Father's Day 2021 Feature - Devan Tay
"I can be happy living with certain conditions in my life as long as I use the remaining years to spend quality time with my loved ones and do the things I enjoy."
Hi Autoimmune Diseases community,
I am honoured and humbled to share my thoughts on Father's Day. I am Devan Tay and I work as a freelance financial and estate practitioner providing financial advice and handling wills, trust and LPA for my trusted clients. At the same time, I am an IT professional with a start up in the field of IOT and IT systems that provide innovative solutions. I am also a chronic patient who suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) since my diagnosis in March 2015. For my RA, I was prescribed with several medications such as methotrexate, prednisolone, sulphurzalisine, calcium supplements and folic acid. At the end of 2015, I was on the highest dosage of 60mg prednisolone per day as my joint inflammation spread to other major organs such as kidney and liver.
My weight ballooned and I have to bear with patches of blue-black skin at the same time. I hid at home most of the time and of course, I lost my job in August 2015. That was the double whammy. I lost the right to be a breadwinner for my family. I am blessed that my spouse's income and my years of savings could sustain me for about 1 year till I found a freelance job to kick start my career in the financial sector.
In this period between 2015 to 2017, my work encompasses door knocking around estates for sales and long hours in roadshows or on the street, even when my inflammation flares up. One incident that remains vivid till this date is I had to endure a hard handshake from a prospect when my knuckles and finger joints were swollen. I could only smile at the prospect while enduring the pain from the handshake. Those times were a complete difference from the desk-bound high paying jobs that I used to work in. However, I knew I could not work full time due to my condition that could act up any day and the worst part is that my symptoms are normally invisible to my co-workers and clients. I even got negative remarks from my supervisor that I was lazy not to work everyday to achieve the sales results.
I think this RA came at a time that made me reflect on my personal goals in life. I had lost my anchor in life when I used to pursue the life of a rat race, climbing the corporate ladder and thinking that provision of a luxurious lifestyle should be the most important goal in my life. However, when I had RA at its worst and was bedridden, I started to put myself in the shoes of the elderly who have difficulty walking fast. I could empathize with them totally because I was experiencing the same in my condition. Suicidal thoughts came to me when my children told me that they could go to school on their own without my help to drive them to school. I realized that my health is more important than anything else. However, the worst days are over. Currently, I am managing well with no medication for RA. I was medication free for the past 180 days until I was diagnosed with hypertension since Jan 2021 due to long hours of screen facing work from home without much exercise during the pandemic. It was like getting rid of one chronic illness and inheriting another. I am now trying my best to diet and exercise regularly to reduce my body weight and control the mild hypertension.
Otherwise, I am enjoying workout sessions such as badminton, tennis and evening walks with my family in this pandemic. They are precious to me. In the past, I was travelling so often that I could not spend time with my children, especially in their growing up years. In a way, this RA condition came as a blessing in disguise. I am contented at the present state I am in.