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Living with Multiple Sclerosis & Rheumatoid Arthritis - Maggie Mok

Hi everyone, my name is Maggie Mok and I’m 49 years old. I work part-time and I fly kites as a hobby.

About 3.5 years ago, I lost my strength, had a foot drop and weakness affecting my shoulders and arms. When I was young, I was diagnosed with a rare nerve disease, and I thought that this was a relapse after 30 years. I held back for a few days, not wanting to be admitted to A&E.

One day, the world seemed to crash down on me. I couldn’t wake up from bed, and as I needed to go to the bathroom urgently, I could only drag my legs and limp all the way. However, I couldn’t even sit on the toilet bowl or move my arms. I stood there and cried and decided to call my mum. While waiting for the referral to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), I visited a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner who could not help me. I then chanced upon another TCM practitioner who told me that my immune system is not working properly. She put me on acupuncture – more than 100 needles! – and Tuina, and I felt better the next day. She then put me on the TCM treatment for every 3 to 4 days.

The TCM practitioner also urged me to get a full blood test done quickly as she saw that I had swollen hands, feet, joint pain and loss of balance. About a week later, I had my appointment at TTSH and the doctors ran a series of tests. The report indicated an extremely high inflammatory marker and I was diagnosed with early stage Multiple Sclerosis. The diagnosis hit me hard as I have always been an active woman. I was facing so many challenges in dressing and feeding myself, tying up my hair and I was walking like an old lady. As my red blood count was affected, I had to go through blood transfusions every 3 to 6 months. Financial worries kicked in due to the countless number of doctor visits. The journey has been physically and mentally straining. The feeling of losing my strength and having to lie down on bed was depressing and the mental torture of pain was not easy to handle. Eventually, all the treatments had given me back 40 percent of my strength and I managed to raise my arms. I have done intense physiotherapy 3 times a week for the past 2 years and I have also picked up yoga. These activities are making me stronger day by day. I was initially taking Prednisone and Plaquenil for the past 2 years. But I’ve currently switched to Methotrexate and no longer need Prednisone.

I’m thankful for my family, especially my mother-in-law, and close friends who accepted my condition and had given me a lot of moral support. I’m also thankful to God for allowing me to face the challenges and keep me going to be stronger every day. The autoimmune diseases support group had helped me realised that I am not the worst, and there are still many vulnerable patients out there who are striving to do their best. This group makes me think positively and not give up. During the pandemic, I’m coping well. There has been more time for me to rest well, focus on my wellbeing and spend precious time with my family. I also participate in more outdoor activities to boost my immunity.

My advice to those diagnosed with autoimmune diseases is to slow down your lifestyle and keep a positive mindset. Do not feel that you are alone in this journey.

*Maggie has been featured in Channel News Asia recently for her passion for kite flying.

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