My Own Olympian Games

I got up out of bed this morning after a bit of a struggle with my foot getting hung up in the sheet, brewed myself some coffee, and with a mug in hand, turned on the cable news and there they were. Those young, vital, gorgeous and healthy bodies of the American Olympic team, all of them going for the Gold. We are amazed at their skill and admire their dedication. Gee, I remember more than forty years ago in my middle school gymnasium our Phys Ed teacher had gymnastics equipment brought into class. With our energetic Coach E. spotting me, I walked across the balance beam with heel to front toe precision (my recollection of it anyway). No, but really, I thought I had a knack for it and Coach even said it, nice as she was.

Well now, let’s fast forward thirty years to my diagnosis of MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS. Little did I know how much my physical life would be altered. It was shortly before my very first exacerbation that I had begun jogging. But hey, running like that would come to an end several years later, so good thing I didn’t have any Olympic aspirations! Ha, just a little humor, because with MS sometimes you really do have to laugh to keep from crying, or giving up.

But you know, this 2016 Olympics has provoked me, and I do mean provoked, to think about the celebration of athleticism and physicality more than it has in previous Olympic years. Perhaps, no definitely, my decreased abilities are the reason for my from back in the day memories and thoughts. Facing the facts of a new and challenging set of circumstances can bring with them unexpected emotions even depression. I have certainly experienced this and sought treatment by healthcare professionals familiar with MS patients issues, and I’m so glad I did so.

Yes, I like many have those experiences when doing a formerly simple task, suddenly has morphs into what may as well be an Olympic event, that is for those of us who now find ourselves physically/mobility challenged or disabled. Like, when exasperatingly trying to put on an undergarment is as difficult as attempting to throw a javelin into a 40 mph gust of wind. Or like when stepping over your pet’s toy lying on the floor takes the exertion and momentum needed to do the long jump! Yeah, it gets rough and super frustrating at times. By the way, if I don’t find myself cursing a blue streak or tearing up, I search my mind to find that “don’t take yourself so seriously, other folks have it worse than you” part of me and begin laughing at my foible event. On the other side, when such feats are accomplished, (like making it up or down the staircase) our loving audience, in this case my daughter becomes my cheering section.

Truth be told, what I consider my biggest MS physical feats successfully performed and my most disappointing defeats, have been done in private before an audience of one, myself. In those moments I have expressed my anger, my grief, even my gratefulness for what I’m yet able to do. Even possessing the hope of recovering some of what has been lost I consider a prize, one I’ve earned from the challenges and struggles.

There is indeed a very small percentage of humankind who ventures to be an Olympian and even fewer who at the end of all games proudly find a medal hanging down from their neck. As for me, my winning event will be to hang on as hard and for as long as I can to my physical abilities which remain. That for me will be golden.

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