Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The police have admitted that officers could have done a better job in handling an epileptic man who was denied his medication and had a seizure while in custody earlier this month. The admission came days after The Straits Times reported that Mr Tong Mun Cheong was arrested October 1st on suspicion of being drunk after suffering a seizure along Sungei Road, near Jalan Besar. The 34 year old , who has had epilepsy for more than a decade, was waiting for a cab at the time.

While in custody, Mr Tong said officers denied his appeals to contact his mother, who had medicine that would prevent another seizure and also brushed off requests to send him to the hospital.

A police spokesman confirmed that around 9 pm that day, about two hours after being arrested, Mr Tong suffered a seizure in custody. After being seen by paramedics, he was eventually released about 5 1/2 hours after his arrest.

A police spokesman said the case could have been handled better. We fully empathise with (Mr Tong's) family's anxiety and have explained matters to them. Officers should have quickly put Mr Tong in touch with his family while he was in custody, he added. Also, when the 34 year old's mother came down to the station with his medicine, they should have consulted a doctor instead of turning her away, the spokesman said.

Mr Tong said he told officers at the station that he was suffering from epilepsy, but they did not believe him. The police spokesman confirmed this, but added that when another officer asked him for details, he remained silent. This is the second time since 1999 that Mr Tong has been arrested after a seizure. Police said that since 2004, they have contracted a professional private medical group to develop training packages to help officers identify and manage people with epilepsy.

They will now be contacting non-profit Epilepsy Care Group to explore their views and ideas as to how procedures can be improved in such situations.

By Esther Tan
The Straits Times - Singapore

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oct 22, 2008

'I was having a seizure'

Epileptic's mum claims she wasn't allowed to give son his medicine in lock-up
By Esther Tan

WHEN Mr Tong Mun Cheong woke up following an epileptic seizure on Oct 1, he found himself handcuffed and inside a police lock-up. The last thing he remembered was waiting for a taxi in Sungei Road earlier that evening. Mr Tong, 34, said a police officer told him he had been taken in for drunken behaviour and refused to let him call his mother for his seizure medication.

'I told them I had fits but (the police) didn't believe me. I asked them to take me to the hospital, but they said 'no',' said Mr Tong, who has been suffering from epilepsy since 1996. After three hours in the lock-up without food, water or medication, Mr Tong suffered another attack.

His mother, Madam Er Swee Chew, told The Straits Times that the officers still would not let her son go. 'They told me he was having an attack but there were ambulance staff attending to him,' said the 67-year-old housewife. She had his medication, but the officers would not give it to him, she said. They also refused to talk to staff at the Singapore General Hospital who could verify her son was epileptic, she claimed. It was only after Mr Tong's older brother spoke to them that he was finally released. 'Mun Cheong's brother told them that if they didn't release him, they had to be responsible for anything that may happen to him,' said Madam Er. It was past midnight by then.

It is not the first time that epilepsy patients, like Mr Tong, have been arrested by the police on suspicion of unruly behaviour or drunkenness. Mr Goh Keng Hwee, executive director of the charitable organisation Epilepsy Care Group, said his group has encountered at least five such cases in the last three years. They were released when the police confirmed with hospitals and family members that they were epileptic.

Her son had been arrested before, in 1999, said Madam Er. Then, officers allowed her to see him, she said. They also took him to a hospital.

Epilepsy is a neurological condition in which recurrent, unprovoked seizures take place in sufferers, said Dr Ho King Hee, 45, a consultant neurologist. Mr Goh estimates that 16,000 people here have epilepsy.

Another patient, who declined to be named, told The Straits Times he was arrested by the police last month for brandishing a knife during a quarrel with his 15-year-old son. He has no memory of the incident, as he was suffering a seizure.

While the behaviour of some people having a seizure may appear to be bizarre, drunken or disruptive, they are rarely violent, said Mr Goh. Those around them should let the seizure pass and make sure the person does not hurt himself. If it lasts more than five minutes, they should call an ambulance.

Members of the care group are issued a card containing information such as their addresses, the kind of medication taken and their doctors' names. Mr Tong had a card, but was not carrying it when he was arrested.

In a letter to The Straits Times Forum page on Monday, Mr Goh noted that there was a need for the police to recognise the signs of a seizure. He said the care group had approached the Singapore Police Force in 2004 with an offer to conduct training classes for officers and recruits but it was not taken up. A police spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday that they were looking into the case. He maintained that police officers are trained to identify and handle persons suffering from various medical conditions, including epilepsy.

When contacted, the mayor of the North West District, Dr Teo Ho Pin, said it would be good for police officers to recognise the signs and symptoms of epilepsy. He said that as officers would not want to be responsible for administering medication, the best thing to do would be to send the person in question to hospital.

Source : straits times - singapore

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Musicogenic epilepsy is a rare condition (only 150 cases have ever been reported) in which sufferers have seizures when they hear certain types of music. The seizure-inducing tunes are different for each individual, and range from classical to reggae to jazz to rock and pop.

Doctors aren’t sure why the music has such a negative effect on these patients, but they think it might have something to do with the rhythmic pattern affecting brain activity. As with other forms of epilepsy, sometimes this condition can be treated with medication. Surgery to remove part of the brain is the last resort.

(Source: Scientific American)


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I have no recollections of having febrile seizures when I was an infant. My mom had never told me of my condition until at the age of 18 when I started having clusters of tonic clonic seizures. Epilepsy was like a savaging and killing beast to me. I nicknamed it “Epi Beast”.

Every time I regained consciousness after a seizure I would be in a daze. I had temporary memory losses and brief moments of retardation in my limbs caused by overworked and worn out muscles coupled with crippling pain. I always likened my mashed up body to that of a crushed soda drink can. I hated Epi Beast for seizing me, throwing and flipping my body in all directions and wreaking damages to my fragile body with cuts, bruises and swollen lumps that came with internal and external bleeding. I had no idea how long my body could withstand the ravaging forces of the Epi beast.

Thirty over years of putting up with Epi Beast have passed. I survived all the beastly destructions by God’s grace. If not for God’s sustenance I would not be alive today. God tamed the beast in me over time with proper medications that were effective in controlling seizures. I was able to lead a seizure free life for the last four years. On top of that, God used me to be his epilepsy steward.

Promoting epilepsy awareness through my blog and giving epilepsy talks have been the best things I have done in my life. The beauty of my blog is it has reached out to thousands of people in the world. Readers write to praise me for my courage to be open with the topic “My life with epilepsy”. Many readers found my blog to be very inspiring not just for epileptics but also non epileptics. My blog has brought two long lost friends back into my life and also inspired a young working lady to give me a rare and priceless gift that has found a place in my treasure box.

Clara who is gifted with the talent of craftwork had made a special gift for me. She had taken a long time to collect and print out interesting and famous quotes on small pieces of paper. She rolled the printed quotes into small scrolls and placed it into a beautifully decorated box that has a label “Food For Thought”. Clara, inspired by my blog, had given me the beautiful, meaningful and precious gift to encourage me to keep up with my good work in promoting epilepsy awareness.

Thank you very much to everyone who have visited my blog and supported me with constructive comments. Thank you, Clara, for the awesome gift. Without God, my supportive family members, good friends and all of you, I would not be the person I am today.


Monday, October 6, 2008


St Vincent de Paul Society was founded in Victoria by Fr Gerald Ward at St Francis' Church, Melbourne on 5 March 1854. For over 150 years, home visitation has been the core work of the Society. Volunteers visit people in their homes with aims of helping men, women and families to break their cycle of poverty and disadvantage. Food are also being given out on the streets to the homeless as well as delivered to the homes of poor people in Night Patrol Vans.

Early last month, I volunteered to join members of "Light House", a cell group of Cross Culture Church, to deliver soup, sandwiches and cordial drinks to poor people who live in boarding houses. My visit to the appalling and dilapidated rooms of the poor people was a visit that served as a constant reminder of how extremely blessed I am even though I am epileptic.

At the end of the visitations, my son and I had sore arms and painful hands as a result of carrying heavy basket loads of sandwiches, thermal flask of hot soup and big tubs of cordial drink. To both of us the temporary pain we had were gratifying pain knowing that we had done the least to the poor.

Count our blessings and look beyond epilepsy. There are so many people in worse conditions then just being epileptic.

Perspective from Melbourne's poorest people
- Catherine Deveny
October 8, 2008 - 12:00AM

When you have nothing, Wall Street's crash seems irrelevant. THE other day I went out on a soup van that provides food for the poor. Living on a pension must be difficult enough. Imagine how hard it is living on a pension and suffering a mental illness, being a survivor of abuse, battling addiction or coping with your life imploding. Now that's a full-time job. Try that and being homeless.

I'm surrounded by middle-class whingers obsessed by losing a few grand in superannuation who are driven by insecurity and racked by fear. Fear of what? Chances are it'll never happen. In five years most of these people will be in the same house, same car, same relationship and same job. Time for an icy-cold can of perspective. The soup van visited half a dozen boarding houses. Some made me proud to be part of a society that treats its poor so well. Other places made me feel sick. Smelly, tiny rooms crammed with possessions and sadness. Sick, dirty people lying on beds, smoking and watching television all day. A smacked-out bloke looking straight through me as I thrust a cup of soup into his hand. He didn't say thank you. Why would he? I wondered what horror it felt like waking up and being him.

Behind one door were two sad-looking blokes with stained beards stinking of dope, beer and unwashed clothes. They had a dog. "What's her name?" I asked. "Bitch," they said. Norm and June lived in a small room. With one single bed he was lying in the bed. I assume she slept in the chair. They were both about 70.

Some doors we were told not to knock on because the inhabitants were a bit aggro. I got the feeling that the words "a bit aggro" were an understatement. The words I could smell were volatile, violent and scary.

Kids live in these boarding houses? I didn't see any. Which was lucky. If I had, I would have collapsed into tears and had to fight every impulse to bundle them up, take them home, feed them a roast and tuck them into bed so they could wake up and not be afraid of what was behind any door. I hope they feel loved.

Other rooms were just as small, but clean and well looked after. One well-dressed bloke told us he'd been given tickets to Mame and he'd had a wonderful time. Upstairs lived a tall regal-looking African guy. In his room were a bed and a computer. On the walls were company structures written on butcher's paper. "What's that about?" I asked as I fished him out a couple of sausage rolls. "That is for my study. I will finish a business degree in five weeks and go back to Sudan and work for the Government."

"Never slept with an ugly woman," said old Bob. "Woken up with a few though." We all laughed, a dozen of us with flasks of soup, baskets of sandwiches and insulated bags of hot food sitting in his decrepit but neat boarding house room. "I love putting a smile on people's faces," he said, "because then they go out and put a smile on someone else's face." And we left. Old Bob seemed happier than most of the people I know with jobs, families, someone to curl up with at night and a roof over their heads.

Tone of the vannies told me that old Bob is dying very fast and very painfully. While sharing a squalid, cramped boarding house with blokes who are down on their luck, high on drugs, low on cash or off their heads. Bob's on his own. And chances are he'll die in that room. But Old Bob always manages to put on a show when the soup van arrives.

And you know what? He doesn't give a stuff about Wall Street. That's why I went out on the soup van. To meet some people who weren't obsessed by the global financial crisis. Why would they be? Things couldn't get much worse.

About 9.30pm, as we were about to leave the last boarding house, a woman with twin girls, about nine years old, approached us. They took a good 20 minutes to work out what they wanted to eat. "They're fussy, those kids," said one of the vannies affectionately. As we pulled away from the kerb, I watched the mum and her daughters sit eating sandwiches and drinking soup like they'd never seen food before. My gut fell. The vannies told me that they were regulars.

Let's hope the economic meltdown is a spiritual awakening that helps us be grateful for what we have and not worry about what will probably never happen. If your home is suddenly feeling like a house of cards, may I suggest a night out on the soup van.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cross Section Of The Brain (Drawn on 27 August 2008)


An architect who turned to painting after being told to use her brain more to help control epilepsy is now helping others rebuild their lives after illness and injury. Xia Lu, 47, from Liverpool, never imagined she would become an artist. Her drawing and sketches were a hobby, a spin-off from architectural work in her homeland of China.

She only started to take painting seriously when doctors in Liverpool told her that as part of her self-treatment for epilepsy, she needed to use her brain more. Unless she did this, there was a danger that she might lose her power of speech or end up in a wheelchair, they warned her.

Watercolour painting has now given Xia Lu a new desire to live her life to the fullest and this energy shines through her paintings which have been exhibited at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, Blackburne House and in Calderstones Park. Now Xia Lu has opened work shops using her special watercolour techniques at the Neuro Support Centre in Norton Street, Liverpool. Every Monday afternoon, she teaches clients at the centre, as well as their family members and carers, the gentle art of watercolour painting.

The idea is that the painting classes will give people who have suffered brain injuries or trauma after accidents, a new sense of self confidence. Many members of her class have already produced their own watercolours and the centre is planning an art exhibition to display their work.

Xia Lu, who became epileptic as a teenager said, "I am happy to share my experiences as a painter with other people. I will welcome anybody along to my classes. I also teach Tai Chi and Qi Gong and they also help me control my epilepsy. The doctors wanted to see if using my brain as an artist will help improve my epilepsy so that attacks are reduced".

Brian Simpson, work and life co-ordinator at the neuro centre said, " The classes have been set up for clients of the neurological centre and their families and carers. They are proving very popular. It is part of a programme to rebuild their confidence and purpose. A lot of people who suffer from neurological conditions need to be given a purpose in life. Xia Lu's classes help give them purposes and gets them out of their homes".

source : Liverpool Daily Post

Saturday, October 4, 2008


thankful that you don't already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for their setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings.

- Unknown

Source : www.motivational-messages.com

Friday, October 3, 2008


My flight departed at 3pm from Melbourne Airport on 30th September 2008. I was flying home to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The flight was a smooth flight but my heartbeat was very turbulent. The seven hour flight seemed like eternity. I was pensive and very worried if I will make it in time to see my dying aunt for the final time.

The plane finally touched down in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I thanked God for a safe flight home and also a swift and safe taxi journey to the hospital where my aunt was being admitted. The sight of my aunt in skin and bones and groaning in excruciating pain was heart wrenching and piercing. I grabbed my aunt's hands and told her in tears that I had returned to see her again. My aunt suffered terribly from a fractured hip bone as a result of a bad fall in her bedroom toilet and also from kidney failure.

The next evening at 7.15pm my aunt passed away peacefully after having her last meal. Her death had led me to think of my own death. When will be the day I die? Whether I am epileptic or not, my final day in this mortal world will come when God calls on me. My aunt's death has propelled me to promote epilepsy awareness at a pace more urgent than before lest I run out of time before I leave this world.

Time waits for no man. So, if you have been procrastinating on things that you ought to have done a long time ago, do it now. And if you think epilepsy is your greatest hindrance to pursue positive goals in your life, think thrice. I am one who will not allow epilepsy to be a setback in my life. My life with epilepsy goes full steam ahead.