My Tangle With the Tingles

By Josie Henderson

Photo by Dreamstime

Tingles, tingles, tingles. It started in my toes and enveloped my legs in just a day. The tingles changed to a stabbing pins-and-needles sensation that consumed half of my 20-year-old body. Fearful of what was overtaking me, I went to a doctor. I was referred to another doctor and another until the fourth doctor ordered a second MRI. After the MRI, he strolled back into the room and matter-of-factly said, “You have MS.” I was worried but mostly sleepy as paramedics loaded me into the back of an ambulance to take me to Kadlec Regional Medical Center, an hour away, where the doctor said a neurologist, who dealt with Multiple Sclerosis, and her team would be waiting for me.
 
Bouncing around in the back of the ambulance speeding towards Kadlec, I could hardly keep conscious. Having two MRI's in one night, accompanied by heavy sedation, can do that to a person. The paramedic with curly brown hair and a face I can't remember rode in the back with me. He kept talking to me, but I couldn't keep up. Rattling and bouncing on the winding road to Kadlec, I finally caved into the sedation.
           
"Can you wake up? Hello, can you wake up?" I was jolted awake by a woman's voice. I opened my eyes. She was crouching in front of me. Bright lights and white walls all around screamed at me to wake up. I tried. I tried to open my eyes again and again. I tried to speak, but the sedation dragged me towards sleep. All I wanted was to drift off and— "Hello, Josie?" There she was again. Then, finally, there was just silence. 
           
The next time I awoke, I was in another hospital room with the blue sunlight of morning flowing through the window beside me. I was finally conscious, but the previous day had blurred in my memory to little more than a bad dream. Soon a team of three doctors marched into my hospital room with a hint of military precision, and I listened as they laid out the plan from the neurologist to put my MS symptoms into remission.
           
For four more days, I was in that hospital room. Every day I stared at the bag of Solu Medrol, a steroid, flowing into my IV, slowly erasing my tingles and pains. As we waited for my immune system to relent, I watched the counter across from me fill with flowers and balloons, marking the passage of time.
           
On the morning of the fourth day, one of the doctors came to talk to me before my release. He told me, "You will live a very normal life. Eat the foods you want to. Exercise when you want to. You will live a normal life." As I was rolled outside of the hospital in a wheelchair for the first time in several days, I faced a new normal.
           
It's been a year now. My life is different. It's normal, but with a twist. I struggle with pain and tingles and fatigue quite often. I am not angry or upset that my life is different, but sometimes I wish it had never changed. When my new normal gets hard, my mind is drawn to a place in scripture where Paul talks about a nameless infirmity that he pleads to have taken from him. God tells Paul in 2 Corinthians, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God was telling Paul that his new normal wasn't going to be easy, but that God would bring Paul through it. Life is a little more difficult and complex now as I work through the challenges of MS, but I am more aware of my blessings each day and the opportunities ahead of me as God brings me through each tangle with my tingles.

Josie Henderson writes from the Pacific Northwest.