I have a new hero.
Living in the MS community, I encounter a lot of heroic people. They deal with the volatility of their shared condition with courage and grace beyond what most of us can muster up.
It’s possible you’ve already heard about her; she’s been in the news for several months, and for good reason. Diagnosed with MS at the tender age of 14, she refused to give in to it. Instead she’s fighting it on her feet, running for her life.
After becoming one of the country’s premier high school runners, she’s doing the same in her college career, all after being given the dread diagnosis. MS obviously hasn’t sapped her strength. Rather, it causes her legs to go completely numb when her body heats up after a short time running. Most of the race she can’t feel her legs. At all.
Think about it. She can’t feel the legs that are propelling her to racing victories. Imagine walking on legs you can’t feel, as if they weren’t there, but rather were prosthetic limbs. But it’s worse. Even a runner on prosthetic limbs has control over them. In Kayla’s case, only her inertia keeps her going. If anything interrupts the rhythm of her pace, say, getting her feet clipped by another runner or simply finishing the race, she collapses in a heap. At the finish line, she’s unable to stop and stay upright. Her coaches have to catch her.
Kayla’s not taking MS lying down. Thirty years ago, doctors would have told her she had to not only stop running, but not exert herself at all. In that era, she might have spent much of her time at rest. Today she runs like the wind.
I would in no way dare to compare myself to this singularly courageous girl, but hers is the attitude that keeps me on my bike. It’s my therapy. I have no desire or plan to stop.
Who knows how Kayla’s disease might have progressed had she stopped pushing herself? Would she have lost what she didn’t use? Maybe, but no one knows. It’s the nature of MS. With that amount of uncertainty, why not try it and see where it leads, as one might a clinical trial?
It’s safe to assume Kayla will keep running until she can run no more. God willing, that won’t be for many, many years. Similarly, my bike will roll under me as long as I can keep it upright.
If she doesn’t inspire you, check your pulse.