Friday, July 11, 2008

Moments of My Life - Part 13

My work also involved the Terengganu royalties. Usually Mr. Tan Beng Hwa, an experienced Veterinary assistant, was usually summoned to the palace whenever veterinary services were required.

He would call me only if the case was too complex for him to handle. The Sultan's favorite polo horse was such case.

The horse was suffering from urine dribbling and signs of colic. At times the urine contained blood. As I approached the seemingly painful horse, I saw the horse was restless, looking at its abdomen, going down on its sides and rarely dribbling bloodstained urine.

Only two conditions could result in such behavior, either colic or renal stone. To prevent the poor horse from being in great pain any longer, I reported the horse's condition to he Sultan and asked his permission to put the horse to sleep.

His Majesty asked me whether the horse's meat was safe to eat. I said that the horse had received too much medication, thus making its meat unsuitable for human consumption. His Majesty then agreed with my suggestion and ordered that the horse be euthanized.

After euthanasia, I performed a field necropsy on the horse. I was a bit apprehensive as I began the necropsy.

"What if I found nothing wrong with the horse? How am I going to report to the Sultan? Remember, this was the Sultan's favorite horse!"

All these questions were playing inside my mind as I was cutting the horse open. The lungs and heart were normal. Opening the abdomen, once again I saw nothing abnormal. There was no volvulus or intussusceptions (telescoping) of the intestines.

The left kidney was also all right. By then I was perspiring more copiously. Then I reached for the right kidney. Eureka! I found it. There was a humongous renal stone in the kidney.

The stone had compressed and replaced most of the renal parenchyma. No words could describe how relieved I was at my finding. After cleaning the renal stone, I presented it to the Sultan with a complete report of the case.

The story of the case was widely talked about among the state's VIPs. Even the State Secretary called Dr. Ahmad Suhaimi and asked him for the details of the case.

Our second child was born on 25 January 1985. We called him Khairul Syafiq. As my wife was working and he was having some health problems, we decided to let my mother-in-law to take care of him.

I was a bit hesitant in beginning, but there was no other better alternative. A year and half later, that was on 23 July 1985, we were blessed with another child, also a boy. We called him Khairul Syakirin. Like his sister, he too was a smart boy.

One day in the month of Ramadan that year, Foot and mouth disease outbreak occurred in Terengganu. I was asked to see the Besut OCPD to arrange for roadblocks along strategic roads in Besut. After meeting the OCPD, I decided to stop at my wife's aunt house. It was a hot day. The short rest and a cold bath was the real reason why I decided to stop at the house.

My wife's grandmother was saying that she was planning to leave for Kemaman. I did not give much thought to what she was saying. After a refreshing bath using the well water, I left the house.

Just after a few hundred metres away from the house, suddenly my brain started thinking. "Have I been snobbish for not offering them a ride to Kuala Terengganu?" Then the better side of me decided that I should have asked them. I turned back and headed straight for the house. They were all happy that I had come back.

So, once again I left the house with two passengers, Anwar (my wife's cousin) in the front seat and my wife's grandmother in the back seat. Like any fasting month, that afternoon was hot as usual. I was beginning to feel tired and drowsy.

As I was driving, I kept talking with Anwar telling him that how dangerous it was to drive when you were sleepy and I was sleepy, very sleepy that very moment. Instead of pulling over and having a short nap, I kept on driving, miles after miles on my way to Kuala Terengganu.

Suddenly, for a split second, I dozed off. It was at a sharp corner near Kampong Rahmat. The car went straight into a fifty-metre ravine, knocking down two rubber trees along the way and finally came to a stop when a huge boulder broke the car's engine.

According to a rescuer, I was fast asleep at the steering wheel. In a semi-conscious state, I overheard voices saying that a passenger was killed in the accident. I was literally pulled away from the badly wrecked car by a policeman. I was only fully awake when I was in the ambulance.

"What happen?" I asked Anwar.

"Grandmother passed away!"

I was shocked. I turned and looked in the back seat. My wife's grandmother's body was lying still on the seat.

Then only I realized that once again I was involved in a road accident. I spent a night in the hospital. According to the doctor, it was just for further observation. I only suffered a minor injury on my right eyelid. The scar was a grim reminder of the accident. It remained visible till today.

My Ford Laser was so badly damaged that the insurance company chose to write it off. Within a week, my new car loan was approved. I bought myself a used Mitsubishi Galant.

The effect of this accident was far worst that the one in Ajil. I felt that some body from my wife's side blamed me for her grandmother's death. I felt really bad. I knew that I was not solely responsible for her death. A bit superstitious, I felt that I had broken my personal taboo when I turned back and offered them a ride in my car. Under normal circumstances, I would not have done that.

My wife knew well about this great taboo of mine. Consoling myself, I guessed it was destined that my wife's grandmother was to pass away in my car. I was charged in the Magistrate court for that accident. It was the first time that I was ever tried in court. With the help of a lawyer, I was finally charged under a less serious charge. I was fined $400.00. I was lucky that my driving license was not suspended.

One day, a lorry carrying ten buffaloes was stopped by policemen in Kuala Terengganu. The driver failed to produce the necessary documentation. Dr. Suhaimi and I were summoned to the police station to examine the animals.

On clinical examination, I saw a few of the buffaloes had old foot and mouth disease lesions on their tongue, gums and cheeks. When questioned by the policemen and us, the lorry driver admitted that the buffaloes had been smuggled from Thailand.

Then Dr. Suhaimi, after consulting the State Deputy public prosecutor, decided that the buffaloes be shot destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease in Terengganu.

We then brought the buffaloes to Pusat Haiwan Kecil Manir. The buffaloes were then shot dead by our dog shooters. The shooting of the buffaloes attracted a large crowd of curious on-lookers who happened to pass the area.

The shooting, a necessary action to prevent the spread of the disease in the state, even attracted the attention of the opposition party in the State assembly.

Not very long after that incident, I received a report from Pejabat Haiwan Daerah Kuala Berang that a group of cattle were showing signs of hyper salivation and some of them were also limping. Closely examining each affected animal, the mouth and the feet, there was no doubt that those animals were indeed infected with foot and mouth disease.

Samples of epithelium from the hoof and mouth lesions were collected and dispatched to the foot and mouth disease reference laboratory at Pirbright, United Kingdom. Control measures were immediately taken. These included animal movement control, vaccination, and active surveillance.

Federal staffs were mobilized to help in the statewide disease control exercise. They came by the hundreds from everywhere in the Peninsular Malaysia. They were broken up into groups and sent to Kemaman, Dungun, and Hulu Terengganu Districts to help in rounding up animals and then vaccinating them.

With the ingenuity of a group of officers, a transportable iron corral was designed, built, and used. Hundreds of simple, cheap, but efficient corrals made up of bamboo poles and planks were also constructed at strategic places.

All these finally produced an 80% of the animals vaccinated, a feat that was never achieved or even dreamt of before.

A few days later, it was confirmed that the virus was FMD virus type Asia 1. The spread of the disease was successfully controlled. It was only confined to the district of Hulu Terengganu. Other districts were spared.

In Hulu Terengganu and perhaps in the border areas of Kuala Terengganu, the disease lingered on for about ten months. As Dr. Heng Ngak Howe rightly put it, the disease was probably swept away to the South China Sea by that year's big flood.

No comments: