before I was diagnosed, I knew
there was something wrong.
I thought it was me, clumsy.
I fell up stairways, never down.
Sometimes a knee or an ankle suddenly weakened.
Or a thumb.
The feeling on my upper thighs changed,
as if wood replaced muscle and skin.
Hiking, against the blue of sky,
I saw a flock of birds that weren’t there.
In a school room, a gauze curtain descended within my eyes
as cotton wool filled my ears, adjacent freeway noise
My feet felt odd, creaky inside,
and I began to stumble
and fall, and be just a little fearful.
I tried to speak, to explain
but no one listened or wanted to hear.
I thought it was me, annoying, pestering.
I felt judged: complainer (suck it up),
attention seeker (hypochondriac),
I couldn’t keep up with my family on walks;
I thought they were running away from me.
Things slipped from my grasp, a spoon,
the morning paper.
I forgot how to swallow
or began to choke while eating.
Finally the news was delivered:
this is MS.
And I felt relief to know
after 30 years of accumulated oddities
that I was not imagining,
not attention seeking.
I am still the same,
but it is good to know.