MS 150k Reflections
When I think about my MS 150k experiences (I have participated in 4 tours now), I would have to say that 1998 was most memorable for several reasons…
1. It was HOT but I didn’t get sunburned.
2. It was the first year that I didn’t have to walk any of the hills (which meant I met my physical goal.)
3. I reached my financial goal in that I raised over $5,000 (thank you Alta Software, Inc. for matching).
4. It was the first year I rode knowing I had MS.
Number 4 may surprise a lot of you, especially most of my fellow Team Andersen teammates who I rode with this year. On April 10, 1997, I woke up and my leg was asleep. I wasn’t concerned at first, but that soon changed as the numb feeling continued for 3 weeks. I was referred to a neurologist. I remember asking him during my first visit if I’d be allowed to ride in the 1997 MS150k. Little did I know that I’d be sitting in his office two months later being informed that I had MS.
In my previous rides, I knew very little about the disease. I had read the information in the brochure. The picture I had in my mind of a person with MS was of Darryl, the man most of us gave a high-five to as we started and finished our rides. What I didn’t realize was how the disease attacked different people in different ways. For most people, the disease comes and goes in the form of an attack. I’ve had one official attacks and it was mild. Multiple sclerosis (non-technically) translates to multiple scars. The scarring occurs in the brain and/or spinal cord. The reason why the disease effects people differently is that the scars appear in different places, over different periods of time, and depending on the severity of the disease, are repaired at different speeds. Between attacks, I feel fine which was evidenced during the ride since I would conquer the hills quicker than my friends. Unfortunately, the disease is progressive and chances are that my body won’t be able to fully repair the scars as it has thus far. If this happens, there is a high probability that my mobility will be permanently affected.
As strange as this may sound, however, I feel lucky for many reasons that this was the disease I was diagnosed with. For all the tests I went through (spinal taps are NOT fun) and all of the possible diseases I could have had, I am lucky it was MS. First, MS has been getting a lot more attention recently (and more research funds) thanks to the many benefits the National MS Society holds – MS Read-a-thon, MS Walkathon, MS 150k, MS Sports Night, etc. Second, there have been some major break-throughs in recent years that have produced 3 new drugs that have been shown to reduce the number of attacks and therefore assist in prolonging the onset of the permanent disabilities a person with MS may have as the disease progresses. I am currently taking one of those drugs. (My awesome husband gives me a shot once a week now.) Last, I feel lucky that there are people like YOU that are willing to go out there and ride 50 – 100 miles, sore butts and all. Thank you for participating in the ride. Hope to see you out there next year and I challenge you to raise more funds and get more friends to join in all of the fun.