Outside *Uncle Lim’s flat were two rows of neatly pruned and beautiful shrubs. They seemed to be saying “Welcome to our house” to any visitor. We arrived at the gate and *Aunty Lim called out in dialect to her husband “Missy is here. Quick, come out!” Uncle Lim sauntered out to the living room, waving a cheery hello to our nurse and me. He ushered us to sit and asked if we have had lunch. If I didn’t know his background, I would not have known that there were any patients in the warm and well maintained flat.
Uncle Lim had just come home from his daily one hour exercise and so did Aunty Lim, who had just finished her qigong exercise at the Community Club. We enquired if Uncle Lim went with friends and with a toothy grin, he said he preferred to be on his own as that would give him more freedom to exercise wherever he wanted.
Our nurse asked after Uncle Lim, who immediately launched into a debrief about himself. He felt very well, except that he noted that his appetite was not as good. That was because if he ate too much, he would feel bloated, so he eats less. He is able to pass motion about once every two days and this has been his usual cycle from before. He clenched his fists with his two index fingers pointing out and spread them about 30cm apart, proudly proclaiming that his stool was not mushy but that long. We giggled and Uncle Lim laughed with us. He went on to tell us that it was important to note the colour of stool. If it was black, it was likely a sign of bleeding. If it dropped to below four points on the haemoglobin count, it could be deadly. As he went on sharing happily his many different medical observations, Aunty Lim smiled at him and said, “You are telling Missy about all this? You should be listening to her”.
I was happy to see that Uncle Lim was able to explain clearly the medications he was taking and he certainly seemed a very knowledgeable person. After our nurse examined Uncle Lim, he asked for his vitals and he could tell immediately that the results indicated that things were stable for now.
He then went on to talk about his oncologist. “Doctors nowadays are very good. My doctor is very smart and very humorous. He always jokes with us when we visit. I am very happy. When I first saw him, he asked me if I was allergic to any medication. I told the doctor that for the past 75 years, I have never had to take any medication, so I don’t really know if I am allergic to any”. “Doctor asked me how I kept so positive and I told him that everyone has to face death, so why be sad. We should face it squarely. Every night I go to sleep and when I wake up the next day and see the sun, I say my prayer of thanks for another day”.
I absolutely enjoyed sitting there for 30 minutes listening to Uncle Lim. I thought to myself – This is the first patient that I have seen in all my visits, to display such optimism, warmth and passion for life. He brought such a big smile to me and I felt immensely happy. All the best Uncle Lim, may you continue to live your days with such zest and enthusiasm. I will be rooting for you!
He definitely made my day!
*not their real names