I was lucky in the fact that I was officially diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis from my C2-C7 vertebrae within 24 hours of my initial symptoms. They started me on heavy doses of IV steroids immediately following the formal diagnosis, and over the course of my entire treatment I also received 7 plasmapheresis exchanges and two rounds of Rituximab. Since then, I’ve spent years going back and forth to physical and occupational therapy sessions, countless hours going to doctor appointments and having testing done, but most importantly I’ve spent time and a lot of hard days finding a new me with TM in my life. I had a major career change from being an English teacher to pursuing my master’s degree, and now having my dream job as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, helping other individuals with disabilities every day. I’ve tried adaptive skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding and canoeing/kayaking and fell in love with sports all over again. I even moved across the country to San Diego, CA because as I like to say, you don’t learn anything or grow in comfort zones. What keeps me going is allowing myself to have those bad days, to miss having a properly functioning body, and to keep adding more dreams and goals to what I want to achieve in life.
The most difficult part of living with Transverse Myelitis is knowing and accepting my current limitations, while continuing to try and push past those limits to allow for growth. It sounds complicated, but I feel like many in similar situations can relate. The first part is recognizing when I’m reaching my limit physically and emotionally, but mostly physically so that I do not hurt myself. If I try to do too much within a day, whether it be walking, utilizing my electric stimulation bike, trying to clean up around the apartment or even not recognizing how long I’ve been standing for, my body will let me know the following day when my legs and other muscle groups simply do not want to move from overuse. But, I’m stubborn, so I always try to push past my known “limit” of useful functioning to see how far I really can go. In the moment it’s wonderful listing all the things I could accomplish, only to struggle to get out of bed and get to work on time the next morning. So, the second part of trying to push past those limits is extremely difficult because I still can’t seem to find a healthy balance after 6 years. A main reason for this is because we live in a world where everything else is instant gratification, but when I am merely trying to function like a “normal adult” there is no instant gratification.