When I was asked then, at age 14 in 1994, and today, some 24 years later, what made me “sick,” my answer is usually a buzzer-beater jump shot by the Chicago Bulls over my Indiana Pacers! I answer this way because a few hours of sleep after the game I awoke, still traumatized by the game, but also noting a feeling of nausea, a strong “asleep” feeling in my legs, and a strong and urgent need to void. Instinctively and routinely, I kicked my right leg out of bed and onto the floor. Then, wearily I slid my left leg behind it, and when I shifted to put my body weight onto my left leg, I fell! In disbelief and confusion, I assumed my leg was just asleep and dragged it with me to the bathroom, where I came to the realization that another process that I had taken for granted my whole life was no longer routine. My parents met me right outside the bathroom door, threw a winter coat on me, lifted me, and carried me through the snow.
Even as a 14-year-old, I was aware of the vast knowledge and expertise of medical professionals, the miracles of God, and the promise that when you are young you will have the opportunity to chase your dreams. For me, that was to play or coach basketball, and that was the only thing on my mind as doctors discussed a litany of diagnoses amongst themselves, me, and my parents. I was made aware of the possibility of Guillain-Barre syndrome, then the diagnosis of Transverse Myelitis at T6, but these terms did nothing to erode my confidence that I would be back to “normal” soon. Certainly there was a pill or a procedure that I would be introduced to.