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Post #74 – Tropical Spastic Paraparesis Affects Under 2% of the World – I Am One of Them – Memoir

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Courtesy of God’s Emerald

An Excerpt from My Memoir – Captive in the Mirror

Shane’s Revenge – August 1992

(Shane, the leader of the ruthless gang of mob-controlled sex traffickers, held me captive in New York City for three years)

The sundrenched Sunday morning of August 30, 1992, foretold a beautiful day, and Carlito and I went to church. They sang my favorite song, “This Too Shall Pass.” My heart swelled. Maybe, just maybe, God would heal me.

After the service, Carlito dashed off to play with his buddies. I joined a small group chatting in the parking lot about the wonderful message we’d just heard. Suddenly, an onslaught of pain hammered my head and feet. Electrical shocks machine-gunned every nerve.

The emergency room physician at Johns Hopkins called me melodramatic but paged a neurologist anyway. I balled up in agonizing pain on a gurney. A nurse injected medicine that made me loopy but did little to ease my misery.

Hours passed before the on-call neurologist showed up. He actually took me seriously and admitted me to the neurology floor.

For several days I lay in a cataleptic state, muscles rigid, unaware of my surroundings. Bags of IV fluids hung next to me, dripping dizzying drugs into my veins. I stirred from the induced sleep one morning, thinking I was at home. Hungry for breakfast, I tried to get out of bed, but my body didn’t respond. I tried again. Fully awake now, I panicked. I stared around the cold, sterile room, bit my lip, and cried. Not again.

A cheerful technician pushed a gurney into the room. “Ready for your MRI, Ms. Walker?”

“MRI? What is that?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you knew.” More somberly now, “Your doctor ordered this test. We need to find out what’s going on with you.”

He left me in an empty hallway of the frigid hospital basement and laid a clipboard on my belly. “Someone will be with you shortly. Good luck.”

I took in a deep, painful breath and shouted, “Is anybody here? Please help me!”

A woman dressed in a white uniform came to my side. “Calm down, Ms. Walker.” She rubbed my shoulder. “You’re getting yourself overworked. I’ll call a nurse to give you a sedative.”

The sedative eased me into a trance when they slid me into the dark MRI tunnel. But far-away music filtering through a speaker roused me, and I opened my eyes to blackness. Feeling trapped, I choked on my saliva. A scream stuck in my throat, and my head felt ready to burst from the maddening rat-a-tat-tat of the machine.

Shane’s face flashed, and his vile, yellow eyes touched mine. He had captured me! I shrieked. Just when I was at my brink, a technician pulled me out from that pit.

Back in my room, I pulled the flimsy blanket over my face and pressed the call button. A woman’s voice answered me through the wall speaker. “How can I help you?”

“I need pain medicine,” I whimpered, simply desiring more drugs so I could slip into unconsciousness.

While the nurse injected a narcotic into my IV site, she raised her eyebrows. “Ms. Walker, this is last dose you’ll receive until after shift change. As it is, you’ve had too much already.” Her voice faded as a soothing rush overtook my brain, then blissful oblivion.

“Wake up, Ms. Walker.” The same man who had transported me to radiology hovered over me. “Sorry, but I have to take you back for a spinal tap.”

My lips quivered. I was sick of the painful procedures. “Please, just leave me alone,” I begged.

“Relax. It will be over before you know it.” He pushed me back to the arctic radiology department.

A technician positioned me, bending my knees. “Ms. Walker, you must remain perfectly still throughout this procedure.” His comment amused me. I was paralyzed. The prick of a needle at the base of my spine triggered spasms in my legs and shot excruciating pain up my spine. Tears spilled into my mouth, making me gag and gulp sputum.

When it was over, I was back in my bed, sobbing. Shane loomed over me, nostrils flared. I could not erase his ghost.

woman crying tears

Suddenly, my stomach churned, and vomit shot out of my mouth. A raging spinal headache assaulted me for three days. But that was not enough—my doctor subjected me to more vein-pricking blood tests, another EEG, and two EMGs. The only conclusive finding: I did not have Multiple Sclerosis.

Days turned to weeks. Doctors and medical students gathered around my bed, casting looks my way, while discussing me as if I were not there. I felt like a circus freak.

Even though my legs were paralyzed, I had full sensation. The needle-like, cramping spasms relentlessly assaulted my legs. Additional medications offered only minimal relief.

My mind could not escape my hellish past or my abysmal present. I felt I was going insane.

Did God even see my tears of anguish, or was this some kind of cosmic joke? “I gave my life to you while I’ve been at this church. Besides believing and attending, I did lots of volunteer work.” In my feeble attempt to hang onto faith, I failed. I now could not have cared less.

I gazed at the water-stained ceiling. It was like my life—a vast void splotched with ugly stains.

The following week, on October 30, I would be forty-one. And Carlito’s voice had trembled when he asked, “Mommy, are you gonna die?”

I pulled him close, my tears dripping on his hair. “No, baby, Mommy won’t leave you. I promise.” I didn’t know if that was the truth or a lie.

My aggravation with God continued to rise. He was supposed to be all-loving, yet he left me to rot, and he hurt my little boy’s heart.

I decided that hereafter I would shut myself down and retreat from life.

burning candle

At the beginning of November, a candle flickered in my gloom. Tom, one of the medical students following my case, was researching rare diseases. He asked me direct questions that led me to tell him about my three tortuous years with sex traffickers.

“I have a hunch about this, but I need to speak with the neurologist,” Tom said. “Try to hang in there. We’ll get to the bottom of this.” His discovery prompted Dr. Saxon to order a specific blood test, a fifth spinal tap, and another MRI.

I cringed at the thought of all this. And by now I was suicidal. “Dr. Saxon, please. I can’t go through that again. I don’t care what I have. I just want to go home and be with my son.”

“Nancy, you know I cannot send you home in this condition. Try to relax. I’ll order a sedative that should help you.”

A nurse injected the medication into my IV line. The medicine knocked me out, and I came to after Dr. Saxon had performed all the procedures while I was under conscious sedation. The irrefutable results stunned him.

This thing attacking my body had a name.

I felt both foreboding and relief. I would finally have an answer. And a cure. God was only testing me. Maybe I had passed.

“Have you ever been to the Caribbean, Nancy?”

“No, why?”

“It’s just that this disease is extremely rare in the United States.” He crossed his arms and shook his head uneasily. “Nancy, you contracted Tropical Spastic Paraparesis, an extremely rare sexually-transmitted virus. Most known cases are from Jamaica.”

Jamaica.

Shane and his henchmen pimps. All Jamaicans.

“What do you mean sexually transmitted?” My face wet with tears. “Will I ever walk again?”

“No, Nancy, I’m very sorry.” His eyes revealed remorse. “At this time, there is no known cure.”

After Dr. Saxon left the room, I collapsed into hysteria. The horror movie of my life played again. Eighteen years old. Shane slashing me with the cat-o’-nine-tails. Ribbons of blood running down my body. Savagely raped. Three more other pimps raping and sodomizing me for days and years.

“Most known cases are from Jamaica.”

Shane threatened he would end my life if I escaped him. And he did.

Categories: Author, Memoir, Writing

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7 replies »

  1. hi nancy…i can’t speak to all you have gone through except to say i’m sorry….i can tell you that i unfortunately understand the hell of being diagnosed with TSP….three years of prodding and poking just to get more bad news…….wishing you the best….bill……

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      • yapper doddles !!….all started around 2005….first 3 yrs was treated for MS but never showed scare tissue on the MRI’s so mary more tests and low and behold TSP…..you nancy are the first person i’ve met with TSP…hi….anyway alls good with me…learned to go with what i have not with what i might want…life is good…..bill……

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