When it comes to my health, I like to think of myself as a strong, positive person. I have multiple sclerosis but I try not to let it dictate how I live my life. I inject myself once a week, which is a bit of a drag, but I'm probably even more active now than I was before my diagnosis. Sure, I have some tingles and muscle weakness here and there, I feel a bit fatigued from time to time, but I really try hard not to let that be an excuse - even to myself - not to do something.
It's sometimes really difficult writing about a condition like this because I think there is a danger that you either end up harping on about how terrible everything is, or you end up sounding like the most stoical man alive. I'm certainly guilty of the latter, I think. I don't do it deliberately, but I know that whenever I write about my MS, I always seem to end up downplaying my symptoms and talking about how lucky I am really because other people are far worse affected than me. True, but I'm not trying to put on a brave face or anything... I genuinely just don't see the point in not being positive about it. Dwelling on the shit hand you might have been dealt is no way to live your life. Keep buggering on, as Winston Churchill used to say.
I'm on a bit of a downswing at the moment. As well as the "complex biomechanical issues" that have followed on from running with a dropped foot, I also seem to be having more difficulty with my legs and balance. Only yesterday, I managed to stumble my way down two separate flights of stairs. The first time was in the office when my left ankle failed to flex properly and I nearly fell headlong into a glass lift door at the bottom of the stairs - if I had been further up the stairs when I tripped, then I'm sure I would have fallen. As it is, I was able to catch myself before completely losing control. Someone attempted to reassure me - after checking I was okay - that there was no harm done but to my pride... the honest truth is that I don't give two shits about what anyone looking at me stumbling about might think: I know why I fell and that's more than enough for anyone to be worrying about. The second fall was on the stairs at home, and this time I actually did fall. No harm done, bar a few scrapes on my arm... but twice in one day? Really?
All this comes at a time when I've been forced to drastically cut down my running. In the last couple of months, I've gone from doing about 20 miles a week to managing barely over 3 (and that 3 is pretty hard work, too). I'm compensating by adding an extra swim and a long bike ride to my weekly exercise routine, but it's not the same and I can't hide from the fact that if I physically could be running, I would be. I've talked about it before, but my ability to run is an important part of my mental wellbeing, and to have it start to drop away from me like this is affecting me far more than I care to admit. I'm not running as much as I would like and it hurts. I'm not depressed or anything, but my physical condition is starting to impinge upon my day-to-day activity. This is NOT just a simple case of mind over matter anymore.
Oh, I'm not going to give up or anything. I'll run as much as I can and I will do as many additional strengthening exercises as the physios think I need to in order to try to keep myself on the road. I'll also swim and I'll cycle and I'll walk and I'll do anything I can to stay active. But, you know? Sometimes it gets me down; sometimes it makes me wonder about what lies in my future. Most of the time I can ignore it all and can accept the fact that whatever will be will be... which it will.... but I can't ignore it all the time and sometimes those scary thoughts creep in.
I'm only human, even if I sometimes try to pretend that I'm not.