The P-word

It has been a long time since I’ve blogged, hasn’t it? Especially in the light of my last entry, where I moaned about things going spectacularly wrong, it adds a dark sense of foreboding. Like has my spate of bad luck finally got to me? Am I lying dead in the house, as my cats munch on my ears for snacks, a gruesome discovery for my husband to find when he returns home in the evening?

Or could it be that I am just too lazy to write my blog, and that Ramadhan was a welcomed reprieve, a time of reflection and solicitude?

Hah! Of course, I’m not dead. I wouldn’t be blogging if I was. Neither was Ramadhan a quiet time of reflection – though I try to put in my five minutes of reflection in the morning, in the evening, in between naps and that sort of thing.

But as I always say, it would not be me if there was not some sort of drama involved, so a quiet Ramadhan would not be unwelcome but it would not be usual either.

This Ramadhan, as with all my Ramadhans had been, incredibly hectic. While countless of articles have been written about the Ramadhan, I’m surprised that so few write about hectic it can be. I dread the 4pm jams as people rush home for Iftaar, I dread the restaurant rush, of trying to get a seat around 7:30pm, clawing the eyes out of other hungry devotees for it. I dread going to malls where there are far more battle prepared women, armed with their credit cards, their high heels and ready to snatch the best bargains when it comes to cookies, beautiful Eid dresses and ingredients for Iftar. Woe betide the collateral damage who dare get in the way of their shopping carts.

Every year though, despite claming never conforming to the norm, I have fantastic designs in my head as to what my Eid would be like this year. It would be what society defines to be the perfect Eid. I would research the best cookies, change the curtains in the house, prepare a homely meal and then invite my friends over to an Open House, hosted by me and the husband. Though it seems that I succeed in my attempts at not conforming, because every year, there won’t be any cookies because I forget to bake them, I don’t bother changing curtains because they look fine and then I weakly promise my friends a gathering for…Eid Adha instead. Or New Year’s.

This year, I wanted peace and quiet, I wanted to stay at home. Avoid all the Ramadhan buffets, which frankly I have always found to be indulgent and to a certain extent, showy-offy. Avoid all the shopping, avoid all the Ramadhan bazaars. I wanted no fancy meals, just healthy, simple wholesome food that did not look like I’ve spent ages cooking up.

Which was fine since well, I had a project I was working on full-time, which I hope I could spare some time to share it with you guys.

And most importantly, no stress.

Which almost worked out until about two weeks ago when every morning, I woke up feeling very nauseous. Which was well, you know, normal since my period should be coming. But then it started to get worse each morning, to the point that on some days I would struggle to wake up because the world would be spinning. And then that was when it occurred to me. What if I was you know. The P-word.

While some women begin to try almost ecstatically the moment they marry, we’ve made it very clear to ourselves that we wanted to wait. It is not as though we don’t want children – we do eventually. But there are so many things that I need to adjust to. Like adjusting to being adults. Eizwan and I are the sort of people that would have ice cream for breakfast. There’s just no sense for people who lock themselves out all the time to have children.

But now, the possibility was right before us, and there was no escaping it.

And my womanly instincts knew that my period was going to be late. Problem is, my paranoia and fear was so great that any womanly instinct that could tell me if I was you know, that p-word, was gone. In panic, I had myself tested (negative) but when the period did not come and the nausea increased, I was beside myself. I called up my doctor friend who ordered me straight to the clinic.

At the clinic the doctor listened to me attentively, as attentively as a person who was about to go on holiday to South Africa over the Eid period. At the end of my long drawn out discussion as to what was wrong with me (I took out my laptop to show her the times that I was stupid and if I was, you know, that p-word, would I affect the you know, the b-word), she said there were three possibilities that might be wrong with me and funnily they all started with the letters p.

One, I was pregnant. Which she said highly unlikely but my paranoid brain can’t seem to process it. But, but symptoms.

Two, my period was late. Which happens. And the more you think about it, the more the symptoms appear. The brain, tis powerful stuff.

Three, I was infected with a peptic ulcer bacteria, called H Pylori. Which can only be tested if I’m either not pregnant or when the doctor came back from her South Africa holiday. Gosh, there will be lions on her holiday.

Honestly, when I returned home that day, I did not know whether to feel better. Physically I felt better, I was given Gaviscon Advanced, which soothed me and stopped me from wanting to wretch. Never do I feel so much affection towards a bottle of medicine than I do for Gaviscon. There are fuzzy feelings inside when I see the bottle sold at pharmacies. But emotionally, I was still in a limbo. I’m not sure if I’m pregnant. My period could be late. Or I could have a bacteria that can potentially cause stomach cancer when I’m 50 and the only way to rid of it is through expensive medication and testing that would fund my doctor’s safari holidays in the future.

“I could still be pregnant,” I told the husband that night.

“We don’t know yet.”

“I’ve already decided on the name of the baby, if I am.”

“Don’t I get a say?”

“No. They’re going to be based on Doctor Who characters. Is that alright?”

“As long as it’s not Doctor Master bin Eizwan.”

All those deep thoughts about being responsible, resulted in the two of us oversleeping and missing our time for the early breakfast before our fast. And almost miraculously the next day, the nausea disappeared. I was energetic. Maybe…just maybe, I was not you know, the p-word.

The day after that however, the nausea returned in full force. Which made no sense. Shouldn’t morning sickness be more consistent? Did the H Pylori bacteria take a holiday the day after I threatened to eradicate them, lulling me into a false sense of security?

Actually, in the end, it was much simpler than all of the above. About two weeks ago, I got very lazy preparing food for our early morning breakfast, and opted to eat cereal instead. It was around the same time that I got progressively nauseous. And on the day I did not eat cereal, I felt so much better.

In conclusion. It’s lactose intolerance. My mum has it. My sister has it. I thought I escaped the vile genetic defect but as it turns out – no. I has it. It just took 10 bowls of Koko Krunch for it to appear.

Did You Kill Someone?

Sometimes in life, you go through a really rough patch that you don’t know if or when you are going to get out of it. The bad patch could be anything really, from a car breaking down, to losing your savings as a result of a US downgrade (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen – although I have faith in you Americans, even though you do come across as completely insane most of the times) to rioting outside your house (my heart is with you, London).

Usually, I like to assume myself as the cheerleader and ask my friends who are feeling particularly down and stressed about things, how bad is it really? Like you still have your health, right? Yes. Your parents are alive and well? Yes. You did not, as a result of poor judgment, result in bringing down an entire bank that had a history spanning 233 years and losing just about 1.3 billion dollars overnight? Yes. You didn’t kill anyone did you? Yes. (Although, I nearly asked this question to a houseman friend of mine, until I realized, well, she is a doctor in ER and the possibility might just be there). Are there rioters outside your door? No. Are the militia stopping you from getting food aid? No.

So whenever I go through a rough patch, I sit myself down and ask myself these questions. Usually, I come to the conclusion that whatever my problems are, it ain’t so bad. Seriously. Just wish that I did not feel so damn low, so much so that I would really rather sleep under the covers and wallow in self-pity whilst refreshing the Guardian.

Yeah, that’s just the way a leftie rolls, man. When feeling sorry for yourself, you commesurate with other lefties to blame the all the ills of the world on the Tories. Damn you, Tories, for my leaky faucet! Yes, it’s all your fault. Even though I’m not even British.

Ahem.

See, my particular rough patch started about two weeks ago with one of my tyres exploding as I drove home. It’s my fault really, my mechanic warned me months ago that I needed to replace it but I was hoping to drive them to last till…well, whenever I really needed to get them changed. I supposed the time finally came when I nearly skidded off the road taking a corner. Heck, I was still hoping to drive the car until some dude knocked on my car window and said, “Uh, kak. Tak boleh bawak kereta ni. Tayar dah letup” (Uh, Miss. You can’t drive this car. The tyre’s exploded.)

Eizwan took the morning off to help me get the car to the mechanics. We headed to a tyre shop where the mechanic took one look at my tyres, wide-eyed and gaping mouth and said, “Waaaah, tayar ini manyak rosak woooh.” (Waaaaah, these tyres are severely damaged, woooooh)

And I go, “Err…tak boleh guna lagi, ah?” (So, I can’t use it?) Still trying my luck there.

“Dangerous-lah!”

The damage was three tyres had to be changed. And something to do with fixing my turning radius. Yeah, whatever man, just bring on the damage to my wallet. I can handle it.

To ease the long wait at the workshop, Eizwan and I decided to grab a bite. The nearest place to the worshop is some little foodstalls nearby. Against my better judgment (I was hungry, dammit!), we ate nasi lemak and drank iced tea. Which made me feel rather queasy almost immediately. But I can handle it. I lived in India, you know. Delhi belly and all. I’ve conquered it. What is Malaysian street food?

The next evening, I ended up being wheeled into the hospital from food poisoning. My blood pressure was very low, I threw up on the nurse and had to get two shots. Thankfully, I did not need to be admitted but spent the next two weeks dealing with on-off nausea.

Over the weekend, Eizwan’s car began to shudder and after my brush with danger (dramatic moment), I insisted Eizwan get his car checked. We did. And we were presented with a whopping RM 3,000 bill to fix the car. After getting over the initial shock, we insisted on getting the bare basics i.e. anything that would make the car work. We fixed it, with a RM 1100 bill. We got into the car and guess what? It still wasn’t fixed! After getting onto the highway, I realized that the spark plugs were misfiring. And the stupid workshop would not fix it, since well, apparently, they did not have the parts. So much for being a Korean car specialist.

Our mood was terribly low that evening that I offered to buy Eizwan dinner at Tony Roma’s, Sunway Pyramid. I don’t usually name and shame establishments like my wedding photographer who took, oh, just about one year to get my photos to me, but you know, when you gotta change your table three times because you keep seeing cockroaches scuttling about…

On the plus side, the meal was free, which was a welcomed reprieve after two hefty car bills in a row. On the downside, well, you know. Cockroaches while you eat is never pleasant.

The next week was awful car-wise. Just awful. Without a second car, Eizwan had to drop me off as he headed to work which made planning evening meals very chaotic. In Ramadhan, there is a big emphasis in spending time with your loved ones during iftar. But Eizwan has huge deadlines coming up, so he leaves work very late, like just before iftar. So we have this crazy, manic routine where Eizwan would rush home to pick me up so that we could go home and eat a piece of chocolate together. Since that is pretty much the only thing I could prepare since I was still weak and queasy from food poisoning. Since I did not prepare any food for iftar, it meant that our morning pre-dawn meals consisted of toast and very cold leftovers. Which is chaotically prepared since we are both so tired from the night before.

Despite all this, we survived the chaos of commuting with only one car!

But it really isn’t chaos is not really chaos unless you do something stupid, like locking yourself out. Which happens to be a speciality of ours. After an exhausting evening of being caught in traffic, breaking fast with a humble meal of McDonalds, we retired upstairs to find that someone had closed the bedroom door shut. The lock on our bedroom door is jammed, and we usually leave it slightly ajar so that we can open it from the outside. Well, eff. (It’s Ramadhan, trying to refrain from cussing)

This was when we find out that 24 hour locksmiths, well, they lie. At precisely 12am, they switch off their phones and stop responding to your calls. The ones that do, charge a bomb for coming in after working hours. How do we respond? Why, by youtubing, of course! After watching countless of videos on youtube, breaking bobby pins trying to pick the lock (if Macgyver can do it, why can’t I?), banging our heads against the door, shoving the door with your shoulder (it works on TV! Why wouldn’t it work in real life?!) we caved in and searched and hunted for a locksmith that actually DID work for 24/7 and paid for his services.

I’m starting to feel that we might not be able to survive the week. But that’s just me..

And then this morning, as we woke up for sahur, whilst washing up, the kitchen pipe fell off. I know, I thought these things were meant to be screwed in. I mean how could it just fall off? In what felt like a scene from a cartoon, we had water spraying from the sink onto the kitchen floor. The two of us wasted precious eating time battling a broken water pipe, trying to shove the pipe back in (no such luck), shoving a cloth in to stop the water from flooding the floor. As we stood there, wet, cold and panicked, it never occurred to us to err…switch off the mains? Instead we battled till we were soaked, only have enough time to eat 5 dates and coffee for breakfast.

I spent the rest of the morning in bed, sulking after that.

I know, I know. I didn’t kill anyone. I am healthy and well. My parents are healthy and well. There were no riots outside my doorstep. And that if I look at it rationally, these things happen. And from a faith point of view. I should take it as a test from God, in the month of Ramadhan, that things are especially trying.

But really, all I want to do is blame the Tories.