Pushing Yourself, But Not Too Far
Those of us who have been diagnosed with MS have only two options, really. We can either get busy and fight things head on, or we can roll over and let this disease do what it wants with us.
Having never understood the latter of those two choices, the first has always really been the only option for me. I am a fighter. But how do we fight without fighting MS too hard and doing more harm than good?
As with any other question involving this disease, the answer really is different for every person. However, I do have some key methods to finding the groove that fits for your individual needs.
The first step in pushing forward is to start out slow. Exercise is a great example of this. Keeping in shape is incredibly important in slowing down the physical atrophy and fatigue that comes with multiple sclerosis.
The problem is, many of us do not have a physical trainer on hand who is specialized in understanding MS. And we can just forget about finding someone who is knowledgeable about our own unique needs.
So how do we stay in shape without injuring ourselves or adding to our fatigue? The answer is simple: we start out cautiously. We take things slow and light. It is important to do the things that you are confidently capable of doing and then building onto that platform slowly.
‘Enough is enough!’
I love a nice long hike. For a while there I thought that my hiking days were over. When I had my first exacerbation I was barely able to walk 100 feet without wanting to pass out. My doctors kept telling me to rest and I listened.
But I did not improve. My symptoms had improved but my fatigue had worsened over time. My muscles became weaker by the day. I became terrified of going places by myself. What if I couldn’t make it back to the car alone?
My world collapsed around me and my doctors continued to tell me to rest. Three years passed and I gained 50 pounds! My doctors did not discuss my weight gain. They just kept telling me to rest.
One day, my husband came home and said, “Enough is enough! We are not going to sit in this house and rot away! We are going to start hiking again!” I had always loved hiking before I got sick. I had usually been the one wanting to hike further, longer. That love had been truncated by my fear and by blindly taking my doctor’s advice.
My husband got me out of the house and we took things slowly. I was terrified and tired, but I always wanted to go out and try again. Eventually, hiking became a weekly adventure for my husband, my son and I.