If you didn’t know by now, our Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad loves to write, this interest and hobby of his have made him into a successful writer. Even leaders from other countries have read his book!
As obvious as it is, he is no longer a young man, but he is as healthy as one at his age of 93! We’ve all asked him what is his secret for looking so young and healthy, however, he would like to share his problems first.
Tun M wrote:
I did not slow down after retiring from the post of the Prime Minister in 2003. Aside from giving speeches and lecturers around the world and setting up an office at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya, I went back to horseback riding. I visited Argentina in South America every year to ride horses in the Andes Range, sometimes for eight hours straight without stopping.
However, by the end of 2006, after a tiring visit to Saudi Arabia, Japan, and New Zealand and attending many events in Kuala Lumpur, I had a mild heart attack on the afternoon of my children’s Aidilfitri open house.
I was at home on the 6th of November when feeling my chest tighten as it did once, long ago. Hasmah telephoned Datuk Dr. Nasir Muda, a cardiologist who was also my personal doctor, I was then taken to IJN early that morning. Doctors inserted drops of medicines into my blood system. After the ECG test, doctors confirmed that I a mild heart attack.
I recovered quite quickly and on the fourth day, I was able to sit in bed and was ready to start work. Every time I ask for my stationery, Hasmah would take it as a good sign. Although I am recovering quite quickly, it is clear that I have to consider the possibility of undergoing a second heart surgery. In most cases, the patient will stay healthy for 10 years after heart surgery, but I have been living well 18 years after my first surgery.
My doctor told me I needed to decide as soon as possible whether to undergo a second surgery before my condition becomes worse and dangerous to perform the surgery. I have to think deeply about my decision as I was over 80 years old. At that age, healing process after surgery may be more difficult.
While considering the decision whether to undergo surgery or not, I started a series of exercises aimed to strengthen the blood circulation in my body. I use treadmills and bike cycling machines, sometimes I can go up to 10 km daily. Hasmah thinks that I am overexerting myself, and I also learned that my horse trainer taught my horse not to run too fast.
Although I worked out so hard, I felt my legs getting heavy as I was climbing the stairs in May 2007. In that month, we also had a reunion for College of Medicine students class of 1947 in Bukit Merah, Perak. We spend several days chatting until late at night. After the reunion, Hasmah and I flew to Langkawi for a short vacation.
When on the island, I suffered a severe pulmonary edema. The attack is due to the accumulation of excess fluid in the lungs that causes difficulty in breathing. On the day of the attack, I was tired and when I woke up from a short nap, I was short of breath. I used an inhaler but it did not work. After that, everything happened too fast – my lungs are filled with fluids and I am very breathless. Dr. Nasir called for an ambulance but canceled it later after thinking it would take a long time for it to arrive.
Then he led into the car and drove to the hospital. I still remember that I heard him telling me to stay awake even though I’m on the brink of fainting and staying conscious. We were met with the ambulance in the middle of the road, but Dr. Nasir instructed our driver to carry on the journey as he realized we were running out of time.
Hasmah told me later that she thought she would lose me that day. In the car, Hasmah sat in the front seat to make room for me and Dr. Nasir. Hasmah could only put her hand on my knee in efforts to reassure me that everything is going to be okay.
At the hospital, the doctors forced oxygen into my lungs and managed to stabilize my condition within half an hour. Dr. Nasir contacted his colleagues at IJN and anesthetist, Dr. Sharifah Suraya Syed Mohd Tahir who flew to Langkawi with all the pieces of equipment that are not available at the Langkawi Hospital.
By that time, almost everybody in Langkawi who had heard what had happened started gathering in front of the hospital. The next day, when heading to Langkawi International Airport and in order to avoid the public in front the hospital, the Hospital Director had to use two ambulances – one to take me and another as a decoy. My ambulance came out the back door of the hospital while the decoy ambulance went out the main door.
When I arrived at the airport, some of our children arrived with a commercial flight. However, they were forced to return to Kuala Lumpur on the same plane.
I was flown to Kuala Lumpur on a private jet. Bringing me on the plane was difficult because of the stairs that could not accommodate the stretcher. So they had to carry me by my head and shoulders while another person lifted my legs. Because they should avoid my body from bending, my physiotherapist, Boey Ghod Chee crawled under my body to support it on board the flight ladder. I needed oxygen, but it’s dangerous to fly at high levels with an oxygen tank in the airplane. Therefore, the plane had to fly at low levels throughout the journey.
The attack made me feel weak and unhealthy. I started to seriously consider the advice of the doctors to undergo a second heart surgery. The second surgery will definitely have a higher risk because I’m 82 years old. On the other hand, if I refuse to undergo it then the possibility of being attacked once again will be high and impossible to avoid. Although the second coronary bypass surgery did not give any guarantees, I decided to take the risk. Again, the medical training I received did not give me confidence because I knew that the possibility of complications during surgery was great.
I have also been thinking of undergoing a second surgery abroad, but once again I’m worried that my action will cause people to lose confidence in our doctors. IJN brought in an expert consultant from the Mayo Clinic in the United States, but the surgical team was led by Dr. Yahya and Dr. Rozali once more.
I was reinstated to IJN on 2 September 2007 and underwent the second surgery two days later. Dr. Yahya and Dr. Rozali were not the only members of the 1988 surgical team who were involved in the second surgery, but you could say all members of the team, including the surgeon’s nurses, participated. Some of them who had left the IJN to open their own clinics, came back to help.
In the process of my recovery after surgery, for a while, I raved and experienced a variety of strange dreams, among them being the son of a sultan and working as a horse trainer. Sometimes I feel like I’m in somewhere else, such as Indonesia, Thailand, and China. I was breathing with the help of a breathing machine that prevented me from swallowing and speaking. Even after the tube was removed from my throat, I still felt as if it were there and it was difficult to swallow for a while. Because I can not speak then I try to communicate by writing, but it was hard to remember the correct letters. My family gave me a keyboard to let me point to the letters I want, but that’s hard for me. Once, when the emptiness dominates, I tried to pull out all the tubes that are on my body. Hasmah got angry and reminded me how many people have struggled and worked hard to help me.
I was exposed to an infection after two weeks in ICU. The doctors who took care of me knew that they had to operate on me again, but was worried that I did not agree. However, I gave consent in hopes that it would help me recover and end my suffering from trying to sleep with all kinds of tubes in my neck, arms, back, and chest.
Source: Juice Online
I was brought back to the surgical theatre on September 22. Although surgery went smoothly without problems, the recovery process is once again difficult. I was depressed and felt very helpless to continue my recovery efforts. So, some visitors are allowed to meet me to restore my spirits. They, including my horse-riding friends, Perlis Mufti at that time, Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin and my former personal doctor, Datuk Dr. Zainal Hamid. Hasmah also helped raised my spirits too. She brought a picture of me that she loved and showed it to me, Hasmah whispered to me that she had brought the man to the hospital and she would be bringing him home.
Hasmah rarely left me while I was in the hospital. She only returned home one night only during the fasting month to be with our family and the rest of the time, she spent in the hospital. One day, she fell out of her chair due to extreme tiredness. This caused a chaotic situation in the ICU, but Hasmah insisted that she was alright but just exhausted.
Overall, I spent 49 days at IJN before leaving on October 20th. I admit that it’s time I feel like I’m at the end of my life. In fact, from the very beginning, I knew what to look forward to. So, the day I entered the IJN I gave Hasmah the passcode number to a security safe bag that contained my personal documents. At one point, when I saw signs that my condition would not recover, Hasmah also thought to open the bag. However, when she told Mirzan about it, Mirzan said that my time has not arrived and it’s good that the bag had not been tampered with.
After undergoing the last two surgeries, I started regaining most of my energy. However, I’m still tired and still underweight. This is once in my life when my weight is hard to raise even in our country, everyone tries to force others to eat so they can not get up.
As I wrote this book, three years have passed since the second surgery. The recovery process is slower than the first surgery, but progressively I am now fully refreshed and fit.
Source: Sinar Harian
I started riding horses again and made it a weekly activity. I also go out for walks when the weather permits. Otherwise, I will use the treadmill. In the morning, I do weightlifting exercise. In February 2009, I went to Argentina and spent 10 days riding horseback riding in pampas grass every morning and evening.
I work in three different offices from 8.30am to 6.00pm and often attend dinner functions. Most of my weekends are spent outside. I will also go abroad at least once a month to give a talk.
Although I have had two heart surgery, I am generally enjoying good health. Many people asked repeatedly about my stamina and how I look younger than the actual age. I reply jokingly that one must choose his parents carefully.
However, the same question continues to be raised. Many believe in and propagate to others saying that I received injections in Switzerland. One woman reprimanded me at a supermarket and asked if I did eat medicines worth RM5,000 a day. Many also go to the pharmacy where I buy vitamins and would buy whatever I buy.
Finally, I promise to reveal everything in this memoir. What do I say? People will be disappointed when I start talking about health care and personal hygiene. They want something that can solve all the problems instantly, but unfortunately, there is no such way. However, there are certain things that can help us look younger than the real age.
Living a vibrant life is important for all ages, especially in the retirement age. As far as I can, I try to maintain a routine. I wake up early for Dawn prayers. After praying, I shave, brush my teeth and take a warm bath. Before breakfast, I made a few minutes of long respiration and light exercise.
My breakfast is also light and then I start the day by writing. I feel lost if I did not write something early in the morning. For me, writing helps drive the brain and sharpen memory. I rarely do heavy exercise, especially in the morning. I occasionally use the treadmill, I did not walk as much as I wanted and I do not play golf.
My favorite is the horse riding, I learned it when I was 60 years old. It started when I was invited by the late President of Pakistan, Muhammad Zia ul-Haq to witness the procession of his country’s National Day. We went to the parade by car and then rode in a chariot. We were accompanied by Pathan riding guards in military uniform. I was excited about what I saw and decided to buy two horses from Pakistan. President Zia got to know my wish and gave me two horses. So I started learning horse riding at the Selangor Riding and Polo Club.
The first thing I learned about horse riding was to sit upright and straight on the saddle. This is very important. It aims to prevent us from back pain. I think it helped me stand up and did not hunch even though I was 80 years old. When we hunch, we will look old.
I also have the habit of walking like a soldier. Most 80-year-olds will generally walk slower. In fact, some are shaking and dragging the legs. Younger people usually like to help elders get up, stand, walk and climb stairs. Sometimes, they liked to be helped. They love the attention and attentiveness of their children and grandchildren. If we allow ourselves to be helped, it can be a habit. As long as it can be avoided, it is best to avoid getting help. This makes us look like a young person. After all, it is good for our muscles and our balance.
I also try to sleep sufficiently, which means six hours at night, and if possible, in the appropriate bed. After lunch, I’ll take a nap for 15 minutes while sitting in a comfortable chair by making sure my head is upright. I do the same routine when traveling or if nothing is to be done during the afternoon. Taking short naps while sitting is very important. If we lie down, we will wake up staggering and unable to work.
In addition to my ability to spend some time for a nap, my experience as a doctor helped me work for a long time as Prime Minister. After sleeping the entire flight, I can continue working. After all, when visiting a foreign country, I have no time to relax. As soon as the plane lands, I will continue to work. If I’m lucky, I can take a break while waiting for the morning.
More importantly, we must be happy if we want to look younger. The happiness in love is the most obvious. It’s hard to be happy every time, but if we are grateful for what we enjoy every time we wake up, we will be happy. Obviously, there are problems that need to be addressed and sadness to feel, but there is definitely something that can make us happy. To me, ever since before and even more so now, getting up every morning is the greatest gift.
Source: Juice Online
So, I have no special formula to look younger than my age. People who expected me to tell them the name of the ‘youth elixir’ I use to look young, will feel frustrated because I have no such ingredients. In fact, it does not exist.
Aside from Tun M’s advice on eating enough and too much, take this advice and be grateful for everything in life, harness positive energy all around you and you’ll see your skin glowing!