LEARNING FROM THE IRON LADY
I was very impressed and happy to learn that Auntie Susie Chandy has traveled all the way to Australia to spend some time with her daughter’s family. I have always been impressed by this “IRON LADY” who has defied all odds to travel overseas – something that many Parkinson’s patients are not doing.
Other than Australia, Auntie Susie has also been to India several times, where she visited her daughter. If you know how far these countries are from Malaysia and how much physical disability Auntie Susie has, you will find it easy to start respecting Auntie Susie for her courage.
Traveling overseas is a challenging task for Parkinson’s patients, especially when patients need wheelchair and the flight hour is long. This is especially true in the case of Auntie Susie, who has been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for 15 years. Her illness has left her wheelchair-ridden for at least five years. Today, she can only walk with support, while her movement is severely restricted. Her voice is soft and sometimes unclear. She needs her maid to help her with most of the daily tasks such as dressing, bathing and eating.
Despite this, she has very strong optimism and determination to continue living. I have always admired her for her efforts in attending almost all of the functions / meetings of the MPDA.
Family support (LOVE) is certainly important in dealing with a long-term illness. Auntie Susie has four loving and attractive daughters, who have been her “backbone” ever since she started suffering from Parkinson’s disease. When Ann-Marie (the daughter of Auntie Susie) brings her back to my clinic two weeks ago, I told Auntie Susie that the good family support that she receives right now is the reward for whatever she has sacrificed in bringing up her daughters all these years – LOVING CHILDREN ARE THE PRODUCTS OF LOVING MOTHER.
I have met several Parkinson’s patients, who are ten years younger and five times fitter than Auntie Susie, and yet they have conceded defeat to their illness. They chose to stay at home and isolate themselves from the rest of the world. And what I have to tell them is the story of Auntie Susie, who is one of the most determined Parkinson’s patients whom I have ever met. Sometimes I wonder if I myself suffered from Parkinson’s disease, I would not be able to take even half of Auntie Susie’s suffering. I am sure that our IRON LADY is the role model for all Parkinson’s patients in the world.
The following is the short email that was sent to me by Becky, another daughter of Auntie Susie. All of us in PPM pray that Auntie Susie will continue to travel overseas to meet her daughters:
Dear Dr. Chew,
I have been meaning to write to you about the trip I made with my mother (Susie Chandy) to Australia. We had a great time and I am so glad we decided to do it. It was difficult in the aircraft only because air travel does not support the physically challenged. The flight itself (travel time, time difference etc) was a piece of cake for my mother who has traveled extensively in the past.
We went to Melbourne and stayed with relatives. We also went to the local community church for their carol service. Although we didn’t do much sightseeing, mummy was happy just being there. We stayed for a week. We took the maid with us because she is the one who is most familiar with mummy’s routine etc.
I think most of all it was important for mummy to have done this as it boosted her confidence and left her with a feeling of accomplishment. When we got back many people mentioned how much better mummy looked after the trip. I will send some photographs of mummy in Ozzie land! In some ways this has been the best prescription she has had at this point in her life. Thanks, Dr. Chew for encouraging us and mummy to do these things.
(from Chennai, India)
5th Feb 2006.
Auntie Susie having a good time with family in Australia