UAE: Teacher unable to climb onto school bus makes miracle recovery from rare disorder

Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a condition that leads to loss of physical strength

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Wed 15 May 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 15 May 2024, 11:11 PM

On April 1 this year, dedicated teacher Annie Cherian had a plan on how she would finish the portions for her class. The Grade 9 and 10 Math teacher, residing in Sharjah, had a lot of topics to cover, and she wanted to get a head start from the very first day of the new academic year.

Instead, she found herself unable to climb the stairs of the bus to go to school. The Indian expat had been increasingly finding it difficult to even stand up after sitting in a chair.


Rushed to Aster Hospital Sharjah, the 46-year-old underwent a battery of tests before her doctor confirmed that she was suffering from a rare auto immune disease. Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a condition that leads to loss of physical strength and affects approximately 1 or 2 per 100,000 people annually.

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In a recovery story told by her doctor, Specialist Neurologist Dr Rajesh Chaudhary described it as a 'miracle' that Annie is back in school among her beloved students in less than a month after being diagnosed.

Progressive difficulties

A diabetic for more than 20 years, Annie first chalked her difficulty in climbing stairs to her diabetes. However, soon the difficulty in climbing stairs became worse until she needed regular help to even comb her hair and brush her teeth.

She visited an orthopedic doctor and even got her heart checked but all test results came back as normal. It was on that fateful April 1, when she was unable to climb into the school bus that she realised something was seriously wrong. That’s when she met Dr Rajesh.

Having arrived in the UAE just a week prior to seeing Annie, Dr Rajesh immediately suspected CIDP. “I had seen a few patients during my practice in India. The nature of how her disease progressed made me suspicious that it was CIDP," he said speaking to Khaleej Times.

After conducting a few tests to confirm his hunch, Dr Rajesh concluded that he was right.

Treatment

Upon hearing the prognosis, Annie was relieved more than anything. “Since my symptoms started in September, I had been to many doctors and conducted many tests, all of which came back as normal,” said Annie. “When I heard that I had CIDP, I was relieved that at least I knew what the disease was and could get treatment. Also, I had never even heard of the condition so it never occurred to me to be scared.”

After discussions with Annie and her husband, she was started on a treatment called Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG). While IVIG is highly effective in CIDP, its cost and monitoring requirements can pose significant challenges.

Within five days, Annie started to feel better, surprising Dr Rajesh and his team. “I initially thought it was a false signal of hope,” said the doctor. “However, the next day when I conducted some tests I realised that she was indeed getting better. It is nothing short of a miracle. The level of recovery shown by Annie in five days could take some patients up to three years to achieve. She was discharged soon after.”

Second life

Today, Annie is back in school teaching her students, and is grateful for her blessings. “On the day I was unable to get into the bus, I cried a lot thinking that I was going to be paralysed or end up in a wheelchair,” she said. “Thanks to Dr Rajesh and his treatment, I have got a second chance at life.”

Annie isn’t sure what caused her miraculous recovery. “It could have been the prayers of my students or the love of my teenage children or God’s blessings,” she said. Right now, her focus is on her family and finishing the portions of her students.

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