Something about which I wondered today...

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Monday, February 28, 2011

A walk the other day

I wrote this a few days back, the sensation in my toes had been completely absent for two days (it returned joyfully the day of this walk).  The realization, to that point, was sad and frightening.

Took a walk through Regner Park, mostly along the somewhat shoveled pathways. You know, you try to will yourself to walk straight, even though you know it’s not working. You lean to one side and your body follows. And you look back at your tracks in the snow, and you think maybe the toes of my boots always dragged, then you notice the slight curvature of a walk steered by little else besides momentum. And you slip on the slightly snow-covered walk, unsure if it’s icy, or if it’s you.

Look at this, here I am talking about the negatives of the walk. To be honest, it was beautiful. The snow—big cottony flakes I could easily catch on my tongue—drifted lazily, as if they had nowhere to be. That’s kind of how I took my walk. I went off-roading, gently trudging through banks of snow halfway up to my knees, just because I could. I stopped to watch a crow. I listened to the brook tumble through the rocks at the turn where I could always find the crayfish—with Jodi when we were dating, with my nephew Josh when he would come to visit when Grandma and Grandpa lived up on the hill at Mitter Circle.

And I thanked God for all this loveliness. I felt regret that I hadn’t done this every day of my life—I’ve probably walked through Regner Park fewer than a dozen times since moving to West Bend more than a decade ago. And of course I cried. Some of it was me feeling sorry for myself, wondering when, or if, I’d get the chance to ever do so again. Some of it was gratitude, I think, that I can still do this. That I’ve had 50 wonderful years of doing so, even if I didn’t take advantage of it.

And as I cried upon returning home—in the bathroom with the fan on—my Jodi, my sweet, wonderful Jodi, awaited me sitting arms outstretched when I came out. And as I relayed my thoughts, my regrets, my fears generated on a walk through the snowy woods, she said, “It’s all changed.”

Yeah, it’s all changed. Hopefully I can appreciate more that surrounds me. Hopefully I can live in the real world, not in front of the television watching another rerun of Seinfeld in high def.

Well, not everything’s changed. I still have my Jodi. And with her by my side, this MS thing will be as much of a piece of cake as it can be.

My calves are completely spent. My left arm has a hard time staying elevated above the keyboard as I type. The tops of my feet are going numb (or, more accurately, more numb) again.

But I had a perfect day in the snow.

And a perfect woman waiting to comfort me when I got home.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Category: Life sucks sometimes

About a year and a half ago, my left arm started going numb.  Within five minutes, my right arm followed.  By the next day, both my legs joined them.

The doctor thought it might be a virus (a reasonable diagnosis pertaining to a healthy, 48 year old man).  It didn't get better, it didn't get worse.  I had a physical and Cat scans and MRIs looking for nerve problems, circulation problems, whatever, and everything looked great.  The neurologist sent me to a physical therapist.

But I still had no feeling.  Well, some feeling, but more like the tingling prickly feeling you get when your leg has gone to sleep.  And, thankfully, it still hadn't gotten perceptibly worse.

From my reading, thank God I didn't have pain or loss of strength--two symptoms that might point to multiple sclerosis, a nerve disease that has no known cause, and no known cure.

About a week ago, my left arm went dead.  It was a struggle to write, even a struggle for me to keep my arm anywhere except hanging limply by my side.  A couple days later, pain was in my now-terrifyingly-numb feet.

And that's when I started to freak out.

The neurologist said it was time for the MRI of the brain, which would either rule out MS, or rule it in.

Needless to say, it's been a trying few days awaiting the MRI. 

I know it's not a death sentence if it comes out as MS, but it's no fun either.  My physical and cognitive abilities will gradually decline (most readings say it may be up to 20 years before MS takes complete control), with episodes generally becoming more severe, both in terms of duration and intensity.

And although I rationalize that I'm coming to grips with the possibility of having it, and that my support group--especially my selfless and wonderful wife--will minimize its effects, my random crying when I watch the snow fall, or hug my bride say otherwise.

So, if you're religious, say a prayer for me, but please don't feel sorry for me.  I'll be okay.

It'll just take me a while to realize that.