Lynn’s Medical Fund

Update posted by Lynn Tok On Jun 07, 2017

Dear friends & family,

It's been a while since my last update.

Over the last few months, apart from dealing with my various health issues, I have also been dealing with my mom's medical condition. We have not been successful in finding a kidney donor for my mom yet but we are still searching. Meanwhile, my mom is continuing with both conventional and TCM drug therapy to help slow the progression of her condition. We have also been slowing packing up things in the house as my mom has to sell it to raise funds for her transplant surgery and future medical expenses. It will take some time to find a buyer as the property market is not good at the moment but that actually also gives us a bit of time to deal with the pain of losing the house that my late father left us.

My heart condition continues to slowly (too slowly) improve. I have to keep reminding myself to be patient and live one day at a time. The last 6 months have been extremely trying with me struggling to cope with both my mom's health problems, as well as my own. The stress took a huge toll on both my physical and mental well-being. Over the last 5 weeks, I was admitted to Emergency Department 3 times and warded twice. The most recent hospitalisation happened last week.

Around 2-3 weeks ago, I started getting asthmatic symptoms (wheezing and coughing). By last Monday, 29 May 2017, it was getting increasingly worse. I was therefore glad to attend my regular 3-monthly follow-up appointment with my Respiratory doctor at the hospital that Monday morning. Unfortunately, while I was in the waiting room, I started having a bad wheezing and coughing fit and was taken to a treatment room where I was promptly treated with nebuliser. After 2 rounds of nebuliser, my condition still did not improve sufficiently and my doctor decided to send me to the Emergency Department where further emergency treatment and observation can be done. (I was reluctant to be warded yet again and so a compromise was made for me to be warded at the Emergency Department's 24Hr Observation Ward). At about 5am the following morning, I had a severe acute asthma exacerbation that led to respiratory distress and I collapsed. I was unconscious and later learned that the Emergency doctors had to resuscitate me, intubate me and connect me to a respirator to help me breathe. I was thereafter admitted to the Intensive Care Unit where I stayed for 3-4 days. After spending a week in hospital, I am now recuperating at home. It feels great to be home! I am still feeling weak but I'll get better soon. It was quite an ordeal waking up with a breathing tube down my throat in an ICU ward but I am glad my doctor made me stay in hospital last Monday! It saved my life!

Over the last 6-9 months, I have received so many encouraging emails, cards, text messages, Facebook messages, it really warms my heart! Thank you all for being so caring and supportive! Thank you also for your kindness and generosity, and for all your loving prayers! I will keep on fighting the good fight!

Love,

Lynn

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Update posted by Lynn Tok On Apr 28, 2017

Dear friends,

I am posting this update on behalf of Lynn.

For all of you who have been following Lynn's campaign updates, you'll know she's been going through a very trying time.

Why do I love Lynn so much as a friend and think she deserve our help?

I got to know Lynn through a mutual friend and we have been friends for 3-4 years now. She helped me settle in Singapore when I first relocated here from Malaysia with my husband and 2 children. She brought me to all her favourite haunts and did all and more to help all of us settle in. She has also been wonderfully loving to my young daughter and son. She has been a very genuine friend who places her friend's interests above hers. Early one morning (at around 2am), she drove over to my apartment to help bring my sick daughter to hospital for treatment for dengue fever. She stayed with me for hours as the doctors treated my daughter. I had to insist that she head home to rest. After a short few hours' rest, she was back in hospital with lunch for my husband and I. She took care of us throughout the stressful week and helpfully babysat my younger son. She has since become a very dear friend. Lynn took time off her busy work schedule to do pro bono work for charitable organisations and at free legal clinics. She never says no to anyone needing help.

Over the last 4 years, I witnessed how Lynn suffered physically, emotionally, and mentally; and also how hard she fought to hang on. Her strength, faith and bravery impressed me. I witnessed how her neck pain caused her severe and debilitating pain; how a cold turned into pneumonia and then led to heart failure causing her to be very, very ill. I witnessed Lynn's tremendous strength and bravery shown through all the adversities. Recently, her mom fell ill and that has taken a huge toll on her health and well-being. Despite all that, she still takes time to check on me and help others in need.

I am glad I can do a little bit to help her with this fundraising campaign and I sincerely appeal to anyone who knows her (or of her) to help her through this difficult period. Meanwhile, please say a little prayer for Lynn, her family, and her mom! Thank you, all!

Mabel Lee

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Update posted by Lynn Tok On Apr 04, 2017

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for your generosity, kindness, care, support and encouragement. I thank God for every one of you who donated and/or prayed for me and my family.

My heart condition seems to be more stable which is great. I'm waiting for my next consultation with my Cardiologist and will update you thereafter. I'm still on 3 heart medications but I'm slowly recovering. It is frustrating and depressing to see how my life has changed so dramatically since I fell ill. However, I have to stay positive and believe I will fully recover from my Heart Failure.

I'm having another episode of worrying infection with low grade fever that has lasted for 2 weeks now. I tried over-the-counter cold/flu & fever medication and even tried Traditional Chinese Medicine ("TCM"). Eventually, my TCM doctor advised me to get some blood tests done to see if there's anything sinister going on. She's worried about any infection affecting my heart condition. I did and the blood tests results show there's a spike in both my white blood count and platelet count (as well as 2 other infection indicators), indicating an infection in my body. I was prescribed strong antibiotics and am anxious to get rid of the infection. Unfortunately after completing my 5-day course of antibiotics 2 days ago, my fever is back. Sigh. I'll have to consult my GP again and will probably need to take another course of antibiotics.

My TCM doctor has also been treating me for my severe neck pain and headaches with acupuncture and TCM. I've been having very severe headaches and neck pain the last 1 week. The TCM doctor commented she has never seen a patient with neck injury having such severe pain and headaches. My latest MRI scan done 2 weeks ago shows worsening of my neck condition. Apart from facet joint injury, at 3 levels of my cervical spine (C3-C4, C4-C5, C5-C6), there is nerve impingement. That explains the severe pain I have been experiencing as well as some numbness. It is worst at 1 level (C5-C6), where my slipped disc is very mildly invading my spinal cord but thankfully it is not severe enough to require surgery or cause any major issues apart from pain. About 1.5 years ago, I sought advice on surgery as I was having numbness down my arm and received mixed advice from various doctors. An Orthopaedic Surgeon advised me to undergo cervical spine fusion surgery but both my Pain Specialist and a Neurosurgeon advised against it. My pain doctor explained the numbness could be caused by my facet joint injury and he was proven right. He performed nerve block injections and the numbness eventually went away. If it had been caused by nerve impingement from the slipped discs, the numbness would remain. However, now that the MRI scan shows deterioration of my neck condition, I may soon need to re-consider surgery.

Meanwhile, my pain doctor has given me a new opioid pain-relieving patch for me to try. The objective is to slowly reduce the amount of strong oral painkillers I have been taking. It's been 2 weeks since I started using the patch but it is still too early to tell if it works for me. We'll see how it goes in the coming weeks. This 7-day patch is not cheap (S$40 per patch) but if it works, I'll be able to cut down on my pain medication. The TCM I'm taking helps with inflammation of my facet joints. I cannot take any of the anti-inflammatory medications my pain doctor used to give me because of its effects on my heart. The TCM anti-inflammatory medication, however, does not affect my heart. So it's kind of a East-West combination of treatment to help manage my neck pain. Thanks to many of you, I have started saving money for my neck procedure (radio-frequency denervation) that will help resolve my severe neck pain and headaches.

As for my mom, about 2 weeks ago, we were informed that a potential donor has been found and the doctors ordered a cross-matching test to see if it's a suitable match for my mom. Unfortunately, last week the results came back and it shows high rejection rate so it is not a match. It really has been a very trying time for my mom and my family. My mom was obviously disappointed with the cross-matching test result. We are all trying to keep her spirits up. We are fortunate to have very loving and supportive relatives who have been helping to cheer my mom up. My mom's kidney failure is causing her to be severely-anaemic and she has to go for weekly injections to help boost the production of red blood cells. She also has to take a lot of pills everyday and that can be very depressing. I can understand how she feels as I take almost as many pills a day. To help raise her red blood count, my mom has also started taking TCM. We hope and pray that we will soon find a matching kidney-donor for my mom. Sigh. I can't describe the amount of stress we are all experiencing. It is taking a toll on my own health.

We are also putting up my mom's house for sale to help raise funds for her medical expenses. It's emotionally tough for us as it is a house that our beloved late father bought for the family and he personally refurbished it. So it has strong sentimental value to us all. I am very sad but we need to let it go.

Please pray for my mom and my family - that we will stay positive as we soldier on and overcome every obstacle that comes our way with love and unity.

Thank you again for all your kind support, encouragement, and prayers!

With love & thanks,

Lynn

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Update posted by Lynn Tok On Mar 08, 2017

Dear friends & family,

Sorry for the late update.

Since my last update I've been feeling a bit better. It seems the drugs are working and my heart function is slowly improving. I still don't sleep very well but it is a bit better now. I have a follow-up appointment with my cardiologist in a few weeks and I hope he'll have better news for me. Hopefully I'll be able to resume work soon. I will have to pace myself cautiously so I don't over-burden myself physically - something I'm not good at! Please remind me to do so when I resume work! I also need to stay away from crowds as much as possible. I have a bug-friendly immune system right now and any form of viral or bacterial infection can potentially adversely affect my heart function. A recent bout of flu lasted longer than 2 weeks and it was pretty nasty. It takes a long time for my body to recover from any infection.

My neck pain has been annoyingly awful. I'm back on strong painkillers which I have to take daily. I'm not a fan of the painkillers but I don't have a choice. I do still go for acupuncture which helps a bit. Recently, I was blessed with great birthday gift - a neck & back shiatsu massager. It helps to relieve some tension in my neck muscles. I've been using it a few times a day. This helps save me some money on tui-na massage. While the painkillers, acupuncture and massage do not help with the cause of my neck pain, they do help me manage the pain that can be debilitating at times. I hope to undergo the excruciatingly painful radio-frequency denervation procedure as soon as possible. I'm still trying to raise funds for that.

Apart from my own medical issues, I've also been pretty stressed over my mom's kidney failure. We have been raising funds and preparing to send my mom overseas for a kidney transplant. However, tissue-typing test results reveal a big problem. My mom's body has a lot of antibodies that will cause rejection of any foreign organ. That makes it much harder to find a matching kidney donor. It also increases the risk of complications and rejection. Without a suitable donor, my mom will not be able to undergo a kidney transplant surgery. That will be very devastating. Over the past months, we have been on an awful emotional rollercoaster and it really has been rough-going. It's one thing for me to suffer the medical problems that I have but quite another to watch a loved one suffer.

While I don't expect life to be a bed of roses, I do wish sometimes that it can be a tad kinder and a wee bit easier for me. There is no time to wallow in self-pity though. I thankfully have a great group of friends and family who have provided wonderful support and encouragement to help me move forward. I'm also blessed with a beautiful 2.5 year-old niece who always cheer me up! I'm trying to live one day at a time. I also take comfort in the hope and peace I have in God.

Do spend as much time as you have with your loved ones. Life is too unpredictable and fragile for us to not do so.

Thank you for all the support and encouragement! You've been a great blessing.

Please continue to pray for my family!

With love,

Lynn

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Update posted by Lynn Tok On Feb 06, 2017

Dear friends,

Your kindness, support and encouragement has been so very precious! Sorry for the slight delay in posting this update. It has been a very stressful few weeks for my family and I and the support I've received have really helped! Thank you!

My heart is doing a bit better now that my Cardiologist has adjusted my medications. Hopefully my blood pressure and heart rate will soon stabilise. I will know more when I go for my next round of blood tests and follow-up consultation with my Cardiologist in March. It has been a frustrating time for me and I've been on a rollercoaster of emotions. Life can be so unpredictable and fragile sometimes. I'm not the most patient person and it has been hard for me to "just rest". It has affected my life in so many ways. I had a scare when I came down with a nasty flu a few weeks ago and almost had to go to hospital. Thankfully, I recovered quickly from it. I really need to get my flu shot soon!

I've since learnt that inflammation of the heart muscles caused by a virus (flu, etc.) is more common that we think. One of my cousins who is in his late twenties had to be hospitalised for chest pains recently and subsequent investigations revealed that his heart muscles were inflamed. Like me, a flu virus had attacked his heart. Thankfully, he was diagnosed early and the damage to his heart was not too serious like mine. He is expected to fully recover. My cousin works at an Aquarium as a diver. While he was still recovering from a flu, he continued his diving work and unfortunately, the flu virus attacked his heart. Apparently, cardiomyopathy (inflammation of heart muscles) is a common cause of sudden, acute cardiac arrest in young people. Dear friends, please listen to your doctors when they tell you to rest and not exert your body when you are ill with flu or any other illnesses!

As for my neck pain, I'm trying everything to manage the pain - Acupuncture, Physiotherapy, Chinese "Tui-Na" (medical massage therapy). I need to take my painkillers almost daily too. I was hoping the Acupuncture would work well and quickly but it hasn't been the case. I will keep doing it as it does help a bit with my pain. However, it's pretty clear the only treatment that will really be effective is a procedure known as "Radio-Frequency Denervation" where my doctor uses radio-frequency waves to "burn off the inflamed nerves". I'm not excited about undergoing this procedure because it is a torturous procedure. I've been through it 3 times since 2012 and it is excruciatingly painful as I am kept immobile but awake during the procedure. I need to be able to communicate with my doctor while he is performing the procedure to make sure he is placing the needles at the correct spot and burning off the right nerves without affect those nerves that control feeling or motion of my arms. It's no fun having a doctor poking around your inflamed nerves. But it works and it is probably my best chance at living pain-free. I will undergo the treatment as soon as I have the funds to do so.

Chinese New Year ("CNY") is supposed to be a happy time of celebrations - not for us this year. We had pockets of enjoyable time while catching up with relatives over the CNY break but at the same time, everyone, including my extended family, is concerned about my mom's kidney failure. My mom has been under a lot of stress and anxiety as she slowly comes to terms with her condition. We know her kidneys (now functioning at only 10% will totally fail within 6-12 months. Thereafter, treatment will be dialysis (temporarily) and kidney transplant. As my mom has co-existing medical conditions, she is only eligible for living organ donation (kidney donation from a living person) and not cadaver organ donation (kidney donation from a deceased person. However, she will not be high in priority on the already-long kidney transplant list due to her co-existing medical problems. Her renal doctors told us it is almost impossible for my mom to have a kidney transplant. We have therefore been researching on kidney transplant in China and India. I've checked with my doctors and they have advised that I am not a suitable donor due to my heart condition. It is heart-breaking to watch her suffer both physically and emotionally.

I am, despite my circumstances, constantly reminded to soldier on and keep the faith! I am trying my very best to do that! Please keep my family (especially my mom) in your prayers.

Thank you for journeying with me!

With love,

Lynn

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Update posted by Lynn Tok On Jan 19, 2017

Update 2: Dear friends,

Thank you ever so much for your messages, emails, gestures of kindness! It's comforting to know I have your support!

I went for a follow-up with my Cardiologist last week. My heart function had worsened a little over the last 3-4 months (I've been feeling more breathless, fatigued, and with fluid retention in my body). After reviewing my latest scan results as well as blood tests results, my doctor concluded the recent deterioration was possible caused by a change in medication dosage. My heart was apparently not ready for a lower dosage. My doctor has since adjusted my medications back up and I'm starting to feel a wee bit better. However, my blood pressure and heartrate are still worrying high (cos' my heart has to work a lot harder). The concern is that work stress may elevate my BP even more and that can be dangerous - high BP can cause lots of life-threatening problems such as stroke, blood clotting in my heart, lungs or brain. Because of my elevated BP and heartrate, I still can't resume work yet. Hopefully my BP and heartrate will soon stabilise and I can start doing some low-stress work. Please pray that my heart function will soon improve and that in the meantime, my elevated BP and heartrate will not lead to any complications, and for patience (not my strong suitable). Thanks!

My neck pain has been pretty bad, causing me to lose sleep. I'm trying everything to help alleviate the pain - acupuncture, tui-na (TCM Therapeutic Massage), and of course, painkillers. I've been taking muscle relaxants and narcotic painkillers but I'm trying to take as little of the narcotic painkillers as possible - thus the acupuncture and tui-na.

I also learned some bad news today - my mom's kidney function is failing and she may need a kidney transplant very soon. I'm frustrated that I am not a suitable candidate for organ donation because of my own medical problems. I wish I can do more for herself. Obviously, there are also financial implications as a kidney transplant and/or dialysis will be costly. Please kindly pray for my mom and my family too - it'll be a bumpy ride ahead!

Finally, here's a very gentle reminder: GET YOUR WILLS DRAWN UP!

Thank you,

Lynn

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Update posted by Lynn Tok On Jan 10, 2017

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for the donation, support, prayers & encouragement! The mental frustration and anguish can sometimes be more trying than the physical discomfort, and every message of encouragement means so much more to me!

I've just had another echocardiagram (heart ultrasound scan), as well as a battery of blood tests, done last week. I should know the results later this week. The results will help guide the doctors' treatment, and will also give us a better indication on my prognosis. We (my doctors & I) are currently hoping that medication alone will help me achieve full recovery. If that fails, I may need to have implantable cardiac defibrillator installed (like a pace-maker) while I am placed on the heart transplant list. Apart from medication, a heart transplant is the only definitive treatment for Congestive Heart Failure. It was scary the first time I heard the term, "heart transplant" but I have since come to accept the reality. I will keep you updated on my heart condition.

I have recently recovered from a nasty bout of flu which I hope did not cause any further damage to my heart. As my immunity is weak, I can't go anywhere that's too crowded - not easy when you live in a very populated city like Singapore! I will be going for my annual flu shot in 2 weeks' time. This reminds me of the incident last year when I had to be hospitalised for 4 days due to injection site infection -- yes, the vaccination site on my arm got badly infected! Sigh.

I am breathing easier now which is great and I've learnt that I shouldn't take my ability to breathe easily for granted! My shortness of breath affects me a lot and I'm prone to asthma attacks. I still need a "wedge pillow" to aid my sleep. I am more breathless lying flat in my bed so I need the wedge pillow to prop my upper body higher, allowing me to breathe easier when lying in bed. I will use some of the funds collected to purchase a small portable oxygen tank for use in case of emergency.

My neck pain has been escalating but I cannot do anything else to manage the pain apart from painkillers, accupuncture and massage. I hope I can use some of the funds for the procedure (radiofrequency denervation) I very badly need.

Dear friends, do not wait for something to happen to you or any of your loved ones before executing your Will, Lasting Power of Attorney (Singapore), and a Living Will. I had mine all done prior to falling ill. I am so glad I did them all before I fell so ill - no fun scrambling to get a lawyer to visit you in hospital to do up your Will, etc! Being ill already brings along a lot of stress, you shouldn't have to worry about getting your Wills, etc., done!

God bless all of you, my friends!


-- Lynn Tok


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Thinking and praying for you lots Lynn. Love from all of the Lawrenson's. Xx

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Lynn, Good to know you've been improving! Please keep looking after yourself when worry about your mum's condition. Hope there is some solution to help. Lu

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Thinking and praying for you lots Lynn. Xx

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