Ah, finally – holiday time! Sun, sea, sand – oh, and numb and tingling hands and feet, dizziness, tremors, blurred vision, crippling fatigue. And this is just Ireland. Glad we’ve booked our honeymoon to Alaska now.
This is actually my first time sitting on the beach in sunshine since my diagnosis – I’d suspected that heat affects my MS. I have what I call the soup spoon test: generally, as soon as I overheat, and often when I’m extremely tired, I lose the ability to consume soup. Every time I grasp the spoon, my hand starts shaking uncontrollably – the closer it gets to my mouth, the worse the shaking gets. Strangely, the summer before my bad relapse, this, along with speaking perfect parceltongue like a die-hard Harry Potter fan, was one of my first ever symptoms. It was something I’d actually brought up with my GP – I was worried at the time that it was a problem with my blood sugar.
Since coming on holiday, I’ve wanted to go running more than I have in so long – I sit there staring longingly at people sprinting up and down the strand. I thought I was superwoman when we first arrived – we took loads of long walks on the beach, I was even playing tennis – but then my back problems kicked in and once again I’ve had to reevaluate our plans. I feel like I’m playing a giant juggling game – if I’m not slurring my sentences and crawling to bed then I’m reaching for the painkillers and trying to tell myself the pain will pass.
But at the start of this holiday I made myself a promise I’m going to keep – that no matter what my health throws at me this week, I will not allow it to drag me down. And, rain or shine, we’re going to that beach every single day, even if it’s for 10 minutes.
I always think back to holidays with my younger brother Rory – there’s almost 12 years between us but for so many years his child-like enthusiasm for life has kept me going more often than I care to imagine and has brought me more joy than I can begin to explain.
I live by his motto of YOLO (you only live once). Summers spent sticking our fingers up to the Irish weather and running for the sea in the lashing rain. He shouted that at me a month after my diagnosis last year as I was sat wrapped up on the beach and refusing to budge. But I knew he was right and I trusted him. There’s something about being by the sea and a swim in the ocean that never fails to boost my mood. And it’s those completely spontaneous, mad moments that can bring you such a ridiculous amount of happiness. So, rain or shine, MS or not, in the words of Rory: YOLO.
It might not be running in the way I’m used to and the way I love, but it’s grabbing life in whatever way you can and running with that.