Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

Grandma was hospitalized

Get well soon, grandma!

Get well soon, grandma! The photo was taken during Christmas at The Gardens Midvalley, when my grandparents came to live with us for a week or so.

I tweeted about it today morning (thanks @nanyate, @RustlingRagazza, @amourchaleur and @noktahhitam for your concern). I learned that my grandma was admitted into hospital after experiencing palpitations in the night, general lethargy and bad appetite. The doctor recommended that she stay at least a night so that they can figure out what had gone wrong with her body, and it turned out to be a case of hyperthyroidism. And even a more shocking discovery is that she lost weight rapidly, around 3kg in a month (for a frail old lady) and is suffering from malnutrition. The last time I saw her a month ago, she was as fit as a fiddle!

It kills me inside to know that what has happened to her. It was a combination of factors that finally culmimated in her illness. My grandma is a frugal woman, who have lived through World War II and understood how painful and devastating is it to live in poverty. During the Japanese invasion, her family fled to the deep jungles of Malaysia and lived there for months, surviving on nothing but potatoes. Since then, she’ve been very cautious with her spending (although she don’t mind spending a lot on her kids and grandchildren).

She is currently living with my uncle’s family in Penang, and they run a sundry shop from their shoplot and when business is brisk, she doesn’t have the time to grab something to eat, so she settles for plain, white bread instead. Even if she decides to have some jam or butter to go along with her plain meal, she’d only spread a tiny bit on it to save money. The fact that is she have very supportive kids (my uncles) and there is no reason for her to actually overwork and undereat. She can have three meals a day on bread only, with little vitamin and nutrition supplements, and that’s why she suffered from malnutrition.

Grandpa is aging fast and he needs constant care and attention from my grandma. The last time he went to China, he was in such a blur that he could actually fall into an open drain in front of him. His eating habits are so bad (and he is really, really stubborn, believe me) that he gets diarrhea every other day if nobody watches his diet, and so my grandma diligently watches over his daily routine. But that means she’s staying up long hours taking care of him and the sundry shop, and without the aid of a domestic helper, she also does the daily chores of cleaning the house and the laundry as well, alongside with my aunt who lives with her.

It’s not that my aunt is not treating her well (my aunt is another amazing, strong lady – I’ll leave her sad tale for another post) but their financial condition doesn’t allow them to enjoy things that what we deem ‘normal, common and affordable’ in my country. My aunt has got to support my cousins’ university education which are very costly. My uncle is a entrepreneur with lots of great ideas, but lady luck isn’t by his side all the time and no matter how hard he tried, it’s hard to get customers and clients nowadays, especially during the hard times of the economy.

Although my uncle and mom constantly give grandma some pocket money, she refuses to use them – she’ll stash them in a box and will only take them out when she’s giving the money out to her grandchildren (that’s one reason why I feel bad for visiting her as she’ll persistently try to stuff a $50 bill in my pocket). It took us a great deal of time to convince that she needs a new dress, she deserves a new bag, she needs a new pair of shoes, she doesn’t have to feel guilty for buying earrings and etc. It saddens me that although she loves all of us, she’s neglecting her own welfare. As a grandma, she deserves way more than that.

She’ll be coming over to our home tomorrow (Thursday) for a short stay over the weekend to attend my aunt’s wedding, when we’ll pamper her and make sure that she knows how to eat well in the future :)

I suddenly realize how fragile is a human in the face of nature and death. Please, grandma, we don’t want to lose you so early. You’ve lived a hard life and it is now that you should be sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the company of your family *sobs*

Get well soon, grandma!

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