A Cringeworthy Memory Reminds Me of an Important CMT Lesson
I pointed the pistol downrange, lined up the sights, and pulled the trigger. But apart from a small “click,” the pistol in my hands didn’t make a sound. The gun did not go “bang.”
Many folks would be unnerved if a pistol didn’t go “bang” after pulling the trigger, but I wasn’t surprised when it happened to me that day. And I wasn’t worried, either. Everything was going according to my foolhardy plan to save myself some embarrassment — to cover for my shame of having weaker hands, a symptom of Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease.
The whole incident began a little more than a decade ago, when a childhood friend and I walked into a shooting range. It was his idea. And I was a bit nervous. But I wasn’t nervous because I was new to firearms.
Although I’ve never considered myself a gun fanatic, by that point, I had shot hundreds of rounds through a .22-caliber long rifle target pistol and a revolver I kept at home. So I was confident I had at least some basics down. But shooting those firearms was not the reason why he and I had gone to the shooting range that day.
Instead, my friend wanted to try his hand at shooting a variety of concealed carry-oriented pistols. And he wanted me to be there with him to keep him company, chat, and have some fun.
I didn’t go with him begrudgingly. I did have some interest, and I did, in fact, have some experience with those types of handguns. However, a part of me worried I might embarrass myself if my friend saw me struggling to rack the slide of a firearm I had no experience with.
Indeed, pistol manipulation is something many folks with CMT may find difficult. And while proper technique and methodology are certainly important to know, finger dexterity and grip strength help out a lot, whether you are field-stripping a firearm, loading a magazine, or racking the slide of a pistol. And CMTers like me are not known for such qualities.
So, when my friend beckoned me over to try out the pistols he had rented, I had some reservations.
What I should have done was just admit to my friend that I may not be able to rack the slides of the semi-automatic pistols he had chosen. And even if I could do it, I may look a little clumsy or awkward. I shouldn’t have been afraid of admitting to having some weakness or fear to an old friend.
But instead, I had the silly idea that it’d be better for me to pretend that I didn’t know a semi-automatic pistol often requires a user to rack the slide in order to chamber a round. So when the pistol I pointed downrange went “click” instead of “bang” when I pulled the trigger, I put on a look of surprise even though I knew that it was because there was never a round in the chamber.
At that moment, I thought that this was a more appealing alternative to looking clumsy or physically weak at the shooting range. And when my feigned ignorance “rewarded me” by allowing me an excuse to ask the range safety officer to rack the slide for me as part of a malfunction check, I felt a secret sense of relief. I thought to myself, “Whew! Pride and dignity intact.”
However, I definitely cringe when looking back on that day. And I think to myself, “Wow! What an absolute idiot.”
Because of some sense of foolish pride, I was more willing to appear ignorant — dangerously ignorant — than physically weakened by CMT.
I like to think I’ve gotten a bit wiser through the years. My weak hands don’t embarrass me so much anymore. And I’ve learned that there are more important embodiments of strength than physical strength, and that pride can sometimes be as debilitating as CMT.
I try to always keep these lessons in mind. And this embarrassing memory is a helpful, albeit cringeworthy, reminder.
Note: Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Charcot-Marie-Tooth News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Charcot-Marie-Tooth.