Thursday, June 22, 2017

It's been a while and hi, Multiple Sclerosis

Hello, dear readers, followers of this blog.

It has been a while since I updated this blog. Many things happened and I simply couldn't find the time to update until today.

If you've noticed, I've changed the header and included a picture of a bicycle. That is courtesy of The reason why I picked a bicycle is because this blog is a journey. It started when I was a university student and now a teacher at secondary school.

I passed the interview at SPP and was placed in the same school where I began my Teach for Malaysia fellowship. To be honest, the fellowship taught me lots, that I'm sure if I wasn't made of harder stuff, I'd crumble because many things happened and I had to adapt.

However, I didn't realize that my fellowship was when my illness would start to progress aggressively. I didn't know that my clumsiness, tendency to fall and back pains since 2014 was the beginning of it. I started teaching in 2015 with high hopes, building relationships with administrators, teachers and students. I wanted to make a difference in the students' lives on top of teaching a subject I once longed to teach: English Language.

Yet in the middle of 2015, things started to worsen. I'd lose strength on my knees. I'd miss out things because they slipped my vision. I had intense pain in my spine and stomach and my limbs spasmed, it was like a convulsion while I slept.

So I went to a private hospital. Had an MRI and had to be warded - I pushed to be discharged the next day. Way too expensive! They said that I had a prolapsed disc and sent me for physiotherapy - for months. I was able to walk after a few months without feeling weak in the knees. Had to rely on crutches though.

Then it came back again in 2016, while teaching. I couldn't walk properly. I went to see my GP, Dr. Joseph Arul and he sent me for another MRI. It only showed mild disc bulge. So I had to go for more physiotherapy, twice a week for 3 months. I could finally walk again after that.

Fast forward to my postgraduate convocation in November. I didn't notice that I was too tired and fell asleep on the wheel. Fortunately woke up and didn't have any accident on the highway.

Then the next month, December, was when I went to New Zealand with my mom, sister, brother and brother in law, together with my aunt, uncle and cousins. We had to stay at Melbourne during transit. I lifted something to put it on the top of a double tier bed. That was when I suddenly fell on my buttocks. I told my siblings to not let mom know about it.

Didn't realize it was the start of a worse attack. When I started as a permanent teacher early 2017, I just had minor pain. But then I had to travel a lot to prepare for the wedding on January 28th. After our marriage, I returned to my everyday life in Sg. Petani, Kedah. Renting a room, travelling to school every morning at 6.30am to avoid the traffic congestion.

Pretty soon, I had major pain that felt like period pain multiplied by 1000 that would appear suddenly while teaching. I lost bowel and bladder control worse than 2016, I had limited vision and poor night vision.

I had to take medical leave almost every week, went to see a doctor every weekend. None of them knew what my problem was.

Then I went back to KL, thinking of going to HKL. So I had to take 4 days MC since I was in too much pain and even some teachers noticed that I was pale. Went to 2 clinics and both doctors wrote referrals for me to go to the hospital ASAP. But then my aunt passed away so I went to Johor. I went down in Johor and couldn't join the funeral prayers.

When I went back to KL and went to HKL on that Monday, 13 March 2017, I was immediately hospitalized due to a pain scale of 9 out of 10.

It was a long month at the hospital. I gained weight at the hospital since I didn't do much - lying down, tested, prodded, went to the toilet, eat. I couldn't walk at all when I was first admitted. Had to rely on assistance.

The 2nd week was when I received the news. After a full spinal and brain MRI.

Multiple Sclerosis.

I pitied my husband who slept on a chair, head on my bed on my first day in the ward, then sleeping on the floor when I finally got the first class ward.When the doctor broke the news, he fell sitting on his bum. Something big, something that changed everything.

You'd be surprised if I told you that I guessed Multiple Sclerosis in 2016 when treatments didn't work on 'PID'. It was by chance when I noticed my toes went up when tickled. That wasn't normal. I know that the normal response would be the toes going down. I was a nursing student for a short while.

So I spent my final week in rehab, the youngest patient there, relearning how to stand and walk.


I have multiple appointments at the hospital with neurology, ophtalmology (eyes), psychiatry, urology, rehab and occupational therapy. Also on Gabapentin 600, Baclofen, Lactulose and Rebif (interferon beta-1a) sub-Q.

Many doctors wondered how I didn't throw a fit finding out I'm having a long-term disease.I'll share this: ACCEPTANCE. I'm a Muslim so I believe that everything happens for a reason that I might not know now. Perhaps in the afterlife. Redha, we call it. When I teach, I teach because of Allah. Now, I'm fighting back to function because that is a form of jihad!

Alhamdulillah, I found out that I have MS when medication was available for me. I thank Dr. Shanthi, Neurologist at HKL for getting me the quota of Rebif since my Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) is quite aggressive. I saw what became of my brain in the MRI film.They said the inflammation is worse in the spinal cord.

I'll fight. I'll live.

Other teachers told me they had no idea I was sick since I always smiled, helped around even sharing resources and never complained that I was in pain.

That's how I cope. By smiling. By doing what I love.

I believe that I'm tested with this disease in the world, dun'ya, because I'm strong enough. Allah doesn't test more than a person can handle.

When people kept telling me to be positive, my mind went: God, you don't have anything else to say? If I'm not positive, I'd have given up. LOL

So that's it for now. Hopefully I won't have to do plasma transfer sometime soon. The thought of a line on my neck gives me shivers.

Now Happy Iftar, and have a blessed Eidul-fitr people!

P.S. First raya with husband! Love you abang!

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