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[back] Matter of life and death Anthony Thanasayan (TheStar Newspaper) - 22 March 2012

Thursday March 22, 2012

Matter of life and death

THE thought of being plunged into a life or death situation is a very unnerving experience for anyone. And when it happens, often there is little or no warning.

It has been almost 25 years since Sally Lim, 68, and her husband Ivan, 74, went through a harrowing experience but Sally can vividly recall what transpired as if it happened a couple of weeks ago.

It was a Saturday evening and Sally was resting at home after a busy half day at work. Ivan, then 52, was also catching up on some rest at their home in Sri Petaling, KL. It was a particularly tiring day at his publishing office in the city.

The couple had no idea what was about to happen to them. Ivan, an asthma patient, started having an attack, and was gasping for air. Sally was glad she had the sense to remain calm as the next course of action raced through her head.

Undying devotion: Sally Lim and her husband, Ivan, a Parkinson's patient.

She quickly bundled Ivan into the car and rushed him to the nearest clinic. Unfortunately, most of the clinics were closed as it was a Saturday evening.

Sally drove around until she found a clinic that was open. By then, Ivan was already blue in the face. Sally rushed into the clinic to seek help.

"The doctor left whatever he was doing and attended to my husband," Sally related. "When he saw that my husband was in a very serious condition, he informed his nurse to close the clinic for the day. As we sped off to the nearest hospital, the doctor was administering first aid to Ivan throughout the journey."

Sally said she was very touched that the doctor, a total stranger, would go to such lengths to help them. He even dropped by the hospital a few times to check on Ivan's condition during the latter's stay there.

Ivan suffered brain damage when he stopped breathing for three minutes during the trip to the hospital. He was later diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Sally said she found strength to deal with all the challenges and difficulties through her faith in God.

"The secret is to never give up, even when the going is tough," said Sally. "The doctor advised us to place Ivan in a nursing home. We refused to do so as we felt that Ivan would recover better in his own home, surrounded by family members."

Ivan, who was once a sportsman, had to learn everything from scratch, including feeding and dressing himself, and going to the toilet.

"The doctor told me that Ivan would never be able to walk again," Sally continued. "But I am glad I did not listen to him. I took Ivan for as many treatments as possible, including physiotherapy. Ivan is now able to walk a little with the aid of a walker."

Accessibility remains the biggest challenge for Sally.

"When I can't find any parking lots for the disabled, I have to help Ivan out of the car, and leave him unattended while I park the car before I get back to him.

"Stairs and the lack of lifts is another concern. I used to carry my husband piggyback up and down the stairs to access clinics located in shophouses," Sally pointed out. "Even though that was quite some time ago, sadly I don't see much changes to make buildings more disabled-friendly today."

Sally and Ivan make it a point to attend regular meetings at the Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association (MPDA) in Kuala Lumpur. The association offers support for people with Parkinson's as well as their families and caregivers.

MPDA can be contacted at 03-7980 6685 (Tuesdays to Saturdays), Check out their website at (www.mpda.org.my/ mpda1@streamyx.com).

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