MDM LIM YEW GEK, RECEPTIONIST
"Yew Gek’s story shows us that visual disability does not mean disability for life. All it takes is a positive attitude and constant striving to do our best in whatever we choose to do, that will make the greatest difference in our lives."
Aw Ai Tee, Deputy Director of Nursing (Clinics and Research), Singapore National Eye Centre
Growing up, I had a normal childhood. I did not realise that I was starting to lose my sight until I entered primary school and had trouble seeing what teachers wrote on the blackboard. When my vision gradually worsened over the next few months, I was enrolled in the School for the Blind, where I completed my primary school education. At the time, doctors did not know what was the cause of the deteriorating vision.
The school trained me with skills of daily living to lead an independent life. It had a residential programme at that time, so I stayed in the ‘cottage’ and only went home once a month. I learnt to take care of myself and move around with minimal help.
As I was able to function fairly independently, I progressed to a mainstream secondary school after my Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE). This was part of our educational programme to integrate us with sighted students in some schools. However, when I was in Secondary Four, I suddenly suffered a sharp pain in my right eye. That was when I learnt of the root cause of my eye condition all along — I had glaucoma. I underwent surgery to have my right eyeball removed, and had a prosthetic, or artificial eye, made. I remember sitting for my ‘O’ Level examinations in the hospital as my procedure to get the prosthetic fitted took place during that time. In time, I became completely blind.
I was fortunate to find work right after my ‘O’ Levels, which is the same company I have been in for 40 years now. My colleagues are warm and friendly and I have an understanding boss. The little things they do show me that they care. For example, our company bus makes a small detour from its usual route to fetch me from my house bus-stop to work in the morning. I am greatly appreciative to them for this act of care.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I am still blessed to be employed up to this day.
I met my husband, who also has visual impairment, in my late 20s. We got to know each other through social activities and outings with our visually impaired friends. We are both fond of hiking. He is a caring man and I feel comfortable and cared for with him.
Life after marriage was not always easy. There were a lot of changes to adapt to, such as living together in a new home. When I found out I was pregnant, I was very worried about bringing up a child as a visually handicapped parent.
Fortunately, my son, who is now 27, was born healthy. He learnt to be independent from a fairly young age. Where I once was the one taking him to school, he quickly learnt to lead me instead. He would hold on to me obediently and not run off like other children did, because he knew I would have difficulties searching for him if we got separated.
I draw strength from my faith and the power of positive thinking. We should not let fear get in the way of living our lives. No matter what we can and cannot do, we should learn to put aside negative thoughts and live positively. This is how I overcome difficulties — one step at a time, one day at a time.
Mdm Lim’s husband, Mr Tan Wee Liam, is a winner of the Inspirational Patient & Caregiver Awards 2022 — Caregiver Category. Read more about his story here.
The annual Singapore Health Inspirational Patient and Caregiver Awards honour individuals for their strength, courage and resilience in the face of health challenges, as well as outstanding patient support groups that have provided invaluable support to patients and caregivers.
Each year, our winners continue to inspire us with their ability to overcome adversity. Their experiences provide valuable learning for the doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and other healthcare workers who care for them.
This year, SingHealth recognises 37 winners who, amid the challenging COVID-19 pandemic, continue to motivate healthcare professionals to deliver better care and inspire many others with their zest for life. Read their inspiring stories
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