Nothing is guaranteed
In the spring of 1996, a couple of dear friends and I decided we would participate in a local MS 150 bike ride to raise funds for the MS Society. I had very little understanding of this disease that can strike 1 out of 750 people. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/index.aspx
Approximately three years later, I was diagnosed with this unpredictable disease.
This fundraiser was the beginning of my passion for long distance cycling. I continued to train and went on to longer and more challenging rides. I loved the feeling of pushing my mind and body, building not only muscle and endurance, but the stamina and self confidence that accompanies such a sport.
During the winter of 1998, I was rehearsing with a contact improvisation dance group for a spring performance. One day during warm-ups, I went from the floor to moving across the floor in a jog. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a giant hand reached out pushed me down to the floor. “What the heck?” I wondered. As I picked myself up and tried a second pass, it began teasing me again. Okay. So I took it easy and modified my movements for the rest of class. What a fluke!
I had begun acting in a local Theatre group, Voices of the South, where I became a stilt walker for a children’s play entitled “The Wild Swans” written by Hanns Christian Anderson. Performing in this amazing adaptation was incredible and fulfilling. We had a month long run during the summer of 1999 of one hour performances 5 days a week. I was also performing with a musical group, TROUSSEAU, and working as a full time Massage Therapist ( a little ambitious ).
I began to have occasional weakness in my legs that would come over me during demanding physical situations which would result in me either loosing my balance or out-right falling. (not good when you’re 5 feet in the air or carrying someone on your shoulders) I was really shaken by this weirdness, but had no explanation as to what was happening to my ability to count on my body to do what I asked it to.
I went to my Chiropractor when I began experiencing an intense burning in my right shoulder blade. He though I might have built up a trigger point in my scapula area from the shoulder lifts. Reasonable diagnosis.
This pain stayed with me long enough that I decided to see a Natural Path MD. He tested my blood and found nothing out of the ordinary. The heat from this pain was so intense it felt like a fire poker that didn’t seem to go away, in fact it felt as if it was spreading into larger areas of my back as if I was standing by a bonfire but I could not step away from the heat. And then eventually, it just went away…scheew!
For a second year in a row, I enjoyed participating in a 130 mile ride down the southern coast of Massachusetts with a group of cyclists called the Out Riders. Starting in downtown Boston and ending up in Provincetown, we completed this ride in one day (for me, 10 hrs to be exact). What a thrill! As fall began to turn I continued to train each week, riding 30-50 miles a week.
One evening in early Sept 1999, I began struggling to continue a particular 40 mile training ride and felt it best to turn back around and head home. I felt weak and unstable but slowly made it home. Light headed, I lay my head down on the cool concrete porch of my house. Something was happening that I could not explain. As sense of overwhelming gratitude came over me as I lay there watching colored streaks of light shoot across the darkness of my closed eyes. I had a peaceful sleep that night.
The next morning was the beginning of a nightmare…