Hi Darren - yes I know, it’s okay!
When I was diagnosed, MS was unknown in south-east Asia. There was a girl in the Philippines who had some sort of progressive sort of condition that was similar to MS.
I had a lovely neurologist and as part of the immigration rules for Indonesia, we had to have comprehensive private health insurance, which was very nice, as it meant that I could fly to Singapore to see my neurologist, who was Singaporean Chinese, but trained in Edinburgh. He was wonderful - although in his late 40s, he deliberately let his hair grow long, as it was against the law for Singaporean men to have long hair. Civil disobedience!
It’s not until the matter of MS drugs comes up, that you realise just how isolating MS can be. The only drug that was licensed was Rebif and at that time (2000) there wasn’t much information as to whether it would work or not. It was even licensed in the US at that time!
Thank goodness it worked. However, it wasn’t licensed in Indonesia and so we’d smuggle it back into Jakarta, having paid cash for 3 months of injections and then sneakily claiming back the VAT at the airport.
I asked Linda, the girl from Java how many people were diagnosed with MS now and she said about 60, but that only one neurologist was experienced with the disease. There’s an association run by a church that helps pay for the Rebif, which now has been licensed in Indonesia. No more drug smuggling.
We left in 2002 and arrived back in the UK in time for the risk-sharing scheme, so I was able to carry on with Rebif and I’m still taking it now, even though we moved to Galicia (northwest Spain) in 2008.
The MS nurse is actually the Serono rep and she has patients who have been on Rebif since 1996!
So, those who think this thread should be closed, because ‘it’s going nowhere’ please think again. I think my story has some interesting points on how MS is treated and how rare it is in the rest of the world and that yes, Chinese people get MS.