Taking a Chance on Me

15 02 2010

In honor of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation is sponsoring a Ready Set Shine campaign, encouraging everyone to venture outside our comfort zones.  For some people that might just mean venturing out of the house.  For some, it may mean fulfilling a lifelong desire such as sky diving.

It’s got me thinking about times in my life when I took on challenges that made me nervous….

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My husband has always wanted to take the family on a European tour.  He wanted to share London and Paris with the boys, and he himself had never seen Italy.  Timing was tricky; the boys needed to be old enough to appreciate the sights but not so old that their summers had become scheduling nightmares with their own stuff.

My multiple sclerosis diagnosis brought its own complications, as we worried we might be facing a countdown to immobility.

We took the plunge and booked the trip, most of which was part of a tour.  We scheduled extra time at the beginning in Rome and at the end in London when we were on our own.  I’m generally nervous about slowing my family down when the MS fatigue sets in.  Having to ask for a 15 minute breather or encouraging them to proceed while I sit something out is bad enough.  But to be on a tour group seemed even more challenging.

We went and I survived.  In some ways it was worse than I imagined.  I didn’t sleep terribly well at night due to the unfamiliar beds, unusual sounds and strange surroundings.  And the heat in Italy was worse than I anticipated, which contributes to my lethargy.

But the truth of the matter is, when I think about that trip, the first thing I remember is not how exhausted I was.  Rather I recall the marvelous adventure we had and the wonderful sights we saw together.

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Then there was the time I decided to volunteer on a Habitat for Humanity build site.  I didn’t know any fellow builders, and I’d never done any construction work.  But I was curious about home building so showed up for the adventure.  The “regulars” were eager to get me involved so set me to work.

Before lunch I had ruined a perfectly good, very long piece of wood by cutting it too short.  Before the day was over it was clear that I could hammer in one nail to every four or five the girl next to me was doing.  And the next day when my body ached so badly I could barely get out of bed.

In the end, I didn’t go back.  I decided I could learn about home construction in other ways.  But I did sign up for exercise class to whip this old body into slightly better shape.

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The MSF is probably right.  Now would be a good time to stretch myself in some new way….Hmm….

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