Thursday, September 26, 2019

Effort 27 – Just as Bad as I Expected

I will share the joys, pains, and dirty little secrets of my life with multiple sclerosis. My goal is to find a reason to convince you to support/share my fight against MS. Please donate today:

I require more than 30 Efforts, less would create an unsubstantial portrait of the man who needs your support. 30 days is an unrealistic timeline — once discovered, neither accurate words nor the courage to write them, develop so quickly.  How many efforts will this take, and how much time will require to share them? I don’t know the answer, so I will just continue writing.

This is Effort Number 27…

I knew it was coming. According to my tracking, I was late by a few weeks. A normal assumption would be that I am getting better. My MS, however, is way too predictable. I recognized the ramp-up, starting a few days prior. There are a few preparations I can make, but nothing to hold onto or brace myself with.

It doesn't scare me anymore – I’m not surprised by its onset or overwhelmed by the rush. It just is…

Yesterday was a bad day.

I saw it coming.
Everyone with MS recognizes the precursors to their own symptoms. Mine are obvious.
[Obvious to you, that is.]
Yes. Obvious to me. I don’t think anyone noticed the changes.

Over the last week, I started to sleep just a little bit more…
Over the last week, my workout intensity was just a little bit less…
Over the last week, my appetite increased just a little bit more…

Looking back at my MS tracking, I can see the changes. The chart was unnecessary, however, for I already knew what was coming. I liken the scenario to cooking or preparing food. Since we’ve become close friends over the last 26 efforts, I’ll be frank. I liken the scenario to preparing a big shit sandwich I know I am going to have to eat soon. Everything just gets shittier and shittier, which is apropos for my pending sandwich.

Everything starts to slip, usually when I am at a peak point. I was this time, setting new high marks in my physical routine and starting my regimen with a personal trainer. Like I said before, I saw it coming.

I recognized the pattern even before signs first start to show. Three steps forward, one step back. Six steps forward, one step back. I think this time I was more like 10 steps forward, one step back. I attribute that to a strong diet and exercise program, a full plate of activities that challenge my mental acuity, and incredible connections with family and friends – decreasing my stress while strengthening my soul. Any doctor will tell me, “those are some of the key ingredients to a healthy, normal lifestyle.” MS just makes those ingredients more important — I guess you can say it makes the inevitable shit sandwich a little bit tastier!

I was happy to recognize how everything I have done prolonged my uptime or delayed my downtime – depending on how you want to look at it. I used to consider my condition kind of like the rolling tide: ebbs and flows at varying intensities but rather predictable intervals. My “ebbs” now are stronger than my “flows” tend to be, the duration until my body pulls back extended.

I was even able to delay my bad day just a bit longer when that pullback/slip/shit show first began. While the body is indeed a powerful mechanism, it hardly compares to the strength a sound mind and heart can have. A close bond, an intimate and personal connection, aided my body when I was not quite ready to have a bad day. “It’s coming and there’s nothing I can do about it,” I thought, “but just not yet.” We got to enjoy our moment.

Inevitably, misfortune arrives.
This is where “the fight is not over and it won’t be over until a cure is found” comes to play. I will continue to fight, and I will continue to demonstrate improvement. My MS will not quit, it will not stop. My reminder came yesterday when I was served my sandwich.

How did I react? Just as I prepared. I canceled my planned workout, ‘dialed in’ a really lazy blog post (was anyone really fooled by Effort 25.1?), stole some of Eleanor’s almond-crusted ice cream bars from the freezer (I replaced them), and treated myself to a fancy leftover dinner and some beer. I’m not sure what the best method is, but that was just about all I could do yesterday. I was in bed by 8:45.

My recovery was scheduled accordingly.
I know my MS. I can predict the pattern of my bad days: the ramp-up, onset, and the duration. The best part about almost 20 years of knowledge is the fact that I know what my body is capable of on bad day +1. I was not 100% today; I did take a big step back, but it’s still only one step. After about nine hours of sleep, I was raring to go. House chores (cleaning up all the mess I left from yesterday), writeups for Saturday’s Gala MS event, and intense session with my personal trainer, another random doctor’s appointment, crating of our UNBELIEVABLE WINE COLLECTION for auction at the Gala MS event on Saturday, writing-writing-writing, then lending my hand for some IT support. Throw in breakfast, lunch, and dinner and my day is back to normal.

No, my bad days no longer frighten me. The anxiety I hold onto is my realization that someday, for some as-yet-unexperienced reason, an unexpected bad day will scare the hell out of me.

I hope the stories will inspire your donation to my fight.

Because it is a fight.
The fight is not over and it won’t be over until a cure is found.
It will never stop…nor will we
It will never quit…nor will we
This is why we ride!

100% of the royalties earned from my books go to the National MS Society, to support our fight:

Never Stop… Never Quit…®
Kevin Byrne
Portland, OR

Never Stop… Never Quit… Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.

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