Friday, December 28, 2018


One advantage of being a late-December baby (28th) is the chance to align my life with the calendar. 2018, my 47th trip around the sun, was: 
  - an optimist’s dream 
  - a pessimist’s nightmare
  - an introvert’s haven 
  - an extrovert’s opportunity
For this optimistic/pessimistic outgoing introvert (look it up-it’s a term), the year will never be matched. I lived a thousand chapters in 2018. In all the pages, one theme echoed over and over-Never Stop… Never Quit…

I won’t talk about the suffering my MS brought onto me, or the woes I bore witness to, or even the burdens life brings. No, revisiting is too painful and pointless. My story is about what I gained in 2018 and how I’ll use it to my benefit in ’19 and beyond. When I stopped, when I quit, at the end of last year, I held close to me the only things I could handle: my health, my mind, and My Little Love. The rest, I left to you. 13 months later, this is my report.

In 2018, I physically improved more than any other year in my fight. First of all, let that term sink in: I improved. None of my disabilities have diminished. My body is now better condition to endure, supplement, or compensate for the damage inflicted by my MS. I’m stronger; I’m lighter; I have more endurance to live. I spend 2-4 hours a day, 5-7 days a week, in rehab pushing my body beyond what it can do. I often push too far because I don’t know just what I’m capable of—I never want to do less than I could have. I wish there are words to describe the feeling when my body fails, when the pain and aches are excruciating, simply because I did too much that day. More so, when it was more than I could do the day before, my tears of pain turned to joy and excitement to go even further the next day.

Sure, there were a lot of setbacks, but “two days of pain for three days of gain” is a beautiful motto when the ratio has been flipped for so many years! For the first time in a while, I can see the next level of improvements to work for as I plot my 2019 breakthrough!

In 2018, I found clarity and comfort with my personal set of challenges and setbacks. Salvation came from hundreds of sources, both traditional and quite unique. My history of depression and anxiety predates my MS. Their collective force is what I like to refer to now as “a worthy adversary!”

Counselors, loving family, and amazing friends helped me navigate my new environment. I’m proud to say that I proved many people right! The focus on what I can, or need to, handle is narrow; no longer pinging all over the place, my life is stronger—my impact is more ‘effective.’

My mind transformed thoughts of what I call “the chaotic, the horrific, and the truly burdensome” into The Ramblings of a Condemned Man. The collection of stories reflects the directions my mind wanders constantly. The book’s novella …in abeyance was released separately as Book #1 in The Condemned Man Series. Book #2, Annie Flynn - First Row, Second Desk, released in December. What a great way to rebuild my mind and my heart!

My Little Love
Eleanor, when you read these pages years from now, please know when 2018 began, you were the only person I wanted to see and hold every day. You are the only reason I vowed to continue my fight. That is no longer the case, for I rediscovered the love I have and want to share with so many. I rediscovered the magic of love for family, and friends, and those who find a special place in my heart. For that, I thank you.
I love you,

The Rest, Left up to You
The numbers tell one story. Kim Madden and Chris Madden led Team Amulet, as they raised over $53,000 in support of our fight. Michelle Judd and Tom Dickey collected 76 phenomenal bottles of wine from an incredible collection of local wineries and private donors, helping the MS Gala raise a total of over $267,000.

My heart tells the other story. Every bit of outreach you provided helped get me through 2018. Every success we realize and celebrate in 2019 is due to your efforts. Your notes, texts, and calls of support lifted me. Your donated dollars and purchased books motivated me. You supported me every step of the way, never allow me to fully slip into the background, and carried me (figuratively and literally) through my toughest trials. I will never be able to repay your love, but I will never stop paying it forward.

2018 Was Great. Now What?
My narrowed focus, now a bit wider, is poised for success.
My health: I won’t be greedy. I’ll readily accept “two days of pain for three days of gain” all day, every day. I will push, adapt, and overcome. I promise to document my trials and success, a living record of what your support has done!
My mind: I will fully embrace the opportunity you gave me, professing and celebrating the very first minute of the very first hour of the new year. My writing will continue to expand. Moments, a saga, will release as Book #3 in The Condemned Man Series. I’m writing more short stories and began work on my next novel.
My Little Love: every day, we will celebrate life!
My Fight: as a board member of the Oregon Chapter of the National MS Society, I’m asked to give a projection for the monetary impact of my efforts. For both bike MS and MS Gala, I’ve provided a preliminary forecast for 2019 of $100,000. That’s not $100,000 of work I alone must do, for you have already shown the value your love and support carry. I just want to do my part and contribute alongside the greatest army of friends and family I could ever imagine.

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to return to the 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.