My Free Pass Has Been Revoked

It appears the obligation-free summer I’ve enjoyed is coming to an abrupt end.  I work in education and for 23 years I have been on an academic calendar, meaning when the students are gone, so am I.  It was a great schedule for when my children were young because it meant I would be off work when they were out of school.  Now that they are well past school age, that break means a different thing – it’s a chance for me to regroup, reenergize, or even just retreat and do nothing.  With Multiple Sclerosis as my companion these days, the do-nothing in the summer approach can be the most appealing but can also have dangerous effects on my health.

As the spring season began, I mentally started my break a bit earlier than usual and stopped many of my usual routines and returned to some old habits. It may have begun even a bit earlier when I took that last serious fall in late winter and required a few days off work to allow the bruising to subside – looking back I now see that fall took me off my stride and began another descent into the land of complacency.

I pretty much stopped exercising, even though I was still registered for classes.  I attended when I felt like it and not on their regular schedule.  There was always a convenient excuse to remain at my desk at lunchtime, rather than get up and move.  I took on more after work obligations, even though I realized they would conflict with my evening Tai Chi class, but I really didn’t care.  I thought to myself I could always do it on my own at home, but I didn’t.

Deep down I knew I was making the choice to abandon these healthy activities, didn’t I?  We ate out in restaurants or dined on quick carry-out dinners frequently and had fewer home cooked, healthier meals. Cooking takes energy and the less I exercise, the less energy I have – it’s that vicious cycle that MS can put many of us into and can be so hard to break.

Summer has been kind in so many ways – we were able to travel extensively, including a wonderful trip to the Pacific Northwest region and their great cool climate while our home town was baking in 90 degree heat.  The United States is a beautiful country and there is so much to see and such good regional specialties and drink to indulge in, and we did our share of sampling the food and adult beverages in a variety of locales.

The dreaded date to return to work is looming and I took a good look in my closet for what I might have to wear.  Just like children do preparing for school by getting new clothes, most of us who work in education go through the same ritual, making sure what we have is appropriate and still fits. My feet haven’t grown so unfortunately I won’t need new shoes, which according to my husband is something I have too many of already. This time the indulgences of not exercising and the excess eating has appeared in my waistline and is obvious when I can’t button those pants or that favorite top hugs so tight it makes me appear 4 months pregnant, and at my age I can’t pass off my weight on that possibility.  A quick shopping trip, buying some pieces in a larger size, and my credit card can remedy this clothing problem.  But it seems I have another problem that is going to require a different approach.

The other back-to-school routine I follow is an annual physical with my Primary Care Physician (PCP).  It may seem silly to see her when I am not sick, but it gives us a chance to review my medical care from the various specialists and make sure we have not overlooked anything.  It is way too easy to focus all the health care on Multiple Sclerosis and my central nervous system, and overlook all the other body systems.  She immediately notes that I was due for some blood work, and I consented to donate a few vials at that visit.  I got the follow-up call from the PCP office on Friday, letting me know my cholesterol was pretty good, and everything else was in normal range except she would like me to do an A1C test early next week, because my blood glucose levels were elevated.

Just like the return to work date, I knew this time was coming but was doing my best to ignore it – the carefree days of summer have come back to haunt me and the free pass I convinced myself I had has been revoked.  Hiding behind my MS, becoming complacent, and allowing the rest of my health to decline has come back to bite me. No amount of quick fasting will bring down my sugar levels by next week to a range that won’t demand some serious intervention because the A1C test magically looks at the long-term average sugar levels and not just a few days. The day of reckoning is here.

So next week, not only will I return to work wearing new clothes, I will also return to sensible eating and reasonable exercise.  The carefree days of summer and convincing myself that I had a free-pass to do what I want are over.  If you have any tips on how you keep doing what you know you should be doing, I would love to hear them.

Wishing you well,

Laura

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (10)
  • JustsayN
    6 years ago

    Hi Laura. I’m Helen. I was dxed in my 40’s. I now 59. Exercise is an issue. I have a recumbent bike in my home and an exercise table and bans and handweights. Here I sit, looking at that stuff and talking about exercise. I’m caught in the cycle you mentioned. I hurts to move but I must move in order not to hurt. So what to do? Well, today I’m gonna log off and do that damned 10 minutes. (revoking my own pass) Not gonna say what will happen tomorrow. Thanks for sharing your story. Its helping me today.

  • JustsayN
    6 years ago

    OK I did it

  • itasara
    6 years ago

    I empathize so much with you. I don’t have a job persay..spent my years after getting my RN in ’71 and working for two yrs after, raising my children. I have no real desire to work and I have become rather complacent (I like that word!) I gave up exercize when the kids were all in school full time and I got my first computer. Never liked excersize anyway (believe it or not) even as a child-I dreaded gym days. I do have a very part time job now as a cantor soloist and a very full time job taking care of my 13 yr. old labrador retriever who is now where I might be someday if my MS progresses- unable to walk on her own at all.) I spend the day with her on my computer, watching TV, practicing when I feel like it. I need to clean up and clean out my house but I just don’t feel like that either. Can’t seem to get myself motivated.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    The computer is a lot to blame for my inactive body. If only we got a workout from stretching our brains on the computer. I spend a lot of time at home and most of my work day with a computer. It is a bad influence, as you say. They should make a motivation pill for you and me.
    ~Laura

  • Jennifer
    6 years ago

    Wow as I read this I felt like they were writing about me. This is exactly what I go through minus going back to work. Here I thought I was just being lazy, but I now see I am not. Just all the thrills of living with ms.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    MS with its fatigue and depression and physical problems can really drag us down a hole. Getting out of that takes a lot of work and has nothing to do with laziness. There are a whole lot of different forces influencing us and our decisions. ~Laura

  • Sue
    6 years ago

    I know, it’s tough! I work with a trainer 2-3x’s per week. When he’s not available I’m not likely to make myself go to the gym. I’m a Type 1 diabetic (for about 18 years) and was recently diagnosed with MS (at age 54). I have managed to change my eating pretty dramatically and even kept to a good diet during various vacations this summer. But exercise…that’s a harder thing to maintain. And I agree…I was sore and tired yesterday, having missed 2 workout last Thursday and Saturday. I felt stiff and sore when I went to work out with my trainer last night. Today I feel MUCH better! So there you go. We’ll see what happens – he’ll be away all of next week plus I’m starting a new med (Tecfidera) on Sunday. I’ll need to go to the gym and work out on my own or take a zumba class or something. Hopefully I will! But it’s always a challenge when I’d prefer to relax or play computer games.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    I was also diagnosed with MS at 54- funny how many of us are outside of the typical age range. Good for you to have the trainer to keep you on target. I just met with my new student trainer today and we will start at it on Tuesday. Five days a week I will have a commitment to go to the gym and I can’t skip out on any of them, but especially the training because her final grade depends on my doing these sessions with her. She is a pre-PT student and the training is their capstone course to graduate. be well, Laura

  • Stephanie
    6 years ago

    You sound a lot like myself. I was diagnosed w/ type 1 diabetes at age 12 now 46 and just diagnosed w/ ms July 2012. I haven’t figured either of them out but still feel pretty good and no major complication from either. Good luck!

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    Thanks, Stephanie. You know it can be a challenge but it sounds like your attitude has helped you to not be beat down by either one. ~laura

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