When you are told those words “you have multiple sclerosis,” it hits you like a ton of bricks.
I was in the prime of life, my mid-20s and a single mom. I was scared, confused, worried about my future, and especially about my daughter’s future. Living with MS you just don’t know what the next day will bring.
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body.
Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.
Since I was diagnosed at such a young age and had a daughter to raise, I knew I had to keep moving. Over the years, the Gateway Area Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has helped to keep me moving.
In the past, the chapter helped me to attend the Enabling Mobility Center at Paraquad. It’s fantastic. I can get a full body workout. It’s part and parcel to me being as active as I am in the rest of my life by remaining stronger in my upper body. Working out keeps me plugged into all parts of my body. By keeping my whole system moving, my emotional and physical health are better.
Something else that keeps me moving is an amazing event called Bike MS. I’ve been the captain for Team Whole Foods, which I like to call Team Awesome.
Bike MS is incredible. There are all these people who have a tie to my cause. It makes what I’m dealing with way less. To see 2,500 people riding their bikes for MS—that’s impressive. It makes you feel like you’re really part of a team.
While I don’t ride in Bike MS, I try to talk to as many people as possible. I love taking the opportunity to say ‘thank you, you’re putting yourself out for me.’
More often than not, the response is ‘what I’m doing isn’t half as hard as what you do every day.’ That’s incredible when you’re looking at these people riding their brains out trying to get up a hill, and I feel so bad for them and they’re not thinking of it that way. It’s totally awesome, and it’s the favorite weekend of my life every year.
Editor’s note: Allsup is pleased to be a Bike MS sponsor. Click here to locate a Bike MS event near you.