Buddhist meditation teacher Tara Brach calls what I am experiencing "the trance of fear." For the past few weeks since the results of the MRI, I have been living in my fear, overwhelmed by my emotions and distant from reality. It has changed the way I sleep, eat, run and even interact with those around me. I feel shut down, like I have been going around the house of my life flipping various switches to 'off' and putting emotions away. I've left out fear; now I'm not sure what to do with it.
Truth be told, I am actually just being dramatic. Seriously. Part of the reason I react the way that I do is because I just don't know how I am supposed to react. I forget that there is no norm for feelings about chronic illness or how we are supposed to deal with it. We just are (supposed to deal with it, that is).
So, here it is. I went in for the 6 month MRI after the doctor took me off of the injections. I felt great. I was training to run a half marathon. Life was good. The scan was clean. No new lesions; no new activity. In the world of MS, no news really IS good news. So, I got another 12 month vacation off of the injections. The doctor joked with me about the half marathon saying I should've went for the whole thing...so I did. I ran Portland in October--the whole thing-- having been off of the injections for just over 1 year. I felt great. I ran strong. All was well. Then I thought, if I did that, what else can I do? Some of you remember, if you have been reading along. So I signed up to run my hometown marathon here in Eugene. Then ...
Then I had a bad winter. I felt sluggish, fatigued. My right leg started getting this warm feeling traveling up and down it. The tingling in my left leg had returned, and for longer periods now. My running slowed. I blamed the bad weather, my busy schedule, my diet, stress--it couldn't be MS related.
So, then I got my 12 month scan.
One new lesion.
Not several. Not debilitating exacerbations. Nothing dramatic. Except for one very dramatic thing: me. I am dramatic. I am the flare to the powder keg here. (See what I mean? What powder keg?)
I have to tell you, recognizing that I am dramatic has been very helpful. Helpful in many areas of my life.
You have to understand that after 6 years of new new activity with my MS, one new lesion is enough to tip me over. Again, there is no norm on how I should react. No manual on emotions for chronic illness sufferers. Feelings for Dummies, With A Special Section On Dealing With Disease. Ooo, a book like that would do great on the B&N bargain table, though.
So what do I do now?
This Sunday, we will run 17 miles. I plan to pace just less than 11 minute miles, going as slow as I can. If I get it done in less than 3 hours, I will be amazed. This is no time for me to showboat--even to myself. Oh, I'm still running the marathon this spring in Eugene. You'd better believe I am. I plan to run until I no longer can. Even if I no longer can run, maybe I'll walk...take in more of the scenery as I do.
On the not so dramatic news front, the doctor and I decided that I would remain off of the injections for another 6 months and do another MRI at that time. Hmmm... That's enough time to train for the Victoria marathon, right?
Oh, look! Here's a sandcastle my girls built: