For me, winter has always been a season to endure: the dark; the wet; and the cold.
Summer is the light at the end of the tunnel.
The seasons change, the clocks move on – and, by the time that June arrives, the sun is shining, the skies are blue and my mood is lifted.
Over the last 4-5 years (what I know now to have been MS relapses) have moved in time with this, almost like clockwork. My worst bouts have always coincided with those dark months – typically peaking in March and October.
This year these bouts can now be seen to have represented a tangible ailment – MS – and it was with this in mind that I had my 2nd appointment with a neurological consultant last week. The last time I saw him a month or so ago I could barely walk into his room. I was depressed, ill with MS and rundown after weeks and weeks of suffering interrupted nights’ sleep. This time, I cycled to the appointment in good health. Given this, it felt odd signing myself up to a course of “Lemtrada” treatment for later this year. This is a mild chemotherapy designed to modify my misfiring immune system. It will involve a week in hospital; probably plus several weeks of illness afterwards (and the very real risk of some serious side-effects). But in making the decision to go-ahead I only had to think back a couple of weeks to the day I lost the ability to walk. I might be feeling good now, but there’s something going on in my body that I need to take action to stop.
Today, I have residual pins and needles in my toes and fingers; and some slight numbness and hypersensitivity in my legs – but I feel good to go.
And I have entered a couple of bike races.
On the 14th June, I rode in my club’s annual 50 mile Time Trial. My headline should read “Great News” as I had absolutely no issues with my vision – which have plagued me this year – and this should be the only news that matters…. but somehow I find myself a bit disappointed by how slow I rode (I’m not sure how I’ve so lost sight of what actually matters?!)
Steady miles ridden this year had proved no substitute for actual training – and I clocked 2hr 18min on the fairly lumpy course. I think I was probably the only rider on a standard road bike, but I came rock-bottom last in my category – miles behind the guys with their aero time trial bikes and posh pointy helmets. But I had ridden the 50, and my limiting factors were typical for a cyclist, rather than an MS sufferer: cramps, a sore back, and tiredness; rather than vision-loss, the loss of feeling in my legs, or an inability to move my fingers.
Three days later, I rode in my club’s 25 mile event. The conditions felt fast despite a strong crosswind. I got my head down, rode flat out and took over 2 minutes off my PB.
Summer is when things are at their best.