OU go to a doctor to find out what’s wrong with you and for some remedy to make you feel better – a hospital is a safe place, a place with answers.
For Martin Othas and the condition that ails him however, unfortunately this isn’t the case.
24 year old Martin has been suffering the symptoms of what is suspected to be muscular dystrophy for the past 7 years.
Since year 9 in 2010 at 17 years old, his muscles have been steadily wasting away in a condition that he is trying his best to understand, and one that most doctors he’s seen in PNG have proclaimed to be a completely new case.
“Every doctor I’ve been to, even old and experienced have said this is a new case for them. I’ve been asked to go back and forth for observation but there are no answers”, Martin told us.
Given a referral letter, Martin found a Philippine hospital online which he contacted.
Now like many Papua New Guineans he must raise funds to get there; an exercise that has been slow.
“So far fundraising is slow; I guess people are busy with their own lives. My family is also a bit slow with ideas”, he said.
“There is no committee or association for me – no-one else has this (condition)”.
The only 2 fundraisings held for Martin were by friends at Toro Gaming who held a charity tournament for him, and the other was his church, Boroko Baptist.
Martin says the initial cost for consultation and diagnosis is around K20,000 which includes accommodation at the hospital and meals for himself and an escort, excluding airfares and ongoing medical costs.
“I have ideas (for fund raising) but obviously I need able bodied people to execute them”, Martin said.
It’s hard imagining getting by every day without the use of certain muscles.
“Every day is a down day for me. I can’t sleep – I have to change position and that requires muscles so I have trouble. After trying and trying I’m wide awake – every night is a sleepless one.
But what I’ve found is no-one can live beyond their belief system – we are our beliefs and a reflection of them.
For myself as a Christian, most of my inspiration I get from the Bible, trying to find how to deal with cases such as mine and what to do mentally and spiritually.
I try to get as much inspiration as I can in the Bible – not only intellectually but for the spirit as well. It keeps me refreshed.
When I tell people I’m sick they don’t think it’s serious – my face and speech are fine and I don’t go complaining on social media or anything.
I found that if I worry about this, it won’t make a difference so as much as possible I try to live a positive life and look beyond the sickness.
That’s why I try not to think about it – if I see that there is a way then maybe I will worry more about it – I know that the mind is the only place I can battle this so I try my best not to give in.
I also looked in the bible and found a verse in the book of Matthew where Jesus says “if you worry too much you cannot add another hour to your life”.
You can’t rewind the time you spend worrying, if I spend that time worrying then I miss that time to live”.
Despite his condition Martin plays the bass guitar in church, also doing a lot of things independently when he can; he insists on walking unaided where he locks his knee joints so that they can support his weight when he puts his feet down.
Martin says it is gradual and progressive.
“There’s no pain but I realise it’s been getting worse – things I used to do I can’t anymore”.
Where he used to be able to climb the stairs to his house he now must be aided.
“My forearm muscles and fingers are still functioning. I use my fingers to press on my thighs to keep my legs straight when walking; if my knees bend I will fall”.
Martin can’t lift anything as his biceps and triceps are mostly gone, he has to lift his phone to his ear with the help of his other hand.
His cousins help him out of bed, up stairs and lift him when he falls, and fellow church goers help him at service on Sundays.
“We don’t realise how much muscle we use for every day things but I really know the importance now”, he said.
In high school (grade 9) Martin first felt the effects thinking it was just bad health but later realising it was getting progressively worse, he still tried to be positive, hoping it was curable.
“When I was in school it really affected my studies – I did manage to get my grade 12 certificate though”, he said.
It’s ironic that Martin actually wanted to become a medical doctor in high school if this condition didn’t stop him.
Health in PNG, and even very common diseases, have always been a big issue to tackle – when rare conditions strike a minority of citizens; it’s next to impossible to find solutions.
As far as fundraising goes, he hopes to host a charity sausage sizzle at a major shopping centre in POM when he is able.
We hope for the best for Martin and will continue to support him through his fight. Keep updated on his progress on our Facebook page and website and if you are willing to assist, feel free to message us on Facebook.