I have said it before that you do not know about something in life until it becomes an issue. I did not know anything about multiple sclerosis until it became a big part of my life. At that point, it became a mandatory matter in my existence. After my diagnosis, I knew nothing about wheelchairs until it eventually became a fact in my life. Now it is like putting on proper footwear with your suit before work.
I am pleased that I have not dealt with exacerbations in a very long time. Sadly my recent hospital stay that was caused by things going sepsis was not good for me in the least. That medical issue caused my grip strength to slip and weaken. It has also made my arms and legs weaker than I first thought. When your arms are your only source of locomotion even small issues can be life-altering.
It is truly disheartening that I have less strength in my body overall but especially my upper body. Specific movements prove this quite often so let me give you a few examples of “the great weakening” in action.
I was in the SUV of a friend of mine the other day. Getting out of a small SUV like this one was straightforward and took very few steps. I merely turn so that my legs are hanging out of the passenger door. Once my wheeled chariot is placed in the proper position things run rather quick and smooth. I set my feet on the ground, and as I stand my outside knee locks in place. This positioning allows me to stand and pivot to just above the seat, and then I do a controlled fall directly into my chair.
However, my weakening legs have not supported a tranquil transition like this for a while now. The muscles in my legs have been weak causing me great trepidation when preparing for the twist and drop. As I turn to stick my legs out and my chair is correctly under me, I hesitate as I feel my legs quietly quiver. I have failed at this movement several times before, and the memories build more deeply rooted terror causing more contemplation and caution. This thought circle creates enough fear that I consider staying housebound. However, I realize that it is a bad idea because I have been there before and it was not good for me. I know that my friend can read the horror in my face and she makes a few reassuring comments. With some assistance, this not so big-bad Marine makes it into the landing zone.
My hands and grip are usually excellent especially for picking things up like my book bag before I go swimming. I generally have no problem lifting my fully loaded backpack off the floor and slinging it over the back of my chair to hang. Brimming with all of my swim and shower gear it can be bulky and hard to handle for some. This bag of mine had not been a challenge for me to manipulate in an extremely long time.
Since this Great Weakening has begun, picking up this monstrosity has become more of an objectionable ordeal. Now I must search for the proper position for my weak hands to grab this bulky bag. The little hand strength that I do have and the fact that it vanishes faster than fog in the summer sun means that I must work quickly. I must work without haste to hoist my bag onto the back of my wheelchair before my strength disappears.
Not to be left out of the picture my triceps have also become largely languid. Getting up from the floor, for the most part, had been an easy task as of late. I just set my rump on the footplate with my back to the seat. I grab the leg rests and quickly push downward launching my derriere up and back onto the seat. Repositioning myself to the proper place is the part that takes the longest.
Now, this troublesome task is irritatingly impossible. It seems that my triceps do not have the vigor that these muscles did before my hospital stay. I now arrange myself on the footrest to prepare myself for launch onto my chariot. After I rest for two minutes, I correctly grab the leg rests and forcefully press downward hoping to lunge my derriere onto the landing zone. Sadly there is not enough fuel in the afterburners, and I go nowhere. After trying for ten minutes, I get no lift and launch. So I end up using a different and slightly less challenging route to get off of the floor.
These are just a few examples of how this healing sepsis is still haunting my life. Sadly, I do not know how much my strength will improve or what I will gain back. My goal is to keep moving forward no matter how many hits I take because I cannot stop my life waiting to get better. No matter what any of us are going through we must trudge on fighting the good fight.
We must not wait for someone to save us, but instead, be our own hero.