My name is Rob and I entered the world of multiple sclerosis (MS) one year ago. At the time I barely knew what MS was. I was released from the hospital in early October 2011 with a diagnosis of probable MS, which was quickly confirmed. This was terrifying news for a 26 year-old recently engaged guy, whose only other hospital stay was for having tonsils removed. During the first few weeks, I read all I could about MS and talked to any expert that would listen. During this time the range of emotions, I felt went from being encouraged and positive to lowest I ever felt.
In November  a co-worker helped to change my life when she signed me up for a half marathon in January . I had never run a marathon before and frankly the thought of doing one never crossed my mind before that moment. With the help of her constant encouragement and the positive support of my friends and family, I trained and completed my first half marathon, post diagnosis. I didn’t break any land speed records, but on that day I won. I successfully went from not being able to walk across a room unassisted to running 13.1 miles in the span of 2 months which made me wonder what else I could do.
During training, I began to realize that exercise no matter how light was helping me with my MS, specifically spasticity and MS fatigue. When my arms would shake or when my legs began to feel like they were rooted into the ground I stopped and rested. When I was feeling good I pushed myself. The more I trained the less symptoms I had. Even knowing this I did nothing for a month after the race and I had my next exacerbation. This one I say, my left leg and arm recovered about 95%. I walk a little funny sometimes now and the grip of my left hand is noticeably weaker. I felt fortunate that my exacerbation didn’t do more damage. I took this as a sign that I needed to be better. I had kicked around the idea of making a group promoting an active lifestyle for MS patients after the marathon and this pretty much sealed the deal.
Please note: Before beginning an exercise program patients should always consult with a healthcare provider, preferably one who has knowledge of multiple sclerosis.
With help from family and friends, particularly my beautiful wife who has been my rock and dedicated partner through all this, Active With MS is now a reality. It’s my goal now to promote an active lifestyle for all MS patients and to help the MS community as much as I can. I want to inspire and motivate MS patients to stay active and never give up. I love MSAA because I find them to be amazing advocates for us. MSAA provides many services, but I like to highlight two in particular. First, MSAA’s cooling equipment program. This program provides equipment which can be critical to a MS patient trying to lead an active lifestyle. The second one is the MRI Institute which helps to pay for expensive MRIs.
I look forward to building this group up in the years to come and raising money for MSAA through active events like runs and swims – maybe we can even throw in a bowling night.
Thank you MSAA for letting me guest blog. As I say at the end of all my posts on activewithms.com: Stay active, stay positive, go forth and beat MS.