Aida Zabidi
If you see and hear an ambulance with its siren on, please get out of the way. 

A siren means that there is an unstable patient that is being transported for emergency care, and it is every person's civic duty to clear the road to their best of ability to ensure that time is not wasted.

Today I had the stressful experience of transferring a pediatric patient who was having seizures, and at a point in the transfer his oxygenation dropped. 

Imagine being the health staff, trying your best to resuscitate a patient in a shaky ambulance as it tries to weave its way through the traffic, trying to keep your balance the same time as a hundred and one things run through your head. Imagine watching in trepidation as the oxygenation worsens and having to prepare to intubate in the ambulance as the patient deteriorates.

Then imagine the feeling of looking out of the ambulance and seeing a traffic jam, in addition to realizing how drivers are taking their own sweet time making a path for the ambulance to go through, to the extent that the driver having to make an announcement so the cars in front of him would actually move.

Imagine being the mother in the ambulance, seeing her child go through a situation like that.

Imagine the feeling of the doctor, or the nurse, or the medical assistant in that ambulance, knowing that every second counts - and that potentially this could have been a case of life and death.

Please have some civic consciousness.

An ambulance siren is a serious situation, one where every second could mean a difference between life or death.

Please get out of the way.
Aida Zabidi
We have a new government.

Initially there was a sense of optimism, of excitement with the heralding of a new era. However slowly it seemed like doubt had started to creep in; the congratulatory mood was slowly replaced by doubts foreshadowing the election of certain individuals to prominent posts who were not Malay and Muslim, and a lingering fear that change would happen that would no longer protect rights of a people who have long enjoyed complacency to the point of entitlement.

When Lim Guan Eng was elected as finance minister, people were more focused on his race than more pertinent issues of perhaps, his corruption case or his track record of managing Penang.

When Tommy Thomas was elected as Attorney General, people brought up the issue of advisory and change to syariah law without understanding that he would be passing that baton to other experts in syariah as well as the role in Parliament as the safeguard to these laws.

When Tun talked about streamlining JAKIM and other religious institutions into one central body - the Islamic Affairs Department, people emphasized on how the rights of Muslims were being whittled away rather than looking at the attempt to strengthen and simplify the administrative processes that would make the body more effective.

A lot of people said "Now it's starting - a more liberal government." Well liberal means willing to respect or accept behaviours or opinions different as one's own - in the narrowest view, at least to respect and be able to have open discourse of these different ideas. It doesn't mean one has to agree to those ideas, but the ability to understand and accept our differences is a big step towards national unity.

We have a new government, but we are unwilling to change our mentality to one that is willing to look at the bigger picture and learn about the technicalities behind the processes involved in these decisions. How many of us understand the legal processes or banking processes in detail?

It's a time where freedom of speech is lauded, for both sides - but it doesn't mean that we throw away our critical thinking with it. It's a time to learn, to analyze and to form constructive opinions.

It will be scary for some, because we have been so entrenched in a culture that is protective of our rights - even when those rights are abused by those in power.

I am optimistic about the new government, but it does not mean that I don't reserve judgement on some decisions that have been made. Miracles don't happen in a hundred days, and changing a mindset of privilege is even more difficult.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the news and the daily developments - the new efforts towards a more transparent government and an attempt to build up trust for the people.
Aida Zabidi
I read this on my Facebook wall and I had to share:

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"A letter to the heart that is numb.

Standing in taraweeh while everyone is weeping – except you. Your friends talk about how exhilarating fasting is for them – but all you feel is irritation; and that is if you feel anything at all. Your supplications are just words you repeat – without heart.

What is the point of all of it? Your actions are robotic. Monotone. Without soul. You wish you could be like that person praying next to you in taraweeh who sobs during every prostration. You want to be the one passionately pleading with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala with humility. Your hope is that you can be that person whose heart is broken before God.

You know what? You too are special to Allah.

You who recites the Qur’an because you know it is good.
You who prays because Allah commanded you to.

You who attends lectures on Islam because you want to feel closer to Him.

The Prophet Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam told us that the person who recites the Qur’an and struggles with the recitation, receives twice the reward: for their recitation and for their effort and struggle. 

As long as you are trying, Allah is with you.

The fact that you get up to pray qiyaam even though you feel nothing, is appreciated by Allah. When you mouth the words to your du`a even when your heart is numb, Allah knows how you feel. And you are rewarded for that.

Do not think that this will go to waste. Allah gets it.

Because you are not worshiping a feeling. You do not bow down solely for that ‘high’. You prostrate only to the Lord of the feelings and the One who is the Most High. You submit to Him – through your prayers, fasting and supplication – because you know you have a Merciful, Just, Appreciative, Forgiving God, Who has the power to give life to everything that is dead.

Including your heart.

You know you have a Nurturing, Patient, Generous, Subtle and Kind Lord who can bring back whatever is lost.

He can bring you back.

So to the heart that is numb: Do not give up just yet. Your heart is on a journey. You are first and foremost worshiping your Lord. And He has promised you:

“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” (Qur’an, 29:69)

As long as you are doing good, Allah will guide you and He is with you.

“Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – the Most Merciful will appoint for them affection.” (Qur’an, 19:96)

So keep trekking. Your heart will open – He is, after all, al-Fattah. Al-Fattah is He who opens whatever is closed; your heart included. You might wonder when and how, but just know that it will happen. It could be on the last night of Ramadan or it could be a month after Ramadan – your heart will open inshaaAllaah. The daily exercise you do might not look like much, but you will inevitably see the results if you persevere.

Similarly, your good actions slowly chip away at what has been hardening your heart and, eventually, you will feel.

And if it gets too much, just talk to Allah. Tell Him how you feel, and tell Him how you want to feel. Do it every night, and every time you feel empty. He is there; never underestimate your turning to Him.

On the Day of Judgment, you will be grateful for your perseverance and your hope in Him, because it will matter more than you will ever know. So push yourself and exert all the effort you can. The tiniest ray of light can brighten the darkest of places."

Originally found here:
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Aida Zabidi
Malaysian news post-election just seems is absolutely fascinating, almost like watching a country being rebuilt. Every day seems to bring change, but the change also brings to light the skeletons in the closet, especially the country's potentially crippling debt.

Today the Ministry of Finance announced Tabung Harapan - a fund that came as a response to the request of everyday Malaysians who wanted to be able to contribute what little they could to help with the national debt - a measure of trust and hope put into the new government. 

There's a lot of divide - from optimistic Malaysians who are loving the idea to ones who seem scornful, especially in the wake of cuts to a bloated civil service and a broken promise to a promised festive allowance.

There are also going to be questions - how transparent will the transactions be, to what will the money be used for, how will the money be audited? Who has access to these funds, and to what capacity can they be used?

We are walking the path of a new Malaysia. There are new roads being taken that have never been navigated before, and the new government is forging ahead and making those changes. There will be a long road to recovery, a process of healing and there will be mistakes on the way.

To each their own.

The choices are always that, a choice, an option to do or not do. There is no coercion, it is just another option on top of the strategies that the Council will continue to run.

In the meantime, I'm glad to see a government that seems much more open to taking the suggestions and criticism. It will be fascinating to see how the country develops in the long run.
Aida Zabidi
People be like "Oh you're so skinny!" 

People also be like "Oh how can you eat so little rice?" 😒 

.....

I don't remember how old I was when I decided that health would be a priority in my life. Was it due to the frequent hospital admissions I had as a sickly asthmatic child? Was it a conscious rebellion against the thought of weakness? 

Whatever the driving force was, it was one that led me to good health habits which has probably allowed me to maintain myself at a healthy weight for the past twenty years.

There are no shortcuts - it's just diet and exercise.

I believe I have a healthy relationship with food, and I've never had to diet - although over the years I have made conscious efforts to eat healthier; from the attempts to reduce sugar to advocating portion control, to the occasional attempt to add superfoods to the diet.

I eat at consistent times (thanks mama and ayah for ingraining that in us!) and rarely eat heavy meals past 8pm (except for special occasions). At certain times when I'm not as active as I usually am, I won't feel as hungry and I adjust my meal accordingly. I also have no qualms at leaving food on my plate if I've been served an extra large portion. 
 
I started exercising at home since my teens, and despite being far from fit, somehow I managed to consistently do something that would contribute to my fitness at least once a week for the past 20 years. 

These are all habits that were built over years. 

I like to think that a lot more people are starting to embrace a healthier lifestyle, but at the start of change it can be an uphill battle. Changes don't happen overnight, unless you're going through an intensive program, and that may not always be sustainable. 

Make small changes. Take smaller portions. Do a few hundred extra steps a day. Don't beat yourself up if you slip up, but make sure you get back up and try again.  But most importantly, be consistent about it.

Our health is a precious gift, and one that should never be taken for granted.
Aida Zabidi
In the wake of our new government, it was an interesting day at work today - if only because one of our long term patients, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was discharged today. 

The presence of housing a political figure of Anwar's stature has meant an increased number of police and armed forces constantly being around the hospital, and the constant presence of press added an additional layer of consciousness that things were not quite as normal, even as we went about our everyday work. 

Walking to our local snack shop meant having to walk past eight security officers and towards the waiting press, tags were constantly checked and texts were constantly blasted out to inform us of the latest change of regulations within the workplace. 

Still, the day of his release was filled with a certain excitement. 

As I walked through the hospital, the sudden activity near the ward caught my eye as Anwar emerged - from the focused attention of the army officers, the emotion on the face of his wife and daughter to the excitement on the faces of the staff and patients; and that was just inside the hospital - before the frenzy that greeted him outside, to a world that saw his release as an end of an era and the beginning of a new one. 

As my father in law said, it really was history in the making. 

It will be a long road ahead for our government, and the next year will be a trial phase to see what happens. Like many others, I have hope in new beginnings, but it is also a time of treading uncharted waters, and one can only hope for the best. 

As Ramadhan dawns, I hope that we find it in our hearts to rise above ourselves and seek forgiveness to those we have wronged, and forgive those who have wronged us in return. After all, if Anwar and Mahathir can do it after what they have all gone through, we should be able to do the same too. 

On another note, it's going to be awesome going to work without the constant police presence yay!
Aida Zabidi
I've felt a little overwhelmed and underwhelmed this year turning a year older.

Part of me feels like I don't feel any older than I was, but there's another part of me that realizes how the years are passing, and the burden of life has started to creep into an anxious subconscious, especially with the current situation of infertility and the impending sense that the clock is ticking on the opportunity to conceive.

I have the sense of being at a crossroads in my life, torn between staying exactly where I am and forcing myself to move forward.

The year started out with a rough patch, and I foresee a stormy year ahead as it is. 

There's an added reluctance to rock the boat. 

But then there was the love, the friends - the reassurance that it was okay to be on this path I was, alone or together, that it was okay to be as uncertain as I was at this point of time.

Growing old doesn't necessarily mean that I become more comfortable with what the future holds. On the contrary it feels like each passing year puts me in a bigger state of discomfort with the added responsibilities in my life. Perhaps the discomfort is meant to push me outside my comfort zone, to push me forward so I can move already, from inside this comfortable circle that I've kept myself in.

Perhaps it's time to step up.
Aida Zabidi
My sister’s ex-husband remarried three days ago.

It’s been hard.

It’s hard to see my sister go through the pain of having to deal with a divorce she didn’t want, to have her break down from hurt and pain while having to struggle as a main caregiver for her two young children. It’s hard to hear her cry when I cannot be there.

In some ways the children will not have full access to a father. He will be a partial part of their lives, someone who comes and goes, there for the fun happy times but will not be there as part of their everyday lives.

He will not see my dad sit down with his children every day to do their homework with them, with a hundred and one excuses to escape their work.

He will not see my mother’s tears whenever she sees her grandchildren tell her they miss their father, nor the worry in her eyes in the moments of them acting out.

He will not know our concerns as we watch the children grow, how they crave the attention of other males as replacement for a father figure.
But he will also miss the beauty of watching them grow into their wonderful selves, miss their wonderful quirks and cheeky little conversations, the laughter they bring to our lives.

As my sister Khairun wrote, “Don’t get me wrong. I’m struggling still. None of my family members are divorced. So I had no reference point, no knowledge of what to expect or what to do. But most of all, I had an inability to see Max as anything else but my husband.

But I write this because it’s hard. Not for his vilification or for anyone to take sides. But to share this experience from a woman’s point of view. Because we so easily call a woman emotional and tell her she has to be strong. But we fail to tell a man that he has wronged. Fail to remind him of his responsibilities and how he is being disrespectful. In all cultures, we blame the woman and congratulate the man.

Yet, it is me who has to scale things down for the children who is now supported by a single income. It is me who has to hear her kids cry when they miss dad. It is me who has to figure out what to tell them so their idea of marriage and love and commitment isn’t cheapened by the decisions their father has made. It is me who bears the responsibility so my son to not repeat the errors made by the generations before him - that he doesn’t do this to another woman, another child. It is me who has to explain why they have to grow up without their father, for the rest of their lives.

Knowing has brought me a certain peace. And seeing it for myself gave me closure. But deep love means I am bound to this man for life and will always care greatly for his happiness and wellbeing.

And deep love almost always comes with deep pain.”

For whatever it’s worth, I hope the decision is for the best for all parties.

 Please pray for my sister and her children, for the strength to face their challenges ahead and for the best in the years to come.
Aida Zabidi
I had a conversation once with a very successful plastic surgeon who had dropped by the house to pay a visit to my mother in law.

Interestingly enough, she was one of the few plastic surgeons I had spoken to who didn't believe in performing plastic surgery unless it was absolutely necessary, and she was such an advocate of natural beauty that she had followed up her professional training with a PhD in body dysmorphia and why people chose to do plastic surgery or take supplements for aesthetic reasons - in a Malaysian context, commonly to be fairer, slimmer or in the case of men, 'bigger'.

She regaled us of the horror stories she had seen, who had come to her after botched jobs, done clandestinely in the living room of some big shot or other, or other individuals who had done one surgery after another without understanding their own psychological insecurities why they chose to do so, and surgeons and aestheticians who would choose to proceed without counselling these patients properly.

We spoke about the widespread use of cosmetologists and aesthetics, and how common it had become that procedures were performed with minimal training, with minimal credentialing - how so many practitioners were allowed to practice in the field without proper supervision, without even knowing the potential side effects of the procedures they were doing.

It's a different world we live in, and having the constant reminder of perceived perfection on social media doesn't make things any easier. 

The choice to make changes to our physical shape is a conscious choice, but it is one that is easily fed into the psychology of the insecure.

The beauty industry feeds into the fears and insecurities of individuals, at the cost of a vicious cycle - an industry that is often unregulated and allowed to flourish, and sometimes the effects are permanent and regrettable.

We are made exactly the way we are, perfect and imperfect in our shape and form.

To make those permanent changes, one should truly decide after proper psychological assessment and counseling, to ensure that the decision is made as an informed choice, with all the risks and probabilities explored.