Manuals for Living

Another day in Kuala Lumpur…


…another day in the hospital.

The three week working trip has turned into four, and most of this time has been spent in the hospital or in one of several pharmacies.

Along the way I make friends with the nurses, nod at the opinions of the consultants, take copious notes, settle hospital fees, sort out medication, shop for pharmaceutical supplies and organise the next appointments.

My knowledge and pronunciation of medical terminology has improved dramatically. The trick with medication is to decide at the beginning whether you are going to mention the brand name (Zocor) or the generic drug name (simvastatin) and stick to it. Generic drug names have more syllables but if you can bear to remember them, it will always sound more impressive.

It’s like when you listen to a sermon and the preacher says Tetelestai! instead of ‘It is finished’ when referring to Jesus’ final words on the cross. You don’t want to mess with this kind of ministry man.

My father’s first session of chemotherapy starts this morning.

In this past week I have had to read up on how to help him work out his new implanted medical device and his new car. Both deal with transport: the first takes the chemotherapy medication to a large vein and the second gets us out and about in comfort and style.





Both manuals make interesting reading but by far the most helpful manual I have read this week is Billy Graham’s Nearing Home. It is about transport in a way, that is the journey from from birth to death, from youth to old age.

The book is full of wisdom and common sense advice about preparing for the inevitable senior years, by seeking out and understanding God’s purpose for our lives. It was comforting to be reminded that Moses was aged 80 when God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.




The story of the Exodus is one of my all time favourite Bible stories. Moses was 80! I am only 50 so imagine what God can still call me to do. It’s very exciting.

But for today the excitement is not mine but my father’s, because he thinks it’s marvellous that someone invented the cardboard urinal that allows bed-bound patients to pee without having to walk to the washroom. He is so grateful for it. What did people do before this was invented?

On the way in to the ward, my father asks the nurse:

Do I have to start the treatment immediately?
Do you need to use the toilet?
No, I need to call my broker first.

I have a strategy. If he doesn’t respond well to his treatment and wants to give up, I am going say that his stock portfolio is plummeting in value. That should give him ample reason to carry on for a bit longer, and a way of preparing him for his old, old age.