By Patricia McMorrow, CaringBridge staff writer
Five years since his legs went out from under him during a tennis doubles match, Mike Hart of Alexandria, VA, doesn’t know why he still struggles to walk and talk.
Many scary possibilities have been ruled out, but the closest to diagnosis Mike has come, even after being examined at top medical institutions across the country, is “autoimmune disease.”
So without prognosis or a treatment plan to restore his health, Mike is focused on healing.
He wants to make himself whole again.
“I wish we could figure out if there is some way to fix what’s going on with me, or if I am going to be like this for the rest of my life,” Mike said.
“But I have to be content, even if not happy, with that. I’ve got to move on, no matter what happens.”
For Mike, the key to moving on is “moving.” As in exercise. High-intensity. CrossFit.
“What I like about CrossFit is the community,” Mike said. “It keeps you going and encourages you.”
Mike’s Dad, Bud, with whom Mike lives, said he sees his son moving in the right direction.
Bud said, “You can see that his body is strong, but not coordinated. His mind is strong, and it is pulling things together. His spirit is strong, and he’s keeping a good attitude. You watch that and you say, “Yep, he’s healing.’”
Not that there aren’t days when healing seems in doubt.
Mike admits that humility is not his strong suit. It is frustrating when the words coming out of your mouth are not as clear as the thoughts in your head.
“I always tell people they can understand me better after they’ve had something to drink,” he joked.
Those who love Mike appreciate his sense of humor as much as his commitment to fitness and healing. But they wish they could provide him with more answers.
Bud has just two: “The answer is you’ve got to accept things the way they are. The answer is you’ve got to quit pretending it is going to all change tomorrow morning, and learn how to be where you are, how you are, right now.”
While he would never wish on anyone the pain Mike has been through, Bud said Mike’s health crisis has brought the Hart Family much closer over the past five years.
“If you said to me, ‘Would you want this to happen again, so you could go through it again?’ I’d say, ‘Hell, no. Are you crazy?’” Bud said. “But nonetheless, you do recognize that out of really bad stuff comes a lot of good stuff.”