Some time ago, when I was still in my college years, I lost my ability to walk for one night. I lost control of my limbs as I climbed up the stairs that night. I managed to twist to my side and braced for impact against the stairs’ noses.
I remember my father being angry at me for being clumsy.
Maybe it was on my face, but my mother saw how afraid I was, and helped me reach my bed, and I just lay there thinking, praying, imagining my life without walking. I imagined all the possibilities and all the hardship that will come my way. Losing friends and a possible complete 360 of my world was all I could think.
I got Potassium deficiency. However, at that time, I did not know it.
Going back to the story, fortunately, the following morning, I could use my limbs again. Albeit painful, I can stand up still. However, the symptoms of that deficiency haunted me for years. There will be days that nothing is wrong with my body.
There are also days when lifting cups were almost impossible. I couldn’t even undress properly.
I always try to hide these challenges. My family did not understand how hard it was for me. I had always been sickly. Nobody suggested going to the hospital. I am often reminded that we have no money to do that.
It was the time I realized that I was alone in this fight, so I tried to act as if there was nothing wrong with me.
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Growing up, we always had a varying number of cats in the house. In a cat’s litter, there will always be that one kitten that will be sickly and weak. I often observe this with our cats. The mother would separate the sickly kitten.
Even if you bring that kitten back to the rest, the mother cat will always separate it to the far side of the room. Such is the nature of cats. The mother does this to conserve milk. It is also her way of protecting the rest of the litter from the possible contagious illness the sickly kitten may bring to the rest.
The isolated kitten eventually dies.
I was the sickly kitten.
I don’t think that my parents want me to die eventually, but I guess I have always been a burden.
Sometimes I’ll be sent out to do errands.
I dreaded those days when they send me to the farm because I could fall off stairs or off buses during the travel. On the farm, I would get embarrassed when I could not lift small sacks of rice. Still, I did not complain.
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When you have an illness, it is easy to be spiteful. You will be angry about the world and of everyone around you because of all the people, why me? What did I do to deserve it? It is not easy to be positive when you have an illness. Adding to this was the loneliness that enveloped me.
I am surrounded by people, but this defect made me alone.
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So one day, I was walking home, and my heart was pounding because I was concentrating too much on not falling over. I knew that if I fall even once, I might have a hell of a hard time standing back up.
I still have about a kilometer and a half to walk when I turned towards the dirt road. As I step down from the asphalt into the dirt road, my foreleg gave way, and before I knew it, I was on all fours on the road. Just like that, my fear came true.
I cursed and clenched my fists against the dirt.
I remember that it was painful because my muscles were so stressed as I used up all my strength to move my legs to stand up. Man, it’s even painful remembering that moment. I used my clenched fists to push upwards, fighting tears, straining veins until I can feel my head pounding. I managed to be on a one-knee kneeling position.
A small victory, I said to myself. A sense of dread and loneliness filled me.
A million thoughts raced through my head. “Am I going to be stuck here?” “How can I continue walking home with this condition?” “Why me?” “I don’t have anybody to rely on,” “I must stand up no matter what!”
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“Are you all right?” A voice broke through the chaos of my thoughts. I did not notice a tricycle driver pulled up to the opposite side of the road.
“Yeah, I am.” I lied. I refused to acknowledge that I was not okay. I still tried my best to push my body up. He did not leave.
“Are you sure you don’t need help?” He said. Perhaps I was exhausted, or maybe I no longer have enough strength to keep up my pride. My defenses crumbled.
“Can you help me get up?” I asked, still keeping the tone that I did not need help. He came to where I was kneeling and then helped me up.
“What’s wrong with your legs? I was driving by when I saw you fall. I did not see you get back up on my rearview mirror, so I came back to see if you are all right.” He said.
“I occasionally lose control of my limbs. This is one of those days.” I told him. His eyes widened as if it all made sense.
“I think you have potassium deficiency. I had that about a year ago.” He said. Then proceed to tell me about the symptoms and his experience with it.
He told me that his heartbeat would speed up and slow down. I told him about my experiences, as well.
It was all too familiar. He said to me that we had the same struggles and that at one point, he was sent to the hospital because he could not move half of his body. He was diagnosed with potassium deficiency. He took medication and is maintaining pills to live normally.
He told me to go to the doctor. He also said that what I have is not that worse yet.
He offered to give me a ride back home. A gesture that I come to appreciate so deeply.
We talked more about our experiences. I told him I would try to go to the doctor. It is just sad that I cannot remember his name. I’m wrong with names, but I can remember the gesture. My family did not know that this happened, and I kept it to myself.
I did not go to the doctor. We did not have money for that, and I wasn’t keen on maintaining medication. Instead, I ate a banana every day. I tried to consume potassium-rich food as often as I could. I exercised a little bit every day. I did not stay out on the cold every night.
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Today my deficiency rarely triggers. I can live normally.
There is so much you can do alone, but you should never think that no one wants to help you out. There are bad people in the world. There are indifferent people, and most importantly, there are good people.
Good people are just there, willing to help out. You have to accept the fact that you need help.
Once you have accepted that you needed help, the help will come.
Whenever I feel that I am abandoned by the people I cared about, I think of that moment of me on all fours pushing against the road and that stranger who saved me.
About the Guest Contributor
Julian is a hobbyist and loves to learn a lot of stuff. He is very interested in human behavior, psychology, and philosophy. You can read more of his work at lastcandles.com.
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