A few weeks ago my family and friends came together to support me at our local Walk MS event. They raised funds, they sacrificed their Saturday morning, they donned their orange gear, and they walked with me…all three of those sunny miles. As I walked I remembered how I struggled through the one mile route the year before and had to keep slowing down to take little breaks. I was humbled in that moment thinking back on all of the ways my friends and family support me. A year ago my husband was in the habit of constantly checking in on me and asking if my legs needed a break whenever we walked anywhere. He scouted for benches and elevators everywhere we went. He circled the parking lot looking for a spot just a little closer to the door. Friends offered to walk with me in case I needed a hand along the way. My family members would find me a chair when they knew I needed a break from standing. You all looked out for me because you knew that I was too stubborn to do it myself.
Although it’s been a little over a year and a half since my legs weakened, I am constantly amazed at all that my body has been able to correct in such a short period of time. When the weakness was at its worst I honestly thought it would be years before I was able to walk comfortably without assistance and the thought of needing help all that time made me anxious. Those first few months were some of the hardest months of my life. I didn’t trust my feet or my legs. I tripped over nothing and stumbled on an almost daily basis. I was terrified of curbs and uneven sidewalks. I dreaded the snow and ice and kept close to walls and hand rails on wet surfaces. I was discouraged. I was fatigued. I was struggling to figure out how I was going to make it through the rest of my life if that was what I had to look forward to. I would cry on my way home from work a couple of times each week and pray for easier days.
Then, little by little, my body started to heal. My legs became more reliable and my feet felt a little less clumsy. As a result, my fatigue lessened and I realized that I was able to make it through the day without that lunchtime nap. This body has been through a lot but it never, ever ceases to amaze me. The healing happens so incredibly slowly after a relapse that you don’t even really notice it until one day you realize you can do something that used to give you trouble or you realize that it’s been a week since you’ve tripped over flat carpet at work and almost fallen. I still struggle to rise from a chair and I still struggle with steps at times but my legs no longer give out on me and I can walk as far as I please. It’s amazing to think about all that our body is capable of and I’m truly grateful that I get to experience this life.
Little by little, day by day, I get a bit better and although I may never be 100%, I’ve discovered that everything doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be wonderful.
Thank you to all of those who have reached out to me over the past few years and offered to help or offered words of encouragement. Thank you for acknowledging my needs and my limitations. Thank you for offering me your chair or agreeing to turn on the AC even though the temperature was comfortable for you. Thank you for asking me if I needed a break or if I was ok. Thank you for asking me about my medications or the results of my scans. Thank you for all of the ways you express your love and concern. When I look back at the photo we took at Walk MS I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to have such amazing friends and family and I am truly grateful for you all.