She ignores her aches to take away his pain

By RAE TAN

AT 5PM every day, Madam Lily Ng, 52, waddles into her son's room with a small pail of water.

She soaks a hand towel in it and wrings it dry beside his bed.

"Edwin, I'm here, I'm here," she calls out softly to her sleeping son, Mr Edwin Chew, 26.

Painfully resting her weight on her left leg, Madam Ng removes her son's clothes and begins to wipe him down.

Every action - from meticulously wiping his fingers to turning his limp body over to wipe his back - is gentle.

It is a heartwarming sight, but also poignant because mother and son are suffering from the ravages ofdisease.

Madam Ng has severe scoliosis, a condition where the spine curves and becomes progressively worse.

Her shoulders are lopsided and her right hip juts out awkwardly at an angle when she walks.

Mr Chew, who is her only child, has muscular dystrophy, a condition in which his muscles waste away withtime. He was diagnosed with the disease when he was five.

Taking care of her son is a back-breaking job for Madam Ng, who has had scoliosis since she was 18. She said in Mandarin: "Don't think he is light just because he is so thin. He is actually very heavy. At the end of the day, my body is always sore andtired."

Madam Ng cannot walk far because of her pronounced limp. Even going to the nearby wet market to buy food is a daunting task.

Daily routines such as wiping him down and sliding the bed pan underneath his hips leave her with excruciating aches in her back and legs.

She is also developing signs of muscular dystrophy; it is more and more difficult to lift objects with her leftarm.

Mr Chew gets a bath only once a week when his father, Mr Chew Seow Pin, 53, has time to carry him to the bathroom.

The family live in a HDB flat in Woodlands.

His father, who earns $1,500 a month as a security guard, carries and places him in a commode chair in the bathroom.

If her son needs to pass motion, Madam Ng wipes him clean before bathing him.

His father waits outside till he is ready to be carried back to his bed.

The whole process takes more than an hour.

Madam Ng said: "When Edwin was still able to walk a little, I could half carry him to the bathroom daily. In the last three to four years, he has become completely unable to walk and has got heavier.

"What to do? I'm just afraid that as my own condition gets worse, I won't even be able to wipe him down any more."

The family discovered Mr Chew was suffering from muscular dystrophy when he was five years old.

Madam Ng said: "When Edwin first started walking, he was just like any other child. But we soon noticed that something was wrong.

"He used only his right leg to walk up the stairs. He even crawled up sometimes. My husband got angry as he thought that Edwin was imitating the way I walked."

Madam Ng took him to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and tests revealed that he was suffering from muscular dystrophy.

She said with a grimace: "I thought the doctors were talking rubbish. I told them that they were wrong. I just wanted my son to be normal.

"I tried to find a cure for him. I took him for reflexology and acupuncture sessions, but nothing seemed to work. It was devastating."

Madam Ng quit her job as a factory production line worker to look after her son.

Since then, she has not stopped tending to his every need, from helping him to unwrap a sweet to brushing his teeth.

A soft-spoken Mr Chew said haltingly: "When I was in primary school, my mum helped me prepare for my English spelling tests.

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