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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Saturday, 08 December 2018 12:16

Regaining Hope after a Stroke

Written by  Loh Siew Chien, Malacca / Translated by Tai Ren Yin

On December 16, 2018, Wati (3rd from left) brought her family to the Year-end Blessing Ceremony to share their experience and express their gratitude to Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Chin Fook Chuen]

Rahim bin Awang was paralysed due to a stroke, but with the help of a saviour, he has gradually regained his ability to sit up and even walk. His home, once sombre, is now filled with laughter. It might come as a surprise to some that small acts of kindness could stir large ripples of love.


After suffering from a stroke three years ago, 63-year-old Rahim bin Awang lost his ability to speak and his capacity for self-care. Even now, he requires help in order to stand up. He is unable to lift his right foot forward on his own and require prodding and nudging from an assistant’s foot. He can manage only tiny steps with the support of a walking stick in his left hand, and every step is a formidable challenge for him.

Physiotherapist Lim Jip Sui patiently guided Rahim through the rehabilitative exercises, generously offering encouragement and praise for his every success. Although some of the exercises left him grimacing in pain, he persevered through the rehabilitation sessions. Seeing his own bodily functions improve day by day gives him confidence and hope that one day, he will be able to regain his mobility.
 
“When we first visited Rahim more than a year ago, we saw him lying on the ground, struggling to prop himself up. He looked dispirited,” recounted volunteer Goh Ah Lian, describing her maiden encounter with Rahim. She was pleased to witness Rahim progress from just lying supine to being able to sit up and even walk.

Jip Sui remarked that although Rahim missed the golden opportunity for recovery as he only started on physiotherapy three years after the stroke, he is fortunate that his condition was not too serious. As long as he steadfastly commits to his rehabilitation exercises, his physical motor functions will definitely improve. She also shared that some people are reluctant to undergo rehabilitation or prefer to seek alternative treatments due to psychological barriers and fear, resulting in their condition stagnating.

Angels descending in hard times

Looking back on the year 2017, Tzu Chi volunteers were paying a visit to a care recipient when they were informed of the unfortunate predicament of Rahim and his family, who happened to live in the same block. The volunteers initiated a visit to Rahim’s home, and he was adopted as a care recipient in May that same year. He was granted a subsidy of living expenses and a supply of adult diapers, among other forms of assistance.

“My mind went blank when my husband was stricken by a sudden stroke. We have just relocated; our children were still studying, and the youngest was only four years old. Social welfare assistance was limited, and I could not head out to work because I had to take care of Rahim. We were financially in trouble…” recalled Rahim’s wife, Rahmawati Munaji (Wati), with tears in her eyes.

The family had no prior experience in caring for a stroke patient. Wati was eager to care for her husband and hoped that he would recover soon, but was at a loss on the proper method of caring. Some friends recommended traditional Chinese massages, which they tried for a couple of times, but it did not yield any positive noticeable results.

Ah Lian shared, “When I found out that Rahim’s wife had to carry him downstairs from the third floor, I sympathized with them. We wished to provide practical help to them, so we enlisted the assistance of TIMA members.”

In August that same year, the volunteers brought along an experienced TIMA member, Head Nurse Ong Susan, to visit Rahim. She taught Rahim simple rehabilitation exercises and guided Wati on the methods of supporting Rahim while minding her own safety, and the proper way of massaging his feet, among others. Rahim followed the exercise instructions diligently, and with constant practice, his condition gradually improved. The volunteers were delighted to hear that he is now able to sit up and walk with some assistance from his family.

The volunteers further recommended Rahim to seek professional treatment at a rehabilitation centre. Wati mentioned that they initially planned to undergo rehabilitation at the Malacca General Hospital, but with only an old motorcycle as a means of transport, they were unable to make the trip there. The Tzu Chi team arranged for transportation and rehabilitation fees to be covered. In September 2018, Rahim finally made his first visit to the rehabilitation centre. The couple were elated to see positive results even after the first session, spurring them on to attend the rehabilitation sessions every week, in addition to working hard on the exercises at home. When the volunteers learnt that Rahim’s son, Mansur bin Rahim, who was adopted-out, visits his parents occasionally, they suggested him sharing the burden of Rahim’s transportation needs. Mansur agreed and took up the responsibility of fetching his father to the rehabilitation centre.

Helping hands to support a family

Recently, Rahim and his family’s request to move from the third floor to the ground floor had been approved, thus enabling easier accessibility. Rahim’s condition has also improved, and he is now able to stay at home by himself. His pregnant daughter, who is on leave from work, takes care of him sometimes. Wati has found a housekeeping job at a clinic to support the family’s livelihood. The volunteers set up simple rehabilitation assistive equipment for Rahim to perform rehabilitative exercises at home, besides installing handrails in the bathroom for Rahim to support himself when bathing.

Rahim was eager to try out the new rehabilitation assistive equipment. Although he is unable to speak, he understands the conversations of people around him; joy was evident on his face. When he felt tired, he cheekily used his mobile hand to operate the assistive equipment to expedite the process. His family burst into laughter upon observing his “cheating”, filling the home with lively banter once again. Wati was grateful for the volunteers’ assistance. When the volunteers suggested to reduce the usage of disposable diapers as they are non-recyclable, she agreed to a reduction in diaper subsidies, and said that the family will bear the cost of the shortfall.

“Arranging for Rahim to undergo rehabilitation sessions not only helped him, it has also helped reduce my burden of caring for him,” Wati said joyfully.

His son, Mansur, was also very touched. He did not expect his father to exhibit significant improvements in his condition within such a short period of time. The family has also decided to stick to scientifically-proven treatments instead of resorting to dubious alternative treatments. Mansur shared that he has been very close to his father since young, hence he was heartbroken when his father failed to recognize him after his memory was temporarily affected by the stroke. Fortunately, his father gradually remembered him. He hoped that his father will steadily progress on his road to recovery, and promised that once his father recovers, he will buy him a car, as he deserves to enjoy his golden years after having worked so hard all his life.

“Tzu Chi has really helped us a lot, for which I am grateful. Having witnessed improvements in Rahim’s condition, and knowing that I will always have the support of the volunteers, I have the will to keep going,” said Wati in between sobs. “If he recovers one day and does not need my care anymore, I hope to become a Tzu Chi volunteer too, to help other people,” added Wati.

On December 16, 2018, Wati brought her family to the Year-end Blessing Ceremony to share their experience and express their gratitude to Tzu Chi for its assistance.

As Ong Ling listened to the sharing session while being seated silently in the audience, she thought to herself that she must persistently perform more good deeds. “If I were in their shoes, I would hope that someone would offer me help in difficult times. I will help others to the best of my ability. There are many people in suffering around the world who are deserving of our compassion,” she said.

There are many cases similar to that of Rahim’s that require urgent assistance. At the event, Tzu Chi Malacca CEO, Loh Siew Cheng, reported that Tzu Chi’s charity and relief efforts have benefitted nearly 16,000 people. This left Ong Ling in awe. “Little did I know, my small contribution have helped so many people!”

“I think all are welcome to join Tzu Chi, regardless of race or religion. We don’t only contribute donations, but we also provide care to others.” Having participated in home visits with the volunteers, Ong Ling looks forward to more home visits in the future, to lend a helping hand to those in need.

 

 

Rahim eagerly tried out the new rehabilitation assistive equipment. Although he is unable to speak, joy was evident on his face. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]   The volunteers brought along Head Nurse Ong Susan (left) on a home visit to Rahim in August 2018 to guide him in performing simple rehabilitative exercises. [Photograph by Goh Ah Lian]

Rahim eagerly tried out the new rehabilitation assistive equipment. Although he is unable to speak, joy was evident on his face. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]
 
The volunteers brought along Head Nurse Ong Susan (left) on a home visit to Rahim in August 2018 to guide him in performing simple rehabilitative exercises. [Photograph by Goh Ah Lian]
 
Rahim’s condition showed considerable improvement after receiving professional consultation at a rehabilitation centre. The physiotherapist shared ways on how to support Rahim’s rehabilitation programme at home. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]   Tzu Chi volunteers set up simple rehabilitation assistive equipment for Rahim to carry out exercises at home. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]

Rahim’s condition showed considerable improvement after receiving professional consultation at a rehabilitation centre. The physiotherapist shared ways on how to support Rahim’s rehabilitation programme at home. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]
 
 
Tzu Chi volunteers set up simple rehabilitation assistive equipment for Rahim to carry out exercises at home. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]