Sunday, November 29, 2015

'We have to carry on living': Man who lost hands and feet to GBS infection

Source Website: http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/we-have-carry-living-man-who-lost-hands-and-feet-gbs-infection/page/0/0
By Tan Tam Mei, tammei@sph.com.sg, The New Paper, Sunday, 29 November 2015


Mr Tan Whee Boon's ordeal began in July when he was taken to hospital after feeling giddy and severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea.
PHOTO: Mr Tan Whee Boon's ordeal began in July when he was taken to hospital after feeling giddy and severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea. This happened a few days after he ate a Chinese raw fish dish, or yusheng, at a Chinatown food centre. Mr Tan was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital where tests found three types of bacteria in his body, one of which was Group B Streptococcus (GBS).
Photos: ST, TNP, Shutterstock, Facebook/helptanwheeboon, Lianhe Wanbao
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wT5IDG26Uts/Vlrpyds2fKI/AAAAAAAAiWE/Ue-5opBE-AQ/s1600/tanwheeboon_2.jpg
http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/sites/default/files/original_images/Nov2015/tanwheeboon_2.jpg
http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/we-have-carry-living-man-who-lost-hands-and-feet-gbs-infection/page/0/0



Sitting in his motorised wheelchair, Mr Tan Whee Boon's smile is radiant and his attitude jovial.

It is a stark contrast to the 50-year-old's outlook almost three months ago when he received devastating news - his hands and feet had to be amputated.



Three months ago when he received devastating news - his hands and feet had to be amputated.
PHOTO: Three months ago when he received devastating news - his hands and feet had to be amputated.
Photos: ST, TNP, Shutterstock, Facebook/helptanwheeboon, Lianhe Wanbao
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http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/sites/default/files/original_images/Aug2015/gbsinfection1_0.jpg
http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/we-have-carry-living-man-who-lost-hands-and-feet-gbs-infection/page/0/0


Back in August, when he spoke to The New Paper days before two operations to remove his extremities, the former technician said he had "no more future" because he could not imagine a life without them.

A meeting with national para-athlete Aishah Samad helped Mr Tan regain hope despite the thought of losing his hands and feet.

The 2003 SEA Games shooting bronze medallist visited Mr Tan in hospital in August after reading about his condition in a TNP report.



The 2003 SEA Games shooting bronze medallist visited Mr Tan in hospital in August after reading about his condition in a TNP report.
PHOTO: The 2003 SEA Games shooting bronze medallist visited Mr Tan in hospital in August after reading about his condition in a TNP report.
When Mr Tan saw Ms Aisha enter his ward in her wheelchair, he was moved to tears. He said: "When I saw her smiling and talking to me, I knew it was possible to have a future."
Photos: ST, TNP, Shutterstock, Facebook/helptanwheeboon, Lianhe Wanbao
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http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/sites/default/files/original_images/Aug2015/bacterialinfection_7.jpg
http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/we-have-carry-living-man-who-lost-hands-and-feet-gbs-infection/page/0/0



She, too, had lost her hands and feet after a bacterial infection while on a trip to China in 2012.

Meeting Ms Aishah allowed Mr Tan to connect with someone who had gone through a similar experience. It gave him much needed comfort and encouragement to persevere.

"I did think about suicide to be honest, but thinking of my family and friends made me think twice," said Mr Tan in Mandarin.



Ms Aishah, too, had lost her hands and feet after a bacterial infection while on a trip to China in 2012.
PHOTO: Ms Aishah, too, had lost her hands and feet after a bacterial infection while on a trip to China in 2012. Meeting Ms Aishah allowed Mr Tan to connect with someone who had gone through a similar experience. It gave him much needed comfort and encouragement to persevere.
Photos: ST, TNP, Shutterstock, Facebook/helptanwheeboon, Lianhe Wanbao
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http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/sites/default/files/original_images/Aug2015/bacterialinfection_8.jpg
http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/we-have-carry-living-man-who-lost-hands-and-feet-gbs-infection/page/0/0



"There was no other way except to amputate, so even before I met Aishah, I had already told myself that all I could do was move forward."

Mr Tan's ordeal began in July when he was taken to hospital after feeling giddy and severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea.

This happened a few days after he ate a Chinese raw fish dish, or yusheng, at a Chinatown food centre.

Mr Tan was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital where tests found three types of bacteria in his body, one of which was Group B Streptococcus (GBS).

Following a spike in reported GBS infections in July, the Ministry of Health confirmed an association between the consumption of yusheng-style raw fish dishes and a specific strain of GBS infection that appears to be aggressive.

The confirmation came in an official statement released yesterday.

TNP caught up with Mr Tan and his wife, Madam Choong Siet Mei, 47, in their three-room flat in Woodlands yesterday.



TNP caught up with Mr Tan and his wife, Madam Choong Siet Mei, 47, in their three-room flat in Woodlands yesterday (28 November 2015).
PHOTO: TNP caught up with Mr Tan and his wife, Madam Choong Siet Mei, 47, in their three-room flat in Woodlands yesterday (28 November 2015). They were adjusting to life after Mr Tan was discharged from the hospital two weeks ago.
Photos: ST, TNP, Shutterstock, Facebook/helptanwheeboon, Lianhe Wanbao
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http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/sites/default/files/original_images/Nov2015/tanwheeboon_6.jpg
http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/we-have-carry-living-man-who-lost-hands-and-feet-gbs-infection/page/0/0



The couple, who have two children aged 14 and 15, sounded upbeat and hopeful while talking about how they were adjusting to life after Mr Tan was discharged from the hospital two weeks ago.

Said Mr Tan, who now moves around on a motorised wheelchair: "We just have to carry on living and do what we can do with life. The world will keep on spinning."

NO LAWSUIT
The family doesn't talk much about the tragedy because they would rather talk about "happier things".

He also said that it would be hard for him to find a job because the reality is that "it is hard to hire someone with no hands and feet".

For the couple, much has changed after the amputation, but they choose to adopt a positive outlook. Mr Tan has left his job as a technician and they get by on their savings and crowdsourced donations.



The family doesn't talk much about the tragedy because they would rather talk about 'happier things'.
PHOTO: The family doesn't talk much about the tragedy because they would rather talk about "happier things".
Said Mr Tan: "We just have to carry on living and do what we can do with life. The world will keep on spinning."
Photos: ST, TNP, Shutterstock, Facebook/helptanwheeboon, Lianhe Wanbao
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http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/sites/default/files/original_images/Nov2015/tanwheeboon_4.jpg
http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/we-have-carry-living-man-who-lost-hands-and-feet-gbs-infection/page/0/0



Mr Tan estimates that the amount should be enough to last them three to five years. The bulk of it will be kept for their children.

Mr Tan spends most days at home exercising to strengthen his core muscles, something he feels will help him become more independent.

With the aid of modified elastic bands that his wife sewed, Mr Tan is able to feed himself using a fork and spoon, and even send text messages using a stylus-pen.



With the aid of modified elastic bands that his wife sewed, Mr Tan is able to feed himself using a fork and spoon, and even send text messages using a stylus-pen.
PHOTO: With the aid of modified elastic bands that his wife sewed, Mr Tan is able to feed himself using a fork and spoon, and even send text messages using a stylus-pen.
Photos: ST, TNP, Shutterstock, Facebook/helptanwheeboon, Lianhe Wanbao
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http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/sites/default/files/original_images/Nov2015/tanwheeboon_3.jpg
http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/we-have-carry-living-man-who-lost-hands-and-feet-gbs-infection/page/0/0



Madam Choong, a housewife, is also always by his side as Mr Tan is unable to perform certain daily tasks like bathing and using the toilet.

"She's like my personal assistant," he joked.

She said: "I'm definitely more tired now. Previously, all I had to do was housework but now I have to take care of him too... But I do it because he's my husband."



Madam Choong, a housewife, is also always by his side as Mr Tan is unable to perform certain daily tasks like bathing and using the toilet.
PHOTO: Madam Choong, a housewife, is also always by his side as Mr Tan is unable to perform certain daily tasks like bathing and using the toilet.
She said: "I'm definitely more tired now. Previously, all I had to do was housework but now I have to take care of him too... But I do it because he's my husband."
Photos: ST, TNP, Shutterstock, Facebook/helptanwheeboon, Lianhe Wanbao
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http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/sites/default/files/original_images/Nov2015/tanwheeboon_1.jpg
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When asked if they hold anyone responsible for their plight, Mr Tan said that they do not because "nobody wanted this to happen".

Madam Choong added: "Even if we sue someone, we can't win back his hands and feet. So there's no point."

Despite his disability, Mr Tan hopes his family and friends can continue to treat him as a "normal person" instead of taking "extra care" of him.



Despite his disability, Mr Tan hopes his family and friends can continue to treat him as a 'normal person' instead of taking
PHOTO: Despite his disability, Mr Tan hopes his family and friends can continue to treat him as a "normal person" instead of taking "extra care" of him.
Photos: ST, TNP, Shutterstock, Facebook/helptanwheeboon, Lianhe Wanbao
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http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/sites/default/files/original_images/Aug2015/gbsinfection2_0.jpg
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"They always offer to pick me up in their cars... But I tell them that I have my own car and it's a Mercedes," Mr Tan said, grinning and gesturing to his wheelchair.

By Tan Tam Mei, tammei@sph.com.sg, The New Paper, Sunday, 29 November 2015


Sitting in his 'Mercedes' motorised wheelchair, Mr Tan Whee Boon's smile is radiant and his attitude jovial.
PHOTO: Sitting in his 'Mercedes' motorised wheelchair, Mr Tan Whee Boon's smile is radiant and his attitude jovial.
Photos: ST, TNP, Shutterstock, Facebook/helptanwheeboon, Lianhe Wanbao
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http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/sites/default/files/original_images/Nov2015/tanwheeboon_5.jpg
http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/we-have-carry-living-man-who-lost-hands-and-feet-gbs-infection/page/0/0



SHOWING THE WAY: When Mr Tan saw Ms Aishah enter his ward, he was moved to tears. His hands and feet have to be amputated.
PHOTO: He's regained hope, thanks to para-athlete
My Paper, Tuesday, August 18, 2015, Page A6, Top Stories
http://www.veryfatoldman.blogspot.sg/2015/08/hes-regained-hope-thanks-to-para-athlete.html




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