Lately friends I used to work with or go to school with are contacting me after finding me on LinkedIn, little blasts from my past. And I started thinking about my life ten, even twenty, years ago. Would I have done anything more or differently if I had known for sure that my health would decline?
I was working as a waitress when I was diagnosed in 1991. I did yoga, got a motorcycle and kept my beat-up Converse high-tops with the idea that if I became wheelchair-bound I would at least wear them to show I used to walk.
As it became apparent that I wasn't going to be immediately crippled, I threw out the shoes and continued pursuing my love of libraries. I got my advanced degree in Library and Information Science in 1999. Always I was ruefully aware that my deterioration was a possibility but it didn't seem likely. I looked and felt fine.
When I first moved here in 2001, I used to walk several blocks down to the ocean with friends and to a nearby coffee-shop on the weekends. Very soon, I started to need a nap when I got home, that even the slight uphill trek back to my house tired me out. And that was only seven years ago. I couldn't do it at all now.
It's hard to know how to tell people that my walking has deteriorated so much, that I need a scooter to visit a farmers' or flea market. But I don't think I would've done anything differently, maybe just been more aware and appreciative of the things I was able to do at the time.