He can't respond, but he hears her voice

He can't respond, but he hears her voice
PHOTO: The New Paper

She has to tube-feed her 38-year-old son, change his diapers, and turn him over every two hours to prevent bedsores.

If you think life is tough for Madam Maznah Sharipan, 59, think again.

Her husband had his foot amputated because of diabetes, and is on dialysis.

So when it comes to physically turning her son to ease his bedsores or putting ice packs to bring down his frequent fevers, Madam Maznah has to manage all on her own.

Her son, Mr Yuri Dahlan Ismail, suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him bedridden when he was 21.

While on a work assignment, the car he was driving was involved in an accident. The front seat passenger did not survive.

Madam Maznah, a housewife who has been her son's main caregiver for the past 17 years, is responsible for tube-feeding him, changing his diapers and sponging him daily.

Speaking to The New Paper in their four-room flat in Bukit Panjang, her husband, Mr Ismail Shahul Hamid, 62, said she is devoted to their son.

They have a younger son, 36, who does not live with them but visits every week to help bathe Mr Yuri.

Mr Ismail said: "She will talk to him all the time, telling him to be patient and to endure. Even if he can't respond, he can still hear her voice."

Despite the challenges, Madam Maznah manages to keep going with strength, humour and faith.

During this interview, she broke into laughter when her husband said in jest that she neglects him despite their 40 years of marriage.

But she does admit that her son is always on her mind.

"When I'm not at home, I'm always wondering about him. I feel relieved and happy every time I see him."

Her son's condition - he is a quadriplegic and is unable to communicate in any way - was hard for her to accept at first.

"I used to cry and had trouble sleeping after his accident," she said.

Mr Yuri - named after Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man to travel to space - had just graduated from Singapore Polytechnic when the accident happened in 1999.

He had serious head injuries and was hospitalised for six months. He then had to stay at a rehabilitation home for another six months before returning home.

Over the past few years, Madam Maznah has managed to care for her son, but her biggest challenge involves moving him frequently to reduce pressure on his bedsores, which have worsened over the years.

Mr Ismail, who has Type 1 diabetes and kidney failure, has been going for dialysis three times a week since 2008. The former driver was forced to stop working after his foot was amputated in 2014.

After that, his wife had to wheel him to the dialysis centre, but he now relies on a motorised wheelchair.

The family lives on a monthly payout from Mr Yuri's former employer, Mr Ismail's CPF payout and financial assistance from a family service centre and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).

HOME NURSING

Since June last year, Mr Yuri has been a recipient of non-profit organisation Home Nursing Foundation (HNF), which provides home care services.

Staff nurse Hong Jia Wei, 27, visits their home twice a week to attend to his bedsores.

The family is part of Portraits Of Love, a photography project featuring patients and their caregivers, families or loved ones. (See report, above.)

Ms Hong told TNP that Mr Yuri's bedsores were very serious at first but his condition has improved slightly.

She said: "The mum is not young any more and it is difficult for her to turn him over every two hours.

"But they are very loving towards him and always telling me that he is a good son."

She added that she was impressed by their tenacity.

"They are a very simple and humble family and always joking around."

Mr Ismail said they have learnt to accept their fate.

"The reality is that life has its ups and downs," he said.

Madam Maznah added: "I just feel lucky that I'm still able to embrace my son. I'm always praying for him and I have never given up hope that he will get better one day."

linheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 21, 2016.
Get The New Paper for more stories.

More about

dialysis
Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDED CONTENT

SPONSORED CONTENT

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.