This 2017, give thanks
Every year before the clock strikes 12 and we enter into a brand new year, I will sit down in front of my laptop and write a short review and reflection for the year. I have been doing so for years and every year I learned a little more about life and myself.
This act of reflecting requires me to think and reflect. It allows me to see things from different angles. I often feel that life is speeding past by me too fast for me to even realise what was happening. At the start of 2016, I was too overwhelmed with work and still coping with grief. Grief, an emotion I did not truly understand until last year. I realized how fragile life is and the fact that anyone’s life can end at any time changes my perspective about everything.
I remembered feeling so stressed out and defeated that I considered leaving the profession I hold so dearly to my heart. This was my 10th year here, and even though it has never been a bed roses, I have always be able to manage it well, of course with the help of a wonderful team of colleagues.
Exhaustion beyond words. That was exactly what I felt. It felt like I was doing my best for everyone but it was just not good enough. I remembered feeling so dejected, I could see no way out of this. I remembered praying for guidance and praying for time, for me to rest and think. Rest was a luxury I did not have.
Looks like God heard my prayers and chose to answer it to me only in September. I have been experiencing backaches since forever but the pain started to intensify in June. In the month of July, the pain magnified and suddenly I had difficulties walking. The excruciating pain, running from my lower back, to the butt, to thigh, to calves was preventing me from standing and walking for long. It was too painful, even standing for more than 5 seconds would leave me hissing in pain.
Due to this, it was difficult for me to even turn up for work. My work requires me to stand and walk a lot and not being able to do, depressed me even further. Furthermore, the agony for waiting to see the specialist doctor was frustrating. Imagine being in unbearable pain and being told to wait to see the doctor. Yup, it was a 2 months long wait. I had to walk in pain to the polyclinic to get a referral letter, walked in pain to get my MRI done, walked in pain to work when my medical leave ran out.
I could do nothing but wait. I really hated being helpless.
I almost forgot that I have the ability to pray. Since I was at home and had all the time, I was able to think and fine tune the words to my prayers. Instead of praying, “Ya Allah swt, please heal me.”, I tuned it to, “Ya Allah swt, the Almighty, please heal me so that I can be of service to others again.”
So many nights passed and my prayers remained the same, and at times I cried to sleep because I felt that I could not handle the pain anymore. The only time I did not feel pain was when I was asleep. I was scared to death about not being able to walk ever again. What would I do then? How will I go to work and earn a living? How will we survive with one less paycheck at home?
Of course I did not want anyone to worry so each time someone asks me how I was doing, I would answer in full positivity. I was not in denial, I was putting all my trust in the Almighty because He has the power to change this situation, not me. Thus, I learnt to rely on Him. I was thankful for His presence.
Sometimes in my mind, I continued to feel dejected and lose hope, but I never verbalised how much pain I was going through and never once I verbalised that I was losing faith. I did not want anyone to hear it. I kept all doubts to myself and tried my best to continue doing the things I love. I was able to clean, organize my desk, catch up with journaling and watch tons of kdramas, all the things I have always wanted to do but couldn’t when I was too busy with work. I was thankful for all the free time at home.
When the doctor recommended surgery to rectify the disc, I agreed immediately. I was not even afraid of pain anymore. There were risks involved of course, because the surgery would involve working with the nerve, but frankly, I was not afraid. If it goes well, great. If not, I shall accept it. It was my first surgery ever and I was not afraid. I was thankful for the early slot. Imagine having to wait for another month before going for surgery because slots were full.
Alhamdulilah. I was soooo thankful.
Waking up too early. When they told me the surgery was a success, I gave thanks to the nurses and doctors. The nurses insisted I be wheeled around and the doctors came to visit early in the morning the next day. I was shocked they started work so early. It was 6.30 am. I thanked the diligent doctors and said my thanks to them for working so hard. Allah swt healed me through them. I had to give thanks.
The doctor gave me 6 weeks of medical leave which means I will miss the last 6 weeks of the busiest time of the year at work. I was worried and felt bad for my colleagues who had to cover for me but they were all so kind and assured me they will be fine! What did I do to deserve these kind people?
I focused of recuperating and getting myself fully recovered in those 6 weeks. I was healing not just for me, but for the people who prayed for me, who cared for me and who had faith in me. I had to be well again so that I can be of service to others once again. I have always viewed my job as being of service to others.
Looking back now, I realized I got exactly what I asked for. I asked for help in my work and in Feb they posted a new colleague, partner to me. I asked for rest and He gave me almost 2.5 months of medical leave. Of course it was not how I expected it to be, but the Almighty did answer my prayers. I am thankful.
Even though I spent most of 2016 being in pain, looking back, I did have a series of wonderful times. I am always thankful for all the people in my life!!
Of course I have more photos and choosing one photo to represent each month was difficult. I must give thanks to everyone who brought joy and smiles to my face even when I was in immense pain.
My colleagues went out of their way to help me. I cannot thank them enough. I was soooo touched when they offered to help me carry things, send me home, heat up my food for me, do my duties…. I am so blessed! Even the bosses were understanding and kept asking me to sit down and go home to rest.
I shall give thanks this 2017 by doing my absolute best at work and be of service to everyone again!
This adversity has changed me as a person. I appreciated my health a lot more these days. The first few days after surgery, my mind was popping these thoughts, “I am walking! I am walking and there is no pain. I don’t feel pain anymore!” I often catch myself staring at my legs when I walk, still finding it unbelievable that the painful (literally!) period was over.
I suddenly find myself not complaining about nitty gritty things anymore. I guess it is human nature to complain when we are so used to living in comfort. I don’t complain about crowded places, public transport, hot weather and long distance of walking anymore. I began to appreciate being able to experience all these. During my painful times, I was not even able to take public transport because walking to the bus stop was impossible.
2016, you have taught me a huge lesson on giving thanks. I learnt to appreciate every little thing, every kind gesture, every comforting word and every sincere hug.
Roping my parents in track of getting our health back has been a pleasant experience. I am thankful for my health now even though I still do experience cramps and pain in my lower back, knees and calves occasionally.
This 2017, I am not expecting an easy year. Why do humans we expect an easy life when He, the Almighty had warned us in advance?
With hardship, comes ease. (Surah Ash-Sharh 94:1-8)
That is His promise.
Therefore, this 2017, my only plan is to be happy and healthy. I hope to bring you more good news in 2017. It doesn’t look like it will be an easy year but I will continue to shine anyway insyaAllah. Because He the Almighty is always with me. ❤