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Kevin Byrne: Limitations

Kevin Byrne
Portland, OR

Kevin climbing Mt Rainier 

Oh, how I hate being told that I cannot do something! Maybe it's the snotty little kid in me who hasn't quite grown up yet and probably never will. Maybe it's the old Air Cav pilot in me (who hasn't quite grown up yet and probably never will).

• You can't do that because of your MS
• You shouldn't do that because of your MS
• Because of your MS, it would be best if you didn't do that

One of my biggest frustrations with MS is often the reaction of others. Well intended, and usually quite warranted, the reactions are just not what I want to hear under any circumstance. I have ignored restrictions, pleaded for reconsideration, even snapped back a little when I was told that I could not or should not do something because of this disease. No one is safe from my stubborn push back when they try to place limitations on me.

In fact, there is only one who can come close to convincing me to accept some of those eventual limits of Multiple Sclerosis . . . my MS. My MS doesn't tell me I should not do something. My MS, gently but sternly, reminds me that I should not do something. If I continue or push back or go too hard, my MS will show me that I cannot do something. It is a constant game that we play my MS and me. Every day I push to show myself and my MS I can go further without issue. Every day my MS is following me and reminding me that it's still there ready to push back.

Kevin in MS Mud Run 

My MS will convince me of some of my limitations, but only after hard fought battles. Sometimes I win and gain freedom, dexterity and mobility. Sometimes my MS wins and sets me back a bit. There are no alternatives (yet) to this dance back and forth. Without a cure for MS my only other choice would be to sit back and never push my body beyond the pain and limitation. That's not an option in my book.

And so I go again and again!

We danced back in June on Mount Rainier (in the state of Washington). I pushed my MS up to the Disappointment Cleaver summit before finally conceding that my balance and gait issues were too much to go further. My MS may have won the battle of the last 2,111 feet but I won the first 12,300!

A few days later we were at it again for a charity MS Mud Run which involves a 10K of muddy obstacles to climb over, under and through. I won that round and celebrated with a smug victory grin.

Kevin and broken leg 

I know that I will have to constantly battle my MS. I accept that. In some sense I even look forward to the next battle; again that old Air Cav pilot in me. I definitely don't win them all but every victory, whether on the mountain, in the mud or walking down the street, will give me the energy to fight through the next loss.

MS gained the upper hand in our latest round. I now accept my limitation that because of my MS, and the issues with balance and gait, I should never again go roller skating. I fell, broke my leg and will need a while to rehab back to health. You win, MS. You can have roller skating. I'll keep the mountain, the mud and walking down the street!

Please visit Kevin's website at 
Date Posted: September 2011