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It is quiet.  The air is still. I hear a soft pounding in my chest and my feet on the asphalt.  My heart reminds me of the task at hand: kee...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Orange Week 2014

I am several weeks into my marathon training and things are going well.  I feel like I am on target for the goal of 4:30.  I have been experimenting with new coconut waters and other means of hydration.  I have also been looking into the newest tech fabrics again, for cooling in the spring during warm runs.  We'll see.  But so far, so good.

I did run in Florida last week when we were there for my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary.  It was a perfect time for a family vacation and the event was beautiful.  It was not the best conditions for running.  The humidity was out of control.  This was also during the same time that Tampa hosts a huge running event called The Gasparilla Classic.  I am not sure how they do it, but I am going to guess there aren't many participants with MS.

That brings me to the subject of this blog.  March is MS Month and this year Orange Week is early.  What is Orange Week, you ask?  Well, Orange Week is when people with MS and our family members and friends wear orange or share oranges or orange food, pictures, memes and we do it with the m.o. of raising awareness about MS, the facts about the disease and the recovery of the disease.  This Orange Week, I learned something.  I learned that without disease-modifying therapy, about one-third of those diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS will be using a wheelchair at 20 years after diagnosis.  I don't know if I believe that, or at least I am optimistic to remain within the other two-thirds (wink-wink).  Still, it is great to share stats and experience.  This is a time for us to do that.  Some of us do it all year long if asked ot not, and that's cool too.

Here's a few things I am doing for Orange Week.  I am wearing Orange every day in some small way, or maybe some large way.  I am running every day, except not on Monday because I ran 11 miles on Sunday and I'm following a training program.  I did partake in other physical activity, because I can and because it is a joy.  I will have logged 26 miles by tomorrow, with 2 more Orange Week days to go!

I am focusing and breathing, too.  Yes, on purpose.  

I am also trying to release anger as a physiological response and to move on.  I read recently that often we have a reaction of anger only to then feed it with our thoughts afterward like fanning flames on a fire.  It is better to acknowledge the anger and then move on.  This takes practice, though, and so I have been looking for opportunities to practice this. I find that something has caused me anger; a person cuts me off in traffic.  Instead of yelling out (they cant hear me anyway) I notice my emotional response and try not to judge it.  I simply acknowledge it.  "Wow, that made me angry!"  Then I try to let it go. I don't think, "What was that guy's problem? Didn't he see me? Why is his schedule/safety/etc. more important than mine?"  Instead, I think, "I can move in from this.  I don't have to judge this."  And I am finding that I don't either.

For those of us afflicted with MS, it is vital that we keep a healthy emotional balance as well as a healthy physical balance in all that we do.  I will be the first to admit that this is the biggest the challenge for me, but that does not give me the excuse to not try.  Practice in this way can help me to not internalize my negative feelings.  It can help me to reduce my stress.  And I find that I am much more relaxed and content.

So, this year if anyone wants to know what is the most significantly different aspect of my disease management now into my 9th year of diagnosis, I will tell them that I am most focused on my emotional well-being.  It is as important -- or probably more so, than my physical well-being.  Actually, the two are mutually dependent upon one another.  

Happy Orange Week!

 Photo from the Oregon Chapter of the MS Society


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