Living with M.S.

"Living with M.S. is sort of like training for a long race. The harder you try, and the longer you keep at it, the stronger you become.
Eventually, looking back, you may be amazed at the power you possessed, even when you had no idea it was within your reach." (Linda Ann Nickerson)


Ankle weights help with MS leg spasticity on horseback.

I love a simple solution, when it works. Hey, multiple sclerosis is almost never simple!

Spasticity is a real problem for lots of MSers. Almost without warning and occasionally for excruciatingly long periods of time, our muscles can cramp up and seize up and hunch us into tight little bundles of agony.

Try that on horseback. 

Sure, horseback riding can be excellent for working on balance and overall fitness. But correct and effective equestrian posture means the rider needs to stretch his or her legs down long around the horse. (OK, horse racing jockeys take an altogether different approach, but that’s another story.)

I dabble in dressage, along with some trail riding and Western dressage. That means my legs need to be as long as possible, particularly for a short person.

Enter MS spasticity, and it can really cramp my style in the saddle, so to speak.

Thank God I happened to eavesdrop on a trainer friend (from an altogether different equestrian discipline), as he taught a Saddleseat lesson on one of his statuesque American Saddlebred horses. His student seemed to have a little trouble keeping her legs stretched down and her heels placed low in the stirrups. So this inventive trainer ducked out of the riding arena and returned with a pair of strap-on ankle weights.

Voila. That did the trick.

For my next ride at the barn, I wore my own five-pound ankle weights, attaching the Velcro straps right over my dressage breeches and paddock boots. Whew! They did the trick! My posture improved immediately. The horse became remarkably more responsive to my leg cues.

Seriously, I love a simple solution.

Anyone battling multiple sclerosis knows that our feet often feel heavy enough. On our worst days, we trudge along and can almost swear we are already wearing invisible ankle weights. But on horseback, the extra baggage can actually help to stretch our cramped-up legs down and offer a bit of relief.
Kiefer ankle weights
Product promo photo – fair use


Ever have a MonStrous head-to-toe MS headache?

People sometimes say multiple sclerosis is all in our heads. OK, to some extent, that may be true, even though the dreaded MS MonSter can affect the rest of our bodies. It starts with the central nervous system (CNS), which technically includes the brain and the spine.

Some days, it’s all downhill from there. Pain and cramping and muscle spasms and overall agony may start in the head, but the whole shebang can creep right down through the neck and spine to the whole body.

I have a head-to-toe MS headache today. Maybe you know what that feels like.

It means I have a whopper of a brain-pain attack. But it also means my neck is locked in a crazy cramp. My vision is a little sketchy. My core is sore. My legs are stiff. And my hands and feet feel frosty cold, even though I am warm overall. I find myself shaking a bit, especially my hands. And the nasty old MS vertigo has me reeling again.

As it goes with MS headaches, this one woke me up long before dawn.

That might be the worst part. The pain makes one desperate to climb out of bed and clomp to the medicine cabinet for relief. But, at the same time, rising to walk feels like a terribly tall order at such a time.

Thankfully, this sort of headache tends to pass within a day or so.

I surely do hope this one does.

Created by this user, including public domain artwork
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