Friday, May 30, 2008

NS : My Story

Should NS be abolished? This topic had came arise after some reported deaths of trainees in NS training camps. While all of us are still debating on whether NS should be abolished, I think I should tell my NS story because, seriously, I could had ended up being on one of those newspaper reports.

First I would like to talk about getting sick in NS camps. To be frank, getting sick in NS is kind of a very normal thing. I was so used to be living in a comfy home and being so well taken cared by our parents. Out of a sudden, I was called up to attend National Service and will be away from home for 2 and a half months. Ah! My first taste of independence. I was quite set to go through this task. But after the first week there, a lot of us did fell sick.. (minor sickness). By not drinking enough water and not taking good care of myself, I got my first taste of independence by having cough and a sore throat. But somehow later, I got the hang of it and started taking care of myself properly.

National Service went pretty well for the first month until it was Chinese New Year time. It was the time when I first got seriously ill during the NS period. It was terrible because the fever kept coming on and off. I was seriously frustrated. For instance, I'll had fever in the morning and it will recover 3 hours later after I took panadol but the fever will return at night. This took place 3 days in a row. On the 4th day, I thought I was finally well and I went out with friends. But halfway though the night, I felt this sharp coolness follow by numbness on my knee and ankle.Even after all this events (the numbness on my knees and the weird fever), I wasn't taking it seriously enough. Just finally went to a clinic and took some antibiotics. Never did I knew that I will be relying on a lot of antibiotics 2 weeks later.

On the day when I was suppose to return to camp, the fever was no more and I thought I gained full recovery and will be alright for the shooting training 2 days later. I was in hopeful mood that I'll not be sick on the day of the shooting training programme which was a once in a lifetime experience. And I did. I was well for the whole week until the day I stupidly went for blood donation. Out of my conscious and since I was already well for the whole week, I thought I'll be fine to donate blood. It wasn't my first time so I didn't hesitate about donating blood. Anyway, I asked the medical officer there whether I was allowed to donate since I was sicked the previous week. The blood pressure test and blood test didn't showed anything abnormal. He said if I'm healthy and had no sickness for a week already, it is okay.

The next night, I started to show conditions of fever again. It was the same condition as before (on and off fever). Even when flying fox, wirajaya, kayaking and community services events were just around the corner, I was in a low mood because the on and off fever was just depressing. Without knowing how serious I was at that time, I was still hoping to participate in those activities. I got tired really easily especially during and after morning exercise and afternoon programmes and I'll just complained to be unwell and sit out from the activities. Even my friends were noticing me getting worn out easily and not like my usual self. I spent a lot of spare time sleeping and I lost my appetite all the time. Before this, I used to be always chatting with other people or practicing the guitar with my friend.

I went to the medical clinic twice in 2 days complaining about my on and off fever and all I got was some paraceptemol and nothing else.. not even MC because they thought I'm not ill enough to be excluded from the activities. Anyway, thanks to the trainers, even though I didn't have MC, I didn't need to participate but just to sit back and watch. Guess they saw though my sincerity and believe that I wasn't faking as some do. About the clinic, I believe most of us, trainees, agreed that when we were very sicked, we did not have the mood and the eager to walk all the way to the clinic but prefer to sleep. It wasn't located very near the dorms. Some said some of the medical personnels didn't take those who were sicked seriously at times and so what's the point of going there. It was quite half true depending of the person in charge on the specific day. On another perspective, there were a lot of trainees who fake their sickness just to skip the day and lepak around.

Well, on the 3rd day, I missed the chance to join the first community service but I finally thought over it that something was really wrong with me. I was so tired and weak, I could faint any moment. I couldn't walk nor had the mood to talk. Just felt like lying down and forget about everything else. For that particular morning, even when I'm not having fever, I went to the clinic again as I don't know when the fever will strike again. They finally took my blood test and the results just struck me. They said I had anemia (low haemoglobin). "What in the world happened?" I thought to myself. I have no history of Thalassemia trait nor anything like this had happened before. But it seriously got to do the on and off fever. I phoned my dad and shocked him well enough.

Actually, once they found out about what happened to me, their actions were quite fast. I was jabbed and given iron pills. Later in the afternoon, I was sent to Sungai Siput Hospital while on drips The journey took like 45 minutes and my parents were called to come and see me. I knew I must had worried them a lot. All this just came all a sudden to me. I must say the doctor in the hospital didn't attend to me that well. He just checked and asked me a few questions and I was discharged 30 minutes later. I wasn't having any fever and he must had thought it was just anemia. I was given a 1-week MC from NS and went home.

It's not over yet and I know something is terribly wrong with me. What caused the anemia and fever? I was so pale at that time, I completely scared my parents. Again, I felt so guilty and bad for that but what can I do... I was all white and almost completely lost all the colours of my face and hands, as told by my parents. All that while, I was just dizzy and very blur. My mum called my sis to ask her housemate about it. I could had got contaminated by some forest bacteria or something. Later that night, I admitted myself into Ipoh Specialist Hospital. I was having high fever and very pale. Again, i was put on drips. Urine test, blood test, x-ray and ultrasound - I did all of it. X-ray and ultrasound were to make sure my organs wasn't affected by the recurring fever. Even the doctor was worried for me. I simply became the first person to be hospitalised in my family. I knew I was more worried about my parents being so tensed and scared by my condition than me myself. I was just what I felt.

A normal person should have a minimum Hb (haemoglobin) level of 13 and I scored as low as 7.2 . I was having fever every night and i had to be put on antibiotics and sodium chloride drips during my stay in hospital. I had to take blood test for 5 days consecutively. So, can you imagined how many time I was jabbed? It's not denggi and malaria. My urine test results showed that there were some high level of bacteria. So, my case was considered bacteria infection. I stayed in that highly expensive hospital for 6 days before getting discharged.

I'm totally glad that I'm alright now because anything could had happened to me at that time. It was quite serious. Thank God. I totally had a different NS experience as I missed all the key activities except the shooting training and halangan kembara. Instead I got stranded in a hospital. How did I get the bacteria infection in the first place? What would had happened if my parents didn't sent me to hospital the very night I came back? I won't blamed the blood donation but it surely had weakened me at that time. My NS days was just 1 and a half months.

Link to my sis's blog post