Friday, December 5, 2014

Okay, so maybe I don't know everything...

     I've had MS for 30 years now and if anyone knows how this crazy disease works, it's me.  I've read up on every tip and trick to help fight the things that attack my body, and at the end of the day I do what I know in my mind to work the best.

     Eating healthy; been there done that... My nerve zapper to make my toe go up, my bionic leg to stop my hyper extension, and then the good ole injections three times a week to stop progression.  I know it all, and any other tip and trick is probably just a pipe dream to give people hope that they can be cured.

     You know my routine of the treadmill  and strength training and then my bike; I do absolutely everything in my power to fight this battle and I know the number one thing I can do is keep my body strong.

     Last spring when I was at the bike to the bay I started a conversation with one of the volunteers who was passing out medals at the finish line.  He also happens to have MS.  Well, you know us MS people, we all swap war stories and tips and tricks.

     Chuck told me he used to have very bad debilitation due to MS and he was unable to walk for months.  He began doing yoga and now he  can walk again.  He developed a "Yoga for MS" DVD, which he was selling for 20 bucks and suggested I try it.

     What he didn't get was I can walk, and always could; my only real disability I have is my footdrop, which I have had for over 12 years.  Nothing was ever going to make that go away, until the day we have a miracle cure for myelin replacement.

     I really didn't need anymore "tricks" to help me.  Sure, I had spacticity in my toes, but that was a residual effect from my foot drop, and that was what my muscle relaxers were for.  Of course, the muscle relaxers don't have a direct route to my toes and sometimes my whole body has to be knocked out before my toes get the message.  Let's not forget the brace for my hyper-extension, but again it's all part of the domino effect of the footdrop, and by now we've got this MS thing completely figured out;) 

     As usual, I politely acted as if I was interested and said I would be back later.  Who was I kidding... I was saving my money and I wasn't coming back.  

     However, I was handed twenty bucks from a concerned and maybe overly optimistic friend and after some persuasion I had no choice but to get the DVD.

     A couple weeks after the bike to the bay, that concerned/overly optimistic friend asked if I started the yoga yet.  I admitted I hadn't but I had a million reasons why not.  I was already doing everything in my power to keep healthy and I just didn't have any more free days to add yoga to the mix.

     After a few more nagging comments I decided to give this yoga thing a try just so I could say I did it.  I knew the strength training was the most important thing I could do for my health but who knows, maybe the yoga would help the spacticity in my toes.

          I was pleasantly surprised that my spacticity was actually getting better and I was convinced that it was worth keeping Yoga in the rotation.  

     Did I think Yoga was beneficial to my MS it's self??  not really.  All it was was breathing and stretching.  If I didn't keep my body from getting week nothing else I did mattered.

     Then the other day I was catching up on a couple of my recorded movies, and by the time the movies were done, after sitting like a slug for so long I had practically grown roots into my sofa.

     When I got up to call it a night something frightening happened.  My right leg (the one with the footdrop) had absolutely no strength in it.  I could feel it buckling beneath me.  I kind of felt like the scarecrow from the Wizard Of OZ.

     At first I convinced myself it was from lack of blood flow from sitting on my foot for so long.  but as I hopped on the strong foot and barely put any weight on my weak one, some time had passed before I realized the strength wasn't coming back.  

     With having MS for 30 years, I had heard many stories of people suddenly losing function in their legs for long periods of time, maybe even forever; but the foot drop was always the extent with me.  I have plenty of strength in my legs, but what if the connection from my brain to my leg was suddenly gone, and that was the last day I would ever walk again??

     I went to bed with the hopes of sleeping it off.  maybe by morning it would be back to normal and I would be right back on my treadmill and strength training, never skipping a beat.

     Well the next morning my leg was like an over cooked piece of spaghetti, and I started thinking that in spite of all my efforts my days of walking could actually be over.

     There was no way my leg was going to hold up my seemingly 300 pound body to do the treadmill, and I had absolutely no strength to do my strength training.  But I had to do something...  It wasn't my day to do yoga but it was my only option. 

     I got on my yoga mat and did my one hour of stretching with therabands and deep breathing.  When I was finished I just laid there for about 15 minutes, wondering how the day, and possibly my life was going to go.

     The crazy thing was, when I stood up I actually felt the strength back in my legs again.  It was something I would never believe if you told me it happened to you.  But when I tried to make sense of all of this I started to realize that while it's true my foot drop is there forever;  building muscle, while beneficial in preventing atrophy, is not addressing the area where this crazy disease starts; and that's in the brain.  Oxygen to the brain can help the nerve signals to the rest of the body and it's the misfiring of the nerves that control every crazy transient symptom of MS.

     My body went completely back to normal; as normal as can be expected.  Yes, I still have footdrop and hyper-extension, but I'm still walking.  This made absolutely no sense, but then, nothing about MS makes sense:/

     So the next time I try to convince my self I have all the answers, I guess I have to remind myself; maybe I don't know everything:)

Have a great weekend!!


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