Monday, July 9, 2018

Seven Years Of Living With A Parent With Pneumothorax

The reason I don't have proper family photos: both M and D do not like being photographed :P

After seven years, I thought I need to share our journey at home after my asthmatic-diabetic father was diagnosed with pneumothorax in June 2011. I have mentioned about it in passing several times in the past years, but this post would explain from the start. Perhaps there are people out there who need some information on how to handle this health problem, so I hope this post can be of good use.

The Beginning

Back in May 2011, D had short breaths for almost one week. At first, he didn't pay much attention because he has asthma, until he had to be hospitalized when I was at the office. D has never liked hospital, so when he was hospitalized, I just knew it was something serious. To help them reach the hospital, my parents asked a cousin. Oh, the trauma of hearing the news via cellphone and having to rush to hospital after finishing all my works quickly.

The doctors at first also thought it was an asthmatic episode, but after all asthmatic solutions (inhaler, pills, and inhalation session at the hospital) proved to be not working, they ran an X-ray on him and found that one of his lungs had collapsed at 50%. The doctors explained that it happened because a large amount of air was trapped in the chest cavity and press the lung. 

On a general set up, the doctors would perform chest drain or water sealed drainage, in which they would insert needle and pipe to the affected areas to allow draining of pleural space of air, blood and fluid, allowing expansion of lungs and restoration of negative pressure in the thoracic cavity. However, as D has diabetes, he was against the plan and we understood his concerns because people with diabetes need longer time to recover from open scars/wounds.

The doctors finally gave him medicines that he should drink everyday for 6 months to strengthen his lungs. It was probably one of the medicines for tuberculosis cases, but he decided to take it. Also, D had to come for health monitoring once a month. Six months later, the doctors declared that although the pneumothorax was still in his chest, it had been stopped to cause more damage. 

Some of the doctors' advices for D were: (1) enough rest, nutrition and proper breathing exercise; (2) no more physical exertion, such as walking upstairs and downstairs, or running, and (3) no emotional outburst, no more getting angry, as it would tire him out. I wanted to hug the doctors for advice #3 as D has always been an emotional man.

The Journey

It is not easy for D to accept that his body was never going to be the same again as it used to be. It is not also easy for M as she has to be with him for every health check up because he may need her to help her walk in and out of the car. 

The first year was tough and M often asked me to spend more time at home to give moral support to D. After a thorough thinking process, I decided that I need a job with regular work hours that allow me to be with them as much as I can. This was one of the reasons I gave up my permanent job in journalism.

For D's meals, the doctors require him to eat egg, drink milk and any other nutritious food. Along the way, M found that D developed a minor allergy against egg. So D could not have egg every day, three times a week is suffice. Then we also discovered that D was allergic to seafood. Perhaps the allergies were the results of his declining immunity. But when asked to drink virgin coconut oil, which was suggested by the doctors to increase the immune system, D refused because he disliked the smell. 

So what kind of food does D eat? Well, he usually have red meat, freshwater fish and chicken, but for the chicken, he prefers free-range chicken, which is more expensive than broiler. Sometimes D also refuses to eat, because his taste bud just felt bland. When that happens, and this often happens, milk is the only food he will take.

M can not go to supermarket everyday, so whenever I go to a supermarket, the dairy product shelf will be the first I check for promotion. My friends are always amazed to see me hauling two, sometimes up to four, bottles of milk when there is promo. I really hope that D would not develop a case of lactose intolerance, because both M and I would not know what to feed D if such thing happens.

Our extended family have given various health suggestions from propolis, habbatussauda (Nigella sativa) to other items, and D has tried everything. Unfortunately, he was not a patient patient (ha!). So if he has taken something for one week and felt nothing happened, he would stop having it. I told him that herbal medication might need more than one week to take effect, but he just would not listen.

When D has fever episodes, we give him boiled binahong leaves, which grow in the garden. Or lemon juice mixed with water. He already takes so many medication, so we try natural medicine whenever possible.

Also, around two years ago, the doctor finally told D to take insulin injection, instead of pills. D was very sad to receive the verdict, but it's mostly his fault that he did not take care of sugar blood level. The first few weeks of insulin injection had been a drama, but now he does it calmly while watching the TV show.

The ironic thing about D was: he refused to take minor surgery for pneumothorax, but he underwent a minor surgery for hernia in 2014. He did that when I was going abroad for work for almost three weeks, because he did not want me to be worried.

D sees the doctors every month for regular check ups. I am not talking about one visit a month, but three visits because he usually has three doctors: a pulmonologist for his lung problem, an internist for his diabetic problem and a general practitioner for any health problem, including allergies. The pneumothorax is still in his lung, and the regular check up is important to see whether it makes a nasty comeback or not. Sometimes he needs to see a dentist too. I am very grateful for the National Health Insurance (JKN-KIS) and BPJS Kesehatan as it has helped me so much on free health services.   

On emotional outburst, D still has it. He gets angry at anything, such as when M was slow to help him out of the car, when M held his hand to make sure he did not fall, when M told him to eat, when M forgot to remind him to take medicine, etc. I understand that the emotion is the result of him feeling helpless. When those outburst happens, the best way to handle it is to be silent and leave the room. How does M take it? Sometimes she just comes to my room and just checks to see what I do, and when I look at her face I just know she needs to vent. 

Both M and I realized that D needed to have fun, so we let him to meet his best friends. Although he is such a charming person, D only has four best friends that he could confide in. And all four of them have passed away in the past seven years. It was a huge blow for D, as he was always the sick person among his buddies. He always thought that he would die first, and he had told me since I was a very young child to be independent as he could die anytime. Witnessing the passing of his best friends has taught D that a person can be ill in the whole lifetime but no one knows their final day on earth. 

Where We Are At The Moment 

Nowadays D's activities are mosque-centered. He drives the car to mosque five times a day, sleeps and eats in between pray times, and just does small activities around the house. If anyone asks how is D, I can only say that he is just the way he is. He's not that ill that he can not move, but he's not that fit to walk to mosque, as I mention above "he drives the car".    

Also, by going to the mosque, he meets other men in their 60s-70s and has made new friends. His new friends have their own health problems and they would share information on health tips, medicine, etc. At least he now has another support system.

We have never wanted pneumothorax to come to our home. But since it has been here, I'm simply grateful that we have passed the past seven years quite successfully. I hope that everything goes smooth and according to Allah's will.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Permanent Job Vs Freelance Job

This July marks me being three months without permanent job, and two months as a freelancer. How have I fared? Well, so far it's been okay. It's been challenging to explain to people on what I do, especially to my parents because most of my cousins and friends have permanent jobs. Sometimes I feel like I'm a part of the millennials :P

M&D still have yet to understand the idea of a freelance, so most days they would yell at the top of their lungs to ask what would I have for lunch, or drill the walls, or turn on the vacuum cleaner, as if I am not working. Sometimes they would enter my bedroom and ask trivial questions when I am in the middle of deadlines. Perhaps this is what parenting feels like.

Here is a table on what I think about permanent job and freelance job. Feel free to add in the comment.

Permanent Job
Freelance Job
You have a number of paid leaves in a year, with notice of leave.
You can take a leave anytime, with notice of leave. No work means no pay.
Usually you get a desk and a desktop/laptop/other work device
You work with your own laptop from home/other places that have desks+WiFi.
Usually you get allowances for health, eyeglasses, dental treatment
No allowances. You should be able to take care of your health.
Work hour is usually between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. You should catch public transportation on time.
Depending on the deadline, you can work on the time schedule that you like. Discipline is still the key.
Weekend and national holiday are really days off
Sometimes you still have to work on weekend and national holiday
You need to look neat as you represent your organization
You can work in pajamas, face masker and no pants
You have a supervisor, whom you should report to, and possibly office politics
The client is the boss. Usually no office politics.
You have a job until you reach retirement age. You have a comfort zone.
When a job is done, it’s done. You find another, develop skills, get experiences.
You have colleagues, lunch time, social events
You can find freelancer communities that share similar interest with your line of work.

Have a magnificent Monday, people!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

2018 World Cup Has Started!

KV Svalbard's crew, formed by Norwegian navy pirates and scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, play soccer as they are protected from polar bears by armed guards in the sea around Greenland, on March 22, 2018. Source

The 2018 World Cup had kicked off in Russia! Which team are you rooting for? That icy soccer field is just unbelievable. As FIFA has more members than the UN, see more soccer fields across the globe in this link.

Friday, June 1, 2018

National Holidays: Indonesia vs Singapore

As an Indonesian living in Indonesia, I often forgot how privileged I have been when it comes to national holidays. I mean, have you ever counted how many national holidays Indonesians have in one year? At least 17 national holidays, including religious holidays and excluding the Mass Holiday declared by GoI for Idul Fitri holiday.

A few months back I got a freelance job from a Singapore-based company, meaning that I should work based on the neighboring state's work calendar. So I looked up the work calendar and found they only have 11 national holidays in one year. Here's a comparison list:

Indonesia National Holidays
Singapore National Holiday
January 1
New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day
February 16
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year
February 17

Chinese New Year
March 17
Hindu’s Day of Silence

March 30
Good Friday
Good Friday
April 14
Isra Mi’raj

May 1
Labor Day
Labor Day
May 10
Ascencion Day of Jesus

May 29
Waisak Day
Waisak Day
June 1
Pancasila Day

June 11
Idul Fitri Holiday (public sector)

June 12
Idul Fitri Holiday (public sector)

June 13
Mass Holiday (declared by GoI)

June 14
Mass Holiday (declared by GoI)

June 15
Idul Fitri
Idul Fitri
June 16
Idul Fitri day 2

June 18
Mass Holiday (declared by GoI)

June 19
Mass Holiday (declared by GoI)

June 20
Idul Fitri Holiday (public sector)

August 9

Singapore’s National Day
August 17
Indonesia’s Independence Day

August 22
Idul Adha
Idul Adha
September 11
Islamic New Year

November 6

November 20
Maulid Nabi

December 24
Mass Holiday (declared by GoI)

December 25

So today is a holiday in Indonesia, but I am working on my laptop. At least I'm working from the comfort of my bed, the perks of working as a freelancer. Man, I can't wait for that holiday on August 9 and November 6.

Happy holiday, good people in Indonesia!

Monday, April 30, 2018


Hello, lovelies!

Did you went to INACRAFT 2018, Indonesia's largest exhibition on small medium enterprises' handicraft products? INACRAFT 2018 used Plennary Hall, Assembly Hall, Hall A and Hall B, and the lower ground area. Including the corridors. This year's participants reached 1,700, which occupied around 1,400 booths in the exhibition area. 

I went with former colleague and we had great time perusing the wonderful items of clothes, home decors, other miscellaneous stuffs showcased by top vendors across Indonesia. We spent around eight hours in Jakarta Convention Center, hahaha. 

Bank BNI is the main sponsor of the event, so it's no wonder that the ticket to the exhibition area uses BNI TapCash, its electronic money card. Visitors could use their own card and top up the credit (if they don't have enough credit for the ticket), or buy the cards offered at the ticket counter. I already have a card, but then I saw the lovely design that featured the Bataknese Gorga motif and decided to buy it just because. Argh, good design is my weak spot.

As I'm not exactly a fashion person, I didn't really pay attention to the clothes exhibitors. I think  I can find most clothes I like in Thamrin City. So what I really look for in the event was random things that I seldom find. Here are some photos of such stuffs in no particular order.   

We stumbled upon a booth that sold vintage stuffs, including this first day covers on the 4th Asian Games held in Jakarta in 1962. This year's Asian Games will take place in Jakarta and also Palembang, so these items made good memory on how much Jakarta and Asian Games had been in touch all these years.

This booth brought wicker products from Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, and I just fell in love with the stuffs. 

This ceramic tile is in the size of a doormat, and it has batik patterns. Be still my heart. And I forgot to ask for the namecard of this vendor, ouch.

Sometimes INACRAFT has random exhibitors, such as this booth that featured fossils and other geological-related items. 

Hello, Batgirl! Would you dare wearing this eyeglasses frame? Hahaha.

I did buy some stuffs from the event: two headscarves, a wooden spoon and fork (because I often bring lunchbox), a small leather-weaving pouch (the weaving is of Sumba pattern) and the first day covers I put above.