I’m sitting here reading an article about a forthcoming attempt to climb Mount Everest by Bobby Bajram, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was just 13 years old. Now, at 48, he plans to scale the highest mountain in the world. I really hope he succeeds, and plants an MS Awareness flag at the summit.
We all need inspiration like this, particularly when we’re newly diagnosed. We need to know it’s not all doom and gloom. We need to have dreams and goals; and as they say, if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough!
I have read about other people with MS doing amazing things – whether it’s running marathons or cycling great distances, and I wonder how they manage it. I refer to these athletes living with Ms as “SuperMSers.” And instead of letting their awesome achievements discourage us, let’s follow their example – and strive to be the best versions of ourselves. I take inspiration from them, because they show me MS does not always hold us back from our dreams.
I realise some people living with MS may not be particularly enamoured with the coverage of these SuperMSers, for a variety of reasons. These kinds of stories can portray MS as a “not so serious disease,” when really, mountain climbing and marathon running are unrealistic for many people living with MS. The resulting feelings of inadequacy can lead to negativity.
But where does negativity get us? After reading the piece on Bobby’s climb, I couldn’t help but think about how having a positive outlook has benefited me. My Mum and Dad always taught me to look on the bright side of life. It’s a lesson I took to heart at a very young age, and still carry with me. Being positive by nature has helped me through my bad days, which thankfully are few and far between. Jack London described the benefits of living this way when he wrote: “Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.”
I am not a SuperMSer. I am an ordinary person living with MS. I exercise within my abilities, but try to extend my boundaries; sometimes successfully and other times not so successfully. I liken my visits to the local gym to the biblical story of the Widow’s Mite, in which a widow’s small donation meant more than a rich man’s larger donation. I have to give so much more of myself to exercise than someone not living with MS. My achievements in the gym mean as much to me as conquering Mount Everest will mean to Bobby.
Although we may not all be SuperMSers, our strength and determination in everyday life can be just as inspiring to those around us. What makes you stand out?