The Long Road

Karen O’Shea
Written by
Karen O’Shea

Since my relapse at the start of this year, I’ve been working toward a goal. It’s been on my mind throughout my recovery, and this past week I finally achieved it. What was my goal? Walking the same distance I was able to, pre-relapse. It may seem small, but to me, it means so much.

It was never about how quickly I could walk it or if I did it without limping or dragging my left leg (it always seems to drag when I exercise after a while of doing it). But even with those guardrails in mind, some days I just didn’t have the strength or energy. Other days, I was emotionally drained and didn’t have the mindset to do it. But at some point in the past few weeks, I told myself that I was all in and would finally reach my goal – and I did!

In an effort to finally reach my goal, I set off with my faithful friend Ruby for our regular walk. Ruby is so much more than a dog to me; We rescued her from an animal shelter, but she somehow wound up rescuing me. She pushes me when we walk, but when we are in the woods and she is off her leash she constantly comes back to check if I’m ok. I love walking her and she is most definitely my rock. The road we walked on this particular morning is literally called The Long Road. It has a quaint signpost and beautiful flowers painted by local people along the start of it and for a few yards on. It has two blue benches that I have often sat on to rest when my legs weren’t steady enough to keep walking. The significance of the name of this road hasn’t escaped me; it is my long road.

During my journey with MS, I have come to realize that there are days that would be windy, stony, and unpredictable. There are parts of my journey that feel like an uphill climb and there are certainly times with rapid declines. I have cried on this road but also felt joy, when I realized that I am more resilient than I ever thought possible. As I walked it that day I knew it was the day I was going to get to the top of it; today I would finally complete my five-month journey of walking to the top of the hill.

Although it took plenty of “almosts” to get there, I knew that today I could finally do it. It never stopped raining and I stumbled and almost fell five or six times. My runners were soaked and my clothes were stuck to me, but when I got to the top I didn’t care. It felt amazing! As I walked back I felt invincible. Now I know, even if the journey gets harder, I will find new goals no matter what my level of mobility may be. I will always fight back. I have to. It is not in my nature to give up. MS might knock me down for a little while but I will always get back up. I am stronger than MS.

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