Last October I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular autoimmune disease. The symptoms started in August, after I had returned from an amazing vacation in Florida.
On this vacation, my husband and I found a place that rented out beach wheelchairs. I couldn’t believe this was even available, and could not wait to try it!
When the time came to try the beach wheelchair I examined this piece of equipment with much curiosity. It was basically a metal armchair with blue canvas upholstery and instead of legs on the chair there were four very large wheels made with a very durable, yet soft, rubber. The handles on the back were thick and coated with rubber for easy grasping.
I placed my three-year-old son on my lap, and as happy as I thought he would be, he was actually a little distressed. With a little comforting from Mom and Dad, he settled down into my embrace while Dad pushed us out of our room and to the beach.
This chair needed hand controls! My husband was panting all the way because of the sheer weight of the equipment. As guilty as I felt for him, there was a part of me that was so excited. It’s been fourteen years since I last got on the sandy beach. Getting there was another milestone in my life after a spinal cord injury.
When we reached the waterfront I made sure I had all my supplies next to me, including an extra bottle of sunscreen, and I asked my husband to leave me there for a few hours. I devoured the moment. I stared at the blue water for hours, sipping on my water and eating my snacks.
The next day I felt a haziness and heaviness in my eyes. I thought it was just tiredness and that I needed to rest. By the third day, which happened to be a Saturday, and our last day in Florida, I asked my husband to drive me to a pharmacy. We went into their one-minute clinic and I handed them my health insurance card, hoping to get an eye exam. While waiting I browsed the eyeglass section and picked out a new pair of reading glasses, convinced this was the problem. However, after the medical professional examined me she stated I needed to go to the emergency room because she was concerned about my sudden onset of double vision.
My husband drove me to the hospital where multiple blood tests, bodily fluid tests, a MRI and vital tests came back normal. The doctor asked that I stay overnight so that their ophthalmologist could examine me further, but I assured him that I would see my doctor upon our return home.
Monday morning I went to our optometrist. I had taken my children there and knew she was very credible in her knowledge.
As she examined me she became increasingly concerned, and went on to do further testing, using several different machines. She made me prescription lenses with prisms and bifocals and I selected frames and sunglasses. I was to return in a couple of weeks for my new pair of glasses and a follow-up.
When I returned to pick up my glasses, my vision had improved and I continued with my daily routine - taking my infant son to school, tending to the needs of my older children and fulfilling my obligations as runner-up Ms. Wheelchair, Texas. In addition, I continued working with my publisher on the production and release of my third book, writing blogs for Numotion, teaching Fusion Wheelchair Aerobics at our local multi service center, and acting as Lead Coordinator for Connections Peer Network, a peer to mentor matching program run by the National Spinal Cord Injury Association Houston.
However, by mid-September I was covering my regular sunglasses with polarized sunglasses, because that is the only way I could drive during daylight hours. It was in early October that I pulled up to my husband’s office and called him from my cell phone. When he came to see me, I broke down into tears. Not saying another word he lifted me from the driver seat, placed me in the passenger seat and drove us home.