Against all odds
by Peter Tan. Posted on November 23, 2013, Saturday
WHO is this woman who keeps talking and massaging my hands and legs? I do not know her at all!” That question went through Albert Au Yang’s mind as he lay in bed.
He looked around. It was an unfamiliar place. He tried to move but the right side of his body was not responsive. He tried to speak but no sound came out. His left hand was restrained to the bed rail. He could not even go to the bathroom.
“I was scared. I wondered what was going on. All I wanted to do was to go back home.”
That was a time of great uncertainty for Albert as he tried to piece together the events of how he came to be where he was then. It eventually dawned on him that he was in a hospital. The only person he recognised there was his mother.
The other woman was always there during visiting hours, praying for him. She was strict. She would not allow him to do certain things. For the life of him, he could not figure out who she was.
One day, the woman took out an iPad to show him the photographs that they took together. So, she was his wife but when did they get married? How did they meet? All these questions kept playing in his mind.
Albert and his wife, Sue-Rynley Emley, were living in Kuala Lumpur then. He was 35 years old and working as a salesman for photocopier machines. Sue was a mechanical drafter. They met online through Skype and then met face-to-face in 2007 when she was studying at a university in Kuantan, which was also his home town.
“I cannot remember what actually happened on that day in December last year,” Albert began to recount of how he landed in the hospital. “According to Sue, she tried to call and SMS me for the whole day but without success.”
She rushed home only to discover him sitting on the floor, barely conscious with saliva dribbling from his mouth. He was not responsive. She summoned an ambulance.
The diagnosis by the doctors in the hospital was left basal ganglia haemorrhage – bleeding deep inside the brain – usually caused by hypertension. He had to undergo emergency surgery to drain out the blood and fluid that was pressing against his brain.
Due to the extensive bleeding and the late medical intervention, doctors told Sue that Albert’s chances of survival was 50-50. His blood pressure was 271/155, which was excessively high. Further diagnostics revealed that he also had Stage III chronic renal failure.
Even if he survived, Sue was told to expect the worst. He could be in a vegetative state or paralysed for life with minimal likelihood of recovery. Those were not prospects she wanted to hear but there was nothing she could do except to pray for him. And pray she did.
The haemorrhage caused hemiplegia to the right side of his body. His speech was impaired. After his condition stabilised and there was nothing more the doctors could do for him, he was discharged after being warded for 46 days in the hospital.
Although he was still physically weak, Sue immediately took him on a perilous journey back to her home town in Kuching where she could take better care of him. He almost fainted during the flight and had to be administered with oxygen. As soon as they arrived, he was admitted to the Sarawak General Hospital for overnight observation.
“After I got back from the hospital, Sue got her grand-uncle who is a traditional masseur to massage me every day for one whole week. I could turn my body and even sit up after that.”
His daily routine consists of exercises and more exercises, even when he is in bed. “Previously, Sue helped me but I can do it on my own now.”
The physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions at the hospital also helped him to recover faster. From being bedridden, Albert learnt to walk with a quad cane. He still walks with a limp but he is glad that he can actually walk.
“According to the therapist, I have almost reached the maximum level of physical recovery. But I have to push myself more to see how far I can go.”
Albert credits Sue and her faith for his recovery. “I am glad that she was there for me. If not, I do not think I can make it this far. She was the one who found me when I was afflicted with stroke. She has taken good care of me since. Praise the Lord for his blessings.
“People told her all sorts of negative things but she just held on to me. If she was not this optimistic, I guess whatever the doctors said about my condition would have come true.”
Sue resigned from her job to care for Albert. His employer was kind enough to pay him his full salary for the first six months. They are very much on their own now, surviving on their savings and some financial assistance from his parents.
They are living with Sue’s parents at Batu Kitang in the interim. The kampung house that he is living in now is accessible for the times that he needs to use a wheelchair. His in-laws are also chipping in by paying for all the utility bills.
“We only need to spend on food and petrol, and for getting items for our business.”
According to Albert, the cost of living is lower compared to Kuala Lumpur, the air fresher and he gets to eat tastier vegetables that they cultivate in the backyard. Moreover, they are surrounded by family members who are ever willing to assist them.
In the meantime, in between helping Albert with his daily activities, Sue is indulging in her love for sewing. She makes soft toys, children’s clothing and cloth pantyliners. These handmade items are for sale in limited numbers.
While Albert is on the gradual road to recovery, their savings are decreasing by the day. In view of this, both of them plan to start working again by next year.
“It may be hard for me at first but I need to work. I do not want Sue to do it all. She is my wife, not my maid. Maybe working will help in my recovery, too. Sue worries that the stress may affect my health. I assured her that I will do it within my limits. There are a lot of factors to be considered but in the end, I just want to do the best for the both of us.”
With Albert’s determination and grit, and Sue’s unwavering love and resourcefulness, there is no doubt that they will both be back on firm footing again in no time. After all, Albert managed to recover to this extent against all odds. There is little that can stop him now.
Readers can find out more about Sue’s handmade crafts at: www.facebook.com/sue.rynley
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