Grapevine Online Exclusive

Published June 2014.

Unexpected Hurdles

Although her mobility was limited, she was able to stay connected and stay sober

By the grace of my Higher Power and the loving, but firm arms of my fellows in AA, my duckies were finally lining up. I was now sober (dry) a little over seven years. I had worked the Steps (somewhat), gotten out of a bad marriage (mostly of my own making), and was living my life as a single mom and working for the local daily newspaper as legal clerk.

One day, I was working late into the evening on deadline. I had picked up my son from afterschool and had promised to take him for his favorite take out fast food. But it was getting late and when I went to get him and the leave the office, he had already fallen asleep on a sofa in the neighboring department. I decided to gather him up and go home.

The next morning, I felt somewhat tired and stiff but attributed it to being overworked. I decided to skip my morning prayer and meditation. The weekend was coming up and I wanted to finish my work. I thought I'd catch up on meditation later.

By Saturday morning, the tired and stiff feeling had turned into numbness and the inability to use my hands, fingers or legs properly. I knew something was medically wrong, but just like in my days of drinking, I went through all the stages of denial.

Finally, after trying home remedies and herbal teas, I made an appointment with my family doctor. He referred me to a well-known neurologist in town. My sponsor took me to an AA meeting a couple days before the appointment.

I shared that I was physically sick and really afraid. No one preached or scolded me about being off the AA topic. People shared similar experiences and how important staying sober and maintaining trust and faith in the God of their understanding helped them to face their fears and how it strengthened their faith.

Leaving the meeting, I felt an even greater sense of belonging. I belong to a fellowship that has only one requirement for membership ... a desire to stop drinking.

"All the tests and MRIs point to Multiple Sclerosis," the neurologist said. MS! It was the illness I had feared every since I was a child after seeing a public service announcement on TV. It was termed "the great crippler of young adults."

I learned this on a Tuesday. There was a noon meeting just down the street at a group I attended regularly.

''My name is Valerie,'' I said. "I am an Alcoholic. I've just been told that I have MS and right now I am so very grateful to have the fellowship of AA and AA's program of recovery from alcoholism."

Today, my life is filled with gratitude. Multiple Sclerosis has slowly taken away my ability to walk or drive. Last winter, I had a really bad flair-up and was not able to get to meetings. My good friend in AA came over and we read the Big Book. The next week, she brought my sponsor with her. The week after that, two more friends from the program came over. Well, to make a long story short, a Big Book study group was formed and now takes place once a week in the community room of the senior apartment complex that I now call home.

This same friend suggested I apply for the city lift service, whereby I could get rides around town. Pocketing my pride, I did so and was accepted.

Today, I look forward to the Big Book Study meeting on Tuesdays and getting on the Lift to attend a meeting at my home group once a week.

Life comes with all kinds of unexpected hurdles. It is my sincere prayer that anyone who wants to get sober but also faces a physical challenge not let anything or anyone stand in the way of being accepted in this fellowship.

-- Val W.

Athens, Georgia

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