March 8, 2014

Running running running, or how MS can act like a bull(y)

I've been hearing about this young lass, Kayla Montgomery, who runs like the wind. She has MS and because of this, as she runs, her body temperature goes up and she has what the docs like to call a "pseudo exacerbation" - her legs lose all sensation and she feels no pain as she pushes herself to the max.

So she can run very very fast, whereas other girls running hear their muscles screaming "no more, no more."

I'm happy for her, I'm glad she's having a good time and fast runs, but I'm a bit afraid for her, too. Our bodies feel pain because they are warning us of potential damage. If she can't feel anything, and loses all ability to stand at the end of her run, is she doing her limbs harm?

I know what I'm talking about. I used to go swimming three times a week. It was wonderful exercise and I found quickly that I could swim 20, 30, 40, 50 lengths of the pool. See, my heart and lungs were okay, and the rest of my body went numb shortly after the tenth lap, so I was in bliss as I swam back and forth and back and forth (and back and forth).

Until I tore my rotator cuff muscle. I've been going through months of physiotherapy and it still isn't better, had cortisone shots and I still can't lift my arm up over my head without pain. I damaged it by overdoing it (I never could swim 50 laps even when I was a KID) and didn't even notice.

Now fortunately, I am numb generally anyways, so the pain in my arm is negligible most of the time. When I feel it, I know it remains damaged. I never know when I will feel it. Sometimes I think it's better and I exercise using it, forgetting that it is still not right, and I end up the next day unable to put my coat on.

So that's why the picture of the bull goring the man...or as mums used to say, "it's all fun and games till someone loses an eye."

I think exercise is fabulous for MS. In fact, I think it is the only true thing that works in MS in terms of delaying progression and keeping able. I'm even attempting self-immolation by trying the Bluenose Marathon in May - a 5 km walk, just me and my Nordic Poles or rollator, followed by the MS walk the weekend afterwards.

I know I'll pay, I'm hoping for the aforesaid numb legs so I can do it without too much agony, but I'm 55. I'm perishing anyway, bits wearing out, stuff falling off.

Kayla's just a young thing. I hope someone is looking out for her, really looking out for her. She's far too young to end up damaged.