It has been a year of breakthroughs for me, individually, as I enter the short time in which I ask friends and family to donate to the MS Walk so that research can continue toward ending this disease. Before I tell about the exciting breakthroughs, here is the link to donate any amount to sponsor me in this year’s MS Walk in May: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Walk/COCWalkEvents?px=1946588&pg=personal&fr_id=29425Every little bit helps!!!
This past year has been very exciting. I have been on Ampyra for 8 years. It is a medicine which is only supposed to improve walking speed by 25%. But in 8 years on Ampyra, I haven’t had an MS attack (when things get worse all of a sudden). And in those 8 years I have improved so much in so many things - not just walking.
This past fall was a surprise. Pretty suddenly, I began to be able to stand up straight without a huge arch in my back - standing and feeling relaxed. I began to be able to stand for more than 30 seconds without getting tired. Now I can stand without getting tired for I don’t know how long - at least a half hour. And then I let go of my walker's support when standing. I can hold that for quite a while. Near Christmas, I got another gift. From sitting on the floor, I stood up without holding onto anything. It has been probably 16 years since I have been able to do that. In recent months I timed myself walking around the high school's track and walked a lap in 9 minutes and 30 seconds. For perspective, I didn’t used to be able to walk 30 feet.
And so I have been leaving my wheelchair in my car and walking most of the time. I leave my wheelchair in the car when I go to work. I still go to physical therapy twice a week and am walking 2.9mph for 16 minutes on the treadmill there - I never thought I would go faster than 2.0mph. When we went to the beach in March, I navigated through the sand with my walker (not easy!) and got to experience the waves hitting my legs while I stood on the beach, digging in my toes.
A few weeks ago I went to see my rehab doc for my usual checkup. He checks a bunch of things, including my leg and arm strength, which he ranks from 0 to 5 where 5 is “normal” strength. My arms always get 5s. My legs used to get 1s and 2s. Six months ago my leg strength got 2s and one 3. This time I got all 4s for leg strength. That is due to the breakthrough this past fall.
And, for the first time ever, this past ski season I stood up to ski instead of sitting. It is amazing how much more I can see around me when standing to ski than when sitting, because I am so much taller. I can see more mountains in the distance and I can see the expanse of the town below me. I was so happy when this happened and kept exclaiming to my instructor how much I could see and how amazing it was.
One last thing. My daughter is 15. She got her learner’s permit. Driving with her tests me as I can’t control the brake. But because I can now move my feet and toes, my imaginary “Mom brake” on the passenger side works well. Unfortunately it is still imaginary so it can’t stop the actual car. 😀
It has been an amazing year. What would be more amazing is if there were a cure for MS. What would be amazing is if you, the people who are reading this, could find a way to donate, as so many of you have done for years - to sponsor me in the MS Walk, no matter if it is $1 or some huge amount of money - so that someday we can say there is no more MS - so we don’t have to look for someone to improve - but so that we can say people do not have to even be diagnosed with this disease. That is my great hope.
Thank you for all you have done in the past in terms of sponsoring me. Words cannot express how grateful I am.