Since I was young, I have had this problem when I try something new. If I am not immediately good at it, I quit. Meaning I don’t actually do anything to become better at it, which means that I don’t try it again, which means I don’t get better at it…
I tried fencing in high school. I took lessons with a group comprised of mostly adults. I thought the mask was sweet, but I was mortified when the instructor told me that I had to wear leather protective cups in my bra. He said bra in front of the whole class. The horror of knowing that now everyone knew that I had breasts made me shy, which made me concentrate on things other than my epee, which made me not go back to class, which made me not learn fencing…
You get the idea.
I experienced this circle with curling, cooking, running, knitting, bowling, furniture upholstery, and swing dancing.
I was not immediately good at roller skating. In fact, I was (ok, I am still) comically bad at it. But, strangely for me, I haven’t quit. It hasn’t even crossed my mind. I’ve cursed, I’ve cried, but I haven’t quit. This is the longest I have stuck with something I am not immediately good at. Ever.
I can’t really explain it. I don’t quite understand it myself. I want this in ways that I haven’t experienced before. I want to be really good at this. And for the first time, I am willing to set aside my feelings of inadequacy and put in the time and energy to get there. Maybe it’s because I like the skating. Maybe it’s the incredibly supportive and encouraging group of women that I am interacting with. Maybe I just love the idea of being a badass. But when I really analyze it closely, there is one observation that stands out like a big, purple bruise on my pale, see-through skin. (See how badass I am?)
It’s the MS. It is the thing that changed. It made me realize that some things do have an expiration date. I don’t have infinite time. No one does. We all get a day older every 24 hours. We all age a year every time we circle the sun. If I want to do something, I have to do it now.
I had an appointment last Friday with a new doctor. I was going over the list of all the medications and supplements I was taking. I felt like a little old lady having to read the list from my notes because I couldn’t remember them all. Then I told her, “And I have just started skating with the roller derby team. Is that OK to do? Is it in any way riskier for me?”
She got a giant smile on her face and told me that she thought it was great. She confirmed to me what I had already figured out, that I would be fighting fatigue more than some of the others. But in general, she thought it was good for me. It builds my muscles, works my balance, strengthens my core, and gets me really fit. “And it is a pretty cool way to do it,” she said. My doctor gave me her blessing to go hard on the track for as long as I can.
I’m not being fatalistic. I am not picturing myself in a wheelchair or going blind. At least, I am trying not to. I try to believe that the Avonex really is slowing the progression of the disease and that MS will not impact my life in the next couple decades. But even without the MS, I am on the back 40 of my life. If not now, when?
My vicious circle is slowly becoming an oval flat track.