Faces of stroke – Inspirational journey of survivors

Betty participating in a baton walk in

66-YEAR-OLD Ng Shai Hoong or lovingly called Betty, was looking after her grandchildren and at the same time teaching in a Kindergarten before the stroke.

“I walked and jogged every weekend and used to frequently take part in big walks. I don’t indulge in food or heavy eating and weighed about 60 to 64kg.”

“However, I had high blood pressure and bad cholesterol for about two years before my stroke and was on medication. I was also diagnosed with diabetes about a year before my stroke but not on any medication. Food control, was well maintained.”

“In June 2014, I suffered a stroke after a brain surgery from a Cavernoma. The condition could lead to a stroke, but I didn’t know when. My MRI showed that I already had a few mini strokes but I didn’t realise it. I was forewarned that it’s possible to get a stroke after the procedure but it won’t be that serious. I woke up being a stroke patient, anyway.”

“There is no family history of stroke. My mum is 90 years old and still very strong with no illness. My siblings are in their 50’s and 70’s.

“Apart from my high blood pressure, I did not have any other sign or symptoms. I use to have very bad headaches and migraine attacks. It was two days before I found out that I had Cavernoma while I was driving as I had double vision.”

She acted fast my consulting her eye doctor, who confirmed that there was nothing wrong with her eyes.

“Then I went straight to my GP who referred me to a Neurologist at Assunta Hospital. She immediately ordered an MRI to be done. After seeing the MRI, she confirmed it was Cavernoma and referred me to the Neurosurgeon at University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC). It was here that they told me that I needed the surgery or wait for a stroke to take place. Which could be sudden or maybe a year or so with no time limit. So, I decided to go ahead with the operation with the risk of still having a minor stroke.

As a result, her left side of the body was affected – arm, left body and leg – including her speech. Persistent to recover, she did physiotherapy, occupation therapy and speech therapy.

“I was determined to get better and not let my stroke hamper me in any way. Physio was at UMMC and at the National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM) which helped me to recover. In addition to this, I did exercise every day and joined group swimming therapy which was great fun. I did not have any problem with balancing. I was able to swim. Water helps keep the body afloat and helps with moving faster compared to dry land.”

“My greatest achievement was taking part in NASAM’s colour walk a year after my stroke, volunteer myself in speech therapy and taking part in NASAM’s 2017 Stroke Games.”

She enthused that there is life after stroke.

“A different kind. If we set our mind and heart to recover, we can do it. I never say, never to myself.”

Optometrist enjoys hydrotherapy  as part of post stroke recovery

Leong Yee Khiam getting ready for his
hydrotherapy treatment.

59-YEAR-OLD Leong Yee Khiam was a full time optometrist with a normal healthy appetite. However, he suffered a congenital brain aneurysm rupture on January 21, 2016. He remained in the intensive care unit for 10 days of his three weeks hospital stay.

“Before my stroke, I worked fairly long hours daily at my own retail business. I was a non-smoker and conscious of healthy eating and consumed alcohol occasionally. Now after my stroke, my main focus is attending physiotherapy sessions. I also spend four hours every week in the swimming pool.”

“Because of water’s natural buoyancy, a person with weak muscles on one side of the body can stand and walk with much less effort,” he said.

Businessman suffers right haemorrhagic stroke, swims to recovery

Lai Seng enjoying his experience in the pool seven weeks after a stroke.

LAI SENG was diagnosed with right haemorrhagic stroke with a weakness on the left side on January 20, 2016. Prior to this, his lifestyle consisted mainly of long working hours, heavy smoking, eating oily and unhealthy food regularly and consuming alcohol once a week.

The stroke left him with balance and co-ordination issues. However, just after seven weeks, Lai Seng returned to swimming once a week.

“Because of this weakness, I did not think that I could swim, but I was pleasantly surprised when I went into the pool. My body just took over naturally and with the help of my therapists, I was able to swim,” he said.  – The HEALTH


Swimming for stroke patients

SWIMMING is a fantastic physiotherapy for muscle issues, joint issue, and stroke – provided the patient has reached a certain level of improvement after which you can do that.

Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur consultant neurologist Dr Rishikesan Kuppusamy explained that there is a different phase for everything.

“Water can help with balance because of the physics property of water, rehab physicians can use water or hydrotherapy for certain indications.

“It is obviously for certain scenarios, but not for all,” he said.