Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chronicles of C.K.Heng (words by Cindy Heng)

"It's been 3 wks since I posted about Dad's hospitalization. Thank u for all the well wishes & prayers of healing & encouragement to us. Visitors are met with stories & pics of a man who faced chemo n radiation at an old age, battled heart failure n kidney infection within the last decade. Despite the uphill journey, he's produced sculptures, cooked up a storm, was there for family & friends. What a life...what a man. He's my dad He's still filled with life n beating the odds!" -shared Cindy Heng (All commentary and quotes here via)
"Dad as a young man on the cusp of a artistic career. Surrounded here by sculptures from Indonesia, his birthplace."
"A proud moment standing by a self-portrait bust, here on exhibition at Teochew Building. The last piece of 7 items he made within 5 years."
"Constantly teased, my Dad lucked out by getting the fairest maiden in their circles, my mom. Here his spirit is strong as he shares a wide knowledge on fish at the River Safari. He loves animals n my cat Mao is so attached to him."
"Dad loves China, and we brought him to see the Pandas a few days before his brain radiation was to begin. Now he has it with him to sleep every night..."
FYI: All photos here are to be compiled into a book about the life of my dad, as requested by him, when he was still speaking and relatively healthier. Images / photographs of which, has been by my dad's bedside since his stay at Singapore General Hospital until now at the Assisi Hospice, for folks who are interested to see his life "before" … this is not a book for sale, and given to select folks he had chosen or asked to give to ... this would be my one and only task to complete as soon as possible.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Call me if you need anything"

Friends often say "Call me if you need anything!".

Well, it could mean a few things, like needing a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear. Or just plain supportive courtesy. But if you have an intention to physically help out, listed here are a few specific things friends and folks can consider offering, for folks in dire situations.

With everything that was transpiring, household chores were all put on hold. Without a benefit of a maid, floors remained uncleaned and dishes lasted an entire day until they were washed at the end of the vigil every night from whomever went home instead of staying over at the hospital, accompanying dad.

One aspect that needs attention, is the family laundry. An offering of washing and drying might be one of the more practical tasks to help.

Our family washing machine had actually gone kaput a couple of days before dad was admitted to the hospital. And in the midst of dad being in the ward for the first week, we had to go buy a washing machine, and as well arrange for someone to be at home when it was delivered.

With the possibility of my mobile phone being cut off, I had to make a detour one day to the AXS machine to pay my phone bill. As I was one of the main caregivers listed for dad (alongside my sister), every phone call might possibly be important.

And just over the weekend I had gone to queue up pay for the HDB bill.

Utility bills and other household essentials might need time tending to, and an offer of help might be appreciated. Work out the moneys needed, if that makes you more comfortable, in lieu of paying for it yourselves first.

Same can be said for household groceries, for food or even topping up of toilet paper. Although the likelihood of "cooking" at dire times might be a stretch, other household amenities need to be considered.

Either they are bought for, or physical help is offered to help wheel a trolley back with a family member, or even a weekend car ride back from the grocers.

Is one of the key requirements, but this is volatile as "timing" is constantly flexible. The only person that drives in the Heng Family, is my brother, who lives physically away from us (dad, mum, sis and me). And while he might send us home at nights, he is also not our private chauffeur, able to bring us about at any time of the day.

So far, we have been cabbing it. Imagine each trip to SGH would be around SGD$17 to SGD$28+ - depending on time of day (ERPs etc), so to and fro could be around SGD$50+ per trip. Now imagine that daily, x 3 persons.

But understandably, an offer of transport is not a truly feasible option to offer, but perhaps a day when multiple things are happening, like paying bills, going grocery shopping etc.

Nevertheless, we thank everyone for their offer of "help", in whatever form they take :)

From Hospital to Hospice

In the midst of the chaos what was our first week in SGH Ward 46, we were contacted by and met with a social worker representing the National Cancer Center (NCC), who were to advice us on the next step for dad's care, which was to be moved to a "hospice", to spend the remainder of his days on this mortal world.

The way it works is, the NCC will liaise with the chosen hospice/establishment (within NCC's selection), to arrange for bedding availability, and even ambulance transport, as well as medical requirements - such as pain management etc - once the patient is brought over to said hospice/establishment.

And via this arrangement between NCC and chosen hospice/establishment, we would get to enjoy the government subsidies afforded, as well as payment via Medisave, partial or otherwise.

Based on our simple criteria (I had asked for a location closer to us in Pasir Ris), a hospice/hospital was chosen, and apparently applied for, without further confirmation from us.

So I was with surprise that I received a call from the hospice/establishment a day after I had a chat with the social worker, and was told dad was to be moved on the fourth day since he had been warded.

We were all frankly dumbfounded, as the speed was overwhelmingly fast, but most importantly, we were not told of the application, and had not even had a chance to tell dad. Heck, we were still in dire worry about dad's condition!

But seems the hospital felt dad was able to be transported.

We had delayed the move to a Friday, while both myself and my brother sped to the chosen hospice for a recce trip - we needed to see where it was that dad was to go stay!

(Ironically, I was here at the first location, years ago filming
in one of the ward/rooms, for a Chinese television series…)

The difference between a "hospice" and an "old folk's home", was that the later housed anyone that came thru it's doors, whereas a hospice - in this instance offering "Palliative Care" - only focused on "advanced terminally ill" folks, folks who have been given (estimated) "3 months of life". In a hospice there will be nurses and perhaps even doctor(s), but their main concern, is "pain management".

Different locales offer different prices provide different needs for the patient as well. Some Daily Room costs do not include items like diapers. Some locales offer visitation leeways. Some locales also offer addition amenities like "rehabilitation therapy", "music theraphy" etc. At the end of the day, it was "how much?" and "what can they do to help my dad feel more comfortable?".

By the end of the first week, we turned down the move to the first hospice chosen, and had gone intead to recce two other hospice (on the NCC list), and finally decided on one, and informed the relevant folks about it.

And we have been waiting since - for availability at our chosen hospice - and this coming Friday (tomorrow), would be the end of the second week of waiting.