Here is an article I was moved to write for a local newspaper while I was in hospital. COMMENTARY: On Human Endurance For the past two weeks I have been laid up in hospital. In addition to my inherent genetic blood clotting disorders, Protein C Deficiency and Protein S Deficiency (chronicled in my book, ? Life is a Leaky Bucket?) I suffer from a host of food allergies. This time around it was a food allergy that landed me in hospital. It is bad enough to have to go through an allergy, but it is nothing in comparison to the depths of human suffering the average person goes through when faced with adversity. I am amazed and impressed by the quiet fortitude of human endurance. I have been watching people around me, talking to the relatives of sick people and I have learnt some valuable lessons in life and how life should be lead. While I was not ready to be discharged, after a few days, within the first week, I was in a position to gingerly take my first steps and venture out into the corridors of the hospital ward. Here I met a host of people and listened to so many stories. People who have put their own life on hold to help another. People that do what has to be done. People who perform tasks and fulfill their duties as a fellow human being. People, just people being human, never expecting anything in return doing the best they can. Listening to these stories of people, real life people with real lives, I decided I simply had to put pen to paper and write about these unsung heroes. Everyday we meet people; we pass by people we do not know, perhaps on the train or just on the street. Has anyone ever wondered what goes on in the lives of these people? We see a person whom we nod to and say hello or just good morning. We do not see what goes on in their lives, what they endure on a daily basis. Do they suffer? Are they happy? What goes on in the mind behind those eyes that draw a dark curtain on their lives, hiding their pain from the world? Relatives of patients dying in a hospital, forced to go through the motions of everyday living, earning a living to pay the bills. Their lives torn apart and their hearts heavy with pain. The heart wanting to remain nearby to the loved one, gleaning every precious moment left, greedy to make memories for the future filled with the pain of unendurable but inevitable loss. The pragmatic and cold reality that forces the same person to attend to everyday matters, life has to go on! Every morning the cleaning lady came in to clean my room at the hospital. She would greet me with a lovely smile and go about doing her job. As she got to know me better she started opening up. She has type I diabetes. She showed me the scars from her surgeries. Her left foot is missing two toes, lost to poor circulation caused by her disease. She earns Rm.500 per month. On that salary, she has supported three children. One, her daughter, is married and her son is an assistant sales manager in an IT company. Her last child is still at home. She is very proud of her son. He has a good job and drives a car. However, the sad reality is he is ashamed of his mother. After all he is a now a white-collar worker and his mother is a mere cleaning lady. She said to me,? he sees me when he drives past, but he wont even look at me?. I was so overwhelmed by the sadness of this situation that I was moved to write this piece on human endurance. Imagine the selfless love of a mother, working so hard, fighting to give her children a better life. Looking forward to the day when her children are better placed in life. How proud she must have been the day her son graduated. I can visualize her heart swelling with love and pride the day he must have got his first job. What joy this mother must have experienced. Today, her son refuses to acknowledge her. And yet, when she talks about him, it is without rancour. She just accepts that this is the way things are. It does not diminish the pride she feels in her son and his success. She endures his ignoring her. That her son is successful overrides the pain she endures of having lost a son. One of my newly found friends in the hospital; we found each other as we both smoke and as smokers we are social lepers, especially in a hospital environment; has a younger brother. His brother has a viral infection that is spreading all over his body. The virus has attacked his vital organs and is now eating away at his brain. Virus is the term applied to indicate an infliction of unknown origin. By its very nature, it is not curable, as no one knows its source. One can only hope to boost the patient?s system enough to enable the afflicted person to fight and over come the infection. This newly found friend of mine gave up his job to make time for his brother. His brother is young, and as he has only one brother he decided it was more important to make time for his brother than to make money. His brother is dying and time has become precious. It is a sad reality that something so drastic had to happen to get his priorities in order. Prior to his brother falling ill, the two brothers had not talked to each other in over fourteen years. I have often wondered why it takes a trauma for us to come to the realization that time is precious. We are all destined to die from the day we are born. Sadly, it takes a major shake up for us to learn this valuable lesson. I am glad my smoking-kaki has understood this. It is what will give him the moral support to endure the days ahead of him. I see him everyday and get details of how things are going with his brother. As an onlooker, it has been painful for me, how much more painful must it be for him? I see him for a few minutes at a time when he is on his cigarette break, he endures the pain every minute of the day. The other day some of my friends dropped by to take me out for dinner, so I invited him to join us. It was the first break he had had since he began his vigil. He kept thanking me, he was so grateful someone had thought to take him out. I was so embarrassed, for us, it was a small matter, for him it was a break he really needed. Friends. They are the most important people in our lives. I have the best friends anyone could dream of. They give up their days to spend time with me to cheer me up. Without them, I am certain I would not have been able to survive the ennui of being confined to a hospital bed for as long as I have had to endure. Friends are not just people we know, they are part of our fractured family, a family we choose, not the one we are born with. I am proud to say I have the most wonderful friends anyone could ever hope for. Generous souls who extended their love and warmth to a total stranger, my smoking-kaki, and gave him hope. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I must say, ? Life is a Leaky Bucket?. You can either see your bucket as half full or half empty. I choose to see mine as half full. As long as I have friends, I will endure! The capacity for human endurance in the face of any adversity is something none of us ever look at or pay attention to, and yet, we are so resilient. We endure in silence, never complaining, taking what life hands out and making the best of it. The human spirit is indefectible it triumphs over all unexpected odds to emerge victorious. Viva la vie!