I am a prisoner of Multiple Sclerosis. A prisoner of my own body.
Just this afternoon I convinced my eager toddler he shouldn’t shower with me because my legs were tired. When he asked why, I told him I didn’t want to fall and hurt him. A sentence no parent should ever have to tell their child.
And, for the first time in ages, he didn’t throw a tantrum. He said okay and played in the bathroom before taking one of his man-child poops.
Then, as I realized there was nothing to hold on to, my legs began to falter and a mild panic washed over me. For a brief moment I was reminded of how I broke the towel bar during my last relapse. So, I did what I thought was logical and sat down to wash my face. The final, and probably the most dangerous, step in my shower routine because I have to close my eyes while standing.
But then… I couldn’t stand back up.
MY LEGS NO LONGER WORKED AND MY HEART STARTED TO RACE.
(This is where the movies insert dramatic music.) How do I explain this to Michael if he pokes his head around the wall? Will it scar him to see me like this? Will this foil all of my attempts to shield him from Multiple Sclerosis?
I tried bracing myself with the edge of the tub. Fail. I tried leaning over the side of the tub and pulling my legs over like the creepy girl climbing out of the well in that scary movie. Fail.
Meanwhile, Michael had finished pooping and needed me to wipe his butt. Awesome.
I hollered for big Michael. Nothing. The bathroom door was closed as he watched Star Trek in the other room with a baby on his chest. Not to mention, my toddler gopher had poop hanging from his butt cheeks so I wasn’t able to send him to get his dad. That meant I needed to talk myself back from the ledge and figure this out on my own. As I should. I refuse to be a burden.
The motivation behind not wanting my child see me wet, naked, and unable to move was fierce. I might have made all sorts of grunting noises and wanted to cry my eyes out, but I got out of the shower unharmed. I got out and crawled to the toilet so I could wipe Michael’s butt.
BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT MOMS DO. WE WIPE OUR TODDLER’S BUTT WHEN ASKED.
Once Michael scurried off to play, I managed to pull myself up with the help of the toilet. I was determined to get to the couch in my room. At least then I would be able to cool down enough and walk again. My warden owed me that much.
There was so much determination, quiet tears, and rubber legs in my short walk. Even though my efforts didn’t make the trek easier.
And then I made it to my room, only pausing in the door to gather myself before moving to the couch.
I avoided any and all eye contact with big Michael because I didn’t want to remember his face at that moment. I didn’t need to see the worry on his face. His look of fear is one I have a hard time forgetting, and I didn’t want a fresh one for my nightmares. I have enough of those types of faces locked away in my brain for a lifetime.
I might not want my helplessness to define me, but I really don’t want to remember the looks of fear. I can’t. There is too much life to live. I have babies to raise and vacations to not super warm destinations to take.
Note: There is more to this story but the stories are delayed because I have to process things internally before sharing them with you. Thank you for your patience.