Stories about disease

Living with multiple sclerosis

I suffer from multiple sclerosis. I also suffer from a cocktail of other ailments that such abbreviations bring. However you never know what or which. You spend endless hours every week with new symptoms that could fit into other definitions. There is a concoction of medications and an assortment of supplements that promise good health, but is there ever hope? Never. Hope is about knowing that the disease will go away. Hope is for the foolish. Here, there is fighting; there is preparedness; and there is perseverance. I must live as the capacitor that can store every iota of strength for my ...

Read Full Post

Let’s make Pakistan polio free

With all this talk of anti-polio vaccination drives, I feel it is important to educate people about this disease. What is polio? Polio is a viral disease which can affect the spinal cord, causing muscle weakness and paralysis. The polio virus enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with the stool of an infected person. This virus is more common in infants and young children, and occurs under conditions of poor hygiene. Paralysis is prevalent and more severe when the infection occurs in older individuals. Polio spreads when the stool of an infected person is introduced into the mouth of another ...

Read Full Post

Living in fear of dying

I wait restlessly in the Sind laboratory for my test results, pacing back and forth. Palms sweaty, stomach churning, I walk nervously to the receptionist. She looks at me emphatically and asks me to wait ten more minutes. I scowl at her and curse her under my breath, wondering in disbelief how could she make go through this agonizing delay. I sit down and stare at the clock completely transfixed, watching each second tick by. At every name that gets called, my heart catches, beating faster, almost synchronizing itself with the tick tock of the clock. I just want to know now. ...

Read Full Post

Polio is not a US conspiracy

“So, do you still have polio in Pakistan?” my shocked Argentinian friend asked me during a discussion on different epidemics in the developing countries. I admitted that my country was amongst the four which were still fighting a battle against polio. This also implies that my nation is at a risk of having travel restrictions imposed if polio is not eliminated by the end of 2012 ( much to the horror of my international friends here in the US). After all, in a country where one is more concerned about coming home alive after a long day at work, who cares about ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan’s (love) hate affair with India

While contemplating the widely proclaimed idea of nations bearing distinct personalities, my thoughts recently forayed into what diagnosis a shrink would have proposed for Pakistan as a ‘person’, considering the events that it has endured. The country’s genesis in the year 1947 as a result of a disturbing, gory and a relentless bloodbath with its Siamese twin (though many would call it our step-brother) left the nation in  an erratic frame of mind. We can not dispute the fact that there have been numerous skirmishes in Pakistan’s early years with its so-called brother, followed by  a serious scuffle over the ...

Read Full Post

A short biography of Mr West Pakistan

Mr West Pakistan turns 64 on Sunday. The retiree has come a long way since his birth. Unfortunately, now deathly ill, Mr Pakistan is desperately seeking a cure for the diseases that ravage his body after years of negligence. Born on a hot August day in 1947, little Pakistan came into the world with his twin brother East, and a completely dysfunctional family. Born prematurely amid severe complications, Mr Pakistan grew up an orphan. Abandoned by his mother, what little he knew of his father, was quickly erased by the abysmal faculty at school. His other brother, Mr India, did remember ...

Read Full Post

Battling polio: If only our children were vaccinated

Three-year-old Ahmad asked his mother, Razia why his foot looked different from his 5-year-old brother Sadiq. His mother said: “God made you this way.” Ahmad, my maid’s cousin’s son probably wondered who God was and if he could ask Him to change his foot so that he could at least walk on his own, if not play with Sadiq. Later, Razia asked her husband to try and get help from the shehar wala doctors. Their family saved for two months to come to Peshawar from the small district of Torghar, where they met with a local doctor. Ahmad was diagnosed with a ...

Read Full Post

Would you marry an epileptic girl?

When I was younger, a pretty girl named Sarah* used to live in my neighborhood. I would often notice her on my way to school. Sarah was like any other girl, but a little quiet. I did not know much about her. Then, a few years back, her family moved away from our neighborhood. A few days before they left, the girl’s sister came to my house to meet my mother. She told my mother that her brother, an educated web developer, was not allowing Sarah to get married because she suffered from epilepsy. Her brother thought that after marriage, her husband and in-laws ...

Read Full Post

The Capital Vulture: Top 10 Islamabadi superstitions and wives’ tales

Growing up, I’ve had a lot of quaint ‘folk’ wisdom imparted unto me by many a semi-lucid septuagenarian. Islamabad (all of Pakistan really) has a massive repository of the absurd and asinine, these totally bizarre yet still fantastic half-truths, wives’ tales and superstitions known by all citizens in different variations. Anthropologists, eat your heart out because this is all unchartered land by scholarly standards; and for the sake of discourse I’d like to offer up the greatest hits, this week’s top 10. 10. “If you keep swallowing your gum, a tree will grow out of your stomach!” The fear, the coma inducing ...

Read Full Post

Are disease and death punishments from God?

A common idea prevalent in Pakistan is that disease and death, especially if they are severe, debilitating and disfiguring, have to be punishments from God, for acts done in the past. The fact that this idea is common among those who do not have knowledge of the sciences is not surprising, since they have grown up with superstitions. However, hearing the same rant from a medical student or a science student is not only disturbing but also depressing, since a medical student knows that most illnesses have known causes. These perceptions are more common when diseases that are sexually transmitted are ...

Read Full Post