I took these videos exactly one year ago, today. They were meant for my dad; I sent them to his cell phone to keep him updated on my progress.
Look how far I’ve come.
The first video, you can see that I was still concentrating on walking correctly. My gait is slightly unsteady, and that was as fast as I could walk without falling over. For those of you who knew me in college, or even now, you know I usually walk a lot faster than that! I’m in that stylish yellow “fall risk” gown, have a gait belt around my waist, so someone could grab it if I started to fall to the floor, and the nice yellow socks as a finishing touch. My eyes try to keep looking forward even though I wanted to watch my feet, watch where I’m going, to make sure I’m not going to fall. The IV is placed in my left wrist where those IV steroids went in. My smile trying is to hide how exhausted I am. My words?
“Yay! I’m walking.”
Wow. I look back on that video now, look at myself smile, hear myself laugh at how ridiculous that sounded – Yay, I’m walking – and remember the relief I felt – that I was walking somewhat normally again.
The second video consisted of another test physical therapy had me doing. I was supposed to walk with one foot in front of the other and keep my balance. I’m obviously having more difficulty in this video. You can see the slight, involuntary staggering of my feet as I try to keep one in front of the other. That was as fast as I could move. I was still slightly off balance. The involuntary movements were so frustrating. I tried to keep my foot in one place and it just wouldn’t do what I wanted it to. My words?
“Little bit harder, but I’m getting there.”
That was me one year ago. That was me trying to stay positive in an impossible situation. I was just so happy that I was beginning to get my gait back. Not many of you saw how I walked before that. Not many of you saw how I gripped a friend’s arm while walking because I had such uneven footsteps. Not many of you saw how I ran into the wall instead of walking through a doorway. Not many of you saw my hand reach out, touching the wall, steadying myself wherever I walked. Nobody saw me falling over to one side again and again, with tears of frustration running down my cheeks, as I tried to stand up straight in the shower, but couldn’t. Not many of you know that there were days where I couldn’t keep any food down, where I was vomiting until I had nothing left to throw up. Not many of you know that after I got out of the hospital the second time, I dealt with only the left side of my face being completely numb for a couple of weeks as I was put on oral steroids again.
Look where I am now. I am on my feet for 12 hours at a time when I’m at work. My gait is back, I’m walking fast again. I sometimes get back on a treadmill. I’m back to swimming. There are so many small victories that have happened in the last year. I am so thankful to every single one of you for all of your prayers and encouragement. I don’t have a problem sharing things about my MS, surprisingly. Honestly, I think it’s because I’ve had so many years of practice being open about my diabetes. The thing that is still hard, though, is talking about the emotions I felt during those months. I still can’t talk about the reactions I had without tears running down my face. I sometimes just re-live those first moments and feel depressed the rest of the day. It is an ongoing struggle to deal with the aftermath of the emotions. I looked at pictures from graduation a year ago and still feel bitter, knowing that in the couple of days after my graduation, I attended my grandmother’s funeral, I was getting MRIs, and getting a lumbar puncture done instead of celebrating. I know it may seem I harp on my MS diagnosis a lot these days, and I’m sorry for that. I don’t mean to. It has just been such a huge part of my last year. I’m not looking for a pity party either. I honestly just want people to know that recovery from a chronic disease is not easy. I am not the same person I was a year ago. These videos are just a raw image of the recovery process I was in with my first bout in the hospital.
These videos are also a testimony to how good God is. There is nobody who could have gotten me this far except God. That is a fact. You guys have all been pretty great too. Thanks for everything. I mean it. Your encouraging words really made it easier to get through some days. I just want to encourage you. If you are going through a rough season in life, if you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, just give it time. This all was a year ago in my life. Sometimes it feels like yesterday, but a year goes by so quickly. I’m in a much better place now than I was in that hospital. If you’re in a tough situation, be patient. Have faith. God will bring you through. It has been one heck of a journey for me. It’s an ongoing process, but in my own words…I’m getting there.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”
“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”