In one week I went from a wheelchair to a walker, and finally to a cane. Two weeks later I was walking unaided – wobbly, but optimistic of a full recovery from whatever I had. While I learned to stand and walk again, even with numbness, my symptoms seemed to vary each day. My right foot felt extremely hot or bitterly cold. My reflexes were out of control and my left leg became highly sensitive to changes in temperature.
About four weeks into the mystery, my final test was a lumbar puncture, and still all appeared normal. That’s when my neurologist said with some confidence, “this looks like Transverse Myelitis.”
In retrospect I had symptoms about a month before the major onset. I fell on a New York sidewalk. My calf muscles became rock hard. I had an isolated brief moment of confusion while standing at the kitchen sink. I started to sit down when brushing my teeth in the morning.
I know I’m lucky compared to others. I returned to work full-time in one month. I walk unaided. My left leg is still numb with limited motion and I still have banding on my left flank, the most bothersome of my symptoms. My right foot continues to have feelings of extreme heat or cold. A year later, I am slowly improving my range of motion and gaining more control of my left leg.
In my role as a hospital social worker, I now educate the physicians on my team about TM.
In December 2015, I was unable to stand or walk. Recently, I climbed atop an Indian elephant for a short ride in the warm sunshine. I’m grateful, and not taking anything for granted.