Whose body is this?

I don’t know this body anymore. I swear, they must have switched bodies while I was in the hospital. If they didn’t, the one I used to know is completely betraying me.

I think I have mentioned it before, but I am an athlete. I have always been. Even when I didn’t exercise for a while, I could go out and push myself through three miles. It was never a problem.

Apparently this MS body has other plans. Running just a half mile leaves me disoriented, confused, blind and with sharp pains in really odd places (like my ear!). I have also inexplicably gained weight thanks to the tons of medication I have to take.

Sort of a catch-22 happening here.

I have been attempting to learn this new body. I’ve been trying to get out and run as often as I can. Unfortunately, that 7-minute mile I used to run? It’s an 11-minute mile, and that’s up from about 13 minutes the first time I went out. Again, whose body is this?

I realize I am insanely lucky to even be able to run. The current book I am reading talks about these “mythological MS runners.” She doesn’t know where the people who run with MS are. On top of that, she mentioned the lucky MS patients who aren’t totally overwhelmed by symptoms in the “remission” stage of MS. Again, that would be me.

Even still, MS can do whatever it wants. The idea was easy for me to grasp as I sat in a hospital bed with a numb face and a numb spot on my back, but I think that explaining that to people is one of the hardest things to do. I look fine. I get dressed in the morning, I do my hair, I put on makeup and I go to work/school. But somedays, that is a struggle.

When we think of fatigue, typically we think of exhaustion. More recently, I learned exactly what MS fatigue feels like. For me, it is like running full-speed into a brick wall and then using so much energy trying to move the wall that I get nauseous. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s like that wall starts to actually fall on top of me while I am under water.

Running helps that feeling, at least a little for now. It helps, at least, when I can overcome the feeling long enough to get my shoes on and get out the door. But that isn’t always possible. And even when I do, I can only push so hard. If I run too far too fast, that’s when the crazy symptoms start.

I know when people push me and make suggestions, especially when it comes to fitness, they are honestly doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, but it doesn’t always work like that. Just because Jim up the street can run a marathon with MS doesn’t mean I can do that. Just because your cousin Sally does P90X daily after a job that has her on her feet all day doesn’t mean I can do that. But it also doesn’t mean that just because Jill lets her MS keep her on the couch all day that I am going to do that.

I listen to my body and I exercise where and when I can. This is such a vague disease that it creates vast differences in every single one of us.

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