We have all done it.  Mumbled impatiently under our breath when someone is waiting on us and doesn't go the speed that we would like them to.  Cursed at the person that is driving to slow (even though it is probably the speed limit).  Rolled our eyes at the coworker that seems distracted, uninterested, and unmotivated.  We don't know their story.  People can look healthy on the outside. Mentally.  Physically.  Emotionally.  Everyone has a struggle.  Everyone has life defining moments.  Times in their life that changes them forever. Some for the better, some... not so much.  Everyone has their own story.  For that person, it is their world and the rest of us are just background. just noise.  If we each paid alittle closer attention we might recognize that our interactions with others really matter.  If we only knew the struggles someone has behind their own closed doors, we may speak softer and smile sweater.  Not only with our mouths but with our eyes and heart as well.  It is amazing what eye contact and a genuine smile can do for someone's day. 

For the past 6 months I have been struggling.  I was having numbness and tingling in my arms and legs.  That is some pretty scary stuff.  I am a hypochondriac, but this feeling really freaked me out.  It went on for 4 months and I kept silently suspecting the worst.  I finally went to the doctor - Blood work was normal.  B12 for a month and see what happens.  Another month and nothing changed - it actually progressively got worse.  I got to add extreme muscle twitching to my list of symptoms.  Back to the doctor.  She gave me a referral to a Neurologist.  More waiting.  More worrying. 

I finally get to the Neurologist and we discussed my symptoms.  He mentioned what I had been suspecting...  torturing myself with for months.  MS.  Multiple Sclerosis.  Demylination.  Brain lesions.  Unfortunately, I was familiar with the disease. We would do an MRI of the brain to confirm or rule out.  I waited and worried.  Those next 5 days seemed like a lifetime.  I went into the MRI very comfortable.  I was excited to see my brain.  I may seem like a total nerd - but the study of the brain fascinates me.  If I could be anything not limited by money (or brain capacity) I would be a Neuro Surgeon.  I love it.  Also, I thought that through the research I had done online, I would be able to read my own MRI.  They were giving me the files right after so I thought I could confirm / rule it out all on my own and the 2 weeks I had to wait to see my neurologist wouldn't matter.  Well.  I learned 2 things.  1. I am not a radiologist.  2. There was no way I could wait.  Curiosity kills the cat...  and that is exactly what it was doing to me.  I poured over these MRI scans searching, for hours.  All I saw was a healthy brain.  If it was healthy then WHY did I feel this way? Everything I did while waiting for the answers felt like slow motion.  I felt like I was standing there watching the world pass by.  Everyone went about their everyday and mine had stopped.  All I could think about is Brayden.  What did that mean for him?  It helped me to see what really mattered more clearly.  Who and what should be allowed to impact my life. 

So, I stalked my Neurologist. He was taking appointments at another office and I was able to get in.  He confirmed, in fact, my brain was perfectly healthy.  No MS. Wow.  I felt as though everything seamed lighter but only briefly.  My elation was brought back to reality with the silent constant reminder, the numbness and muscle twitches.  What is it?  So, another MRI was scheduled for my cervical spine.  MS can be in the spine and not in the brain - only about 10% of the time but it needed to be ruled out.  So, I scheduled the imaging and waited.  I did my scan and told myself I would not look at the images. I did really well for 2 days.  Then the day before my neuro follow up I couldn't take it any more.  I once again gave my radiology skills a try.  I even looked it up on YouTube.  And YES, they do have videos on how to read your MRI's.  So, I studied them closely.  My spine looked clean and healthly.  I was convinced there was no MS.  So, I breathed a sigh of relief.  However, I noticed something not right - but, I knew I had to wait for my appointment.  I put my images away until my appointment.  I arrived on time - but had to wait 2 hours... the longest 2 hours...  I was having a major flare up in my leg.  It hurt to sit.  It hurt to stand.  And, I was to nervous to do either.  My wonderful Mom came with me to both appointments.  I typically like to do things by myself. But, it was great having her there.  She helped pass the time and calm my nerves.  

Cervical Spine Scan - Feb '12The neurologist walks in. "It isn't MS.  Your spinal cord looks healthy.  However, (longest pause ever)...  You do have a bulge."  A bulge??  Is that a medical term?  He points to a spot on C5.  My disc is bulging and putting pressure on my spin.  Not typical for someone my age but no real concerns.  It shouldn't get worse for many, many years - as long as I live a healthy life style.  Don't get in a car accident.  No heavy lifting.  Focus on proper posture.  Take your vitamins. Stretch.  At that moment I exhaled  (for the first time in months) - and, I think my mom did too.  

So, this means a couple things:

1) I now have an excuse forever to get out of lifting anything that is 'heavy'.  Heavy is a subjective term...  lucky me! ;)

2) I am strong but, 

3) it feels good to have someone with you to share in the worry.

4) I now have proof that I have a brain in my head ;) - This eliminates me from any more blonde jokes!

5) I am lucky to have family and friends that worried with me and prayed for me.  It matters.

6) I look at others with a greater awareness of individual struggles.

7) I am so blessed to be healthy - and have a healthy family as well.

So, the next time you are getting frustrated with the person waiting on you or working with you - keep in mind that you don't know their story.  If you did, would you treat them differently? Would you smile more kindly?  Maybe give them an encouraging glance that lets them know that they are strong?  

I was searching for a powerful quote to put here.  I have one in my head - but I can't remeber it exactly and I couldn't find it.  BUT, I stumbled on this: Life's Little Instruction Book.  Happy reading!