I am sorry…

I feel like a fraud that is somehow scamming the system. It is as if I went to a loan shark to gamble with my health and in turn my life. I fear that Bubba and Guido will be coming to collect very soon on this massive debt that I owe. It feels like at any moment MS will pound on my door causing a life-changing and earth-shaking rumble. This foul beast could come any day now to collect and leave me with very little if anything.

Let me tell you why I feel this way. You may have read the blog series that I posted called “My Untold MS Story.” If you have read these blogs, then you know the depths of darkness where years ago I was imprisoned. I have come back from this dark place that no human should ever be. I lived and can tell the story like a bee doing a dance telling of possible pollen prosperity.

I currently sit here as a survivor of several tremendous accomplishments for any MSer. I have conquered these mountains while my MS brothers and sisters suffer from this abhorrent affliction. I am doing well while other MSers struggle to do basic daily tasks. For some, it is a challenge physically and mentally to get out of bed in the morning.

I too have challenges, but I have accepted and adjusted as needed to deal with these struggles. I am aware of my daily daunting difficulties and realize that there are no alternatives. Is it my new attitude or just my length of time as a multiple sclerosis patient that helps me keep moving forward? I would say that these two issues work hand in hand to make my MS life manageable.

We all need to remember that there are those with MS who go to work managing an office every day. Do not forget the plethora of people who have a spouse, children and even still drive. There are also individuals with multiple sclerosis who can continue to play sports or hunt.

We must keep in mind that we all need to run the race that is before us. The challenges that we face are ours alone. We need to be mindful of the fact that no one can meet these troubles for us. Everyone has unique struggles that they face on a regular basis. Every MSer has issues that are different, and others may not even comprehend them.

I have been fighting multiple sclerosis for over seventeen years. I will not feel sorry that my difficulties are now less challenging for me than others with MS. My struggles are no less significant than other MSers they are just different. I shall not apologize for being less visibly “sick” than others with this condition. I have been all over the disability spectrum and have the battle scars to prove it. I have learned and continue to learn daily from my struggles and frustrations.

All MSers suffer from daily struggles and challenges in our own way. Only we can decide how much to do and how hard or far to push. Every case of multiple sclerosis is as different as night and day. This fact means that one MSer cannot compare themselves to another individual with MS. Multiple sclerosis no longer controls my life. Now I do my best to steer my life around any MS obstacles and exacerbations.

Do not compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20

The Causation…

My perpetual pushing produced problematic MS issues after this swim. I say “my” because I did this to myself so I have no one to blame but me. I must live with these punishing consequences for not backing down from this fight. Some may call these problems exacerbations yet no matter what you call them they are truly taxing for everyday life.

First, I have had a significant increase in leg muscle spasms. As I climb into bed, my legs begin to jump. Before this swim, a leg spasm for me was relatively mild and might only be a shake. Now, these spastic legs look like a baby rattle in the hands of a baby hopped up on Red Bull. I try to stop my antagonistic appendages by grasping them tightly with my hands. Occasionally that procedure works until something sets them off again. Thankfully this “shake rattle and roll” only lasts for a few minutes before I doze off.

Second, there have been those rare occasions that I go to bed and do not get these Jurassic jerks. The other night I went to bed, and my legs were mostly relaxed. As I lay my head on the pillow dosing in and out something new startled me. Like someone tied a rope to my knee and quickly pulled it toward my head. It looked as if one side of me was trying to march.

I pushed the leg back down and began to watch the sandman pull on my eyelids again. Another mega twitch happened but this time from the other leg. This jolt was another attempt at a very slow horizontal march. This back and forth dance went on for about five minutes. Luckily for me, this was on the night that we set our clocks back and gain an hour.

Third, I have also dealt with significant muscle tightening. Using the chairlift at the pool has been extremely annoying at times. As it begins to lift me out of the water my legs stiffen up like a piece of driftwood. I need to give my legs time to calm down so that they start to bend towards the water. All of the while I sit perched on this chairlift on display like a piece of meat at the butcher.

The simple act of walking that so many take for granted is essential. There are several physical benefits from walking for the biped community. The act of walking is often taken for granted by people. Sadly, we do not always realize the importance of keeping our bodies moving. This constant flexing as you walk is how blood gets pumped back up and to your heart. Since my legs are lazy and I do not walk the lower part of my legs are red. In turn, I am supposed to flex my ankles often to mimic walking and receive the benefits.

Next, ankle weakness sounds like a strange issue. It is even more of an odd affliction for a person who is not ambulatory. The muscles around the foot build and maintain its strength from the action of walking. Without walking the muscles on the outside of the ankles begin to get weak. When this happens, there is a pull from the muscles on the inside of the ankle. The foot will start to pull in and upward. That action makes this person walk on the outside of their foot. To counteract this action I exercise these muscles often. I do this to keep both of my feet flat on my wheelchair footrest.

Finally, my hand weakness is milder in comparison with my other issues. I notice this weakening mostly while I eat. Occasionally I sit down to eat and my weakness flairs up towards the end of the meal. That is the only time that I notice this issue enough to take note. I still self-propel my wheelchair and do nearly everything else for myself. Other than while I eat I am only aware of a few other minor hand issues.

I have returned to the water movement class that I was taking previously. I have not exercised my legs in a month, and I can feel the lack of strength. The truth is that I may not do another fit challenge in the future. I am not sure that I am willing to put up with the physical repercussions from these fitness challenges. I am eager to see how long it takes for my body to recover. I will continue to exercise for the health of it. Not enough people truly understand the plethora of physical benefits of exercise. Even Dwane “the Rock” Johnson would deteriorate without continual fitness regimen.

You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choice.

This change is uncomfortable…

We all remember that song that says “the knee bone is connected to the leg bone. The leg bone is connected to the hip bone.” This simple song is a reminder to us all. It tells us that our body parts collectively work together to make our every movement happen. This melody explains that when one muscle has an issue, it will impact other parts of our body as well.

Temperature consistency is a difficult thing to find here in central Ohio. It is especially elusive in the spring and fall season in the outside thermometer. The ever-changing weather this time of year does not make life easy for me. Temperature swings are so drastic that you need a coat in the morning then shorts and a t-shirt by lunch. These spastic swings on the thermometer put my body into a rapid tailspin at any given moment.

For energy savings, my thermostat drops significantly at night. The bothersome part is that this nighttime temperature is too cold for a bed sheet alone. However, it is too hot to be wrapped in a comforter. I tried to cover up with my bedspread once, and it zapped my strength and energy significantly. In the morning it took me over five minutes to make a basic transfer into my wheelchair from the bed. I found that most times it is best for me to use the comforter up to my waist and the sheet on the rest of me.

Most MSers do not like the heat. As for me, I can deal with the heat easier if my body has had time to acclimate to the warmness. At the beginning of this summer, the air conditioner in my house was not working correctly. Sadly, I had to wait several days for the repairman to fix it. While not overly hot it allowed my body to adjust to the warmer temperatures very slowly. It was also extremely beneficial that this summer was not absurdly hot as it has been in the past.

The heat is not the only temperature that has a negative impact on my body. The inconsistency of the weather is what exacerbates the struggles of my body. The unexpected cold weather also puts a damper on things. There have been days where I needed a coat in the morning, and by the afternoon I needed a pair of shorts. These temperature swings can play havoc on my MS body and turn my abilities upside down.

The indecisive fall and spring seasons are hard on me physically. These two seasons cause my muscles to be weak and sluggish. A fall day starts with a winter chill in the morning. Then comes the t-shirt weather by lunchtime and closes with scarf weather.

A few weeks ago it was cold in the morning, so I wore a coat to church. I hopped into the small SUV with no difficulty as the morning felt nice. Three hours later I put my coat back on to go home, and MS decided to rear its ugly head. I pulled up next to the SUV and prepared to do my vehicle entering routine. I quickly felt a leg muscle flutter, and I knew that this would not go well. I stood up next to the seat, and everything seemed ok. As I reached for the handle above the passenger window, I began to slide back. I quickly looked up and grabbed the handle stopping my slide. At this point, I started to fight the losing battle of pulling myself up into the seat. Luckily my driver was right there and quickly sat my seat on the seat.

The result of my overheating was that my legs had a severe muscle spasm requiring us to wait. This prostrate position made my posterior nearly slide off the spot. These appendages of mine stiffened up tight making it difficult for me to keep my seat. My legs needed a minute before they would accept the required bending to get into the car.

That evening at trunk or treat the temperature was nicer, and I was not wearing my coat. This temperature made getting into the vehicle that I was picked up in a smooth endeavor. The rain caused us to pass out candy in a church hallway. The warmness of the corridor made me nervous about getting back into the SUV. However, they had to move things around to make space in their vehicle. I was able to sit by some double doors that were open allowing me to feel the cool breeze. Getting back into the car was surprisingly simple and very little assistance was needed.

So my moving, sitting, and transferring skills are as changeable as a Rubik’s Cube. All of these movements of mine are very much dependent on the temperatures. However, I try every morning to wake up with a smile on my face. I do this in anticipation as to what challenges I will face on any given day.

When you have multiple sclerosis, you must get comfortable with being uncomfortable.