Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Journey Thus Far

I wrote this while I was going through a very, very tough period during the month of August. I would like to share this with you here.

29 months. That’s roughly 870 days. A total of 20,880 hours. Which is equivalent to 1, 252, 800 minutes or 75, 168, 000 seconds. Time which is enough to have 3 babies and yet have an extra 2 months. In 29 months, a baby would have learned to eat, smile, turn-over, crawl, walk, run, talk, hum, sing and do a multitude of tasks. For me, 29 months has been a journey of waking up everyday wondering whether it would be my last, whether some chemical would trigger another episode from hell, whether my body would overload and go into overdrive or silence in my head, bowels and senses. 29 months of taking one day at a time. 29 months of pushing my body daily to overcome this condition. 29 months of roller coaster rides. 29 months of wondering why I was spared from death to face so many challenges everyday.

These 29 months can be likened to being enrolled in the school of hard knocks. It’s like standing, getting slammed by a bullet train, getting up again and standing up and trying to be strong again. And then the cycle repeats itself.  It’s like the scene from Matrix where Neo fought with Agent Smith in the underground train station. One can never know when or the direction of the next blow or kick is coming from or what ‘form’ or ‘person’ Agent Smith will take. Or when the attacks are going to cease or escalate. It’s a continuous fight everyday. I just can’t wait for the day where I am strong enough that when the attacks come, all I have to do is to just raise my palm and the bullets will stop in mid-air and drop to the ground. And all the attacks of Agent Smith will be futile and I can overcome and destroy ‘my Agent Smith’.

In these 29 months, I have learned how to survive in a chemical world when it was chemicals that almost killed me. I have fought and lost a lot of battles. I have gone through a lot pain, frustrations, anger, denial, defeat and depression. I have asked myself countless times, ‘Am I a failure?’  ‘What kind of life am I living?’ ‘What’s the point of cheating death and living in pain?’ And then one day it struck me. Who said that people like me who struggle with life are failures?  And then I thought of the people who fight for their lives daily like me but who are worse off than me. People with incurable diseases. The girl who is allergic to water. Or the boy who is allergic to air and who has to live in a bubble for the rest of his life. And the girl who goes into anaphylactic shock when exposed to cold or cool temperature. These are people who live victoriously even in their imperfect circumstances. These are the people who persevere to be a shining light in this world even though their lives are engulfed in darkness many times.

People in general tend to applaud for the people who overcome their hurdles triumphantly. We tend to not give credit to those who are still in the midst of fighting their battles. I beg to differ. I think people who are in the midst of fighting their battles, who persevere even when they are down trodden, who refuse to let the darkness blind them are to be applauded as winners. They are the champions my friends. Why? It’s because they refuse to back down from the fight. They refuse to wallow in self-pity. They go on day to day ‘living’ their lives. And by living, it’s not living by waking up, going through the motions of the daily routines and then going to bed and repeating the whole cycle the next day and the day after that. They live their lives everyday not knowing whether there will be a tomorrow. And they make an impact with their lives EVERYDAY. They shine like a beacon. They affect others to live their lives to the fullest. They encourage, motivate and help others to ‘LIVE’ when they themselves struggle with the simplest thing in life.

Michael J. Fox is one of the winners whom I applaud. He was such a talented and brilliant actor. And to be struck with Parkinson’s disease at such a young age and at the peak of his career must have been a terrible blow for him. But yet today, he thanks Parkinson’s for saving his life, as it was a turn-around-point for him. His life was spiraling down with his drinking addiction. And when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s he drank even harder and fell into depression and it affected his marriage and his relationship with his eldest son. He said that it was during a lucid moment that he realized that his life was in his own hands and thus turned himself around. He said, ‘In fact, Parkinson’s has made me a ­better person. A better husband, father and overall human being. Life delivered me a catastrophe, but I found a richness of soul. I owe it to Parkinson’s, no doubt about that.”[1] And today he continuously contributes to the research of Parkinson’s and continues to encourage fellow patients even though his disease has progressed. And to me, this man is a winner.

Another person whom I applaud is Christopher Reeve. Yes, the original Superman who wore his undies on the outside. Paralyzed after a riding accident, the man who once ‘flew’ high up in the sky became a quadriplegic. The accident had separated his head from his spine. He fell into depression, contemplated with suicide, and went through operations to re-attach his spine to his head, and painful rehabilitation. Though he could not walk ever again, he was a winner because he spent his remaining years of his life helping and encouraging patients who were in the same situation as him. Though he never walked again, he regained back some motor function, and was able to sense hot and cold temperatures on his body. And that was impossible for someone in his situation. He also battled allergies and asthma since childhood. And he reacted severely to the many medications that he had to take after the accident. In Kessler, he tried a drug named Sygen, which was theorized to help reduce damage to the spinal cord. The drug caused him to go into anaphylactic shock and his heart stopped. He believed he had an out-of-body experience and remembered saying, "I'm sorry, but I have to go now", during the event. In his autobiography, he wrote, "and then I left my body. I was up on the ceiling...I looked down and saw my body stretched out on the bed, not moving, while everybody—there were 15 or 20 people, the doctors, the EMTs, the nurses—was working on me. The noise and commotion grew quieter as though someone were gradually turning down the volume." After receiving a large dose of epinephrine, he woke up and was able to stabilize later that night.[2] Though he died at the age of 52 and did not walk again, he was a winner because of the decision to live life at its fullest even in his despairing and depressing condition.

For me, though I’ve been hit, smacked, smashed, knocked down continuously in this month of August, I hope that I will rise above my challenges and setbacks and be a winner even in my losses.

We Are The Champions – Queen

I've paid my dues
Time after time
I've done my sentence
But committed no crime
And bad mistakes
I've made a few
I've had my share of sand kicked in my face
But I've come through

We are the champions, my friends
And we'll keep on fighting ‘till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions of the world

I've taken my bows
And my curtain calls
You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it
I thank you all

But it's been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race
And I ain't gonna lose

We are the champions, my friends
And we'll keep on fighting till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions of the world


  1. perhaps u shld add "you raise me up" as another anthem? those before you have encouraged & motivated you. i tink datz wat d song is about?

  2. The encouragement and support that has been given cannot be contained in any song. They have been amazing and I thank them with every fibre and atom of my being. With all of my heart. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!!

  3. Another great article. Love how u made references to a movie & some movie stars. This song is dedicated to u.

    When you walk through the storm
    Hold your head up high
    And don't be afraid of the dark
    At the end of the storm
    There's a golden sky
    And the sweet silver song of the lark

    Walk on, through the wind
    Walk on, through the rain
    Though your dreams be tossed and blown
    Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
    And you'll never walk alone
    You'll never walk alone

    Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
    And you'll never walk alone
    You'll never ever walk alone

  4. Thank you Tammie for the encouragement! Much love and hugs! :)