Recovering from stroke: Violet Oon rethinks her life

Recovering from stroke: Violet Oon rethinks her life
After suffering a stroke, Ms Violet Oon uses a walking stick in case she loses her balance.

Apart from the walking stick and a slightly stiff gait, there are no signs that Singapore's cooking doyenne Violet Oon suffered a stroke and stayed about a month in hospital.

The 65-year-old, who has a food consultancy business and, with her two children, runs Violet Oon's Kitchen in Bukit Timah Road, had been down with a bout of flu a few days before the stroke on June 13. On that day, she says she felt dizzy at about 10.30pm and had no sense of balance on the left side of her body.

Her son, Yiming Tay, 32, took her to Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where she was told she had had a cerebellar stroke. This is when blood flow to the cerebellum, the lower part of the brain, is interrupted. That part of the brain controls balance, among other functions.

Mr Tay says he was worried but his mother was rather more calm.

She says: "I was so thankful that it was just balance. I could have lost so many other things. I was neither scared nor distressed, just matter-of-fact about it all and thinking what I would be capable of doing after all that."

The former journalist describes herself as a model patient, who ate her bland hospital diet of pureed meat, vegetables and rice without complaint. Showing a photo of one of her meals, she says: "I ate whatever they gave me. I was so obedient."

She says she was reassured by the neurologist who treated her. "She was amazing. She told me: 'I assure you, you will get out of here walking.'"

The nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists were also determined to make that happen, she says. Her daughter Su-lyn Tay, 38, adds: "The doctor was so confident that she would definitely be back to normal in six months."

When Ms Oon asked if she would need a walking frame and a wheelchair, both of which her children had borrowed so she could use them when she was discharged, she was told: "No, you are Violet Oon, you can walk by yourself."

She says: "I'm happy they were appalled when I asked and that they were quite fierce. They wanted us to be independent."

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