I was planning out my Master’s Degree and about to get a job with the government as a Funding Manager for the Head Start Program, when I came down with another bout of pneumonia. Of course, that didn’t stop me!
Then, one day when I was getting up at 5 am to go to work, I went to step out of bed, but fell flat on the floor. My left side of my body was paralyzed so I had to drag my left leg behind me. Almost to my car, I slipped on the ice and fell down again. Only this time, it took me 20 minutes to stand back up. Finally, I got in my car, but discovered another obstacle: I had a stick shift. So, I lifted my left leg up with both hands and set my foot on the clutch. Then I pushed my leg down with my left hand and shifted with my right. When I got to work, I took a rolling stool and put it under my left side to hold me up.
I wasn’t about to let pneumonia, fevers and paralysis slow me down, as I continued to work for several months!
Nevertheless, after many years of struggling, my body could not fight anymore and completely shut down. My right side became paralyzed as well and the bone-crushing fatigue, pain and sheer weakness from head to toe became so intense I could hardly even sit up and struggled just to speak. I was then hospitalized for a week, as they scurried about to figure out what was wrong with me and came up with the diagnosis of Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
Despite it all, the diagnosis did not scare me! I figured I would just get a couple of weeks of rest and get back to my life. I knew that I could work and sing from my wheelchair, so that certainly wasn’t going to hold me down! I was determined to BEAT it and get back to my life.
Regardless of my “never quit,” because “nothing can stop me” attitude, I could not recover from the totally disabling, daily symptoms of bone-crushing fatigue, unbearable exhaustion, torturous pain, memory loss, cognitive dysfunctions, vertigo, migraines, nausea, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, etc. With much physical therapy and IV steroids, I did regain much of the use of my legs. However, it is very difficult for me to walk or stand.
One year after my diagnosis of MS, I found out I also had Late-Chronic Lyme Disease from a tick bite I got at the age of 14. It finally all made sense why I had struggled with my health for so long and why after the use of steroids for the MS, the Lyme became lethal. Since then, I have learned that many people with Lyme Disease have lost their battle with it after using steroids. In all, I completely lost my health, home, horse, career and even ability to care for myself at the age of 27.
Today, I continue to fight for my life every single day. I struggle just to do my therapies that keep me alive, feed myself and wash my hair once in a while. Not a day goes by that I don’t mourn my singing, dancing, acting and business careers. In fact, I even grieve the inability to do simple daily chores that everyone else complains about, such as cleaning, cooking and shopping.
Losing my life’s hopes and dreams has been no less than devastating! Most days I cannot fathom living one more minute with this unbearable pain and loss. Therefore, I will continue to research therapies, try new treatments and earnestly cry out to God for healing. However, until I find relief or leave this world, I must strive to find beauty in the ashes, humor to lighten the load and faith to keep me going. Proverbs 3:5 & 6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” Copyright © 2008 Sherri Connell
READ THE REST OF THE STORY
Part 1: A Lifetime in 27 Years
Part 2: My Life Turned Upside Down
Part 3: I Hope My Story Helps Others
Living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
The Hal O’Leary Inspiration Award from the Colorado Rockies