You may have seen in your social media feeds some form of the same article about the young runner with MS. The article was no doubt run to coincide with MS Awareness
Day, Week Month as a feel good “aw, it’s not so bad! Look at the runner with MS!” story. While I understand on some level the need for positive examples of people with MS, sometimes these things accidentally undermine the intent of the message. Making people who don’t already deal with MS aware of how complex a disease MS actually can be is a very good idea, and there’s just no way to capture everyone’s experience with it in one short article, but there are a few things that made me feel strange after reading in this one that the runner’s coach thought she may have a “competitive advantage” because her legs go numb while she’s running.
Read that again. Think about the last time you had an arm or leg go numb. Maybe your leg fell asleep while you were binge-watching Breaking Bad. The first thing you’re thinking probably isn’t “I’m going to win the race!” It’s more than likely “Ow.”
That’s what that ‘numbness’ feels like, so I don’t think anyone who’s running races with that lovely side effect is going to be in the winner’s circle anytime soon. That said, I understand why she continues, as it’s very similar to my drive to continue- just going everything that I can, while I still can. I’m also well aware of that numbness, and my experience with it has been that I more than pay for ‘overdoing it’ over the next few days. I hope her recovery time from that is much shorter than mine.
My worry with articles like this is that it gives a false impression that MS actually bestows secret mutant super powers upon its chosen targets. Suuure.
Over the same week, I came across this article which, for me, is a great explanation of what it feels like to live with MS. It doesn’t really talk about specifics, but rather the baseline physical change, portrayed as a betrayal. This is a great description of my experience.
Closer to home, maybe you’ve also seen the Prudential lit up orange or perhaps the Zackim bridge or South Station for MS Awareness. I think that’s pretty cool, and I don’t remember that ever happening before (but please correct me if I’m wrong).
All in all, it’s great to see some more attention being paid to MS (even if it’s just for the stated awareness week/month).