I Walk Like A Duck

I walk like a duck! And I am not complimenting myself. Quite the contrary. Waddle – walk, wide stance and repeat. Waddle – walk, wide stance and repeat. My auspicious walk allows me to remain in an upright position — most of the time.

My unladylike walk

This unladylike walk began in 1980. Yes, I prepared myself for ambulating every time I stood up. To keep my balance, I spread my feet at least two feet apart, stretched upward while shifting my weight slightly from right to left, testing the waters, or shall I say – assessing myself to see if my extra wide stance would maintain my balance. I rely on muscles of hips, thighs and lower legs for stabilization.

The old saying: "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, you can be reasonably sure it is a duck." - Adage

Doctor's ignorance

Now, why don’t some doctors know this wise old saying? It doesn’t make sense. I walked like a duck, had dizziness, loss of coordination and balance, loss of smell, numbness, tingling and other symptoms. As I walked into my doctor’s office, my feet spread about two feet apart for a conclusions ampler base, my hands followed the wall until I saw the chair I was to sit in, and I cast my view on the chair I was aiming for and directed my body in a straight path to hopefully reach my objective. I kept my head always pointed straight in front of me so that my eyes would do less spinning. A doctor is supposed to make a diagnosis based on his or her findings, their observations, tests results, and the patient’s symptoms. Patient’s history and their description of how they feel should be taken and recorded, utilizing this information for capability in making the correct diagnosis. Obviously, this specialist relied only on written answers from radiological analyses.

I knew it was NOT nothing

However, this doctor–—a neurologist—kept telling me that it was nothing, to not worry, to keep doing what I was doing! I am a registered nurse. I’m a human being, and I knew that it was not nothing. Maybe the doctor thought his advice was intended to calm me. He was wrong! So why do patients start doubting their sanity and start wondering if maybe, they are hypochondriacs? After seeing this neurologist for several months, having multiple tests, and with symptoms continuing to worsen, I began to wonder “who” would help me?

Dear God, Please give me the strength to endure this situation, and to find the blessings and lessons that it contains. Please give me the endurance to continue ahead. Please guide my thoughts, words, and actions, so that I walk your path of peace and love. Amen.

Evident to all but the doctor

People who knew me were concerned. Many gave me names of doctors that they recommended. Some suggested which specialty hospital of where to seek help. My parents and family were worried. It was apparent to all that I had something medically wrong with me, evident to all but the doctor!

Fear of the unknown leads to troubled times. Continued fear leads to anxiety. Excessive anxiety wears a body down that is already threatened.

I continued to be the Type A overachiever

June 1981 — I gave birth to our second beautiful daughter. I was losing the weight gained from the pregnancy, trying to exercise and getting back into shape. I had been back at work for months and started falling for unknown reasons. I thank God that I never fell while I was holding my new baby, or whenever I might have injured anyone else.

Working full time as the night nursing supervisor at the Waco VAMC., going to college during the daytime, and gratefully filling the role of wife and mother, full-time, I never sought to be pampered during this onslaught of disabling symptoms. I was a room mother at my five years old’s private school, helping take the class on field trips, supervising parties, planning class projects, etc. I continued to be the Type A personality overachiever that I had been all of my life. I would not allow MS to interfere with my life. There was still too much to accomplish. I had goals set I needed to reach—plans for this family’s future, and I needed to push forward with my life. I have MS, but MS does not have me!

“Be like a duck, paddling and working very hard inside the water, but what everyone sees is a smiling and calm face.”

I fell flat on my behind

Then the day came that we had gone on a family trip to my husband’s brother’s home in Austin, TX. We took the playpen to the local park, along with miscellaneous for our baby and our oldest ran for the swing set near us. We had our tennis rackets ready for a good game with my in-laws. Our oldest daughter, age six, and their daughter were playing on the swing set, and our baby was shaded by the beautiful green spreading oak tree above us at the park. It felt so marvelous to be out on the court, batting the ball, running and moving. Life was wonderful.

Then a lob came my way. I was backing up quite briskly to make sure that if the lob fell in or out of the court, whether I would need to return the hit. The ball fell barely past the back boundary line. I knew our team had just made a point. My brain knew I would not be returning the ball, but my feet kept going backward until I fell flat on my behind, confused about collapsing on the court, and more than a little embarrassed in front of others.

Driving back in silence

Then I heard my husband’s tennis racket bounce off of the court. He was shaking his head in a disgusted way, letting me know that he was upset with me for my unplanned fall. I knew not to talk to him; it would only increase his anger. I gathered up our rackets, as the others walked off the court. I called my daughter to come over to me where I was at the playpen, getting it and the baby ready to take to the car. I had the playpen, and more importantly, I had my two daughters. I talked with them jovially as we walked through the park and arrived at the car.

After driving back to our in-laws in silence, I was thankful to be back in their home, where I could busy myself with the baby.

Just keep paddling

Tennis was one of my loves. I had become competitive in this sport while in college and had been able to share my love of the game with my boyfriend, who became my husband.

Every marriage has rough times. God guides us in the decisions we make, as long as we allow love to soften the rough times.

“Because human beings suffer so much more than ducks, you might not think so if you were a duck.”

Just Keep Paddling

“Lord, You know what is troubling my mind and heart today. Help me to see You at work in my past, present, and future so that I can experience hope in these difficult times. I want to trust You more deeply as I place all my concerns into Your loving hands. Amen.”

“I need You, God. The Lord holds my heart in His hands. I am so thankful that I am never alone! You are here for me when I am lonely. You are here for me when I am frightened. You fight my battles. I trust in You.”

A quote about MS

Below are the words of Ruddy from Tallahassee describing his feelings about having MS:

“Over fifty years of living with multiple sclerosis, I still look good. I walk funny, but I am still walking. Before I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I thought all my problems were in my head. Now I know that all my issues are in my head and spinal column. My brain interprets my experience of the outside world through damaged neural paths. My sensory nerves tell me that I am on fire, but I am not. The optic neuritis in my right eye tells me that I am looking at a funhouse mirror, but I am not. My ears tell me that there bullets and bugs are whizzing around, but there is not. Everything tastes like unsalted oatmeal, and I do not get hungry, and that is due to the sensory nerves damage. The motor nerves have me flopping around and walking funny, but I am still walking. I can still use my hands. Now I understand that it is all in my head.”

The definition of an MS warrior

Penelope gave me her definition of an MS warrior, and I love the positive feelings it portrays.

“Multiple Sclerosis warriors come in all shapes and sizes. You usually can’t pick them out from the people standing in line at the grocery store or from those seated in a restaurant… but they are there. MS warriors are those amazing people who charge into battle when they have every right to hide under the covers. They don’t fit into any particular mold, wear a noticeable badge of honor or win any bravery awards. But brave — oh, they are!!! It’s not easy to become an MS warrior. You can’t wish yourself to be one just because you want to be one. You can’t simply slap a label on your forehead that says, 'Look at me, I’m an MS warrior.' You can’t gain such a title by merely blogging about it, dreaming about, or talking about it. You become one by staying in the fight and hanging in there even when you’re shaking in your boots. You hang on through the hard times as you learn to cope with the constant changes, through the emotional rollercoaster you find yourself riding, and even though the struggle of dealing with people who disappoint you. I’m not saying you get to punch that rude person in the nose for making fun of the way you walk or slug the one who refuses to acknowledge the struggle you endure, no matter how much you might enjoy doing so. That’s not an option — although — you can always picture it in your head as you outwardly smile. They will think you’re smiling because you’re happy, but you will know the real reason! No, part of becoming a warrior is standing up (even if only on the inside) when those things happen and choosing to push through the hard times, holding your head up high as the tears are flowing. Yes, warriors cry. They fall, tremble, get fearful, worry, hurt—but they don’t give up!”

We are warriors, and we keep fighting.

"Didn't you know you have MS?"

I knew there was something wrong with me, but the neurologist would not diagnose. Coworkers, family, and friends knew there was something medically wrong with me. However, I needed to hear a diagnosis. Four long years followed before a doctor — a neurologist — asked me, "Didn’t you know you have multiple sclerosis?" One day, my family doctor shared his frustration about my condition not being diagnosed yet, so he decided to send me to the emergency room at Scott and White in Temple, Texas. They tested my walk, my eyes following a light, the strength in my muscles, and physical reaction to the vibration tongs. Then the head of neurosurgeons said, “Why are you here in the emergency room? Didn’t you know you have MS?” After the physicians left the room, a deep sigh—followed by pent-up tears filled my eyes and rushed down my cheeks. The diagnosis was spoken and documented in my records. I was not imaging the problems I had experienced during the four long years.

I walk with Jesus

Whatever the problem, whether it’s physical or emotional, or when life gets you down, go to Jesus in prayer. He is always here for us. He cradles us in His arms. He loves us no matter what we have done or said.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, and He will guide your thoughts, words, and actions so that you walk in His path of peace and love.

I walk with Jesus and put my faith in Him, even as I continue to walk like a duck.

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