Update number one
My life with multiple sclerosis has been ever changing. Five years ago I did not have the arm strength to get out of even a wet paper bag. This weakness did not allow me to maneuver in and out of a simple sedan without great struggle. I lacked the know-how and the skills needed to transfer to and from my wheelchair and a car correctly. Sadly car manufacturers still have not accepted my idea of a slingshot device for help with this. This mechanism would shoot me into an SUV from my wheelchair. A catchers-mitt would help catch me on my way out.
At that time the only vehicle that I physically could enter and exit easily was a small SUV. It was because my legs could hold my bodyweight steadily. I merely stand next to the SUV grab the handle above the passenger side window. Holding the handle, I simultaneously hop up and pull. This procedure would land my rump on the seat where I physically grab my legs and swing them into place.
This situation might sound like an odd thing to celebrate, but sometimes it’s the little things. Now that my arms are much stronger I can get into most sedans with ease. I also have the skills to know where to place my hands and when to launch my derriere into the drop zone. There are of course caveats to everything in life and I occasionally still struggle a little. However, with my new upper body strength, it is easier to properly place my posterior.
Now I can swim a significant amount without any detrimental dilemmas. This improvement is the result of the way that I approached my swim training over the years. From the beginning, I moved cautiously and deliberately s-l-o-w. I started by doing two years of languid regimented movements. I would continually alternate between ten minutes of a light leg work out and a ten-minute chat session with a classmate.
After a year of that light training, I began attempting to walk in the pool slowly. Two ladies in my class started helping me walk ten yards to keep my legs from losing strength. I walked with the assistance of these women two times each class for another year. This walking was in addition to the slow leg exercises that I was doing on my own.
Every step that I made in my water fitness training was with planned patience and purpose. I was aware that my MS made it necessary for my growth and gaining to be gradual. Yes, I went from zero to sixty, but it was over a three and a half year timeframe. This slow exercise regimen progression helped my body adapt and overcome the fitness training.
I took several real hits from MS during my swim challenge. These hits were a persistent weakness of my legs, arms, and hands. The same day that I swim, I am much weaker, but the next day I recover 90% of my strength. I did this MS swim not to impress anyone except myself as multiple sclerosis stole nearly everything from me. This challenge was a way for me to stand up (so to speak) and say “Not this time
MS! This one is mine!”
I do not know how many-if any-of these physical challenges I will want to do. I have now done both a 5k and this swim challenge with my MS riddled body. I hope that my body will recover from this swimming challenge, but it will likely take time. I understand that these new difficulties are a result from my own doing. However, the pride of saying that I did something that I never thought that I could is life-altering. I will not sit on my laurels to rest but will reduce my workout intensity immensely. Only time will tell what the future will hold for me, but I plan to keep moving forward. I will continually do whatever is needed not to let multiple sclerosis control my life any more than necessary.
Challenges are what make life interesting, overcoming them is what makes them meaningful.