#05-57, 820 Thomson Rd, 574623
#09-36 , 38 Irrawaddy Rd, 329563

Mail from Max in Singapore

- an account of Mr Max Jones' stay at Mount Alvernia Hospital

Von & I arrived here late evening on the 3rd June to be met at Changi Airport by our friend and frost Michael COX

Michael and wife Katherine then left on the 7th June to start their annual holidays by a visit to his sister in Spain and then on to Ohio, USA for the annual Cox family reunion. They will return on the 6th August.

Von and I then began our annual Singapore house sitting holiday. We usually have various members of the Jones clan and friends coming to stay with us and help us with this arduous task?

David Stevens was our first guest who was on his way home to Australia after a holiday in the UK visiting relations.

Next was our grandson Evan 0’Brien with wife Cassey. They flew in from Darwin for a week. Evan is serving there with the Australian Army Engineers. My niece Elizabeth Williams and her husband Gary stayed with us for two weeks tram the 6th of July. (That’s the day I was to come out of Hospital). During the first couple of weeks we went to the city, dined out at various food centres & went shopping in the Sim Lim Square area and at Thomson Plaza.

Then during the third week, I caught a common cold that turned into a quite serious lung infection. This happened around the 16“ or 17th and by the 19th I was so seriously short of breath that I sought help from Bill Chew (Michael Cox’s neighbor) who took me to see his local doctor.

Bill was marvelous and a real tower of strength. After a second visit to the doctor on that afternoon it was decided that I should be admitted to Mount Alvernia Hospital.

Bill drove Von and I to the hospital where I was immediately admitted to the intensive care ward where I spent the next three days. The hospital staff were so professional and efficient. In no time at all they hooked me up to an oxygen supply, a heart beat and blood oxygen level monitor plus various drips and other umbilical like connections. All I needed was liquid hydrogen tank and I could have been a Saturn rocket ready for launch.

I later thought that maybe hell is not that far away for a person of my religious inclinations and considering that I was in a hospital founded by a group of Catholic Sisters way back in the 1960’s.

The Sisters did a marvelous job in having the foresight to choose this site to start their hospital. I met an elderly Chinese Catholic Nun who was one the original founders. We had a long and interesting talk.

Mount Alvernia is a private hospital with 303 beds situated at the intersections of Braddell, Marymount and Thomson Roads for those of you that know Singapore.

The hospital is very clean with polished shiny floors in all of its corridors, wards and rooms. No carpeted wards and passages like in some Australian ones. I do not see how one can keep a hospital disease free and hygienically clean with carpets.

I had two doctors. Both are charming and attractive Singaporean ladies. Dr Jane Yap a Respiratory Specialist and Dr Lau Yung Sang a Consultant Cardiologlst.

The third member of the team was Ms Ng Lih Wing who has a Diploma in physiotherapy. Ms Ng is “Knee high to a grasshopper”. A petite and smiling Singaporean girl of good physical strength with a positive and pleasant personality. Daily she would rattle my rib cage by beating it with cupped hands creating a loud popping noise. She would then tell me to exhale whilst pushing down hard on one side of my chest commanding me to clear my lungs of phlegm by coughing vigorously. It was a very effective treatment and worked wonders. Thank you, Ms Ng for bossing me around and making me do it. love you for it.

Dr Yap is a very good doctor, very professional with her diagnosis and treatment. She has a feminine and friendly approach plus a twinkle of humor in her eyes that I found very reassuring. This is the first time for the last five years that I have been free from some sort of bronchial infection. No cough or wheezing when I breathe. Bloody marvelous! Thank you Dr Yap. For me, you were truly the right specialist.

Dr Lau is another nice specialist lady doctor also with a humorous twinkle in her eyes. I’m so pleased that Dr Yap consulted with her on my heart condition. Again I was reassured by her professional approach, her careful diagnosis and appropriate treatment. I am sure that just looking at her did my old heart a power of good. During the last year whilst working at home and physically exerting myself I sometimes became giddy, exhausted with a very low blood pressure reading.

I now know that my chronic bronchitis stopped me from breathing properly resulting in a low blood oxygen level that was affecting my heart rate. Thank you Dr Lau for being such a good doctor and communicator.

The hospital has very good staff. I talked to most of the nurses and their aides that were looking after me. It was good to hear about their jobs, their families and where they were from. There were quite a variety of nationalities, most were Singaporean, some from the Philippines and even from Myanmar.

About ten days after my admission, my petite Physiotherapist, Ms Ng informed me that Dr Yap said that I was to get up and practice walking connected to a portable oxygen supply. (This was a 20 kilo bottle on wheels pushed by another nurse). I was very weak and shaky to begin with. What sight we must have been as we slowly progressed along the hospital’s various corridors. This big Aussie (compared to Ms Ng) dressed in a hospital gown, being firmly supported by this diminutive girl ordering me to “Take it easy now then Straighten up. Walk as if you are a General”, all followed by the life support nurse and her oxygen gear.

Each day I gained strength and confidence. Now with a firmer step plus a sense of adventure, being urged on by the indominatible Ms Ng saying; “Now let’s see what was at the end of the next corridor?" Gradually the oxygen supply was reduced until I could proceed quite well without it’s aid.

Thank you, Ms Ng for your wonderfully effective treatment. The sheer determination of the girl! The things she can do to a man’s ego? At least I got it back in one piece and seemingly, completely restored. “Tis said; “Good things come in small parcels”. You proven it, Ms Ng.

The two ward ladies, Mary and her assistant that daily sponge bathed me and made my bed decided that from now on it was shower time. Still weak and somewhat unsteady they would assist me to the shower undress me, sit me on a bath chair then generously lather my head, upper torso and legs then wash down as far as possible. Standing me up and using a heavy wash cloth they would then vigorously wash possible.

I couldn't resist asking them if they did the same at home for their respective husbands, only to be greeted with roars of laughter plus strong denials that the whole idea was simply ridiculous. I wasn't game to suggest that it maybe a golden oppurtunity lost? They were such helpful and good natured ladies. "Launghter is the best medicine". I was happy to join them in a good laugh at my expense. All together, I spent seventeen days at Mount Alvernia Hospital and I am so thankful that Bill Chew chose such a good and efficient institution for me.

I have been back at 76 Lentor Crescent for the last 20 days and I am feeling fine. Still use an oxygen supply at night as part of my breathing rehabilitation program plus a Respiflo inhalation meter daily to practice the right inhalation technique. I should be in really good form and be ready to fly home to Australia next month without the need of any extra oxygen.

Well friends that is the story of my thirty second annual trip to Singapore and for me it now has a happy ending.

My son, Evan has been over from Batam to see us two or three times. He is back here for a month from the Persian Gult where he is working in the oil and gas industry. Von has been busy making marmalade jam plus regenerating some of Katherine Cox's garden. Now that I am back on deck, I am slowly catching up on the unfinished jobs that were left when I was hospitalized.

Hospitals may not be fun, but they can be interesting! It is a matter of getting the right treatmeat by the right people and one's will to beat the odds to make a life worth living. Life does have a funny side. That's what makes it all worthwile.

It is nice to say Hello! once again.

All the best.... From Max on the Von's Birthday...July the 28th.