Saturday, May 29, 2010

Letter to the New Paper: MODEL HEALTH-CARE WORKER - She's concerned for caregivers too

Raymond's letter on the above subject is published in The New Paper today, Saturday, 29th May 2010, Page 32.

I refer to the report, “ Got bitten but she's not beat” (The New Paper, May 23).
I am glad that senior nurse manager Doris Koh has been recognised for her dedication and commitment in helping psychiatric patients on the road to recovery.
What is also remarkable about Madam Koh is that, besides showing love and compassion for psychiatric patients, she also comforts and shows concern to caregivers.

This is an exceptional virtue, and must be promoted because caregiving is extremely tough.

A few years ago when my wife suffered a relapse of schizophrenia, she needed Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) to help in her recovery.


During ECT a brief current is passed through electrodes on the scalp to stimulate the brain. The seizure activity during ECT causes changes in brain chemistry, which bring about an improvement in the illness and agitation.

It has never been easy for me to allow my wife to go for ECT.

It is a most painful decision, but experience has taught me that the only way my wife can be stabilised is through this method.

On the appointed day, my wife refused to undergo ECT.

But Doris Koh held my wife's hand and pursuaded her to complete the treatment.

Her caring nature, assurance and comforting words eventually convinced my wife that she was in good hands.

Madam Koh also comforted me and gave me the support that I so badly needed.

She understood the anxiety and stress I had to deal with.

My regular phone calls to her on my wife's condition during this difficult period were met with patience, assurance and understanding.

Believe me, it helped.

Congratulations, Madam Koh.

Your compassion and dedication to the sick should be an inspiration for all health-care staff in the Institue of Mental Health, as well in other hospitals.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Raymond's letter to the New Paper: COST OF TAKING TAXIS:Help disabled & drivers by lowering charges

My letter on the above subject is published in the New Paper today, Tuesday, 25th May 2010, page 17. Read on.....

I refer to the report, “ Cabby gives himself just 5 min for lunch” (The New Paper, May 21).

I feel sorry for our taxi drivers who have to slog long hours to provide for themselves and their families, besides having to worry about meeting their mortgage payments on their flats.

Many taxi drivers have told me that with more surcharges and higher ERP rates, they have lost passengers. The cost of living in Singapore is rising and people have to be more prudent in their spending.

At the same time, there are the sick, the disabled and the elderly who have no choice but to take taxis for their medical appointments at public hospitals.

My wife who is unable to take the MRT or buses because of her severe arthritis, needs to take taxis for all her medical appointments. And most of the time, her medical appointments to see the specialists at public hospitals fall within the peak period.

As a full-time caregiver who gave up my job nine years ago, I find these taxi charges too much for us to afford.

Though receational needs are vital to my wife's recovery from schizophrenia and depression, we have to forgo outings and attending church services because taking a taxi is too expensive. Does anybody care?

When I approached the Handicaps Welfare Association to ask for transport to take my wife to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, I was told that I would have to pay double the fees if the pick up is before 9am.

Despite repeated calls for better support for people with disabilities, the sick and elderly, we still struggle with these issues.

How can caregiving in Singapore be taken to a higher level when there is no welfare for these citizens? Little wonder that many caregivers who cannot cope have abandoned their stricken ones.

Removing these taxi surcharges will not only benefit the taxi drivers, but it will also help to reduce the financial burden placed on this group citizens.

Reducing the taxi rental costs will also help taxi drivers maintain a healthier lifestyle. Many Singaporeans have to end up in hospitals or polyclinics because of the stress of our unhealthy lifestyle.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Cancer cannot kill love: Raymond's letter to the New Paper: BATTLING TERMINAL ILLNESSES

Raymond's letter to the New Paper: BATTLING TERMINAL ILLNESSES
Trust in prayer and embrace hope

My letter to the New Paper on the above matter is published in the New Paper today, Friday 14 May 2010, page 25.

I refer to the report, “ I want a happy death” (The New Paper, May 2).

Battling cancer is tough, especially when the patient is at a terminal stage. While I fully empathise with Madam Lim Kim Keow's plight, I want to encourage her not to give up on life.

I tried to hurt myself in 1995. Fortunately I did not succeed.

But the experience has taught me that if I had succeeded, there might have been no one to take care of my wife, who struggles with five chronic illnesses.

I now realise that life is precious and fervently believe that since God gave us life, only He can take it away.

It has never been easy for me take care of my wife all by myself, but I am able to overcome adversities through the power of prayer and by embracing hope.

Hope is the greatest weapon a person has when faced with huge challenges in life. When we are able to overcome adversities, we will gain inner strength. And when we gain inner strength, we will find peace.

Though Madam Lim has to struggle with terminal cancer, she is fortunate to have a wonderful family who is willingly to fork out $6,000 each month so that she receives good care in a loving environment.

She has a devoted husband, two grown children and a grandchild who seem to provide her with unconditional love.

Cancer kills, but it cannot cripple love and it must not shatter hope. With supportive staff at the hospice and well-wishers, including journalists and kind-hearted readers of the New Paper, cancer will not be able to kill friendship.

I hope Madam Lim's plight will spur The New Paper readers, her former students and colleagues to give her the support that she so badly needs.

Cancer patients and those with life-threatening illnesses do not need visions of desperation, fear and doubt. If we are able to open our hearts and give them unconditional love and unflagging support, we will begin the journey of healing, peace and happiness.


Friday, May 7, 2010

MY MOTHER'S EYES- A Tribute to my Mom on Mother's Day- Sunday 9th May 2010

Article written By: Raymond Anthony Fernando

Those of us who enjoy listening to music of the 60s' will definitely remember English singer and songwriter Russ Hamilton's all time favourite, “My mother's eyes” .

The opening lyrics goes like this:

“ One bright and guiding light
That taught me wrong from right
I found in my mother's eyes”.........

Whenever I hear this song on the radio, it brings fond memories of my dear mother. Some of the virtues which I have inherited from my mother, Mrs Pearl Rodrigo, a Eurasian, includes kindness and resilience. My mother is able to withstand extreme hardships when facing adversities.

Mum has a soft heart and she inculcated good values in all her children. She taught us how to feel for another human being. She taught us the true meaning of love. I remember mum often giving some of her delicious cooked meals to the rubbish collectors when she observed that they were poor and carried out a job that many would not undertake.

I guess I must have inherited mum's resilience and this virtue has helped me tremendously to care and love my wife who was stricken with schizophrenia at the tender age of 17.

Mum is one person that does not discriminate. When I told her that I was intending to marry Doris, a Chinese who has a serious mental disorder, mum never discouraged me from taking her as my lifelong partner.

“It does not matter what illness she has or what race she belongs to. So long as you love each other and can take care of her, you have my blessings,” mum assured me.

Mum passed on her culinary skills to my wife, enabling me to look forward to a sumptuous meal everyday. Through the art of cooking, my wife has managed to produce not one, but two successful cookbooks.

My mother's compassion for my wife has equipped me with patience and understanding. She taught me how to love a woman unconditionally. Many a time when my wife suffered a relapse, mum would comfort and give me lots of encouragement. She taught me the power of prayer.

“Son, Doris has been a good wife, so bear with her disorientated state. She is behaving in this manner because she has suffered a relapse. She will get well with treatment. When you married her , you vowed to love her in sickness and in health,” mum would encourage me. “Meanwhile trust in God and offer your sufferings to Jesus. I will also pray for her speedy recovery.”

Through the support, love and understanding, my mum has played a major role in helping my wife to recover after she returns from hospital.

I would like to sum up my feelings for my mother and all mothers in this poem which is fitting for Mother's Day:

A Mother’s Love

When a child is crying
A mother will dry those tears

When a child is in pain
A mother will feel the same

When a child is hungry
A mother will sacrifice her own meals

When a child is troubled
A mother will share the burden

When a child is sick
A mother ensures that the recovery is quick

When a child has no answers
A mother will find the solution