This post is more about my story than about a particular topic, but it’s background to topics I will address over the next few months so here goes…it’s been 20 years…
When I was a young woman of 22, I woke up one day and couldn’t get out of bed. I had been tired and a bit ‘off’ for about a week but it was my honours year at university and everyone was stressed out, I’d been working out at the gym probably too much, and had relationship troubles…so, probably nothing I thought. But this wasn’t nothing. My right leg wouldn’t work, wouldn’t move, and neither would my right arm. In fact my whole right side didn’t seem to be mine anymore. Scared doesn’t even describe what I was feeling.
Friends called my parents and soon I was in a hospital in Toronto, taken for an MRI and assigned the Head of the Neurology Department as my doctor. An infection had somehow crossed over the blood-brain barrier (not supposed to happen!) and attacked the myelin sheath in my brainstem on the left side, in the area that controlled motor and sensory on the right side of my body. Myelin transfers the messages along the nerves (think insulation on a wire to help transmit the electrical signals) and suddenly there was a break in the track, and the communication was lost. The MRI showed an area of demyelination the size of a quarter… boom! Messages from my brain to move my right side weren’t getting through, and messages from this side of my body weren’t getting through to my brain. So I couldn’t move my arm, hand, leg, foot – and I couldn’t feel anything on that side either. I remember the doctors taking a pin of some sort and drawing a line across my stomach…feel it, feel it, feel it, and then nothing. It was like there was a dividing line in the middle of my body and once it was crossed, sensation was gone. Luckily, and I say this with all honesty, nothing above my shoulders was affected so I could talk and my facial muscles were normal.
I had to relearn so many things – to walk, to write, to brush my teeth. Nothing was easy…but anything was possible. Why think that way? Because thinking any other way wasn’t an option. I did all the exercises and more, relentlessly. I worked on my mindset, started journaling, had touch-therapy, and started taking better care of myself. I was angry and sad…and then determined, and then grateful for every baby step.
Today, twenty years later, at 42 no one would ever guess that this happened. I am a happy, physically fit, healthy woman who can (mostly!) keep up with our two active boys. Sometimes my right leg doesn’t ‘listen’ to me when I’m skiing, or doing a balancing pose in yoga – but hey, I’m skiing and doing yoga!
These twenty years later, I have decided to share this experience because I what I learned can help other people going through challenges with their own bodies and health (and mind, and spirit!). To share what I think this dis-ease was trying to teach me. And to share what I did, unconsciously at the time, that helped with my recovery – and that I now teach to people for application in all different areas of their lives. Your body is an instrument of the mind – and our minds are powerful and can do miraculous things!
I hope you aren’t going through any sort of health crisis right now in your own life, but if you are – Never Give Up! See yourself strong and healthy doing what you love to do on the screen of your mind. Use words that resonate with health, not illness. Write about yourself in the first person as a strong and healthy person. And know it is possible.