In talking to other stroke patients, one thing that was particularly remarkable to me was the very different reactions people had to a disability. I spoke to my occupational therapist about it, and he remarked that disability is never a purely physical condition, but is a combination of actual physical disability and the person’s psychological response to the disability.

For me, I lost almost all sensory-motor function on the left half of my body. It was so bad I had trouble just sitting up straight after my surgery, and standing up was out of the question.

To some extent, functions can recover as the brain recruits non-damaged areas to replace lost functions through a process called neuro-plasticity, but that process has its limits, and there are early indicators of the possible extent of recovery.

About 2 months after my stroke, the senior consultant in charge of my rehabilitation team at the community hospital held my left hand as he gave me the bad news.

“You have basically a 0% chance of recovering dexterity in your left hand,” he said, solemnly.

I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, “Ok, loh.” [For those who aren’t local, “loh” and other words like “lah and “leh” are modal particles in Singaporean slang–meaningless words in themselves, but which flavour the spoken sentence and highlight the mood of the speaker. In this case, “loh” indicated resigned acceptance.]

“‘Ok, loh’?” he asked. “That’s all you have to say?”

“What do you expect me to do? Cry?”

In reality though, the truth only sank in slowly over the next few months as I came to accept that there were certain things I would never be able to do again, like my favourite pastime of riding my motorcycle.

In coping psychologically with the physical disability, I was fortunate to have inherited a “keep calm and carry on” attitude from my father, which meant I didn’t spend too much time agonizing over what I couldn’t do and the physical functions I had lost, and more time figuring out how I could do as much as I used to be able to do.

My physical disabilities

My actual physical physical disabilities (and current extent of recovery, one year later) are:

  • Loss of use of left leg (currently mostly community ambulatory, albeit with a walking stick).
  • Loss of use of left hand (currently able to perform gross movements using the shoulder and elbow, but no real useful functions because I am unable to open my fingers; only clench them).
  • Weakness in left trunk muscles (currently still slouching more than before, but otherwise able to maintain an upright posture).
  • Slack facial muscles on the left half (currently still unable to perform some facial expressions, although I’ve stopped dribbling when I eat–what a relief).
  • Extensive loss of sensation (touch, temperature), proprioception, and kinesthesia (often confused with proprioception, but is more accurately the sense of motion). I’m lucky not to have lost the sense that my left limbs are my own, but the sense of connection and ownership is definitely weaker than for the unaffected right side (currently, some (still very vague) sensation is starting to recover from proximal (closer to the body’s centre line) to distal (further away)).

Coping strategies

I’d like to list down a few coping strategies that were particularly helpful for me that might prove helpful to anyone else in a similar situation:

  • Accept that a terrible thing happened, whatever the cause. Speak to whoever you believe in and then accept that you have to move on. For me, I wrote in my second post “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People” that I was an atheist, so my coping strategy of accepting it as a case of a bad roll of universal dice might not be for everyone.
  • Nevertheless, don’t internalize other people’s perception of yourself. If other people look down on you as a result of your disability, it is a reflection of them, not you. When I was studying in the States, an American-born Chinese asked me about racism and if I would be offended if someone called me a “chink”. I told her no, because that just shows the person who uttered the phrase to be a racist asshole, and I would pity him rather than get angry. The same applies here. You’re going to run into some inconsiderate people, but you shouldn’t let that affect how you feel about yourself.
  • Be prepared to fight for every inch of recovery, but believe that things will get better. Dealing with disability is tough, and trying to recover whatever function you can is even tougher. Neuro-plasticity is helped by exercise. In the days after I was first discharged home, it took me half an hour to limp the hundred metres from one apartment block in my estate to the next, and being able to ever walk normally again seemed hopeless. I kept trying to walk and also practise climbing the stairs, and within the month I was climbing 25 floors’ of stairs up and then down again. Fortunately, having survived being in a Guards unit while in NS, I had a pretty high threshold for physical suffering. So while the exercise was exhausting, I kept telling myself that at least it wasn’t as bad as during NS.
  • Be nice to your caregivers and your therapists. A bit of politeness makes it easier for people to go that extra bit for you, and however bad it is for you, recognize that the people around you can suffer too.
  • Participate actively in your own therapy. Nobody knows what is most important to you like yourself. If your therapy isn’t targeting something that you want think is useful, speak up. Each person’s lifestyle is so different that it’s impossible for therapists to be able to design an effective therapy plan without your input. People tend to over-estimate how much others can read their minds. Make sure this isn’t a mistake you make. During my own therapy sessions, I usually give a running commentary on which movements I find difficult, how I’m feeling mentally and physically, and this has been very helpful to my therapists in helping me target the things I want to do.
  • If you’re lucky enough to still have a job, talk to your supervisors honestly about the changes to your workplace and workload that you need, but also be mindful that he/she has to be fair to other employees as well.
The above are the main coping strategies I can think of, but feel free to ask me (through the comments or email) specific questions if you have any.


Caregivers are often forgotten and neglected.  Their loved ones who are sick receive all the sympathy and attention.  But those who care for them are often expected to sacrifice their own lives and be “on call” 24 hours a day with no one to help them deal with their own exhaustion and frustrations.

I found a few organisations that offer help to caregivers.  If you are in need, please contact them and see how they can help you.

Or if you prefer, leave a message here and we can get someone to get in touch with you.

If your society or association does not have a website, can create one for you here. Simply email us your organisation’s information and we will see how we can help.

Singapore Paediatric Society 

Dermatological Society of Singapore

MPS Singapore – Medical Protection Society

Association of Medical and Bioinformatics Singapore 

Society Of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery Singapore – Home

Singapore Society of Anaesthesiologists

Singapore Society of Ophthalmology

Medico-Legal Society

Continuing Medical Education

Singapore Dental Association

Singapore Hospice Council

Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore

Singapore Orthopaedic Association

Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons 

The Pain Association of Singapore

Singapore Cancer Healing Portal

Medical Alumni Assocation

Gastroenterological Society of Singapore 

The Singapore Society for Hand Surgery

College of Family Physicians Singapore

Society for Continence (Singapore) 

Singapore Dental Health Foundation

Singapore Assocation of Plastic Surgeon

Society of Endodontists Singapore

Singapore Radiological Society

Psoriasis Association of Singapore

Association of Women Doctors

Singapore Thoracic Society

Society of Colorectal Surgeons

Diabetic Society of Singapore

Association of Orthodontists – Singapore

Singapore Psychiatric Association

Wound Healing Society

Healthcare Quality Society of Singapore

Society for Audiology Professionals

The Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology

Singapore Cancer Society

Haematology Oncology Research Group

Kidney Dialysis Foundation

Infection Control Association (Singapore)

Society of Periodontology Singapore

Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore

Singapore Cardiac Society

Singapore Association for Mental Health

Caregivers’ Association of the Mentally Ill – CAMI Singapore

Parkinson’s Disease Society (Singapore)

Society of Infectious Diseases (Singapore)

Infection Control Association (Singapore)

Alzheimer’s Disease Association (Singapore)


Singapore Physiotherapy Association

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Association (Singapore)


If you or your loved one has suffered a stroke and wish to join a stroke support group in Singapore, check out these links:

Singapore National Stroke Association
26 Dunearn Road
Singapore 309423
Telephone: (65) 6358 4138
Facsimile: (65) 6358 4139

Singapore Epilepsy Foundation
149 Rochor Road
#04-07 Fu Lu Shou Complex
Singapore 188425
Telephone: (65) 6479 8611
Facsmile: (65) 6473 2327

Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore)
9 Bishan Place #06-01
Junction 8

Singapore 579837
Telephone: (65) 6259 6933
Facsmile: (65) 6259 6911

Autism Association
Blk 381, Clementi Ave 5, #01-398 Singapore 120381
Tel: (65) 6774 6649

Autism Resource Centre
6 Ang Mo Kio St 44, Singapore 569253
Tel: (65) 6323 3258

Autism Siblings Support Group
Tel: (65) 6235 9602

AWWA Centre for Caregivers
11 Lorong Napiri, Singapore 547532
Tel: (65) 6511 5280

College of Allied Educators
15 Phillip Street, #06-00 Tan Ean Kiam Building, Singapore 048694
Tel: (65) 6533 0031

International Asperger Parent Support Group

Rainbow Center
501 Margaret Drive, Singapore 149306
Tel: (65) 6472 7077

Singapore Special Needs And Parents

Students Care Services (Mandarin speaking)
298 Tiong Bahru Road, #03-03 Central Plaza, Singapore 168730
Tel: (65) 6593 6462

St. Andrew’s Autism Centre (SAAC) is an integrated and comprehensive facility serving people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It currently runs the St. Andrew’s Autism School and Adult Autism Services.

In November 2010, St. Andrew’s Autism Centre moved into its permanent home at 1 Elliot Road which was previously occupied by St. Andrew’s Community Hospital. The Centre caters to a comprehensive range of needs of people with autism and their families. The purpose-built facility occupies 15 blocks on a 2.2 hectare garden. Its physical facilities support the education, training, support and recreational needs of persons with autism and include an assessment centre, therapy rooms, hydro-therapy pool, a chapel and a medical clinic. It is also equipped with counselling and support services for family members and caregivers and a resource centre.


This page is for all the caregivers in Singapore.

Caregiving can be a lonely task. Day after day, you have to continue caring for your loved one without fail. Aside from family, there are few others who are available to lend support, to pick up the pieces when you feel they are falling apart, and maybe no one around who truly understands what it is you are going through.


Caregiving can send your emotions on a roller coaster ride, putting you through fear, rage, hope, sadness, humor, grief, bravery, and almost always… fatigue.


It may come as no surprise, therefore, to hear that caring can play havoc with the caregiver’s own physical, emotional and psychological well-being.

Take time to share with one another and also to encourage others who are in the same boat.

This page is for links to support groups catering to ladies fighting breast cancer.  Scroll down for personal blogs of people who wrote about their breast cancer journeys.!main/content/view/5/6/


KeptABreast is Sophia’s breast cancer journey from March 2012 when she was diagnosed and treated in Mount Elizabeth Hospital.  She shares with us the support she gets from family and friends, and how God sees her through each day.

Related: Stroke Support Groups: