One day, I broke out in cold sweat. My chest felt tight, and I fell backwards.
"When I was younger, I used to eat two pieces of roti prata every morning. I would have Malay curry rice for lunch and chicken rice for dinner. I drank kopi ga dai (coffee with milk and extra sugar) and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.
There were no apparent effects on my health, so I maintained this habit for over 20 years. One day, I broke out in cold sweat. My chest felt tight, and I fell backwards. Luckily, there was a chair behind me! My doctor told me that it was a heart attack, and that I would only have two years left to live. That was eight years ago.
I immediately changed my diet. I also had a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) implanted. Although this means I have to wear a 2.5kg battery pack everywhere I go – even the shower – I don't see it as a hassle. After all, it keeps me alive! It is also where I get my daily dose of exercise. I have always been a happy-go-lucky person, and now am even more so, because I was supposed to have only two more years to live. I'm thankful that I get to enjoy the simple things in life – playing with my three-year-old grandson, and buying my wife her favourite dishes."
Quek Ser Hwee
Current patient at National Heart Centre Singapore
Mr Quek is one of the winners of the Singapore Health Inspirational Patient and Caregiver Award 2016.