Tag Archives: johnny cash

I USED to Walk the Line

Multiple Sclerosis NO balance issues

Because you’re mine, I walk the line     Johnny Cash

Don’t worry friends, this blog isn’t another lame MS parody of a common song. This blog IS about sorrow. And heartbreak. And the realization that sometimes the life skills you learned before MS are just shot with the onset of MS.

And by shot I don’t mean injections. I mean shot as in the slang use of the word. As in destroyed, demolished, gone away…

I mean shot as in alcohol. And not alcohol swabs. Alcohol like Jagermeister or Goldslager (“do I have any gold specs in my teeth?”) or Jack Daniel’s or some other type of alcohol.


Yikes, I am feeling nauseous and hung over just remembering those days.

What I am talking about is the fact that I totally failed when my neurologist had me walk a straight heel to toe line in his office. How could that possibly happen? I have been practicing that test as a precautionary matter since I was 16. I was the master of the heel to toe test!

My friends and I thought it was a crucial skill to acquire before we turned 21, lest we get stopped for drunk driving. We practiced sober. We practiced buzzed. We practiced drunk. We were heel to toe ninjas!


That was not necessarily a good skill to have or a skill to be proud of. I know that now. And I’m not advocating practicing to pass field sobriety tests. It is more important to do everything in your power NOT to drink and drive. That is the real skill to master.

Luckily, while my friends and I were practicing, we were too stupid to appreciate that we didn’t need that skill. Where we lived, you could walk everywhere. And if you were too drunk to walk, everybody knew everybody else and someone would pick you up off the sidewalk and bring you home.

One time I was definitely too drunk to walk home by myself. A more sober guy walked me home and was a perfect gentleman about it. Yet, for fear of my mom who had a reputation of being tough, he stopped at the bottom of my quiet street.

“Ok Yvonne, I can see your front door from here and there is no traffic. I’ll watch you walk into your house. You’ll be fine right?”

And he did watch. He watched me walk into our patio furniture and tumble right over it. The effects of a few Kamikaze shots, maybe?


But never once did I find myself in a situation where I actually had to perform the test I was sure to ace; until this month at my neuro’s office. And the failure was a shock.

I didn’t take more than one step before I fell off the line. I tried again. Hands up in the air to steady myself and one and half steps later, off the line I went.

This, more than the constant bladder, the constantly being spacey, the constantly being cold, the constantly being hot, the constantly being too tired to even put on makeup, let alone go out with it on, reminded me that those foolishly fun days were over.

I did my best to adjust to this latest MS distress. So much for the years and years of practicing the heel to toe test. All those hours are just, well, shot.


Then I got very scared. What happens if I am innocently driving to my neurologist or church with no alcohol in me, aside from the alcohol ON me after doing my latest shot (shot as in injection here,) and I get stopped by the police? I now know I will fail the heel to toe test!

This concerned me so much that I looked up how the actual field sobriety test works.

Seems when they make you walk the line, the police are looking to see if you can do eight things: keep your balance at the start, follow directions, keep your balance during the test, actual touch heel to toe, keep from stepping off the line, keep from using your arms to balance yourself, turn correctly at the end of the test, and take the number of steps they tell you to.

If you fail more than two of the above, you are probably legally drunk. I would miss all of them! That would make me super, duper drunk in their eyes!

And when I would try to explain that I am not drunk, I have MS and cognitive issues, I would likely not be able to explain to it to them!

And I would be so nervous I would start slurring my words!

By that time, the bladder would be screaming and I would start dancing around!

If I get stopped for any reason, I am headed to jail for sure! And there is no way they will let me have shots of any kind in there…

As if multiple sclerosis wasn’t scary on its own, we now need to factor in the police. What’s an MS’er who has practiced and practiced and practiced the heel to toe test to do?

I’ve pondered this and pondered this, rested and pondered this some more. The only thing I came up with- get lots and lots of “I love the police” bumper stickers.


And right next to your driver’s license, carry your National MS Society membership card and your neurologist’s phone number just in case.

And most important, MS or no MS, don’t drink and drive!

Even if you can pass the heel to toe test.