If you have read my posts, you know that keeping my MS a secret has been a critical goal of mine. Unfortunately, my walking has deteriorated to where I can no longer hide it.
The first colleagues to notice were told that I hurt my knee or ankle. That bought me a little time, but could only be used as a temporary excuse. This evolved into saying that I have a bad leg and it’s acting up. That’s true.
When it wasn’t getting better, I got more questions of what was wrong with it. I tell people something along the lines of not being sure what caused it, but that it appears to be nerve damage. This is also true. It has the added benefit that while nerve damage can heal, it takes a long time typically. I don’t know how much extra this bought me. Maybe a year or two?
People have also noticed the antenna attached to my shoe for my Bioness unit. It’s prompted a number of funny inquiries like “what is that? are you under house arrest?” “are you a child molester or something?” At that point I explain the bad leg, nerve damage and the therapy device that I am wearing to exercise it. The typical reaction is to tell me about their father who had drop foot, their brother who had a spinal cord injury and uses a similar device or the story of how they used to go to physical therapy for their “fill in the blank”.
In a way, it’s a little bit of a relief not to have to completely hide it. So why not just come clean and tell everybody that I have MS?
Two reasons. The much less significant reason is that I still want people thinking of me as me, and not that guy with MS. Being known as the guy with the limp isn’t great either, but maybe it’s a little better.
But the biggest reason is to protect my job and income for as long as I can. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I work in a very competitive shark tank. MS can cause cognitive issues in some people. Someone will eventually look it up online and read that. The truth is that I have been lucky and haven’t suffered that particular symptom at all. In fact the MRIs of my brain look very healthy and I still consistently rank well in any mental measure that I can track. But eventually I am bound to say something in a meeting that may not be exactly sharp, and I am worried that someone will jump to the conclusion that it’s my MS, when they wouldn’t think anything of it otherwise.
So for now, I have a bad leg with some nerve damage.