It started as most things in my life do, in the yoga studio. I was in a yoga teacher-training program, and was spending a lot of time in the wood floored studio. One day, my right foot started dragging a little bit, swooshing slightly on the floor. It started getting worse, swooshing louder and louder, and then the muscle spasms started. The nerve pain, burning and tingling and electric. I lost the ability to taste almost all foods. The ability to hold my bladder, the inability to sit for longer than an hour. Temperature sensitivity in my right leg. And oh lord, the sciatica.
I also stopped sleeping. And eating (everything tasted like ash). I started crying. Freaking out. Called my general practitioner who referred me to a neurologist. Tests, exams, evaluations. Shrugged shoulders, suspected diagnoses, eye rolls, insurance fights. MRIs, a lot of them, Dalek techno over and over and over.
When the worst had past, a couple months later, I got an official diagnosis: idiopathic transverse myelitis. I go back for MRIs every year for the next 5 years, and am always on the lookout for symptoms, progression. They discovered that my osteroarthritis had gotten worse and I have several bulging discs in my spine. No new lesions, thank goodness.
My taste slowly came back, my sleeping improved. Most of the nerve pain is gone and only slight swooshing on the floor. Picking up the pieces from what you can’t fully explain to others. I am very lucky—one of my friends also had a TM attack. I remember her telling me about it a few years ago, not putting everything together in my mind until my hindsight was 20/20—she got it instantly. We are always recovering from it, every day.
Now, I am a contrary individual. The best way to get me to do something is to tell me that I shouldn’t do it—ask my parents or my husband or my friends. I just can’t help myself. So when the doctors said that running was probably not the best form of exercise for me, well, that just rankled. Not one to say no, I am running the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon on May 3, 2015. I have to, to prove that I can, and while I am at it I might as well raise money for the TMA and awareness for TM.
I run crooked, because that’s just how it is now. And I like to think I am running for all of our recoveries, for all our treatments, for all the explanations. A little presumptuous? Maybe. But it’ll keep me going.
And by the way, I did finish the teacher training program. A little crookedly.