Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Hospitalized for feet’s bacterial infection: part 1 of 2
It started with edema in the mid of August when I noticed my right foot to be swollen after teaching adult Christian education class one Sat morning. The swelling of both my feet coupled with increasing tiredness were telltale sign of the ineffectiveness of my 2nd chemo drug, Affinitor. After I stepped down from my teaching post at Jubilee School of Missions and the Peoples’ Presbyterian Church, and the Bible leader role from Providence Presbyterian Church at Jurong, I was able to rest more often, and had more time for reading. However, my edema became more serious towards the end of August. Propping the legs above the heart level every night was the only advice I had to from my oncologist to ease the swelling. I also noticed that my stomach had become bloated as well. I was told that my stomach was retaining water by my oncologist; because it was not serious enough, it was not a cause for concern yet. Dr. Kee from HCA hospice care advised me to take in highly nutritious milk as my main food intake to make up for insufficient protein intake. He asked me whether I would like to try diuretics to ease the edema, and I guess I was not ready to for new medication yet. However, I bought more packets of ready-made milkshake for cancer patient to supplement my protein intake.
By the end of August, the swelling in both legs had aggravated. I could only rest my feet on a higher support every now and then during the day to reduce the swell. At night, apart from wearing compression socks, and resting them on a pillow, there was nothing much I could do. The swell were usually less obtrusive in the day, and aggravated towards the evening. I had difficultly walking and felt clumsy in my movement. My mother borrowed a wheelchair and waling frame on my behalf to facilitate my movement at home. During my consultation with my oncologist on 23 Aug’11, I had to be wheeled in the hospital.
Finally, someone whom I am close to informed me of a registered practitioner in traditional Chinese medicine who is experienced in reducing water retention. His clinic is located at Upper Bukit Timah Road. After much hesitation, I decided to give it a try. The practitioner offers home consultation for a much higher fee than clinical visit, but since I had difficulty traveling, I asked him to come to my place. On 3 Sep’11 evening, he and his wife arrived and explained to me what he was going to do. He illustrated few examples of his success cases where his patients were relieved of their edema. According to him, my body could not absorb the excess nutrients and these had to be released. He commented that unlike the Western doctors who focused on draining off of fluids, his technique will in fact help the body to be strengthened eventually through acupuncture. He cited an example of his elder brother who was supposed to undergo surgery to remove his remaining kidney, but with two-year acupuncture treatment his elder brother’s kidney function was restored and was spared from the nightmare. He assured me that his technique will boost my overall immune system.
After heating his needle, which I assumed was his method of sterilization, and applying alcohol on my stomach and my feet, he started poking from my head, then to my feet where my mother, my wife, myself witnessed fluid oozing out from the acupuncture points. I felt a sense of relief as I thought I did not have to cope with edema much longer. Then the practitioner’s wife reminded him to poke my stomach. Fortunately, no fluid came out from my stomach. I was next given a used bottle of aloe vera cream to accelerate healing of the skin. What I did not know then was the beginning of bacterial infection for me. I was only told to wash my feet with clean water, to use toilet roll and towels to absorb outflowing fluid, and if fluid outflow was heavy, to use sanitary pad to wrap it. There was no sterilizing gauze or anti-bacterial solution in his concept. I was told not to use soap during bathing in the next few days, which I obediently followed. I was mentally prepared to expect heavy fluid outflow from both feet in the coming one to two days, and subsequent decreased in fluid flow three to five days after. The TCM practitioner left twenty minutes after his arrival, with a hefty sum of fee.