Friday, January 15, 2010

This is my journey...

The reason I decided to write about this is because I have a terrible memory so I thought I should get a diary, I would like to look back on this a year or two from now and remember where I was. But I think I would be too lazy to write it down so typing is easier. Well, since I'm gonna type it then I would like to share it with my sisters, parents, and boyfriend...so why not just do this? I'm very comfortable talking about this stuff and for me, talking helps. It's definitely therapeutic. So here it is...

I feel that I have been a very fortunate and happy person. Fortunate to have amazing parents who raised my sisters and I in a happy home. Blessed to have a great belief system and faith in God. So happy to have found someone who loves and supports me.

We had a great childhood, lots of time playing on the streets with friends, going to the beach, being at grandma’s house with all the crazy laughter and loudness, even hanging out at the farm here and there...building a solid foundation that would prepare us for the obstacles later in life.

We moved to the US in 1996, in the middle of my teen years. I’ve always been the good, responsible, A+ student so I applied myself and learned the language quickly and grew to love this country to be my home. I continued to push myself in college and got myself a job in Manhattan where I would gain great work experience.

I’d say things started to change a bit in college, can’t say exactly when but I started to feel a lot of pain on the bottom of my feet and calluses started to form under the balls of both my right and left feet. At first, I would soak my feet and cut the calluses off with scissors but the calluses always grew back. My technique wasn’t the best and there were times when I’d cut deeper than necessary and end up hurting myself more. Eventually, I came to find a doctor who I truly appreciate and visit regularly to this day, Dr. A, who uses a blade to shave the calluses off (I feel absolutely no pain while he is doing it). He has been extremely important in helping me throughout this process…as you will see.

My commute to NY was pretty grueling and in college, I would go into the city, walk uphill to the bus (sometimes stand in it through traffic into the city), walk to the train (sometimes stand in the train til my stop), and finally walk to the office. Then I would do it all back home, get in my car, sit in traffic and drive to campus to take night classes. In a way, I’m glad things were just starting then because I would never be able to do that today.

I went through a pretty stressful situation in college and this is when CMT came into my life. It was there all along because it’s genetic but until then, it hadn’t really come out. My feet started to get worse and I started to visit Dr. A. a lot more to deal with my calluses. Shoes became more impossible to find and even worse, wear! It was hard in the summer, because my feet couldn’t hold flip flops. It was hard at work because I couldn’t find decent looking shoes for the life of me. And in the winter, it was hard to find boots that my high arches could fit into.

At this point, my pain had escalated to feeling it with every step that I took, 24 hours a day (obviously not when I was asleep), 7 days a week. One day, on a regular visit with Dr. A. I noticed that he was touching my toes and I couldn’t feel that he was touching me. So he poked my toes with a needle and we realized that I had lost some sensitivity. This is the first time I heard of Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), which is a neurological disorder. This is when my search for answers begun. I felt all this pain but no doctor could ever give me a clear direction. At least now I had a clue of what to look for. I saw so many doctors, podiatrists, neurologists, geneticists, etc in my search for a diagnosis.

After seeing many doctors, I stumbled upon a geneticist and his team at the Hospital for Joint Diseases who ran some more specific (and at times, painful) tests, including a blood test that would officially diagnose me as a CMT Type 1A patient. It was a relief to know...to be able to give it a name...to read about all the symptons...to read similar stories. At the same time, the diagnosis is that CMT is a progressive and degenerative condition with no cure or specific treatment or medication, so it would continue to get progressively worse and there was no sure way to stop or treat it.

I think this is when faith in God comes in and the belief that everything happens for a reason. I was blessed to be raised in a spiritual home where we believe in God and his love for all his creatures. We believe that we are all here to learn a lesson, to grow spiritually and to learn to love one another. CMT is here to help me grow as a person and to help me correct wrongs that I did in the past, in another life. DISCLAIMER: I'm not sure who will be reading this and you don't have to agree with what I am saying here but this is what I believe in and I know I am better person because of it so please don't rain on my parade LOL.

Because of Spiritism, I have never once questioned: WHY ME? I am ok and prepared to face whatever situations may come my way, but there are obviously times when emotions spill over and you can get a good cry out and then back to normal.

Eventually, I have started to feel a lot more pain in my thighs, a lot more cramping on my calves and my feet have gotten more deformed. Now, I can feel myself get exhausted from a simple supermarket trip or standing in line for a few minutes. I need a few days to recover from any extra activity outside my normal routine. I would not dare go to a theme park or zoo and walk around all day because I know that 1. I wouldn't be able to do it for more than a couple hours, 2. I would be in even more pain than I usually am. If I did want to go (which hasn't happened in a while), I would be willing to rent a wheelchair for the day to enjoy.

I think one of the hardest things is that I don't really think that people believe you're in as much pain as you say you are or that you're just lazy. I'm young, pretty (sometimes...lol), talkative, outgoing...how can I possibly really have what I say I have? But I don't look like I'm in pain...how do I explain that? Well...for me, I feel pain every minute of my life, so how can I live my entire life showing how much pain I'm in, how miserable would that be? You kindda get used to it and learn to deal so that it doesn't normally affect my personality that much. On days when things are worse, then it's impossible to hide it but even then, an outsider can't see!!! It's not like I have an open wound, or like so many people have heard about CMT, so you just have to believe me. Recently, I have had a few people dispute my "handicapped" parking because I couldn't possibly need the help to park closer...those were fun experiences!!!

Please don't feel sorry for me...I've had and will continue to have a very full life. I lived up my years in college, partied with friends, traveled back home and danced all night to Ivete and Banda Eva (which had its consequences later lol), etc. I've gotten older and my interests have changed. I don't enjoy the same things I used to like going club on a regular basis. Now, I'd much rather hang out at home and have game nights with our friends. I don't care if these little adjustments are due to the fact that I am maturing or CMT. I'm still happy either way. Lately, I've been working on my prayers and trying to just be grateful for this opportunity that I have to learn...learn from my mistakes and work through my own karma.

Recently, I've decided to have surgery on my feet. After trying every possible recommendation that might help the pain (i.e. physical therapy, acupuncture, pain medication, yoga, etc) and finding the effects only last for a short while, surgery is really the last resort. So now I am unemployed and just waiting for the surgery to be scheduled. I know it will be a long year ahead of me but I am ready....more on that on the next post!

CMT may have taken me, but it's not going to beat me!


3 comments:

RouGe NiK✩¨`* said...

wow, thanks michele, its an honour to share your journey with you.. there is an immense amount of courage in sharing your story itself.. we can only be grateful to you sharing, and hopefully learn from your experiences :)

God bless :)

SEW HAPPY said...

I WAS AM EXCITED TO FIND YOUR BLOG!!!! I have CMT1a, along with 2 out of 4 of my kids and my 1 yr old Grandson.. You and I are both friends with Bernadette on fb :)) but I didn't know you had CMT also :) it is so nice to meet other people with this disease with a strange name lmbo! Just yesterday a lady thought it had something to do with our teeth lol.. Because of Bernadette giving me the courage to spread awareness and to talk about my disease, it feels sooo good to quit keepin it a secret!!!! I hope you are doing well.. :) Thank you for blogging!!!

Anonymous said...

For the first time in my life (I'm 33)I have found someone else who who deals with CMT1A the way I do.!! It brings me to tears! Thank you so much for your post. 😂 Keep that positive attitude!! We are bigger than this

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