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  • Jessica Stong

Losing My Way

After a migraine on Feb. 14, I woke up with a numb tongue and my left foot was tingling. After struggling to finish my neuropsychology homework, I tried to make a call and my speech was slurred. I finally looked into the mirror and saw my face was droopy. I also realized my left foot was now numb. Of course, my mind went straight to a stroke, having just studied the impact of a stroke on the brain. Luckily, that wasn’t my story.

The ER doctors were concerned. I needed a MRI, but they were backed up as one of the hospital machines were down. (I ended up waiting 30 hours for one. Not good if I was actually having a stroke!) After a CT only showed sinus issue, we assumed it was Bells Palsy, more specifically Ramsey Hunt syndrome due to shingles. I was in a lot of pain and was afraid. I missed the boys.

I went in the the hospital wearing my “Choose Courage Every Single Day” t-shirt. After a couple of days in the hospital, I needed all the courage as I missed my kids (and was darn scared). 

My life certainly wasn’t the same when I came home from the hospital the first time. After a bit of time, my arm went numb. The doctors said it was because of nerve aggravation. I saw a neurologist but he seemed to believe it was due to stress and overworking. I’m all for the mind-body connection but there seemed to be more to this story. Additionally, I’m a very social person, but I was unable to go out. I could deal with the droopy face, but I would lose sight out of my left eye and was dealing with a lot of pain. I tried to manage the pain with Advil as real pain meds make me too sick, but it wasn’t working.

Exactly one month later, I lost feeling in my legs. I went to the doctor to have it checked and was asked to head to the ER. Again. I was scared and didn’t want to go, but I have a very persistent husband. In the ER, the doctor said what I had suspected: MS. I’ll leave the details of my 2nd hospital stay until another post as I’m still processing my feelings around the three spinal taps, epidural blood patch, and some hurtful treatment by the doctors. I can tell you this. I lost my way. I wanted to give up. (And did throw in the towel, multiple times.)

I have been challenged in this season of loss far beyond my own health issues, beyond the trivial sadness of FOMO. I've seen myself - and faced the worst moments of my life.

I know one thing: We are all far more courageous than we can ever imagine.

And even when it feels too much, when we feel we've lost it all, we will move through each moment, each day with a quiet knowing. Even when it feels like we've been lost in a sea of pain, we will keep going.

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