Six Years

Today marks six years since a rather confusing appointment with a neurologist. The provisional results all pointed to Multiple Sclerosis. I was given a card telling me it was not advisable to drive a car due to possible issues with insurance, although most people who know me had been saying that for years anyway. A spinal tap needed to happen as soon as possible for confirmation. Panic! Cancel our long-planned holiday to New England?

Luckily we didn’t, flew to Boston one week later. In the intervening week, I rode my relatively new Bianchi racing bike a hell of a lot, though. The seeds of obsession were being sown.

Still, for some reason, I marked the 23rd August in my diary. Actually a bit of a cr*p anniversary, getting initial diagnosis for a condition like MS. It was not even confirmed. Not sure why I did mark it in my diary but there it is. It’s not the sort of thing people send cards about, after all. Unless they’re slightly weird……

But mark it I did. So why not do something? Make the day a little more…. positive. Something exciting! Something I enjoy!

Ride the bike!

For a shocking change…..

The Plan

Effectively, there was no plan.

My first thought was to mark the anniversary with another ultra long ride as per last year. I even took the day off but then decided to cancel. It’s not long until two weeks away in Northern Italy and there was a lot to finish off at work before then.

A lot to finish at work….. Six years ago I thought that I would be barely functioning now….. Boost!

Still, I wrap up early on Fridays and the days are still long enough for a good ride. I had no real plan, just head for Breukelen, turn west until one of the canals that feeds the Amstel is reached and follow that. Like Lykke Li, I Follow Rivers.…. or canals.

The Ride

A detailed review of the ride would be dull. Maybe for those who really know cycling I could write about cadence and power but…. I don’t know anything about that either so what would the point of that be? I did push harder than usual for a long distance ride, getting ready for the holiday in Trentino which handily has a couple of mountains nearby. Not that interesting, though, is it.

But during such a ride on such a day it’s normal to reflect. About that day six years ago. The confusion, sudden decisions, the feeling that the rug has been pulled out from under you and you have hit your head whilst falling. The world is spinning and and its difficult put it all in perspective. Calling the family and telling them the news. All a little funereal…..

If only we had known then what we know now. All of this is going through my head during a 120 kilometre ride! A scenic ride….

Don’t think my life is over after all.

But what everything does all stop? What if weakness in the right leg becomes worse? What if….?

The mind starts to run away and, of course, the issues are still there. I may be fantastic on a bike over however many kilometres but a busy train and I am buggered. Walking can be a problem. Standing still can be a problem. Remembering things can be a problem. Concentration can be a problem. Talking can be a problem. Getting tired easily can be a problem.

Problems, problems, problems….

They are always going to be there so it’s easier to just accept them, put them in a box and shove them out of the way. Some of the things that are problems now were not problems a year ago. I could spend the anniversary looking at the wall, reflecting on all of this.

But it’s nicer to ride a bike in the sun.

For whatever reason, this date is in my diary. I am now home for a couple of hours and just indulged myself on a pizza. Put some of the calories back. A Kebab Pizza at that! Every Italian friend I ever had is now no longer my friend! I like to consider my self a lover of fine food but that’s screwed now…..

The problems have been mentioned. They are there and they are staying and will get worse. The MS I have been diagnosed is progressive, I will do my best to keep that progression as slow as possible. A long day on the bike like today and I think it’s working. Other days it will not be so good.

In any case, the anniversary was only for the provisional diagnosis. I didn’t record the date of the final diagnosis, The diary was running out of space by then.

Disclaimer: Whilst solemnly reflecting I WAS keeping a close eye on the road! Details of the ride are here.

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