It has now been slightly over a month since I was diagnosed with viral encephalitis, but I still suffer residual effects of the illness to this day. I’ve read that these effects could even persist in my old age, but let’s save that for a conversation over coffee.
Through this harrowing ordeal, I have learned a few key lessons:
Never underestimate a mother’s love
My mother gave up all her commitments back home in Kuching for two weeks just to cook, clean and care for me. Upon hearing that my fever had not subsided and I was behaving strangely, she hopped onto the next flight to Kuala Lumpur and checked me into the hospital, making sure I received the best treatment. Even after I was discharged, she made sure I was never hungry or alone. Yet, through her tired eyes, she was still able to reassure me of my strength and her love for me.
Not all questions are meant to be answered
As I laid in the hospital bed, I kept asking myself the same question, ‘Why me?’. I had antibiotics administered three times a day via an IV inserted through my wrists, arms, forearms and the back of my palms. Each time the nurses gave me a new cannula, the site of insertion would swell up and get infected, and these eventually turned into bruises dotted across my arms. I had a new cannula inserted every day, further fuelling my fear of needles. Why me? I still can’t answer that today.
Always remember the support from your friends and family
During my time in the hospital, some of my extended family members who were in Kuala Lumpur at the time came to visit me. I hadn’t told any of my friends until later, but one friend took notice of my absence on social media and texted me to ask if I was all right. She even arranged to drop by and brought treats. Of course, there were people who feigned concern – but I find strength in knowing that I have great friends out there who care for me.
According to my neurologist, I will never be able to piece together what happened in the 5 days I had my mental breakdown. It still bothers me slightly to this day, but I seek comfort in knowing that this experience taught me the value of love, endurance and especially, my health.
To my mother, you showed me that a mother’s love transcends all geographical and chronological boundaries. Thank you for dropping work and your other commitments during the two weeks you were here to care for me.
To my father and brother, thank you for taking time off your busy schedule and spending your hard-earned money on last-minute flight tickets to Kuala Lumpur just to ensure I never spent a night in the ward alone.
To my extended family, thank you for your prayers, support and well-wishes throughout the recovery process.
And finally, to my Yang – I’m sorry I fell sick and had a mental breakdown during your birthday. Thank you for being the champ I didn’t know I needed.