Seeing Double

Imagine you cross your eyeballs, and you see double of everything, while folks around you laugh at the inanity of how "cockfunny" you look with crossed-eyeballs like a buffoon. Now imagine the vision, but without the laughter. That is how my vision was impaired ever since I was struck with Stroke back in October 2010.

Back "then", the separation was actually worse, most times diagonal rather than side-by-side, and further apart. But by covering up either of the two eyeballs, I could actually look pretty much clear and straight, and I have since been wearing an eye-patch, to assist in lessening the irritation.

And irritating it is, if not ultimately worrying. The analysis back in the initial period when I was less scared (and decidedly more worried about my future), was that, even in a wheelchair for life (touch-wood TOUCH-WOOD) I could still conceivable type on a keyboard. But without my vision? I sure had very little options left, innit? I would have been fcuked bad if I had given-up and given-in then.

The visual senses were affected by the lack of blood-flow to the brain, an aspect of Stroke that folks know the effect of, but not necessarily how to treat it.

[Days before the eye-patch of Piratey-goodness]

I remember literal hordes of trainee doctors visiting my bedside in Changi Hospital, where they would test my reflexes and be amazed (and as well confounded) by my eye-sight (I have always been a sucker for pretty ladies, and as well a good conversation, so I let loads slide *cough*). I actually wasn't funny then that folks did not know how to answer for my eye-sight condition, and it sure isn't funny now really (pretty ladies aside *cough-cough*).

Even now, I am not taking any medication for my eye-sight to get any better. Any sense of Western involvement in this endeavor has only led me to be treated with suffering silence, and/or the by now banal reassurance of the constantly repeated fact that it was the result of suffering from Stroke. I am not kind about this situation, and I have a right not to be, for no one has offered me a respite or even solution, besides: "The eye-sight will get well when the Stroke gets well" ~ which to me, is a whole lot of manure disguised with a smile.

In less than a week's time, I have an appointment scheduled to meet an "eye-specialist" in Changi, who perhaps might shed more light into my malady, and hopefully "cure", some semi-odd five months since suffering from my Stroke in 2010. Imagine that was how long folks had to go thru to wait for an appointment, or even felt it was "worthy" of seeking an appointment. In this, I am truly bitter and disillusioned at the current state of medical advances this country had to advise patients like me.

Meanwhile, I have been actively engaged in weekly acupuncture sessions, currently at three times a week (initially it was 10-days straight, when I was out of St Andrews, but that is the past now), for which they have straight out claimed to be doing work specifically for my vision. I grasp only at tangibles that lay before more, not hearsay nor mysterious circumstances. "Words" only mean so much to me right now, when I am dying to "see" the difference, truth be told.

[My Days With An Eye-Patch ... okay one of them does not count]

And I would state for the record, that my eye-sight has seen advanced improvement! There are even days when the double-vision is lesser (no doubt having my eyes used to the effect, might have been a boon), but of course there are days when the vision goes askew and I see double of everything still - most times due to advanced exposure and long time spent in front of the laptop and blogging, for which I have been derided by folks around me, the Chinese Sensei most especially LOL (bleh :p)

I type and blog with an eye-patch on, as well walk or go about in public with an eye-patch.

With blogging, it is reading and typing in large font sizes (controlled in the laptop, which is cool, compared to the 17-incher monitor of my desktop which basically died when I got home from hospitalization ~ WTF?). Some good days, I go without the patch, but most days I am reliant on it.

Since the Stroke, I no longer read the newspapers, or even novels, because the font is so blardy impossibly small for me. I had to even resort to using a magnifying glass to read printouts initially (online updates for when I was hospitalized). But just the other day, I grabbed a newspaper as I went to the bathroom (used to be a fav pastime of mine, yes, now you know) ~ the result being not too shabby, readable but with much focus needed, so perhaps the vision is getting better than I expected.

With going out in public, is another story altogether. They teach you in rehab, to see a vertical line in front of you, and walk towards it, to assist you in walking in a straight line. It didn't really use to work for me, as I had double lines to walk towards, and most times I stumbled like a drunkard man. With the patch, it does get better, and it forces focus unto the task in front of you. But when I am sitting down, or cycling on the treadmill, I would rather do without the patch.

My PT assistant mentioned this: "Wear the eye-patch when you're with girls, and not need them when you're chatting with the boys." = The patch might turn ladies on (sheeyahinmydreams) and the boys don't need the contest LOL

And traveling is also a worrying issue. I can sit still in a moving cab, but the moving visions outside of the window gave me a very bad headache initially. These days it is getting better, and I can actually look out the window, to see the world go by, or even read a natty magazine. Five semi-odd months into my Stroke recovery, I had better recover me sum, goshdammit!

I have also started taking the bus last week (all chaperoned of course, by my 70 year old father, no less) but frankly it works decent so far because I just focus on whatever is in front of me anyways, which most times might be my cane-handle, or a reflection of folks around me (hurhur). Sudden moves freak me out so much, I will not lie. And ironically, what I cannot see, I am afraid of the most.

Aside, what does it say about kids in Singapore, with ten out of ten mentioning "pirate" whenever they see me with an eye-patch? LOL

But of course I am worried of being too reliant on the eye-patch, and hope to one day be "recovered" enough to wean myself out of using it. If the acupuncture does not work, and there is no medication for it, I might have to wait until I have recovered from my Stroke, to know if it indeed will recover along. But I do not put much stakes into that notion.

[Will promote for a decent good eye-patch]

But hell, getting an eye-patch is not that easy an effort too, for most patches might not come with adjustable straps, and my recent gift has but been left with the strap disintegrated (no joke) thru sweat and constant-wear, and my new patch is hella tight and is giving me a headache whenever I wear them.

And if you need to know, I have a "home-patch", which I only wear at home, but is unsightly (I am still "vain" what? LOL). So typing this is not so much a worry, although my eye-sight is getting tired and crossing again (so this would not be too long an post :p)...

The irony of which is, my eye-sight is actually frighteningly crystal clear. I might see double-vision in front of me, but the clarity is literally shiny bright (no doubt thru the efforts of acupuncture) like looking at a HD screen-vision on most days LOL, and only goes to extreme blurriness when I am utilizing too much effort and for far too long a time, and most times it may be of eye-shit, but yes, I am giving excuses for myself.

What folks say is, say away from focusing on computers or tv and/or not spend too much time on them for too long. I find it hard to equate resting constantly and closing my eyes, then to getting better. But then again, I have never had Stroke before and know not otherwise.

Maybe one day soon I would have to be less stubborn, and stay offline for longer periods (but I don't want to be sleeping away, no?), and yes, typing less LOL

Actually, having impaired vision is not a laughing matter, but I thank god that I am not absolutely blind (touch wood TOUCH WOOD) because of the Stroke. And I embrace what I see everywhen, with humility, and being less judgmental (well, "try" anyways) in my visual analysis for "life".


Maintaining Balance

One of the key aspects of my body affected by Stroke, was the partial paralysis of the right-side of my body, most notably the limbs. And while the situation was only temporary (thank god for that), the road to recovery had been a hard-fought one. In this I do not over-exaggerate and can but only pat myself on the back, for what I have achieved so far since the faithful day I lied still on the hospital bed.

Function to both my arm and limb were sorely affected when blood-flow to my brain was cut off during the advent of Stroke. Essentially from then on, my motor-functions are simply switched back to the day when I first learnt to walk as a baby, or it sure felt like it.

My brain remembers "to walk", but the feets do not listen and function as they did. I remembered to hold something with my right-hand (my master-hand, no less), but the fingers could barely grasp at anything, much less having my arm lifted up and being able to grab at anything automatically.

Along with my Stroke, I had lost the ability to speak properly, or breathe and swallow properly (but both conditions did not last long / more on them alters), but my hardest truth I had needed to over-come then, and even now, was the ability to walk free.

Taking everything for granted when I was healthy and walking frantically, the sudden stoppage of traveling by my own steam, was a hard pill to swallow indeed, as I would assume anyone else affected in this area. I remember refusing to feel "crippled", and worked hard in my daily rehab in the hospital wards (when I had regained my strength to). Every morning for a hour or so, I was in the capable efforts of my Physiotherapists in the Changi Hospital Ward 18.

PTs took care to help me regain balance - which was the primarily hit region of function - which directly affected the feet. I hobbled like a baby (or "bear" according to my "size" ;p) and gripped the wall-handles for life, as I step-by-step got back into "shape", and subsequently being able to bathe myself and walk around on a 4-Legged-Walker.

Trust me, being able to bathe yourself is as crucial an imperative as you would be walking. If you can't even take care of yourself in this instance, it would be a much harder walk to take.

It helped that my condition was considered by some to be "mild", so it seems. Hell, just a month before being hospitalized, I was living out my dream and intent of the blog, which was to be able to travel overseas (because of), and to report and see for myself all of which I used to blog about online! But perhaps, thinking back, enjoying the life and times of Thailand and Jakarta, may have well pushed me to the edge of my health :p

(Causes of Stroke, in my instance, included the accumulation of High Blood Pressure, high tension, high cholesterol and an onset of Diabetes - gosh but the food was awesome tho LOL)

Regardless, a month spent in Changi General Hospital led me to being wheelchair-pushed across the bridge to another month in St Andrews Community Hospital. By then, the daily sessions were also the reasons which got me back on my wobbly-feets.

In SACH, every morning (excluding weekends) consisted of physical exercises after breakfast. A hour and a half at PT - training strength of legs, and then another hour and half at OT ("Occupational Therapist"), which essentially trained the motor-functions above the waist.

I had re-learnt to "walk" (aided of course), down corridors ("stumble" be more accurate LOL) and even climb stairs (thank gods for railings!). I had regained the mobility of my right-arm and hand, I could draw and write again. Most of all, I felt itches on my hand and feet, which literally meant I could FEEL again.

Can't decide if that's a good thing or bad. I have had sratch-marks where I might not have felt scratching them previously tho :p

I worked my ass off everyday single day, and came back to the wards with sweat-patches that would make a grown man cry lol ~ I had wanted to walk again damning and no one could stop me!

A week before Christmas day in December 2010, I decided it was time to leave the ward and begin home-stay and recovery. I had felt "well" enough to be bold (as well a financial situation reared it's head there and then, which was sorted before I left the ward) to imagine leading a "new life" outside of the protection of the ward. And I made my decision known.

(There was also a "test" previously, when I had ventured out for a weekend at home, which was the Saturday I had actually visited STGCC in my wheelchair! I had wanted to as well see my reaction to being outside of the ward, and to be in public. It was a hella shellshock I haveta admit, but highyl doable then LOL)

Let there be no doubt, within the ward, you have a small army of folks surrounding you to assist you in anything you needed or wanted (reasonably, of course), as the folks are trained professionals. Most folks do not see that and expect their family at home to be just as effective and attentive. That is a totally false notion.

Fair enough that one condition of home-stay, is that one of the patient's caregiver come to the hospital, and be trained in bathing them, helping them get from bed to wheelchair etc. Everybody takes for granted their own body-weight, but imagine folks smaller than you trying to balance or contain you, is a harder pill to imagine, IMHO.

Out of hospital by Christmas, and back into weekly rehabilitation in February (after a short stint of reprieve and getting fat again urrrgggh), I had to attend two weekly sessions for about an hour and a half each time, split between my OT on Mondays, and PT on Thursdays, and as well a smattering of home-exercises in-between. But truth be told, being self-motivated is a harder challenge. Although ironically enough, during rehab in the wards-era, most folks around me did not seem too concerned with "getting better" and doing their individual exercises ~ which I attribute to a sheer lack of interest physiologically in attaining their life back. Most folks seem to wallow in despair and choose instead to make do with what they were dealt with - which makes it even harder for me to be energized about = no one to work out with! lol

I have since then learnt to "zone out" and block everyone out while I do my exercises, and just carry on with my own rehab - the trouble being sometimes I over-exert myself, and my aching body constantly reminds me of that lapse LOL

In a way, I have also learnt to be more selfish than usual, as no one will help me get any better (beyond my PTs and OTs) except for myself, and of course educating my family with what is happening to me and my body, which I constantly do. I reckon loads of folks need to be able to communicate with their families as well, or all they can do, is buy you a better wheelchair and provide you amenities, but do not actually know how you are doing physically. Fair enough some patients have a hard time verbalizing, or even "talking", but it pays to work out hints and clues to whatever feelings and situations may permit. It will only do you good, and no harm, IMHO.

I reckon most of the "domestic help" assisting the older folks at rehab, may well know better about their ward, than their actual family does. But that is just conjunction on my part, and it is not and never will be my place to pry.

Two months at home, I had travelled around in public on a rented wheelchair, and hobbled around at home without aids. Perhaps it is familiarity at the home front, but I felt more safe going around at home, than at al in public places. In time, I walked free in the rehab area as well, as frankly, I felt protected by the staff around me.

In reality, the sense of "being protected" is well attached to one's ability to be able to walk, and once you regain that ability - in whatever level - you will feel you have regain independence, and hence the notion to be able to protect yourself (from falling etc), and you'll be more at peace with what is needed to be done, to get better. I know I did, and still do.

Walking fast or slow, is redundant if you do not have "balance", and I have since realized that is most important, as there IS strength in my limbs, but being able to control them and so whatever I want with them whenever? Therein lies the rub … Any semblance of metaphors related to "life" and the balance of, I remain both skeptical and as well highly appreciative of though :)

Fast forward to end of March, scant five months after my Stroke in end-October 2010, I had made my way to the cinema on Thursday last (to view Sucker Punch, right after my weekly morning-rehab!), and wandered around Marina Bay Sands on Sunday - all with a walking stick (and a whole lotta rests on seats in-between LOL).

The downside of it all, is I recognize I tend to stumble around moreso than I ever did before, perhaps regaining my "speed" is not an indication I have my life from before back at full-steam. And the fear that I have begun to "make do" with whatever ability to walk I have had, actually worries me quite a bit. But regardless, I still try to keep myself in check, as ultimately, it is only me who knows what's capable to be achieved for myself (although my trainers have other plans for me LOL).

Ironically, I had not been much of a supporter of walking canes, having remember something my PY mentioned during my stay in Changi, that she did not want me to develop a "slanted-gait" while walking with a cane. Months later, I embrace the cane, and as well relish the day I can chuck it away and walk free again, and maintain balance, and yes, to travel overseas (if I can afford to anyways).

I'm looking at July for Taipei Toy Festival, and maybe a September walkabout in United Kingdom - but perhaps yes, I am getting ahead of myself again … I will be looking forward to another trip (and more) to the cinemas, bummed-eye be damned! (Now THAT is another post for another day!). And as I near always reply when folks ask about my health = *Rehab Continues* ~ because in all truth and honesty, it still does :)


Stroke Happens

How do you recognize when it is you are having Stroke? How do you react when you are having Stroke?

All these can be readily answered, with prescribed ways to handle yourself, given the right circumstances. But from my personal experience, when it hits, it doesn't take a whole long while before the effects grab at you and leave you helpless.

I remember a story from Jason, my bed-neighbor (in Ward 18 in Changi Hospital), whereby his second Stroke (yes, it happens twice in your life) hit him while he was about to go to work. He was locked in his own home alone for nearly seven hours, before police came to bang-down the front door of his house to get to him.

Apparently he had the notion to call his office (having the experience from the first Stroke, he was prepared) while lying on the floor from the effects of Stroke, and apparently the story went that his secretary thought it was a prank joke played on her on the phone, as his speech had by then was affected (when I first knew him in the ward, his speech was badly slurred). He got thru subsequently it seems.

Being alone when it happens? Man, that story sends chills down my spine.

On the other end of the spectrum, I was told another occurrence, this time by Alex, my bed-neighbor in St Andrews. Apparently he had experienced the event throughout an entire day, and not know about it! He even continued at work, and drove the car home. Until an uneasy feeling (and as well advise from his wife) made him visit the doctor's the next day, who promptly told him he had Stroke!

Not knowing you've got it, and still carry on with the day? Spine-chills, you get the picture.

Regardless of how extremely discomforting or even cluelessly uneventful, the effects of Stroke ultimately leaves a person paralyzed to a certain degree, and steps need to be taken to rehabilitate and make that right again. Rehabilitation is "after the fact", and as necessary as it is, this is not what the post is about.

Jason's speech got better and better within the month I was lying beside him (hence he could tell me his story), while Alex's ability to walk improved as the days went on, while we were both doing rehab, within the month we spent together in the same ward.

Yes, there is hope for recovery, and yes Stroke is devastating. But what may be different from each other, is how and when Stroke happened, and how some stories are absolutely different, or the same altogether.

Here are some "simple" warning signs of a Stroke (via Snopes.com):

- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.

- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding.

- Sudden trouble seeing in one of both eyes.

- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

You would notice ALL of the above has "Sudden" mentioned. Simply because generally Stroke hits you quick and you feel the effects just as quick (although not in the case of Alex ;p). Essentially, Stroke happens when blood flow to your brain is disrupted, which affects all or some of the points mentioned above. Quite ironically, it is the literal metaphor or someone sneaking up behind you and SUDDENLY attacks you by the neck ~ because that is what Stroke literally does, with the veins most times situated at the back of the neck being affected!

For me, I had headaches first, followed by numbness on my right-side, followed by loss of balance and sight, and eventually speech. [How it begun for me].

I really do not know for a fact how to even get prepared for this. Have your telephone near you always? Always be near other folks? All I or anyone else can do, is to spread the word and let folks know about what needs to be done. Know that the first 24 hours is crucial, so don't dally about, not that you have time to anyways!

Seriously, when all of the above hits you suddenly, it really needs you to have strength of mind to no freakout and to execute even the simplest task of calling for help, be it on phone, or screaming out to people around you. Hell I was clueless about my condition to even begun to freakout (which now, sorta freaks me out a little), but I thank my graces everyday, that I still lived with my parents, and that my dad and sister were present in the room, when I had my episode.


P/S: I had the notion for this article while having a conversation with a rehab-volunteer today. Eric asked me how it begun, and I realized not a whole lot of folks ask that (well, folks "in the know" of course), while most folks outside of the illness are more concerned with "what lead to it". I would not deny "Prevention" might perhaps be a good "ciure" to Stroke, but perhaps an educated knowledge of it, can help as well.


Me and My Pink Walking Cane

Been "walking" around with the aid of my walking cane (in metallic PINK, to match my 4-Legged-Walker) for over a week now ("constant shuffle", more like), since lasy Monday when I was wheeled-in to rehab, and walked out with a cane (The wheelchair was a rental). Ironically, the past week or so had been about daily walking, with near everyday having a clinic appointment, acupuntcture session and dental happening, and I walked for my "life" like a marathon! Thank gawd the weekend was a reprieve of home-shuffling only LOL

The thing about walking with a cane, was in fact a mental fear I have had, not necessarily of falling (initially it was), but of how folks react to a man in cane (as mentioned in an earlier post) and for the past week folks seem to barely avoid walking into me (perhaps my eye-patch helped their keeping away LOL). The cane has become such a pain to walk with to, but it keeps me balanced when needed be, and I should be just thankful I can "walk" at all!

The weekly rehab has let me see loads of folks (mostly old) being wheeled in by their maids/help, and I cannot help but think what actually goes thru their minds, when they have lost their mobility, even temporarily. Folks should take the time to consider the mindset of victims such as them, and spend the time "talking" to them and knowing what it is they are really thinking. Far be it Asian-based folks tend to be less verbal and in-touch with their thoughts and feelings ~ especially older folks a generation or two before, who actually might have lived thru WW2 or even harsh atrocities ~ but it is far better than just providing them the physical necessities needed to "get by" in the current real world.

Actually this notion seems only slightly touched upon initially during recovery, but then again I might not truly know, as my experience was pretty decent, as folks no doubt had seen how my family rallied around me and supported me in my time. Thinking back, I realized I might not have been as verbal with my thoughts to my family during Stroke-recovery, as I had been before that, choosing instead to hole myself up in my own world, blogging like a madman and embracing hermitdom for soem years.

Funny how life throws you curve balls when you least expect it, and you relearn how to deal with life again.

As I struggle daily with my post-Stroke rehab, the past weekend also saw earthquake and tsunami hit Sendai off the coast of Japan, And now with rumored Nuclear/radiation leaks? Somehow my state seemed so minute compared to the folks in Japan, but we try to live on as best as we can, and pray our friends and folks in Japan better days and heathy recovery.


Of Self Vanity and Growing Up With Hair

"Vanity". An oft utilized word to describe one's attempt to look more than well and good, to the world around them.

"Vanity", to a Stroke victim (or at least me) is the last thing on my mind, even if it was the first in my days before.

Loads of folks used to ask me; "Why keep long hair?", which my answer was simple; "Because I am vain." To which many a folks could not grapple the straight forward answer with. I'd explain further that since I am not a "handsome man", I'd rather be a "unique-looking man" because of my long-hair (and as well beard ;p). Again, most folks cannot seem to grasp that concept, which I find extremely strange.

Frankly, I am not THAT vain enough I will work out and have swish ads or rock-hard biceps, I am purely, just "lazy-vain" in that instance, I reckon ;p .. anyways...

Lying in the hospital bed, the last thing on my mind was any sense of vanity or "looking well", in any way shape or form whatsoever, as are most patients, I surmise. I'm not going to comb my hair early in the morning because I wanna look well for the doctors or nurses. I'm not gonna worry if my shirt was well pressed to greet visitors for the day. Frankly, I do't really care if I looked well in the least bit, besides having the ability to walk free again then! My priorities have changed since the medical-event (FYI: I've decided to call it the "medical-event" because it is hardly an illness or sickness, this happenstance I call Stroke).

Tis funny I mentioned the long hair earlier in the post, as the "evolution" of which, happen to have paralleled my personal "growth" stages these past four months.

[I do not look all that awesome in a braid, do I? @ CGH]

When I first had Stroke, the longest part of my hair near reached my waist (I did not trim the hair, hence the wild growings). Lying in bed, I remember the nurses braiding my hair, because it was difficult to maintain, while giving my sponge baths (no, I did not enjoy my sponge baths) in the early days of Stroke. Being braided was funny only but for a coupla days, then from a Chinese-warrior soldier, I had become a wretched looking poor country folk, when the strands of hair became disheveled.

Keeping my hair long for a span of 5 years, I reckon I had become very attached to the comfort long hair provided. (I loved the feeling of hair sweeping pass my nap, truth be told). A decade ago I've kept my hair long for a couple of years, before National Service came a knocking, and I'd shorn my locks to fit the mold, like many a Singaporean men in Reservist. And I'd realized having my long hair now, had become a "security blanket" somewhat, or perhaps a "shield" I had possessed, that kept me blocked from everyone outside my world.

Truth be told, not many a folk like to chat with a guy with long hair (and beard) hahahaha.

But long hair and Stroke, did not mix. So when someone offered to cut my hair in the Ward, I'd surprisingly agreed to have it done. At that point, I wasn't exactly in the mood to be vain, yah know? I had just wanted manageable hair, that did not get in the way of me recovering. There no longer was sense of comfort, but a burden of the past, that had still clung unto me.

[My "Mad Violinist" 'Do, but without the violin]

Ironically, the first hair cut I had in five years, was not exactly a pleasurable one. Till now I refer to it as the "Mad Chinese Violinist" haircut. Being totally racist (hey, I'm Chinese in the first place, so don't need to go on a rampage here!). The wavy locks made me look like a dude trying to be hip, with said locks flowingly jumping as I performed on my violin actively (no, I do not play the violin). Maybe I'd seen the hairstyle on such a person on the telly or something, but nothing pops into my conscious-mind, so that is that.

I might have made some wrong turns in my journey, but I know what I want, tis just trying to ind the way to get there as fast, without the wrong turns.

Vanity did somewhat reared it's ugly head around that time, as I had become quite conscious of how I looked in that hairstyle! Not in a decade have I felt like that! It was so "bad", I had even a comb in my drawer in the hospital! I had not carried a comb for 5 years and now this? I was flabbergasted went in fact I should be more worried about learning to walk again!

A chance came when I decided I wanted to have a crew-cut. I've always wished I had a bald-'do.but never had the courage to, remembering the time when I did indeed have a bald-look, was when I was 18-ish year old, and cut my hair for the Army, and looked like an Alien Conehead with a sharp-dome! (But then again I had a 28 inch waist and a jawline to die for … *man-sob*). Now that I've past forty and possess a respectable waistline (*cough*), perhaps I' not have a conehead as before innit?

[Having my hair cut crew at Changi General Hospital]

I'd loved my new crewcut. Suddenly, nothing else seemed to matter then. Free from my decade of burden and worldly vanity, I feet free to do anything! And by anything, it included learning to walk and balance again. Not having hair gave me the confidence to meet people face-front again, ironically so. And I did. And maybe the eye-patch helped too (in looking "unique") and perhaps folks all around were extremely helpful in providing "positive reinforcement" when it came to helping patience regain their confidence and feeling good .. but it didn't matter to me then, I had my confidence to move forward, and nobody can ever ask for more than that.

[Leaving St Andrew Community Hospital on Christmas Eve]

Fast forward the now, with my hair slightly grown out, I'd still use a comb to kept it intact (altho never do carry one along with me) and I sort of like it where it's at, although a tad longish, and near everyday waking up with a bad-hair-day, I'd still trudge along as best I can.

Hair aside, having being to sit in a wheelchair all these while, and left me donning tees and board-shorts, because frankly, I'm sitting down anyways, yeh? But on Monday, I had returned my leased wheelchair and begun walking free with a walking cane (I consider "limping" mildly still "walking" ;p), and I had a Dental Appointment Tuesday, which had both made me comb my hair, and wear something else other than a board-short, because I ha wanted to look decent in public ~ by gawds I was VAIN again!

Tis somewhat like re-living my life decade again, a new lease of life I can journey forth into, and that is a chance I intend to walk well and good into, IMHO, hair-combs be damned!



Walking On

With a newly bought metallic-pink walking cane in hand, I'd scamper across more floorspace than I ever have had in the past four months of suffering from Stroke, this warm Monday today.

Earlier in the day, I'd attend my morning rehabilitation session at St. Andrew's Community Hospital (OT on Mondays), and I was wheeled in on a wheelchair, which was promptly returned to the shop (it was a rental, and I reckon it is time to anyways), and limped out of the session on the new cane. I had purchased a second-hand cane the week prior, but seems it was near 2 inches too short, as frowned upon by my physiotherapists, so being stingy did not much pay off (am still keeping the cane tho ;p).

I had earlier admitted to both the PTs and my family, that it was my "fear" that had kept me from walking with a 4-Legged-Walker or cane in public. The fear of falling is a constant regardless of how safely I might try to maintain, no doubt ~ but moreso the fear of others, who might not, DO NOT know how to react to a man with a walking cane ~ hell, I have issues moving around in a goddamned wheelchair, much less walking free!

[Me in wheelchair at the beginning of my 2nd month in hospital stay in
November 2010, being wheeled to St Andrews. Yes that is a seat-belt!]

The in-built lack of empathy generally for others latent in average Singaporeans, scares me. I may be over-imagining a lot, but the 2 months in wheelchair has shown me otherwise. Just in the morning, while waiting for a cab by the roadside to rehab, a strapping young man literally walked 10-ish metres in front of me in a wheelchair, and flagged a cab down. Yeh sure he is in a mad rush. Yeh sure he is a nice guy at heart and treats his friends well. Yeh sure he did not see me in my wheelchair by the side of the road … nah, we are not living in a Korean television serial where most folks are blind to surrounds around them, yeh?

Regardless of my nativity and man-bitching, life does go on, and an incident like that is sadly accepted as a main-stay in my life now, regardless if I am in a wheelchair, or not. Ironically, I have no idea how his face looks like, as I reckon it is harder to "hate" and be angry with someone, if you do not see their face in your mind (Remember Wong Ka Wai's "In The Mood For Love"? Where you were never actually shown the faces of Tony's wife, or Maggie's cheating husband? Heh).

Back in reality, I remember walking head-high to the canteen in Changi Hospital for an early lunch, where I had bumped into a small group of doctors for my stay in Changi (for the first month of getting Stroke), also getting their lunch! To their credit they remembered me and asked how I was doing. All the smiles and "thumbs up" they had given then had such a positive effect on me, lunch somehow tasted better too LOL

No matter how I pretend it did not matter as much, it did, and the boost of confidence really helped the day pass better, even later in the afternoon, when I made my way to the Chinese acupuncture sessions (three times a week, mind), which ended up with me and my sis (a chaperone I have still, mind) purchasing a box of pizza and an awesome loaf of cinnamon-infused bread (super nice! super guilty with my diabetes! treat myself! sugar-rush!).

Today is a milestone day for me. Today I take yet another step towards "independence", and hopefully an eventual recovery in full, when I can chuck away my walking cane (of course I will donate it for free at the hospital) and sashay down any street, any lane, any pathway laid before me.

I had mentioned on my FB that my life's priorities have changed after the Stroke, and they indeed have altered my life's habits and aims, and today seems like one of those "first days", in many more "first days" to come, and I am fine with that.

Cheers to more glorious days ahead!


Tong-Kat-ing It And The Price Of Words

Funnily enough, it all started with a walk outside around the compound of the rehab space I had been spending my mondays and thursdays in. Both my OT and PT (which is "Occuppational Therapist" and "Physio Therapist" to you folks) had been speaking to me at the end of my rehab day on Thursday, which had seen me standing (always leg apart, though constantly trying to stay arallel and less than a feet apart toes pointing straight front) at the reception counter.

We were going on about the non-usage of the wheelchair (for which they highly encourage me not to use) and the usage of a single-cane (known as a "tongkat" here, a literal Malay word/description) in my life, where I was more insistent on utilizing a 4-Legged-Walker instead, remembering and recollecting a PT in my earlier days of Stroke, who had not wanted me to use a tongkat, simply because she feared I night end up with a habitual weird one-sided limp. And I had understood and agreed with her all these months too.

Then I was "dared" to have a go around the compound outside of the space, with a tongkat (well, truth be told, it was "heightened persuasion") and besides, both my OT and PT will be beside me, so the fear of falling wasn't messing too much in my head! And off I went …. and it was a decent round too.

Reassuring comments came thick, afters ~ "walking with a proper gait", "walking straight" and smooth be this usually wobbly shuffler, and I ended up in the neighborhood second hand shop, picking out a second hand cane for SGD$5! (Usual fancy adjustable metal cane cost SGD$16.90 per - even the lady at the shop told me to go check out the 2nd hand place first LOL).


And with that, I have a cane to depend on walking free outside, rather than a wheelchair (which I abhor anyways, and as well the rental-lease is up lol). And that is a weight lifted where I had not imagined it to be, before.

The plan "before", was to go from my wheelchair, to my 4-Legged-Walker, to free walking. I have had the stigma of a cane from the get go, I admit. But all it took was a "chance" walk around, and no doubt verbal assurance, to shake my self-belief system, and dared think and imagined beyond it.

A lot of times folks do not seem to cater to, is the need for psychological support of a Stroke victim in the early stages. A whole lot of folks insist on a strong family structure (which I firmly and whole-heartedly believe in), but perhaps many a times, folks might not take stock in the subsequent support a victim needs (non-hospital or rehab folks, if course), and the constant requirement of it ~ and I do not mean a in-your-face preach too, or even "tough-lurve" for that matter (it might work for you, but never me ~ and neither is it ever appreciated). It is the support (both factual and illusionary haha) that folks need, for them to know they will not walk alone, in the road to recovery, and even beyond. The decision, of course, is left to the individual. But what you do not see, might be the tangible but precious help to carry that person for miles longer more, before he or she can walk by himself/herself, IMHO.

In a world where the physical fact is the inability to walk, "words" somehow play a stronger act than anything action ever possible. You can choose what to say whenever you want to say it (and no one can tell you otherwise) but know that words mean something to some folks, and you cannot control the effects of what you had meant to say, versus saying it "right".

Cheers :)

The Value Of Mail


While receiving toys and goodies were one of the highlights of my two months stay in hospitals (back in 2010), another surprising aspect of items received, were letters and get-well cards. And while I receive the occasional festivities card (mostly only for Christmas but never for birthdays haha), other mails are a strange happenstance that are somewhat peculiar but nevertheless welcomed, graciously so. And quite an experience to receive them too, pretty nice, considering the reason why they were sent in the first place :p

A thickened printed card with written words housed in a stamped envelope - such a precious commodity from people who care and/or actually took the time to get done (both within and out of the toy community), now that is priceless. Do not overlook the value of mail, for it is not the cost of stamps nor printed stationary, that ultimately matter.

Thank you, everyone :)


Assessing The Now: A Stroke Condition Update

A update on my physical being, near three months after my Stroke.

A quick catch-up summary for folks who might have been late for, or missed the "Andy-Show":

The TOYSREVIL blog has been active for the past 6 years (on Feb 19th, it will be "6"), and as the sole author of the blog, I was downed with Stroke late last October 2010. For two months, the TOYSREVIL-blog was non-updated, with a possibility of indefinite hiatus. But by Christmas Eve December 2010, I wheeled out of the hospital (with my family's help, of course), and came struggling back on the author's seat, and steered TOYSREVIL pass the New Year into 2011, and to the here and now!

That there's the cheery-version. People like to know, but not necessarily WANT to know, you know? I have become such a judgmental person after the Stroke, it seems, with whatever Zen notions during hospitalization currently got stuck in thought-limbo, and have given into impatient snap-judgements since being in home-care. Oh-my-god, I have become an ignorant HDB-auntie!


Past one month on, while out of hospital care, and into home care, I find myself spending more time recently walking free, while holding the 4-Walker above the floor (ie: i lift up, but walk still with Walker in hands) when in the past month, I needed it to aid my walking. This worked decently well in wide spaces, particularly familiar surroundings at home. Assured with feeling "safe", I hobble on in record speed, no joke! I'll get into trouble if the walking space is small though (smaller than my raised walker), and even a walk to the bathroom past the kitchen filled with two persons, is a challenge. But I remain optimistic to someday begin walking into the outside of the house, at the very least still with my 4-Legged-Walker.

Quick-Catch-Up: With suffering Stroke, the entire right side of my body was affected. Basically they "froze" while I was in Stroke, and had been struggling to keep active ever since. My master hand (right hand) was then non-effective, my walk a futile effort, as I had then lost my sense of balance. The two months in hospital stay was all about daily rehab and working up the muscle tone, as well as the dexterity of the limbs. In quick succession, I was able to eat and drink, then speak, then doodle, then eventually writing in that pink notebook of mine.

Seen here for the first time are quick sketches on 4A paper, as a personal exercise, as well task by my hospital therapist.


And as mentioned above, my "gait" (I hear that a lot of times these days, having become an essential aspect of my living vocabulary) and walk now is like a newborn baby's - although some would insist "bear" because of my "size" hahaha (but I would insist "monster" LOL).

Frankly, I used to walk with a better gait while in hospital, but now without daily rehab (I'm still struggling with self-habit), the walk is somewhat degraded and reverted to shuffles, dangnabbit...

Anyways, these days, the legs are better (but literally "burn" from within somewhat fierce when I exert myself), as is the ability if my Stroke-hand to feel, which ironically the non-Stroke left hand is starting to loose the feeling of … strangely I no longer feel hot nor cold on my left, while my right arm - post yesterday's rehab-regime session - aches like a motherbitch, in lieu of what I term "delayed muscle fatigue".

But as I had constantly told myself while lying in hospital bed, "pain" is not necessarily a "bad thing" - pain is good, because it meant that you can "feel". And being able to feel, is a simplistic awesome feeling people tend to overlook the virtues of (along with "seeing", "walking" etc hahaha), especially when you had earlier wet your pants uncontrollably and had sponge-baths. (No, I did not enjoy my spongebaths one bit).

Currently, wherever I go outside of the house, I am wheelchair-bound and chaperoned. The wheelchair is a rental, whose lease is finishing in another two weeks' time, and I hope to by then be able to walker-it, and not need to renew rental. Of that I am not exactly 100% optimistic, but that is the plan anyways.

One predominant reason why, is that I get physically tired easily these salad days. In the past, it was more of spinning dizziness which had my attention, especially within crowds and moving things. Even today, I had attempted to read a copy of GQ magazine in the cab (enroute to my weekly acupuncture session, with Winona Ryder going on about her acting stint in "Black Swan" ~ which I am dying to watch) and felt the headache and slight dizziness afters. Heck, even riding in a cab and starring out the window at things flashing by constantly, also most times gives me a headache hahaha.

(Sitting in front of a laptop, with a cup tea (sans regular sugar) is surprisingly a pleasant boon, now.)

So that's that. These days, there is a need to sit down and take a breather somewhen whenever, before being able to get back up and move along. Hence being seated and pushed around in a wheelchair, eliminates that need. Frankly, I both enjoy being in a w/c (who doesn't liked to be wheeled around? haha) as well hate the experience. No one likes feeling "crippled", however mild it may be.

But I know these are happenings in the short run. Given time and adequate rehab, I am told by everyone I work out with, I will walk again, just like nothing had ever happened before :)

What a nice thought, that.

What near everybody doesn't repeat to me, is that Stroke will inevitably happen again somewhen in my lifetime, if I do not toe the health line and keep on an even keel. The sheer amount of folks I have met in my 2-month hospital stay suffering their second-Stroke, as pretty astounding, and was a daily cautionary tale, besides my need to want to walk again. Bless them all, for that was what I could do.


"A stroke is a "brain attack" that happens when a part of the brain experiences a problem with blood flow. This disruption in blood flow cuts off the supply of oxygen to the cells in that part of the brain, and these cells begin to die."

Essentially, blood stopped flowing into the past of my brain that controlled balance / equilibrium, and even vision. Peeps constantly tell me it's a "Mild Stroke", and I am slowly coming in grips with that, and stop thinking "How about YOU experiencing it yourself, buddy!". I have even started a "Stroke-blog" to educate folks on what it is, as well document my experiences.

And I also admit the hesitance of going out, is "fear". Fear of people not realizing the needs of a wheelchair-bound (and explaining too much might seem "needy") and as well folks are generally not so trained to take care of wheelchair folks. There is more to carrying a person on and off a wheelchair comfortably, I have you know! (But I can get up and off a w/c just fine by myself, thanks :p). As well the general public, who has absolutely no empathy nor desire to cater to the wheelchair bound, save for the very few souls I have had the fortune to encounter on a situational basis, outside of the hospitals.

I'm not some Rambo-in-wheels! Nor does my wheelchair spout flowers and spray super-sunshine out my ass! I have my misgivings and fears too, and unfortunately I wear my heart on both my physical and cyber-sleeves, so independence is somewhat up to me and myself, regrettably so. Be that as it may, my life is no longer just about living for myself, as it encompasses folks and family who care for me, as well folks I interact with, or rather choose to interact with. Or perhaps even brave souls who choose to read posts they know is not about admiring bunnys-in-clouds. :)

Of course things would be better if I did not evoke the wheelchair (ooooohhhh) and attempt to walk on my own (with 4-legged walker, of course), and perhaps that may well be true, one day, and mayhap bring me yet another round of thoughts and impressions, no doubt!

Aside, I do not walk with a one-handed cane, because I remember one of my beloved physical therapist training me during my stay before, who had mentioned that she had refused to let me use a cane (when asked), as she did not want me to develop a certain "gait" or walking stance associated with using a cane. That made perfect sense to me , and I have been keeping that close to my heart ever since. I want to walk again, I so not want to cane-hobble :)

I can sit down on a dining table, and chat up a storm with folks sitting opposite me, but once they see me in wheelchair, or notice me squinting with my eye-patch (and this newly irritating habit of head-knodding because of my vision), they tend to get uncomfortable and uneasy, and frankly, I do not need it to be my job to placate them, and tell them everything's all right with a pinch of sugar. I used to be on the other side of the table myself, I will not lie.

("Online-Conversations", alas, has become a chore, as I may take longer to type a long reply, having uneasy to a short sentence in lieu of. But that does not necessarily mean everybody else may understand, nor have patience for).

At home, the most effort and exercise utilized about my body, is you guessed it, my fingers (and by default, forearms and wrist too), as I have been typing loads, actually loads more than I have posted on the TOYSREVIL blog. And with the fingers, comes the eyes.

Quick-Catch-Up: My eyes had contracted double-vision with the onset of my Stroke. Whereas it was near perfect 20/2 vision before (although I had suspected an ever so slight sign of old-man-cannot-read-fne-print syndrome), as of post-Stroke, I see everything double. Initially it was placed diagonal side-by-side, then it progressed to literal side-by-side, and now, most probably after constant acupuncture, the vision is clearer and less double. But I have you know the vision is always clear and never "blurred" … unless of course now when I overwork it and type til the vision is literally cloudy, then I know I have reached my limit :p

Why do I type so hard? Because I cannot reconcile with feeling (and being) crippled, however small effect as it may be. Typing, and by default "blogging", is one of the only physical anchor I have with the life I once had led (besides of course my family, who I see day-t-day, as I do stay with them, thanking God as I did and still do). It has become the measure of my abilities, besides the obvious "bringing-home the-bacon", or fathering a brood of kidlings. (The blog is not helping, and I am still single ~ in that order and excuse :p). Somedays I feel the strain of it, and most days I relish the finished task. Although admittedly I may have to rethink my strategies sometime very soon, because I am slowly coming out of my naivety, which most times I choose not to be conscious of.

But know that the rehab and acupuncture sessions, as well transport tho and fro the respective locales, are not free of charge. Nor are they subsidized in any way. As much as I may not need the cash-flow here and now, I cannot for the life of me, imagine it is not there, nor will it all go away on my whim (just like I wish I'd strike lottery, when I no longer even buy lottery tickets, you know? hahaha). Nevertheless, it is a worry I am working on now, so that the future will be a nice one to move into, and be not dragged into ~ kicking and screaming silently :)

Folks tend to focus on the physical malady, without regard for the financial status of folks involved, of which I am still in a worry-less state, compared to the myriad others who struggle with "staying alive", much less "surviving". Healthcare is so much neglected by folks, who continue to survive and thrive healthily so.

And remember Stroke is a physical situation, and not necessarily covered in Insurance deals which involve "accidents", yeh? *cough*

People now constantly tell me: "Take A Break!" and/or "Don't Work So Hard!" - which I appreciate from the bottom of my heart, and I do take breaks and sleep when I can, it's just the in-between times I find hard to not do anything! If my eyes were better, I'd be reading (which I not longer do, nether books or newspapers, as the print is too small to focus) or watching daly movies non-stop (which has turned out surprisingly well, considering my double-vision, but alas most of my DVDs are packed away now). And frankly, since I gained sentience in the hospital, my mind cannot but function at speed.

Thoughts, schemes and happenings whizz by ever so often - even now, I have near 4 articles in various stages of typing/writing now, that are as yet completed! Perhaps nothing exceptional to YOU, but somewhat ludicrous and exciting to ME. Tis the only lack of physical ability to keep up with my thoughts, that are hampering my advancement, and perhaps even ability to live on and prosper. I am brought up and through life that you will have to show your worth first, rather than just speaking about them. I can yap on forever and trumpet my own horn, and some kind folks might even fall for the false advertising, but I would be left wanting at the end of the day, and I desire so much more than just that.

I do not just want to walk again, I want to travel. But I loathed to walk thru on my "words" alone, even if others have been able to thus far. Neverhteless, as I always say; "Rehab Continues!"

I am, and will be for the rest of my life, be on medication. I have no doubt how good I may feel day to day, is because of the small myriad of pills I down every morning, afternoon and night. No biggie, just sometimes I forget my pills is all. And with that, I down plenty of water, so folks needn't worry I do not :)

(The need to wake up every once or twice every night to take a whizz is because of diabetes, and not over-drinking, as I now know after consultation).

Post-Stroke, besides the physical symptoms, I am now boggled down with Hypertension / High Blood Pressure, High Cholestral and (mild) Diabetes - which for a sweet-tooth like mine, is a criminal sentence, but I shall prevail eventually, just without ice cream … I knew I had HB pre-Stroke, and had even had pills for that too - but after completing my stock, I had not gotten new ones, and the malady festered for a few years - so be careful of what you choose NOT to take, folks! Cautionary tale here, hello!

The entire week is to be filled up with daily happenings, so much so it is like a "job", admittedly a "short" job. Monday mornings at 9am is rehab, as is Thursday morning.s Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are acupuncture sessions. The sole "off day" at this point is Wednesdays and Sundays, and hence (perhaps foolishly) I have scheduled the TOYSREVIL Weekly Roundups to be on those two days. Makes sense doesn't it? I thought so when I planned it all up, innit? Oh, foolish, naive me …

Alas, folks generally so not understand and I am most times left with late news, so hence there might be some changes to come for the blog-direction as well. Understand that I "used" to be pumping out the latest news willy-nilly, and have yet to accept the current status quo - but I'm learning fast, I'm learning quick. The days of willy-nilly are on hiatus for the time being. Nevertheless invigorating be the chase, just not the day-to-day reaching for the finishing line, is all.


Yes, I am much better off than some other folks who have suffered Stroke. Just like how my life now might well be a cake-walk compared to the suffering of others, But this is simply about me and comparisons to what I know about myself, in the past, and frankly no one else. This is in fact a very selfish post, prepared without the need to include others' sufferings, in comparison to my own.

As such an artist creates his/her signature style, folks will inevitably come along and comment about it looking like someone else's, like you're riffing off another artist, who had then been more wellknown and prolific as you might well have been, and totally neglect the notions of the creator in the frost place. All brushes are created equal. All paints remain still in their original state. It is the artists' interpretations and use of the brushes and paints that make the difference, and not "my paint color is more vibrant than yours". Or even "I paint on the canvas longer than you, so it is more valuable, compared to your kid-scrawlings" (so okay, the last one was a deviation of something I have heard of before, but am sure "designers" will recognize that hahaha).

You, as an artist and/or creator decide your evolutionary path and/or development, but it becomes the public opinion and even tastes, that affects your decisions thereof. And have the reading public decided for me the direction of my blog? That remains to be seen, as it is not words but actions, that will speak for themselves eventually.

The times, they are a'changing.

But no, I am not an "artist" per se. I dare not even deem myself a "writer" (as much as I'd like and/or want to, but there's more down the path that needs to be experienced and journeyed, than just this, IMHO), but perhaps someone who likes writing about toys, and about life, and perhaps even his Stroke.

(Disclaimer: I do not necessarily need to LIKE about writing about my Stroke, but feel it is necessary for folks who care and are interested to know. I know the pain of not knowing, and "silence" is not necessarily the way to ease the pain).

Who knows what the future might bring, when I am physically better, and cyber-alert? I know that whatever I am doing now, is ideally geared towards a future I would like to experience, just like whatever plans I may have had before Stroke happened, and how they were either crushed, or altered to fit the "new age". For whatever I dare plan now, I am learning to live with whatever happens, in time to come, just like I felt like this "personal update" post may never have been a reality, before I had experienced Stroke. I am a quiet Oriental man, with deep seated insecurities and even stronger passion paths, and posts like these do not come easy for me, pre-Stroke anyways! Now I've become such a whiney-man-biatch! LOL

Such a strange world we live in … and live in it, I still do :)

Cheers and thank for Reading,

P/S#1: Typed in a single go, after a Tuesday's afternoon session of acupuncture, with a tired but unsleepable spirit, as well as legs-on-fire. I do not type while in a wheelchair though.

P/S#2: And oh yes, this post was typed as I could not climb into head for a daily afternoon nap (that's how I roll these days), as there was mucus in my gums! I know because I burst said mucus, causing much bleeding, which is a major concern, as I am taking a pill to thin blood (not walfern) which means it will bleed constantly if unchecked. And the mucus-debacle happened because, beside all this Stroke-effects, I also had on the very top, a Gum-Infection, due to badly managed teeth. And the Gum-Infection is affecting me until this very day, as because of having the Stroke, I cannot be operated on at this time - for which it seems, a thorough gum-scraping will ease off the infection! So effectively now, my teeth has gotten crooked and mangled, and on the day I can walk free again, I might need dentures!

Do not know what is worse now - surviving Stroke, or dental hygiene!?

BLOG-NOTE: This post was written and published February 15th, 2011 on my Facebook.

Stroke @ 41

It was a regular afternoon on October 19th 2010, just like any regular afternoon … except that it would be the start of something that would change my life …

I had woken up later than usual (past 12 noon) and was on the family dining table working on my laptop, alongside my sister on hers, while waiting for our dad to make lunch. It had been near two in the afternoon, and I had strangely not taken any "breakfast" before then, and was extremely famished! I remember prepping a blog-post for the WIP sculpt of The Yellow Dino x My Tummy Toys collabo figure, and leaving it to publish laters right after lunch. It was to be the last thing I had seen on the computer browser for at least one plus month.

We had then cleared the table for lunch soon afters. The moment my bowl of soup noodles got put down, I had felt a sudden piercing headache. This did not seem as different sensation than before, but nevertheless painful and extreme. I had then gone to the kitchen and grabbed a couple of Panadol aspirin pills, and popped them immediately.

The moment I came back to the living room area (where the dining table was, go figure), I had felt a sudden cold sweat and sensation enveloping me ~ the sensation is liken to that of the moment you know you have "flu", and when goosepimples breakout all over your body.

I sat down, and in a split-second, I ended up cradling myself on the sofa, and telling my folks I wasn't feeling very good. Both my dad and sis took turns to check my forehead for temperature. Know that at that point, no one (including myself) knew what was happening to me. The first thing that actually came into my mind, was that I had an allergic reaction to the aspirin I gulped earlier, although I had previously taken them with no reaction at all whatsoever. (Months later, during a clinic consultancy and check up, the doctor said an allergic reaction would not have been so immediate after taking the pills).

In a mere span of (about) 5 minutes, I had gotten from perfectly normal, to sick as a dog. And as I laid cradling myself even more on the sofa, we knew something was getting really wrong. By this time, my head was beginning to spin a bit, so it was prudent if I made my way, post haste!

We had decided to go to the neighborhood Accident & Emergency (A&E) at Changi Hospital to check what was wrong with me. At this point I had still mobility by my side, although I struggled to put on my olive green tee (with a yingyan Mickey Mouse logo out front), and slipped on a pair of grey bermudas over my shorts. My limbs were beginning to ache and had trouble getting dressed, if only a tad.

Calling a taxi-cab via phone, we went out of the house, including dad and sis. Mum was stilll at work, and i remembered saying not to call her until everything is sorted. No point getting everyone worked up for this, yeh?

It has begun to drizzle outside. "What a great day to be sick!", I'd thought. Having a nap amidst the rain after filling my hungry-belly with a bowl of hot noodle soup, would've been a great notion indeed! The day seemed normal enough, and the perks of being self-employed (besides the abject lack of self-security and ability to nuture or mate), was that I was the master of my own time and schedule, and hence "life", innit?

Ironically, just before leaving the house, I had asked for an empty plastic bag to be brought along, as I had felt a tad "puke", what with the head-spinning and all (A plastic bag is also a near-perfect accompaniment to being drunk :p). In a span of about 10 minutes, I had reached the bottom of my flat (I live on the second floor with my family) and my headspinning by then had gotten really out of control. I no longer could stand up straight, and had to be carried on both sides by dad and sis, into the cab. "Man, that's some powerful spoilt aspirin!", I hadsurmised, amidst the by-now massive head-spins.

I remembered very briefly the journey itself to the hospital. Everything sped by as fast as my headspin, and I could barely puke into the plastic bag even tho I was dizzy as heck. At that point I was thinking this was getting to be a bad trip, but that it'll be over shortly, and I could get back to lunch (hey, I was famished!) and as well publish Yudi's toy (hey, info needs to get out there, and as well I was so proud of Yudi himself for the toy! LOL).

I was told later the cab driver had sensed something was wrong, and had driven promptly and safely quick to my destination (I thank him from the bottom of my heart for reacting appropriately). The ten minutes' journey ended as soon as it begun.

By the time we had reached the car-landing porch of A&E at Changi, I could not longer walk and had to be wheeled in via wheelchair (they line up a series of them by the entrance, just in case for any emergencies - worked well for me tho!). Seems the "adventure" has just started, as the wait at A&E is a wholly different situation!

I did not know how long exactly I sat in my wheelchair for the duration of waiting to see a doctor. I remember clasping unto the empty plastic bag for dear life, while puking water into it. By then the headspins were continuously 180* and the dizziness made me puke, and remember, I had not have eaten anything before then? Nothing to puke out except water!

I was told later, folks clutching tissues to their runny noses, went in before me. "Emergency" my ass! Sitting and waiting at the waiting area, I had by then become extremely scared and worried. By this time, my vision was getting blurred. I could perhaps make out shapes in front of me, but could no longer recognized their faces. From this point, I was freaking out. "Fuck! This is not getting any better anytime soon! Where's the goddamed doctor?"

In my blurred side-vision, I could see someone coming over by my side, and asking me for my name and I/C number, for which my first thought-reaction was; "WTF! I'm drooling into a bag hung from my fucking face and you're asking me for my fucking name?" ~ I garbled a few words and sentences (amidst drooling of course) and recognized at that time, my speech wasn't that clear. Freak out much?

Sis raised her voice at the person and threatened him with the responsibility of my sickeness, and I was promptly wheeled in for "consultation" shortly afters. I remember at that point I was majorly freaked out, and had indeed by then feared for my life. I remember asking my sister to cremate me when I die, as I was being wheeled in. THAT was how fearful and freaked out I was then.

I recognized later that the person was no doubt trying to authenticate my level of sickness and ability (or so I surmise) and that he probably had a form to fill and needed to update the doctors. Nevertheless I could never really forgive him for his lack of "EQ" or being able to assess my abilities straight up.

SIDENOTE: If at a A&E and you are indeed in need of being attended to, MAKE NOISE. Get the attention you NEED. "Politeness" might get you a smile and "thank you" back, but fucked if it'll get you looked at promptly. I am not at an A&E to shop for tasty chocolates or buying a cup of over-priced beverage, but if the person/s before me with runny noses are getting looked at instead of a truly sickened individual scrunched up on a wheelchair, then someone definitely needs to be yelled at.

In the consolation room, I was asked a serious of questions I now no longer can remember either the questions or the answers to. EVERYTHING had become extremely blurry then, on top of the room spinning (when in fact the room did not spin, but was my visual senses instead). I remember being wheeled back-lying-down-flat to different rooms, and even at one point waited outside a particular room for quite sometime. Very drama! Like hospital shows (but without the clarity to see the ceiling lights, so wasn't that "drama" actually…). Besides recognizing later I was put into a wrong operating / consultation bed (they moved me twice), I have zero recognition of what had happened the 24 hours later, even until now.

I was told later, a doctor appeared to both my dad and sis and told them that I was in observation, with the next 72 hours critical (if it was 48 hours, I was fucked bad), in such it would either mean resolution, or an operation cutting into my brain with an undesirable rate of recovery (or sumsach like that). They were told I was suffering from Stroke.

Until then, none of us expected what I had, although my dad had his suspicions.

Know that in Stroke, the basic reality is either [A] blood going up to the brain had been stopped at a point, and the functions in that area are affected and they react (hence lack of balance, speech and vision aka the symptoms I had experienced), or [B] blood going up to the brain has been blocked and the veins had burst - which would have left me immediately well fucked and drooling with aplomb.

The headache was the only symptom leading up to it. I remember eons ago when my master-hand might "freeze" for a moment or two, which got better immediately after massaging it ~ which no one could attest if that was a symptom though. It was discovered soon afters that I had a deadly combo of High Blood Pressure, High Cholestral, and a newly discovered (mild) Diabetes, which helped do me in.

I had just recently turned 41 years old in September, and had the time of my life in both Thailand before then, and somewhat "celebrated" in Jakarta on the day of the birthday (Chocolate & Cheese-Melt on Toast, anyone?). Man, health-karmas' a bitch huh? :p

This blog is named "Stroke41", to honor that particular timeline, and to remind me personally of the time period. In a lot of ways, the "best" "birthday present" I could have received, besides the obvious hurdle to my life and habits.

People tell me now I had suffered a "mild" Stroke, and that I was "lucky". In my earlier days, I would've told them to go "fuck themselves", but now, I thank my graces for the ability of limited motor-functions, and as well being able to eat and talk - none of which I possessed true control of, when I woke up shortly at the Acute Stroke Unit, in Ward 18, Changi General Hospital.