For those of you that may not know, I am 5'11"with a short torso.
Yes, it's true. I have Very long legs.
Also, I have always been someone who walks Extremely fast.
Partly this is because my stride is longer than most. Or as my friend Angela says, she has to take 3 steps to every 1 of mine just to keep up. But it is also because I enjoy being a person on the move. I am impatient, I like being busy,
I like to go-Go-GO.
I am not someone who strolls or meanders.
I walk fast. Or, I used to anyway.
It is frustrating to try to walk when you can't feel the ground under you because both your legs are numb, and your balance is off so you look like a drunk (and not getting ANY of the benefits of actually being drunk!!) and you reach for every piece of furniture you pass just in case you lose your footing which could happen at any given moment.
Frankly, on days like that just getting from the couch to the bathroom is utterly exhausting.
Chris and I attended the wedding of our friends Zach & Deborah this past weekend. It was a lovely weekend with some of our dearest friends. And despite the pleas to my body, the night of the rehearsal dinner, my legs went numb...and continued to be numb off and on all weekend long. And while it is was embarrassing at times and I would have preferred to have feeling in my legs, I found that when you are with real friends, it doesn't really matter. The "415 girls" took turns helping me walk to the ladies room, the "415 boys" helped me up/down those darn marble stairs and brought me ice water when my fever was spiking and after a while I forgot that I was dealing with all this medical crapola and just enjoyed being with our friends.
After the wedding, I spent a few days with Jennifer (my best friend from childhood) and her family who live in Cherry Hill, NJ. Jennifer is an RN so she isn't at all squeamish about medical ailments and it would seem her daughter Lola, who is almost 3, is following in her footsteps. Upon arriving at their house Sunday evening I was way past due on my injection so I quickly began getting out my equipment and preparing my syringe. Without missing a beat, Lola sat next to me and asked, "What are you doing Caroline?"
"Well I have to give myself a shot."
"Well because I am sick and this shot will help make me better."
"Can I help?"
Not wanting to allow a 3 year old to play with needles I gave her the all-important task of swabbing the vial with alcohol and throwing the non-biohazard trash away. She was thrilled.
Then taking advantage of my RN friend I asked Jenn to give me my shot, which she gladly did. You can always tell the RNs from the rookies because RNs shots don't hurt. Barely felt it.
And Lola who has sat and watched the whole thing without being the least bit squeamish (Future RN, I just know it) looks up and asks, "All better, Caroline?"
And when an adorable 3 year old smiles up at you after wholeheartedly helping prepare your injection...How can you not feel all better?
So after a cancelled and then rescheduled flight home to ATL, I found myself for the first time since my diagnosis...in a large airport, alone, tired and legs a little wobbly with no friendly or husbandly arm to hold onto for support. I was nervous, yes, but also determined to make it to baggage claim by myself. I began my slow walk down the concourse and discovered something: walking at tortoise speed wasn't going to kill me. It didn't even hurt. In fact- it gave me the opportunity to people watch (which I love), to stroll, meander even...and I found myself smiling. I am alone in the ATL airport, my legs wobbly, my vision absolutely horrible and still seeing double-everything...and I am smiling because at 27 I finally realize- what's the big rush? Why did I have to walk so fast my whole life? What was I in such a big hurry to get to?
A friend once gave me a book called "The Precious Present" and if you haven't read it, you should. I re-read it at least once a year (its very short) to remind myself its okay to live in the Now and enjoy the present. Well nothing has hammered that point home like MS has. I am so thrilled for every day I wake up and feel good. I don't mind that I have to walk a little slower or cover one eye to be able to read something. I am grateful for the health that I have and for the good days.
I am looking forward to more opportunities in my life to stop and smell the roses...