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MY MOM AND MS: an Essay by MS Caregiver – Shivachandru Surendran

My mom is the most inspirational, strongest, and positive person I will ever be blessed with knowing. She was diagnosed with MS when we were probably around 8 or 9 years old and never really seemed to understand what that meant till a few years later when she started having severe symptoms.

She used to drive us to school and pick us up every day, and with freshly cooked meals throughout the whole day without fail. When I was in Form 1, I started realizing how things were slowly changing. I was helping to do the cleaning chores around the house a lot more as mom needed to rest a bit more and her time spent in the kitchen was also slowing down. But this was just the start as the symptoms she developed got to her slowly over the years. She started losing the sensation of taste, numbness in her fingers and hands, and some lack of control of her foot when driving.

Towards the end of my high school education and going into college, her physical symptoms of balance and motor control of her hands were starting to be affected a bit. Yet my mom was still able to challenge herself to scale Mt Kinabalu, and was successfully able to do so, proving how strong the power of the mind and will she have within her. Truly inspirational to this day thinking how she was able to show that the strength of determination can get you through anything you set your mind to.

I had gone abroad for my studies and towards the tail end of it, I decided I needed to come home as both my other siblings were also abroad and someone needed to be home to take care of mom and dad as they got older, as well as having my missus, who I can gladly now call my lovely wife, being back in KL.

Mom had her first fall about a year after I came home for good. It was a fall at home, at the dining table, and I thankfully was just reaching home as she had fell and called for help. I was able to carry her into the car and to the clinic for an x-ray. Thereafter, we were directed to ER at Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC) to get her leg in a cast to heal. This had set the pace for her condition in the coming years as she could not fully recover from it. Yet my mom being the strongest person in the world, was still able to carry on with day-to-day things, even going on an island holiday to Langkawi and doing an island-hopping tour with her cast still on. Really nothing stops her from doing what she wants and there’s more to this.

About a year later, unfortunately she had her second fall, and this was what placed her permanently in a wheelchair up to today. Again, it was at home, and I remember this so 40 clearly because I got a call from her while I was asleep at 6.45am, and she was crying out for help. I got up to find her in the next room, on the floor, and I couldn’t move her as she was in a lot of pain so had called for an ambulance for assistance. She had fractured her hip, her wrist, and a bit of her skull as well, all by falling while trying to move some books out of the library shelf. I really couldn’t believe it but this is where we were at.

Again though, my mom continued to show us how strong she is in all of this. She was going for physio sessions at the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital. One day, she surprised us at dinner when she said she had been taking herself to the rehab sessions using Grab – which I had showed her how to use to get the helper to come over with. I was so impressed with how she was able to figure out that she could do this on her own. And if that wasn’t enough, one day after work I got a call from her, and she inquired whether I could fetch her from the LRT station. I asked, “Why ma, why are you even there?”, and to which she said, “Just come pick me up I will tell you”. She cheekily had decided to use the LRT to test out whether or not it was OKU friendly enough and was not shy to ask strangers in public to help her in and out of the trains and to move around the station as well.

We also were able to do full trips, to my sister and brothers’ weddings in Wellington and Finland. And when I say full, I mean with being able to take her around with us everywhere, to taste new food, see new places and things and even go on a speed boat tour in Queenstown. This was something I insisted my mama do. She had no doubts about it, as growing up, I always loved riding on the fastest rides at theme parks with her as she had no fear in her bones at all. Mom even got a clapping ovation when we were getting her out of the speedboat in Queenstown because that really was something extraordinary – for someone in her condition do it.

Truly inspirational to this day, my mom continues to show that life is about the choices we make in any situation that we are in – and that we should always be living life to be happy with the people around us. I really really love you ma, and I will always look up to you as the biggest inspiration in my life.

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