My Day #25 of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge post is a memory shared in the third person. I am going to share the memory of the day my life changed….
It was March 2003. Her master’s thesis was accepted. This was good news. Now it was time to do something about the muscle spasm in her mid-back that Peggy attributed to sitting many hours at the computer. A visit to the doctor, a few sessions of physical therapy and she’d be as good as new. At least that was her expectation.
The doctor, being cautious, performed a series of neurological tests. He didn’t like the responses he was getting so he ordered an MRI of the spine to make sure that there wasn’t something more amiss.
She had noticed subtle changes in her balance and coordination so it came as no surprise when the radiologist said, “Peggy, I am unable to get these small white spots on your spine to disappear. I think you have MS.” Tears began to flow. She knew it to be true. As an occupational therapist she knew the impact of this illness and its potential for limiting mobility. This was not good news.
How would she tell her family? Why was this happening to her? Why now? She had more questions than answers. She felt weak in the knees and sick to her stomach. This is not at all what she imagined her future to be. What about her work? The rest of the day was a blur. She shared the news with her family, downplaying her fear, not wanting to upset them. On the outside she was a strong woman. This was just a small bump in the road. On the inside, she was feeling deep emotional pain and very much afraid. This part, she kept hidden and denied its presence. Little did she know that allowing this part to be seen was key to living well with her illness.
The diagnosis was confirmed a few months later by a neurologist who specialized in treating patients with multiple sclerosis.