I can walk.
Sure, it sounds simple. But last year around Valentine's Day, I started having weird bouts of pain and disability that would pop up in different parts of my body. By St. Patrick's Day, I was hobbling and in near constant pain. Doctors were stumped. My family practice doc checked my blood for everything. I gave more blood in the lab in one week than you do in a blood drive. The list of results takes up pages. I had none of the things she tested me for. She sent me to a rheumatologist, who sent me to a neurologist. He sent me to another neurologist who, I kid you not, put needles deep into my muscles and ran current through them. I was told I had some symptoms for several things but not enough symptoms for any one thing. I wasn't sick enough to diagnose, but I couldn't walk.
I won't go through the emotional details of this whole thing or talk at length about how I still graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English from Texas Lutheran University that spring around Mother's Day. You could ask the folks who saw me grimace how that looked. Don't ask my husband. Watching all this took a toll on him that I wouldn't like to repeat.
There have been medication scares and adjustments and additions. I finally got a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis, which some of you right now are confusing with the arthritis your grandma has in her left forefinger. It's not like that. You could look it up. I have some other stuff going on with my spine, but I am not going to be paralyzed like my neurologist feared the day he called me andtold me to have my husband very safely and carefully drive me to the ER and not leave until the neurosurgeon confirmed I was not about to become a quadraplegic. I spent our 28th anniversary on April 29, 2010 in the hospital in order to confirm that I will have control of all four of my limbs to some degree for the foreseeable future.
The meds are working pretty good. I am not using the cane that was my constant companion for a year and a half. Do you know how hard it is to negotiate the halls of a large university to get your master's degree with a cane in one hand, a bag of books and a computer on the other shoulder, and a cup of coffee to shove in there somewhere? That cane is not going to be missed.
I am not getting rid of it. It folds, and I keep it in my car. I will always have Rheumatoid Arithritis, and I will have flare ups that will temporarily send me back to the cane. Hopefully, not to the one that has four little tips on it for the really bad days or the wheelchair that I used for one weekend last April.
Just before my military rheumatologist was reassigned, I asked her to send me to physical therapy to regain my range of motion and my strength. I used to be the person last standing in any physical endeavor. Now, I cheer when I can climb stairs.
And I can climb them. I am working my way around the room at PT, kicking ass on the equipment, although leg lifts holding a ball between my knees is not a fun thing. Trust me. Yesterday, the PT was especially hard, but I still rocked that room even though I was crying like a baby.
So, I can walk. I am not running, but I never ran before the RA. I can paint my own toenails. Yesterday, I even replaced the faucet in my kitchen, to include all the climbing under the sink and everything. It was grand. My muscles ached last night. It wasn't from joint damage but rather the PT and the plumbing. Today, I am taking a holiday from everything but writing. I am grateful.
I can walk.