Alhamdulillah, it’s been a week that I’ve suffered from this runny nose and feeling unwell, but had to carry on regardless.

It all started last Thursday with the four back-to-back (almost) lecture with third year dental students.

Nope, that was not meant to be that way, maximum is two sessions per day but we were in Klang Valley on Sunday and Monday, Tuesday was hospital appointment day for my youngest child and suddenly on Wednesday, students were required to attend at the very last minute, a political talk. Ho-hum.

None of the students actually directly revealed what was said but, yeah, I could tell.

It wasn’t an easy week either and usually, most of the times, it takes about 24-48hours for me to get over a viral URTI (upper respiratory tract infection). In fact kali ni, tak demam pun. The good thing is, I cant remember the last time I was unwell, so life has been pretty good.

Until last Tuesday.

The dreaded call.

Out of the blue.

Unexpected.

Or maybe I did expect it at some level. When hubby was paying one of the fees, can’t even remember which one, either for laundry or koperasi, I remember thinking to myself, maybe just pay two months first instead of the whole year? But decided to keep my thoughts to myself.

“Hello”.

My son on the other line.

“Mummy, can I quit?”

I’m pretty sure the concern must have been evident in my voice.

“What happened? Why? Are you ok?”

“It’s hard. The new subjects, physics, chemistry and biology, plus Arabic language”.

Unusual coming from someone who has never complained about academics before, so at first, I doubted the story.

“Well you have to hold on for the moment” was the best response I could give.

I was more worried he that was hiding something than merely being an academic challenge.

So, called hubby and had a discussion. Hubby called son and had a talk.

No quitting yet, they came up with a deal.

I was still not entirely convinced. Asked the teacher the next morning to have a quick chat with him.

The following evening, we had a heart to heart chat.

Yes, it was an academic problem, Alhamdulillah. It might sound crazy to the reader, but just so glad its not something other issue.

And today, reflecting on what had happened, I was reminded of something similar about 16 years ago. I was in final year. Perhaps one of the lowest moments in my life, thinking back. Very stressful.

I remember studying hard. Spending a lot of time on the wards seeing patients. Practicing exam questions. But it all seemed so overwhelming. There was just so much to know, so much material to study. I felt that whatever I read one day, I’d forget the next day.

How was I going to pass the exams?

And the worst thought began to pop-up: the consequence of not passing the final exams. Would I have to pay back the convertible student loan? YES. 

That one thought alone was a huge motivator and source of stress.

There was one point where I was so anxious, I couldn’t sleep, and had to see a doctor for sleeping pills. He advised against it, but gave in when I begged and said its only temporary. I was only, thank God, temporary.

I remember, back then there wasn’t facetime or skype, so although I did email my late father, we still called our parents the old fashioned way.

I remember telling my mum that it’s so hard, I don’t know if I’m going to pass the final exams or not. Both my parents aren’t doctors, so at some level, I don’t really expect them to understand.

Mummy sort of sounded sad but what she said was soothing.

“It’s ok. Just do your best”.

Something like that.

Results are secondary.

Effort is what counts.

If I had known back then that I would pass, perhaps I could have enjoyed the experience a bit more.

So now it was my turn.

“It’s ok,” I told my son.

“Most people only study those subjects in form four, so of course its not easy”.

“Give it some time”.

In other words, no, you can’t just quit because it’s hard.