Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reorganisation Phase

It is now more than 3 weeks after my final assault on the enemy position. The fight had been decisive. We went in under full artillery cover, captured and held the objective. The enemy was very well entrenched. Thankfully even enemy trenches with strong OHP could not withstand our Photons bombardments. The enemy suffered maximum casualties and also most of our forward assault troops. All fire missions were danger close missions. Acceptable safety distances and precisions were ensured. Battle wounds and scars were everywhere. And battle fatigue is taking its toll. I don’t think I can withstand another intense assault like this. This was as much as I could take. No more. No more, I cried in my mind. But I must press home. I must maintain the momentum. Enemy defenses were beginning to break up. We broke in and fought deep into the objective. Deep penetrations into the enemy lines were achieved, thanks to the fire support. I took a look around the battlefield at others who were fighting their own battles. Many had suffered more than me. Most had suffered unbearable pain and nausea. Many cried and begged to be relieved. One combatant could not finish her fight and was pulled out of the battlefield. She must live to fight another day, another time. I could only encourage them to hold on, often reminding them that we have a bit more to go. Only a bit more to go. Come on Go! Go! Go! I could not let them down. I must bite the bullet. I must finish my assault. I would relate to our ARTEP physical tests. It is home run. I can do it. They saw my courage and thankfully held their ground.
The smoke cleared and the dust had settled. Reorg had been in full swing. I brought up more ammo and supplies. Did a full staff check and called up more reserved troops to take up occupied positions. I was told it would take a full two weeks to recuperate from radiation fallouts. Radiation in the objective does not dissipate immediate. It remains there killing everything in its range for the next two weeks. And my troops are still fighting from trench to trench. It now calls for close quarters combat. Hand to hand combat. Bayonets! Fire support cover had ceased. I must improve my immunization system as I can easily catch infections and inflammations. No soap, lotions or creams are allowed. No matter what ailment prevails. My body radiates heat even in air-conditioned environments. My skin is parched and brittle. I have prickly heat spots all over my body and I scratched like hell only to draw blood at each scratch line. And no toilets please. My rectum feels full all time and I suffered each time I did my business. I am drained of all my energy and I feel lethargic all the time.
I took two weeks off, doing nothing. Just eat, drink and slept it off. I went to Port Dickson for a nice and quiet weekend. I participated in the Relay For Life event held at Bukit Jalil NSC stadium. I also spent time to help out several of my fellow combatants who needed help most. I took my mind off the battle by reading heavily into photography. A new hobby for me.
I will know the outcome of my battle in a month’s time. I am fine now. I just know it. My body tells me so. I have been given a second chance at life.
Allen Lai

Lesson learnt No 13.
If maintaining health is expensive, try illness.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Power of the Human Spirit

Please allow me to share this little episode with all who only watch things happen. I still walk the talk in my last twilight zone. My Gunner spirit is forever unconditional. It is pure and genuine. The power of human spirit is an awesome experience. Many people would have experienced it sometime in their lifetime. I just did.
I always had a high quotient of EQ and compassion in me and I had applied myself well in a general way. When I became a victim of a life threatening disease, my quotients raised to another notch higher, particularly for those who were less fortunate than me in coping with our medical predicament.
I was doing my daily radiotherapy sessions in PPUKM Cheras (HUKM) when I met Ibrahim accompanied by his father Encik Mazlan. Ibrahim was sick, undernourished, frail and wheel chaired. Ibrahim had the classic profile of a very sick child suffering from Leukemia. Needless to say Encik Mazlan had looked even worse off. He had the profile of a very lost father. Lost for words, lost in his thoughts, lost in his esteem and lost for hope. Encik Mazlan had lost hope for his son Ibrahim because Ibrahim in a span of several years had three relapses of cancer cells lodgment in the brain, spine and now testicles. Chemo and radio therapies are not working well for Ibrahim. How many cancer relapses can a person take? How many cancer relapses can a frail child take? It is more often that chemo and radiation side effects would kill the patient well before cancer does. Encik Mazlan understood that.
It took two days for me to break through to Encik Mazlan. The first two days were always exchanges of a polite weak smile and “Selamat Pagi, ada baik ?”. Encik Mazlan would then shut down into his though, sitting by himself; Ibrahim waiting for the nurse to call his name for his turn in the daily long queue. From the third day onwards I had learnt more of Ibrahim’s medical conditions and the team of Oncologist’s fight to stabilize his Leukemia. PPUKM is a teaching hospital and a Specialist Centre. Ibrahim’s Oncologists are Professors and teaching staff. All doctors were on overdrive to make Ibrahim well. But there are always constraints in life. Encik Mazlan works as a billing clerk in a local TELCO company. He does not get government support and rates for hospital treatments. However Encik Mazlan is able to cover his son’s treatment under his company’s basic standard insurance scheme for lower staff members. Bone marrow and cell stem transplants are out of the question.
Over the week I had gained more confidence from Encik Mazlan and I was also able to put Ibrahim in a happy mood every morning by letting him play the games I had downloaded into my iPhone. In the course of our daily conversations, Encik Mazlan had told me something interesting. There was a full year that Ibrahim was well and his quarterly medical examinations and reports showed good markers. That was the year that Encik Mazlan’s neighbour had helped Ibrahim. He had provided filtered water for Ibrahim to drink daily from his new water filter system. All was well until Encik Mazlan had to relocate from his home in Kelana Jaya, PJ to Rawang for economic reasons. Ibrahim did not have any more opportunity drink filtered water since then, as the neighbour’s filtered water system cost about RM2500.00, with yearly maintenance cost to change the filters. Encik Mazlan could not afford it. Then Ibrahim’s cancer relapses came in one after another unabated.
I told Encik Mazlan, that he should provide the same filtered water for Ibrahim to drink daily no matter what it cost. Ibrahim was OK when drinking the filtered water. We had found out that his neighbour was using the RX WATER filter system from WorldwellnessSdn Bhd. A local provider in wellness products founded by Dato’ Dr. Noordin Darus.
I had suggested to Encik Mazlan to take a loan or an advance salary from his company to purchase RX water system. But he could not get his request granted for a small company loan nor advance salary. I told Encik Mazlan not to worry not to despair, I will think of something. I will think of a two stage plan for Ibrahim. Firstly is to get the RX water system immediately for Ibrahim and on a longer planning term, to source support for a Bone Marrow transplant.
I was troubled and worried but did not panic. What if I could not deliver my promise to help Ibrahim? I prayed for guidance and clarity of thoughts. I was no longer thinking of my own prevailing medical problems. My only thoughts were on how to help Ibrahim. I shared my thoughts with my wife and my daughter May Senn. I am Encik Mazlan’s HOPE. I must not fail him and Ibrahim. I must not.
I researched relentlessly in the internet into Leukemia and more into Worldwellness Network Sdn Bhd. I must contact Dato Dr. Noordin Darus. I know help is out there. But how do I talk to the company? More so, what do I talk about to the company? I called the company and requested for an appointment with Dato. The next day I had an appointment with his marketing staff who gave me the best returned call I had ever received in my mobile. Dato’ would see me, Encik Mazlan and Ibrahim on Tuesday 8 June at 11.00am.
My prayers were answered when the good Dato agreed to take on Ibrahim under hisDanaWellness programme. Dato gave instruction to his staff to issue a new set of RX WATER filter system, prescription for RX salt and RX Tra to Encik Mazlan. Dato also took time to explain to us his approach to cure Ibrahim. He will see to Ibrahim on a monthly basis. What more do we want? Dato Dr Noordin is God sent to help Ibrahim. We have achieved our first stage with God’s grace.
I have gained this inert power of human spirit in me. I have it, in part because of my upbringing and the close family bondage that I cherished; thanks to my parents. In part also due to my long career in the Army. But in a great part, it is due good friends and camaraderie with my running friends in Pacesetters Malaysia. They are the most selfless souls I know. After all running marathons is very akin to the human spirit. The sweat, endurance for pain and the sheer determination says it all.
Allen Lai


I read with interest some comments on postings made in this blog and I suppose I want to chip in my two cents worth. Most of us are in the proverbial "Twilight Zone". If you remember the narration of the then famous TV series, I am sure you know what I mean.
As Rod Serling narrates:
 "There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man, it is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity, it is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge.This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call- the Twilight Zone".
Imagine twenty years ago, if we were not prolific letter writers, then we were simply not in touch. Today, technology allows us unlimited communication in unbelieveable ways. Personally, I would like to read on experience,humour, regrets,achievements etc. The list is never exhaustive. Sheldrake was created for this noble purpose among the local gunner community. With the exception of vulgarirty and hate mail, I suppose good communication is always appreciated. Recently, I chatted up some young gunner Majors and I am impressed by their sense of camaraderie and enthusiasm of simply being "Proud to be Gunners". It is indeed heartening to see the spirit living on. On the other hand, I also notice how some senior retired officers became reclusive and chose not to actively communicate. I am a firm believer of living for the day and I suppose it is an individual's choice on how one wants to conduct oneself in "THE TWILIGHT ZONE'. So Zulu Zulu- keep them coming. I am learning much as ever especially from you.

"The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives."
- Anthony Robbins