Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Different Sort of Challenge


The day after I met with the doctor was my annual Birthday Ride.  This year the post ride festivities took the form of a tailgate party.  There were four different levels and 50+ folks showed up to ride in the cold November gray.  Victor and I led the A ride on our tandem.  I felt like I wanted to prove something.  In spite of what I said, it wasn’t about proving we could do the 50 miles faster than the B+ group.  It was about proving to myself that I am still on top of my game.  I needed to feel my strength and believe that it is not going away, no matter what the doctor predicts.

For the past few months, I have been going through tests to determine the cause of a nagging pain in my neck and back.  I went to the doctor over a year ago and he suggested it was an overuse injury due to my excessive riding.  He recommended physical therapy and massage.  That worked somewhat, but the pain didn’t go away. Last spring I had a strange bout of dizziness that lasted on and off for a couple of weeks.  But, it went away, so I let it slide.  Then, this summer the pain became worse and I experienced numbness in my arm.  So, I went to the doctor who ordered an MRI.   Many MRI’s and several blood tests later, the doctor confirmed what she had suspected after finding the lesion on my spinal cord on the first MRI- Multiple Sclerosis.

Months ago, when she first told me of the possibility, my concern was about not being able to ride my bike.  Then, it slowly dawned on me that working could also become a problem.  I am constantly on my feet all day long.  What would happen if I couldn't work?  Then I started thinking, how could this happen to me?  I raise money for MS.  I can’t have it!  Images of slow deterioration haunted my sleep.  My own body has attacked itself, the reasons for which nobody can say.  It’s like some dirty trick.  After all this work to make my body strong, it has turned on itself.   Do I get to choose what happens now? 

I say yes.  After hearing about the medication options, the one that seems to make the most sense is Copaxone.  It has the least side effects, but the catch is that it has to be injected daily.  Ok, I can deal with that.  Studies indicate there is a good chance that early medication can significantly increase remission and delay the onset of further episodes.  The fact that I have remained healthy for this long is also a good sign.  I don’t plan on giving up any of my ambitions.  Victor and I are going to enter the Sebring 24hr race this February and not only win, but also set a new course record on the tandem.

Yesterday, as we led the group- well, by then there was just Marcus hanging on- down the last stretch, my legs were burning and I was breathing like a warthog, head down, praying for the parking lot to appear because I didn’t want to give up before the end.  I hung on, and as we made the turn to the finish, I sat up and breathed a loud sigh of relief.  We rode 50 miles with 2500 ft climbing in 2 ½ hours.  This body still works just fine; nothing lost.  As the others started riding in, we put out the coffee, cupcakes and beer, turned on the music and celebrated this life we are so lucky to enjoy.

7 comments:

Thomas said...

Kate,

As you rise to meet this challenge, you've got a lot of people in your corner, including Jenn and me.

Best wishes for a great holiday season, and a successful race at Sebring!

Tom

Deborah said...

My dear Kate, your attitude alone could lick this thing! I does truly suck when you do everything right and still things go wrong. Some things we just can't control. What we can control is how we handle what life throws us. You are truly blessed to have the wonderful family and friends here to support you and love you. I am very proud to be one of those.

Debbie

kttrue said...

Thanks guys. Lauren said it right- the hardest challenges are the ones you don't choose. But somehow it helps to think of it as just another challenge and try my best. Having such amazing friends and family makes all the difference.

Susan at Aspiring Arts said...

This may turn out to be a red herring, but my friend was diagnosed with MS and was being treated for it. Some time later, when a real expert viewed the MRIs, he said the lesions were in the wrong place, and he was re-diagnosed as actually having neurological Lyme disease - hell in a handbasket to treat, can take many years, but still more promising than MS. Just a suggestion to check into, given the major prevalence of Lyme in this area, especially for us outdoorsy types.

kttrue said...

Susan, I did see an MS expert and was tested for Lyme, among other things. The truth is, there is so much doctors don't understand about many diseases. Yet, there is a huge amount of info out there if you take the time to research and read. I trust my doctor, but took some time to learn about it on my own.

david mckay wilson said...

kate,
Quite a shock to read of yours news. You have the right attitude - give it all you have, trust in your medical team, and keep moving forward. You are a courageous gal with a strong spirit...

dave

Susan at Aspiring Arts said...

Katie, you have my support as you go forward. A friend of mine works for Genzyme, and she told me recently that they were about to release a very promising treatment for MS. Just so you know.

Hope to see you soon.