My Wife Says I Should Follow My Own (MS) Advice
Columnist Ed Tobias wonders if his MS is getting worse or if it's the aging process
I have to be honest: I haven’t always been honest. I don’t always practice what I preach.
I’ve always been a “let’s all look on the bright side” kind of guy, at least in public. I encourage people to get up and go. Use a cane, ride a scooter, learn to dance in the rain. Do what you have to do to live a good life.
Although I talk the talk, in private I’m not always walking the walk. After living with MS for over four decades, it’s getting tougher and more frustrating. My get-up-and-go has pretty much gotten up and gone. It’s literally getting harder to walk the walk.
Something that takes a healthy person five minutes to do takes me 15. Carrying something as simple as a bowl of ice cream is a challenge while using two canes. Frustrations surface more frequently. My mood changes often. On many sunny days, I’d rather sit and write this column while looking out the window instead of going outside and enjoying the weather.
Tests tell the full story
My 25-foot walking test has been good. My rate is as quick as it’s been previously. But I’m sure I’m slowing down. My MRIs have been stable for years, but my spasticity troubles me now more than ever. I’ve had hip and leg pain for months. Sleeping well is hit and miss.
Is it my MS, my age, or my meds?
I don’t think my MS medications are as effective as they once were, even though I’ve recently resumed taking some. Maybe it’s a lack of exercise. Or, maybe I’m just at an age when things start to fall apart.
In a town hall discussion on aging sponsored by the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses a few years ago, nursing researcher Marijean Buhse made an interesting point that was discussed in a piece by MS Focus Magazine: People with MS are now viewed as being old by as early as age 55. Buhse said the long-term strain on our bodies from having a chronic illness like MS, as well as the aging of our kidneys and livers due to the processing of medications that treat MS, takes a toll. That makes me wonder if at 74, taking three of four meds to treat my MS symptoms, plus a couple for non-MS problems, is the best thing to be doing.
Time for a change of scenery?
Another point Buhse emphasized was how important daily exercise is for people with MS. “Just move it,” she commanded, meaning, do anything that gets you moving and keeps you moving.
I split my time between Florida and Maryland, and I am more active in the former than the latter. I swim and exercise at the gym while in Florida. My body and mind both feel better there. That’s been true since we started spending winters there about five years ago.
Currently, we’ve been away for nearly five months. It’s a good thing we’ll be returning in less than a month. I hope I’ll be able to resume following my own advice.
You’re invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.
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