Transverse Myelitis Association
Journal Volume 3 - June 2008

Article 30

Kim Harrison
Atlanta, Georgia

I live in Atlanta, Georgia and was 45 when I got TM.  I was on a business trip to Dallas, Texas when I was stricken with this disease.  I went to Dallas on September 4th, 2004 and was to be there for only a week.  I used to live five miles from the facility I was helping at in Dallas. I was scheduled to come home to Georgia on Oct 8th.  I almost made it home.

I got up on the morning of October 6th and my right foot was asleep. I kept taping my foot on the floor to wake it up. I figured I slept wrong and pinched a nerve.  By 9:00 am, I could not walk at all.  The tingling had moved up past my knee cap.  When I tried to walk, I kept walking into walls and falling down. The crew at work kept telling me to go to the ER.  I just laughed at them, because I assumed that my foot was just asleep!

Well, by 10:00, I couldn’t walk at all and was carried to a car and off to the ready care.  The doctor there did a few quick tests and sent me to the ER.  He thought I was having a stroke. When we got to the ER, five miles away, they were waiting outside for me.  I kept joking that they offered curb side service. They rushed me to a room and there started the “barrage of tests.”  At 3:00 pm and 2 MRI’s and 3 CAT scans later, the ER doctor remained totally baffled. 

The “tingling” had now moved up past my thigh.  I could no longer move my right leg at all; not even wiggle my toe!  So, while joking about making sure that they tell my Mom that I have clean underwear and all, I was admitted to the hospital.  By now, my husband back in Atlanta was totally freaking out and I was still making light of the whole situation.  

Lucky for me, I had family close by and someone was with me until my company flew my husband, Brian, out to Texas. When I woke up the next day, my left foot started to tingle.  I knew at that point that something was really wrong.  It took the neurologist until Monday, five days later, to finally tell me what I had.  After all the tests, the doctors finally labeled my onset of TM as idiopathic.  To this day, they can not tell me how I got this.

I was in the hospital a little over a week and then moved to a rehab facility next to the hospital.  It was more like an old folk’s home; I was the young kid there at 45 years old. After a week in the rehabilitation facility, I was sent back home to Georgia. I went back to work a month after getting out of the hospital. My boss has been very supportive and made my return back to work much easier than I ever thought it would be.

I use my walker around the house and wheel chair in public. My right leg still drags like I’ve had a stroke.  The “banding” pain around my waist and the burning in my feet are my two primary issues.  I can not wear pants unless they have elastic so I can pull them up over my belly button due to the banding pain.  I also can no longer wear shoes.  Even socks hurt my feet due to the burning and stinging sensations. This makes it hard to use my AFO’s, because I can’t take wearing shoes on my feet.

It is so hard to explain to people that I in no way saw this coming. That I got up one morning and within eight hours, I was paralyzed.  But life does go on and it’s just the adjustment we all have to learn to deal with, daily, regardless if you have TM or any other medical condition.  You work and live life with the circumstances that have been dealt to you in the most positive way you can.

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