Okay.. I’m the queen of optimism here… Anyone who knows me- knows this fact. Since reports came back from my kindergarten teacher in 1973 it was on record. “Smiles, endless smiles. Amy is so happy, she’s a joy to have in class” Now granted.. this was news to my mom being that my home life was different. Ever since my sister came on the scene my role changed. Only 20 months younger than me, she catapulted me from center stage, and I hadn’t even sung my big number yet. So, my shining persona was not evident in the daily family experience. Imagine that.
Years later that sunny disposition and overall optimism “in-spite-of-it-all” has carried me through so many of life’s dire moments. And its that attitude that keeps me going no matter how hard MS pushes me back.
But I’VE HAD IT!!! (as previously stated!)
Of the myriad of symptoms I invisibly juggle everyday… Foot Drop has been an unwelcome repeat offender. To clarify.. Foot Drop is when your foot does not listen to the message to pick itself up~ so, at the all important moment, say when one is taking a step, the toe portion drops down… igniting a trip-stumble-fall scenario that is very unpredictable and usually humiliating.
Walking through the NYC streets and stumbling on nothing does not do much for your cool, unfazed city image. But since I was labeled a “klutz” long before diagnosis… it was not an unfamiliar feeling. I can only imagine how this disease impacts people who were dancers or athletes. For me, however, it was a couple of notches lower on the less than 0 scale of coordination.
And yes.. I’ve got many amusing/pathetic stories of kissing asphalt in NYC. This was one of my incentives for using a stabilizing stick on my commute. It has saved me from many falls since I added it to my routine. When I get to work (at NYU Film school) I walk the halls sans stick. Not because I’m working on a particular image amongst the students… it’s great to be an adult who is beyond caring about those things… but more because I’m comfortable in that space… and have things to carry- rendering the stick inconvenient.
So.. we are finally narrowing in on the story leading up to this interjection!
It was almost time to leave. A student asked me a question that I did not know the answer to… so I threw caution to the wind and walked 10 feet to someone I was sure knew the answer. On my return trip (as it were), approaching the staircase that was situated between the start and end point- I did just that. I tripped dramatically. I was as horizontal as one can be without flying (or sleeping) until I righted myself. I was furious!!! The spectacle of the matter didn’t help. There were many around observing me trip over a phantom item.. and as I pulled myself back up I was standing next to a faculty member who was leaving the staircase and made a light-hearted joke. This would normally have been how I would have handled this exhibition, but this time I was pissed! Dammit! I can’t even walk a circle of 20 feet without displaying my brain defect! And for some reason I wouldn’t laugh it off. I was furious. So, I uncontrollably stated: “You know I have MS right!? This happened because of an MS symptom! I have foot drop! So I trip over nothing!” Poor guy. Talk about being caught in crossfire. It was me and my MS and we were yelling it out for everyone to see… and hear. This particular faculty member is a sweet guy… we’ve always had such a lovely “hello-goodbye-have-a-nice-day” sort of relationship. And now, he found himself in the midst of my tirade of frustration and anger and he remained sweet.
So I left for the day with my stick supporting me through the commute home as I grumbled to myself about how I can’t even walk 10 feet without tripping. I was angry and feeling sorry for myself.
I was diagnosed with MS when I was 20. I never had a period of my life where I felt in control of things. Just as I was leaving my tumultuous teens and embarking on a life of my own… taking over the role of “boss of me” from my parents, I had a new boss. One that appeared unexpectedly and told me I couldn’t do the things everyone else was doing. One that has a job plan for me, but refused to allow me to be prepared for it. And once I got used to my new job requirements they changed. Everything becomes more challenging and my ability to meet the requirements are much harder. But in the end… I always matched them.
Days later it feels like a distant happening. Another story to tuck in to my over-flowing-suitcase under my bed. I’m not sure if being pissed really served me. I think I prefer to be strong and humorous. I suppose that makes this ride more tolerable.
And so it evolves.
One of those regrettable “can’t-take-it-back but dammit” moments there’s supposed to be “education” in. “Jeez, what was I supposed to learn from that?” people ask, and in this case, not a freakin’ legitimate question. You’ve already LEARNED from Limitation City.
We all do incredibly questionable things in response to what underlying currents run within us. Others perhaps see only the slings and arrows. We, though, are the ones truly stung, The “sweet guy” will never even be able to imagine the impact of the moment as it was for you.
And so it goes, in each life’s grimosities (hidden or not). And why, perhaps, so many of us choose to hide them from even those close to us.
Thank you for sharing this story. I’m sure all have had, or certainly will have, that moment of “Damn it!!!! I HATE this thing inside of me!!” It seems to be the releasing of pressure (venting) which allows us to save some room for ourselves within this body.
By immediately purging, you were able to let this incident become “like a distant happening.” That’ seem like a nice way to approach the stumbles and leave more room for yourself inside. Evolution and adaptation are key.
Hey…you have every right to feel pissed and fed up! MS can suck! And it is humiliating to be falling all over the place. I have been there. But you know…it is usually more of a big thing in our minds than it is for others watching. Usually when I am out and about…I am with my son who has autism who is usually engaging in all sorts of interesting things like squealing, singing, and hopping so…my falling doesn’t really attract that much attention. :>)
Sorry I haven’t been here in awhile…I have to catch up!
You have the right to be pissed. You remind me how lucky I am not to have gotten this disease until I had a great 30 years. Still. lately I’m pissed about it a lot. Let yourself stew, you’ll cycle around again eventually or so they tell me.
Hey there…just checking up on you to see how you are doing. Have a good weekend!
hey again…another weekend is upon us…hope you are doing okay.
How well I can relate to your “tripping over nothing” issues. I used to trip over the cracks in the sidewalk frequently, much to the amusement of my wife and/or companions at that particular time.
Fortunately, I am now so aware of this possibility that I am rarely faced with such embarrassment– though it still happens occasionally. My gate is much slower now and more deliberate, so I suppose this attributes to my less-frequent spills.