Just a sign of weakness, especially coming from the military. For a long time, I was ashamed of it. I played sports my entire life, football, swimming, baseball, you know the usual. I joined the military after high school. I graduated from Bootcamp. I had a training accident where I injured my hip and found out later that I also had injured my spine. I packed up my bags and moved back to Chattanooga after my hip surgery. I started working for a local company here. I ended up collapsing at my job. The doctor immediately thought that he knew what I had. It was a rare autoimmune disease. He did a gene test. I had markers that said that I had the possibility of having this rare arthritis disease. When he saw that, he immediately put me on this brand new drug. It was expensive. He referred six or seven other patients to the same specialists to get this brand new drug. It seemed a little fishy because if it’s this rare arthritis disease, how can this many people in my area from this one doctor have the same thing I do? It turns out that the doctor is no longer practicing.
The treatment ended up making me very sick. My immune system went down very low. It wound up putting me bedridden for nine months. I had a hard time going to the bathroom. There were multiple times where I had people to help me get in the shower.
I had a bag that I carried around. I think I had thirteen medications that I had to take every day, sixty milligrams of morphine twice a day. I remember praying to God, “I’m exhausted. I don’t know how it feels to not be in pain. I don’t have a purpose.” I prayed to God, and God took it all away from me.
Pain wise it just went from ten to two. My grandmother, before she passed away, had told him that we were going to get a second opinion. He told me, “ If you go get a second opinion, I’ll never see you again.” We went and got a second opinion. Then they found out about my back. They got me on better medication. I was finally able to start using a wheelchair. God told me, at some point, I will be able to live a more normal life than I was living then.
With physical therapy and the help of my friends and family through God, I was able to get out of my wheelchair. I finally was able to pack it away. Now it’s in a storage unit.
I will most likely be on my cane until my head hits the casket. I’m okay with that.
For a long time, I was ashamed of it. I looked at it as being a sign of weakness, especially coming from the military. I’m not just a disabled marine. I’m a child of God. He’s always been there no matter how dark and gray, what I thought, my situation was.