May 3, 2011

I'm a walker....sigh...

I've been part of the MS walk for 4 years so far. It's been a challenge every time. The first time, I walked it with relative ease.  The second time, I staggered with my cane, and was in intense pain by the end. The third time I volunteered and helped empty garbage and fill out surveys, which required me to stand all day and which put me in bed for a week. My plan was to avoid the walking part, which I felt was getting beyond me.

This year, I'm in a new location, and the walk approaches quickly. I should call and offer my volunteer time, but I'm fairly sure they are well covered for the coveted sitting positions already, and I'm in recovery from my move here to rainy Dartmouth, and even volunteering seems too much for me right now.

I've been lucky with my MS, in that I haven't had the sort of acute flare-ups that require hospitalization, etc. I think part of that is just that I don't bother calling the docs when I feel rotten - I just go to ground and wait til it goes away.  But I've had a bad few months, and things are, alas, getting worse. Foot spasms are now my constant companions, and my legs give me grief whenever I walk - my hip flexors just aren't that enthusiastic about the whole movement thing. My vision is often misaligned, and vertigo and I hang out fairly frequently.  My glasses no longer work for my right eye, the one that had the optic neuritis before. It's like a slow erosion of abilities. Fortunately, it's SLOW. I am so grateful for that.

My brain testing did reveal I have lost cognitive abilities, too.  Nothing to keep me from driving, YET. But that lurks ahead, too.

But hey, I'm an old lass. I've had fun, I've inner tubed the glaciers on Mt. Rainier, I've walked through Yellowstone, I've travelled in Europe, I've had a career that was rewarding and helped others. I've raised three wonderful kids and delight in them. I feel most for the younger people who get this diagnosis - they need a cure, they need better treatments, they need to be able to live a life like what I have had so far. My life isn't over by a long shot, but I am content to settle a bit, to change my focus, to give up some pleasures, having had the chance to experience them. Those younger MSers deserve that option, too.

So I'm going to haul my tired self and my glamorous cane and my puppy out to do the walk again this year. I probably won't be able to walk the whole way, but I'm going to give it a try. It's important.

I'm hoping those that read this blog feel like donating to the MS Society  - it's easy to sponsor me - there's an online form (click on the link above), or you can mail your sponsorship in.  Every tiny bit counts. The Society has been a huge help to me, and I'm looking forward to working with the new chapter here. They offer client services that keep people with MS and their caregivers better off than they would otherwise be, with support for devices and referrals and information and helpers. They fund research that is progressing quickly, especially now that stem cell research has been approved in the US. Help me help those that follow me. I'll do what I can.


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