The not-so-amusing world of entertainment…

Quite a number of names in the industry have to go through health issues that are affecting their performances

“JUST stay away from the entertainment business,” the guy who has been singing for almost four decades said. One could sense the seriousness of his statement.

“It is not a very nice place. Trust me.”

He was advising an old friend, another name in the industry who was contemplating on getting back into the business after a long hiatus.

Apparently, the old friend was still recovering from several different illnesses which had forced him to take a very long break from the industry.

It was just by chance that they ended up at that small gathering to celebrate a female TV presenter’s birthday.

It must be said that the lady was a rather popular name before she suddenly disappeared when all her shows were either cancelled or passed to other new faces.

“I myself am having a tough time now,” the singer confessed. “I’m having this incessant back pain, and for a very long time, I could not really hear that well, especially when I am on stage.

“If you look at my face, you’d see dark spots on my temple. Each time I have an event, I’d be coughing incessantly before the show and end up with a sore throat. So, you could guess how the show would go,” he said.

The old friend, who was also once a rather regular face on TV, seemed to know exactly what the singer was talking about.

He himself has been in and out of treatment centres for various ailments for the past 10 years.

Each doctor would give him a different diagnosis. After various tests and thorough examinations, one doctor told him that his liver was scarring.

“If you do not change your lifestyle, you might end up with fibrosis, and if the condition persists, there’s nothing we can do once you reach the late stage of scarring or cirrhosis,” the doctor said.

Another doctor suspected that it was his kidney. After undergoing ultrasound, the second doctor said his kidneys were pretty small for an adult.

As for the backache, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) revealed that three of his lumbar vertebrae were compacted, which had also affected his nerves that had caused incessant pain each time he moved.

“I think I am beginning to have the same symptoms, and I bet you none of the doctors could figure out what is wrong with me,” the singer said.

“It’s a foul play!” the birthday girl proclaimed. “I know exactly what you guys are talking about! I’ve gone through it myself. There was a point when I felt everyone was avoiding me,” she said.

The conversation was also joined by a veteran writer who has retired from journalism for quite a while now to pursue his other dreams. He said he has seen quite a number of names in the industry having to go through similar health issues that were affecting their performances.

In fact, as a senior journalist who has been writing much about the entertainment fraternity for some 30 years, he was also having rather similar health issues.

“Do you occasionally feel like you’re being pricked with pins and needles on your palm, fingers or toes?” the singer asked. His friends, the journalist and TV personality, nodded.

Then, there’s the stomach aches and migraines, he said.

“You’d have this fever that seems to come and go, while your blood pressure would go up and down even without any trigger,” the singer said.

At least two of them had to undergo endoscopy and colonoscopy, and in both cases, the doctors found nothing.

“Well, we might think that it’s a little far-fetched, but I know of people who practise black magic in the industry,” the senior journalist said matter-of-factly.

“I am not surprised,” the singer said. “I’ve been observing many in the industry and I could tell who have fallen sick because of it.

“I still don’t get it though. Why go to that level? In my case, all I want to do is sing — nothing more nothing less…”

The retired writer suggested that more often than not, the “assailants” are usually people who are the closest to their victims.

“They’d know everything about you — your strengths and weaknesses, your favourite food and drinks…That’s how they figured out a way to set the trap for you. It could be in your food, clothes or at home,” he added.

The TV guy said he did find animal bones tied with some rags buried in his garden when he was planting some new trees.

“I did not think much about it and just threw them into the garbage bin. Before the string of illnesses, there’d be those occasional dead animals — rats and birds left on my porch and the smell was just so putrid and it lingered for days,” he said.

Each of them agreed though that no one would believe their stories and they’d try their best not to share it with just anyone as they’d be made fun of.

The singer added that he was also rather worried that people would think that he was either going cuckoo or just too obsessed with the unknown if he told what he knew.

So, now you know how has-beens are made…

  • Zainal Alam Kadir is the executive editor of The Malaysian Reserve.