At 29, a stroke of bad luck

At 29, a stroke of bad luck
Sharing his story: Mr Mak hopes that his book, which is being sold at $10 each on strokeat29.com, raises awareness and gives stroke survivors hope.

He was a healthy 29-year-old, chasing his next promotion, planning a holiday halfway across the world and enjoying the occasional drink with friends. He did not smoke.

One afternoon, in the office of the insurance company he worked for, a severe pain shot through his head. He started to feel dizzy. He was in the toilet and started throwing up violently. Somehow, he managed to text a friend for help.

When Mak Kwok Fai came to, he was at the hospital. He had suffered a haemorrhagic stroke and undergone brain surgery.

His first thought? "Why me, how can it happen when I'm so young," said Mr Mak, now 35 years old, and sharing his story with the world for the first time through a book titled My Stroke Experience at 29.

Speaking to My Paper, Mr Mak, now almost fully recovered apart from a slight slur in his speech and working again, said that depression often seized him in those days.

He spent a total of three months at the Singapore General Hospital. When he left, he was wheelchair-bound, and neither able to speak nor write.

"Sometimes, I would throw a tantrum, and refuse to go for therapy or do any exercises on my own," he said.

But then his mother would cry, and he would relent, realising that he owed it to her to recover. His mother had given up her job as a dental nurse to care for him full-time, even getting up at night to help him to the toilet, or to help shift his body into comfortable positions.

"She would say that people go through ups and downs, and that to reach the up is to move forward," said Mr Mak.

After six months of therapy, he was able to walk by himself and speak clearly enough to be understood.

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