The following post is part of The Girl Behind The Blog series that details my story of illness and recovery starting in March of 2007. I believe that God created me for a reason and each experience I have can draw me closer to HIM and be used to encourage others. This post and those that follow in the series detail a pivotal moment in my life that changed me forever.
Being off work for weeks at time would normally be awesome but when you are sick those weeks feel like an eternity. My days were all starting to blend together as I settled into my new routine. With a mono diagnosis the prescribed treatment is rest. So that is what I did. I rested. I couldn’t participate in any of my regular activities. Not that I actually felt well enough to do them, but to go from as active as I was to sleeping on the couch all day was as mentally tasking to my system as any workout ever was. No gym, hiking, running, mountain biking, or lifting weights. Instead I decided to make good use of my sick time by planning my upcoming wedding. In between wedding planning I watched tv and of course took several naps during the day.
Over the next two weeks I didn’t notice any significant change in how I was feeling physically. My legs were still bothering me and it seemed to be getting harder to walk. I had a feeling deep down that something else going on besides the mono. Have you ever had a feeling like that? It was like my body was sending me all these clues to solve a mystery but I just couldn’t put my finger on the culprit. I decided to make an appointment with a neurologist to see if they could pinpoint the cause of the weakness and tingling sensations in my legs. I was starting to feel like a prisoner in my own body and I was determined to figure out the cause as soon as possible so I could return to my life that had been put on hold.
Each day brought several calls from friends and family checking in to see how I was doing. Most of time I had nothing new to report. It can get a little monotonous at times answering the same questions over, and over again. While I was very appreciative of everyones love and concern for me, each phone call only reiterated that I wasn’t feeling any better. My overall mood was starting to sour. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting better. I was praying, resting, drinking fluids, and following every other order I had received from the doctor.
I met with my first neurologist at the very end of March. My emotions were mixed. I was scared, anxious, and hopeful all at the same time that nothing or something would be discovered lurking within my body. After a very detailed exam it was determined that all of my symptoms were a direct result from a rare interaction between the antibiotic I had been prescribed and the mono. This again was encouraging! I left that appointment feeling like if I could just go home and rest for a few more days all would be well.
My loving fiancé, now hubby, Josh made it a point to come and see me on his lunch breaks when he could. He was in the process of testing for the City of Mesa’s Fire Department and currently worked for the Aquatic Department. With my time off from work I was helping him study for his upcoming test by making him flashcards out of his testing packet and book. Each day I would have a new stack of cards waiting for him to take home and add to his ever growing pile.
In mid April during one of Josh’s lunch time visits I was in mid walk down the hallway to go to the bathroom. I was getting ready to take a step forward when my legs unexpectedly and suddenly gave out from underneath me. Trying to regain balance was useless. I had absolutely no say in what my legs were doing. My arms also seemed to be disconnected from my body because I was telling them to move to help break my fall and they did nothing. I came crashing to the floor, falling on my face.
Uncontrollable sobs escaped my lips as Josh rushed over and picked me up off the floor. Never in my life had I felt so helpless. With tears pouring down my cheeks, I cried as Josh held me. Within the hour I had another appointment scheduled with the neurologist.
There is so much I want to share with you. So many things I could tell you about what it is like to not be able to trust your own body. It is the ultimate betrayal. My body that I had known for over 23 years of life was suddenly unfamiliar to me. I could not count on my arms to be steady enough to use a knife or my legs to carry me as I walked and driving was definitely out of the question. Simple everyday tasks that I had taken for granted were now out of my control because I had no control over my body.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I headed back into the neurologists office. Waiting for the physicians assistant to come in was leaving my stomach in knots. The PA knocked twice on the door, entered the room and greeted me with a kind smile and warm handshake. I was asked to perform various tasks like standing calf raises (I was only able to muster up 5 hanging on to the wall for support) and walking down the hallway in straight-line as though I was on a balance beam (had I actually been on a balance beam I would have fallen straight to the floor). I felt nothing as a dull needle was used to poke the bottom of feet and had a non existent reaction to having my knee tapped. Obviously, at this point it was clear, I was not just dealing with mononucleosis.
Towards the end of the appointment I was given a brief breakdown on what might be causing my symptoms. The list ranged from Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic or Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, HIV, Sexually Transmitted Disease, or an Autoimmune Disorder. I was shocked at what I could possibly be dealing with. The lab request for my blood draw was impressive looking and I was going to be scheduled for a nerve conductivity test. I wasn’t worried about getting diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease or HIV because I was not sexually active and had never had any blood transfusions. On the other hand, the remaining possibilities seemed to be looming over my head like a dark cloud.
By this time it was starting to look like I was going to be out of work a little longer than initially anticipated. At 23 years old I filed FMLA paperwork with the City of Chandler for a medical leave. I was draining my vacation and sick leave time and was starting to freak out about future mortgage payments, medical bills, and car payments. Each day during my quiet time I would pray and pray asking God to make me better.
A week later, after my blood work had come back negative for every test that was run, I returned to my neurologist for a nerve conductivity test. Nerve conduction studies are used mainly to evaluate the function of the motor and sensory nerves in the body. In my case this test would help reveal the extent of the weakness in my legs. I had several pairs of metal disc electrodes attached to my skin from my knees down to my feet. I looked like a science experiment. After I was hooked up, quick electrical pulses were given to each nerve and the results showed the time it took for my muscles to contract in response to the shocks.
The test was uncomfortable but not unbearable. It was an odd sensation to know the shock had been delivered but not see any reaction from my muscles until moments later. I was finally going to know what was happening with my body. I sat on the edge of my chair as the neurologist started to go over the results of my test.
Thanks for reading and here is Part 5 to continue the story.