Stroke survivor stories - Mak Kwok Fai

The stories of stroke survivors are what drives our fight at the World Stroke Organization to achieve our goal of a world free from stroke. Welcome to our stroke survivor stories series, which we'll pop up on the blog every Thursday, you may wish to contribute to this poignant narrative of stroke globally. Please contact Sarah.Belson@stroke.org.uk


Where were you when you had your stroke?  
I got a stroke when I was 29. Mine was a haemorrhagic stroke.

Could you access hospital?
One afternoon, in the office of the insurance company I worked for, a severe pain shot through my head and I felt dizzy. My colleagues called an ambulance and sent me to hospital immediately.

What expectations did you have for your treatment, rehabilitation, therapy and recovery?
The experience was frustrating. Sometimes, I would throw a tantrum, and refuse to go for therapy or do any exercises on my own. But then my mother would cry, and I would relent, realising that I owed it to her to recover. She would said, “People go through ups and downs, and that to reach up is to move forward.”

What was your experience of treatment and/or rehabilitation and therapy?
I spent my 30th birthday at the Singapore General Hospital. My friends and colleagues surprised me on my birthday, bringing me a cake. The doctors even gave me a birthday card, while the nurses sang a song together with me. This was the most memorable birthday I have ever spent.

I was hospitalised for a total of three months. After I was discharged and went home, I initially moved into my mom’s room so that it was easier for her to take care of me. I was still wheelchair-bound at the time, and was unable to speak nor write. I underwent physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to improve my physical motion and speech.

What has helped you in your recovery?
I feel that there is one common remedy that is able to help all the stroke survivors, regardless of age, sex or race, and that is — LOVE.

After I recovered sufficiently, I wrote a book: “My Stroke Experience at 29”. The message I wanted to spread is that stroke does not happen only to the elderly; in fact, younger patients, who assume it cannot happen to them, may be caught unawares.

Every fall, every step, and every experience after my stroke has been a learning process for myself and my family members. With the help of everyone who loved and cared for me, I grew to become more independent. They believed in me. And their loving care was the best and truest gift I have ever received in my life.

What have been/are your fears?
After I regained consciousness, I realized I suffered a stroke and had already undergone brain surgery. My first thought was “Why me, how can it happen when I was so young?”

How did your family and friends feel and respond?
My family and friends would visit me daily in the hospital, while my colleagues saw me there regularly too.

My mom cared for me the entire day at first, and I am deeply grateful for her love and sacrifices through this difficult time.


Stroke survivor stories - Mak Kwok Fai Reviewed by Sarah Belson on Thursday, January 19, 2017 Rating: 5

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