*Updated: The kind lady is none other than Kren Choong Shi Qi ! **
Through a 12 hour flight from Singapore to Frankfurt, I made a friend.
Draga is a 92 year old lady who grew up in Slovenia and moved to Australia with her husband in the 70’s. Ever since her husband passed on 5 years ago, she makes an annual pilgrimage to Slovenia to hang out with her sister for a couple of months.
Traveling alone at that age can be tough and while she is helped by the ground staff armed with a wheelchair, her entire ride on the plane can be quite challenging.
Unable to figure out any technology, she sits there without any movies or entertainment to pass time. Even to the point of being unable to turn on the light when she needed it desperately to inject insulin into herself or to prick her finger when checking her glucose level.
I befriended her when she needed help with unlocking the tray as the clip was a little stuck. Saw her rummaging through her bag to figure out the glucose count machine in the dark and that reminded me of a time when my late grandfather asked me to sit down on a bench with a strange old uncle at K-Mart who was about to inject his stomach with insulin.
As a 7 year old, that was quite a scary sight seeing someone poking himself with a needle. Grandad taught me that there are others with diabetes who have to do this daily and that we should respect their space and help them whenever we could. Making sure people do not bump into them while going through that process in public.
With Draga, she reached a point in the flight where I noticed her visibly shaking. Concerned, I asked if she was alright. She mentioned that she had accidentally shot too much insulin and because of that, her blood sugar had dropped to a level where it could get dangerous.
Trying to give her as much diabetes-appropriate food to slowly bring up her sugar levels, a Singapore Airlines stewardess, Karen Choong, came by telling us to switch off the overhead lights and instead use the lights located by the tv screen. When I explained that we were trying to get Draga’s sugar levels up, Karen suggested eating an apple. Draga could not bite into the hard apple and I was touched when Karen excused herself to grab a pair of gloves and a knife to cut the apple into bite sized pieces.
On her knees in her SQ kebaya, she patiently assisted Draga even wanting to feed Draga. Draga shyly declined and was appreciative of Karen’s kind gesture.
Draga was happy that at least the crew cared for her well being. Caught by surprise by Karen’s care and concern for her, she felt embarrassed as she did not want to be seen as a liability to the crew. They had other passengers to care for and Draga didn’t want to take up any more of their time, especially Karen’s.
Knowing that I was helping Draga too, Karen came by my seat to tell me quietly that if I noticed Draga’s health deteriorating, please call for her immediately. She took note of our seats and I assumed it was to alert her to rush over if our call button lighted up.
Flying with other airlines in the past, I’m not so sure if other crews would have gone to such lengths to ensure the comfort of their passengers.
Karen did not have to do what she did. Yet, she took it upon herself to monitor Draga once in a while to see if there was anything else she could provide to make Draga’s flight experience a better one.
If anyone could share and tag Karen Choong who is seen in this picture, I would appreciate it. She has acted out of such kindness without expecting anything in return. She, at least, deserves to read about how her actions have affected Draga’s life and mine too.
Thank you — with Kren Choong Shi Qi and Karen cheong.