How the Story Begins

It all started when I woke up one Wednesday morning. I tried to get out of bed and I couldn’t. My legs didn’t want to wake up. And then the pain hit. My back felt like it was just about to break. It was excruciating. All I could think was, ‘I have to get up, I have to get to work’. I eventually managed to get out of bed, trying to push the pain to the back of my mind, and very slowly I managed to get myself showered. It took three hours to get dressed. I ate my breakfast, and I fed the dog. I was late for work. I still managed to get in the car, though I wasn’t sure how I was going to sit down for the 25 minute drive down the freeway into the south of Adelaide. I feared that my muscles would suddenly spasm mid-drive. But I’m stubborn. I drove the 25 minutes. I made a physio appointment for two days later. And I struggled through the rest of my day. And the next. And the next.

Four days later, I didn’t fully comprehend until I tried to drive, and realised I couldn’t, that I had lost the ability to flex my right foot. Actually, I didn’t have any movement in my right foot. It had completely dropped. I had unconsciously already compensated when walking. The only way I could walk was by an exaggerated movement picking up my foot and then putting it down, with no control, toes first. It was a long weekend. I’m not someone who naturally calls the doctor. I’ve seen the ads on TV. Don’t go to emergency unless its an emergency. But does this qualify as an emergency? It was a fleeting thought. So I resigned myself to staying at home and to figuring out what plan b might be for the next few days until my next physio appointment.

What went through my mind that day was not panic, nor self pity; I honestly thought it was the deterioration of a pre-existing condition that affects my nervous system. I had no idea that it was something different. And I had no idea how serious the situation was. All that went through my mind that day is how to do life. How do I get to the shops? How do I keep the kitchen tidy with housemates who have a propensity to spread crumbs everywhere? How do I get to a friend’s celebration for their newborn son? How do I take an energy-charged dog for a walk? And all the while, just very aware that it wouldn’t take much to trip over my own foot!


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