I’m up early this morning to get a head start on the stifling summer sauna that is July in Michigan.
Staying on track with my August 8K training, I stretch my muscles, double-knot my shoes, and kiss Jennifer goodbye as she reminds me, “Have a good run, and pick up your feet.”
“I will, and I love you,” I reminder her as I step onto the porch and into the streets peppered in shadows created by the still-rising sun.
I’m going for a run. It’ll be about four miles today. I have Multiple Sclerosis, and with every step and stride I play into the hands of so many people who know so little about this disease.
“But you look so good,” they naively call to my attention and in saying so cast their doubt on every physician, neurologist and other medical professional who have diagnosed and confirmed that I indeed have MS.
I look so good? Oh, honey. Looks are so deceiving.
I see my shoes. They best explain my life with MS. On the tops, they look so good. Hardly worn. Look good? Take a closer look at my size 9 Mizuno-brand running shoes.
Pick them up and you’ll see what it means to be the running shoes of one guy with MS.
You’ll see the wear on the soles – especially the left one – as evidence that this man’s MS-weakened legs start dragging toes-first as each run progresses. Witness the wear on the left front toe and potentially you will understand why this man purposefully runs on pavement. He needs a relatively flat surface because, with the left front foot dragging, all it will take is a poorly placed bump or crack to land this man face-first into the ground in front of him.
It has happened before, and with each step and stride this man takes, it easily could happen again. But he continues to run, to spite MS.
As I move forward in living with MS, I pray and that my life with MS always will be like my running shoes. All the problems and challenges are beneath the surface. Stuff nobody else can see. Unless they look closer.
Like my neighbors who came to check on me one time after I completed my run and tripped, staggered and stumbled in the driveway because my MS-affected legs had transformed to rubber once I stopped running.
Or when my family comes out and they see Jennifer rubbing the hands I no longer can feel because the typing and writing I did at work during the day intensely irritated the MS-induced numbness.
Or when my other neighbor, on his way to work at 3 a.m., sees I’m at the dining room table typing on my laptop again to complete a work-related project because I had nothing left at the end of an eight-hour workday and needed five hours of sleep to recharge and get the job done.
Come up to me one the street, on the surface, how would anyone know I have M.S.?
“But you look so good.”
I hope that’s all anyone, including me, ever will see of my M.S.