Those are the final words in the ‘The Railway Man’ – a film about war hero Eric Lomax’s experience of living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Lomax went on to develop MG in his later years and, while watching the film last night, I couldn’t help wondering if he was able to forgive his own body during his battle with the illness.
From 1942 onwards, Edinburgh-born Lomax was forced to work on the infamous Death Railway, between Thailand and Burma, by the Japanese after he was captured in the fall of Singapore. He was brutally tortured
after Japanese troops found him to be the ring-leader of a group with a transistor radio. Rather than documenting the tortures he faced, the film focuses on how PTSD affected his life following those three years in captivity, about how he eventually found the strength to confront his torturer and even managed to forgive him.
After the credits rolled, I have thought a lot about the power of forgiveness and letting go. We all have events in our lives that shape us and, although I’ve been blessed with a loving family and friends, I’ve had both wonderful and painful moments that have made me who I am today. Getting the diagnosis of myasthenia is just one of those events, and the film made me question whether I have truly forgiven myself for it?
While watching Lomax’s struggle on screen, I couldn’t help wondering if the connection between nerve damage and the condition has ever been investigated. The beatings inflicted on the brave soldier were severe and, viewing those scenes, I wondered if my short-lived career as a university boxer might have played a part in triggering my MG. While I only boxed for about two years, the rigorous training and sparring used to leave my nerves twitching for hours afterwards.
Then there is the malnutrition – I have read in several places online about prisoners of war in WW2 developing MG due to the lack of nutrients in their diet. While I’ve not been able to trace this to a reliable source, it has made me consider how poor my diet was in my formative years.
These amateur ‘explanations’ are what I did in the beginning and I’ve found them to be mostly destructive. I say this because I always end up attributing blame to myself, which can very easily become self hatred. The truth is I probably wouldn’t do anything differently even if I did have a time travelling device – my moments in the boxing ring gave me an adrenalin rush that I’ve been unable to match to this day and my diet is healthy now because my palate has changed over time.
While it would be fantastic to have a definitive reason for the condition’s appearance, it probably wouldn’t make a difference in my attempt to live fully alongside the MG.
As Lomax says:
Some time the hating has to stop
Not much has been written about Lomax’s battle with myasthenia – other than misinformation about MG being a ‘muscle wasting’ condition. I have contacted his daughter via Facebook with the hope that she will be up for a chat regarding her father.
If you’re looking for a good movie to stick on, I’d thoroughly recommend The Railway Man.