Shared Stories: What's wrong with your leg?

Katie Troy’s exuberance defies the reality of her progressive disease. She travels everywhere in her “convertible” (motorized wheelchair) and never loses an opportunity to promote the advantages of a healthy diet. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns.

By Katie Troy

I worked as a food server at South Street Deli for eight or nine years.  It was a very fun job.  I would laugh and tell jokes to the customers and they would tell me some as well.

One day I told my boss, “This job is scary.  I’m having too much fun.”

About a year and a half after 9/11, on March 26, 2003, I waited on four lovely ladies.  I had a ball with them.  I even got to tell them my Penny joke that a customer had shared with me.  
A customer asked me, “What’s wrong with your leg?” I said, “I don’t know.  It just doesn’t want to work.”

On April 1, 2003, I came into work and my boss said, “You have a letter from the four ladies you waited on last week.”

I said, “You’re joking, right?”  It was April Fool’s Day.  

He said, “No, you have a letter.” He went back to his office and brought it to me.  It was a lovely letter.  I even laminated it.  That was on Monday.

On Friday, when I walked into the restaurant, the manager from Katella Deli was standing there. (The two delis were owned by the same firm.)  As she handed me my check, she said, “Give me your apron and tie. We are closing.”

That was a trip.  I hadn’t gone to the doctor about my leg because I didn’t want to miss work. Now I could go to the doctor.

I knew exactly what was wrong when I asked my brother David, who has MS (multiple sclerosis), if he could run. He said no, so I knew I had MS as well. David’s MS mostly affected his right arm. He’s right-handed. My MS mostly affected my left leg.

I was upset that my neurologist made me get a spinal tap. I know now that it was all about the money and the injections he put me on, and the depression pills I took because of the poison shots.

I had to work at getting on disability. They denied me several times before I finally started receiving it.  My arms were (and are still) very muscular and I looked healthy.  Everyone was telling me to cover my “guns” (arm muscles) because the disability people didn’t believe I was ill.

Then I went to get Access (a ride service) about six years ago. I went in a wheelchair and my request was still denied three times before it was approved.

It’s been a crazy ride over the past 15 years. I wish I could walk, but I cruise in my motorized wheelchair instead. I go everywhere in it (except when I travel to Pennsylvania to visit my family) and I am on my third one in 10 years.

Since I developed MS, I stopped eating animals and sugar and GMOs (genetically modified organisms).  MS landed me here, or should I say God dropped me off.  Otherwise, I would never have met my Memoirs family or my “Mom” and neighbor Yolanda. 

I guess we all need to grow old gracefully.