I was diagnosed in 1992. I was 28 and it was just eight months before I got married. I had leg coordination issues initially and then went blind in one eye 6 months later. Based on my progressions, I was told in the first year that I would likely be in a wheel chair within 5 years. I had exacerbations twice a year like clockwork and took IV steroids to stop/reduce the exacerbations whenever necessary. After 8 or 9 years, new drugs came out that could help. I have not really had an exacerbation in approximately 12 years.
I walk with a cane due to stability and fatigue, but can walk without the cane if necessary. I have participated in Bike MS as a rider for more than 15 years, along with friends and family. My balance is an issue, but a recumbent bike allows me to ride. I exercise at least twice a week and also play golf, ride the bike and swim whenever possible. I would not function as well, without the exercise.
Before we got married, my wife and I discussed my MS. Since the doctor said that I could be in a wheelchair in five years, we definitely talked about it. We’re still married today and she doesn’t cut me any slack. She rides with me at Bike MS every year.
Most things I can do, but many times we have to do alternative things. The exacerbations were tough because of the uncertainty. One time my right leg did not work for a month. It was very difficult to work or function at home. I regained most of the use of the leg so that was a big deal.
Most people mistakenly think you are injured. MS is nothing like an injury. Parts of your body just stop working for no apparent reason. I am amazed at how difficult it can be if you lose strength and ability in certain areas of your body. On the other hand, I am amazed at the improvement in my strength and balance due to even moderate exercise. It makes a huge difference in my daily life. That’s why health and wellness is so important to me.