Well, it is that time again….the nights are getting longer, the days are getting cooler, and the ride is getting closer!
This will be my 6th year to ride in the MS Bike Jack & Back event. Each year becomes more and more emotional for me as I learn of more people that I know with MS.
If you have never learned of MS…its medical term is Multiple Sclerosis. Here is what you might not know about MS:
- Over 400,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with MS
- It is estimated that 2.5 million people worldwide have MS
- It affects men, women and children, although it is estimated that twice as many women have the disorder.
Symptoms include but aren’t limited to:
Fatigue - Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of MS, occurring in about 80% of people. Fatigue can significantly interfere with a person's ability to function at home and at work, and may be the most prominent symptom in a person who otherwise has minimal activity limitations.
Numbness - Numbness of the face, body, or extremities (arms and legs) is one of the most common symptoms of MS, and is often the first symptom experienced by those eventually diagnosed as having MS.
Walking (Gait), Balance, & Coordination Problems - Problems with gait (difficulty in walking) are among the most common mobility limitations in MS. Gait problems are related to several factors.
Bladder Dysfunction - Bladder dysfunction, which occurs in at least 80% of people with MS, usually can be managed quite successfully
Bowel Dysfunction - Constipation is a particular concern among people living with MS, as is loss of control of the bowels. Diarrhea and other problems of the stomach and bowels also can occur.
Vision Problems - A vision problem is the first symptom of MS for many people. The sudden onset of double vision, poor contrast, eye pain, or heavy blurring is frankly terrifying and the knowledge that vision may be compromised can make people with MS anxious about the future.
Dizziness and Vertigo - Dizziness is a common symptom of MS. People with MS may feel off balance or lightheaded. Much less often, they have the sensation that they or their surroundings are spinning, a condition known as vertigo.
Sexual Dysfunction - Sexual problems are often experienced by people with MS, but they are very common in the general population as well. Sexual arousal begins in the central nervous system, as the brain sends messages to the sexual organs along nerves running through the spinal cord. If MS damages these nerve pathways, sexual response—including arousal and orgasm—can be directly affected. Sexual problems also stem from MS symptoms such as fatigue or spasticity, as well as from psychological factors relating to self-esteem and mood changes.
Pain - Pain syndromes are common in MS. In one study, 55% of people with MS had "clinically significant pain" at some time. Almost half were troubled by chronic pain.
Cognitive Function - Cognition refers to a range of high-level brain functions, including the ability to learn and remember information: organize, plan, and problem-solve; focus, maintain, and shift attention as necessary; understand and use language; accurately perceive the environment, and perform calculations. Cognitive changes are common in people with MS—approximately 50% of people with MS will develop problems with cognition.
Emotional Changes - Emotional changes are very common in MS—as a reaction to the stresses of living with a chronic, unpredictable illness and because of neurologic and immune changes caused by the disease. Bouts of severe depression (which is different from the healthy grieving that needs to occur in the face of losses and changes caused by MS), mood swings, irritability, and episodes of uncontrollable laughing and crying (called pseudobulbar affect) pose significant challenges for people with MS and their family members.
Depression - Depression is common during the course of multiple sclerosis. In fact, studies have suggested that clinical depression, the severest form of depression, is more frequent among people with MS than it is in the general population or in persons with other chronic, disabling conditions.
The list can go on and on for a long time. But now you can start to see why I ride in the MS 150 rides. Not only is it fun, uplifting, healthy, and a nice way to spend time with people who share your same feelings and likes, it also helps to find a cure for this dreadful disorder, and possible prevention.
Each year, thousands of people come out to the MSBike and MSWalk events to help to encourage others that participate as well as those that are burdened with MS. That is what makes this event special to a lot of people. On October 3 & 4, I will participate in this 150 mile ride for the people that can’t do it for themselves, that count on the help of the ones that can.
Don’t know anyone with MS? Well, you probably do….just look at this list of a few people that you might know:
- Jackie Bertone – Beach Boys
- Javier Artero – Spanish soccer player
- Clive Burr – Iron Maiden drummer
- Neal Cavuto – lead journalist on Fox News Channel
- Donna Fargo – Country/western singer
- Marianne Gingrich – wife of Newt
- Hal Ketchum – country singer
- Clay Walker – country singer
- Richard Pryor – comedian
- Montel Williams – talk show host
- Sharon Summerall – model (wife of Don Henley)
- Now, a little closer to home – some personal acquaintances of mine – Dana, Melissa, Jeff (passed away a couple of months ago),
and even closer – some of our own Eliters that are on my riding for list.
I would like to ask each of you to keep all of those that suffer from this terrible disorder in your thoughts and prayers. If you can help support an MS event, please do. If you can’t, please keep all of those that are participating also in your thoughts and prayers. If you would like to find out more about this event, under links on my profile is a direct link.