By Vaidhegi Arumugam
Mrs Renuka Vadivellu has no limbs, the tragic result of amputations after she suffered an asthma attack followed by complications three years ago.
Nevertheless, she manages things at home without a hitch – buying groceries online, providing ideas for dinner, giving emotional support to family members and taking care of grandchildren.
The 56-year-old is active, cheerful and talkative despite her handicap and is looking forward to celebrating Mother’s Day on Sunday with her mother, three elder sisters and other family members.
“Supermum is not fiction. She lives among us,” said her son C. Ranjev, 28. “She has always been a great pillar of strength for us.”
Mrs Renuka was sprightly and mobile until she suffered an asthma attack in 2016.
Usually, after asthma attacks, she would be hospitalised for a few days and then return home. But this time it was different.
The asthma attack was accompanied by a string of complications.
Doctors at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital’s emergency ward informed her family members that she was also suffering from pneumonia along with septic shock – organ injury due to bacteria growing in the blood. She was quickly moved to the intensive care unit.
Her condition continued to deteriorate over the next few days and she was placed in a medically-induced coma.
By the third week, her condition had become worse: Her organs were failing and the heart was not pumping blood well. Doctors gave her only three hours to live and decided to give her strong medication to improve her blood flow and save her life.
In rare cases, the medication can cause certain blood vessels to constrict causing gangrene in the limbs.
Mrs Renuka was shocked when she regained consciousness three weeks later.
“My hands and half of my legs were charcoal black,” she said. “I could only move my fingers a little. I had a hole in my throat due to a tracheostomy.
“No voice, failing organs and rotten-looking hands due to a lack of blood flow. I was wondering, ‘why me’? What’s next?”
Being a former nurse, Mrs Renuka understood the medical complications that she suffered. But she was in denial.
Gangrene had set in, and a week later her limbs were amputated to prevent further spread of infection to the rest of her body.
But soon after, Mrs Renuka picked herself up emotionally. She accepted that she had a second chance to live but without hands and legs. Relatives burst into tears when they saw her. But she greeted all with a smile.
“She was greeting visitors by asking them how they were doing and whether they had eaten. I was wondering if she was sane,” said her husband Chandrasegaran P.R., 58.
“I always depended on my wife to manage the house. That was the moment I realised that I had taken her for granted.”
The two-month hospitalisation and treatment cost the family nearly $150,000.
Mrs Renuka hoped to settle the bill with the help of her husband, a marine manager. But, the day after she returned home, he was retrenched. It was another blow. But Ms Renuka resolved to be positive and resilient.
Her younger son Ranjev’s wedding was coming up – three months after her amputations – and she wanted it to be a celebration for the family. She saw it as an opportunity to forget the upheavals that they faced.
Mr Ranjev, 28, and his fiancee Senbagam Thurairajoo, 28, wanted to postpone the wedding.
But Ms Renuka stood firm and said that it should go ahead.
She planned the entire event and presented herself with pride on the stage as the groom’s parent.
Ms Senbagam, who considers Mrs Renuka as her mother and good friend, said: “She is the strongest person I have ever had the privilege to know. Even after losing her limbs, she was heavily involved in our wedding preparations – choosing the wedding sari, arranging the priest to conduct the rituals and selecting the design of the goodie bag.
“She put on makeup and wore a beautiful sari on my wedding day and welcomed all the guests.”
Last year, Mrs Renuka was also hit by bullous pemphigoid – a rare skin condition that causes large blisters.
“Even the loss of limbs were not so painful. But the terrible itch I had to go through due to this condition made me suicidal,” she said.
Although she needs the assistance of a caregiver now, Mrs Renuka still plays an important role in managing the family’s affairs. She goes regularly to the market with her elder son C. Vikknesan, 29, to buy fish.
Using her stumps, she orders groceries online and communicates with relatives and friends via whatsapp.
She also takes care of her grandsons Rudhran and Mitran, ensuring they have sufficient food and sleep.
“She has conquered many obstacles. We were all distraught over the incident, but my mother speeded up our recovery,” said Mr Vikknesan, a nurse.
“She was very strong. She never cried in front of us. After returning home, she behaved like how she always used to. And that helped us to move on.
“Her life was riddled with hurdles and difficulties, but she managed to cross them all because she is an amazing and independent person.”
Despite being on strong medication, Mrs Renuka spoke at the amputee support group forum on April 27 at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital. She shared her experience with limb loss.
Principal physiotherapist Davina Koh, who provided therapy to Mrs Renuka for almost three months, said that Mrs Renuka showed tremendous grit and perseverance and had never once wallowed in self pity.
“When I lost my limbs, people saw me differently,” said Mrs Renuka.
“Close relatives and friends slowly moved away from my family. It doesn’t matter. I have lost my limbs, but not my fighting spirit.
“Be positive, trust in yourself, challenge and face any problems that come your way.”
“When I lost my limbs, people saw me differently. Close relatives and friends slowly moved away from my family. It doesn’t matter. I have lost my limbs, but not my fighting spirit.” – Mrs Renuka Vadivellu
This article was republished with the permission of Tamil Murasu
Thu Dec 03 2020
Why It’ll Be A Tragedy If The Vanakkam Disappears
This is the significance of saying Vanakam.
Johor Boy, 8, Inspires Others By Raising Funds For the Needy
Krishh Haran Nair may be just eight, but the tender age has not stopped him from raising RM7,000 to help the needy in Johor.
Young Silambam Students Create Kids World Record With Stick Rotation Feat
Young local Silambam disciples from a local association have created a new world record on the Indian martial arts recently. Here's how they did it...
Danesh Creates History By Becoming Youngest UM Board of Directors Member
Danesh Raj Nagarajan has created history by becoming the youngest member of Universiti Malaysia's (UM) Board of Directors - aged just 26.
This Toddler Entered The Malaysia Book of Records For His Expressive Vocabulary
Twenty-month-old toddler Kaarthikeya Desigan has earned a place in the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) for his expressive vocabulary. Here's how the smart child did it...
'You Have One Chance in Life, Take It': Yunohoo
Local female rapper Yunohoo has come a long way since rapping to numbers she heard on the school bus rides home to rubbing shoulders with the 'Who's Who' of Kollywood. This is her story...
Meet The Selfless Woman Who Raised 45 Children As Her Own
Jasmine Selvarani Emmanuel has 45 children calling her mother, but none of them came from her womb. She and her late husband dedicated their lives to adopting children who needed love. This is their selfless story...
Meet The Senior Citizen Who's Still Going Strong At 72
A Arokiasamy is 72, but he's not letting age get in the way to good health. And yes, he can bench press more than you can.
Student, 11, Wins Global Innovation Competition, Earns US TV Host's Praises
Maryam Muzamir, 11, has made the country proud by winning three awards at an international invention competition, beating 600 other participants from 70 countries. She also earned a mention from US talk show host James Corden for her "incredible" invention.
Tea-rrific: This Engineering Grad Started a Masala Tea Business After COVID-19 Left Him Jobless
The COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for S Kavievanan to find a job. However, instead of sitting and complaining about his predicament, the 24-year-old started his own masala tea business, which is now flourishing.
Join Tamilethumy Season 2 Watch & Win Contest 2021!
Along with the launch of Tamiletchumy 2, we are bringing you an exciting Watch & Win contest with TWO (2) winners every weekday!
"Obnoxious & Inhumane Behaviour" - Bigg Boss Vanitha Slams Her Family Because Of This!
This is what actress Vanitha posted about her estranged family on social media...
Election Commission: Melaka Polls on Nov 20
The Election Commission (EC) has fixed Nov 20 for the Malacca state elections, while nomination and early voting will be on Nov 8 and 16, respectively.
One In 10 Malaysian Children Face Serious Vision Problems: Study
One in 10 Malaysian children face serious vision problems - no thanks to the excessive use of digital smart gadgets, a local study has found.
Namitha Finally Returns To Social Media After Leaving Bigg Boss!
Model Namitha Marimuthu has finally taken to social media to post a message to her fans after walking out of Bigg Boss. Check it out here...
Archeologists Find Ancient Skeletal Remains & Hindu-Buddhist Drawings in Perlis
Archeologists have found ancient human skeletal remains and Hindu-Buddhist influenced drawings dating back to the fifth and 10th centuries in Bukit Keteri and Gua Semadong in Perlis.
Catch These Amazing Deepavali Special Shows & Movies On Astro!
All Astro customers can look forward to the premiering of amazing local and international shows and movies this Deepavali. Check out these "MUST WATCH" programmes on Vinmeen HD, Vaanavil HD, other Astro Channels and platforms:
'Metti Oli' Fame Actress Uma Maheshwari Passes Away
Our deepest condolences to the actress's loved ones. May her soul rest in peace...
Actress Pooja Hegde's Surprise Birthday Brunch; Pics Goes Viral!
Check out the lovely pictures taken during actress Pooja Hegde's surprise birthday celebration...
Blazing Hot Recipes From Analparakuthu!
Can you smell what’s cooking? It’s our brand-new cooking-show ‘Analparakuthu’ hosted by Rakesh with local celebrity guests every week!