One of the things I’ve learned from having MS for most of my adult life is that your body talks to you. If you’re a healthy person, it talks to you. If you have a chronic illness, it talks more. Sometimes it’s with a mild tingle. Other times, it’s balance that’s worse than usual. And sometimes you wake up, and you can’t walk without tripping. I’d say it keeps you on your toes, but sometimes it knocks you on the floor.
I haven’t been feeling great. I’ve been more tired than usual (I blamed the multiple projects I have going on, and a LOT of recent work and family-related travel). Around Thanksgiving, walking was getting more difficult. I was tripping more than usual, and feeling generally clumsy.
With MS, you can get what are called pseudo-flares. They come when you’re tired or sick. I was fighting off a cold. I figured that was it. That might have been what it was. Or it might be a real flare – a time when the disease is active. It’s not really possible to know for sure.
This past weekend, I was teaching a workshop in Miami. As I was walking out the door to go to the airport, I grabbed an old (and uncomfortable) AFO. An AFO is an ankle-foot orthosis, and it assists in lifting your foot during the swing phase of gait if you have foot drop, a common neurological issue seen in everything from MS and stroke to knee surgery gone awry.
Those of you who have taken my workshop know that I’m not a huge fan of AFOs. They don’t help with neuroplasticity, and often people use them whether or not they really need them. But, they are also sometimes a necessary tool to make it easier to get through the day… or, an undetermined length of a walk through an airport.
So, I sucked it up and wore an AFO all weekend when I was walking any distance. And I called my doctor and cried “Uncle.” It had been a couple of weeks. It was time for medical intervention.
I spent the day yesterday at the doctor, and then in the ER, and finally admitted to receive a dose of a highly toxic but very effective medication that I had delayed taking probably too long. And, I’m going to wear the AFO for a while and maybe even get a better one because sometimes, making your life simpler isn’t giving up. It’s just letting go. It’s wearing the damn brace. And taking the icky drug. And fighting again… but just not today. Today is for rest.