18 Apr 2018


Returning Home To Heal

There are many reasons to return home... what are your reasons?

Tan Lay Peng

I first left home in 1988 to study in London. I know I am homesick when food craves set in - char kway teow, Hainanese chicken rice - sounds familiar? Or is it just me, this overseas Singaporean?

I’ve been out of Singapore for more than twenty years now, and as the aging process hits me, I’ve found myself a new reason for going home: returning to heal. In retrospect, I also call it a mission to test the quality of Singapore’s healthcare, while tasting local fare at the same time. Congee at the hospital? Beats having a burger on my first conscious day after surgery.

In 2016 and 2017, the years of travelling started to take a toll on me. When I was home in 2016, I found out that I would need knee surgery and cataract surgeries for both eyes. The diagnosis for a abdominal surgery came in 2017. Rather than feeling ‘suay’ (hokkien for unlucky), I actually had a twinge of glee as I would finally be able to stay in Singapore for more than 2 weeks. (This latter statement is just between you and me, please do not tell my ang moh boss.)

With the memories of the recovery process behind me now, looking back, I had to give myself due credit for opting to return home for the medical care.

If home is where the heart is, mine is in efficiency processes and people who do things professionally. From the initial consultation with my family doctor, Dr Yeong Mun Hoh, to scheduling appointments with the surgeons and confirming the days for the surgeries, this was done seamlessly and in a very short time, even across different time zones. I had to return to Washington DC for work after my short trip in Singapore, so initially, I was skeptical if it will all fit. Thankfully, everything fell into place with help from the doctors.

The surgeons were great and I really appreciate them and their team: from administration to the healthcare practitioners. Without the need for glasses, my life has changed for the better as Dr Lee may gather. I am so grateful for the good doctors we have back home. I knew I could not have had a better choice of surgeons than Professor Tan Hak Koon, Dr Chia Shi Lu and Dr Lee Hung Ming. I was especially grateful that the recovery was easier than expected and with good results: feeling better and renewed. With Professor Tan’s help, I got to keep my organ, and was saved from any potential nasty side effects of hormone therapy, if that had been chosen instead. True expertise and confidence in advising patients on viable medical options saves lives – in this case, mine! Thank you, Professor Tan and Dr Chia for the recommendation.

An overnight stay in the high dependency ward also made me very appreciative of the nursing staff and attendants who had to work around the clock. I hope they are duly compensated since their work must be hard - people who are in pain need a lot of attentive care.

The push button doors are a great help for patients like me 

The Musculo-skeletal Centre (MSC) - the hospital's state-of-the-art facilities

Another pleasant surprise was the facilities, for example, having ‘push button’ doors when I was in the Musculo-skeletal center. They really went to great lengths to think about the patients when designing fixtures.

Sick at home or homesick?

As a patient, I also appreciated the hospital’s one-stop shop concept. I could get all my diagnostics done and even Bengawan Solo is on the premises to satisfy any cravings for Nyonya cakes. I could even enjoy Nasi Lemak!

The conclusion? There are many reasons to return home, and the next time I go back I hope to be in tip top condition to taste and see all that Singapore has to offer, communicate in Singlish, and relish the warmth of locals, my family and friends.

What are your reasons for going home?


Read the stories of Singaporeans living overseas.