Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No Country for Old Men

I went back to Kuantan last Tuesday with the intention of spending only a couple of days while I see how my father is doing.

That short visit grew to a full week.

We saw five doctors, including an ophthalmologist, a member of the board of directors for KMC, a kind-hearted family friend whose deeds we could never repay, a compassionate A&E doctor, and a total and complete idiot.

The hair on my ass could have been a better doctor than that guy. I wish him all the symptoms and illnesses my family members have ever had and will ever have. And may he be treated by an equally inept doctor. And may all his family members suffer the same fate. And may you burn in hell. I'll find you in hell, and do my own brand of torture.

And if I ever find your brother, father, mother or whatever family members, say goodbye to them and tuck them in, for I will be their nightmare for decades. I am sick enough to follow through, and if I do it right, none of you will know what hit you.

Anyway, I did what I could. My father's medication and diet has been sorted out. His appointments have also been confirmed.

There is nothing more for me to do. I could quit everything and go back to Kuantan to take care of him, but that would make me an invalid as well.

I have to take care of myself before I can take care of people. I got loads of stuff to complete.

Even though I managed to finish a script while I'm here, and vetted through many projects, there is still an insane amount of work to be done.

My primary concern, though, is my father's attitude towards treatment. His belief is that the best medicine is MORE WORK.

Just today, he went against everyone just so he could cut down a few trees.

A 68-year-old man. After multiple strokes. And a history of diabetes and heart disease. Cutting down a few small trees. He can't even walk right, but he's doing his lumberjack bit.

Reaction to new diet has been mixed.

Threw away all palm oil and reheated oil, which are full of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Reolaced them with corn oil, and the family is testing out sunflower and canola oil.

Bought these cooking oils before, but they have always reverted back to palm oil for that full greasy, heart-attack-inducing taste.

Also bought olive oil, but is not suitable for Malaysian cooking.

My father is one of those people who found something he likes and stayed with it for say, 50 years? And expect to die with them.

He likes his clothes in a certain way - pleat-less pants, perfectly fitted shirts, starched - and his food salty, oily and greasy. Well, not so, but in comparison to what I think he should be eating, they look like arsenic pills.

Cholesterol levels should be reduced by half a point, and LDL by more. Blood sugar level is beyond 10, which is when the eyes would start getting affected.

Need to keep it below 10, preferably 4 or something.

Durian and Malaysian kuihs are a no no. Durian is almost all carbohydrates and sugar. Kuih loyang is basically fried sugar.

He has had trouble sleeping, and I deduced that it could have something to do with him drinking nine cups of coffee a day.

We got decaf and only for daytime. He hates the herbal teas I bought him, so an alternative should be found soon.

Almonds - baked - have been a great hit, and tonight's healthful bihun sup was well-received.

All his food now has to be grilled, baked, boiled or stir-fried. Pan-fried for mackerel or stuff like that. Capatti and tandoori are okay.

If you know my family, please do not bring any food when visiting.

Foods rich in sugar will leave him blind. High-cholesterol shit will get him into another stroke and possibly kill him.

If he dies because one of you idiots think it would be cool to see him eat durians or Oreos, I will find your parents, or your children, and kill them. I will fill a syringe with smoke and inject that into their bodies. Or I will take insulin and fill your heart with that.

I also heard rumours of a landfill with a cache of cyanide, so if you bring fatty, sweet foods to my house, I will bring a barrel of cyanide to your parents' stupid homes and force that down their throats. And up their asses.

The diagnosis has not been all that dire, though. All his multiple strokes, as seen on the MRI images, have all been partial. And he has recovered from three of them.

Tackling this latest, though, has been a challenge.

Dinner will all be oats and normal dishes. I tried out grilled chicken and stir-fried stuff. Seems to work. Vegetable soups and spinach seems to be a hit.

I am currently trying to figure out ways to translate Malaysian dishes like asam pedas and curry into cholesterol, sodium-free versions that taste great.

Think it will be months before I find recipes that could work.

I mean, it's easy for me and normal people. Replace coconut milk with skim milk or even soy milk, or just low-fat milk. But it has to pass the taste test.

It's not doing away with all dishes and all ingredients altogether. Maybe a mixture might work. It's having it in moderation, as best as possible.

The best rice is either brown rice or something Kuantanese people call 'beras Keling'. It's double-boiled rice - the healthiest choice as far as rice goes. But the smell and the taste leaves a lot to be desired.

The best bread is gluten-free multigrain bread, which is nearly impossible to obtain in Kuantan. I might have to go and bake it myself.

Mmm. I have to check on the availability of gluten-free oat flour. Or maybe I can just make the flour as well, using a grain pulveriser.

See how reading comics can be beneficial to you?

The jam we are taking is the diabetic gourmet jam type. It has no sugar, which is good, but tastes like fruit broth. It's a 'hot-type' jam where the human tongue may only be able to detect any sweet taste if it has been heated.

Kind of like, if you drink Coke when it's warm and it's nauseatingly sweet? Cold foods taste less sweet not because of the sugar content, but because of how taste-buds perceive sweetness based on temperature.

An alternative is sugar-free fruit preserves. It is not as good as diabetic jams, but at least it's better than shoving sugar into your eyeballs.

My father now takes eight types of medication for various illnesses. It amounts to 11 pills.

Four are mainstays, the other four being new additions. I can share with you some supplements the doctor suggested. One is ginkgo, another is a B complex recipe of B1, B6 and B12 - neurobion.

There is another medicine/supplement - nootrophil - for improving cognitive and memory functions, which, after reading up on studies and research on it, seems like a miracle drug.

It is used to treat recovering stroke patients, Alzheimer's sufferers and people born with Down Syndrome. I am thinking of taking the medication myself, cause it's a psycho-active drug that also treats dementia and I am pretty demented.

Almonds are good to lower LDL. Olive oil also for the same reason, but if you heat up olive oil for too long, it dissipates and might ignite. Stupid Greeks. Why can't you make an oil that's easier to use?

This might seem obsessive to some, but it's not. Obsessive would be when I start taking out a huge calculator and little scales and weigh EXACTLY how much calories, cholesterol and sugar goes into my father's body and extrapolate the body mass versus cholesterol and blood sugar levels. And construct charts and graphs.

Despite all these problems, the doctors have expressed surprise that my father is not in worse condition. In fact, it seems that they are confident he will make some form of recovery. Hopefully a major one.

I'd be happy if he could walk without using a walker and have improved cognitive and memory functions. For a person who was almost 100% pure intellect and 0 emotion, going through this stage might be a tad scary and frustrating.

He is still insisting on working, cause as with Boxer in Animal Farm, his cure is only to work harder. Stubborn old man.