Monday, August 31, 2009


5 days leave courtesy of the Health Authorities! Even better, starting from my wedding anniversary. I did not know whether to laugh or cry. Laugh because so happy to get some time off. Cry as it was very stressing and worrying especially in today’s environment of H1N1 scare. It was indeed a troubling and agonising experience. But an eye opener and reassuring one. A case of two extremes situation.

Not wanting to pinpoint what or where the cause and start of it all but a few days earlier, together with a friend, went to the Gerai Ramadhan at the Stadium to get some pesungkaian. This was after a couple of years not bothering to go there. Got the normal stuff. Nothing exotic. When it comes to food, I am not that adventurous. I should have heeded the warning signs after the first visit. The tummy started to grumble more often. As often as the thunders that accompanied the heavy rains we got frequently lately despite everyone predicting prolonged dry weather. The urge to look for one particular gerai made me went for the second visit. Then the trouble really started.

Grumblings becoming louder and louder. Visits to the small room got more frequent. Still manageable and even went out and about until realising my body temperature had shot up to well above the normal range. The worry got worse after noticing the mini poster about H1N1 hanging just outside the small room. Not wanting to take any risk, off to RIPAS I went.

Upon arrival, walking through the unmanned thermal screening, I could see my infrared self on the screen. If someone was there, they would have thought Thermo Man was making an appearance. I was on fire. May be even a candidate to be one of the hottest men there that night. After the normal filling in the form, another surprised awaited me. Not so much the waiting time, but seeing how the heart rate or rather pulse rate rocketing up. Panic mode but fortunately one of the doctors explained it must be the effect of my hotness. A couple of paracetamol gulped to lower the body temperature.

With my travel history, the well above normal body temperature and the tummy grumblings aka diarrhoea, I was referred to the Flu Screening Centre after a wait of over almost an hour. This wait, with hindsight was a good one. It provided ample time for the body temperature to go normal and the heart rate stabilised. After the interview and becoming another number in the H1N1 statistics, a lady doctor attended to me. Prepared for some swab samples to be taken but was pleasantly surprised when they did not ask me to. Been hearing stories of how painful it was to take the samples. Luckily I did not have the chance to verify this story. Saved by the lack of cough and some other symptoms. On the other hand, Brunei has moved on to the next stage of H1N1 fight, the Protect and Treat Phase where the emphasis is more on protecting the vulnerable group and not so much on reporting of every single case. So not every single suspect will be tested. Before going off, was given a few “bata” or take home stuff. The standard but effective paracetamol, something for the diarrhoea and most importantly the antiviral Tamiflu.

Over the next 36 hours, visits to the small room more and more frequent. If there is a customer loyalty programme, I would have got some air miles, may be even a free ticket to some exotic destination. Endless checking and monitoring of the pulse rate and especially the body temperature which was yo yoing. The digital ear thermometer shouted red alert most of the time when the readings were well above normal. To make matters worse, Tamiflu had a nice side effect. Nausea and vomiting. Imagine feeling like to vomit most of the time. It was definitely a case of exit both at the top and the bottom. Not the normal enter at the top, exit at the bottom scenario.

Allhamdulillah, after 36 hours or so, things had stabilised. Everything seems to be heading to normal except for the side effect which hopefully will be gone soon. This experience was indeed an eye opener on how blessed we are to have a first class health service and organisation. Despite some criticisms, justified or not, played up by the media, mostly in the internet chatters, all I saw and experience was total professionalism and care. True, the waiting time still needs to be improved, but what is a little wait. Compare to what is happening in our neighbouring countries where based on the news report, are facing mounting challenges from H1N1. All in all, we must be grateful to the health authorities here for their responsible, swift, professional and caring actions. Thank you for job well done, thank you for the 5 days leave ...........

Talking about anniversaries, I am sure most Bruneian Malays has the choice of two different dates to celebrate their wedding anniversaries. One is nikah day, the other is actual bersanding day which in majority if not all are two different dates. Some celebrate the nikah day for the obvious reason that is the day they are officially and legally husband and wife. Some celebrate the actual bersanding day. I dare not ask the logic behind this. I can only insinuate it’s because it is the actual day the marriage is consummated. To be on the safe side, celebrate both. But make sure you negotiate well in advance, just one present for both dates. 2 in 1 ............

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