How I Take Time Away From MS

I’ve been writing about life with multiple sclerosis (MS) for a good while now. I was diagnosed with the incurable disease over two decades ago. Like most of our readers, I experienced (and outwardly exhibited) symptoms for a number of years before that diagnosis.

With all that time passing, the disease has progressed into most parts of my physical and, unfortunately, intellectual being. Couple the progression with all those years of writing, and I found it could become quite consuming if I’d have let it.

I suppose, actually, that I did let it for a while. Perhaps we all did, or are doing so currently.

But I didn’t want to be that “MS guy” all the time. My wife, Caryn, wouldn’t have wanted that, either.

I had tried to pretend for a few of those first years that I could still do what was my previous routine. But the more I tried to ignore or avoid MS, the greater my stumbles became, and that led to falls both real and metaphorical.

As writings on MS became appearances, and speaking gigs became books, I had to find some way to turn off MS for a while. To turn down, if not the symptoms, then at least the thoughts about MS now and again.

Quiet Walks Help Me to Put MS Aside

I came upon quiet walks as my way of getting away from the disease, if even figuratively.

That I chose one of the very things greatly affected by my version of MS may seem ironic, but it allowed me to take my break from MS on the battlefield of my life.

By understanding that how the disease was acting on any particular day or week would have bearing on how well I could take this break (or if I could at all), I was putting to use one of the lessons from early in my experience. That lesson was about pushing myself beyond my new limits.

I was never going to set any distance or land speed records with my walks — even before MS. But deciding to put MS out of my head while doing one of the things that the malady made difficult was like thumbing my nose at my enemy by taking a bit of R&R behind his lines.

MS Doesn’t Completely Disappear on My Walks

Another of the ironies of these walks is that while I take them to “get away from” and not think about MS, I am often inspired to write some of the Life With Multiple Sclerosis posts by something that happens while we’re on them.

The “we” in that is usually my dear wheaten terrier, Maggie.

Because I have to pay attention to her whereabouts and safety, my mind is focused away from the illness. More importantly, though, is the pure joy I see in her explorations of wherever our walks might lead us.

Like planning a shower, or a meal, or any of the hundreds of elements of life we once took for granted, my MS breaks must now be well planned. A series of preflight checks, contingency plans, and wardrobe changes take place before we head out the front door … but we make it out the door on most days.

We All Need to Take Breaks From MS

For those of us who have been living with slides of relapse that we don’t fully recover from any longer, the constant nibbling at the edges of our abilities by the disease, or with full-frontal assaults, finding time away from the battle is essential.

Music, theater, films, time in the pool, a quick cuppa (or pint) with friends can help us all to forget for a little while.

My MS isn’t going away. It will always be there to be contended with once I’m back from my walk. In fact, it’s always with me on my walks. For an hour or so, most days, I pretend it isn’t and I think about, well … anything else.

How do you take a break from MS?

Wishing you and your family the best of health.

Cheers,

Trevis

My book Chef Interrupted is available on Amazon. Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page, and read more on Life With Multiple Sclerosis.

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