Racing the Rain

Racing the Rain

Living with multiple sclerosis is unpredictable. Unexpected things come up like severe fatigue, weakness, numbness/tingling, pain, and visual disturbances. These symptoms and more can lead to inactivity which carries its own set of unintended consequences.

Feeling strong and being active can contribute to unpredictable outcomes, sometimes at the most inopportune moments. I want to tell you about a recent such moment that had me slip-sliding on the bike trail.

Riding our bicycles

You may recall that my husband and I have been riding our bicycles quite a bit in the past two years. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve seen physical improvements in my abilities as a result. Last month we completed our second BikeMS event in Maryland where I rode about 70 miles total in two consecutive days.

This is a huge accomplishment considering that 4 years ago I could only pedal 300 revolutions on the indoor stationary bike before MS symptoms kicked in and made it difficult to climb a flight of stairs afterward.

Summer heat and optic neuritis

This summer has been very hot. I’m am very heat sensitive and at times have cut my rides short because I could not see the ground very well anymore due to damage from past attacks of optic neuritis. Call me crazy but I like to be able to see details on the ground when I’m pedaling at 13+ miles per hour.

Riding before the rain let loose

Recently, rain has also made it difficult to go riding. So when the clouds were temporarily quiet last Sunday morning and the sun was trying to peek through, I talked Rob into going riding before the rain let loose in the afternoon. Off we went.

The ride started beautifully. I felt great and was planning for us to get in about 16 miles before we had to be home to take care of other things. As we passed a low lying creek, you could see debris deposited by the flood waters that had rushed through the area on the previous day.

Approaching a sharp turn and steep climb

Approaching a sharp turn and steep climb, I saw a large patch of mud covering a portion of the trail. Tire tracks were visible in the mud, but most seemed to go through the shallow end of the clay-colored deposit. I took note as I was busy pre-shifting my gears in anticipation of the upcoming climb.

When approaching this particular turn, I typically try not to slow down too much because of that climb. I need the momentum to help boost me up the hill. But last Sunday I played it safe and slowed down just a bit.

I was almost through the muddy patch and just beginning to turn right when my back tire began to slide to the left and accelerate into a horizontal position.

My bike collided with the pavement

My right thigh and hip took the first blow as my bike collided with the pavement. Then as I slid across the ground, the pavement took a good bit of the skin off my right forearm. Not a fair exchange between me and the pavement in my estimation.

Rob rushed to my side as I came to a stop, lying on my chest with arms outstretched. After catching my breath and making sure that it was safe to move, I rolled over and sat up. Eventually Rob helped me to my feet and we walked to a nearby bench. Rob used our water bottles to rinse the dirt and mud out of my open flesh which hurt like the dickens.

Rob to the rescue

Rob cycled home to get our car to come pick me up. I wasn’t sure if I might have broken my arm or not because just the weight of it hanging straight was beginning to hurt. In hindsight, I probably hyperextended my elbow which strained tendons and ligaments. A week later, it still hurts to fully straighten or bend it, but nothing is broken. The bruises on my lower legs are healing.

Thankfully, the skin is growing back on my arm. Earlier in the week, I joked with Rob that I would be glad when the wound started itching because then I would know it was healing. He laughed and promised to remind me I said that when I start complaining of the itch driving me crazy.

We both got a good laugh.

MS was the farthest from my mind

Throughout this experience, multiple sclerosis was the farthest from my mind. I didn’t crash because of MS. I wasn’t bruised because of MS. In the end, I won’t even be itchy because of MS (at least not this time). But in a very round-about way, I was out there riding my bike to fight back against MS.

In the ER, Rob said the sweetest thing to me. He said, “I think that the riding has been good for you. You look really healthy and seem to be doing well.”

I am. I am doing well. My MS is stable. I’ve only had one relapse in the past 6 years. I’m stronger than I was 10 years ago and I’m happy to be able to get out and race the rain on occasion.

Thanks for reading!

Lisa

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