Sometimes when dealing with people who don’t know me well, I can sense questions that they are too polite to ask. The questions remain in the background; but I don’t like the unacknowledged elephant in the room. One of the questions that no one ever asks but many people want to is: What physical thing do you miss the most since MS tried to take over? Would it be driving, running, walking, using your hands, etc.?
It’s definitely walking. I used distance walking as a way to deal with my teenage angst. I hated my first two summer jobs… I worked at Gino’s Fried Chicken and later at my uncle’s seafood restaurant. Gino’s was bad enough, and I was happy when I started at my uncle’s as bus help for a change, but then I was promoted to waitress because I did so well. What they didn’t understand was that I did so well because I didn’t have to think about it. I could zone out but I couldn’t do that as a waitress and I hated it. So when I started at Gino’s, although I rode my bike 3 miles to work, between shifts I walked for miles along the beach. I continued this activity while I worked at my uncle’s. I would walk 3 miles before my shift, run around in the restaurant for five hours and then walk another three or 4 miles when I got home. I walked fast enough to get the endorphins going and also was able to work on my mental health. I think walking kept me from going crazy with those jobs. I can still feel the cold wet sand under my feet and the numbingly cold water splashing up my calves when I think back.
Then after I graduated from college and got a real job, I was disappointed to find that real work at the beginning levels wasn’t much better than those summer jobs I left behind. Then I rescued my friend Kelly from an unhappy situation in Rhode Island. She soon moved on but left me with her dog, Mattie, and I had a reason that made me have to walk. Mattie and I walked for miles all over Delaware and once again I was able to get my brain passed my mundane customer service type jobs. I out – walked two dogs and I kept walking distances as long as I physically could even though I no longer had unsatisfying employment. It became a way for me to deal with the gradual encroachment of the MS into my life.
I actually kept going longer than I should have, in the end I was using a walker and dragging my lower body along. I was going on sheer upper body strenght and stubborness. It definitely was not mentally cleansing and I’m still looking for something to replace walking and where it took my mind. Writing seems to help. It doesn’t trigger the reset button in my brain like walking did, but it does provide a needed outlet when my frustrations reach the boiling point. I’m a work in progress…