by Michelle Ko
Greetings from Taiwan. I have had an unexpected trip under unexpected circumstances. I was sent from Tanzania back to Taiwan on July 26 due to an unknown illness that was not able to be diagnosed in Tanzania.
I was in Dar es Salaam on business for a few days, and then on July 12th, I traveled 12 hours back to Mtwara, ready to move into my newly renovated home...
When I arrived, I realized I had triple (and more) vision and thought I was too tired because of the extremely long trip. I thought that once I rested well, my vision would become normal again. After two days, there was no change. I became panicked and started calling for help. The local hospital could not do much and referred me to Dar es Salaam for further check-ups.
The next day, I traveled to Dar and began to receive many check-ups. Full eye exams, blood tests, an MRI, and a spinal tap (taking a sample of fluid from the spinal cord). It took many tries before they got any fluid. Due to mistakes made by the hospital, my pain was almost unbearable, and I could not get out of bed for a week following the spinal tap. Additionally, there was still no one who had any clue regarding the cause of my vision problem. Therefore, my mission organization, SIM, decided to send me back to Taiwan immediately for more check-ups and treatment.
After 3 weeks, the spinal fluid result finally arrived, and my neurologists diagnosed me as a “Multiple Sclerosis” patient (my immune system attacked my cranial nerves). Multiple Sclerosis (MS)—a name I had never heard before because it is an extremely rare disease among ethnic Asians. While I have recovered temporarily from experiencing triple vision via a steroid injection, I am not sure if it will happen again and, if so, when.
Nevertheless, I am very grateful that God’s grace is sufficient, especially in the midst of excruciating physical pain. Special thanks to:
• SIM (Serving In Mission) worldwide family who assisted me through a very difficult time.
• The Pierce and Ogawa families who came a long way to Dar accompanied me and drove me endlessly to the hospital.
• The Dar es Salaam Chinese Christian Church, which provided me with a room and food when I was very ill.
• Churches' and friends' prayers, special financial support, and words of encouragement and comfort.
Since my diagnosis, I have been dealing with exhaustion (the most common symptom people with MS experience), and at the same time feeling shocked and saddened. I lack any energy or motivation to do anything. Will my life be energetic and chatty again? Will I be able to travel and climb mountains freely again? Will I be able to return to Tanzania to continue to serve God? There are many questions that I have no answers to at this time and, frankly, it leaves me feeling overwhelmed.
Michelle FB: MichelleKoInAfrica What’s App: +255628097198 Line ID: 61488029218
P. S. - Sorry, but I was not able to reply to any emails in a timely manner after July 12th due to my illness.