An ordeal, identity crisis and a valuable lesson.

I am back. Thank you for noticing I was away for quite some time. It was so sweet to read messages like “Afni are you ok? You have not been travelling at all. Are you unwell?”

The truth was, towards the end of July I was hit by the unfortunate. I hurt my lower back and it affected my nerve that runs from the lower back to the butt, thigh, calf and eventually feet. When it first strikes me, I was not even able to move without being in pain. It felt like someone was squeezing my nerve in the entire left leg. It was so painful, I had to be on medical leave for 2.5 weeks. I went to the hospital to get treatment but was placed on waiting list to see the specialist doctor and it was a 2 months wait! I thought it was rather pointless to put me on medical leave and not do anything to help me heal or recover. The waiting time at the public hospital was so long and it was kinda a wake up call for me. I realized how expensive the medical bills were going to cost me and if only I had sign up for insurance plans earlier, I would not have to wait this long to be treated.

Anyway, I will share the entire journey in another entry. Being home for entire 2.5 week was depressing. I could barely stand for more than 2 minutes and was not even able to walk for more than 5 metres before needing to sit down. I typically have a high tolerance of pain but this pain was beyond me, I was hissing in pain each time after walking short distances. I lost appetite to eat because sitting down was also painful. Going to work was simply out of the question. I began to dread walking because each time I walked, I seemed to press onto the nerve in the leg.

After a few weeks, I was slightly better but I still could not walk far. When this happened, I had to cancel all my plans and my daily schedule was greatly affected. Suddenly, I could not go out to work, to dance classes, to social gatherings. I had to stay grounded because walking will only cause more pain.

During this time, I reflected a lot on myself. I was often known as the person who loves my job, who loves to travel, who loves to dance and not being able to do all these left me feeling confused about my own identity. I even wondered how long I have to bear with this inconvenience of not being able to walk normally, and wondered if I can ever walk normally again. It scared the hell out of me. What if I can’t walk normally again? What if I can’t work again? What if I can’t dance anymore? What else can I do?

I have always believed in living life to the fullest, thus my daily schedule is usually packed with work, dance or workout or meeting with friends. On weekends, I dedicate my time to my family and we would often do groceries and eat out together. During holidays, my time is spent travelling. My wanderluster friends and me would often plan in advance our destinations for the year or sometimes, we plan 2 years in advance. As you can tell from the contents of this blog, I believe I learnt about life best when I travel. Travel truly opens up my mind to infinite possibilities and it shaped how I see the world.

Not being able to travel in June this year was a big bummer but I was already experiencing some mild pain and aches in the lower back. I thought it was simply signs of aging and did not really take it seriously. However, upon meeting the specialist doctor, he told me that I had 2 discs out and that one of the disc has been protruding out for quite some time. I was shocked.

Now with this injury, I was not able to travel, I was not able to all the things I love and I was left feeling depressed and hopeless. Suddenly, I did not know what to do with myself, I lost all motivation and inspiration to even come in here to write. For the first time, my mind was blank. No thoughts, only fear.

I was fortunate enough to have close friends who continued to shower me with love and words of encouragement. I am the type to ‘act all tough’ and it is not really my style whine or even speak about my challenges to others. Having high tolerance of pain and hiding the fact that I was in pain, seemed to be my forte. I continued to go to work and tried my best to do my job as per normal. I insisted on walking my by myself, take public transport by myself and depend on myself. I wanted to show that I can still take care of myself and be independent, even when I am unwell. I wanted to show that I was strong.

I was wrong.

One night while tossing around not able to sleep, it suddenly occurred to me. I cannot depend on me. I am a mere servant of the Lord. I needed to depend on Allah SWT.  This realization hit me so hard, I cried on those nights. I cried because this unbearable pain from my lower back to my feet cannot go away without His will. I needed to fully accept that there is nothing I can do, but put my entire faith in Him.

And when I am ill, it is He who cures me.

And so I decided to make lots of dua. I felt that the agony of waiting to see the specialist doctor was a challenge by itself because of the long wait. While I am thankful that people at work are understanding and  exempted me from many duties, I could not disregard their kindness. I needed to find ways to recover as soon as possible so that I can repay their kindness. Furthermore, it is the end of the year and I really wanted to spare my colleagues from being so short-handed at work. I wish I cared less about my job but that is who I am. I don’t know how to ‘not care’.

I tweaked my duas from then on, so instead of saying “O Allah swt please cure me of this pain,” it became “O Allah swt please cure me of this pain so that I may be of help and service to others once again,”

By His miracle, after changing hospitals, I was able to get a date for MRI in one day and meet again with the specialist doctor in 4 weeks. (It was a 3 months wait in the previous hospital!) I could not be more thankful. Alhamdulillah. When I finally met with the doctor, he mentioned that someone backed out of surgery for the next day and so there is an empty slot and asked me if I wanted to do it. If I were to go into the normal queue, I could only do it in November. I cannot imagine being in pain for another month because by this time, my entire left leg goes tingling and numb every few minutes. I underestimated the severity of my condition.

And so, I said yes! I was a little stunned by the sudden arrangement for surgery but the pain was unbearable, I wanted to get it over and done with. I believe it was His divine intervention, it was not me. Of course I had to have faith in myself and the doctor but I was entirely banking on God.

I finally had the surgery last week. Now while recuperating at home, I looked back and discovered who I was. The identity crisis came about mainly because I was in a lot of pain and was feeling depressed. I should have realized sooner that I was merely a powerless, humble servant in need of His mercy. Nothing can happen without his will and command.

Everything happens in its own time and never take things (like your health) for granted. I believe I have been working too hard all these years so perhaps Allah swt wanted me to rest a while. I forgot that in my older duas, I ask for good health and good rest and now my dua is granted. Perhaps not in the way I would imagine, but my dua was granted by His will and I shall fully accept it.

To my family who were always there accompanying me to the doctor, helping me run errands, thank you. To my colleagues who helped me carry stuffs, heat up my food, keep asking me how I was doing, thank you. To my close friends who keep texting me everyday asking how I was feeling, who keep nagging and who visited me, thank you. This ordeal has clearly highlight to me who are those who truly care. It does not matter if the majority of the world is against me because I have you and I have Allah swt to rely on.

Of course I hope this will never happen again and while things may sometimes go wrong like they always do, now I know my real identity and I know who to depend on in times of crisis.

Just for this, all my future dua (prayer) from now on shall not only be about me, it shall be about repaying back the people around me. The world does not revolve around me or you. Therefore, please make dua for me so that I can recover well. Alhamdulilah for this valuable lesson and I hope you will learn something from reading this entry too. “)