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'If she was miserable, she could go': Man who had limbs amputated after eating raw fish once told wife to leave him

'If she was miserable, she could go': Man who had limbs amputated after eating raw fish once told wife to leave him
Tan Whee Boon lost his limbs after getting an infecttion from consuming raw fish porridge in 2015.
PHOTO: Facebook/Tan Whee Boon

Although Tan Whee Boon now affectionately refers to his wife as his "bodyguard", there was a time where he felt like he'd be better off without her.?

Tan, 59, had?his hands and feet?amputated in 2015.?Three days after eating a plate of yusheng, a raw fish dish, at a hawker centre in Chinatown, he experienced symptoms of food poisoning and was hospitalised.?

He was diagnosed with severe pneumonia that was complicated by sepsis, which caused gangrene on his hands and feet. Doctors also found three types of bacteria in his body, one of which was Group B Streptococcus (GBS).

After his amputation, Tan gets around in a motorised wheelchair, and his wife,?Choong Siet Mei, assists him with his daily living needs.?

"As long as I'm out of the house, she has to be with me," he said during a podcast?interview on radio station Capital 958.?"She almost has no time to herself."?

The couple, who have been married for more than 20 years,?have had their fair share of friction.

"Initially, I thought she was taking care of me out of responsibility. I also thought that she had to take care of me since she is my wife," said Tan, who worked as a technician before he lost his limbs and was the family's sole breadwinner.

Whenever he got frustrated with himself, the father of two would?take it out on his wife, though he would?feel guilty afterwards. He also fell into depression?and tried to take his own life a few times.?

Tan recounted asking his wife to leave him at one point.?"I told her if she was miserable, she could go. But it made?her?sad and she asked me why I would say such a thing, because?she never had that intention."

Touched by her words, Tan resolved to buck up and tries to let his wife have her own personal time.

"For example, on public holidays, she can go?out with her friends for two or three hours," he said.

"I think the biggest problem for me [when she's not around]?is going to the toilet. If I'm hungry or bored, I can still wait."

The couple?have?installed extra fixtures in?their bathroom?so Tan can?relieve himself on his own.?

Better relationship with family

Despite his unfortunate circumstances, Tan said there is a silver lining - his relationship with his family has improved.

Before his amputation, he?was more reserved about expressing his feelings towards his wife.?

"We never really fought?and were not?very affectionate, but we cared for each other. We just didn't say it. Now we're more expressive," he said. "I thank her for the little things more often."?

Tan?has also gotten closer with?his son?and daughter, who are in their 20s.

When they were younger, Tan admitted to being a stern father who rarely spoke to them.?

After the amputation, he did not allow his children - who were in their teens then - to visit him in the hospital as he did not want them to see him in such a vulnerable state.?

"I was worried that the way I looked would ruin the impression they had of me as a father, and I was afraid that would hurt them," he said.

"There were many occasions when they wanted to help me, but I rejected. I tried my best to not be a burden to them."?

Now that?his children?are grown up, he tries to treat them as friends.?"I try not to interfere too much with their lives now. After all, they're adults."?

Stays active by playing sports?

Tan is also working again. His?job as a drafter at a construction company allows him to work from home.?

"I hope my company keeps me around until I retire. I might consider retiring when my children graduate from university."?

Aside from work, Tan also keeps himself active by engaging in different types of sports, such as wheelchair rugby and dragon boating.?

His involvement in wheelchair rugby earned him the?Goh Chok Tong Enable award in 2021. The award recognises the achievements of persons with disabilities.

But Tan has more?dreams, like going skydiving one day.?

"Maybe I won't be able to do it, but it's good to have a dream," he said.

READ ALSO:?Woman loses all 4 limbs after eating undercooked fish in California

claudiatan@asiaone.com

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