More than a year ago, I posted this entry, where I set a goal for myself to hike the Batona Trail from end-to-end. I failed the Krav Maga training I attended last spring, and that failure demolished my self-confidence. I wanted to set – and conquer – a goal that felt good and that I knew I could complete. I had a lot of work to do to get ready, and I really had no idea what was on the horizon for me.
Five months and one week after setting this goal, I married Donna. We had an incredibly fun celebration at Camp Ockanickon, where we were surrounded by friends and family. It was a perfect day.
Three weeks after that, my hands went numb. I thought that I had slept on them, but when the pins-and-needles feeling didn’t go away, I decided maybe it was a pinched nerve, or an injury from karate. After a few days, the feeling had spread – I couldn’t feel the texture of objects I touched, I couldn’t grip properly, and now my feet were giving me trouble, too. Eventually the feeling spread up my legs and into my abdomen. I visited 3 doctors and one emergency room over the next few weeks. I had tests, tests, and more tests: blood work, evoked potential testing, MRIs.
Seven weeks after my first symptom, received a diagnosis: Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. I learned a lot about MS very quickly, but mostly I learned two very important things:
1. My prognosis is excellent. Because I paid attention to my body, and didn’t ignore it when I felt something was wrong, we were able to identify very quickly what was happening. The neurologist I am working with now is confident that we found the illness very early, and he describes me as a “textbook case.” This is good news.
2. I am very lucky. Many, many people experience symptoms far worse than I did – vision loss, cognitive impairment, loss of motor control, partial or total paralysis – the list of symptoms is seemingly endless. My symptoms were not severe – in the grand scheme of things, they are annoying and inconvenient, but that’s about it.
So what now?
Well, the hike is still on. My mobility, balance, and strength are good right now. That might be the case for years or decades; that might be the case only for a few months. There is no way to tell, though at this point, all signs point to good things. But while I have the opportunity, I’m going to take advantage of feeling good.
The trip is scheduled for October 9-12, 2015 – Columbus Day weekend. My friends Andy and Don are going to join me on the trail, and we’ve started inventorying our gear.
I’ll be doing the hike now as a fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society; check out the Batona Trail section of this site for details on how to support me by making a donation to the NMSS.