This Story Has Legs — One Leg, At Least!

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by John Connor |

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heat, quiet, hotel, covid-19

This is the story of how I became a patient columnist.

Three years ago, I was still walking. Shambling, anyway. I could get up and down stairs but had to rest before reaching my ordinary car with fitted hand controls.

To go somewhere on my own, I needed someone to put my self-propelling wheelchair in the trunk. I also needed help at my destination to get it out again. However, I rarely went out alone, as the exercise class I’d been attending for over five years was too far away. The drive there and back was enough, let alone shaking my booty.

When I first turned up at the class, I overheard a staff member say, “It’s like he doesn’t have MS at all.”

My world shrunk, and my decline was spectacular. Falls became a way of life.

Coping through writing

One day, I sat down — far safer than standing — and wrote a comedic piece about MS-related falls.

I had started as a journalist and had a go at creative fiction. The writing bug compels people. It’s a type (ho-ho) of self-therapy, compounded by an inescapable urge to write.

I was enough of a pro that I didn’t write for free. The one-off comedic piece lay dormant on my laptop. Meanwhile, I got on with the daily grind of producing a live satirical comedy show. I’d only been writing topical jokes for years!

One morning, a spear of pain shot through my left thigh — my only good leg. I didn’t have any MS-related pain at the time, but sports damaged my muscles back in the day, so I knew what muscular pain felt like. The pain was so debilitating that I was trapped in my upstairs bedroom, ensconced in purdah for at least a month.

With time, a physiotherapist revealed the cause of the pain. Pulling my mostly inert right leg around for years had torn the muscles on my outer left thigh. The physiotherapist gave me a set of exercises to strengthen my muscles, which I did through gritted teeth.

I recovered enough to go off shambling again. Zombie shows were everywhere at the time. In the event of a zombie outbreak, I was fully equipped to act like Bill Murray in “Zombieland” and blend in.

Eventually, bedroom ennui had me digging out my comedy piece. It was quite good. I had nothing to do, so I sent it to a few websites, expecting nothing. Surprisingly, an email turned up the next day, offering publication and a weekly column, with none of the bull about writing for free.

I’ve been a patient columnist for BioNews Services ever since.

More MS-related falls

Why this sojourn? Well, I do have to write this column (handy). Also, I was struck down again. I only just managed to survive a fall during a chair transfer.

Having used a wheelchair for two years, I forgot all about my left leg. I presumed the problem was long gone. Other, more critical medical furors subsumed my exercise routine.

Despite my right shoulder and arm screaming with pain, I’ve been forced to lie on my right side and do an exercise that I dimly remember as “The Clam.” You’re supposed to bend your legs, keep your feet together, and raise your left leg. I can only manage an unelegant approximation, but I got straight to it and even completed 20 painful reps. Within a few days, I showed off and hit 200 reps!

“The Clam” is now part of my regular routine. A twinge still exists in my left thigh, but it’s fading.

If I let the memory fade and forget the exercises, I’ll end up falling again. And I’ve already written about that!


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


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