“ Why me? Why did it happen to me?”- the most inevitable reaction to any fatal terminal news given by the doctor.
I sometimes wondered what would be my reaction if I am ever faced with such an life-threatening situation any time in the future. Little did I know that such a challenging experience was awaiting me not very far away.
No I never even thought of that question or uttered it.
I teach in a private university. This year , after the Spring Semester finals were over, on 12th May , in response to my cousin’s and few colleagues concerned query, at a university seminar, I visited the dermatologist about some allergic skin reactions on my face and arms the very same evening. Of course, for the past few months, I had noticed the red rashes on my face, arms & legs. However, I was too busy with the end of semester work load to bother about such trivial matters. My face also looked puffy. Therefore I visited a reputed ENT, who diagnosed I had developed sinusitis , and treated me with antibiotics.
The visit to the dermatologist yielded the answer that I had been having allergic reactions due to hazardous environmental working conditions. I was advised to avoid working in such hazardous area. Fortunately it was summer recess time, and since I would be going to USA to attend the 57th Zonta International Convention in New York , and to visit my daughter and brother, I need not have to worry about being in that poisonous atmosphere for the next three months! In the Autumn semester my considerate university manager would arrange another office room for me. The doctor’s advice made me think that a genuine situation has fallen into my lap to get the university to sue the unfinished building construction on the left side of my office room. I was not aware of this hazard, but I knew this company was not following the stringent Rajuk policy about using a safety net, even if it is made of burlap. Already , once their rickety ladder had fallen against my window, shattering pieces of glass shard all over the room. Fortunately I was not physically harmed , as , you can call it good luck or destiny. I had left the office fifteen minutes early that day. Furthermore two times bricks had fallen on the guard. He narrowly escaped injury. Even on Sunday ,4th Sept he told me about the second brick which nearly missed hitting him on the forehead, with concern in his voice about how damaging it could have been to the university, in case it had fallen on a student. I had assured him of taking necessary steps to inform the university authorities. Unfortunately the next day, on Monday ,I had to return home after the morning 9.30 class, as my body was getting ready to be assaulted. Inspite of guilty feelings about letting my students down, good sense prevailed.
After requesting a helpful junior colleague to deal with my next class at 12.30 I went home.
Assaulted. It is too forceful a word. But, please read on.
I survived a brush with death. On 6th Sept night I ran a temperature of 104 F. No amount of cold pads could bring down the consistent . Here I should mention that the previous evening I visited a chest specialist who had started me on high dose of two potent antibiotics . The next morning I told my husband I could not see my beloved daughter’s face just cupped in my hands in front of my nose. That was one second of panic I suffered during my ordeal. Little did I know how bloated and ugly red my face had become. They quickly called the doctor, and I was immediately admitted to hospital.
Bombshell. My immunity system turned upon itself. My body faced concentrated attack... resulting in facial cellulites, pancreatitis, nephretitis, sinusitis ( which could have resulted in brain death, lung effusion, heart effusion ( short of heart attack)fungal infection... you name it I had faced it. Quite bizarre. Reminded me of that scene in an old movie, Fantastic Voyage , where , the doctors become miniatures and enter the body after being injected through the vein, to treat a body disorder but all the T-cells became its own enemy and commanded “Attack’’ During my twelve days hospitalization over here everyone failed to understand. The doctors tried to make a diagnosis , but could not. Perhaps they looked at one aspect of each symptom that I had..,
Therefore on the advice of each loving relative, friends , and well-wishers on the 18th September I had to be flown to Bangkok , with lung effusion, and emergency oxygen arrangement with the airlines authorities.
I am grateful to God who decided to give me a second lease in life. On arrival over there ,a team of seven doctors took charge of my shell-shocked weak transitory shell of a body, and monitored me round the clock. The disease has been diagnosed as the auto-immune disease SLE ( Systemic Lupus Erythomus ) a rare genetic disease,from which unfortunately my younger sister has been suffering for the last 14 years. However her manifestation was different.It began with fibromyalgia, and now it has become full-blown lupus. She has survived ,although the ordeal is not over. In those days the treatment was not that effective even abroad. Nevertheless my doctors have assured me of hundred percent cure in six months time if I respond to the treatment, citing mathematical ratio of totally cured disease. Fortunately I have responded positively to the treatment, another potential hazard to the body- steroids. The one and only alternative. available. Definite side-effects which I am braced for are diabetes, hypertension, ostoporeosis, hair loss ( also due to lupus), increase of Levianthan appetite resulting in becoming moon-faced and humped .
No one is prepared to see me like that , I’ve always been petite. However I am prepared.
The purpose of writing this reflection is sharing my actual challenging experience with all my traumatized, loving , caring , relatives, friends and concerned colleagues, management , staff, the humble people I interact with in all walks of life , from all over the world, who suffered by agonizing over my condition, prayed for me day and night, and are still continuing to do so . I have been strengthened by this uplifting experience.
This rare heredity disease is supposed to attack once in three generations. Now I am certainly going to research why two sisters got afflicted in one generation. Is there going to be another victim? Perhaps my research or this article could help another family which harbour this hazardous gene.
I thank each and everyone for your tears, support , care and love.
I invoke the merciful god’s kindest blessings on all of you.
footnote : Jesse was diagonosed with a malignant brain tumor, she is in coma for the last two days at a hospital in Bangkok.
Lets all pray for her.