There is absolutely no worse feeling than your baby being unwell and you can’t take away their pain. For the past seven days we have either been at the pediatrician, at the hospital, or both. These past seven days have been exhausting, physically and emotionally.
When Arham woke up ill Friday, and wouldn’t improve as the day went on, plus a doctor’s visit later… I knew I had to take him to the ER. I thought I was going in just so he would feel better with some IV fluids.
Little did I know what that night would have in store for us. Or even the next few days that followed for that matter.
To be quite honest, I was dreading taking him to the hospital remembering how painful it was (physically) for Arham when he was six weeks old and hospitalized and how painful it was (emotionally) for me. It’s traumatic and something I can’t get it out of my mind.
Which brings me to what led me to start writing today:
The staff at Saint Peter’s University Hospital? Godsend. Especially the nurses.
The level of care [and comfort] they provided for not just my precious Arham, but my parents and I during the stay? It’s unforgettable. It’s something I’ll never forget and I can’t begin to express how grateful I am.
From explaining what I didn’t understand multiple times, to giving me time to process the information.
From being available for questions to continuously asking if I (or we) needed anything.
From listening to and addressing my concerns to allowing my parents to stay and be in the room with me when not typically allowed.
From using a flashlight instead of turning the lights on in the middle of the night to prevent disturbing my finally sleeping 15 month old to coming in later to try again to not disturb my child.
From understanding my fears and hesitation to providing any sort of help they could.
From calming my fears to reminding me prayers can change everything.
The list is endless, just as my appreciation towards them is.
It is an innate reaction to complain and not forget when things don’t go wrong, but we need to express appreciation when things go right just the same.
On a side note: I, myself, ended up in the ER one night while Arham was hospitalized — and they were so accommodating. A typical ER visit is hours long. They had me out within three hours so I could go back up to the pediatric ward to be with Arham and each of Arham’s nurses were just as concerned about me as they were of Arham.
Being completely honest, even though I always like to be safe rather than sorry, I wasn’t sure why they were putting my baby through excessive tests that wouldn’t help or weren’t even needed on that Friday.
He just had a terrible stomach virus I thought.
THIS is why I was hesitating bringing my baby I thought.
It may very well have saved his life.
Let me tell you, it’s not comforting when multiple people are rushed into the room, each trying to confirm the diagnosis… and in mere minutes a plan of action is put into place and surgery team is prepped for backup. Neither is when you are told it’s “life threatening”.
It was a scary situation, and what could have been is too scary to even think about, but not for even a second did I doubt the level of care Arham was being given.
The level of response once the problem was spotted was absolutely amazing and that may very well have made the difference. I will, forever, be grateful towards the staff at SPUH not for just this stay — but for what they do always.
What’s in a nose?
It was, in fact, one of the primary focuses for me for the second half of the pregnancy. Monthly ultrasounds, lots of googling, unbelievably hard and painful medical tests and long and unbearable wait for the results… for some up to five weeks. Sleepless nights, stressful days, breakdowns, the “how could this be?” , “what if’s”. The uncertainty and the wait made the anxiety that much tougher.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’m the type of person that gets so incredibly and uncontrollably anxious and nervous before big events that I make myself sick. Exams, tests, you name it. So you can imagine how nervous each baby appointment made me.
The day and night before my 20 week ultrasound — one that every pregnant woman has — I was my usual wreck. Couldn’t eat, couldn’t rest, couldn’t sleep, physically unwell. But for me, this was typical. So I didn’t think much of it at the time.
Nervously, I made my way to the hospital for the ultrasound and after the usual long wait, I was taken back to the ultrasound room. As the technician was doing the ultrasound, she abruptly got up with a few pictures she had printed from the ultrasound and informed me to wait while she spoke with the head doctor. I figured it was a routine procedure. What better did I know?
A few minutes passed by, then some more. Soon, it had been over forty minutes and by then… to say I was nervous is the biggest understatement.
What seemed like hours later, the head doctor herself walked in and introduced herself and informed me she would do a repeat quick ultrasound herself. I asked her if there was something wrong, and all she said was she would discuss it shortly. By then I was a mess.
Following the ultrasound, and comparing to the pictures from the earlier sonogram… she mentioned that the ultrasound was showing an absence of a nasal bone. When I asked her what it meant, she said it was associated with being a marker for a chromosomal abnormality.
As if I wasn’t already at a complete standstill as it was, the next words I hear from this woman are these most disgusting words I’ve ever heard in my life: “Are you going to keep ‘it’ ‘?
I’ll be honest, for quite a while, I didn’t even comprehend that she meant am I going to continue on with the pregnancy. It has been mere minutes since she has given me the most unexpected/surprising/depressing news ever… and she is asking me this?
WHAT DO YOU MEAN AM I GOING TO KEEP “IT”?
A) Don’t call my baby an “it”.
B) Yes, I am going to keep my baby. He is a baby, MY BABY, not some merchandise I bought at the mall that I’m still deciding on whether I want to keep “it” or not. A baby. My baby. A human being.
C) As a medical professional, don’t ever EVER EVER: ask someone something like whether they are going to continue a pregnancy or choose to terminate it by phrasing it as “ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP ‘IT’ “!
Not someone crying in front of you. Not a pregnant woman present alone at the ultrasound. Not a pregnant woman who you just told the aforementioned news to. Definitely not to a combination of all three of the aforementioned. Not even to the most heartless person alive. Yes, there are people who would choose to terminate, and I am not judging anyone… but the phrasing of that question in any matter was unforgivable.
Shortly thereafter, I walked out of that room signed up for an amniocentesis a few days later, barely knowing what that was (among other tests).
What was supposed to be a one week bed rest, following the amniocentesis, turned into a longer than six weeks bed rest where stairs weren’t even allowed… and I was basically allowed to get out of bed to go to the bathroom only. Throw in the terrible all-day sickness I had all pregnancy long… let me tell you it was not pleasant. The risk of a miscarriage and/or something happening to Arham was incredibly high, and that fear never left my mind even for a moment.
It’s something I shared with only a hand few when it was happening. I don’t know what it was, maybe that if I kept it to myself, this nightmare couldn’t be true? Who knows.
Up until Arham’s birth, at 39 weeks gestation, I was bound for endless ultrasounds, weekly appointments… each time being reminded that there was still not a nasal bone. Each time, a punch to my stomach. Each time making me doubt myself. Each time questioning myself whether I was being selfish in continuing the pregnancy and whether I did the right thing by continuing the pregnancy knowing how difficult life would be for my baby.
On September 28, 2015 at 9:44 AM I was blessed beyond words to finally hold Arham in my arms. I am assuming each new mom feels the ecstatic joy that can’t be put into words, but I think it’s fair to say that I had a little more at stake than most. Alhumdulillah times a million wouldn’t be enough to express my gratitude to Allah for the perfection that Arham truly is.
The first few months of Arham’s life were difficult, and I had the constant thought in my head that maybe something really was wrong… but in December it was verified that his nasal bone was in tact.
Lesson learned? Leave everything in the hands of Allah. He has thrown many incredibly difficult challenges my way in the last few years, but I have overcome each of them learning more of my strength each time.
It’s said that Allah only tests you to your limit… and that He tests those strong enough to face them. Each time, I feel like I am not capable of taking it, or WHY ME??, or that, THIS time it is surely more than what I am capable of handling, He brings ease and relief my way and reminds me that keeping faith will get you through the most difficult of times.
Yes, it’s almost ten months since Arham was born. Yes, it’s been over 14 months since all of this started. So why share now? My mom recently shared a story about some distant relative who had a miscarriage because of some issues and the tests she needed to take. My thought at that time was I wish I had someone to discuss what I was going through. Family will always have your back, but sometimes you need someone who is in the same situation (or has been in the same situation) because they truly are the only ones who get what you are feeling or going through.
Everyone says that the pain felt by your child(ren) is the worst thing you will feel, and I learned that very early on. It is in our innate nature as mothers to protect our child(ren), keep them safe, and keep them from harm’s way. I am constantly reminded, and humbled, by the fact what could have been and alhumdulillah… what is instead.
The unwavering support of my parents and brothers at the most difficult time I have faced thus far is something I’ll be thankful forever. They have not only been my largest cheering squad, but when it matters most– they are my strength in every hardship I face.
The love my parents and brothers have for Arham melts my heart daily. Each day, the huge smile on Arham’s face when Abu (Arham’s Nana-Abu) gets home from work is something I look forward to. The goodnight ritual Arham has with Ami (Arham’s Nani-Ami) that he won’t do with anyone else makes me laugh daily.
Papa. Not only my maternal grandfather, but one of the most humble and nicest people I have ever encountered. I was just super lucky and beyond blessed to call him my grandfather.
Most people, in fact, referred to him as Papa. Like he was a father figure to all.
His generosity? Kindness? Affection? Wisdom? Knowledge? Knew no boundaries.
I have never met even one person who had even one negative thing to say about my Papa. That cannot be honestly said about many people, but it is indeed true about Papa. In all my life, I can’t even think of a single time that he upset me or annoyed me. He was always Papa – the loving and caring self he always was. He’s been my role model since day one. He will be my role model for the rest of my life.
I loved every day I got to spend him. I loved, loved, loved just sitting with him all day whenever we were lucky enough for him to come stay over at our house. Not just his stories, but just his mere presence brought joy to me.
I loved how he would want to go everywhere with us whenever he came to visit, right down to simple errands. Like he wanted to spend time with us as much as we wanted to spend time with him. I remember the unsaid plan at the grocery stores: I’d do the groceries while my brother followed Papa throughout the store as he picked up nothing but junk food. Who wouldn’t love that?! Many times, we’d cut out things from our “to-do” lists because we were worried he would get too tired.
His love for his children and especially his grandchildren? Can’t even put into words to describe it. Just the extraordinary amount of examples flow through my head. It’s the little things you remember that mean so much. Thinking back to when we were younger, I can’t help but laugh at how much he spoiled us. That’s part of the job description for what a good grandparent is, right? If our parents said no, he would most certainly veto it. Hey, he was the boss, right? We had to listen to him 🙂 I wish Arham got to experience who Papa was.
His love for sweets [especially Kit-Kat and then later Almond Joy as well]. Tried my best to always have chocolate on hand whenever he came to visit.
His love for Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune [and then later Price is Right as well]. Don’t ever call him from 7-8 PM: he was busy watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune at that time.
His LOVE for reading the Qu’ran. He did so daily without fail.
Smiles. Laughter. Happiness. Joy. That’s what the memories are full of. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A life truly lived for others. He was one of a kind, and I am truly blessed beyond words to call him my grandfather.
Papa, I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ll miss you. My heart aches of emptiness when I think that there won’t be a next time for you hug me and kiss my forehead like you always did. Truly, I lost a part of me. Time heals all wounds, and perhaps will ease the pain, but I hope I never forget the kind of person you were and what I want to emulate. He is everything I want Arham to be.
In recent years, as Papa’s health started to decline, I hated that he didn’t feel good inside and my heart ached for his well being. I kept thinking one thing over and over : I wish I could take it away from him. I didn’t want to dwell on what Alzheimers’ did to him and the effect it had in this post; instead I want to focus on all the great memories.
He, up there, called Papa home this morning after a very difficult three weeks for my family and I.
I’ll miss Papa with all my heart, but if there’s one consolation, it’s this: he is at peace.
I can’t believe it’s been ten years, but it is a day I will remember in detail for many many years to come… if not for the rest of my life.
What started off as an ordinary Saturday in July, quickly became a life altering day. Faraz’s graduation party was the following Saturday, and we were expecting a lot of family to start coming over the next few days… starting with that evening of the 16th.
I remember being in my room, when Faraz came in and gave me a heads up that the ambulance was on the way — Abu didn’t feel well and he was literally drenched in his sweat.
The paramedics starting treating him right away before transporting him to the hospital. With Ami in the ambulance with Abu, and Faraz and I [teenagers] having no idea how to get to the hospital… we did the only thing we could: follow the racing ambulance — which meant cutting red traffic lights, speeding, amongst other violations I am sure… to the point where a police officer started following us [but he must have realized the situation because he followed us to the entrance of the hospital and then went on his way].
Parking in a non-parking spot, we rushed in and after what seemed forever [but in reality was not] and countless medical staff in the room, the dreaded was confirmed: Abu had just had a heart attack.
I called Ayaz at work, and let him know what was happening.
Soon thereafter, signatures taken from Ami for consent [of necessary procedures, etc.], Abu was first rushed in for an angiography and we were told it would take about an hour to assess. By that time, countless family members had showed up and it was the longest hour of my life. When the cardiologist finally stepped out, he informed us that there was a ninety six percent blockage and they were going ahead with an angioplasty at this point and it would take another hour.
By the time he was moved into his CCU room, there were easily at least fifty family members in the waiting room.
Seeing Abu like that was probably the scariest and most eye opening experience for me at that age. Suddenly and very quickly I learned and realized at once how vulnerable life really was. The uncertainty that followed that in the early days, and in some ways, to this day is scary to process or even explain.
I remember a day or so later, the man in the room in the CCU adjacent to him passed away. The nurses closed the door for all the other rooms in the CCU as they moved the body, but it was useless: we all knew. And while we tried to distract Abu, we knew he knew and was well aware of it as well. The tears in his eyes were evidence of that.
Are we overprotective of him, perhaps, a lot of times ? Of course. Do the littlest health issues sound an alarm for us? Definitely.
But all for a good reason: he is, after all, our rock.
I can’t imagine having a better father. He is fun and games when he should be, and serious when he needs to be. He has kept me grounded, showered us with infinite unconditional love, spoiled us, always encouraged us to do our best, and made us strive to be better people. He puts us, his family, first always… and always has. He is a prime example of a selfless role model of the best kind of a parent … and I pray it’s something I am able to emulate in the future.
By now, some, if not most, of my family/friends know that in the early months of last year I faced a pretty terrifying health scare — a possible/potential c-word diagnosis. 99.9% of the time referring it to as the c-word because it’s just that real still. Many tests, several biopsies, and months of uncertainty later: I had to go through the surgery route to find out with a 100% certainty. In fact, tomorrow marks one year since my surgery.
I can’t tell you how thankful/blessed I was to find out, post-op, that it was benign– that it wasn’t cancer. It was, for me, a stark reminder, to count your blessings, not your problems.
In the days leading up to the surgery, someone reminded me that God doesn’t give you more than he is certain you can handle and that He tests you only to your limits.
“Allah does not place a burden to a soul greater than it can bear.” [2:286]
You just don’t realize it. Although, I won’t lie: sometimes, I feel like He gives me credit for more than I think I am capable of handling.
While facing the uncertainty, in the months before the surgery, I’ll be honest: I couldn’t keep my mind off the possible “what if” scenario. It’s just not something you ever think could happen to you, unfortunately, until you are thrown into it. Especially at my age! Ironically enough, thyroid [c-word] is most likely to occur in twenty-something-year-old females. Me in a nutshell.
One thing I knew for sure from day one: I wasn’t going to be just another statistic. I did my research. I asked questions [after questions]. I prepared myself for both of the outcomes. I was [and continue to be] involved 100% in my health[care]. From day one, I was my biggest health advocate. I’m detail oriented, a planner… and hate the unknown!
Without our health, we are nothing; and yet, most of us take it for granted and not care for ourselves nearly as much as we should. The time you spend on your external physical self [hygiene, makeup, grooming, etc]? That and more of a focus needs to be given to you internally and as a whole. Most of us, especially the younger generations, just don’t make our health a priority. Whether it’s not eating right, exercising [enough/at all], or making the trip to the doctors to make sure everything is alright. I can’t stress enough: preventative care beats the alternative a million times over.
Be your own advocate: make time for your periodical check-ups. Do your research and go in informed. Ask questions. Question them. And best of all? If you aren’t satisfied, seek a second opinion.
I avoided doctors [and OTC medicines] for the first 22 something years of my life like the plague, and then saw more doctors in a year than the rest of my life combined.
I was lucky mine was benign, but if it had been god forbid the alternative– think of this: I was asymptomatic. It was discovered by chance because I already had a thyroid issue that was closely being monitored.
On a side note: leading up to the surgery last year, I can’t tell you how many times I was blatantly told [by doctors, surgeons, and/or their nurses]: “honey, if anyone had to choose a cancer type, this is the one they would choose without a second thought”. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll choose to have NO type. Or “honey, this is the best type of c-word to get”. Yeah, no. Still sticking to the none. So thankful that He, above, agreed with me too.
I understand that this type has a great treatment plan, but cancer is cancer. The last thing anyone that is [potentially] facing it needs to hear is something like the aforementioned mindset. I can’t tell you how upsetting it was to hear that: a direct punch to my stomach. A stomach that was already in knots of nervousness, stress, fear and so much more. I’m not sure if they thought it was supposed to comfort me and put me to ease, but all it did was upset me even more than I already was facing everything I was.
2014, in essence, thus far has proved to be the worst of times and the best of times.
It started off as [relatively] horrible as it possibly could, with the c-word scare and surgery soon thereafter [and the not so fun recovery]. It started off with the many “what if’s”, “how could this be” and “why” questions. Not to mention the most stressful months of my life.
I often had to remind myself that this, too, shall pass.
And in the midst of all this chaos… in the way both spectrums intertwined at the same time… there is truly no other way to explain it in my mind other than: He, above, once again proved: “Verily with Hardship comes Ease“ – [94:5-6]
Most of my family and friends, by now, know that I am engaged as of early March.
Never in a million years would I have imagined traveling back to Pakistan, let alone to go back for the first time after so many years to get married AND move to Australia immediately afterwards.
Two weeks ago, on February 21st, I had my first [and God-willing last] surgery. Thyroid surgery to be precise.
It’s one of the toughest and scariest things, if not the toughest and scariest thing, I have [physically] faced [as of yet] in my life.
It’s been a hard two weeks of recovery thus far but, alhumdulillah, slowly getting better each day. Which wouldn’t be possible without the help of Ami. The first week post-op I wasn’t supposed to move my neck left/right/anywhere and I couldn’t lay down. Yes, I stayed sitting for a week straight and that’s how I “slept”. Ami helped me around the clock, which I truly appreciate.
Night eight, I figured I’d attempt to sleep on my side. In my sleep, however, I decided to be rebellious and ended up sleeping on my stomach. Not a fun way to wake up: sore and painful.
Thyroid issues are becoming more and more common, but before my surgery I didn’t know anyone who had to have surgery because of one. I still don’t know anyone personally actually. Just that, it’s no fun.
As a result of said surgery: I, now, have a [not so] lovely scar that will remain for the rest of my days on my neck as a reminder. But the more optimistic me is going to look at it as a reminder of what I overcame in the process.
This blog has been my open journal for several years now. Writing has always been an outlet for me.
I’ve shared my recipes, my thoughts, my reflections, and what’s going on in my life. Except for one part. It’s something I have not shared here, because quite honestly it’s something I haven’t shared with most people in my life. Yes, a select few have known.
So why hide it, you ask? Quite honestly, I just didn’t want to deal with people’s reactions/questions/concerns. No matter how good some people’s intentions may be, it’s just not worth it when you look at the big picture.
Who knew that such a small part of the human body could wreak so much havoc? Or have an effect on so many other parts of the body? I certainly didn’t know to the full extent until about two and a half years ago when my thyroid went, well, crazy.
February 2014 marks two years since I found out I had hyperthyroidism after six months of keeping the doctors guessing. And you know what apparently may have causes/triggered it? A flu or a flu-like virus (like the one that hit me like a brick in September 2011).
While the opposite hypothyroidism is much more common than my hyperthyroidism, for both ends of spectrum I can honestly say: you don’t know what it feels like or what it does to you until you experience it. One of the best and worst things, all at the same time, about thyroid issues is that it’s hard for the outside world to know/realize for the most part. Besides the obvious weight loss, of course.
The constant fatigue? The lack of sleep? The effect on your gastro system? Appetite? Muscles? Constant body aches? Sadly, by the two year mark you become used to the fact that this the new “normal”. I kid you not, at one point or another: it has effected every part of me.
For over two years, I dealt with this thyroid issue. But that’s not exactly what this post is about: it’s about a thyroid nodule that is of concern- a totally unrelated matter [to my hyperthyroidism] in my case. Tomorrow morning, I go in for a thyroid lobectomy (or a total thyroidectomy) [depending on what is found during the surgery].
It’s my first surgery ever, and to say I am terrified and apprehensive would be the biggest understatement. It wasn’t too long ago, afterall, that I would get all uptight about blood draws and injections. But I know He, above, is the best of planners. Everything happens for a reason. This, too, shall pass.
Please keep me in your duas [prayers] and/or thoughts.
Two years ago I was convinced to get the flu shot for the first time ever because I had been feeling unwell. Guess who got the flu, shortly thereafter, for the first ever in my life that year?
I am no expert by any means, but I have very quickly picked up on some dos and don’ts for when dealing with those with a form of dementia and their families from recent encounters from my experience with Papa. These are my thoughts and thoughts alone! Not one of medical professionals, not my family members, just mine. Mine and mine alone.
One. Don’t judge and say something ridiculous like: “I just talked to [your loved one] for a few minutes over the phone and it didn’t seem like there was anything wrong with him/her”. Thanks, I’m glad you came to that conclusion in the two minutes you spoke to him/her. How about being grateful, that alhumdulillah, there are still normal moments around.
Just think for a second [or ask a direct relative if just pondering over it won’t be enough] what it feels like for an immediate family when [the loved one] cannot recognize them, or know where they are at the very least.
We cherish those moments where everything seems right with the world, and those are the moments that get us through the difficult ones.
So far in our case, alhumdulillah, most “days” run smoothly for the most part. It’s the evenings and nights that pose the challenge in more ways than one.
Two. Yes, I understand what [your loved one] is saying doesn’t make sense sometimes. Deal with it, and let it go. Don’t remind him/her that s/he is wrong or correct them. Play along. Say nothing if you must, but please for the love of God don’t make [your loved one] think harder.
Three. Don’t judge the family for what they say to [your loved one] to ease their mind. Chances are, no scratch that– I’M ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE there is a reason behind it and they know better.
Four. If you are having a conversation with [your loved one], keep it simple. Enough said.
They don’t need to know a whole life story that will probably confuse them later. And they certainly don’t need to be put through a [political/personal debate/argument]. Not necessary. Chances are some parts [or bits and pieces of many different conversations] will stick in their mind and come back later out of context. Not to mention that it’s not good for them to be over thinking either.
Simple is good.
Everyone copes differently. What works for me? Writing my thoughts and sharing experiences with my family who get it simply because they are experiencing it too. It’s not something that is easy to explain. Chances are you have heard of someone with Alzheimer’s, but until you experience it first-handed… it’s unimaginable.
I don’t know if it makes sense or not, but my love/admiration for Papa has grown even more. I’m blessed immeasurably to have so many fond memories of/with him that I cling to on difficult days. I just came back on the 17th from Virginia after spending a week with him and unfortunately had several reminders to cherish the moment. That dementia/Alzheimer’s is ugly. I hate dementia with all my heart and soul, but love Papa with every ounce of me.
P.S. Twelve days until my parents and I leave for a trip of a lifetime, inshallah… for hajj! More on that later.