When Mr Yap Kian Wee noticed a small cut on the smallest toe on his left leg early this year, he paid no attention to it as he was not in pain. However, when his toe became swollen and painful in July, he decided to see a doctor.
His doctor rushed him to a hospital, but it was too late. Because of diabetes, his neglect had led to a bacterial infection on his toe that had to be amputated.
The situation could not have come at a worse time. Mr Yap had just quit his job as a technician in May and was in between jobs doing deliveries.
“When I first heard that I had to amputate my toe, many things went through my mind. First, I might not be able to continue working and support my family,” the 47-year-old said.
The ordeal lasted five months for Mr Yap as the infection spread.
“I’ve had diabetes since I was 16, so I’ve lived with it my whole life. Both my parents also had diabetes. But it never occurred to me that I would need to get my toes amputated,” he said.
His doctors only gave him the all-clear following three surgeries to amputate four toes in November.
Not being able to work was tough on Mr Yap and his family. Their monthly income was reduced by more than $3,000.
During the five months he was unemployed, Mr Yap depended on his wife as the sole breadwinner.
Mrs Yap works as a clerk in the same company that he used to work at for 28 years. The company was where they first met.
Besides having to worry about the bills, they also have three school-going children aged between 11 and 18 years old.
Mr Yap said the cost of books and uniforms for their children amounts to more than $300.
Help from NTUC and the Union
Fortunately for Mr Yap and his wife, they are both union members.
As members of the Chemical Industries Employees Union (CIEU), the union managed to help Mr Yap and his wife with $450 and $250 through the CIEU Hardship Fund.
CIEU also encouraged Mr Yap to apply for assistance from NTUC Care Fund.
As a result, Mr Yap received $150 through the NTUC Care Fund (Special Assistance) and $100 through the NTUC Care Fund (e-Vouchers).
Through the NTUC Care Fund, Mr Yap received $100 worth of Back to School vouchers.
Earlier this month, Mr Yap and his family also received $100 worth of groceries through the Gift from the Heart event jointly organised by CIEU and the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union.
Mr Yap said: “It was a great relief to receive all the assistance from NTUC. The cash and vouchers helped my family with groceries, and the Back to School vouchers helped to pay for my children’s books and school uniforms.”
Things Are Looking Up
Two weeks ago, Mr Yap landed a job as a purchaser in a relative’s furniture design business.
Thankfully, being with four fewer toes does not affect his daily life much. However, he has to wear specially made shoes to reduce the strain on his feet.
Mr Yap has been a union member for 26 years and plans to continue being one.