Diagnosis: Transverse Myelitis

Arizona, United States

On September 13th, 2008, my husband and I had just come home from running errands; it was about 10:00 a.m. I was in my kitchen, standing there drinking some water when it felt like I was punched around in the back. I thought wow that hurt and of course I self-diagnosed myself and took a couple of Ibuprofen tablets. Within 15 minutes, I was beginning to feel numbness and heaviness in my right leg. Within the next half hour, I was nauseated, dizzy and off balance. I lay down for about an hour and when I woke up my left leg felt just like my right. Three hours later, I was paralyzed from just above my waist (T6 vertebra) down. After five days in the hospital, multiple MRI’s, multiple spinal taps and another test that used electrical currents, they finally diagnosed me with Transverse Myelitis. When explaining it to me they said that I had a swelling in my spinal cord and the nerve and my brain could not communicate. I was then given high doses of intravenous steroids for several days once they were on board.

I started to be able to sit up by myself for a few seconds so they felt hopeful. The doctor explained that 1/3rd will stay where they are, 1/3rd will have paralysis, 1/3rd will recover fully. He said by what he saw, he felt I was already out of the first percentage and only time would tell where I would be. They then began to give me physical and occupational therapy daily. I was sent to Health South Rehabilitation Center for seven days where I learned to walk again, and how to cook, clean, do dishes, all kinds of things you would think a 40-year-old woman could do. I thought at first this is silly I know how to do this, and as soon as they said go ahead and try, I found that I could not, either my balance was off or I tired very quickly. Once out of inpatient rehabilitation, I spent a month in outpatient therapies.

I remember the day I came home, I got online and started looking up what Transverse Myelitis really was. It scared me and at that time found SRNA and remember Debbie telling me her story and she gave me hope. She put me in contact with Barbara who lived near me and wanted to start a support group. Barbara and I hit it off great. She is my role model and has given me so much inspiration to never give up no matter what you are told. She has battled pain issues and still keeps going. She tries her very best to keep my depression down, something I struggle with because I have yet to get to the 1/3rd full recovery after eight years. I am very grateful that I found her and my friends at the Transverse Myelitis Association to help me.

Julie Barry