Updated: Jul 2, 2019
What would you do if you could turn the clock back? And I'm not talking about some time traveling fantasy to have dinner with Abe Lincoln, or prevent Hitler from ever being born. I'm talking about your own life. Would you do things differently if given another chance? Is there a specific day you would return to and change something you did, something you said, or maybe change the way you made someone feel?
I have a very specific memory of a time that I would love to go back to and change. It was around 5 years ago. We were living in an apartment for 6 months while our new home was being built. My wife Sue was wearing a knee brace since her knee was giving her some trouble. It didn't feel right she said. It felt weak and it creaked a bit when she bent it.
For months she had been walking a bit more slowly. I would turn around in a parking lot and Sue would suddenly be 25 yards behind. We would joke about it. The kids would yell, "C'mon Mom!" and she would yell back "I'm coming!" and it was funny for a bit. Until the pace slowed even more and physical therapy proved ineffective. Then it was more than a head-scratcher, it was becoming a bit worrying.
I clearly remember walking down the hall to our apartment, Sue in her knee brace walking gingerly. It would be another 6 months before her diagnosis and another 6 months after that before her first treatment. I think about that now and wonder, what if she had been diagnosed sooner? What if she started treatment a year prior? Would she still be walking right now? Maybe she would still be driving and still working. It's possible she would be more like many people living with MS who are able to cope with it while still maintaining the life they knew before their diagnosis. We'll never know, but I get to play that "what if?" game in my head over and over again.
I still see her next to me limping down the hall. Maybe we just came back from grocery shopping or checking on the status of our new home that we were building at the time. Whatever it was, our minds were somewhere else, blissfully unaware that a few shorts months later our lives would be changed. Seeing the impact that MS has had on Sue - robbing her of her former life - it's maddening for me to think about. Could everything be different now had we acted sooner? I carry guilt because of it. Shouldn't I have realized it wasn't simply a physical issue? It had been months - if not more than a year - of a steady decline. Why didn't we get to a neurologist sooner?
Sure, the doctors were the ones who prescribed physical therapy but they weren't with her every day. I was. I witnessed the decline and didn't think much of it.
For that reason, an otherwise meaningless day when we took a slow walk down a hallway is my first stop when / if a time machine ever becomes reality. What's yours?