I absolutely love this place. A five minute drive from my house and a manageable circular walk for my crazy leg.
And then I saw this:
This sign made me very happy. Happy that someone had thought about it. Happy that someone had realised that not everyone can walk everywhere, and at times, anywhere. And even though I already know this is the case, I was still happy to see it in writing and to be reminded that I am most certainly not the only one stumbling around the old railway line as if I had had a few gins for breakfast (people with MS can look like they’re drunk due to the fact that balance, muscle stiffness and nerve damage can affect gait. For me this worsens the further I walk).
One of the things that I never imagined as a child would be difficult for me was walking. I grew up in Durham and spent lots of my childhood leaping around the beautiful North-East countryside with absolutely no idea that one day I would be in any way limited.
Mentally for me, this time spent outside in nature has always been absolutely essential. Aside from the physical benefits, I feel more positive, inspired and much more likely to get a good dose of Vitamin D. At the moment I can always cycle this route on the days that walking is too difficult for me to. But if I ever can’t cycle (horror) then at least I can get my hairy husband to push me around it.
Living with MS means I am constantly thinking about how to take good care of myself. What I eat, how much I eat, sleep and exercise all makes such a difference to me. And if I spend a couple of weeks on holiday eating and drinking too much (like now) then I try and counteract the overindulgence with more exercise (preferably in a forest-it really is true what they say about forests and forest bathing).
I’m currently trying all sorts to get fitter and stronger. This can be quite a challenge due to the fact that my leg gives up after a few minutes of walking or running, and I barely break into a sweat before I have to stop to rest my crazy leg.
So yesterday I cycled up a massive hill pulling my (heavy) children in a trailer behind me to try and get a sweat on.
The husband was getting loads of dirty looks as I struggled up behind him. He even got heckled at one point.
I was mostly giggling at my ridiculousness and the dirty looks hubby was getting (the giggling makes it impossible to cycle up steep hills by the way). He was mostly taking the piss out of my cycling-up-a-hill-tactics, and trying to explain to the heckling strangers how stubborn I can be.
But I did it. I broke into a sweat and was quite out of breath at the top.
And I felt a sense of achievement that you get from things like childbirth and completing a marathon. (By the way a marathon for me now is walking further than I did yesterday, which isn’t very far, so please don’t think I only consider 26.2 miles a worthy challenge. I’ve done both. And my mini walks are so much harder than when I actually could run a marathon).
So here it is. My sweaty-forest-look. Crazy hair optional.
Here’s to finding ways to stay as strong and fit as you can for as long as you can. It feels pretty amazing.
Last week was my first trip to the gym in at least 3 years.
I hadn’t been there since my leg decided to start doing its own thing about 3 years ago, so I had no idea how long it would be before I needed to sit down; however, I was hoping to at least break into a sweat before I needed a rest.
I decided that if it was an embarrassingly short time before that happened, I could pad things out with some yoga (for which I never seem to run out of energy). However, I would risk being that person who does yoga postures in front of the mirror, in the gym, wearing trainers.
At least I would have this lovely lunatic with me to keep me on the straight and narrow.
In the morning I was disproportionately excited. I used to be extremely fit, so not being able to exercise properly for the last few years has been really frustrating. This week was the first time in ages I felt I might be able to get at least a chunk of that life back.
And as it turns out, I did alright. And in spite of not being able to lift my arms above shoulder height without pulling the face above (not that helpful for a yoga teacher), I’m already planning my next trip.
For now I’m off to whip up some post-workout energy balls. And then sit down for a bit. Because aside from the fact that I have Multiple Sclerosis, I am also 41 and a half…
When I was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I had no idea how it was going to turn out.
I still don’t.
I certainly didn’t anticipate wondering whether the person behind me thinks I’m drunk after a short walk to school to drop my daughter off.
But this morning I did. For a moment I considered stopping and letting them pass so that I could wobble home in peace, without judgement. But then I realised I that I don’t really care what my walking looks like. And neither does the person behind me probably!
What I care about is being able to walk my baby girl to school.
So I carried on. And it got worse. I was all over the bloody place on the way back (the gale force “sea breeze” didn’t help).
But my determination was and is so much stronger than my worries about looking drunk. I never used to care in my twenties when I actually was drunk (not usually at school run time by the way) so why should I care now?
So after weeks of sitting on my arse (cycling included) it’s about time I did some walking. I think I need the practice.
(Imagine having to practise walking in adulthood. That is definitely not anything I ever thought of having to do).
Tomorrow I may make my porridge with gin instead of milk. I can’t see it making anything worse…
Most of the time I tolerate my MS pretty well. But every now and then I wake up really furious that I have MS. Today is one of those days.
I’m going to be 40 next month and what I would really like to do is start every day with a run by the sea and return feeling elated and buzzing with endorphins. Unfortunately the best I can manage at the moment is a very short stroll to the beach, whilst dragging my dodgy leg along behind me. I want to be fit, have boundless energy to race around with my kids, run lots of yoga classes, clear out the 5 years worth of crap that’s in the shed, declutter my house, make fabulous cakes and bread and look effortlessly stylish (!). At best I can maintain what I have now which is a fraction of the above. And most days I feel incredibly happy and grateful for what I do have. Which is pretty awesome.
But today I am feeling fed up. I am thinking about the fact that I AM going to deteriorate. Hopefully slowly, but who knows? As I’ve said before, MS is unpredictable, so what if my disease suddenly starts to progress much more quickly than I thought it would?
However it goes, I am already disabled. Limited. I really hate limited. Walking is already something that I can’t take for granted every day. I sometimes think about all those lazy and able bodied days that I wasted sitting around thinking I had forever to do stuff.
I wonder if this is what it’s like to be old. My brain thinks my body is still 25. Limitless and 25. Although thinking about it, if I was still 25 I would probably have woken up this morning with a hangover and my dodgy ex-boyfriend – swings and roundabouts eh?!?!