I’ve been updating this site way too infrequently, I know, and hardly sticking to my promise to maintain it in some fashion after leaving SNY.tv for USA Today. But I’ve been busy, and too many hours at the computer make my back act up.
About that: I’m again riding my bike for MS research. If you are for some reason still checking TedQuarters, you can help by donating to the cause here.
About that: I’m happy to report that the disease hasn’t progressed much in the years since I wrote this and this and this. My back hurts and I can’t fully feel the pinkie and ring fingers on my left hand. I’ve grown so used to it at this point that I don’t know if I’d even call it pain most of the time. It’s just what it is.
But since I’m used to it — and since I’m gunning for donations here — here’s an anecdote I’m not sure I’ve ever shared publicly before:
It took roughly a million doctor’s visits and tests to diagnose the MS, in part because my case was a bit complicated even by the strange standards of neurological health issues. I kept having to go get MRIs at a place near Columbus Circle, and when you’ve got back problems (and some mild claustrophobia), MRIs suck. I’m not a big drinker, but I used to sometimes buy whiskey at a nearby liquor store so I could take a couple slugs before going in the tube.
It was right after the final MRI I got — the one that diagnosed the disease — when something went awry. Before I could put my all my clothes back on in the dressing room, I entirely lost control of my left arm. It wasn’t the first time it happened, but it was by far the most severe of the incidents. It became spasmodic. I could vaguely control it at the shoulder but nowhere else.
I couldn’t even button my pants, so I had to pull my belt on tight just to walk out of the place with my pants on. And I was so concerned about what the hell was happening to me that I didn’t think to tell the people at the MRI place or anything. It wasn’t even overwhelmingly uncomfortable; it was just terrifying.
To that point, the worst diagnosis I had heard was that I had a strained muscle in my back. One doctor insisted I merely had bad posture. And it was really only at that moment, stumbling around under some scaffolding on 57th and Broadway, that I knew something must be seriously f#@$ed up.
It was such a strange sensation that I couldn’t think of anything else, even decisions as mundane as getting on the subway to go home. I somehow made my way to the obnoxious high-end Columbus Circle shopping mall and sat at a dirty table in the bookstore drinking bourbon out of my backpack until the feeling in my arm was restored.
This reference might not seem appropriate for the gravity of the moment (in my head, at least), but the best comparison I can think of from movies is the scene in District 9 when the guy is first becoming an alien, and the alien arm rips out from inside his and he says, “Doctor, what has happened to my arm?”
That part of that movie was completely chilling to me, because what happened to me felt exactly like some sort of alien life form was taking over my body from inside. District 9. No joke.
Turns out it wasn’t extraterrestrial forces but my own stupid immune system, which has expressed a strong distaste for my body on numerous occasions.
Whatever. I don’t really know where I was going with that, except to try to get at how scary it can be to come down with some indistinct disease that causes you to lose control of your body. So, you know, donate if you can. No pressure.
Also, on a totally unrelated note: You can check out nearly all the writing I do at USA Today here. RSS that piece.
This post might be of particular interest to TedQuarters readers.