By Scott Cremeans
Now that we have rung in this New Year and flipped double digits to enter into this new decade, we need more. We should desire something to make us stand out from the crowd as it is too easy to vanish into obscurity if we do not evolve. This affliction called multiple sclerosis should not define our lives but be a mere side note to the long list of who we indeed are. Every year we should grab the tree of life and with all of the strength that we can muster and shake it. So if you have a lot of power then rock and rattle it until branches crack or if you have less vitality vigorously shake the leaves and say I am here. We must not simply survive with this medical condition but we must thrive like a cactus in the hot desert sun.
The key to finding the new thing that will change your outlook on life is to consider your limits. You should stretch just a little bit outside of your comfort zone to prove to yourself that you can do more. Find your neighborhood community center and look into taking some classes involving art or cooking. If it is age-appropriate, find a senior center, check out the schedule, and make new and possibly lifelong friends. There are plenty of events for the low and even mid-speed MSers if you are willing to pinpoint and participate.
For those of us looking for high octane options, there are a plethora of them from which to choose. Adaptive sports have become a massive industry as no one likes to be excluded because of their life’s limitations. We have come so far in technology that what was once impossible is now conceivable. Great minds have gotten together and figured out how to make things work correctly, specifically for the disabled. We have all heard the line there is an app for that well now it seems that we can say there is an adaptation for that.
Adaptive sports include things such as surfing, kayaking, skiing, skydiving, and the list goes on and on. No matter your talent level and abilities, you can ride a bike with a handcycle, or if you have the required skills, you can whitewater kayak. If you are willing, it is not out of the question to snow ski in Colorado with the best of the best. For these sports, you are limited only by your willingness to act and what the imagination can create.
I am researching my 2020 life challenge to go along with my swimming, and I feel it will be SCUBA diving. I found several companies all over the US that teach the disabled how to SCUBA dive for free. Some of these programs are specifically for veterans and first responders, while others are open to anyone disabled. It is just outside of my comfort zone as it is not in my city, yet I believe it is reasonable, feasible, and, most importantly, achievable.
I have always said do not tell me that I cannot do something because, with time and effort, I will find a way to make it happen. I was challenged to do a 5k in my wheelchair, and even though others doubted that I would complete it, I was successful. Some said that I could not do two and a half miles of swimming, yet I blew that challenge out of the water, and I swam eight grueling miles. There may be obstacles in your path, but you decide to allow them to stop you or not. The question becomes, how badly do you want it, and how much are you willing to sacrifice to accomplish the goal? So get off the couch and pick up your feet, cane, crutches or get behind your walker, even sit in your wheelchair and do something new for the New Year.
Do not let multiple sclerosis stop you; do something despite it.
*Scott Cremeans lives in Central Ohio. He is a US Marine who was diagnosed with RRMS in 2001 at the age of 27. Scott has successfully managed his MS symptoms on his own with his faith, friends, and humor. You can read more about his MS journey by visiting his blog www.myramblings.blog where he muses about life in the slow lane with his literary wit.