Multiple sclerosis has a tendency to really, really annoy you. For people who don’t have this disease, this is a difficult concept to fully grasp. The best way I can put it: combine Jar Jar Binks, a shoe freshly stepped in dog doo-doo, Nickelback, reality TV shows, impenetrable battery packaging, potholes, the last episode of Dexter, and trying to find the start of cellophane. That kind of annoying, times, well, a billion. And one of MS’s prime annoyances is its proclivity to steal away passions you enjoy.
I used to be a bike rider, until balance issues knocked me literally off the saddle. So last year I swiped back that passion, purchasing a trike. Once again I was able to hit the trails, finding renewed freedom on three wheels. But then this spring my MS went all Screech on me (i.e, extremely annoying, re: Saved by the Bell), pirating my leg strength. That meant my already short and slow trike rides had to get shorter and slower. When Laura, jogging leisurely, quickly turned into a distant speck while I tried desperately to keep up with her scorching 6 mph pace, I almost cried Uncle. Almost.
While my legs bark at me these days when I do anything remotely taxing—like going to the pantry to grab a bag of Cheetos or to answer the front door (Laura wisely put up a sign that reads, KNOCK LOUDLY AND WAIT A FEW MINUTES, seriously)—my arms thankfully are still mostly cooperative. Yeah, they are numb, my right side can get a bit “heavy,” and coordination is not 100%, but they work infinitely better than the two sticks masquerading as functional legs. Why not a handcycle? I discovered last year I couldmotor on one, and I could pass along my newish trike to Laura so we could actually ride together.
Now I am not going to deceive or kid myself. Having multiple sclerosis means there will always be this tug-of-war, an unwelcome thief trying to swipe joys and a stubborn SOB (uh, me) who doesn’t want to let them go. I have a simple rule: When multiple sclerosis tries to steal your passions, do everything in your power to steal those passions back. I know I won’t pull that flag onto my side every time, and even when I do, it might take on a wholly new form (a handbike rather than a bike-bike). But I have to try. I always have to try.