“I decided to get out of the house and continue with my life. When we stay home worrying, there is a tendency to focus on what we cannot do, instead of what we can do.”
MR CHANDRA MOHAN S/O NARAYANASAMY, 68
I used to work in finance and administration. I enjoyed working with numbers, and would spend long hours on the computer.
All that slowly changed when my vision started declining after I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2000, and subsequently diabetic retinopathy in 2006. In 2013, my vision deteriorated so much I could no longer work and had to retire at the age of 61.
By 2015, my vision became even more blurred due to Age-Related Macular Degeneration. I was told by my doctor at Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) that I might eventually lose my sight.
Around the same time, my wife passed away from cancer. Hit with one devastating news after another, I felt lost and afraid. I even had suicidal thoughts as I was very worried about turning blind. Although I have three children, they have their own lives and I did not want to burden them.
Thankfully, I received counselling at SNEC and was referred to the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH). There, I underwent mobility training on how to use the white cane and learnt basic skills such as simple cooking and doing housework with limited vision.
At SAVH, I met many visually impaired people who lead independent lives despite having conditions that are more serious than mine. This motivated me greatly to live my life to the fullest.
I decided to get out of the house and continue with my life. When we stay home worrying, there is a tendency to focus on what we cannot do, instead of what we can do.
Since joining SAVH, I have been participating in its White Cane Club activities like visiting Gardens by the Bay and going on day trips to Malacca. I have even taken part in sports that I’ve never tried before, such as dragon boat and bowling!
Every Saturday morning, I participate in RUNNINGHOUR, a running club that promotes integration of people withspecial needs. At the weekly running sessions which are held at different venues such as Bishan Park and Bedok Reservoir, I get paired with volunteers who are my running guides. I enjoy the exercise as well as the interactions with other participants and volunteers very much.
Through these activities, my network of friends has grown. I used to be more quiet and reserved, but now I make friends easily and enjoy sharing my experiences with other patients.
Even though I was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2019 and my vision is further deteriorating, I am now more confident about living with blindness than before. I will continue to try new experiences. In fact, I’m looking forward to taking Mandarin lessons later this year. I also hope to pick up new skills so that I can find a job in telemarketing.
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 45 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 here.
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