Thursday, June 5, 2008

Memorial Day marathon

It wasn't really a marathon per se, but for me it may as well have been. How I neglected to report on this remarkable feat before now can only be explained by the need for my brain to block out such memories.

Memorial Day in Palatka, Florida is always the harbinger of the Blue Crab Festival. At least it's been that way for the last 20 years. When the festival first started it was something I always enjoyed and, since I wasn't even 30 at the time and had yet to be diagnosed with MS, never gave a second thought to the amount of physical exertion (aka "walking") that would be required to attend it.

This year, bolstered by learning to hop and run (in short spurts) again, and having a heady, intoxicating feeling that only the Placebo Effect can give you, I dared to contemplate Doing The Festival.

I would take my son who is nine and my granddaughter who is five (no, she's not his kid) and enlist the aid of my sister to head into the trenches with me.

We planned to execute the attack at near dawn, when it was cool and the festival goers were unsuspecting. Turned out 10:30 is when the festival actually got underway. So much for beating the heat and by then all the festival goers were suspecting.

My sister brought two umbrellas so that wherever we ended up we would have portable shade.

The map below is of part of the area that the festival covered. The green dotted line represents my great mood and overconfident feelings of invincibility as we strolled the fair, passing all the wonderful food wagons and seeing all the happy people as we headed toward the carnival rides (the focal point of interest for the kids.)

Where the green line makes a loop at the right of the image is where some of the carnival rides were. We approached a ticket booth and asked where the "kiddie" rides were. They said "most of them are down there." pointing to where my green dotted line ends and the yellow begins.

There's a reason it changed from green to yellow and it didn't all have to do with the heat or my ability to walk. Some of it had to do with the fact that we had walked all that blessed way only to find out that the majority of rides were you-gotta-be-this-tall rides and she was only this tall. As usual, the tickets cost a gazillion bucks but you think to yourself "this isn't all that bad...20 tickets for 20 bucks" only to discover the rides all took 2 or 3 tickets each. To top it off, the only thing my granddaughter really wanted to do was ride the pony but that didn't take tickets; it took another $5. No pony ride.

You'll notice that the yellow line loops back and goes to where we had circled around when in the green mood. This was in hopes that there was a least one freakin' ride that my granddaughter could go on. We found a couple. Whew. That's why it stayed yellow. I was only in a cautious mood.

Then we headed back down to the other end because my son wanted to ride the big slide one last time. Then we got funnel cakes at $5 each and headed back to the truck.

The line turns from yellow to red not because I was angry (which you might suspect from the earlier colors correlating to my moods). It turned red because the yellow should have been a warning to me. My legs were yelling at me the whole time saying "We're givin' 'er all she's got, Captain! I don't think we can hold 'er up any more!"

At the booth while waiting on the funnel cakes and feeling like I was under a steaming hot wet blanket, my legs got wobbly.

Every step from there back to the truck was taken by sheer brute force of my mind telling my legs there was no other choice and they WERE going to carry me back to the truck. All the while holding my son's hand and balancing 10 bucks worth of funnel cakes while keeping an eye out for crazy drivers (and pedestrians) ready to mow me down.

I didn't get to stroll the booths and see all the hand made stuff that people brought to sell me. I didn't even get one of the nifty frog-faced Geico fans that someone was handing out. We came, we walked, we got ripped off by carnies, got a funnel cake (no wait! That still falls under being ripped off by carnies.) and then we went home.

When I got home I was radiating those heat waves that you see on your car hood when it's been in the blazing sun for a while. It took me probably an hour to cool off.

And then I realized something.

I have come a very long way in this past year. Last year I was seriously considering how I would adjust to life in the hover round. This year I was considering activities that brought me back to the land of the normal.

I feel very privileged to have been able to walk, unaided, for all that way, (at least as far or farther than the 500 meter walk for the EDSS) in the heat, with 2 whining kids and a sweating sister who wasn't much happier than I was.

And now that I have done that, I will try to remember why I should stay home next year and sit in the AC. There's nothing I will be missing and I will still have $50 in my pocket...and I won't feel like I just walked a marathon.

I'm giving the credit where credit is due. I bet you are all getting sick of hearing this, but here goes...THANK YOU, FINGOLIMOD (or Avonex, whichever is the "real" drug). I couldn't have done it without ya.

Sorry there are no pictures. It was a strategic decision. Carry the camera? Or carry a water bottle? Water won.


  1. Love the map!

    And if it were me with my two kids I'm sure my line would have turned red long before yours did. I'm not sure if there would have even been a yellow line.


  2. The Star Trek reference? LOL I went back and read it with a Scottish accent! Wow...what a feat you accomplished! Too bad it didn't feel a bit more fun for you in the end, but I suppose feeling "satisfied" in your accomplishment will have to do.

    Linda D. in Seattle


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