Sat, 03 Jun, 2023


By Ashmita Thapa

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As I waited, in the first floor of the City hospital, millions of thoughts racing through my mind, I remembered the day, a few weeks back, I hit the ground hard and landed on my face while walking. I thought I was a healthy man with no disease till that day. Ever since that day, I remembered how I could not hold anything properly. I dropped a flower pot from the fifth floor of my apartment while I was watering them and it nearly hit a small child passing by. After that incident, similar things continued to happen. I could not aim at my food with my fork. I constantly missed the ball which my son used to throw at me and begged me to play along with him. It was then when I realized that something was wrong with me but who had the time to go for a checkup? I was packed to the rafters with work. However, when I fell down from the stairs of my apartment, I was injured badly so I was rushed to the nearest hospital. I still remembered the expression on my neurologist’s face when I told her about the strange things happening to me. She immediately suggested a full body MRI scan.

I am sitting outside the lab today waiting for my report. I am nervous, and my hands are shaking. I remember my son who just turned 7 this past month. I start wondering what would happen to him if there was something wrong with me. I had recently separated from my wife and gained full custody of my son and she was not very happy with it. So, if something were to happen to me, I would have no one to trust my son with. As my eyes started to tear up thinking about the worst, a nurse called my name.

I stand up with a heavy heart and go inside. The nurse hands me my report and asks me to go and see the neurologist in the second floor. The doctor looks at my report and immediately asks me to drink a glass of water and take a seat.

“Listen carefully to what I have to say- you are suffering from Spinocerebellar Atrophy. It means that something is causing the neurons inside to degenerate. The neurons will break down and slowly disappear which means that you will slowly be unable to walk properly. One day you will have to be bed ridden. You will have difficulty in speaking. You will have problems while swallowing food. Your body won’t act accordingly. When you want to move you will have problems in lifting your feet. You will even have problems in moving your hands and fingers slowly. This disease does not show its effect soon but it WILL progress. There is no known cure of this disease. But we do have some drugs to delay its progress. But for that you need to be hospitalized.”

My hands started to tremble and I felt the energy inside my body beginning to fade. I was numb for a moment. I could not utter a word. My eyes were filled with tears and all I was able to mutter up was, “How long do I have?”

“The disease takes 7-8 years to progress completely but it varies from patient to patient.”

I just sat there with a blank expression on my face, needing a moment to take it all in. I immediately thought about my son. What will happen when I won’t be able to walk on my own? What will happen to my son when I can’t work? I should probably call his mother and ask her to take him with her. Will she agree to take him? What if she’s still mad at me and? Of course she would take him after all he is her son too.  Every child is very dear to their mother. When she finds out about my disease she will take him with her.

I get on the bus at the bus stop. Whilst I was happy that my son would have someone to take care of him, I think again, what will happen to me? When I can’t move on my own, who will take care of me? Who will be there to stand by me in the last hours of my life? Maybe it’s better to die than to live this way.

My stop arrives and I get down. I stop at the departmental store and get my son some chocolates and buy some medication.

I reach my apartment, pour myself a glass of wine and sit down in front of my computer and write an email to my ex-wife. Just as I finish writing, I start to feel an intense headache. My vision starts becoming blurry. My head is spinning I can’t see anything clearly. I feel my body burning from inside. I try to stand up but I fall. My nose starts to bleed and I can’t……