My wife gets asked frequently about my health since I revealed a few weeks ago that in December I was diagnosed with the auto immune disorder CIDP, in which my white blood cells decided to attack my nerves, screwing them up and robbing me of most of my physical strength as my muscles withered on the vine after they stopped getting signals from my nervous system.
“Just tell them I’m still not dead,” I told her.
So that’s what I’m telling you: I’m still not dead.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so flippant, considering death, either a slow or long, drawn-out one, seemed a real possibility when I was stuck in the hospital fighting an out-of-control fever caused by a chemical meningitis, a side effect of the initial CIDP treatment. The gaggle of doctors working on me at a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital didn’t know how to control the fever and had me undergo a thousand tests because they believed I could have had cancer, bacteria in the blood, leukemia, or a host of other things. It wasn’t my happiest hour.
Since then, after multiple setbacks, I’ve been on the slow road to recovery. I have not needed help pulling on my socks or pulling off my pants for several weeks, but still avoid some pants and shirts because the buttons still get the better of my weak fingers. I’m no longer on crutches or in a wheelchair. But I still walk like Donald Duck because my lower legs remain so weak I can’t even stand on my tiptoes – but I’m much closer to tiptoeing today than I was two weeks ago.
As I type this, an IV port is in my left arm. I just finished the second of four consecutive days of treatment, an infusion of steroids, this morning. I’m scheduled to get another round early next month as well, then my condition will be reassessed to see if I need more.
It’s been a slow, but steady recovery over the past few months. I want to get back to running a 7-minute mile like I used to. But I’m happy I’m back up to a 13:08 mile after needing about 38 minutes to complete one during the depths of this CIDP struggle.
I’m also strong enough to teach ((I have a class later today) as well as do this job, which seems to make some people happy, but others less so.
Either way, I’m not yet dead. I’ll let you know when that changes.