I'm pleased to welcome my friend Debby Myers to the Window today. She has stories to share and a storyteller's voice to do it with.
I try not to give too much writer advice--I'm not an expert by any means--but I know the place to start a story is where something changes. Debby's story today starts with a huge change. Please make her welcome.
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. - John Lennon
Where did I go? Why am I feeling forced into being someone I’m not? Why do I feel like I’m gone? Only I seem to know that I’m never coming back.
February 22, 2016. One day I will not soon forget. A couple of days earlier, I’d been at work at my job as a co-manager for Kroger. Towards the end of my shift, my right leg kept giving out on me. It felt like it was buzzing, numb, prickly. I thought maybe I was just tired. When I got home, I went to bed.
When my alarm went off at seven a.m., I stepped out of bed and fell. I couldn’t feel my right leg at all. I sat on the edge of the bed and began rubbing my leg. That seemed to help bring the feeling back. I showered and got ready for work, all the while feeling the strange sensations in my leg. I started to feel a sharp pain in my back too. That’s when I decided to make a quick trip to the Redi-Med. I called my husband, who was very concerned. I called my boss to let him know I’d be late, but would be in after my visit to the Redi-Med.
That decision led me to the ER for a cat scan, blood work, and X-rays. The ER doctor said the tests hadn’t revealed anything, but because of the numbness, he was afraid it might be neurological. Neurological--what did that mean? Then he said they would be taking me by ambulance to have an MRI and see a neurologist.
Now, I’d never had an MRI before but just the thought of it terrified me. And an ambulance? Was this an emergency? What was happening to me? This was the beginning of my losing myself. I called my husband. He was on his way. He seemed terrified too. I called my boss. He seemed terrified too. Was I dying?
Once there, I was taken to a room in the neurological wing. For 24 hours after arriving, I sat and waited for someone to tell me what was wrong. I cried, I yelled at nurses, more symptoms arrived. Not only was my right leg numb, I still had the stabbing pain in my back and now I had this squeezing pain in my ribcage and I felt like my head was going to explode.
Finally, they took me for the MRI. Several hours later, a doctor came in. He said I had a mass on my spine, possibly a tumor. By this time, my daughters were there. Now they also looked terrified. A tumor? Were they going to remove it?
The doctor didn’t have any answers yet. He was not a neurologist. He said that they were going to do a spinal tap. What? They were going to stick a huge needle in my spine? Why were they testing my spinal fluid? Did they think this tumor on my spine was cancer? I’d been afraid in my life before, but nothing like this.
A neurologist came into my hospital room where I’d spent two of the most trying days I'd ever known. He explained that I didn’t have a tumor after all. He told me that the mass on my spine was a large sack of inflammation. The inflammation had been the result of my nervous system attacking itself. He said the myelin on my nerve endings had been eaten away, causing my nerves to send mixed signals to the rest of my body. This caused the numbness, buzzing, and prickly feelings as well as the stabbing pain in my back at the sight of the inflammation. It also led to the squeezing in my rib cage.
My first questions seem very stupid to me now. So, do I need to take some medicine? How long until I’m better?
The doctor replied, “You aren’t really going to get better. You have Multiple Sclerosis. There is no cure, but we will manage your condition.”
Multiple Sclerosis? Manage my condition? Wait a minute…I have to get better, right? He said I had had the condition for decades, that I had 15 brain lesions and two on my spine. He said I was lucky that I’d gone this long without an attack. He would send me home with steroids to reduce the inflammation and would see me again in two weeks. At that time, they would start me on an MS drug to help prevent future attacks.
He would initially take me off work for 90 days to see if any of my symptoms subsided enough for me to return. He also told me I should apply for disability. Oh no. I could surely go back to work, right?
The first MS drug I was given caused side effects. More symptoms. I had to go through four months of detox, which made me weak and nauseous.
My short-term disability was exhausted and I was terminated. My disability was denied. The doctor said he couldn’t give a definitive answer as to my ability to work yet and I had to file an appeal.
Shortly after that, my husband said he thought we should get a second opinion. He felt this doctor wasn’t invested in helping me like he should be. So, I got a new neurologist. She made me feel comfortable, because she didn’t pull any punches. But she gave me more bad news. My MS is primary progressive–meaning my symptoms are with me to stay and I won’t have remission, only progression.
So, let’s go back to the first paragraph. Where did I go? Why do I feel like I am gone? Because, in truth, I am gone. The woman I was before February 22 no longer exists. She worked 50 hours a week on her feet, supporting her household. She was a social butterfly, always on the move. She was trim and fit. She traveled. She played at the park or jumped on the trampoline with her grandchildren. She cooked, cleaned, and shopped. That woman is gone. That was me & now I’m trying to figure out how to be me again. To be continued…
Debby Myers lives in Peru, Indiana with her husband, Alan. She has three grown children. She has four grandchildren who are the apples of her eye - Makenna,Taylor, Izaac & Jameson. Debby is a graduate of Maconaquah High School and International Business College, where she studied business management. Most recently she was employed as a co-manager for Kroger for 15 years. In the past she co-owned & operated a local day care for seven years, worked in development at the Honeywell Center for five years and "played" as a radio personality for Peru's former radio station 98.5 FM for nearly 10 years. Debby has been involved with Ole Olsen Memorial Theater for 22 years now. She has performed, worked backstage, costumed & served on the Board of Directors, where she now serves as Publicity Chairman. But her true love is directing. This season she will direct her 15th show. Debby is also a member of the Ole Olsen Hall of Fame. Since her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 2016, she has embarked on doing some writing. In her spare time she likes to read, listen to country music, and travel. Having been to 40 of the 50 states, her next destination will be the Eastern part of the US, particularly New York City to see a show on Broadway.
A year and a half ago, Debby visited Word Wranglers. Click on the link and read what she shared with us that day.