Then I thought about it some more. Why did I start writing anyway? (Many reasons actually). But beneath it all, I had one fundamental goal: to encourage and connect with people. Fact is, I can’t accomplish that goal by keeping my struggles to myself. I want to be real. So brace yourself folks, here’s me being real.
I also noticed issues with balance. I had joined Jazzercise when my girls were young and decided to try it again. Now I struggled to stand on one foot for more than a few seconds. I wobbled and weaved like a drunken sailor. I blamed it on my back. After all, if my spine was out of whack, it was probably throwing my balance off, right?
My biggest challenge was fatigue. I had good days and bad days, but the majority of the time I felt tired and weak. On very bad days I remember thinking, something isn’t right. Maybe I have cancer. But I always found a perfectly good reason to explain it away.
Sure I’m tired; all moms are tired.
I guess this is what forty feels like.
I probably should exercise more.
Maybe I’m just lazy. I need to get moving.
It’s probably all in my head.
It could've been any of those reasons, so I told myself to suck it up and keep going.
But every now and then, some fluky thing happened to me. Like the night I abruptly jumped out of bed (I think Maddie was sick). I felt lightheaded, sick to my stomach and dizzy. Apparently I hit the wall on my way back to bed, which woke Curt. As I slid down the wall, Curt caught me and eased me down to the floor. (My husband, my hero!) Then both of my arms started tingling like crazy. I’m not talking about the kind of tingling you feel when your hand falls asleep. This felt like I’d stuck both arms in a light socket. It continued for several minutes. I’ll admit, it was a bit freaky. But it passed and when I woke up the next morning everything seemed normal. It never happened again.
Another time we went whitewater rafting in Colorado. The water was cold, for sure. But it didn’t seem to affect the rest of my family like it did me. I literally shook for more than an hour afterwards. Even after a hot shower, I couldn’t stop shaking. We all laughed it off. Evidently Mom was a wimp when it came to the cold.
When it came to walking, something felt off. I found myself tripping several times a day. I stumbled while walking up steps. I tripped while strolling down a perfectly flat sidewalk. It was always my right foot. When I played volleyball with my girls I felt weak and clumsy. Why couldn’t I get my serves over? I blamed it all on my out-of-whack back.
More and more, my health issues robbed me of fun with my family. Like the time we took our girls to St. Louis. On the first day we went to a Cardinals game. It was fun, but tiring. We climbed several flights of stairs to find our seats at the stadium. Then we walked around after the game exploring the area. The next morning I felt completely wiped out. We had planned to visit Six Flags, but I knew I wouldn’t have the strength to endure a long, hot day at an amusement park. I didn’t want to disappoint my girls. I felt like a lazy mom. But I couldn’t help it. Curt took the girls while I stayed at the hotel and slept most of the day.
Not only was I tired and frustrated, now I was seriously afraid I was a hypochondriac. And I still had back and hip pain that my chiro couldn’t figure out. That’s it, I thought. It must be in my head.
Then someone gave me the name of a different chiropractor. I really wasn’t interested. I had basically lost faith in the medical profession. But this guy was highly recommended, so with great hesitation I gave him a try.
And that's when I finally got some answers. After a long line of doctors and chiropractors, Dr. Shepherd was the first to start piecing my symptoms together. He asked probing questions. He listened to my answers. And he was the first doctor to look me in the eye and say the words: multiple sclerosis.
- “Yep. Your foot shouldn’t do that,” and other phrases you don’t want to hear from your doctor.
- MRI: Short for Magnetic Resonance Imaging ... or Moving Relatively Impossible … or Miserable Random Itches?
- Spinal Tap: It’s not just a band from the eighties.
- No more high heels? I never liked them anyway.
- Lessons I’ve learned … one month after an MS diagnosis.