Houston. We have a problem.


Swigert: ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem here.’

Houston: ‘This is Houston. Say again please.’

Lovell: ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a main B bus undervolt.’

Or “ataxia”


One’s life, apparently, is a collection of key boulders, surrounded by pebbles and then sand.

I also hear that you should have “many strings to your bow”  – but not put “all your eggs in one basket”…

But be it boulders, bows or baskets, one’s landscape will always need adjusting as external forces exert, flex and, sometimes, smash.


Being a contractor, and self-employed, the act of drama that is a job interview has become a formal dance that I’ve become well-practiced in (but not necessarily any good at…). I quite like an interviewer that adds a new twist to the script. Recently, I was asked to express what I felt were the “key pillars of my life” (I guess to better assess my potential “fit” into some new corporate hierarchy). My life is not complicated, I replied, I exist with 3 pillars: family, work and cycling. Those are my 3 boulders which are cemented together by friends, colleagues and fellow cyclists. Just keep me well-fed and well-slept and the simplicity of my existence is complete.

But my recent MS diagnosis has provided sharp relief as to how few strings these are…. more so, if one of them were to be lost. Or how few “baskets” I seem to be carrying around.

Until a couple of weeks ago MS was merely putting pressure on all three. But I think we now have the unwanted appearance of a discernible crack.

The strange feelings of ataxia I seem to be experiencing in my left foot are not going away. Whilst being far from dramatic, they seem to be causing issues on the bike as the symmetry of my pedalling has been altered… not significantly, or immediately visibly, but (my diagnosis) is that over mile and hour of cycling the imbalance is putting too many lopsided stresses on my left side. Any rides of over 20-30 minutes have started giving me bad knee, hip and achilles pains – too bad to continue. The coincidence of these new pains, and the new symptom in my left foot/ankle maybe just that…. a coincidence. But I find it hard to believe that the two are unrelated – and I’ve probably unwittingly accentuated them by a combination of too many miles, and too much ambition.

Rest was my first riposte. But this is yet to make any difference.

So I now research foot-bed in-soles – and adjustments to pedals, shoe cleats and crank lengths.

The lopsidedness that is of by far the greatest concern is the one that would occur were one of my 3 pillars start to crumble.


Footnote (no pun intended):

Foot-drop” appears to be a publicised MS symptom – described as being when a lack of ankle strength leads to the foot drooping, toe first, towards the floor. At first sight this would seem to fit my symptoms; indeed, before researching this issue, I had literally described my symptoms to  my wife as “a weird inability to raise my left foot” – as it involuntarily kept pointing at the floor. But, perhaps perversely, I do not think that is actually what I’ve currently got. The issue feels more like a clumsy confusion – just like I get in my hands and toes – which feels as though they’re moving through water, or freezing with cold, fuzzy to my commands.






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