Posted on 28.1.2021 | 12:00 AM
Mdm Ng Siew Eng, 69, remembers being furious at the doctor after being diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease. “I was so angry! I cried on the spot. I shouted at him. I asked him why I developed end-stage kidney disease. I was simply in denial.”
Prior to 2020, Mdm Ng had pre-existing kidney conditions and had to go for monthly check-ups. Unfortunately, her condition deteriorated suddenly in 2020 and reached end-stage rather quickly. Doctors recommended her to undergo dialysis. However, she refused the treatment. With a pensive look on her face, she said, “Back then, I thought that dialysis would make me feel worse. I was ready to let myself go. I didn’t want to be a burden to my children.”
Her decision resulted in frequent visits to the hospital. Often, she would be hospitalised, and some stays lasted up to a month. Besides having to grapple with the physical conditions, these visits and hospitalisations took an emotional toll on her.
One day, Mdm Ng was struck by a bout of severe breathlessness and was rushed to the hospital. The doctors had a serious discussion with her family members to prepare them for the worst. Palliative care was also on the cards. Intubated and surrounded by multiple beeping machines, something in Mdm Ng’s mind clicked.
“I was desperate. I did not want to go through this pain of frequent hospital visits and hospitalisation anymore. If dialysis is a way to stop these visits, I would accept it,” she recalled. Mdm Ng finally agreed to undergo dialysis and she was referred to KDF in August 2020.
With a smile on her face, she said, “The nurses at KDF are so patient with me. As a new patient, I had to learn to control my water and food intake. It was difficult. But the nurses here are gentle and they taught me how to manage my condition. They make listening to them easy.”
Dialysis has stabilised Mdm Ng’s condition greatly, and she is now more alert and energetic. Over the past months, Mdm Ng has also learnt to open up to her children. “Last time, I was very stubborn and never listened to them. Now, I think I have mellowed down. My daughter is now in-charge of scheduling my medical appointments, and my son drives me to and from my treatments. I have learnt to leave it to them,” she shared.
Mdm Ng’s two young grandchildren have become her motivation to manage her condition. Every weekend, her daughter will bring them over to Mdm Ng’s place. She chortled, “There was once I was having a stroll with them. A neighbour walked past and jested at my grandchildren, “你们没有牵婆婆的手啊?” (Not holding grandma’s hand?) Both of them fought to take my hand afterwards!” She continued, “It was at that moment when I was reminded that life is worth living. I am lucky to have the good fortune to spend time with my grandchildren.”
She remarked, “It is difficult to maintain a positive outlook all the time, and I have my bad days too. But I have learnt to be more open to my family, and not let my frustrations consume me too much. I am happy that I did not give up earlier.”