I completed a two-day, 150-mile fundraising bike ride for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society this past weekend. The North Dakota ride was called "Ride The Wind." It would be more appropriately named "Ride INTO The Wind" because I swear, every time we turned and went a different direction, the wind changed to meet us head on. Other than that, it really wasn't a bad ride at all--I didn't even need that muscle rub cream I picked up as a just-in-case (though I wish I'd kept taking that joint health supplement).
The event was well-supported by some wonderful volunteers and I met some amazing people. I rode a good chunk of the Sunday portion with a woman who has been fighting the disease for nine years. She is a dedicated runner, cyclist, and tri-athlete. The fact that the most common symptoms of MS are extreme fatigue, pain, problems with walking, balance, and coordination, and vision and breathing difficulties makes her accomplishments even more amazing.
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, degenerative disease in which the body's immune system attacks the protective sheath of the nerves, resulting in irreversible nerve damage. While the symptoms and their severity will vary among individuals, common markers are numbness and tingling, blurred or even lost vision, pain, tremors and dizziness, bladder and bowel dysfunction, impaired cognitive function, depression and other emotional changes.
According to the Mayo Clinic, while "multiple sclerosis can occur at any age, it most often begins in people between the ages of 20 and 40. Women are more likely to develop multiple sclerosis than are men." Read common questions and answers about MS here.
Patients lose their ability to walk, to talk, to see ... to control they way they interact with the world around them. There is no definitive medical test to diagnose MS, nor is there a cure. However, research continues to make strides in understanding the disease and possible treatments that are extending and improving the lives of patients every day. Events such as Bike MS and Walk MS are part of making that possible.