Stories about disease

When ‘playing doctor’ is more than just a children’s game

Pakistanis are known as the most versatile people on the planet. Each person thinks they have it all covered; they have enough knowledge to handle all the tasks like a pro. However, what really gets on my nerves the most is our well-read (not) fellow countrymen’s ability to diagnose a disease and prescribe the best totka or medicine to combat ‘that disease’. For me, it all began when I started getting fever every evening. Initially, I did not give it much thought but when I started losing weight gradually, some acquaintances decided to begin their diagnostic practices on me. Measles, viral fever, ...

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Yes, we get depressed. Here’s my story

My father keeps telling me NOT to be so honest about getting depression or taking medication or going to a shrink. He thinks it will affect my chances of getting married. But at a chronically single 36 years, I think it’s safe to say many more extenuating factors are at work there. There are two reasons I have always been brutally honest about having had depression. 1. As a journalist, at my core is always a hankering for the truth, telling the truth and being unafraid to do so. Morally speaking, I would be a hypocrite if I expected other people to tell the ...

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Being hooked on anti-depressants is no cure!

I was completing an internship program at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), where I came across numerous people suffering from various behavioural and mental illnesses. Their visits to the doctor revolved around getting a prescription of anti-depressants or relaxants to calm themselves until their next visit. I always wondered how a mere pill could treat a state of mind or a repressed emotion so easily. If you ask me, it seems quite odd. However, once I started practicing myself, it made sense — but only in the short term. Many clients came up to me with low levels of energy, poor self-esteem, obesity, hair loss, ...

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Another polio worker killed: Will we ever kick the disease?

Despite some gains, the fight against polio is facing mammoth challenges in the form of refusals by parents to vaccinate their children and the ban imposed by militant groups on polio vaccination campaigns. Sharafata, a female polio worker was killed in Peshawar yesterday, after she and her team were shot at by two gunmen on a motorcycle. Her team member Sumbal is in a critical condition. The Afghan Taliban recently announced that they would support polio vaccinations, but warned foreigners not to participate in the campaigns. The insurgents said they supported all programmes “which work for the healthcare of the helpless people ...

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Beat polio even if you have to “eat grass”

The casualties in our seemingly endless war on Polio were once limited to the sufferers of the disease itself. If the recent martyrdom of six vaccination workers in Karachi and Peshawar is any indication, this war is only getting bloodier and more terrifying by the day. In 1991, when El Salvador was engulfed by a brutal civil war, a cease-fire was arranged between the guerilla groups and the government to allow free mobility to the polio vaccination teams in the country. Two sides, locked in a savage conflict for ten years, had enough wits to acknowledge that their political and ...

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From brainwashing to target killing

On Tuesday, target killing incidents in Karachi and Peshawar halted the anti-polio drive in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It didn’t end there, as Wednesday saw another attack on a polio health worker. The victims’ ‘felony’  immunising children against polio. While extremists might deem them as ‘traitors’, I think these health workers are martyrs. To the great contentment of extremists who have opposed the anti-polio drive for years now, no children will be immunised against polio in Karachi and Peshawar at least during this drive.  These hostile elements were probably encouraged by Dr Shakil Afridi’s confession of involvement in espionage using a ...

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Yes, depression can kill you

In accordance with World Health Organization (WHO), depression is all set to become the second most fatal disease by 2020 with only coronary heart problems preceding it. These figures are alarming as they warn us about a disease of which little is known. In addition, it is not even acknowledged as a proper ailment in many quarters of our society. The truth of the matter is that depression is a debilitating disease that sucks pleasure out of the lives of its sufferers and shrinks their self-esteem to almost nothing. Going about a daily routine turns into a draining struggle, and hopelessness ...

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Be fair to your pets and vaccinate them

My father has always said to me, Alizeh, if a person can learn to love a human being the way a dog loves it’s master – so truly and unconditionally – the world would be a happier place.  Truer words could not have been spoken. As far back as I can remember, there hasn’t been one day when I have left my house without returning to a familiar, constantly wagging tail, or a wet lick to my hand. As far as my memory serves, I have known many Rexys, Maggies, and even a blind Tommy. Then for a few months, there was Brandy. Having ...

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My brother has Down’s Syndrome, not a contagious disease

Coming from a closely knit family, it was a tradition for all of us to personally go and receive any relative coming to Karachi, at the airport. My aunt was expected and all of us including my youngest brother, who is a special child, suffering from Down Syndrome, went down to receive her. On our way back from the airport, we decided to stop at a restaurant to enjoy some family time. The restaurant was jam packed with people, as it was a weekend. Mostly families from the colonies nearby were there with their kids. We led my brother to ...

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My father’s battle with Parkinson’s

I still remember the first time I saw a tremor in my dad’s hand; we thought perhaps it was high blood pressure and immediately took him to the doctor. However, the tremors didn’t stop the next day, or the day after that. After a few tests the doctor recommended that we consult a neurosurgeon. Upon visiting one, we were informed that my father had Parkinson’s disease (PD) and his tremors would only grow worse with time – there was no cure. As the doctors broke this news, I tried my best to be strong for my father. Still, when I came home and watched ...

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