Sometimes, every once in a while, something changes. A little something that can make life better. Sometimes, though, a little something that can make life worse.
A few weeks ago I woke in the middle of the night with tingling arms and legs. I thought I had slept in an uncomfortable position. It was hard to return to sleep. The next day, I felt fine. But in the dark recesses of that next night, those tingles crept back over my arms and legs, and with morning light, they were still nibbling away. I thought I might have carpal-tunnel syndrome and was frustrated because I was in the middle of a children's book illustration class and did not have the time for tingles. I bought a brace and put on a brave face, ignoring the voice in my head, "Why is it in both arms and both legs?"
Over the next few days and nights it grew worse. The pinpricks became a hive of buzzing bees. My arms and legs, to the elbows and knees, ran hot and cold unprovoked. My husband took me to the emergency room at 11pm that night, five days after the first symptoms appeared. Blood tests, a spinal tap, more blood, reflex and strength tests. They let me out with an appointment with a doctor. The specialist visit: electrocution nerve conductor tests. A sweat test. A pin in my muscles test. More strength, more reflexes. And 21 vials of blood. Still waiting on that.
But in the midst of all of that, a diagnosis. I had a mild case of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which in its full state can cause paralysis. I had a bug a few weeks ago and my body attacked the virus, and did not stop until it had munched away the myelin sheath that protects my minor nerves. It was pure luck, a miracle, really, that it did not eat my major nerves.
My biggest fear has always been losing my hands. It scares me even more than losing my feet, though I hope to run and play for the rest of my life. So I am thankful. Thankful for my tingling hands and my tingling feet. It could come back. It could take up to a year to heal. It has derailed other plans I had this summer. I wear two wrist braces now and am fatigued very easily, but this will pass. But I can still draw. And walk. These are things I took for granted two weeks ago. Sometimes, life can make you thankful for the things that really matter. I believe I got a miracle.
Hans-My-Hedgehog Illustrations is the name of Jessica Boehman's blog and illustration shop. It is named after her favorite fairy tale about a hedgehog boy who becomes king of the forest. All other pages redirect to: