Wheelathon: A moment in time

Whitney Houston sang about wanting ”One moment in time” and I’ve definitely wanted one moment when I’m more than I thought I could be. In fact, I believe that everyone deserves their own ‘moment in time’.

I was 64 on my last birthday and ‘celebrated’ my 33rd MSadversity shortly thereafter. I was never physical or sporty in my pre-MS life. I was never that way driven/focused and was happy just getting along. I never made the school teams, never wanted to climb a mountain or run a marathon but after the gravity of my MS diagnosis sank in, I wanted to keep going as long as I could. I wanted to be the best I could be.

I first used a wheelchair in 2004 whilst on a trip to Rome. I found that it was not an impediment but a facilitator and now I use it all the time when outside my home. I save my energy for what I want to do.

I like to challenge myself sometimes. I like to push my limits to see how far they can be stretched without breaking. I am well aware that MS limits can be variable on a daily basis and unforgiving when breached. The price to be paid for pushing too far can be exorbitant on top of  the usual price to be paid, fatigue. I set myself a challenge to tour Cork City-centre in my wheelchair, all of its streets, lanes and quays and to do it unassisted. I knew that this challenge (if successful) would rank in the top three in my MS life.

This was almost equal to a half-marathon and I DID IT!  A bit slower than I would have liked but I DID IT! I had to explain to a few people why I did it and here it is for you. MS is unpredictable and very variable (somewhat of an understatement really) and I don’t know what tomorrow or next week will hold so I decided to Carpe Diem while I could. No major soul-searching, no tick off the bucket list. My energy level was good and I decided to go for it.

My challenge had more upsides than downsides. The only real downside is that my MS has become harder to explain. Many people cannot understand the variability of my MS. They cannot fully grasp that I could wheel myself for nearly four hours and still function but two days later be absolutely exhausted after less than fifteen minutes on the treadmill.

The upsides: I enjoyed an amazing feeling of achievement and secured a major personal victory and MS Ireland received a financial boost.

The power of small victories should never be underestimated especially when big victories seem out of reach. Small victories are generally private affairs and I treasure my small victories dearly. I intensely dislike MS comparisons; to use one person living with MS  as an example of how MS life could be lived is wrong. MS is different for all of us; none of us are identical MS twins.

Take care of your shoulders and wrists as they were not designed as weight-bearing limbs but in my cawhatse (Walker & Wheelchair) that is  they have become. I have been shoulder-exercising for some years and the wheelathon was a by-product. The main benefits are levering myself into a standing position and ease of dressing.

I will never apologise for feeling good but I do apologise if I made anyone feel inadequate with my ‘boast’. I have often read, in awe, of people with MS climbing, diving, running and wondering why I couldn’t. Now that I have completed my wheelathon, I no longer need to wonder why I couldn’t because I have done it.

I started this blog by saying that I wanted one moment in time well let me finish by saying I want another and remember that my moment in time may not be the same as your moment in time; truth be told, sometimes my moment in time is just getting through the day.