Always wearing a smile, Mr Ruslan, 69, goes about his daily life without a complaint. No one would guess that behind the jovial and happy exterior, he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Life was once rosy for Mr Ruslan but when his second son, Muhammad Idham Fayumi Bin Ruslan was 2, he was diagnosed of a condition called Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS). Individuals with MPS have missing or insufficient enzymes to help the body with the proper recycling process, resulting in the storage of materials in every cell of the body. This prevents the cells from performing properly and may cause progressive damage throughout the body including the heart, bones, joints, respiratory system and central nervous system. The condition may not be apparent at birth but symptoms develop with age as more cells become damaged.
It wasn’t until Idham was 14, that the effects of the condition started to have an effect on his physical and functional abilities. Being a teenager, someone who was independent and who loved to play sports like football, this was a hard blow to Idham and even more so for his parents, Mr and Mrs Ruslan.
He deteriorated at an accelerated speed and became totally dependent for all his Activities of Daily Living (ADL) needs. Before his two older siblings moved out, they could help take care of their little brother in the morning while the two parents went out to work.
After his siblings got married and moved out, both Mr and Mrs Ruslan had to make special work arrangements to ensure that he wasn’t left alone at home for long periods of time. Being alone for long periods causes him stress. Idham often asks his mother “if you and dad pass away, how will I continue on?”
Even after a long and tiring day at work, Mr and Mrs Ruslan still dedicate their evening and nights to taking care of Idham. On his off days, Mr Ruslan takes Idham out to swim or cycle. He constantly encourages Idham to exercise and tells him to never give up.
Truly a dad’s unconditional love exemplified – knowing that Idham loves watching wrestling, Mr Ruslan would carry Idham to the indoor stadium to catch a wrestling match.
On top of taking care of Idham, Mr Ruslan also takes care of Mrs Ruslan who suffers from a few conditions including a collapsed lung which causes breathing difficulties especially at night. Mr Ruslan choked up as he spoke about his wife and her health struggles. Not only a caring father but a loving husband, Mr Ruslan helps his wife with lung exercises to ease her breathing difficulties.
The hero is still but only human, Mr Ruslan himself suffers from conditions like Hypertension and a few others.
Even in his advanced age, he still continues to work, provide and take care of his family. When asked how he copes with the challenges, Mr Ruslan said “I do all this because I love my family very much, my wife and my son.”
Idham is currently enrolled in AWWA Personal Care Service (Disability) (PCS (D)). Therapists go to his house to provide home-based therapy to ensure that Idham gets the exercises he needs.
Mr Ruslan says that Idham is always looking forward to go on the monthly outings to places like Singapore Science Centre under AWWA Personal Care Service (Disability Plus), PCS (D Plus) in short, and has made many friends through the programme including the volunteers thus reducing social isolation. Every Saturday Idham attends the PCS (D Plus) centre-based programmes and he gets to be involved in art and craft, sing-a-long sessions and cooking workshops.
Both PCS (D) and PCS (D Plus) aims to provide respite for caregivers like Mr Ruslan allowing them to catch a breather and spend a little bit of time taking care of themselves.
Click here to learn more about what PCS (D) and PCS (D Plus) do