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When I Was Asked When My Symptoms Started

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“Can you tell me when your symptoms started?”

A simple enough question – you would think – for a doctor to ask a patient. But it causes me to pause and flip through my memories like I flip through the pages of my grandmother’s almost hundred-year-old cookbook.

Do they want to know about the time when my legs started wobbling so uncontrollably I could no longer stand safely? When I would try to run but could only get 100 meters before I would collapse in exhaustion? Or when my hands and mouth and legs started vibrating quietly to themselves at the end of a particularly long day?

Are they interested in when my eyes started preferring to be unfocused over focused? When I started collapsing randomly from the knee or ankle for no apparent reason and needed to start wearing AFOs (leg braces)?

Maybe they’re talking about how I’ve always needed nine to 10 hours of sleep?

Or maybe it goes back further than that. Maybe they want to know about having to sit on the sidelines during gym class, only learning to ride a bike when I was 9 (after years of effort) and then only being able to get around the block once or twice?

The simple truth of the matter is that not only can I not tell you what I have, but I can’t really tell you when it started, because I can’t remember life without it. It has simply always been.

Getty image by Rawpixel.

Originally published: January 14, 2019
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