have gained from this experience while I was in hospital bed:
- Don’t fret over small stuff. Consciously overlook small matters. Focus on the good ones and better still magnify them. Sadly, we always do the opposite: pick on petty matters and ignore the good. Don’t hold grudges and forgive someone who needs to be forgiven.
- Enjoy the time you have NOW, not later. No matter what you do, savor the time you have. Heck, even doing nothing is something you can treasure.
- Don’t need to do extravaganza things to call it a life well-lived. An ordinary life that is full of appreciation and gratitude is an extraordinary life.
- Appreciate the smallest pleasures in life. Slow down and enjoy to the last drop. You don’t need to buy expensive things or go on a luxury vacation to enjoy life. You can drive immense pleasure from what you are doing now if you have the right perspective.
- Don’t worry about the future so much so that you waste your present moment. In short, focus and be present. Do one thing at a time. Don’t listen to time management gurus that promote multitasking. When you are with people, don’t multitask. Stop whatever you are doing when your child talks to you. Look at him in the eyes and focus on nothing but him. Don’t take things for granted.
- Don’t delay what you always want to do but never have time to. At least do something toward your dream goals everyday if you can’t focus all your time on them. Take action, big or small, to make your dreams come true. It can be anything: exercise, horse riding, travel, spending more time with children, gardening, learning guitar, or anything.
- Be contented with what you already have. Usually what we already have is more than enough for us to live a basic, comfortable life. Appreciate and take pleasure in them as much as you can. You don’t need the latest iPhone to be happy! Don’t get frustrated for not getting what you don’t have. Focus on the core essentials. Learn to be happy by doing, not by owning things. This is what I learned from Leo Babauta who wrote in a powerful book The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life.
- Be happy with what you are capable of. Even the ordinary things such as peeing (without pain of course!), walking, taking baths, eating (I now realize that being capable of having meals on your own is a luxury by itself. While I was in the hospital, it was so painful to eat by myself that the nurse offered to feed me three times but I insisted to do it myself). If you have experienced what I have experienced, you will appreciate every ability that you have, however small.
- Appreciate nature more often. No you don’t need to go to the park to do so. You can do it anywhere outdoor. Appreciate the wonders of trees, birds, the sun, the moon, fresh air, clouds, winds, ants, flowers, stars. You can do this outside your home, on the way to work, or while taking a walk. Even though I was in the enclosed environment for only a day, I missed these things so much. One night is enough for me to realize how important nature is to me. You never know how happy and excited I was the moment I stepped out of the hospital. It was like I re-gained my freedom that I once lost.
Edit: For those who are concerned, the cause of blood clot in urine is still unknown as of now. I need to go through some tests to determine the cause, as advised by my urologist. This will be done in a span of a few months.