Tag Archives: forgiveness

30/365 – Some time the hating has to stop

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.

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12/365 – Forgiving my body

Yesterday we touched upon the importance of forgiveness, but I wanted to go into how it relates to MG today.

As Louis Zamperini showed in his ability to do this for the camp guards who oversaw his horrific treatment as a prisoner during WW2, forgiveness is the only way to find peace with the past, and for the present and future.

No matter what you have to let go of, we all know the actual act of forgiving something or someone is a lot harder than simply talking about it. It requires courage to not allow the negatives in life to shape us and it requires a huge heart to make peace with someone who has let us down. But what about when your own body requires forgiveness?

If you are diagnosed with a condition like myasthenia when you are young, you may feel you have been robbed of certain experiences that your peers may have. Learning to forgive, whether it’s the family member that passed on the hereditary MG gene or your own body for turning on itself, is essential for coping healthily with your condition. It’s the only way to move beyond the grieving process and figure out how to make the most out of what you’ve been given.

I know this because it took me several months to forgive my body for what it had inflicted upon me. When I first found out, I felt sorry for myself and reverted to smoking quite heavily having given up for months. I also drank like a fish, worked all hours, ate a lot of junk food and stopped exercising. I told my body that if it could turn on me, then I was going to see how it felt when I reversed the cruel treatment.

However, doing this while starting on medication didn’t work so well. I believe it took a lot longer for the drugs to start working fully because of the punishment I was inflicting and within 3 months my right eye was completely closed and my left was 3/4 closed. Not to mention the fact that my speech and swallowing were still affected. My right eye has never fully recovered and I often wonder if it ever will.

So what helped me to forgive in the end? Time definitely helped, as did
being able to speak to people who love me and others with the condition about it. Finally, the realisation that made me stop behaving like my own worst enemy was that my body is a pretty incredible machine. I realised I should be thanking it for withstanding all the abuse it had taken and for reacting well to the drugs when given a chance. My body also waited until I was mature enough (excluding those first few woe is me months) to handle MG – I can’t imagine the added struggle of getting the an MG diagnosis during my angsty teen years.

I’m truth, I am able to live a full life, with the help of modern medicine, and it has gotten a lot more rewarding since I chose to forgive my rogue immune system. I never did a make up free selfie last year because I couldn’t face it at the time, but today I forgive my body enough to post this one (it helps that my eyes look near normal today and I have a post workout glow)

What a difference a week makes:

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