Stagnancy, Progress and Commitment 9/6/09

Today is September the 6th and I haven’t written in this blog since March. Not much of a commitment there. I didn’t swim in the national meet I mentioned in the last post, and I did manage to drink some beer and eat some pizza during the summer. Had some urinary episodes and my legs just didn’t feel so good as I reported in March. I gained a few pounds too.

Seems my commitment to this process was waning.

Either that or I’m human. It’s no secret the economy has been brutal the past couple of years, and since 90% of my financial life was/is tied to the real estate market, it’s probably no secret that I’ve been brutalized by the economy. But rather than do nothing, I went out and got licensed as a contractor and recently took on a partner who invested in the business. It’s growing, we can feed ourselves, and we’re building trust and contacts.

But this blog is about the MS, so I need to write about that. Have I become like anyone else who only makes a commitment when life isn’t in the way? Committed when it’s convenient? Why else would I drink a lot of beer and eat a lot of pizza over the summer, gain weight and lose some of the ground I’d gained in this crappy disease?
In a word, perspective. I think I need to have a reality check now and again. I think we all do. We still had juice most days, and I still take enzymes with every meal unless I forget them and I’m not at home. That part is good. Building a construction business interferes with my swimming, and indirectly, my commitment to get rid of MS, when I let it. That part is bad. I’m human. That part is a fact.
This summer has been stressful, but eventful. I allowed myself to indulge in the pleasures of life to ease the pressures of life, and that has helped me realize just how far I’ve come in my recovery. It’s added some perspective. Three years ago, a summer of pizza and beer would have led to a fall of bloated stomachs, infected bronchial tubes, and probably another MS attack. This summer pizza and beer has led to some great friendships, enjoyable times, and an opportunity to go into the fall with confidence in my health.
People ask me all the time how it’s going with my disease. I think the answer is the disease is done and I’m now cleaning up the mess. It’s like a forest fire. The destruction a wildfire brings is enormous and kills innocent people. But even the worst fire eventually goes out, leaving in its wake s burned hillsides and charred trees. People often think the burned forest is ugly and not worth visiting anymore. But what people don’t see is the fire cleared out all the underbrush and allowed all kinds of new growth to take place. Growth that couldn’t have taken place but for the fire. This is how it feels for me right now. I probably still have the existing lesions, but the fire isn’t burning any new ones in my myelin. And I’ve spent so much time clearing out the underbrush over the past couple of years, the new growth is coming.
So when school started back up on August 27, I got back into the routine. I got back in the pool three times a week, juicing as always, more enzymes, less beer, more commitment to the process.
Yesterday we went to Zion with some friends. Zion is a park that has to be hiked to be experienced, and with my legs still not normal, I naturally had some trepidation. We took the shuttle to the top of the park at the Temple of Shinawava and hiked out toward The Narrows. This is a fairly easy walk for most people, but the ups and downs usually make my legs come weaker and weaker until my left leg starts buckling in and I have to take a break or risk having to get hauled down the hill on a stretcher for a torn ACL. After this hike to the narrows, we went down to the Emerald Pools across from Zion Lodge, and we hiked all the way to the top pool. All in all, we walked about 8-10 miles yesterday. I am not “stable” on the trails by any means and I do need my hands to catch myself fairly frequently, but I noticed two distinct things.
First, I was able to walk much more normally on the ups and downs, over the rocks, etc. Whereas before, I had to only step down with my left leg then catch up with the right, I could step and proceed with both legs. Made me smile. Second, my left leg wasn’t bucking inward from the inner muscular failures. This meant when I was walking on the flat parts of the trail, I looked as normal as anyone as opposed to dealing with a weakened buckling leg. I still had to rest a little here and there, but what a difference. Really made me smile.
Today I had a juice and I am drinking lots of water. I feel great after a day of hiking whereas I’m sure others would be sore. I learned my commitment to this process never really went away, just eased so I could get a view of it. I learned my progress is still ongoing, that I haven’t stagnated. I know my immune system is as good as anyone’s now and I am quite confident the MS attacks are behind me. Now it seems the neurological repair is underway, and as slow as it is, it’s showing up.

And isn’t showing up half of the commitment?

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