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What’s Your Speed?

My speed is  slow and slower. I would love to run or even perhaps jog a bit to pick up speed, but slow and slower is my pace these days.  Speed is my enemy and when I do try to go faster, my feet get tangled and I am quickly facing another slip and slide adventure.

A recent headline about speed and Multiple Sclerosis jumped out at me recently – 70 year old Kermit Wieselquist, in Massachusetts, is retiring his bike.  This isn’t just any bike, but a red bike that he has used for MS Bike fundraisers for 22 years.

It’s not just a red bike – it is a one-speed bike he got in 1966, the type of bike like so many of us had when we were young.  No fancy gears, no special pedals or aerodynamic styling – just a plain old red bike. Do you remember a bike like that and the effort it took to go up hill and how treacherous it could be racing down a steep incline?

The story read that Mr. Wieselquist chose that red bike for his MS rides before ones with gears for easier and faster riding were readily available, and he has refused to change to an easier bike to ride.  He is definitely at a disadvantage and he has to work harder to stay up with the other riders, which he says is symbolic of how those of us with MS often have that same challenge to keep up.   It may not be possible to walk in our shoes, but he certainly has gotten close by taking his single speed rides and being at the back of the pack.

The most recent MS ride he took on his red bike was a route of 150 miles; I can’t imagine going that far in one speed.  Until I was diagnosed with MS, I had more speeds, but that isn’t the case anymore.

When my husband and I are out walking, he slows his pace to keep me company rather than rushing ahead.  My grandchildren slow to almost a crawl from their usual breakneck speed, when they are out with me – even the not quite three-year-old can beat me in a foot race these days.  I prefer to not think of these outings as slow, but more akin to a leisurely stroll.  At least that sounds better.

In those moments when I allow myself to imagine greater physical goals, I can almost picture myself completing a 5K run – not at a record speed, but at least finishing one. There is always that person who finishes last and I wouldn’t mind if that were me. Something always brings me back to reality, often it is the slight breeze of someone else jogging past me on the track, and I readjust my goals to something a bit more achievable, such as making it around the track four times, regardless of my time or cadence.

I watched Serena Williams win the US Tennis Open, and Diane Nyad complete her distance swim from Cuba to the shores of Key West, and neither of those created illusions of grandeur that I could participate in those sports, but kicking up my heels just a bit is a different thing. I think about how nice it would be to jog one lap around that, or run and play tag with the grandchildren. There are many people with MS who can complete a race or hop on their bike and ride 150 miles.  I would be ecstatic to get on a bike again and ride it once around that track in place of jogging, but my balance would make that a disaster and I would need much more in safety equipment than just a helmet.

My pace these days, tends to be the slow and slower variety – there is definitely no high gear or passing gear in my legs.  What’s your speed?

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

  • Vernon
    6 years ago

    I have had MS since July 2006 and I have definitely gotten slower since that time. When I was first diagnosed I was working for General Motors and my plant in OKC had just been notified we were being shut down forever. I got an offer to transfer to Fort Wayne ind. and had already signed papers to transfer. I spent the next 2 years 3 months working on the line again after not working on the line for several years as I had worked my way up the latter to get a good job at the OKC plant. I made all the way to my retirement 30 years in 2008, I then came back home to okla. And started working as a car salesman, did that for 3 months until I couldn’t be on my feet that long, quit that job, started working for a school, bus driving/custodial work, and the finally cut back to just bus driving and working as a pastor of a small congregation. But it has been an adventure, and now I am starting to experience some things in my body that I didn’t have when I was first diagnosed, like twinging in my legs almost when you stretch a rubber band and let it go. My speed has changed a lot, I used to walk real fast but I definitely slowed up and maybe it is time to do that as I am 64 going on 65 in jan.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    Vernon, GM and Ft Wayne, Huh? I’m in Dayton and watched GM fold up plant after plant here. I’m glad you were able to stick it out for your reitrement – that was a tough haul for everyone who pulled that off. To do it with MS as your companion is impressive. I hear you about the slowing down, but they say 65 is still young. I hope you find some joy in slowing down and enjoying the moment -I’m trying to appreciate not rushing anymore. Thanks for sharing your story. Laura

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