For several years, now, I've been telling people I am truly a "walking, talking miracle." I knew I was because my former surgeon had told me I would be in a wheelchair by the year 2000, and yet I'm still walking. Even when my former, and my current, surgeon would express dismay over how I continue to get up and walk, I just wasn't grasping the significance of their statement, or their truly complete surprise that I was not confined to a chair. Recently, over the course of just a few days, however, I learned just how truly amazing, and miraculous, it really is that I'm still walking.
I thought I knew as much as possible about the condition I have called arachnoiditis, but there are several significant facts of which I was unaware. The first being that arachnoiditis tends to put those afflicted with it in a chair, or in bed, within 6 to 12 months. And that's a single occurrence! I have been dealing with this condition for more than 20 years. My current surgeon makes the comment, "I just don't see how you are still walking," almost every single time I go into his office to see him. My standard, and almost flippant, response each time has been, "it's simple, really. I wake up in the morning and swing my legs over the side of the bed, reach up and grab God's hand and put one foot in front of the other." I call it almost flippant because I have stated that truth so often that I had almost gotten to the point of forgetting how true it is and how miraculous it is.
The other part of my recent epiphany on just how miraculous my life is came when my surgeon informed me that I do not have 4 instances of arachnoiditis, but rather around 11 nerve roots are involved; from the T7/T8 nerve root all the way to the L5/S1. Of course, learning there are 11 nerves under attack by this insipid, debilitating condition explains the extreme amount of pain I have endured over the past several years. See, arachnoiditis is when the middle layer of the meninges (the covering of the spinal cord and brain,) the arachnoid, is damaged and becomes adhesive, sticking to the top layer, the dura mater, and the bottom layer, pia mater. This causes intractable, excruciating and unceasing pain, tingling, numbness and weakness along with bizarre sensations on the skin, severe shooting pain (like electric shock,) muscle cramps, muscle spasms, bladder and bowel dysfunction and other symptoms. There is no "cure" for arachnoiditis, only treatment; and until recently, the only treatment has been pain medication.
Today, I do truly realize what an awesome, amazing gift I've been given in the miraculous state of my condition. I am no longer flippant about the fact that I wake up each morning and take hold of God's hand in order to put one foot in front of the other and walk out of my bedroom. I do not take for granted that I will be able to do so tomorrow morning after experiencing paralysis in my left leg a couple weeks ago that lasted more than 2 hours. I know how precious and how tenuous my ability to stand and walk truly is and I'm so grateful to God, and my doctors, for helping me each and every day to get out of bed and stand on my own two feet.
While arachnoiditis has most definitely brought a severe restricting to my opportunities to do things like social outings, it has not robbed me of my ability to get up and move each and every day. And I will continue to fight with every fiber of my being to stay out of that wheelchair for as long as possible. Yes, I have arachnoiditis, but arachnoiditis does not have me, nor will it ever!