From my nadir springs a 600km birthday


Four months post-diagnosis. A Nadir

Nadir: Def: the lowest or deepest point; depths
When things are not going to plan one must always be hoping that a “nadir” has been reached: by definition, if this is the case, things are about to get better (or strictly, I guess, end completely – which is less desirable!)
Of course, a characteristic of life is that ‘personal nadirs’ are only identifiable with hindsight – at the time, there is always the risk that things are just going to get even worse.
During these early stages of my MS I’ve tried to continue to cycle. Continued, in the most part, to work. And to live family life. As a barometer of my refusal to let MS knock me off my course, I’m still aiming to ride the Paris-Brest-Paris bike ride in August this year – the last qualifying event of which was this last weekend – a 600km ride starting from ~Manchester. You would have thought a 36 hour bike ride would be the subject of the “nadir” in this blog’s title: my body would be getting pushed to an extreme; I’d lose a night’s sleep; my muscles would be exhausted; and the issues I’d been experiencing with my vision would be tested. But, no; my lowest point had been a few days earlier: the first time I thought that maybe MS was going to beat me; a moment that made me realise that whatever drug choices lie ahead of me I couldn’t underestimate the impacts of this condition; and that I had to throw whatever I could at it.
It hadn’t been a good day. My MS symptoms – muscle ache, pins and needles, bladder control – had not been good. I discussed my low mood with my wife just before my boys arrived back from school and she suggested that I take refuge in a cinema to avoid the stresses of the evening. But as I sat watching a film the aches in my leg muscles seem to grow in intensity until they  were really pulsing with exhaustion. Sitting down didn’t seem to give relief enough – I needed to lie. I still needed to relax my legs more… I needed to curl into some sort of foetal position, as my legs started yelling with extreme fatigue. The film on the big screen went on – bangs and explosions in the dark – as my MS pushed me into the ground. I was marooned in the movie theatre; I couldn’t seem to walk. I had sudden and immediate need to go to the loo but couldn’t move. I decided then (if not already) that I had to get onto my Lemtrada drug treatment as soon as I could.
This was as I low as I’d been – helped out of the theatre by a teenager in a Cineworld uniform – but this was also as low as it got.
My nadir had passed.
The high
On the Friday night I drove up to Manchester. Bad pins and needles. Feeling tired – and grumpy. I had the beginnings of a sore throat and a nasty head cold. But when I woke up to start the bike event on the Saturday morning the fog seemed to have cleared. As I set off, I didn’t dare even mention it – didn’t want to tempt fate – but barely any pins and needles.
Over the last 4 – 5 years previous bouts of (what I now know to have been) MS relapses similarly cleared – with dramatic suddenness, for no apparent reason, one morning upon waking up.
The same appears to have been the case here. I rode my bike all day with no urgent toilet stops; without numb arms and hands. With no vision issues.
For the first time in 3 months I felt almost no MS symptoms.
I was riding with my friend.
The sun was shining. A tailwind blew. The countryside was a lush green and we rode until we could smell the sea.
We saw the sun set on one day, then rise on the next.
It was my birthday.
I ate a cold tin of baked beans for breakfast.
It was wonderful.

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