By Shunying Wang, ’14
Marco Kaaber, a current PLU student who has a disease rarely seen, decided to meet his problem head-on with a different attitude instead of resigning himself to the disease.
The disease acted out on Kaaber on a Friday at work.
The symptoms of having cotton mouth and itchiness did not draw his attention. Two days later, numbness attacked his mouth and started getting worse. When Kaaber finally went to the hospital, the doctor suspected it was some kind of nerve infection and therefore prescribed medications accordingly. However, the problem grew greater instead of going away. He felt dreadful. The pain lasted for about a week until Friday when it reached its worst point.
“I went to see the doctor after the entire episode,” Kaaber said. “The doctor proposed to me I could receive a MR scan, which is the scan for analyzing the human brain and spinal cord.” He followed the suggestion and did the scan. Soon after the diagnosis was made, Kaaber was officially informed that he had multiple sclerosis in a consultation with his doctor. “My first thought was,” Kaaber paused for a second, “this is it!” According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. MS generally affects the right side of the body and causes numbness in the limbs, paralysis, or loss of vision. The picture of him being paralyzed in a wheel chair was displayed in his mind over and over, Kaaber said.
“I was tested positive in July 2010,” Kaaber recalled. At that particular time, life offered Kaaber a lemon, nothing but bitter. While he had to bear the pain of a friend’s leave for Afghanistan as a soldier, he dealt with the struggle of losing his girlfriend at the same time. Thus, accepting the fact that he had to move on with his disease became even more difficult. “Everything just culminated,” Kaaber gazed down. As the symptoms gradually acting out on his body, Kaaber suddenly realized how fragile people could be. “I figured out that everything has an end, but unfortunately that end is going to come faster for me,” Kaaber said.
However, Kaaber is trying to turn that lemon into lemonade. While the right side of his body bothers him progressively, Kaaber insisted to start a new chapter of life by traveling to different places. China was his first stop of the new chapter. Next time, he worked as a marketing manager in Hungary for three months. In his third stop, he joined the PLU community and became one of the many international students studying in Business Administration. Even his doctor and nurses were surprised to see the way this MS patient traveled the world. “I am still struggling for sure,” Kaaber said. “But I am surprised to see how much I can handle. I haven’t broken down yet, which gives me more confidence.”
Kaaber is forced to be spiritually equipped to fight for his life as he knows that he can possibly lose the ability to move any minute or sometime in the near future. “Yes. I can do this,” he spoke firmly, although no one can predict the taste of the lemonade. No one knows where this new chapter will end or if there is an additional chapter.
“I want to see the world while I can,” Kaaber concludes at the end, in a tranquil tone. “Where it takes me, I will let the wind of fate decide that.”