The Right Time

Nancy's bicycling group set off from Geneva State Park Tuesday evening. The cyclists rode for 20 miles or so. I went along to ride the bicycle path that wends its way through the park, going from the Lodge to the campground. In my wheelchair, I can cover four miles in roughly the same time it takes the bikers to traverse their 20-mile route.

The bike path is a most pleasant place to spend an hour or two. It provides some wonderful views of the lake, some quiet time in the woods and a short jaunt by the marina. As I sped along at nearly three miles an hour, I came upon another man in wheelchair.

"What's your disability?" he asked.

"MS," I said.

"Mine too."

He looked to be about my age. He said he had three adult children: one a doctor, one working with the Geneva schools and the other doing something I don't remember. Then we talked about MS and when we were diagnosed. He had been diagnosed 36 years ago.

That was another reminder of how fortunate I have been. For no other reason than because I can remember having some unusual back pains while we were living on Walnut Blvd., I date the onset of my MS from late 1983 or early 1984. At the time, I assumed the problem was caused by sleeping on a too-soft mattress. The pains disappeared after a month or two and never returned. Sometime after we moved to Myrtle Ave. in June 1984, I began having occasional respiratory problems. What ever the problem was, it came and went. I did seek medical advice and was given a prescription for an inhaler. That worked well, but so did Primatene Mist, so I eventually quit going to the doctor. And every once in a while my legs would feel funny; tired and tingly. But I found it would often go away if I concentrated on walking, putting one foot in front of the other and not worrying about the tingling. If that didn't work, sitting down for a few minutes always did.

It wasn't until March 2003 that MS began to intrude on my life. For several months, I was tired, more tired than I had ever been. I worried that I was either getting old or lazy. That summer, Star Beacon sports editor Don McCormack allowed me to cut back a little, and that helped a great deal. But the difficulties with my legs got worse and became more frequent. By the fall of 2005, I was limping all the time, and people kept telling me to see a doctor, which I did. In October 2006 the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic decided that my problems were caused by MS.

The point of all this is: While MS might have been lurking inside me for 20 years, it didn't become a problem worthy of note until after Russ and Beth had grown up. I got to play ball with them and rake leaves in the fall and have Beth jump into the pile and rough house with them and chase Russ around Lake Shore Park and enjoy every minute of their childhoods. There isn't a good time to have MS, but some times are better than others, and MS caught up with me at one of those better times.


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