A Leg to Stand On

Allow me to introduce you to Devin Stratton, a 25-year-old Utah man who captured himself on video accidentally falling off a 150-foot cliff while skiing.
Horrifying, right? He surely didn't survive and, if he did, he's probably paralyzed or hooked up to countless machines keeping him alive... right?
Devin walked away uninjured, without so much as a bruise. After falling off a cliff. A cliff!
Meanwhile, earlier this summer, the doctor told me I have a tibial plateau fracture. Did I have a similar cliff-related freak accident?

I tripped over a doggie gate. In my own home.
I can't even blame it on MS clumsiness.
I heard a pop, and the pain was worse than anything I've experienced before—the kind that makes you feel like you're going to pass out, throw up and mess your pants simultaneously.
I've spent a lot of time since then on the living room couch, and I've had some opportunity to reflect.
I'm so fortunate that my husband was present for my (not so) gracefully executed accident. He was an absolute necessity to get me off the floor and help me to function in the follow weeks (...and counting).
He has had to do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. He has had to help me walk, get in and out of bed and the couch, go to the bathroom, get dressed, bathe, everything. He's even come home every day during his lunch hour to prepare my lunch and to let our dogs out. Additionally, I was unable to help my mom with last minute preparations and tasks before my brother’s wedding, and I also had to make some difficult decisions regarding my professional dance troupe.
I felt useless and like I was letting everyone down.
And it was frustrating. It was obvious I couldn't function by myself, but as each day passed, and despite my saint of a husband never complaining, I couldn't help but feel like a burden.
And one day, seated in the shower, as my husband handed me my just-out-of-reach towel before hoisting me out, I realized:
What if this is what my future holds?
What if, one day, MS takes away my mobility? Is this what it's like?
If there is one thing I have learned from living with MS, it's the ability to recognize the learnable moments when I feel the lowest and most unfortunate.
These few weeks of bountiful self-pity and very limited mobility have forced me to pause and remember that I am not a burden. Everything my husband does is out of love. I didn't choose this life, but he did. And I need to embrace my good fortune and accept that love.
I've also had to accept the reality of my epiphany in the shower that someday, yes, I might lose my mobility. Or it could be something else. Or maybe nothing at all. Maybe the ways MS affects me now will be the way my disease forever stays. And you know what? I've got it pretty good.
Having MS can consume you with uncertainty, but if there is one thing that I am absolutely sure of, it's that I'm so grateful for today. Whatever it may bring.
Even if it's a doggie gate.
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Cat Stappas

Cat was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013 and writes about her experiences in her blog, It's Only A Bruise. She hopes to make the dark corners of the internet a little bit less scary for both the newly and the long-time diagnosed with some honesty, positivity and — sometimes — some tongue-in-cheek humor. You can read her blog here and follow her on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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  • Susan Lesperance   Aug 9, 2017 4:53 PM
    Cat, you and Rusty share a love that some will never find or know. May God continue to bless your marriage. Love to you both.
  • JANET   Aug 11, 2017 10:00 AM
    Thank you for your story. One Day At A Time I am blessed that MS hasn't left me immobile. There is always that wonder, if, when, how long? I just carry on and have replaced fear with faith.
    God bless you.
  • sharon   Aug 11, 2017 11:31 AM
    I find that balance is a huge issue. I turned sideways and pretty much tripped over my own feet!😖Fell and broke my hip. UGH! A walker is my new best friend.
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    sarah_all1  Aug 11, 2017 6:49 PM
    I'm so sorry about your broken leg, Cat, and I feel your non-MS injury pain. I was feeling fabulous last month and (stupidly) decided to try to ride my son's skateboard. I had about 20 seconds of fun before the board went out from under me and I landed straight down on my left hand, fracturing the radial head of my arm. So, I busted my elbow. Also like you, I have a saint of a husband that took care of me and our son, made dinner, did the dishes, and put up with my dysfunction. It's good to know that if things go downhill with the MS, though mentally I refuse to let that happen, we are truly fortunate to have wonderful men by our sides. Life is good. :)
  • Cindy   Aug 23, 2017 10:32 AM
    What a sweet husband you have. I had ankle surgery last January for a fractured fibula. My husband returned to work the following day and left me to fend for myself. I struggled to get around the house and make make my meals. Never even got a phone call from him to check in. Sometimes it's the little things that mean so much. I pray every day that I stay mobile despite having MS.
  • jorrell986s  Oct 7, 2017 9:59 PM
    Okay, the first day I was diagnosed with MS, I jumped for joy! My previous family doctor wrote off the lack of balance and double vision as not enough sleep and too much stress. The old Doctor told me that for 10 years. Then I moved, new family Doctor freaked out that I had 6th cranial nerve Palsy and sent me to a Neurologist, the first time ever! I was diagnosed within a month via MRI and spinal tap, I nailed each and every diagnosis determination. That was 4 years ago, I've been through Copaxone (fail) and Tecfidera (working great).I have not had a relapse since, but seems that the "minor" issues have gradually gotten worse.

    One of them was urine leaking (very minor) so I was sent to a bladder neurologist. They did the bladder study, the results were that my bladder was perfectly oval and A-OK. One thing though, despite the average of 500cc bladder capacity for a man, my bladder had gradually stretched to hold 946cc, nearly double standard. But since everything else was perfect, the bladder neurologist stated that he wished his bladder could have such a volume!

    Of course, down stairs, things are not perfect, they are helping me resolve those issues.
    I am still working as a Design Engineer and passing my knowledge to recent college graduates, I consider it a great honor to do so, and that I was not alienated for having to use a cane. My co-workers and managers know that if I can't trust my nearly non existent balance. I am so pleased that my co workers understand my limitations, not just physically, but verbal (I use the wrong word many times), but they are patient and wait for me to provide the proper words.

    Am I perfect? Absolutely NOT, but I can claim that I have a perfect bladder that happens to be twice the normal size! One must focus on the unique issues that one has, they may be wierd, but I suspect you'll find one or two that are positive.

    Estimated start of MS, January 1st 2000, massive flue with 105 F temperature. I never felt or thought properly after that one.