Disease of the victimised mind
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2009 and have been admitted to hospital twice because of the disease. It was during the time when I was studying for a master's degree in Colorado, in the US. I woke up one morning feeling thoroughly numb from the abdomen down to my toes. I had lost most feeling in both my legs. I couldn't tell whether I was wearing shoes.
The doctor suspected that the symptom was the first of the "multiple" attacks of MS that were to follow.
A couple of months later, while the numbness lingered, the second attack came. Suddenly I lost control of the right side of my body and couldn't properly use all my limbs or walk straight.
A series of MRI scans and spinal tap procedures confirmed me as an MS patient.
In case you don't know, MS is a progressive and unpredictable disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body.
The severity of the disease and its symptoms vary from person to person. It can be anything from impaired vision, numbness, tingling, fatigue, balance problems, muscle weakness to difficulty in breathing.
The causes of MS are unknown and at this time there is no known cure.
As a healthy person who one day woke up and was diagnosed with a chronic, life-limiting disease, it made me realise that you cannot avoid the unalienable truths of life. Particularly ageing, illness and death.
Though self-pitying was never in my character, I admit that at one point I was very curious to find out what triggered my MS. But experts weren't able to tell me. Why did I think I could know?
Then I began to realise there's no point trying to find the answer or fighting it. I just had to accept the condition and live with it.
Now if I don't tell anyone, no one knows I have MS. However, over the past 17 years an MS symptom has been with me 24/7. This is to say nothing of the MRI-proven damage of my spinal cord and lesions on my brain, which are significant traits of MS that I can't see. As I write this, I am also feeling numbness, the level of which is now down to 10-15% compared to day one, in both my legs. Such partial insensitivity has always been an ever-present part of my life.
All I can say is that I'm very grateful that such a non-life threatening condition allows me to walk and run like normal folk.
However, I always keep in mind that some of the more severe symptoms of MS can strike any time and at any point. I'm not saying that I'm well prepared, but I'm aware of the possibility.
If they come, they come.
In fact, over the last 15 years I've experienced two more attacks while back in Thailand.
One was a tolerable, few-week-long numbness on the right side of my body. It partially affected my ability to write and nothing else.
The symptom gradually disappeared after I refused to be treated in hospital and went on vacation.
The latest symptom came a couple of years ago. It was an unidentified type of itchiness and really bothersome.
It felt at first like any topical itchiness but without any visible rashes or traces.
And after I found out that no treatment or medications could make the symptom disappear, I searched the internet and learned it was possibly one of the MS conditions that has something to do with my nervous system and brain.
While the itchiness irritated me and made me too disturbed to concentrate on my job, I started to think about my future. Maybe I would have to quit my full-time job, stay at home and use my skill as a writer to help the MS organisation in Thailand.
My plan was simple: I'll just go on with life as efficiently as I can and happily as possible. I don't recall when the itchiness completely disappeared.
But let me assure you that there are certain things in the world that you cannot fight or control.
What you can do is respect that and live with it.
You can't fight Mother Nature, the circle of life, and also the law, public duty and social evolution.
It always annoys me when people whine and cry about silly little things, especially those who think they are victimised by society, or fate.
Many people think it's unfair to pay tax on their hard-earned money.
Others can't stand learning of someone's better fortune.
Some even condemn others for not offering their young, but obviously healthy, child a seat on public transportation.
They always believe it is another person's fault if they don't get what they want or if their lives are doomed.
Life can seem so cruel and you cannot change what's happening.
But believe me, the same life without thinking you are victimised is much more pleasant to live.
Vanniya Sriangura is a senior writer and food columnist for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.
Senior writer and food columnist of Life
Vanniya Sriangura is a senior writer and food columnist of Life.