Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Biking Column #2 and a Cranky Baby Update

Here's my second column for the Atlantic Pedaler. It'll be in next month's issue.

As I stated in my last column I was diagnosed with MS in 1998. My right side was affected leaving me unable to hold a pen or brush my teeth effectively or even tie my shoes. I had another attack 18 months later that hit the left side of my face, leaving me with a lopsided smile and a lisp. My third attack was last August and was a recurrence of my initial symptoms but to a much lesser degree. Throughout the past 10 years I have had to deal with extreme fatigue and on occasion some pretty intense pain. I estimate that I have recovered 97% of what I lost with each attack.

My purpose in writing this column is to educate folks about MS, publicize the MS Bike Tour, and solicit funds for this cause. I am not the poster child for MS, though an argument could be made that I should be the poster child for best case scenario for MS.

MS has given me a number of things for which I am grateful. One of those things is discovering cycling. Over the years I have tried different sports and physical activities to keep active but have never really "gotten into" anything. I never experienced a runner's high or felt really great and energized after a workout. I did not like exercise. And exercise seemed to do little for me. As a kid I had a bike and rode it everywhere. I even rode a little bit in my 20s. But two years ago at the age of 42 I took it up again to encourage my boyfriend's training for the 2006 Rona MS Bike Tour. In a matter of days I was hooked. Within weeks I was cycling every chance I could, even if I only had time for a 5 k ride, I went out. I wasn't fast, or graceful, and probably looked pretty dorky, but it was soooooooooo much fun. And I was coming home sweaty and muddy (with any luck I'd find a puddle to go through) which was a bonus. It meant that I was getting a good workout (the sweaty part) and enjoying it (the muddy part). I liked exercise for the first time in my life. I was also energized from the activity and not worn out. My weight didn't change as I was building muscle mass and losing fat at the same time, but I looked and felt great.

As an added bonus to the biking I was exploring trails around the HRM. I'm a nature nut, so was able to put together a little kit for collecting specimens of insects I wanted to inspect up close. It all fits into a pack on the pannier. Butterflies, moths, and beetles were within reach. Not to mention the toads and frogs I could catch to take a closer look (then let them go).

I live in Bedford so it's nothing for me to hop on the bike at Hammonds Plains road and cycle to the Superstore, pick up the Bedford Sackville Connector Trail to Sackville and back for a good 14 k ride after work. After traveling this trail for a while I became involved with the Sackville Rivers Association which is another bonus for me. We go out to do repairs on rivers and streams in the watershed and that leads to discovering more trails I can bike. And more creatures for me to investigate.

I had been itching to get on the bike again and so ventured out twice recently. The harsh winds and subsequent snow have driven me inside again but not for much longer. I've got warm bike pants, a fleece band to cover my ears, and goggles and I'm not afraid to use them.


The goggles I use are actually my chemistry lab goggles from my first year at university. I wear them when cutting up garlic and onions and have worn them in snowstorms. They're not too bad for biking, too. All will follow, eventually.

I met up with Cranky Baby's mom yesterday. I now have a matching Happy Face button just like Cranky Baby to wear on my biking jacket. And Cranky Baby has a few new t-shirts from the dollar store. And yes, as soon as the weather clears a little more, there will be pictures.



Very nice article and so cool you are able to spread awareness and inspiration both. Good job.

Shauna said...

Thanks, Lisa. I grab any opportunity I can.


You are such a gifted wonder they snagged you to write this column! Very informative and delightfully funny, too. But seriously? Goggles to in the kitchen??? Is that Martha Stewart Approved Wear?? Just wondering...LOL

Linda D. in Seattle

Shauna said...

Thanks, Linda. Any wonder why you're at the top of my blogroll? Besides the alphabetical thing, that is.

My Scottish heritage wasn't going to permit me to throw out or give away a perfectly good pair of safety goggles that I paid for as a close-to-broke university student. So I kept 'em and found a use for them. They were designed to protect my eyes from nasty chemicals in the lab and they're also designed to fit over my glasses. Bonus!

Sadly, it's probably that same Scottish heritage that has resulted in my MS.


Diane J Standiford said...

MS affected my ability to ride (I kept riding into people--not cool), so ride ride ride, I go in spirit!

Shauna said...

I'll be taking you with me on my ride this summer. hope you don't weight too much.