Jesseca Liu recalls “painful” hospital stay as a kid

The actress and her ‘Babies on Board’ co-star Tay Ping Hui recall health horror stories from their younger days

Jesseca Liu recalls “painful” hospital stay as a kid
Jesseca Liu recalls “painful” hospital stay as a kid
14 Dec 2017

Jesseca Liu recalls “painful” hospital stay as a kid

Photos: Tammi Tan
Video: Philip Ang

The health scare Jesseca Liu experienced when she was about 10 or 11 years old would be enough to make anyone swear off carbonated beverages for life (at least, that’s the effect her story had on us).

In her interview with Toggle on the set of upcoming Channel 8 drama Babies on Board, the 38-year-old shared that when she was a child, her liquid intake consisted primarily of Coca Cola (the fact that her family owned a restaurant probably meant that she pretty much had an unlimited supply of it).

“I never drank water,” said the Malaysian-born actress. “I only drank soft drinks.”

All seemed fine and dandy until one day, when she was in primary 5, Jesseca’s teacher noticed that her face was looking unusually bloated. The young lass was personally whisked home by the school principal on a motorcycle, and while she didn’t feel like anything was wrong for a while, she eventually got a fever, prompting a visit to the doctor.

The physician diagnosed it as a normal fever, but a chance encounter Jesseca had with her mother’s friend had us thinking that somewhere out there, there are powers watching over her.

“[My mum’s friend] said that her kid once had similar symptoms and that it turned out to be an issue with the kidneys, so she urged me to see a specialist,” Jesseca recalled. Yikes.

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Jesseca Liu recalls “painful” hospital stay as a kid
Jesseca Liu recalls “painful” hospital stay as a kid
14 Dec 2017

Jesseca Liu recalls “painful” hospital stay as a kid

Since her tiny island hometown of Langkawi did not have such a medical expert, Jesseca and her mother had to hop on a boat to the mainland to get to the nearest big hospital – just in the nick of time.

“As soon as I was done with blood and urine tests, I was immediately put in a wheelchair and sent to the ward, where I was hospitalised for one week,” she said. “The results showed that I had a kidney problem that was caused by having too many soft drinks.”

Jesseca remembers her hospitalisation stint as a “painful” one – but not for the reason we expected. “I spent that entire week colouring in bed – it was painful because I remember being so bored!” Indeed, the world is much simpler when you are a kid.

For the next half a year, Jesseca was on medication and needed weekly blood tests to monitor her condition (on the bright side, the lengthy period of being stuck by syringes permanently vanquished any fear of needles). Her mother also did what should have been done a long time ago: she put the soft drink fridge under lock and key.

Needless to say, the whole “adventure” has made Jesseca – who has obviously made a full recovery – wary of these fizzy canned killers (okay, we’re probably being dramatic). “Sometimes I still get cravings [for soft drinks], but when I think about the consequences, it’s not worth it! (laughs)”

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Tay Ping Hui once drove himself to the hospital half-blind
Tay Ping Hui once drove himself to the hospital half-blind
14 Dec 2017

Tay Ping Hui once drove himself to the hospital half-blind

As someone who had many allergies as a boy and was heavily involved in all kinds of athletic activity, Ping Hui declared that he is “no stranger to hospitals”. However, one incident, which took place during his army days, stands out above the rest.

“One night, after eating bird’s nest, my windpipe and eyes suddenly swelled up,” the 47-year-old recounted. “Have you seen movies like Rocky where, after a fight scene, the protagonist’s eyes look like two tennis balls? Mine were like that.”

Despite having intense difficulty breathing and seeing, Ping Hui bravely – or stupidly? – walked four storeys down, climbed onto his motorbike, and drove himself to the hospital. By some miracle, he reached his destination and was instantly checked into the emergency department.

“My eyes were so inflamed that they were literally just two slits, it was extremely difficult to see,” he said. “I also have no idea how I managed to survive, but I reached the hospital in one piece and was able to get immediate treatment.”

It looks like someone out there was watching over Ping Hui as well.

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Ya Hui could never be a surrogate mother…
Ya Hui could never be a surrogate mother…
14 Dec 2017

Ya Hui could never be a surrogate mother…

While Ya Hui’s character willingly agrees to be a surrogate mother for Jesseca and Ping Hui’s child in Babies on Board, the 30-year-old doubts that she could ever have someone else’s kid for them in real life.

“I don’t think I would be able to let a baby go after carrying it for nine months in my belly,” she said. “Even though it’s something that could earn me a lot of money, I believe that my emotions would override the need for money.”

Instead, she’ll settle with the fun she’s having getting into her role by observing (even to the point of being creepy, she admitted) real expectant mothers.

“The other day before filming, I followed a pregnant mother around trying to copy the way she walks until I realised that I was moving further away from the crew,” Ya Hui recalled with a chuckle. “Sometimes, after spending the whole day wearing the fake silicone stomach, I will go home and feel as though it’s still there. It’s very strange!”

Don’t ask her when she really plans to conceive, though, or she’ll roll her eyes at you. Sorry, Ya Hui.

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…and Mei Xin could never be a nurse
…and Mei Xin could never be a nurse
14 Dec 2017

…and Mei Xin could never be a nurse

Similarly, life imitating art is a far-fetched idea for Mei Xin, who plays a nurse in Jesseca’s doctor character’s OBGYN clinic.

“I’m fine with needles and a bit of blood, but I don't think I could handle seeing large wounds and large amounts of blood, which is why I don’t think I could be a doctor or nurse,” said the 31-year-old. “I might lose my appetite!”

Jesseca Liu goes through the script with the director
Jesseca Liu goes through the script with the director
14 Dec 2017

Jesseca Liu goes through the script with the director

Tay Ping Hui and Kayly Loh film a scene together
Tay Ping Hui and Kayly Loh film a scene together
14 Dec 2017

Tay Ping Hui and Kayly Loh film a scene together

Ya Hui and Mei Xin film a scene together
Ya Hui and Mei Xin film a scene together
14 Dec 2017

Ya Hui and Mei Xin film a scene together

Jesseca Liu shares a laugh with the director before as cene
Jesseca Liu shares a laugh with the director before as cene
14 Dec 2017

Jesseca Liu shares a laugh with the director before as cene

Babies on Board premieres May 9, 9pm on Channel 8.

Watch:
The cast of Babies on Board shares their hospital stories

Related:
Jesseca Liu will think twice about having a baby

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