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Something old, something new

April 12, 2013
James P. Whipple , Shepherdstown Chronicle

As I have gotten older, I have been thrown a few curve balls Mostly I have been able to deal with them and then move on. The very latest curve ball is something I thought would never happen to me. I have a disease called Ataxia, or in my case Ataxia with a vitamin B12 deficiency

According to Wikipedia, "Ataxia is an inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements. A person with Ataxia will appear to be off-balance when standing and unsteady or staggering when walking.

The most common causes of ataxia are inflammation of the inner ear (labyrinthitis), and stroke. Ataxia can also be caused by other problems, such as ear infections, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPH), epilepsy, or nervous system disorders, such as cerebral palsy or Parkinson's disease." The condition also called subamcute combined degeneration of the spinal cord, is a severe neurological condition that occurs in some people with prolonged B12 deficiency. Common symptoms of SCD include weakness, numbness and lack of coordination. Together, these symptoms are reflected in Ataxia.

In my case, I am left with learning to live life in a wheelchair. I am so uncoordinated that I need help to do most of the little things we do in life. When I first found out about my illness, I did not want to believe it. At night I would try and walk across the room. I looked like a drunken sailor. For a short period of time I have moved into a re-hab facility. Each day I work on my leg and arm muscles. Each night I get tucked into bed.

I have been told that the Ataxia is irreversible. I have always been a fighter and will fight through this. Life will go on. As long as My mind works I will work.

William Butler Yeats (1865 to 1939) put it beautifully, "When you are old and grey and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars, Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead And hid his face amid a crowd of stars."

In closing, here is one of my own poems "Being ill has brought me many thoughts, but one sticks out the most in the balance of looking at my life and the choice I made were both good and bad. My love of life reminds me of a flame that burns bright and now is nothing but an ember. Though the flame has lessened my spirit still burns bright. I still await the morning sun and the start of another day."

 
 

 

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