Aida Zabidi
My colleague realized it was our patient's birthday today.

He was a young guy who had become paralyzed after an accident up to his shoulders and ended up in our ward for rehabilitation.

He was alone, with family far away in another state.

We bought a slice of cake for him, and as he blew out a candle, I wondered how he felt, turning a year older in a hospital room far away from his family, struggling with the simple act of cutting a cake.

Sometimes there are the small mercies.

For him, he'd come a long way from being bedbound, barely being able to lift his arms or sit up; being able to blow out the birthday candle and lift a spoon was an achievement for him. In the days he spent in our ward, it seemed that he had accepted his fate, and his weaknesses and he learnt to smile again, and enjoy life.

There are so many things to be thankful for, and it's something I'm constantly reminded about every day.

Sometimes it's in the little things.

The people you're surrounded by, the ones who will want to do good by you. Being loved, being able to do the small things. Being able to smile, and laugh, and talk to the ones closest to your heart.

We will all have our challenges, and some more than others.

For our birthday boy today, my prayers are that you will find happiness and peace. May your arms become stronger, may your wounds eventually heal, and may you gain strength and balance over time.

For today, just live in the moment. Happy birthday.
Aida Zabidi
A friend asked me to come out for Halloween one night, and I didn't have a costume. With only hours to spare and the trusty Internet, I managed to YouTube through a tutorial for a spooky Cheshire cat. 

Sure, it took me a couple of hours, but I'm rather proud of the work - not bad for a first timer!

What do you guys think?

Aida Zabidi
The first time I went to Siem Reap was almost 6 years ago, and I was a broke student. I do remember how much I loved the place, and how fondly I thought of it, and I knew apart of me would always come back. 

Fast forward years later, and when my husband and I decided that we needed a break, he mentioned his interest in doing a yoga retreat. We eventually found one in Siem Reap and it was the first time going on holiday and 'not doing anything' for a couple of days. Usually I pack my holidays. I want to see everything there is, I want to meet different people and do different things, try the different foods and restaurants and just immerse myself in the experiences there are to offer. 

This was the first time doing a yoga retreat, having yoga and meditation sessions three to four times a day, and learning the concepts of the other arms of yoga asides from just the asanas (also the first time I had so many vegetarian meals!!). 

I personally find meditation very difficult, but it also made me realize how cluttered my mind could get, and how difficult it is to retain mindful information. It's been good, learning to connect, learning to forgive, and learning to let go. 

When we eventually emerged from our retreat and spent our last day temple hopping, we got a guide - and I don't regret it at all; the temples are so rich in history and mythology that having a guide made the whole complex really come alive for us, and being able to appreciate the small details of the temples really made a difference in the way I viewed them. Having previously walked around the temples without knowing much about the history, and having a guide this time round really made a big difference. 

If you're ever in Cambodia, I thoroughly recommend Rithy from Angkor Wat Day Tours as your guide; he spoke excellent English and was so knowledgeable about the history of the temples, and really made sure we saw the best spots! 

It's a lovely laidback enough place that I feel that I would come back another day. Until then, enjoy our holiday video!

Kampuchea '17 from Syaril Ezzuddeen on Vimeo.
Aida Zabidi
So today was the first appointment I had at the fertility clinic, and Behr and I were there bright and early to make sure we got a parking spot.

So prior to seeing the specialist, I had to do another transvaginal scan (noooo I hate those things, but what can one do). The clinic has a dedicated sonographer that screens patients, most likely because their scans are more accurate I assume. Somehow trying to consciously relax your vaginal muscles when the probe is inserted is much more difficult to do that it sounds. 😑

We then met the specialist, Dr M, who talked really fast and walked us through the investigations that we had done.

So we were lucky that most of our scans were normal - ovaries were fine, tubes weren’t blocked, sperm analysis was better than normal (Behr was super happy lol), and all the hormonal assays were normal except for progesterone, which was below the normal range (that’s the culprit right there)!

Dr M basically told me I was anovulatory - that my ovaries were not releasing the ovums (why ovaries, why?). If we all remember our basic biology, the ovum is basically the egg that the sperm has to inseminate to make an embryo, and basically mine were just staying in my ovaries. 😑😑😑

So we had a few options, and he went through them super fast, so my head was spinning a little bit from the information overload.

The first option would be to try a medicine called Clomid, which would basically encourage ovulation. That would just involve taking pills, but I would still have to come in for a scan on the second day of my period to make sure that my ovaries would be ready.

Failing that, the next option would be for artificial insemination (intrauterine insemination or IUI), but apparently the success rate was pretty low.

The next step was in vitro fertilization (IVF), which costs a bomb, would need quite a few hormone injections, egg collection (under sedation) and the whole process of putting the embryo back in. That would most likely be the best option for us.

It would be fine to try a couple of cycles for the hormone treatment, but essentially the concern was that the longer we waited the lower the success rate would be (basically he told me my ovaries were old, even though I don’t feel old at all). 😪 Dang biology.

Sigh. So here we go, down the rabbit hole.

So I might be massively putting on weight, or I might be eating more than usual or having more mood swings (as Behr puts it, being more ‘woman’ than usual) on this treatment, so I’m mentally prepping myself for more gym runs and to eat healthier in the event that this might all happen (please hormones be kind).

In the meantime, anyone has thoughts or feedback about IUI or IVF? Any recommendations for centers, good doctors, experiences - I would appreciate any feedback!
Aida Zabidi
She's 86. He's in his 80s as well, and he's brought her in for her checkup.

She's started to forget, but her husband assures me he takes care of her medications, and that he makes sure she eats the pills every day. He's driven her here, as he usually does for her doctor's appointments, and I ask if he's still okay to drive, and he assures me he's not had any accidents, although he does complain that people always seem to be rushing and emergency braking these days.

She's got hearing difficulties and smiles at me when I ask her questions, but responds as her husband loudly translates my questions to mandarin. She's due for a hearing aid, her husband tells me, but they're still waiting.

This is their relationship, well into their golden years. He is her caregiver, the one she will rely on as her memory will slowly fade. He is accepting of the fact, but his eyes darken as I gently bring up the possibility that she might forget, forget him and their loved ones on one day.

We should all be so lucky to be loved like that.
Aida Zabidi
Recently, Behr and I started on our infertility journey. After a year of trying for a child, we realized that we were probably going to be one of those couples that would have some difficulty conceiving.

I went for the first appointment and they organized for some blood tests, a semen analysis and a hysterosalpingogram, which were all done at different times.

Behr did his semen analysis first and it was a hilarious few days, making sure we didn’t have intercourse for three days prior (classic case of the more someone tells you no, the harder it is to abstain), and waking up bright and early to get the sample over to the lab. I asked if they had magazines to inspire him, and I remember us laughing over it.

This week I did my hysterosalpingogram, an imaging test that basically checks if your Fallopian tubes are okay. It involves inserting a catheter up your cervix and injecting a contrast dye in that tracks upwards.

I had to lie down, be prepped so I was sterile and they inserted a speculum in (uncomfortable!). There were a first year and a third year radiology masters student, but the first year female doctor proceeded to attempt to put in the catheter.

I was prepared for it to be painful, but I had taken a painkiller, so the pain was tolerable. The first doctor couldn’t insert the catheter though (I could hear the words difficult, if I force it it would be traumatic etc), and at that point they would call a registrar. As they opened the door a crack and the registrar poked his head in, I realized it was Jimmy, my ex-medical officer back when I was a houseman. FML.

Eventually they called in a female registrar and they finally proceeded. As they injected the dye, I got these massive abdominal cramps - I must have been making a face because they then put in a brannula to give some IV medications.

Apparently the procedure usually takes 30 minutes, mine ended up taking over an hour. 😅 I was good immediately after, but later that day, I had the worst cramping pains I’ve ever experienced - I couldn’t walk, didn’t have any painkillers on hand, and basically stayed curled up in bed until Behr came back with a hot pack and medicine. I was still in pain for two days after!

The things women have to go through. 😑

I wanted to share our story because I’ve had so many people telling me they went through a similar situation, and I don’t think it’s something to hide behind.

Infertility is more common than you think, and I don’t feel it’s something to be ashamed of. It’s a shared problem - and if you have been trying for children for a year without success, both partners should be tested.

Children, like everything else, are blessings from Allah. Behr and I have decided we’re not going to be super fussed either way. We’re just at the beginning of a journey, and we have no idea where it will lead us. We’re lucky in so many ways, and whatever comes up in the process, we’ll just take it as it comes. I’m lucky to have Behr, who’s been supportive throughout, and in this journey with me.

And for everyone else going through the same journey, we’re all in this together. 😘
Aida Zabidi
I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to explore the East Coast Islands.

We took a short break to Perhentian Islands, and despite the potential weather forecast of rain and bad weather, we went ahead anyway because it was the only opportunity we would have, especially since the islands would soon be closing due to the monsoon season.

The last time we ever went to one of the local islands was the first year Bear and I met and were dating, which was a good three years ago, and somehow I can’t wrap my head around the fact that it took us so long to actually repeat the process.

I’m glad that we came. 

Yes, it did rain - but not all the time. We managed to swim, sun and snorkel - and even managed to take some shots with the drone. It was the first time we flew it over water, and dang that was scary! Every time we took it out I would mentally picture the cost of the drone in my head and have a mini-heart attack. 😂

Anyway, enjoy the footage!

Perhentian '17 from Syaril Ezzuddeen on Vimeo.

Aida Zabidi
Thank you to the amazing team behind the opening ceremony of the para-SEA Games.

Thank you for celebrating them with dignity and sensitivity, with pomp similar to the SEA Games opening ceremony.

Thank you for giving a face to disabilities, for humanizing them to a community that is not always exposed. Today I saw a significant number of youth especially, in wheelchairs, a few with crutches and obvious muscle weakness. I saw them come in the arena with excitement and for awhile, I couldn’t imagine how they saw these athletes and imagine themselves in their places instead. I saw them leave talking about the ceremony, taking photos in their wheelchairs, like any other young person.

Having pride in our differently abled sportsmen and women gives a face, a role model to others out there with the same challenges; it gives them hope. I couldn’t help being touched as the Paralympic athletes came into the stadium, some with a hemiplegic gait, some in their wheelchairs - all with the pride of representing their respective nations on their faces.

I was told that the celebrations this year were on a different level for the para-games, which were previously treated as the SEA Games poor sibling. This year was a whole different story. It was a statement, more than anything that said that these Paralympic athletes deserved just as much as their able bodied counterparts, and should be celebrated as such.

We are a society that is only as good as we treat the differently abled, the poor and more unfortunate members of our society. Although we have a long way to go, every little bit of effort counts.

Tonight was amazing - I'm so glad I got tickets (thanks team neuro)! Good luck to our Paralympic athletes, you're all already winners!
Aida Zabidi
I’ve recently come back from my travels and it’s been amazing.

I’ve decided to start a new blog chronicling my travel adventures, just so I can document the places I’ve been to. It’ll be a work in progress, especially since I haven’t been particularly disciplined about blogging here either - but the fact that I can still blog and keep this going for so many years is something I count as a personal victory of sorts.

Watch this space!