Woman suffers psychological trauma after road accident

SINGAPORE - The accident was over in seconds, but her struggle to recover from it has taken six months.

After losing the use of her legs temporarily, Madam Loke Siew Yoong has had to learn to walk all over again.

Her injuries read like a scene from a horror movie - they include a fractured hip, rib and toe, and injuries to her shoulder, wrist, lung and ankle.

But the psychological trauma has been much harder to tackle.

Many will recall the video of Madam Loke, 47, crossing the junction of Woodlands Avenue 6 and 7 on Dec 22 last year when a superbike smashed into her.

She has no wish to see the video of the accident caught by the in-vehicle camera of a motorist herself. She just doesn't want to be reminded.

In an interview with The New Paper, Madam Loke recalled how everything moved in slow motion as she was sent flying in the air like a broken rag doll.

And the accounts clerk remembers being conscious after her body was contorted into a twisted heap on the asphalt, even as passers-by rushed to help her.

Madam Loke said she was walking to the bus stop to catch the company bus, which leaves at 6.10am.

Her home is about an eight-minute walk from the bus stop.

There were more than five people waiting together with her to cross the road then. When the green man came on, she said she checked for traffic before crossing the road.

Said Madam Loke in Mandarin: "I was looking ahead. I didn't see any motorbike, so I don't know how and when the motorbike came.

"I just heard the sound of a motorbike and suddenly, I felt a strong force sending me flying. I didn't feel any pain and didn't even know I had landed."

She said the whole incident seemed to last for a long time, although it was over in seconds.

Said Madam Loke: "I saw the HDB blocks spinning in slow motion around me."

She said she landed in a twisted position in the middle of the junction.

Then came the shooting pain.

Madam Loke said: "I heard people talking to me, comforting me. Some asked me for my home number while some directed traffic away from me."

She said the Good Samaritans managed to get her husband, Mr GK Ang, 45, after three calls and he rushed over with her daughter, 13, just as Madam Loke was being moved into the ambulance.

Her daughter, whose privacy Madam Loke wants to protect, followed her and her husband stayed to assist the police.

During the journey to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, she remained in her original twisted position.

Madam Loke said she was alert and able to answer questions about her personal details.

She said: "I remember I kept pulling the coat of a doctor at the Accident and Emergency department so tightly because I was in so much pain.

"The pain was so great, I couldn't even talk."

It was a long day for her as she was awake and conscious all the way until she went into the operating theatre at about 7pm that night.

She said: "I was in so much pain, I wish I was unconscious. At least I wouldn't feel the pain."

A bone fragment from her fractured hip had also punctured her bladder and for several days, she had blood in her urine.

She was in the intensive care unit for the first three days and was moved to a regular ward on Christmas Day.

She was also able to move her left leg for the first time that day.

She spent 33 days at the hospital, unable to move the lower half of her body for most of the time.

She said: "When it was clean up time, the nurse had to turn me to my side to clean my back.

Painkiller

"That was very painful and I had to pump the painkiller, morphine, about half an hour before, so the pain would be more bearable."

She was also in and out of the operating theatre about six times.

Madam Loke said: "I've been in and out of the operating theatre so many times - I'm now scared of going in again."

And her scars aren't just physical ones.

She said: "I had nightmares of the incident when I was warded at the hospital."

Madam Loke was later moved to the Ang Mo Kio - Thye Hua Kwan Hospital, where she stayed for another seven weeks for her rehabilitation.

She had physiotherapy sessions to help her regain movements in her limbs again.

She was finally allowed to return home around mid-March, but still has to go for three physiotherapy sessions a week.

Madam Loke, who is seeing a psychiatrist for her trauma, said: "After the accident, I was afraid of crowded places. I felt as though people were staring at me."

And she has to relearn normal routines, such as crossing the road and going to the market, with the help of a physiotherapist.

She said: "When I hear the sound of a motorbike, I'm very scared, especially when I need to cross the road. I'm more careful now. I will hesitate at the traffic light before I cross. If there's a group of people crossing the road with me, I won't be so scared."

She said she and her husband are thankful for the support they received from her family, friends and colleagues.

She said: "When I was warded for about a month, I received a few hampers almost daily. My colleagues also took turns to accompany me in the hospital. That helped a lot in preventing my imagination from running wild."

It had been hard for her husband as well, to see her suffer and go through the painful recovery process.

He said: "I was very worried initially. But when I see her recover every day, I feel much better."

And Madam Loke can still hardly believe she survived the accident.

She said: "It is amazing that I'm still alive."


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