Can-Can Girl

After the sudden passing of my beloved dog, King, I felt emptiness. I lost my best friend and companion. About 4 days after his passing, I started experiencing numbness in my right leg. Sort of like pins and needles. My arms were falling asleep at night and my memory wasn’t all there. I passed it off as stress, anxiety, and grief.  

But I was finally feeling ready to return to work and the daily grind of life. 

I woke up the following morning and did my regular routine, still ignoring the numbness I have been experiencing. I arrived at work and when I tried to walk up our two flights of stairs to get to the office, I could barely pick my left foot up. It was like my feet became really heavy and my brain wasn’t telling my legs to move. But again, I ignored it as stress. I struggled to get to the top of the stairs. I decided to use the restroom and when I sat down, it felt like the right side of the toilet seat was heated, like really hot. That’s weird I  thought, but again, I just ignored it. 

I went on with my day brushing off these symptoms. The following morning I woke up to my left arm being extremely painful to touch. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. By this time, my right leg hadn’t gotten any better and was actually becoming more numb over time. But being the stubborn asshole I am, I still ignored it. The following morning I got out of bed and lost the ability to walk properly. My left leg completely gave out and I felt disoriented, very tired, and weak. That’s when I realized I can’t ignore this anymore. I drove to the emergency room. 

Once there they immediately started running tests. They initially thought it was a stroke. I was told the best case scenario would be Lyme’s or Lupus and worst case would be MS or a spinal tumor. Right then and there I realized this is serious and my life would forever change dramatically. People who know me well, know I am very competitive and pretty damn active. I do around 15,000-20,000 Fitbit steps a day. I compete in daily and weekly showdowns all the time! In fact, my dad and stepmom just bought me a brand new Fitbit for Christmas. I lost a 130 lbs—no pills or surgery. Hearing this was crushing to say the least. 

I was immediately inundated with doctors. 2 neurologists, 2 primary care doctors, and 1 viral doctor. They told me I needed a spinal tap along with brain and back MRI’s. Now the thought of a spinal tap scared the living shit out of me, but I had to stay strong. They wheeled me in and it took about 40 minutes of rooting around in my spine to pull any fluid. Just my luck. They had to shoot an IV of pain meds and anxiety medicine into my arm because of the pain I was experiencing. Finally after poking, prodding, and jabbing what seemed to go on for hours, they were able to get what they needed. 

Straight from the table of hell, they put me on my back and wheeled me into the MRI room. They proceeded to tell me that I needed to be in there for one hour and 20 minutes! Let me repeat that. One hour and 20 minutes. They strapped this football helmet contraption on my head and gave me a panic button. This alone scared the piss out of me. I thought why would I need a panic button?! They slide me into this coffin-because that’s literally what it is like. They put headphones on me to listen to music, but that’s a fucking joke because all you hear is banging, beeping, and loud vibrating. And god forbid you open your eyes, it feels like you are trapped. All while having to lay completely still, not moving an inch. 

I made it one hour and ten minutes. I started panicking, sweating, shaking and I felt like I was having a heart attack. I started pressing the panic button like I was a contestant on Jeopardy. They pulled me out and said, calm down, you have about 10 more minutes left. HOLY SHIT! 10 more minutes I thought. But I made it. 

They wheeled me back into the emergency area to await the results. By that time I was experiencing nausea and a really bad headache from the spinal tap. They had to take more than usual to do as many tests as possible in the shortest amount of time. They needed to rule out all viral possibilities. They tested for everything—-Lyme’s disease, lupus, meningitis, West Nile disease, AIDS, hepatitis, and about 20 other different things I never even heard of. All negative. 

After waiting for about an hour the neurologist came in and said- okay, we are waiting on the MRI brain and back scans but we are pretty damn certain you have multiple sclerosis. My stomach sank into my feet. My first words were, am I going to die? Am I going to be able to walk again? Can I have kids? Can I live a normal life? It was like a train of emotions hitting me all at once. But in the grand scheme of things, they said this was the best outcome. A thousand times better than a spinal tumor and having to have emergency back surgery. 

The scans found that I have MS in my neck and white matter in my brain. I have a level 22. Normal people have 0-10. This means my body is attacking itself and my nerves which then affects my walking ability, memory, speech, and a few other things. 

They immediately started me on 2 courses of IV steroids a day and said I was being admitted for at least 5 days. The first 2 days I could barley walk properly. I walked with a gait and I had to use a walker. I was just so tired. But, I had two wonderful physical therapists who pushed me and made me realize that nothing is going to stop me from living a normal life or regaining my ability to walk. 

They gave me exercises to do in the hospital bed. They told me to only do 5 to 6 sets, but clearly they didn’t know who they we’re dealing with! I spent the next 2 nights in my bed determined to regain my strength. I pushed and pushed and by the 3rd day I regained almost all of my walking ability and was able to walk without the walker and just a cane. When this first happened, I could hardly lift my left leg. By the end of the next day I was doing kicks in my bed! I felt like a can-can girl. I cried in happiness and it made me realize that I got this. I am not going to let this dictate my life, or stop me from doing the things I have always done! I will not let this defeat me. 

I couldn’t wait to see the therapists the next morning. As soon as they came in I showed off my new moves. She said in the 35 years she has worked as a therapist, she hasn’t seen this much progress in this short amount of time. That alone gave me the strength to know I got this. Since I was doing so well, I decided I would try and concur the dreaded steps. I went from one flight to two flights! I am not walking without a cane yet. I can work short distances, but tire very easily. I’ll take anything I can get at this point. 

I was released from the hospital yesterday. I will be seeing the best MS specialist in NJ and will have to be put on some type of life long treatment plan whether it be a pill or a shot. But the way I look at it is there are so many other terrible things in this world it could have been. I am extremely grateful as weird as that sounds. It’s all about how you look at it. 

I am a very private person. I don’t post what I eat, who I date, or when I am sick. I don’t like the attention. But I wanted to share my story in hopes it will help other people going through what I have experienced. I am not going to let this define me. I will make this my bitch, because I am a MUTHA FUCKIN WARRIOR. 

I plan to return to work on Tuesday if all goes as planned. I am going to take it day by day. But I am making leaps and bounds and I am very hopeful I will fully recover. 

I couldn’t have done this without the amazing support of so many people. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude. I don’t have the proper words. I have spent the last few days realizing how truly lucky I am. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.