I had it all figured out:
The herbal medicines in hand would cure me.
Who cares if it means swallowing 10-12 unknown “herbal” pills per day right? They are herbal hellooo…meaning that they are safe! Common knowledge pfft!
I will travel and do whatever pleases me. This is my life after all.
So that was what I did. I pushed my body, my health. I ignored my constant cough. Sometimes though, I would unconsciously run my hand along my upper left chest, just above my breast. That was where I could feel the intruder. A lump. An invasion I never wanted.
Before doubting myself once more of my latest decision, I quickly removed my hand and said to myself, “That thing will be gone! It will!”
I needed prove that I was healthy, that I was not sick. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. So I put myself out there. I didn’t know who I was trying to prove, I think it was mostly myself.
Travel. I travelled quite a lot in 2014. I went to Bangkok with my best friend, Christa. I felt happy travelling with her but at that trip I felt unusually unfit. But against all odds, I enjoyed the trip and hoped Christa did too.
I went to Singapore a few times. Not to shop or cafe-hop but to explore interesting parts of the city like its ancient Bukit Brown Cemetery with my friend Sohini and her sister. Then with another friend Pamela, we went biking and trekking at Pulau Ubin. We also did a weekend getaway to Melaka.
I did active things because I wanted to prove that my body was OK, that I was invincible, I was not sick. I was not sick. I was not sick at all. A mantra looped in my head.
Back home I dragged a few friends to do river and cave tubbing. I even jumped from a waterfall at that trip. See, invincible!
Not only that, I needed prove that I could work too. I started a street food tour walk in Yogyakarta. I met with travellers passing by my city, showing them some of my favourite street food, educating them of my home. I loved every second of it, every person I met.
I published several travel articles in magazines, wrote a collaboration travel book with my travel blogger friends and I also helped my university lecturer by being his assistant, often teaching at his class. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a university teacher, and I liked it.
But with every effort, I could see that I was getting weak. The smile plastered on my face was fake. My chest burned every time I walked, I would stay up late because the coughing wouldn’t let me sleep, and it seemed that my breath was getting shorter by the minute.
And yet I pushed harder. If I told you I was a goody two-shoes before, well I am one stubborn goody two-shoes. In fact, forget goody two-shoes. I was simply a stubborn idiot.
Half way through 2014, an old friend from Salatiga, Helen was getting married. Friends of her husband (to be then) were also coming and she asked if I could be a guide to them as they wanted to see Yogyakarta. I agreed. A friend decided to help me because I knew of my capability.
Climbing the stairs of Borobudur was excruciating, the heat was making me weak, and although I did my best, deep down I knew this was my last push.
I had a great time I must admit. All the things I did, I did it gratefully, happily and gladly. What can I say, I love meeting people, being with people, interacting with people and most of all I love to travel.
But it was all too much.
I could no longer ignore my cough. I felt like I had a bad case of asthma. The intruder was not gone. The pills didn’t make me feel better though I was still clinging for hope. I was desperate to be my old self, my old not sick self. Where was she?