When I went for my final interview at the University of Melbourne for entry to the Medical
Faculty, they asked me “What type of doctor do you want to be?” And I answered “I want to
be a doctor who listens.”
All I felt was pain, pain that lasted forever. No one believed me when I explained that this
was not normal. “It is only indigestion” or “You’re being dramatic” was all I heard for weeks
until my mother finally took the initiative to take me to a doctor. Scans after scans, blood
tests after blood tests, doctors after doctors, money wasted on people who could not help
me. It got worse as a monster tore my insides apart. The wait in the emergency room was
tiresome as my head rested against my mother. More tests were taken, more medication
was given to numb the agony I felt but it did not go away.
I got an answer. I got a diagnosis but it was not what I needed. I did not feel settled as all I
received were two words: autoimmune hepatitis. I researched for hours on end, trying to find
a solution, trying to find answers to my pending questions that the doctor was not willing to
answer as of yet. People came in and out, looking at me as if I was a specimen that they
were experimenting on, taking observations rather than treating me like a person. Nurses
patronised me, treating me as if I was five years old. As I screamed in pain, the ward doctor
came and turned on play school and told me to distract myself by watching TV.
When I returned home, I was tired. I was tired of pretending that I was ok. I was tired of
taking my medication. I was tired of hearing, “ Time for your blood test!” I was tired of living
this life. I felt trapped, as if no one understood what I was going, as if I did not have a voice. I
was a caged bird, who did sing, who decided to speak about their experiences. I wanted to
inform others because I felt as if I was the only one in this position so I continued taking my
medication, hoping that I could go back to ‘normal’ or what I thought was normal.
Happiness rarely lasts long. I relapsed and I relapsed hard, ending up worse than when I
had started but by now I was used to it. It being the pain. It being the worry from family. It
being the observations. Then I got better. Then I relapsed. It was a cycle that never ended.
My mother considered my doctor a failure but I reassured her that she could not have done
anything. I was different, a ‘rare case’.
I couldn’t walk. I just sat on my bed doing nothing. I did not go to school for a whole term.
Then there were the side effects of the immense amount of medication that was difficult to
pronounce. My hands constantly shook and my face became rounder. People would look at
me and ask why I looked so different. As I regularly stepped onto the scale, I saw the
numbers increase by 1, 2 and then 5. I began to hate myself when I looked in the mirror.
Clothing became tight and I was numb. Headaches were my best, always there for me.
The attention that I had craved previously was not wanted now. People constantly asked me
questions and did tasks for me that I was more than capable of doing. My family bothered
me and I was mad. They did not understand how restricted I felt. I couldn’t do anything. They
did not let me do anything. All they did was control my life without letting me be a part of it.
They were life ruiners.
“This is what I thought for an entire year. I was drowning in an ocean of self-pity. It was as if I
wanted people to feel sorry for me. I realised finally that there were people around me who
were suffering. I had this idea that everyone was against me where in reality, they were only
trying to assist me as they hated to see me in pain. Selfishness overtook me and I
over-dramatised everything. This disease was not terminal yet I treated the issue as if it was.
I looked back and realised that I did overcome tribulation and courage. I also came to a
conclusion that family will always be there for you. They stayed with me through this difficult
Things slowly started to get better. Liver levels dropped and the pain subsided. I could finally
run and jump without feeling as if a knife was repeatedly stabbing me in the abdomen. I
started to join in during sport and not just sit in the corner. I felt my clothes loosen and my
body going back to the way it used to be. It was a freeing feeling, to be able to smile for a
change without being bitter. I was finally happy.”