The next day I went to my final exam, it seemed to be quite easy. I couldn't really concentrate because I wanted to finish as soon as possible to be able to spend time with my hubby-to-be. After I answered all of the questions I hurried out of the exam room.
I checked my phone on the way to his apartment and I saw several missed calls from friends of my father.. I started to call them back.. They asked me if I have heard anything from my father and if I know where he is because he didn't answer his phone. I told them I don't know, my father lives on an island 600 km from where I stayed at that time so I wasn't able to just go visit him to check.
The phone call concerned me so I tried to contact my father as well, he didn't pick up.. The last time I spoke to him he was feeling sick, but there were friends at the house taking care of him so I thought he would be feeling better quickly. When nobody answered the phone I called my cousin to ask if she could check where he is. The village he lives counts only 300 people, everyone know each others where abouts and since it is an island there are only 2 ways out..
As I arrived at the apartment I told my fiancé about the phone calls, I started to feel that something was wrong, he tried to comfort me but it did not help. After just 10 minutes my cousin called me back. She told me that I should meet them at the hospital as soon as possible because they didn't know if my father would make it, I was shocked and asked her what's wrong and then she told me:
She went to check at his house, all the doors were locked but from the inside so that was odd. She started calling his name but nobody answered. Then she decided to climb up the walls of the wooden house to peak under the golf plated roof top, she saw him lying there in his bed. She called her brothers to get help, they broke down the door and found my father, his body was Moving, but he gave no reaction to their calling. They were now on the way to get him to the hospital on the main land, it is a great task to travel that distance if you do not know how much time you have left. Since he was not responding they had to carry him into a car, to get to the side of the island closest to the main land.
Later she told me that the last ferry of the day already left and therefore they had to put him on a matrass in a open speedboat, when they finally arrived at the port of the mainland it was low tide so the boat could not dock, there was no option but to wait till the water started rising again. When they arrived at a hospital, the doctors took blood samples and made x-rays. The doctors could not find anything significant quickly but they did not trust the situation and adviced my family to take my father to a larger hospital where they could make a brainscan. This was another 2 hours travel by ambulance, in total they have been travelling with my father for over 9 hours to get from his house to the hospital were he could get any help.
In the meanwhile, I was desperate to get to the hospital to see my father, but it was over 700 km travel to get there. We checked out if there were any flights but the first one would leave the next day. Therefore we decided to get the transnational nightbus which would be an 8 hour drive. We packed all of our belongings and left, unfortunately without the chance of saying goodbye to all of my exchange friends.
We tried to grab some sleep in the bus, the airco was freezing which made the ride very uncomfortable. When we finally arrived at the hospital the next morning, it was a scary experience. The hospital was not like any hospital I have seen before. I felt like I was in a war movie, where you see a large ward, with dozens of patients lying next to eachother, I saw people with black limbs waiting for amputation, bleeding bandages, unbearable noises of people screaming and moaning, and a bad smell it was undescribable. It was an unforgettable experience which made me appreciate our care system and facilities in the Netherlands so much.
Then we got to see my father. His arms were tied to the bed because his body was moving with spasms and when he opened his eyes, they were empty, like his soul had left. The scan showed there was an abnormality in his brain. This hospital seemed incapable of helping him as well thefore we decided that he should be transferred to a semi-private hospital in Kuala Lumpur next day to ensure he would be treated. Yet another travel by ambulance for 4 hours. I went with him in the back of the ambulance. The ambulance was racing with the sirenes on all of the time, he already seemed to gain more consciousness. He could not speak but his eyes made contact with me again, everytime he closed his eyes I was still afraid to lose him. I prayed in his ear all way long until we arrived at the next hospital.
He was taken in to intensive care and he was examined intensively, they could not define what exactly was wrong with him. He was in and out of consciousness for over a week. Still unable to eat, or speak. We saw him emaciate more everyday. My strong, handsome, proud father as I have known him turned into someone he would never want to be, weak, dependent, disabled. It hurted me to see him like that, fortunately my fiance stood by me every second, we spend days, and nights next to his bed, taking turns with other members of my family. In the meanwhile family and friends from the Netherlands were arriving, for our planned wedding, we had to postpone the event, but they flew over anyway to support us. Because at that time we did not know if my father would make it.
In the second week in the hospital my father gained more conciousness. They have given him a cocktail of antibiotics, they assumed that he had meningitis. He could slowly start recovering. His short term memory was affected, he did not remember anything of the previous weeks. He had to practice how to speak again, and since he had been bed bound for over 2 weeks, with almost nothing to eat, he needed physical therapy to strenghten his muscles to be able to keep balance and walk again.
His recovery came almost as sudden as his sickness, it took some months for him to become "normal" again. For me it was a emotional rollercoaster. From being happy, to sad, to scared, to angry, to hopeful and finally grateful. Thank God, I am blessed to have my friends and family who have supported us during our ups and downs, even when I was so far away. Every difficulty in life gives us an opportunity to learn and grow.
"Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear.." (Quran 2:286)