Ten steps...that's all...maybe not even that many. I could almost touch the door knob to the sterile tile bathroom located near my hospital bed. So, why wouldn't my legs cooperate and take me there? And where was a nurse when you needed one?
After two day of relative solitary confinement being prodded, probed, and pinched I was ready for a little independence.
But that was not to be.
And I really had no one to talk to about what was happening to me.
My husband didn't seem too concerned about my condition. He blamed it on an over consumption of alcohol. (I was the mother of a six month old nursing child. When did I have the time or desire to "tie one on"?)
My baby was in the care of a good friend who had graciously taken time off work to be a surrogate mother. (She later became my husband's fourth wife. Go figure.)
My mother was on vacation with her sisters somewhere in Tennessee. I was afraid to call Dad because I didn't want to worry him. I really didn't know what to tell him anyway. Besides, I was the strong child...always in control and out to prove my independence. Besides, I didn't want to aggravate his weak heart or interrupt a golf game.
This is where the virtue of pride becomes a handicap.
I know that now, but in 2001 I had something to prove.
Relieved that my collapse was not the result of the suspected stroke, I was determined to recover, reclaim my son and retreat from an unhappy marriage.
If stress is a contributing factor in MS exacerbation, I was long overdue. Child birth at age 40; an unhappy second marriage to a 43 year old adolescent; in the middle of major home renovations; trying to find spiritual peace with my decision to embark upon single parenthood.
None of that compared to my immediate dilemma of attempting to take my first steps, baby steps, since loosing my land legs 3 days before.
I could wiggle my toes and flex my feet. I lifted my knees to form a tent out of the bed sheet. Yep, everything seemed to be in working order, but I had no confidence that I could stand, let alone walk.
So, I lowered myself to the cold floor and tried out what would become my new method of physical mobility.
I scooted on my butt.
Reaching my destination I pulled myself up to the royal throne and cried, and for the last time. I would face the journey back to the bed in due time. I needed to start celebrating the little accomplishments in life. I had made it to the potty on my own. Even if it wasn't with any formal dignity.
Maybe next time I would crawl.
...and for most of the summer that's exactly what I did. By the time the new school year began I was able to join my students without them being the wiser.
Read more about living with multiple sclerosis in my young adult novel Abby.