SCMP Monday, October 2, 2000

Resigned to a lifetime of suffering


Esther Kwok Man-chun, 39, has been plagued by sciatica since she was 15. The mother of two and a pastor at an Ap Lei Chau church was diagnosed with two herniated discs in her lower spine and degenerating kneecaps nine years ago.
Her two older brothers also suffer lower back pain and are easily injured.
"One morning, I suddenly found myself unable to get out of bed. I couldn't stand up or walk at all," she said. The incident occurred when she was 15.
Mixed treatments of acupuncture and physiotherapy barely helped her resume walking. She never thought that her affliction could be caused by genetic factors.
Over the next 24 years, attacks recurred at intervals ranging from a few days to a few months. "I always assumed I had some sort of nutritional deficiency because my mother had given birth to all my brothers and sisters before me," she said.
A professor of medicine said nothing could be done until her condition deteriorated to a degree that would require surgery.
"I don't know which doctor I can go to anymore. It is incurable, as already quite a number of them told me. All the treatments I've tried are basically useless," she said.
She tells of futile visits to numerous chiropractors, massage and acupressure therapists, and other little-known therapies. "I've learnt to live with it," she said.