My Stroke-Stories Inked for #Inktober

My main mode of transportation for the first few months after surviving Stroke, was the wheelchair. For at least 4-6 months (I am not 100% certain of the timeline) I moved around sat being pushed - from the 2 months in Changi General to outside at home ... I even visited the 2010 Singapore toycon in a wheelchair, viewing the world in a different eyeline, a different POV hahahaha! Funny thing tho, for a few good months, twice a week, I'd wait at the side of the road down my flat (along with my late Dad), to flag taxis to bring us to my rehab sessions, but only ever ONCE did someone actually let me have the cab, while everyone else who walked out and stood in front of me (further down the road) just went and grabbed the cabs, Even though they saw a dude in wheelchair (they are not THAT far up the roadside hahahaha). So much for "humanity" on the east side of Singapore, yeah? LOL #inktober Day 11 prompt: "Transport". #inktober2016 #hengdraw #toysrevilart

A photo posted by TOYSREVIL (@toysrevil) on

I’ve been sharing a few personal stories through my Inktober-sketches*, with a select few regaling my post-Stroke tales. I’ve been thinking of drawing out my “Stroke-story” for years now, but have yet to find the right style or voice … this is just an experiment/start, of hopefully something that I’d like to be doing “soon”…

The images here are of the first 11 Days, and here’s quite a few more days to go before the month of October ends! haha

One of the main hurdles I'd faced attempting to regain my mobility post-Stroke, was "balance", where standing on one leg, was ever the challenge that took harder to conquer than "walking". In the beginning I could not even last 2 seconds without falling ... Which was tricky whenever I needed to step over a hump... Learning to not shuffle and lifting my legs to take my steps, is still a constant effort, 5 odd years after :p I have not taken to "run" but more manic fast-walking hahah but I have not ever "jumped" since Stroke. #Inktober Day 10 prompt theme is "JUMP", and I will always be reminded of my lack of physical ability, but it's okay, at least I can stand on one leg for longer time s now :) #inktober2016 #drawlife #hengdraw #toysrevilart

A photo posted by TOYSREVIL (@toysrevil) on

Even before getting Stroke in 2010, I'd thought I was "broken". In the sense that as a grownassadult, I was still not the typical successful male Singaporean, with a stable job, with m own family Wife and kids, dressed in long pants (sometimes with tie, sometimes not) ... When instead I was "living large" working ungodly hours in the local media, ignoring m family and living selfishly like a kidult! The "normality machine" broke down somewhen for my reality hahaha THEN I had Stroke! And now I was "physically" broken too! I mustered enough to get myself in my feet walking again, but has since slide into get fatter than I have ever been, AND end up wearing Crocs (which I used to HATE, but they cover my toes from knocking into stuff, so...), and I realise I am still wearing "film crew"-clothes like years before! Still prefer Bermudas and tees (always black becoz I lie to myself it is "slimming"), and still feeling "not quite right" ... And no, it is not about "being special" - just don't want to become "special needs", ya know? But LIFE still goes on, and I can still doodle a bit here and there .... Also one thing that's NOT broken, is my lack of drawing skills! Still sucks after all these years, dammit! Hahahaha This is my #inktober2016 Day 9 prompt: "Broken" :) #henglife #hengdraw #toysrevilart #inktober

A photo posted by TOYSREVIL (@toysrevil) on

My #inktober2016 sketch for Day 5, with the prompt theme being "SAD". "Sad" because, the fact was, when I was recovering in the hospital for Stroke back in 2010, I also had at the same time, dental problems! But due to me taking blood-thinner medication, I could not visit the Dentist. And here I laid in hospital, with half my body paralysed AND a massive toothache, which eventually led to my teeth growing out of place, to my current state of mangled teeth that I not longer smile with an open mouth for pictures. The big GAP in the drawing is for when I go take my middle bottom tooth out (This week perhaps)... Not only am I physically altered due to Stroke, now my teeth are failing me! I have made do with my eye-patch and getting fat as a hog, but my teeth? Don't be expecting me to greet the world at large too often when I pull out that damn shaking tooth... "Sad", right? #truestorybro #inktober #hengdraw #toysrevilart

A photo posted by TOYSREVIL (@toysrevil) on

*Inktober is a drawing “challenge” where you draw a single drawing for every day in the month of October, and post it online in Instagram.


Blame Game

When we blame, we miss our opportunity to experience empathy. Brené Brown breaks it down in this video from The RSA.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Since my Stroke, I had endeavored not to blame anyone, remembering as I laid in the hospital acute stroke ward, looking up at the ceiling fan, a sight I had seen for a few days now, and thinking "WHO" I could blame for this malady I was in? I couldn't blame "God" for my misfortune, as I'd hardly believed or acted I'd believe in one single god - whomever he or she was ...

And one day, a few years after I'd regained a portion of my ability to walk, and had taken a taxi ride back home, when, while regaling my Stroke story to the driver, when he told me who it was who was to blame for my malady; "ME". And that made the most sense, to me anyways :)

What happens to us, is in our hands. "Stroke" is a man-made phenomena, and WE made it happen to OURSELVES, didn't we? At some point, post-Stroke, we stop playing the blame game, and make it good back for ourselves, and move forward with whatever our lives are able to .. but before that happnes, treat yourselves and your bodies well, yeh? :)



5 Years Post-Stroke: A Memory of Wiggling Toes

I've never mentioned this to anyone - not because of any particular "secrecy" reasons except that the reference might fly over folks' head - ESPECIALLY for people have not specifically seen Quentin Tarantino's KILL BILL Vol:1! Having said that, there is a specific sequence which sort of guided / helped me thru the early days of my Stroke!

There is a particular scene, where "The Bride" AKA Beatrix woke up from her coma (while being raped on her hospital bed, while comatose), where after she killed the perp(s), and she managed to crawl her way to a wheelchair, and to the carpark, and finally found the "Pussy Wagon", and climbed into the backseat. The next scene however, is the specific scene I am referring to.

There Beatrix sat, her eyes fixed on her stiffened feet, and she repeatedly said to herself; "Wiggle Your Big Toe". THIS was the exact mantra I repeated to myself in my head, in the early days when I was lying in hospital bed in Changi Hospital Acute Stroke ward, when my right leg (from my entire right side of the body) could not move.

I stared at my right feet days on end, trying to wiggle my feet. Desperate but insistent and sincerely hopeful that, by sheer will alone, I could begin to move my feet, and then eventually the leg, and subsequently regain my mobility, and thusly "independence".

The notion of "Independence" is a strong desire that needed to be addressed, be it in the minds of older folks (who do not want to be a burden to others) and younger-ish folks (who do not want to loose the ability to chart their own futures, or "be able to walk towards it", so to speak), IMHO.

I cannot be sure if that "wishful hope" was sufficient (and from the amount of parodies and spoofs seen on youtube, seems folks think it sufficiently "funny"), but I had also gone thru over a month of intense rehabilitation at the hospital (and subsequently at St. Andrew's Community Hospital), until the day I left to go home sat in a wheelchair, but could still stand and shuffle my legs, for a short period of time.

No regrets at all, and I am in fact thankful for the image in my head, to give me a semblance of - even if it is a pop-culture fueled - "hope", that I would be able to walk again LOL

This image posted above is illustrated by French comicbook artist Nicolas Bannister, and whenever the scene appears, will always remind me of the time when I tried to wiggle my toes :)

Today, October 21st, 2015, marks the fifth year I have survived Stroke.
And yes, I can now wiggle all my "little piggies" :)

Cheers and thank you for reading :)


Acupuncture & Me

I've had the pleasure of receiving three different types of "acupuncture" experiences since my Stroke back in October 2010. Each of them with "slight" variations and/or differences, except for the universal notion that fine needles are embedded into my body and face.

One particular "myth" to dispel, is that there are multiple needles poked into your skin, ala "Pinhead" in "Hellraiser", and in that television commercial up top. This was my first impression of the deed, and I brought that notion to my first session too freakedout out of my brains hahaha

But then again, maybe tis just that my 'needs' might not require so much needles, so I dare not say this is "legit" or not :p

Since the on-set of receiving acupuncture, the specific intention was to seek treatment to combat the issue of my eye-sight. Post-Stroke has left me with double vision, so much so sometimes I eye-patch one eye, so the other can see literally just ONE vision - but that was not always the case.

My first experience with acupuncture, was in Changi General Hospital itself - where I was warded across the street, in St. Andrew Community Hospital. Within the CGH complex itself, was a "Traditional Chinese Medicine" ("TCM") Clinic, and every week I would have an appointment at the clinic, all on record with SACH.

Tis is an option open to folks, and I appreciated that option, as most medically educated practitioners from both East and West tend to differ on opinions. But in this instance, there was no prescriptive TCM medication to swallow, so acupuncture it was.

The sensation was not at all what I had expected, nor "feared". Different parts of my body was embedded with needles, and electricity (clipped at the ends of the needles) coursed thru my body, in a mild state. (The electrical discharge is another difference to different folks receiving treatment).

I truly do not know if any difference was to be had with this, as I was already busting my ass off in rehabilitation. My eye-sight remained still in anguish, but then again, everyone says TCM takes a longer time to "react"…

Basically a month in, and I discharged from SACH on Christmas Eve, 2010.

Not too long later, I was recommended to another sinseh based in Tanjong Katong Complex. Now this was a whole new other experience!

This particular practice, practiced the notion of "pain".

Essentially, the needles are stuck in, where activation of electricity coursing thru is would be more "effective" in inducing the desired effect, if you feel "pain". So in this instance, if the needles are stuck "right", I would be in a whole lot of pain, and indeed I was constantly grimacing and gritting my teeth from resulting in screaming like a wee kid.

I remember fondly that the old sinseh would poke a needle in in certain parts of the body, and wiggle said needle as it sent inner jolts up and down the needles vicinity. The "pain" meant the needle was stuck in the desired spot.

Now imagine electricity coursing thru it. And at a higher charge than I was used to at CGH previously. Fun times.

Know that the level of electrical discharged can be altered by twisting a knob, or keyed-in button. Some people might need only a small pulse, which others more "enthusiastic" can opt for a higher charge, not unlike the cackling of lightning from Frankenstein movies … okay, maybe that was an exaggeration :p

But to me, the experience had been fruitful. Twice a week I endured this experience, for a few months (I could not remember how long), and my eye-sight got significantly better, to what i jokingly term "HD Vision" - with that particular day with the sun blaring down on my left palm, and me being able to see the grooves in the skin's folds.

I stopped going to this practice at a time when I had impatiently felt my eye-sight could not get any better. and i had since stopped 'wondering' how things would have changed, if i had continued the sessions. Things and incidents move on, as we should as well, rather than dwell in the past ... or so i tell myself constantly :p

Over a year later, my eye-sight condition started diminishing, and my double vision had returned to bother me moreso than it had a year ago. The eye-patch became a fixture in my life, and the days of walking about without it became a challenge and a daily crap-shoot, so much so most times i choose not to leave the comforts and (self-imposed) saftey of the house, simply because I felt I could not adapt to the surrounds. My eye-sight also determines how I deal with "crowds" visually, or rather my inability to absorb and process the visual onslaught. My perception of depth is constantly questioned, and my balance is off, no doubt due to my visual process too, I surmise.

Aside: I managed to control myself with a visit to Jakarta recently, and am thoroughly proud of myself, but it took a bit of time to recover from the process, post-event. But I KNOW I am getting better, so that's a good thing :)

A visit to Western eye-specialist(s) proved to be a fount of information, but the final reality was that there was no medication to be taken, nor treated with, and that I was to learn to adapt my life to what my vision is now at this stage. The "good news" was that my vision need not the help of spectacles! My left eye possessed 25 degrees, while (ironically) my twitchy right eye was "perfect"! hahahahaha

Nevertheless, I simply could not take this silently and go on with life. I felt I had to seek "hope", at the very least. I do not deem this as seeking a "second opinion", but rather seeking out an alternative "hope" to my present situation.


My latest acupuncture session with was a sinseh in Toa Payoh, recommended by my dad, who is besotted with her practice. This image posted here is my first ever snap of me with needles on my face after all these years of experiencing it! haha

This picture was taken at my second session today (that hand flipping my cheek is actually where the last needle would be embedded hahaha). The experience was a mixture of my first and second acupuncture experiences. There is no electricity discharged, but the points where the needles are embedded, possess a slight level of "pain" - not "OUCH", but "ooooooo".

Right after my session today, the sinseh massaged the pinned points, with a menthol-smelling cream (which I did not see nor ask what it was), but it sure as heck opened up my eyes and senses! And the massages really "hurt" ("Mild-Ouch").

How will this work out? I yearn to find out, and to regain a semblance of independent vision and senses. I will endeavor to update this blog accordingly. And my Western eye-specialist appointment is a year from now.

Here are some summarized points, based on my observations and experiences in Singapore:

- Each acupuncture session lasts about an average of 20 minutes. Any additional sessions would run that long as well.

- Average prices here range between SGD$15 to $35 per session (Here in Singapore). It may or may not come with additional liquid medication.

- Out if the 3 different acupuncturists I had gone to, only two used electrical discharge. More likely than not, the acupuncturist will as if the voltage is acceptable as you feel it, so you (probably) can choose higher or lower settings. I am unsure if your personal tolerance for this might hamper your advancement, but I would be wary if instead a practice just juices you up without asking your tolerance level hahaha - UNLESS it is the average "mild" un-intrusive level anyways :p

- For Stroke, the best period to go thru acupuncture or any TCM treatment, is within the first 6 months of surviving Stroke, where perhaps 60-70% of treatment might be effective. Once the period lapses, the effectiveness takes a dive, averaging about 20% of effectiveness. This was mentioned by my current sinseh, and I have not researched into the legitimacy of the claim.

Personally to me, finding the "right" sinseh makes the difference. The latter two sinsehs were recommended from trustworthy sources (aka folks whom my parents trusted ;p). You would be surprised how much legitimacy of medical learning is needed. Anyone could go learn the basics, get a certificate and frame it up on the clinic wall ... but experience and a clear knowledge of the bodies' essential points, is pretty hard to discern.

My personal recommendation: Anyone who "promises" you the world, is suspect. "Practicality" and a clear sense of said practicality, is appreciated. But then again, I am not an expert at acupuncture, and can only conclude from my own observations and experience.

Read up more about Acupuncture via Wikipedia. I know I should, but I am tired of "self-medication" hahaha


High Blood Pressure Issues

Besides my physicality diminished by Stroke, one of the more excruciatingly anguishing constant is my high blood pressure - "persistent HBP", I might add!

Sure, one of the reasons for my Stroke was HBP, so it was a given for my current condition … BUT in the early stages after my hospital stay for 2 months, my HBP seemed under control and "stable", so much so I could attend my twice-weekly Rehabilitation sessions at St. Andrew's Day Center … for a good while too … until one day, when that all changed.

Every session I attend, before I am put thru the exercise machines, I would have my BP taken. A rudimentary requirement, with folks needing to adhere to the 120-140 Systolic and 90 Diastolic before they are allowed to continue, least your markers are a signpost to your diminished health and subsequently deterialmental to your abilities to cope with the exertion.

My Systolic (above measurement) is always on the higher side, and an obvious hypertension malady, while I have always focused on the Diastolic-readings (below measurement), with "90" being my cut off, because simply, if I could not be below 90, I could not carry on my rehab sessions, or so I remind myself...
"What does the systolic blood pressure number mean?

When your heart beats, it contracts and pushes blood through the arteries to the rest of your body. This force creates pressure on the arteries. This is called systolic blood pressure.

A normal systolic blood pressure is 120 or below. A systolic blood pressure of 120-139 means you have normal blood pressure that is higher than ideal, or borderline high blood pressure. Even people with this level are at a greater risk of developing heart disease.

A systolic blood pressure number of 140 or higher is considered to be hypertension, or high blood pressure.

What does the diastolic blood pressure number mean?

The diastolic blood pressure number or the bottom number indicates the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.

A normal diastolic blood pressure number is 80 or less. A diastolic blood pressure between 80 and 89 is normal but higher than ideal.

A diastolic blood pressure number of 90 or higher is considered to be hypertension or high blood pressure."
(Information via)
And this has been the case for a while, before I decided (by myself) to go away and seek some semblance of "help" before I went back to rehab - which subsequently took much longer than I anticipated, months on end, whereby I was even "out-processed" of the program for taking that long a time.

I have since stopped counting how long, but I know I left the rehab program before I was signed off by the therapists on my ability. That will always haunt me, especially now, as my neck region and even arm (where once was paralyzed) has since started to ache again…


The above was my reading yesterday at the local polyclinic - at about 3:30pm - when I was there seeking treatment for an inane cough, and I was esthetic to see both numbers! Siply the "best" numbers I;d seen since my discharge from hospital in end-2010! A "Minor monday Miracle", I called it :)

But least I "celebrated" too early, I checked myself out at home (with a home kit) at 10am, with the result less than satisfactory:


Perhaps I'll try again later in the afternoon at 3:30pm as well, as folks mention a person's HBP reading is slightly lower on the afternoons, as a person's body adjusts to waking up and thru the day … my machine's better not be busted tho! LOL

Seems I might still be back to concentrated bitter gourd juice for a bit (a remedy taught to my mum from whom i do not know), or I should also be downing more celery … and of course my regular medicinal intake.

I cannot dispense any advice on what to take, to reduce one's high blood pressure - sure as heck as it hasn't really worked for me, innit?

In many ways, that's one of the main reasons why I avoid conflicts these days, or deliberately shy away from confrontations or quarrels, not to be embroiled in any negativity, which might get my blood'a'boiling. I had a quick temper "in the past", which I now actively quell, so I cannot say if it has actually "gone away" or that I am a more serene person I might attempt to be serene, but it doesn't mean I naturally am … the inner peace which escapes me, and my constant search for it still eludes my patience … "drama", I know, right? LOL

While typing up this post, I realized I did not bring along my BP-reader to Jakarta with me last week, as I did when I visited Bangkok early last year - to keep tabs on my own health. Or perhaps it might have been a good thing, as it would have brought further attention and stress to myself? Be that as it may, it behooves anyone to pay attention to their own conditions, regardless how healthy you might seem on the surface. Don;t wait for the shit to hit the fan, yeah? Or else you might find yourself whining about it on a blog like this of mine LOL



Happy Stroke-Birthday, Me!

Sometime after/around 2pm, 2 years ago on this specific date of October 22nd, I fell victim to Stroke, the result of which affected my life indefinitely.

This time last year, I was knee-deep in sorting out funds and operations for my Silent Auction for Stroke (which saw a sum of SGD$2.3K being presented to the National Stroke Association of Singapore, on World Stroke Day October 29) and could hardly "mark" the date.

This year, a few moments before this entry, I was having a lunch of fried bee hoon, as cooked by my Dad, at home, when the date suddenly dawned on me. Funnily enough, 2 years ago today, my dad had actually cooked Soup Bee Hoon for lunch, and i did not actually even get to taste it, before i literally felt the effects of the onset of Stroke (which we did not know it was "Stroke" then), which very quickly saw me taken by cab to a nearby hospital, and to awaken the next day, to be told that I had actually fell to Stroke.

I've somewhat maintained either 22nd or 23rd to be my "second birthday", seeing that I had received a second lease of "life", and not succumbed to Stroke, in which I could have been permanently paralyzed, lost my ability to speak, or simply brain-damaged. I was even contemplating having a "Stroke-Birthday" celebration with folks and friends, but perhaps tis too morbid a notion for most, I reckon.

Two years on. the pity-wagon might have left the station, but I am still feeling the results of Stroke. My eye-sight is still double and a chore to live with, my right-side of the body is starting to regain it's stiffness (due to the lack of exercise) and I'm seriously gaining weight and girth! I might be able to wobble-on without a walking cane now, but i still carry it with me, because I feel the inability to balance myself moreso these days (no doubt due to the increased weight gain lol). Regardless, I am still breathing air and rambling online, so something must have worked out lol

With such, I would like to mark this "occasion" with this post, and as well treat myself to a movie later on (double-vision will not stop me lol), and be thankful I am good to go, two years on.

Happy Stroke-Birthday, Me! LOL


P/S: Hey, my dad makes awesome fried bee hoon, okay? LOL


Warning Signs of a Stroke

"May is National Stroke Awareness month and a time to raise our understanding of the emotional, physical, and financial impact that stroke has on our friends and family." ~reports Yahoo!News


Regaining Independence

"Funny thing", this thing known as "independence" - a particular attribute I have been striving for, since surviving Stroke in October 2010 (and by that of course I mean "independence", not striving to be "Funny" lol). And when I mention "independence", it just simply means the ability to navigate places by yourself, without the need of help from another person. Note that I had spent over a year going to wherever, always with a chaperone (most times it had been my Father), where there was an intangible fear that I would fall, or be lost to my Stroke-relapse and no one would be the wiser to know what to do.

This is mostly a mental challenge, I admit. But a challenge it had been for a long while that I could not conquer, until only recently.

I have since surmised that whatever "independence" i have been conquering this far, were easier when it is with places and spaces I am familiar with, in the first place. It is the familiarity with retracing the steps I have had taken in the past, that builds up my own confidence and ability to cope with the now, and perhaps even future, or so I surmise.

Besides visiting my dad in SGH earlier on, the other places I have physically gone to by myself, were places I had visited in my "healthier days", like the Sunday flea market in China Square Central, the neighborhood Loyang Point mall, or even the post office at White Sands mall in Pasir Ris, and hell even the bus depot was somewhere I'd gone to numerous times in the past. Now navigating them, is not too much of a mental challenge, as I remember them and where things were, where the turns are to reach somewhere, somewhen.

Now that compared to going to Thailand, was a breeze. Navigating Bangkok, I realized I was able to get by, because I blocked all the fear and inhibitions, and just "walked on" - one of my current mottos in life is; "Move Forward. Always Move Forward". And that was what I did - literally moved forward, and on hindsight, perhaps I was not as I was 100% mentally when I was with folks, because I was spending a decent amount of energy blocking out my fear. And I will be the first one to say, hell yeah I was fearful to be independent and alone in a foreign land! The scenery was different, the geography was daunting, grappling with my own ability (or lack thereof) to catchup and be in the group, it was simpler for me to get along by myself, or with lesser folks in a group.

The meeting of 'old friends' did more good to me mentally, than anyone would ever imagined. Remember "familiarity"? If I am a stranger to the space, then let the faces of familiar friends calm thy temperament, I insist. My sincere thanks to a friend Thanya, for without her, it would have been an extremely harder task to "accept" Bangkok.

I realize these mental obstacles might well be foreign to most healthy, abled folks, but perhaps if you are dealing with Stroke-survivors, having the ability or even opportunity to interact with people and places from the past, may well help integrate them into the state they are currently in, if not help build confidence in their own ability to be "independent". And once that is achieved, then consider going off to places previously not been before, to be able to fully appreciate and enjoy their experiences, and not be fearful of themselves, in the first place. And being integrated into the community was just be as fulfilling, and not just the sense to need to "survive".

Hope I wish I could have enjoyed myself more in Bangkok, than I was masked with fear and trepidation, but the time has come and gone, and all we/i can do now is "Move Forward" :)


Keeping Pace

Bangkok was a … challenge. A challenge to navigate, a challenge for me to integrate with the masses, and a challenge to be covering the event (for which I was invited to attend as a Judge, and eventually tasked to cover as well). I had just returned from a 6-day trip to Thailand, which had been a experience pushing me to my physical limits and mental fortitude.

Navigating amongst folks, became a key challenge at most points. My limited physical abilities meant I had to play "catch up" to most everyone. Yes, most folks had been extremely 'kind' and 'concerned' to turn back and wait for me, but the reality is, moving in a group, I had to somehow "up" my pace to stay within the group's range - even if it meant dragging my heels behind everyone else - and that in itself was a tremendous 'burden' that got the better of me at most instances, so much so I had even forgo a chance for a group outing, because it does me no good to be languishing behind while everyone trudged on, and frankly no matter how I might have been able to express my difficulty, I do not want or need to feel to be a burden to anyone, much less in a group-scenario when everyone is having fun.

Now imagine that being thought of, by a much older Stroke-survivor, like an uncle, aunt or parent. Would folks actually "say" it out loud? The fear is, they do not. Because NO ONE wants or likes to feel like a "burden", and especially older-folks, IMHO. I certainly don't.

Sure, nobody is asking me to quicken my pace, nobody is rushing me to marathon-a-mile, but the reality is; in an instance like this, it IS all about the Stroke-survivor, and not YOUR requirement or judgement of speed. If you intend to bring out a Stroke-survivor and care for him/her, do not expect for him/her to follow your speed, but instead cater to his/hers, instead. If it is your intention in the first place, of course.

Regardless of what folks might think, or think they "know", the reality is most times something they cannot relate to, unless it is something they had the misfortune to experience.

Nothing beats a one-on-one walk tho, with a person shadowing or walking alongside you (it eases the fear and temperament), or simply being followed at the back by others who are looking out for you or you think are looking out for you). Note that walking in front of a Stroke-survivor means nothing if he/she would fall, and all you see is "after the fact" lol.

Walking behind, you'd be able to see the survivor's walking pattern, and even offer feedback on how he/she is walking. Like, if the person tends to lean towards the left sode of the body, or tends to veer to the right even tho he/she is walking straight. Know that Stroke affects a person's sense of direction sometimes as well, besides the ability (or "disability" to walk). But don't go shadowing the person right behind the back, and end up kicking his/her walking cane (sorry, but my mum has done that on numerous occasions hahahaha). But yes, walking behind does not mean you'd be able to rush in in time to "hold" unto the person if he/she is falling lol

The term I am faced with constantly is "community integration" (or sumsuch expression) - whereby the individual can join the community at large, to engage in activities as common to the regular physically-abled folks. I reckon I am still "integrating" and struggling too. Taking a public bus alone. Taking the train, or even getting a tray of food in a crowded food-court, are but the few activities for folks to "join in the community".

With being a part of the community, the Stroke-survivor need not have to feel being "alone" with his/her own medical-malady amongst other able-bodied folks. With independence, the Stroke-survivor can gain confidence in being able to cope with and perhaps even excel beyond his/her own medical-malady (within the given physical restrictions, of course).

It is one thing to walk by yourselves amongst a group, but to physically relate to, and/or catchup with a group's normal speed, is and will be a struggle. Folks might welcome the chance to assist the Stroke-survivor, but do not at any moment pretend you would know how they would feel in stances like this. And people would mostly ask; "Are You Okay?", and the answer would more likely be "I'm Okay" - because what is the alternative? Stop and turn back?

At one point in my time in Bangkok, I found myself in a situation where I had to walk by myself, from the hostel to the event venue - which is a walk in the park to most (not including the heat of weather lol) but one of the most arduous trek I have had to contend with thus far. I could barely walk straight and steady, and my eyes were fixed on the floor in front of me, most times. There were multiple steps to navigate and climb as well, but hey, I survived it, and can only pat myself on the back for being stronger, and frankly, that's all I could do.

Ironically, by myself at my own pace, it was not as arduous as having the need to follow another's pace. Is it the same for every survivor? I would not pretend to know.

The fear of falling on my face in a foreign land, was heightened, but was kept at bay with my own stubbornness to conquer the journey, and of my own misgivings and fear, and believe you me, fear griped at me most times I was up and walking.

And if folks know me well, "fear" is something I chose not to give into, but it does not mean I can ignore it's existence totally. For Stroke-survivors, "fear" might not be something that can be articulated easily, or gauged, beyond "I am scared" - for which able-bodied folks might gauge against their own "fear" instead of the survivors. Do not judge like that, and I can only ask you to acknowledge the fear that might exist for the survivor, much less "understand" it. As for "reacting" to it, it can only show the level of care and concern you do after being told subsequently. Sometimes, all is needed is for the Stroke-survivor to sit, rest his/her feets and catch their breath, and regain their confidence to continue the journey they have set out to conquer in the first instance.

Is it "(all) in the mind?" OF COURSE IT IS. Let there be no doubt about that. Although it does not mean it is 100% in the mind! But it is a strong aspect of one's reaction to activities around. If there was any physical manifestation, it would be an obvious physical reaction to it. There have been a few times when my legs buckled and I was caught breathless with heart palpating rapidly, and had needed to sit down immediately and rest (that is why i consciously choose not to "cover" events these days, I am not foolish enough to think I can physically do what I had done before, for the time being anyways until I recover fully).

A simple equation: The more you walk or move, the more chances you might trip and fall. Move slow and you might be able to control your movements, move fast, and pray that gravity will spare you a reprieve.

Regardless, this post is meant as a reference for folks dealing with Stroke-survivors and their movements. I am grateful for the opportunity to push myself beyond my regular mindset and fears, and lived to survive and return to Singapore in one piece. And because I simply choose not to constantly complain about my coping-issues, it is all on me to make myself comfortable, in the first place.

If I said I am grateful to be "alive", would you dare claim to say you feel what I feel? Do not attempt to, instead, spare a thought for folks out there who might not have the tenacity to survive beyond their own fears, much less their physical disabilities.

Heck, I still have a long road to recovery and journey in life I need to walk thru, but looks like I'll need to be keeping my own pace - rather than depend on others' - if I am to arrive at whatever my destination is, in good health and good spirits :)


Playing With LEGO


Made a LEGO Red Car today at my weekly Stroke-rehab session (my personal blood-pressure is still frustratingly above the limit - even after increased medical dosage prescribed by my Stroke Doctor - but i reckon it still needs time for the pills to react...) and enjoyed every moment of it - lifted my dampened spirits, it did! Even needing to finger+find the mini-bits-n-pieces of the construct, with my chubby Stroke-fingers, was pretty fun!

Near everyone had mentioned that I was doing something that they wished they had a chance to do when they were young, and that got me thinking quite a bit - that if given the opportunity, I'd wish everyone had a chance to "play" with the LEGO-bricks, for both the recovering patients (like myself) and others more healthy in body. The chance to "play", at whatever age group one is in, is an important part of "life" folks tend to give up in adulthood (and I do not mean folks who already "collect toys" in the first place ;p).

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For folks like myself, the act requires eye and hand co-ordination (there is a guidebook showing steps all thru the way) along with the visual recognition of the pieces. Believe you me, what you take for granted - stacking colored plastic blocks on each other may not be as easy a task for folks with impaired physical abilities. Regular "play", is in some cases, yet another physical task that needs to be conquered as well.

I like the LEGO builds in the rehab center. I had previously done a BUS before (twice) and today was this red roadster, which had openable doors, and hoods! And the sense of finishing a vehicular structure, with wheels running along the table-top, no doubt would be an invigorating sense of satisfaction for whomever builds the unit, methinks! And that is something that is really beneficial to the mindset of a recovery, as it is one of those tasks that creates a instant response at the end of the effort.

And completing a build may well cater to the sense of "accomplishment" - however small they might be compared to the patient's ailment - as accomplishments might be few and far in-between on the road to recovery, IMHO.

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Me, I have a chance to play with LEGO and relive a slice of my childhood that I have not had the opportunity to in adulthood (sadly it had to be because of Stroke lol). I envy some of my friends who dwell in the realms of LEGO, and reckon LEGO builds are not just for kids, but much for adults as well. Now I just need to now what I need to do, to get some free LEGO sets! LOL

(All images posted here are courtesy of my therapist Jessie Chui ~ and thanks to Pauline Khoo for the LEGO-"treatment", and for letting me play with LEGO hahahaha)