Stroke Survivors' Stories
The night before Lim Chiou Ling went back to work, she could hardly sleep, thinking of being her ‘old self’ again. “This was the first time in a long time I felt so happy, so positive. Going back to work was something I dreamt of but dared not hope. There was a niggling thought though – I wondered if I could last the whole day. But I needn’t have worried. My colleagues gave me such a warm welcome. I didn’t find the office atmosphere intimidating at all. My computer was at my desk waiting for me”, says Chiou Ling, a computer programmer.
Chiou Ling’s exuberance is understandable because going back to work meant she had triumphed over the obstacles and heartache she suffered as a result of a cereberum stroke. “After the stroke, I was wheelchair bound, my speech was affected and worst of all I had vision problem in my left eye. It was difficult for me to accept my condition. I was only 36 and I thought I was healthy. One of my lowest points was when my three young children dared not approach me because I looked so strange to them.”
“Joining NASAM helped me get over my depression. I became more cheerful talking to the other strokees. The therapists and volunteers also gave a lot of encouragement and support. Telling me that I can recover from stroke was what I needed to hear – it gave me the extra incentive to exercise hard.”
“I would like to thank NASAM for helping me to achieve my goals and for giving me back a normal life. I truly appreciate what I have, especially my husband, our three children and my mother.”
Back On Track
What would you do if your doctor gave you a terrifying diagnosis? Joanne Hooi was given the choice of either living with a tumour in her brain or to undergo a risky surgery to remove the tumour to arrest the damage it was causing. Joanne bit the bullet and took the gamble. “I was of course very scared – but there wasn’t really a choice – either I continue to live knowing that my health will get worse or I go for surgery and take the slim chance that my health might improve.”
For years before she had the operation, Joanne had trouble with her left eye which had limited vision and she also suffered from fits. After living with her condition for 12 years a doctor finally diagnosed a tumour in Joanne’s brain in 1992. Two years later, her doctor recommended that she go to Seattle, USA, to have her tumour removed by laser treatment. To her great disappointment the specialist informed her that her tumour could not be treated.
But she didn’t give up. On her return to Malaysia she continued looking for a specialist who could treat her. Meanwhile her fits were getting more frequent. Finally, in 2001, a surgeon managed to remove the tumour but Joanne woke up from her operation to find that she could not move the left side of her body. She had suffered a stroke.
It was during one of her visits to a private hospital, that Joanne met NASAM’s physiotherapist, Sharifah Khiriyah. Seeing Joanne was walking with typical post-stroke difficulties, Sharifah suggested to her that she join NASAM.
“Well, I thought I’ll give it a try. I was already at my lowest. It was almost a year after my operation and I still couldn’t walk. My family moved to my mother’s house because I couldn’t cope with the housework.”
With the support and encouragement from her husband, Hooi Chee Cheong, Joanne joined NASAM in October 2002. Chee Cheong had to reschedule his working hours to drive Joanne to NASAM from Kajang and to take her back in the afternoon. They stuck to this schedule for about three months and it paid off.
“Joining NASAM was like being given a lifeline. I learned to walk again and felt optimistic enough to set goals. My first goal was to move back to my own home and my second goal was to get back to teaching. My two years’ paid medical leave was running out and I was anxious as to whether I would ever be well enough to go back to teach.”
Finally, on 18 March 2003, Joanne made it back to her school, Sekolah Rendah Yu Hua. “My pupils and colleagues were happy to see me. The headmaster made special arrangements for me so that instead of having to move from class to class, I am stationed in one classroom where my pupils come to me for remedial lessons in Bahasa and Maths.”
Joanne’s family is also much happier because they have back to their own home.