1 March 2014, by Dannie Cho
Yi Lin shared in an earlier post about the most frightening morning in my life. A morning where I felt like I was going to lose my wife. My children were going to lose their mum.
As I reached out my trembling fingers to her neck to feel for her pulse, a whole host of thoughts went through my head, some zipping past at the speed of light. Some lingering, and finding little nooks of space to spread the chill of fear through me.
I’ve failed in my oath to care for her. I can’t stay with her family any more. The kids! What do I do with the kids?! How do I manage them without their mummy?
I could hardly breathe.
I didn’t want to breathe, for fear that my very exhalations would disturb some cosmic balance and I would be punished for it.
Fingers on her neck. A strong steady pulse.
Relief. But we were not out of the woods yet.
Still – I’ve called the ambulance; it was on the way. Time to grab a few important items (wallet, IDs – hers and mine, phones), brush my teeth and get changed into a decent set of clothes before the paramedics arrive.
Coco woke up. I scooped her up, whispered some meaningless, soothing sounds, then handed her over to the mother-in-law. At the back of my mind, I was dimly aware that she was being handed over to someone else, because the mother-in-law herself was so distraught at seeing her daughter comatose in bed…
Over the next few days, things went back to a semblance of normalcy. We did our normal family stuff. Brought the girls out. Except that things weren’t normal.
I found myself watching the wife like a hog (What lah… still feeling fat from CNY can?), alert to any signs of fatigue. We rested more, hugged more than normal.
But I found the nights really tough. I kept waking up, nervous every time she shifted in her sleep. And because I distinctly remembered school-bus sounding its horn the moment before Yi Lin had her seizure, that became a daily moment of unrational fear for me.
We arranged medical checkups for her. Changi General Hospital had already arranged an appointment with their in-house neurologist, but the earliest appointment available was in April. The doctor who discharged her from Observation did mention that sometimes, seizures happen when you wind down after a stressful period. That aligned a little with what Yi Lin had gone through at work, where she just delivered on a project.
So next, my mum helped set up an appointment at the National Neurological Institute. When tests came out ambivalent – they could not pinpoint conclusively what caused Yi Lin’s seizure – our financial advisor set up another appointment with a TCM doctor.
The TCM doctor was a lot more confident in his diagnosis. Yi Lin, he declared, had thin veins, sticky blood and a heart that just couldn’t pump hard enough for her sludge-like blood to circulate properly.
“To get better, buy my $100 worth of medicine, and swing your arms more vigorously when you walk. And make sure you walk at least 30 mins every day.”
For some reason, we decided that the TCM doctor’s diagnosis was believable. Maybe we wanted to really live life the way it was meant to be lived again, and this was a good way for us to accept what happened. It’s possibly like reading a horoscope and thinking it is true because something ‘like that’ happened to you recently, but you ignore the fact that these are fairly generic things that tend to happen more often than not, like ‘you meet a stranger’. But what the heck, we’re believing it, and we’ll work on making Yi Lin was well as she can be again.
Yi Lin and I have loved each other well over the years. No cheating (at my end, anyway), no angry words. More hugs and kisses and tears of joy and laughter than anything. We’ve had a really strong relationship – mentally, emotionally and physically.
IF she had passed on, I would miss her. But I also know that there would have been no regrets. Not of unspoken words and deeds undone, and not of harsh, cruel words and evil, malicious misdeeds. And this, I think, is the type of relationship that every couple should strive towards, for there is no guarantee that you have a chance ‘later’ to set things right with your spouse. No guarantee at all.