How to Redefine Dystonia Momma’s Way

Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure September was trying to kill me.

The whirlwind romance with summer is over.

All the front displays of the supercenters showcase the brilliantly bright school supplies. Everywhere I go, I see signs telling me to, “Gear Up For School. Great Gear. Great Prices.”


Another school year is about to begin. My children are in tears. My to-do list for the week is riddled with one errand after another. This overly zealous super mommy, who put way too much effort into making these past few months memorable and magical, has been rode hard and feels busted.

let the stress begin dystonia
I wake tired. More than tired. I wake wondering why I don’t have my Keurig set up on my nightstand waiting with a mug underneath and all I have to do is hit brew.

And then, as usual, I get a call or text from Carol. My Ms. Carol.

Ms. Carol – who carts her four kids to the pool with mine, plans weekly play-dates to park and playgrounds, and teaches Sunday school.

Ms. Carol – the vice president for the PTO who sells spirit wear, organizes fruit sale fundraisers, and headlines as the MC for the annual talent show.

Ms. Carol – my neighbor whose flower beds and garden make me spit with envy, my dear friend who always has the best stock of cheap red wine readily available for venting sessions, and my favorite “intellectual badass” who charms everyone with her witty one-liners.

I bitch that September will “do me in”, and then, I think of my Ms. Carol.

A woman whose left leg drags. She walks with what could be misunderstood to be a bad limp. I’ve lost count of the times that we’ve been together, and I hear her answering the same question over and over, “What happened to your leg? Why are you limping?”

Sometimes, that Carol wit whips out the craziest story pierced in sarcasm. My favorite has to be her horse and ice cream truck story. That one leaves us in stitches.

But, truth be told, Carol lives with dystonia. She suffers from severe cramps, especially in her feet and legs. When she overdoes it, the stress and fatigue complicate her speech, and she talks in what she jokingly calls her “dystonia dialect.” Her symptoms were usually mild, but with every pregnancy, her condition got worse.

Whenever my bitch-fest thoughts take over:

  • I need more hours in the day.
  • Why do I push myself to the limits I don’t have to?
  • I’m tired of the same routine of working, cleaning, mothering, and wondering – wondering whether what I’m doing every day makes a difference.

And then I wonder, how the hell does Ms. Carol do it? Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother. Rolls and rolls of roles that she takes on. And living with what she calls her “evil twin”: dystonia.

Dystonia is a chronic disease my Ms. Carol lives with, but she doesn’t allow it to define her. She’s my hero.

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