Husband: She didn’t see doctor to save money

Husband: She didn’t see doctor to save money
Housewife dies in sleep. Husband says slimming drink made her weak

By Elysa Chen

July 07, 2009 Print Ready Email Article

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CAMERA-SHY: Youngest daughter Yock Peng holding the most recent photograph of Madam Lai, a family photograph taken last year. Her sister, Yoke Teng, said her mother had been so conscious of her weight that she did not like taking pictures.

SHE was so self-conscious about gaining 20kg a few years ago that she hardly posed for photos with her three children, aged 7 to 14.

So when a close family friend offered Madam Lai Sock Kim a weight-loss supplement to try for free, she agreed.

The side-effects appeared almost immediately.

The 35-year-old housewife, who weighed 100kg, could barely walk or eat, said relatives.

Her family said she would hallucinate often.

Though Madam Lai stopped taking the powdered supplement six months ago, the symptoms never went away.

She was often dizzy and suffered from headaches.

Her 11-year-old daughter Yoke Teng even quit school to run the household, as Madam Lai had no more strength to do housework.

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GAINED WEIGHT: A less-heavy Madam Lai and as she appeared in a family photo taken last year. Two of the kids, Yoke Peng and Jin Long. TNP PICTURES: GAVIN FOO

On Saturday afternoon, Madam Lai died in her sleep in her three-room flat in Bukit Merah.

Her daughter couldn’t rouse her from sleep, and called for an ambulance. Madam Lai was pronounced dead at home.

The cause of death is unknown at this point.

Madam Lai’s husband, odd-job worker Lim Beng Siah, does not know the name of the weight-loss supplement.

Neither could he show us the sachets of powder, as he has handed them to the authorities, who are investigating.

All he knew was that for 25 days last November, his wife would dissolve a packet of the powdered formula into a cup of water – drinking half a cup in the morning and another half a cup at night.

Very weak

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At the funeral wake at the void deck below their flat last night, Mr Lim told The New Paper in Mandarin: ‘She became very weak after taking the medicine.

‘I tried taking it for five days myself, and it made me so weak, I couldn’t even hold a cigarette.’

However, the friend who supplied the weight-loss formula told him that the symptoms would disappear with time as their bodies get used to the supplement, Mr Lim claimed.

Mr Lim added: ‘He even told me that if my wife managed to lose weight successfully, he would ask her to star in an advertisement.

‘But now that this has happened, he has not even come to the funeral.’

Although the weight-loss supplement had made her so weak that she would pant after taking a few steps, Madam Lai continued to drink it every day for almost a month.

She had been so conscious of her weight, she did not like taking pictures, said Yoke Teng. She said there were no recent photos of her mother.

The most recent group picture was taken one year ago with their extended family.

Madam Lai was so weak, it was an effort to even eat her meals, said Yoke Teng and her older brother, Jin Long, 14. They have another sibling, Yoke Peng, 7.

Yoke Teng said: ‘She would take a really long time to finish her meals, and she would have to eat very slowly.’

Still, Madam Lai refused to see a doctor.

Mr Lim said of his wife: ‘I earn only $1,000 a month. She has always scrimped and saved, so she thought that seeing a doctor was a waste of money.

‘Whenever she had any extra money, she would spend it on the children.’

Her sister-in-law, Madam Lim Lay Kheng, 40, also said that though she felt unwell, Madam Lai kept putting off her visit to the doctor because she was worried about her three children if she were to be hospitalised.

Madam Lai had suddenly ballooned from around 80kg to 100kg a few years ago, relatives at the wake told The New Paper.

According to Mr Lim, it happened after Madam Lai suffered a miscarriage four years ago but he did not want to elaborate.

All he would say was that before she started taking the medication, she was very healthy.

Her children also said that besides being obese, Madam Lai only had a skin irritation, for which she would apply cream.

However, after taking the slimming powder, Madam Lai could not even do housework.

That burden fell on Yoke Teng, who stopped going to school, partly to help out at home and partly because she didn’t enjoy studying.

Yoke Teng recalled: ‘My mother would sit on a stool and watch me cook in the kitchen. She would give me instructions on what to cook and how to cook it.’

She added that her mother often sat by her table in the bedroom in a daze, and sometimes suffered hallucinations.

She said that sometimes, even though they weren’t talking, she would ask them whether they were talking to her. She added that it was ‘frightening’.

She also recalled: ‘She told me that when she closed her eyes, she would feel as though the ground was spinning.’

Madam Lai also grew fearful of sleeping, often staying up all night to chat with her son, Jin Long.

Said the student: ‘Each time she came to look for me because she couldn’t sleep, I was very worried about her.

‘I wonder how she knew that she was going to die in her sleep.’


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One Response to “Husband: She didn’t see doctor to save money”

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