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When I Vowed to Walk Down the Aisle at My Brother's Wedding Despite My Pain


My brother became engaged July of 2015, a couple of months prior to my diagnosis of dystonia, and I had never been so excited. He has picked the most amazing woman, and she is a true gem. As my diagnosis progressed, I had to use a wheelchair. I lost the ability to walk due to the uncontrollable and unexpected muscle contractions. I was in the hospital for three months while the doctors were stumped and unsure what to do.

two women and man standing together
Tracy (right) with her brother and sister-in-law

I remember my brother and (now) sister-in-law sitting in the hospital room with me and me telling them specifically, “I am going to learn how to walk. I am going to walk down the aisle on the biggest day of your lives.” Both my brother and my sister-in-law have been my biggest supporters, and I was not going to let them down.

The pain I experience is absolutely excruciating, but I refused to give up. I started with short distances, practicing several times a day. I would then continue to push myself, until the pain was unbearable. I didn’t care about the pain; I was going to walk down that aisle. I didn’t care if I needed crutches; I was going to do it.

A week before my brother’s wedding, I was hospitalized for the dystonia for nine days. I kept reminding my brother and sister “Don’t worry, I will be fine for the wedding.” Once I was discharged, I had an important doctor’s appointment a couple of days later. At this appointment, I learned devastating news about my health. The doctor specifically said to me, “Save your steps.” I refused to let this news get to me. The happiest day was coming up in less than a week; there was no time to process the news. I kept reminding myself, “You will walk down that aisle, no matter what” several times a day. If my mobility is going to get worse for a while, then I am making sure I go out with a bang at the wedding. I am not allowing this disease to define me.”

On the day of the wedding, my wheelchair broke. I remember looking at my sister-in-law and saying, “I will be fine, this is your day.” The bridesmaids hugged me, along with my sister-in-law’s family, looking at me as I had tears rolling down me eyes. I looked at them and said, “I’m going to do this.”

I was the first bridesmaid to walk down the aisle, and it was the most amazing and emotional experience. I had never seen my brother so happy, and surrounded by the people that love him and his soon-to-be wife. As I walked closer to him, we both teared up and winked at each other. I promised I would not let him and his beautiful bride down. Walking down that aisle was the one of the biggest gifts I could give them.

bride in wedding dress next to woman standing with crutch
Tracy and the bride

Dystonia is a beast. It tries to have a mind of its own, but that concept doesn’t work for me. I will fight back against dystonia, and show it who is boss. My toes may be paralyzed, and both feet and ankles are frozen, but I will not allow dystonia to rule my life.