Walk It Off

A little known—or widely known for those that went to my high school—fact about me is that in December 2006 I was tested for early onset Multiple Sclerosis. It all began, when at the age of seventeen, I suddenly and without reason, lost the use of my legs. It was rather dramatic, and even at the time I couldn’t let the irony of having spent my entire life labeled by parents as a “drama queen” pass any of us by. Of course, handling the situation with humor was, if not done on purpose, then an entirely plausible way of handling the situation. My parents were panicked, probably more so than myself, but that was because I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of not walking again. To me it was the only possible outcome.

The day following my, what I will fondly refer to as my, “episode” was uneventful in that none of the tests I endured were anything out of the blue. I visited the ER, where we were promptly told my insurance would not work; my orthopedic doctor, the one who had patched up all of my various broken bones in my life; and the phlebotomist office. By the end of the day, the most exciting thing I underwent was getting my blood drawn and a couple of x-rays. Of course, I’m condensing for intrigue, but for the most part I spent the better ¾ of a day being wheeled from office to office with nothing to show for it. In the following weeks, however, that all changed. My days of leisure in the x-ray and blood-pulling room were over, I was frighteningly moved to the big leagues: MRIs (plural), CAT scans, and PET scans became my norm. EMGs were a given, and a spinal tap, while unwelcome, was had. Predictably, or not, as the tests piled up, the mystery of what my diagnosis was grew. With only an incredibly painful back and useless leg muscles to go on, the many doctors grew increasingly flummoxed. Luckily, signs of a blood clot, stroke, or brain tumor were nil, and MS was ruled out as well. For all intents and purposes, I was a healthy seventeen-year-old girl, who just so happened to have zero use of her legs. Continue reading