HE led a good life before he was struck by a bizarre disease 12 years ago.
Until today, ex-serviceman Ravinder Singh has no idea what had caused his right leg to swell to an enormous proportion.
The 52-year-old said he had gone to four government hospitals to take various test, but doctors could not determine what was causing the swelling.
After voluntarily retiring from the army in the early 90s, Ravinder was serving as a personal driver to earn a living.
In 1995, Ravinder suddenly got a bad headache and high fever before his leg swelled up and then subsided.
“Every few months, it swells up for a day or two and subsides.
“It was between 2002 and 2003 that the swelling continued to get worse. Smelly liquid would start oozing out and I couldn’t walk or perform any chores standing as the pain was excruciating,” said Ravinder, adding that the swelling got bigger and bigger eventually.
He said the doctors initially suspected lymphatic filariasis, or commonly known as elephantiasis — the thickening and swelling of skin and underlying tissues — and did a lymphedema test, but found no infection or source for the swelling.
“Then, they presumed it was DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and did some scans but ruled that out too as the tests were negative.”
By 2004, Ravinder had mobility issues and had to depend on his siblings and friends to take him for check-ups.
“My siblings have their own families and some of them have migrated overseas, so I cannot blame them for not looking after my needs,’ says Ravinder who has nine siblings.
“My mother passed away in 1995 and left me this flat. I am currently staying alone with my twin brother and he has his own issues,” says Ravinder, referring his mentally unstable twin.
“I have some good neighbours and friends who cook or buy us food, but there were days when we had no sustenance.”
“Since I don’t have any money, I’ve not paid the quit rent and maintenance fee for a few months now, and I worry about losing this home.
“I’ve got a friend who takes me to the Assumption Church on Sundays, and well-wishers would sometimes donate some cash to me. We have been managing with that,” said Ravinder, who uses very little water and electricity to cut down on utility bills.
Apart from utility bills, Ravinder needs money to buy food, medicines and make customised pants and footwear from time to time.
At this point, all Ravinder really needs is an OKU (Persons with Disabilities) card from the Welfare Department.
“I need the card to be entitled for some monthly allowance, but to obtain the card, I need my medical report.”
“I applied for it 10 years ago and back then the medical report cost RM120 and I could not afford it. I have no idea how much it costs now,” said Ravinder, who has no other source of income.
Despite the challenges, Ravinder has not given up and is determined to live.
“I do get depressed and lonely, but not to the extent of committing suicide. There are people with worse conditions out there and they are still motivated to live. I guess I’ll just have to take things as they come day by day,” Ravinder said.
He spends most of his time cleaning, reading, watching television and living with the memory of his parents and siblings by browsing through family albums and making picture collages.
“I don’t really have any regrets in life, but I have to move on,” says Ravinder.
The Rakyat Post gave Ravinder a small contribution during our visit.
Those who wish to reach out to him can contribute to his Hong Leong Bank account (Account No: 29250052139) under the name Ravinder Singh.
He is reachable at +60183641576.
Watch his story here: