30 years ago, 64 year-old Geyabalan S/O K Ramiah (fondly known as Mr Balan) and 70 year-old Mrs Balan met through matchmaking and got married. Being the eldest child in a family of 9 children, Mrs Balan married late as she bore the responsibility of taking care of her family. Even though they had no children, they were happy to have found each other and to build a home they could call their own. Being illiterate, Mr Balan worked in contract jobs like piling while Mrs Balan worked in the assembly line in the electronics sector.
Tragedy struck 20 years ago when Mrs Balan had diabetes which led to Charcot foot, a serious complication that affects the bones, joints, and soft tissues of the foot. Her work required her to be on her feet for close to 12 hours a day and she could no longer manage that. Mr Balan became the sole breadwinner. He worked hard and eventually found a more stable job as a storeman in Ikea.
However, in 2015, he started feeling breathless at work and was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease. He could not cope with the demands of the work, which required him to move heavy objects. He switched to working at the Ikea restaurant, but it soon became too physically demanding for him as his condition deteriorated. He worked as a Safe Entry staff and eventually lost his job when Safe Entry requirements were removed.
Mr Balan was depressed due to the deterioration of his physical condition and the financial burden as savings were depleted. His breathlessness worsened, and his lower limbs became swollen. He was also suffering from insomnia due to the emotional distress. Mrs Balan, on the other hand, was worried about his increasing care needs.
Mr Balan came under the care of Assisi Hospice Home Care team in January 2022. Our doctors and nurses visit him regularly to help to manage his symptoms. Our medical social worker provided interim financial assistance and supermarket vouchers to tide them over the crisis. We offered a listening ear and aided them in coordinating with different agencies, such as the hospital and Social Service Office. As Mrs Balan had mobility issues and Mr Balan felt breathless easily and could not walk for long distances, it became challenging for them to get their daily necessities. We helped in Mr Balan’s application for a motorised wheelchair, and our occupational therapist trained him to use the motorised wheelchair independently on public transport to run errands.
This Christmas, support us as we journey with patients and caregivers like Mr and Mrs Balan in their time of need.