Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some More Random Thots on Death

A colleague just this week was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas .Medium survival 6 months .With state of the art chemo and radiotherapy,if you are very lucky 1 year .
In the doctors rest room a small group of us were discussing the merit and demerit of 'saying goodbye' to this earthly life the 'fast way'[massive heart attack,mva,plane crash etc etc ]against the 'slow way'[incurable cancers,leukemias,debilitating strokes,chronic heart or lung failures etc etc],since in the same week we have al most gone bonkers discussing Dr M. We could not make any sense of Dr M's recent resignation from his AMNU this same week.....age and the thought of death itself must have hit that old man ! .

On the point of death itself,from my perspective, any superficial discussion generally devoid of divine revealed injunction, would be a sheer waste of time and function.Very naive,rather secular discussion devoid of depth just like the 'war games' they used to enact in the Pentagon before the rape and devastation of Iraq.Without the 'spiritual'content any discussion on death,or rather moment of death,tend to be shallow,for no one can predict at that precise moment of death,the one involve can be in a different 'plane'altogether and that precise short moment could well be a protracted affair for the individual concerned.Only God knows.That precise moment when you face Izra'il ,Mr Death himself,on his turf.You and him would be in the world of your own ,oblivious of the surrounding.

Needless to say as cardiologists in a hospital setting,we 'presided'over most hospital deaths be it during office hours or in the wee hours of the morning.A thankless job,imagine yourself being called at 3 am just to see and maybe 'bring to life'an 80 year old man dying of terminal cancer in Bed 211,who suddenly went blue and noticed by the night nurse to be not moving .Cardiac arrest.The usual euphemism :Code Blue .Either you are there Ist or the anaesthetist on call or the resident MO.I have 'presided' over more than several thousands such calls in my 30 years or so of hospital practice.When you drive home to capture any decent sleep remaining and see your spouse snoring away like crazy you cannot help but feel honoured and priveledged to have been there when even the closest family members of the newly departed were just probably be making their way to the hospital.

It was 3am,you were there and you damn sure Izra'il was also there.You are not paid for the service rendered whatever the time[as all Code Blue are dire emergencies]but what the heck, you are in the priveldge territory and presence of Mr Death himself,Izra'il !. That is an honour and esteem.

I usually say a few prayers for the departed and also for my own salvation .Despite the several thousand times ,during my lonely drive home I cannot help but felt eerie about that kind of encounter :"The next one could well be me feeling". It is time like these that make myself think of my very own mortality 10, 20 times a day , everyday ! And that is a priveledge and a blessed life, if I have got the right hadith correctly that I used to read somewhere!.... was it from Abdul Qadir Jilani's 'Sublime Revelation' ? Maybe from Imam Ghazali's most beautiful long discourse on 'Remembrance of Death and The Afterlife', translated magnificently by T J Winter ? Must be from one of these two or maybe Hamka......

The one million dollar question? How many able to say the 'syahadah' at that moment in time .From my experience,very very very few!I can recall only 2 individuals in my whole quantum of experience.One lady of late 60's,a dear patient of mine 15 years back,mother of my friend,Zul, a self made millionaire thru forwarding business,died as a complication of angioplasty when at that time stent was not invented yet and the resident cardiac surgeons could not help because despite popular believe, they are 'slow animals'.It take a couple of hours to prepare a healthy cardiac patient for surgery.It take only a few minutes for a moribund old heart patient to die.Of course in a court of law ,the judge and lawyers will always appear very clever."I put it to you Dr Nik that you have not exercised due care blah blah blah ".No shade of gray in their superficial world,just simple yes and no! F...k these bastards!If life at that precise moment can be very simple.3 am ,4am ,5 am in the wee hours of the morning ,you struggling with dear life and Izra'il looking over your shoulders ,all the time .All the time!

Well back to this fine lady . She was saying the syahadahs all the way . Very rare breed .Another chap was an old man from Kampong Melayu Subang . Can still remember his name .Javanese chap. Toppan Rusdie . Always very polite.Always come to my outpatient clinic followed by his dutiful son .One day came in with bad intractable angina .Required urgent coronary angiogram but no son and father conferred ,No Angiogram ! No invasive procedure ,we have no fund !Had a massive myocardial infart shortly after that .[Later I discovered this old man had 'many many' acres of land near Subang Airport ].He was destined to meet Izra'il then .Shahadah till the last .
I said only 2 but actually nearly 3 .

I was doing CCU round one bright Sunday morning when I saw an SYT probably in her early 20's,Irish ? Australian ? sitting anxiously outside .One corner of the open bedded CCU then was shrouded and I knew some active resuscitation was going on behind the screen .Someone groaning " Allah ,Allah ,Allah ...".My senior cardiologist colleague was there 'presiding' over the Code Blue .Patient survived .Tun Datu Mustaffa died a week later in Sabah.From then on I make a point not to prejudge a man's destiny with his Maker from his 'apparent' lifestyle and 'colourings'.Only Allah Knows .


Anonymous said...

Aslmlkm/Kind Greetings & Best Wishes to All. The angel of death is named Izra’il Alaihissalam (alias “Malaikul Maut”), while Israfil Alaihissalam is the mighty angel who signals the end of the world and the beginning of the much dreaded Judgement Day; whether people believe in it or not, like it or not, absolutely nobody can deny that Day when it comes. Just like DEATH - nobody can ever deny DEATH when IZra’il comes! The smartest person is the one who continuously makes EARLY preparations to face life after death which is a journey much much longer than the journey of life before death. There is no second chance; we, mortal humans only die once! So, let us all be prepared. Allahu Akbar! Wslm

Pearls & Gem said...

Thank you Anonymous.I stand corrected.Yes, I must have met crossed path with Izra'il many2 times in the course of my work .Late night especially when called to see a dying patient.Me ,the patient and one or two other guys .Surreal!
But actually Izra'il does visit us several times in a day ,"probably ponder at his diary and us" and probably sigh and say ,ahh! this chap ,not his time yet.
That is how close we are to death everyday.
Dr Nik Howk

Pearls & Gem said...

I recently had the opportunity to meet Dzul,the son of that lady i narrated earlier in the blog and asked him what was so special with his mother ...'was she highly schooled,tahajud every night plus plus and etc etc?'.
Zul's answer was that there was nothing spectacular with her as she was like any mother,except as far as he remembered she was a deeply loving mother,widowed very early in her life, and the only thing that stood out as spectacular was that she looked after her own aging mother with devotion and care ,never complaining,who lived well beyond the 80's !Mashaallah!
Beyond our prayers and the sharia it seem a 'big generous heart' and love and care of aging parents are important prequisites for that 'cool' place in the 'jannah'.Hadiths are much abound with these examples .