Mom’s stroke

Most of this post was written during my visit to Surabaya few days after the stroke happened, I didn’t manage to finish it and now 8 months later, I finally had a chance to.

Mom had a stroke on Friday, 29th April 2016 – just a mere few days after she came back from visiting us here in Sydney Australia.

On the day of the attack, in the morning, she started to feel pain on her right arms or back (can’t remember). And then later on, while walking, her right leg was “stuck”, that’s how she described it. She then fell and hurt her backside quite badly.

My family including mom were not that informed with diagnosing a stroke attack, hence they focused on treating the pain on the backside and arm by taking her to “tukang pijat” (traditional masseur). They self-diagnosed mom’s condition of losing control of her right side as her being tired (capek) or masuk angin as she has been travelling overseas for awhile. On a side note, please do have a read about recognising symptoms of stroke – it’s very easy to spot.

When my sister messaged me about mom, me and Lina had this fear that she was having a stroke (although we prayed that it wasn’t that) and did urge family back in Indo to take her to hospital asap. But things are not that straight forward with my family, they have this “family doctor” (more like dodgy doctor to me) and God knows why he suggested against taking her to the hospital (only in Indo – when doctor suggesting not going to hospital on critical case).

My sister finally admitted her to emergency ward on Saturday as her condition has turned to worse.

Much to our family dismay, the hospital didn’t seem to take mom condition urgently, apparently because it was Saturday, the specialists aren’t there – so they won’t do anything but monitor mom and told us to wait until the doctor came the next day (seriously you need a specialist to see a possible stroke patient?).

The details are a bit blur after this – but the doctor in hospital finally did confirm of a stroke attack. After that confirmation, I flew to Surabaya on Tuesday.

Here are my observations during my stay.

About doctors and hospital

So my mom is assigned two doctors – a heart doctor (dokter jantung) and a neurologist (dokter saraf). These 2 doctors don’t stay in the hospital the whole day – they only come to see the patients once a day (usually in the morning).

I wanted to see these doctors as soon as possible as to get better understanding on mom’s condition. The doctors already explained it to my sister and aunt, but I wanted to hear it from the source.

Getting hold of them proved to be quite frustrating. I don’t sleep in the hospital at night, so I try to come in the hospital very early to meet these doctors when they see mom. However it was trickier that I thought, sometimes they don’t come to the hospital at all, sometimes they come earlier than usual so I missed them.

When I finally met them, getting an explanation out of them is also quite interesting experience. The neurologist is quite friendly, he explained what happened quite clearly. The heart doctor on the other hand is quite challenging to talk to, he looks to be constantly irritable and doesn’t like answering questions.

So in summary, I found the hospital system here in Surabaya (RKZ hospital) is inefficient bordering dangerous (mom not immediately treated) and strangely organised (doctors don’t stay on hospital). I am somewhat thankful of Australian health system – sure it has its own issues but miles better than what I experienced here.


Both doctors said that mom’s condition is quite concerning, there were blockages on the blood vessels on the neck that deliver blood to the brain. I asked whether mom needed operation to deal with the blockage and they suggested against it as it is high risk.

The neurologist said the best solution is for mom to lower cholesterol level to a very low level and maintain it for a number of years then hopefully the blockage will slowly go away.

I am quite sad with the recommendation simply because I know my mum, she isn’t someone who is willing to persevere. We were hoping for a quick fix like operation or medication.

Family Tension

Understandably, my family in Indo which consist of my aunt, sister and grandma were finding it hard to cope. Since my dad passing (and me no longer living with them), my mom is the de facto head of the family. Now that she is incapacitated, my aunt had to step up. I am grateful that she was there to hold the ship, but it did take a heavy toll on her.

As the tension was high – everyone seem to be getting to each other nerves. There were a couple of big and small clashes. I think to this day 8 months after it happened, the relationship has sadly changed a little bit for the worse.

I also saw a lot of selfishness out of everyone – me included. Our sinfulness is just magnified and brought into light in this difficult time.

Sharing the Gospel

When I was accompanying mom at the hospital, I made use the time to read the bible to her and praying with her. She was quite receptive and even asked for bible reading and prayer at times. My sister did her share of reading the bible and praying with her too.

Although I am happy that she was receptive but also at the same time I am sceptical knowing her. She believes that all religion is the same, although she considered herself as a Buddhist (well Taoist really but she can’t tell the difference), and she would gladly seek and accept prayers / thoughts / whatever from any religion if it is going to help her to get better. Although I am sceptical – I keep her in my prayers because maybe this is just a seed and one day it will grow – God knows.

Mom’s attitude

I was hoping that this situation made her question her life, maybe prompt her thoughts about after life, about getting right with God rather than getting things from God – unfortunately looking at our conversation months after the stroke doesn’t indicate a change on her attitude on life.

She kept on focusing on the negative aspect of the stroke – she whinged and whined a lot, she sees the stroke as a misfortune (“sial”), she’s impatient with the slow progress of her recovery.

My concerns

I am actually at lost on how to relate to her now.

I should be encouraging her to keep on working towards recovery, but also at the same time I think I also need to prepare her about the possibility of long recovery timeframe (years not months) and the level of recovery (just don’t expect 100% recovery).

Mom is so focused on recovery – but I am more concerned in the blockage, how can we get that monitored regularly – a second stroke would be fatal needless to say.

Of course, the biggest concern is her spiritual sickness – one day it will be too late for her to be right with God.