By Joey Butler
In November of 2016, I was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a neurological condition that caused me to be paralyzed for a week and took several months for me to be functional again. I had to endure inpatient physical therapy, outpatient physical therapy and left the hospital with a list of medications that I may be on for the rest of my life. I had to relearn how to walk and adjust to nerve pain that was constant and increased if I did anything active. Because of these changes in my life and health, I gained more weight and became hopeless that I would ever be able to lose it since I couldn’t exercise without pain. Since then, I fell into a depression and struggled with so many different aspects of life in general.
Then in April of 2017, it all changed. Something clicked and I decided that no more would I allow TM to control my life, no more would I let it slow me down and destroy my family. So, I decided that it was time to get up and get moving, it was time to get up and lose the weight that I had gained. So, I found a local gym and joined. Joining a gym with TM is a scary proposition. When you combine the nerve pain, the weakness, and the insecurities of how you walk, all together that equals a large amount of anxiety. There are so many different reasons for a person with TM to not join a gym, but I decided to look past all that anxiety and get to work.
When I weighed myself in April of 2017 I weighed in at an insane 325 lbs. This was by far the largest number I had ever seen on the scale, which added to the depression and anxiety. This was the moment that it all changed for me, and sitting back and literally killing myself one cheeseburger at a time was no longer going to be an option.
To anyone who has TM and is thinking about exercise (talk to your doctors first), I highly recommend that you just look past the anxiety and get in and move. Start small, then build up. It took me a month or so before I became comfortable with myself enough to start posting pictures of my progress. Quickly after that, people started telling me how inspirational it was. People started telling me how awesome it was to see me in the gym and moving. That’s when it hit me – if pushing through the nerve pain, if pushing through the exhaustion, if pushing through all of that anxiety will help just one person get up and get moving, then it is all worth it.