“The only thing sadder than a cripple… Is a hobbled cripple!”

Some things are bound to happen. Even if you don’t want them to, you know they’re coming. And so it is with a sense of inevitability that I write this post about the time that I fell down and actually hurt myself. I was trying to pick up a pile of laundry off the floor to carry it to my bed – THREE FEET AWAY – and went down like a rock in a small space and sprained my stupid ankle.

After every fall, every misstep that almost results in a fall, there’s a period of reflection and reconstruction of the events that led up to it. How could I have prevented that? There was no period of reflection this time, there was me, writhing in pain in the hallway screaming FUCK FUCK FUCKING FUCK OW FUCK OW OW OW OW WHAT THE FUCKING FUCKHEADED FUCKING SHIT FUCK

See also: Lalochezia.

Right about when I ran out of swear words and began repeating myself, it occurred that I’d probably done something bad this time. The swearing went on longer than usual and the pain wasn’t going away. Now the swearing and OW OW OW was joined by YOU STUPID BITCH WHY DIDN’T YOU BE MORE CAREFUL TRYING TO LIFT THE FUCKING LAUNDRY WHAT IF WE BROKE SOMETHING FUCKING OW GODDAMMIT FUCK SHIT FUCKING STUPID BITCH IT WAS THREE FUCKING FEET AWAY YOU COULDA JUST PUSHED THE FUCKING CLOTHES ACROSS THE FLOOR WHY DID YOU TRY TO PICK THEM UP HOLY FUCKING GOD OW OW OW OW FUCK

Eventually, the pain let up enough that I could breathe, and I tried propping my foot up against the wall to elevate it as I lay on the floor, whining a monotone mantra of ow ow ow ow ow the whole time, but my leg didn’t even have the strength to keep my foot up. So I did the next best thing! I curled into fetal position and sobbed my eyes out! With a whole lot of feeling sorry for myself and fuck this disease and it’s not fair and ow ow ow and do I need to go to Urgent Care or not. I eventually got myself up, found that I could in fact put pressure on it but if I turned it any way from there it was suffering city. I fetched an ice pack from the freezer, a soda, and made a little nest out of my bed with my ankle elevated on ice and cried.

It sucked a lot, is what I’m saying. It has been a super shitty stressful week, and it was just the icing. And I lost my shit for awhile, took ativan, made contingency plans to work from home the next day if I needed to, and went to sleep. Eventually. Sort of. In pieces.

So today my ankle is twice its usual size and very tender, but still has full range of motion, even if some of those motions are owwie. So I don’t believe it to be broken, so I decided I didn’t need urgent care to tell me what to do, and took anti-inflammatories, iced my ankle and elevated it and stayed off my feet as much as possible. Cause that’s what they’d say and then charge me money after costing me hours of my life and having to put on real clothes.

And despite all of the crying and hurt and bullshit, I am grateful that I had an army at my disposal at all times. Even though I never reached out to them. If I’d decided to go to the ER last night, I’d have had a handful of available rides. If I’d needed anything today, I’d have had several people willing to bring it to me. Once I announced my stupidity to Facebook, I had many offers of help. At no point did I feel helpless and alone. I was very crisis-management mode once the writhing was over, and even in the writhing I was mentally giving myself a time limit before I called someone for help, and I knew it would be there. That’s awesome and can not be understated. GO GO GODZILLA SQUAD.

I’m giving it another night, and tomorrow I’ll see if I can hobble along with the walker or something. Cause I favor my right foot when walking with the cane, so of course I hurt the left one. And walking with the cane on my left hand feels weird as it’s not my dominant hand. So maybe the walker for a bit. We’ll see. But for now, I have a nest, an ice pack, chemicals for the pain, warm cats, Good Eats on TV, and a friend bringing me dinner later. I’m sitting pretty.

Even if my ankle ain’t so pretty.

You can blame Jack for the title. It’s how he reacted when I told him what happened.

Sweat, Surrender, Strength.

The pamphlets and the wiki articles and the doctor advice all say that ALS is exhausting. Your muscles are working harder than normal just to keep you upright. Your body is burning massive amounts of energy just to BE. And then when you ask your body to actually do something? It’s like you’ve run a marathon.


It’s just under one mile to the bus stop from my house. It’s not a hard walk, it’s all curvy residential streets, there’s no sidewalk for a little of it, but it’s not that difficult. Google Maps says it takes about 18 minutes. It takes me about 25 to 30. Yesterday morning, I headed out to run a couple of errands, so I walked to the bus stop to head out. It was 58 degrees and overcast; I was dripping sweat by the time I got there. Everything is so much harder than it used to be, in the stupidest of ways.

That bullshit thing with the spoon theory and the budgeting of your energy? It’s not really bullshit, turns out. …Not that I thought that it was to begin with; I’ve had chronic headaches my whole freakin’ life and I knew how draining it is, to be in pain all the time, how it steals your energy and makes it hard to just be alive. The budgeting, though. Man. I knew nothing about the budgeting. I thought I did, but HOLY FUCKBALLS I had no clue. I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT. AND IT HAS SPREADSHEETS AND SCHEDULES.

My errands yesterday were *supposed* to be simple. Take the bus up the road to the post office to mail something, then head back home and stop at the store on the way to pick up my new, smaller prednisone scrip. Only…the post office didn’t have an actual COUNTER open, like they used to, it was just a machine that prints shipping labels, and it didn’t do international. I had to take a different bus to the main post office to mail it instead, which was about an hour away after waiting and bus ride and walking. After accomplishing that, I should have come home, but I was on a mission for little shelves for my apothecary bottles, anyway, so I walked about a half mile to the mall, and wandered a home goods store, but they didn’t have anything shelf related but DID have socks with lobsters on them. So I bought those. I got some lunch, then went to the beauty supply store nearby cause I’m out of top coat, then to another store in that same parking lot that might have shelves but didn’t, and then to the bus towards home. I hit up the store on the way home, got my scrip, and then wandered around a little while looking for various things (shelves, cute socks), bought some cleaning supplies, and walked the mile home. My backpack was full; not really heavy heavy, but it had some heft to it.

It was 64 degrees, 4 PM, and I was panting like I’d run home.

Out. of. goddamned. spoons.

And that budgeting thing is for REAL REAL because at the end of the night last night, I had to stop every other step when I brought up a laundry basket. I was just done. Stick a fork in me. This morning, I found myself pulling myself up by the rails going upstairs, because there wasn’t strength enough in my feet to get me there by themselves. I am bringing laundry upstairs by setting the basket on the stairs, walking up to it, set the basket up two more stairs, lather, rinse, repeat.

That will teach me, right? I mean, I KNEW it was stupid to do so much, but my stupid brain was all “Hey, we used to do this all the TIME, man! Just..take the bus out, walk around, maybe buy some stuff, maybe not, but just have a day wandering around. Good times, man.” and my body was all “Dude we’re not in college anymore, go home and sober up, Brain. And stop peeing in my bushes. I WILL call the cops, asshole.” “Douche. You used to be cool.” “Yeah that was back before you made us walk all the fuck around the city to prove to yourself that we still could. Turns out we CAN’T, asshole. Now seriously, I wasn’t kidding about the cops.”

It’s taken some getting used to. I’m having to relearn some behaviors, but they’re not all bad. Asking for help comes easier, which was a hard lesson. I’m a fiercely independent person; I can’t stand bothering other people for things I should be able to do myself. For the whole first YEAR of my ten-year relationship with the boy, I STILL asked for rides to places, to the point where he told me, “I will DRIVE you to the store, woman. Just tell me you need to go get groceries and we’ll go. You don’t have to ASK every time.” But I did. Now, though, there is no more demurring when there’s an empty seat on the bus. Before, my social awkwardness would make me just stand there the whole ride, even though all I had to do was ask someone to move a little so I could sit. Any more, ‘Excuse me, may I sit?’ is easily out of my face if I don’t just brush them aside gently and plop myself down.

I’ve learned to stop denying myself an easier time because I didn’t want to ask for it.

I’ve had to swallow my own advice to friends in need – there’s no shame in asking for help. There are people around who love me, people who want to help me. A ride to the fucking store may be the only way they can help, but IT MEANS THEY CAN HELP. And I should let them. There will be time for independence, time when I can’t do things for myself, but I don’t need to refuse a hand now to prove to myself that I don’t NEED help. I can ask for it anyway. Even if I can still do it myself. It’s breaking me in, for a time when I can’t. When asking for help will be mandatory and not a luxury, when my pride writes checks my strength can’t cash.

Besides, sweating is gross, and if I don’t have to, then why the hell should I?

My Medical Posse

I’ve just done the math and figured out that I have seen 22 different medical professionals over the course of things.

Primary Care Physician – whom I first reported the problem, who ordered some blood work with…

Phlebotomist #1 – and also an x-ray from the…

X-Ray Tech – but the images were normal so I was referred by my PCP to the..

Physiatrist – who asked for an MRI with the…

MRI Tech – who sent test results back to my physiatrist, and because there was an anomaly I was sent to see the….

Orthopedic Surgeon – who decided the anomaly was unrelated and sent me back to my physiatrist who then referred me to….

Neurologist #1 – who did preliminary testing, and then referred me for an EMG with with preliminary bloodwork from the…

Phlebotomist #2 – who did the first round of blood draws – sixteen tests over six vials, but I hadn’t been told I needed to fast for one test so I had to make an appointment to see the…

Nurse – who dealt with my glucose tolerance test (melted otter pops never tasted so gross) and then I was free to see the….

Neurologist #2 – who did the EMG and asked for an upper spine and neck MRI with the….

MRI Tech #2 – who did her job spectacularly and then the results came back to the neurologists but they were baffled so I was referred to…

Neurological Specialist #1 – who was completely baffled and surrendered me to…

Neurological Specialist #2 – who has become my guide and ally through all of this, and she did more EMG pokery and sent me for more blood work with…

Phlebotomist #4 – but those results were normal too so we opted for a very expensive genetic test which required a blood draw from…

Phlebotomist #5 for Athena Diagnostics – and while we waited for that result, I was referred to weekly physical therapy with..

Physical Therapist #1 – and the next week with…

Physical Therapist #2 – and the next week because of terrible weather with…

Physical Therapist #3 – and sometime in there the results came back negative so I was sent off to see the….

Spinal Tap surgeon – who put a fucking NEEDLE IN MY SPINE (tho it seriously wasn’t that bad, House lied to me) and the tests were all normal and meanwhile I had a consultation with…

Physical Therapist #4 – who was called in to do consultation work on me with PT #2, and my doctor referred me to get a biopsy done with…

Surgeon for biopsy – who did the cuttery which led to test results which led to my diagnosis.

..And yesterday I added a technician with a medical prosthetics company to my menagerie.

There will be more, of course – there will eventually be a dietician and a speech therapist and a host of other people. But for now, my posse is 22 strong.